Retro/Classic Feed

Get Screwed With Drill Dozer

Drill Dozer

You'd think that when a video game has "from the makers of Pokémon" as an attribute, it would garner lots of attention, but Nintendo / Game Freak's 2006 Game Boy Advance release Drill Dozer failed to attract as large an audience as Pikachu and company.  Featuring a built-in rumble pak motor in the game cartridge, Drill Dozer follows the adventures of benevolent thief Jill Dozer and big drill mech on her journey to rescue her father from a rival gang of thieves.  Along the way she'll use her drills to tighten and loosen screws in a platformer puzzle adventure that really should have caught on more than it did.  Hardcore Gaming 101 reviews Drill Dozer's case.

The eponymous Drill Dozer is exactly as it sounds: a walking tank with arms that form a huge screw bit. While far from a stealthy vehicle, the simple straightforwardness of its design and mechanics finds a plethora of uses. Sure, it serves as your sole means of offense as well as a great way to reek destruction of walls, but the heavy drill proves its versatility as a means to deflect projectiles, turn cranks, bore through tunnels, and even twist the tumblers in safe locks. The drill arms can spin clockwise or counter-clockwise with the press of the L or R buttons, with many puzzles based on the "righty tighty, lefty loosey" mnemonic; they're even color-coded with blue/red for L/R respectively. This leaves the game rather unique as the B button is placed as a secondary passive role like entering doors or answering messages from your crew. Those shoulder triggers will get quite the workout as every obstacle Jill faces is solved with either jumping, drilling, or the combination of both.

I love a solid platformer so I eagerly bought Drill Dozer when it was released and played it on my Nintendo DS.  It builds a wonderful framework for future titles that never came to be.  There's so much world-building happening in this game that it's impressive that it doesn't derail the actual game experience.  This is a game packed with levels and challenges.  Establishing all of the characters and their motivations complements the entire experience and I was eagerly awaiting a Wii sequel that never came.  Drill Dozer is available now on the Wii U's Virtual Console, so if you overlooked it over a decade ago, I recommend you try it now.  You won't be disappointed.

Mega Man Stumbles To Mobile Platforms

Mega Man 3

Capcom's classic Mega Man titles for the Nintendo Entertainment System have certainly been around through most of the past twenty years in different formats (and were just re-released last year as the superb Mega Man Legacy Collection for modern consoles), so it makes sense in a "tick off the checkboxes" sort of way that the company would want to bring the games to mobile app stores for iOS and Android.  The problem with this idea is that Mega Man titles demand pixel-perfect precision and controls that a touch screen interface just cannot provide.  A number of critics have weighed in on the mobile ports and the verdict is seemingly in: avoid, avoid, avoid (or maybe tolerate).  Here's Shaun Musgrave at TouchArcade being savage:

Do not buy these. Just don't. Not even for a laugh. Not even because they're only a couple bucks a pop and what harm could it do? I am sitting here trying to imagine how these ports of the 8-bit Mega Man games could have been worse, and I'm coming up dry. Nothing is right about them. Nothing. It's like someone was given the graphic and audio assets of the games and were told to re-create everything else on their own. The gravity is off. Enemy behavior is off. Hit detection is weird, and even the recoil from getting hit doesn't work properly. The games are crash-prone. The framerate is awful. The default speed is absurdly slow and choppy, and while the faster speed setting makes things a little better, it's too fast, still choppy, and messes with the games' fundamental workings even more.

I'm sure there's a way to bring the Mega Man franchise to mobile, but porting these old games (beloved as they may be) is certainly not it.  I'll stick with the Legacy Collection on my Nintendo 3DS when I need a blue bomber fix when on the go.  Some games just require a control pad and actual buttons, and no two dollar quickie touch-based port can provide that.  Capcom should take a page from Nintendo and develop a new game based around touch controls, not try and cram an unsuitable game into the touchscreen mold.  I'd be up for a hypothetical Mega Man Run over these sloppy ports.

(image via The Mega Man Network)

Give Up Your Appellations, Technical Monkey

Gradius 3There's a long line of confusing video game mistranslations out there spanning from the basic "Conglaturations" from Ghostbusters to "A Winner Is You" in Pro Wrestling to the infamous "All your base are belong to us" from Zero Wing.  You can typically deduce the original intent of the bad localization, but sometimes a game throws you such an odd statement that it takes several leaps of logic to arrive at the proper translation.  Consider the arcade difficulty mode of the Super NES version of Konami's Gradius 3 which, if you can finish all of the game's levels, offers up the praise "I'm give up your appellation's Technical Monkey".  What on earth could that possibly mean?  ReyVGM has solved the puzzle and, like all good mistranslations, there's a fun story of design decisions behind it.  I won't spoil it here, but the answer makes perfect sense.  Well, as much sense as a bizarre localization ever makes.  Appellations all around!

Power Button - Episode 225: Pinball Fever

Power ButtonIt's been a busy time for pinball fans with real world events and new digital releases coming furiously like an assortment of metal balls all flipping around an area at once in some kind of multiple arrangement.  As we like to do from time to time here on Power Button, this week is another of our in a series of episodes focusing on pinball experiences.  First I talk about the fun of going to the Free Play Florida arcade and pinball event where I was able to play new tables like Ghostbusters and classics like Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and 24, then Blake Grundman takes us on a journey into the new Stern Pinball Arcade Collection for modern game consoles and we wrap things up with a look at the new Zen Studios release of Bethesda-based pinball tables based on Skyrim, DOOM, and Fallout.  Bump out for an hour and join us.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.

A First Look At The Super Mario Bros. Super Show

MarioNintendo felt it was burned in the early 1990s when it licensed Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda out to Hollywood for film and animation projects and didn't like the eventual end result, but for a while there the company really was trying to make it work.  1980s powerhouse DIC turned both games into the animated/live-action hybrid syndication smash The Super Mario Bros. Super Show in 1989 and Nintendo Power was there to promote it.  After all, what better way to spread awareness of the new program than through the game publisher's own in-house publicity publication? Over on Twitter, @VGArt&Tidbits has a scan of the single-page tease from the July/August 1989 issue. 

The main piece of art doesn't represent the visual style used on the cartoon at all, but I remember seeing it on licensed products such as TV trays and notebooks back in the old days, so I don't know if it's just an unrelated piece of art used here as filler or cartoon concept art that changed direction.  Either way, it's an interesting look into the past.  Who's that white-haired Mario ancestor in the photo on the wall?

MST3K Meets PlayStation

MST3K on PlayStation UndergroundIn a match made in cross-promotion synergy heaven, the minds behind Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the creative folks at video magazine PlayStation Underground once teamed up to create an exclusive segment featuring Mike Nelson, Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot riffing on old Sony PlayStation commercials and outtakes.  Released in February 1998 just before MST3K's ninth season season (its second on the Sci-Fi Channel) on PlayStation Underground, Issue 2.1, this clip has been floating around the Internet for years and I somehow never got around to sharing it here.  Allow me to remedy that.  You could use a laugh and, depending on your age, a little nostalgia.

Original Mega Man Cover Paintings Revealed

Mega Man Soccer

While the online gaming community talks a lot about preserving original game code and assets, we don't often hear much about the boxes the old cartridges came inside unless we're talking about how having one boosts the value of the game in question.  All of that fancy art on the cover had to come from somewhere, and today's modern case covers usually spring from the minds of artists directly into Photoshop.  Back in the old days of the 1980s and 1990s, however. publishers commonly had to commission artists to paint actual canvas paintings for the cover.  Protodude's Rockman Corner has a nice exhibit of several of those paintings that were used for the covers of games such as Mega Man 3, Mega Man 6 , and Mega Man X.  Of the paintings on display, my favorite is Mega Man V (for Game Boy) because the character design style is what I always imagine for Mega Man when I think of the series, but I admit I'd love to have the Mega Man Soccer painting on my wall in a nice frame for the sheer "what the hell?" factor.

Power Button - Episode 224: Hilarity Ensues

Power ButtonVideo games are often held up for their action sequences, set pieces, and visuals, but how often do you hear someone remark about hilarious writing?  On this week's episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman and I spend an hour and a half discussing our favorite funny games.  From Portal 2 to Saints Row IV to Maniac Mansion and beyond, we have some hilarious moments to share.  Before that happens, however, Blake takes us on a sidequest with Pokémon.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.

Dr. Wily: Portrait Of A Madman

Dr. WilyI know that hindsight is 20/20 and all, but when I see the gradual mental decline of Mega Man villain Dr. Albert Wily laid out in image after image, I think we should all have realized early on that the erratic scientist was not to be trusted and was very likely become a larger threat to us all.  Just because a man can create Robot Masters does not mean that he's well-balanced.  Take a look at this series of official Capcom character artwork that spans the classic Mega Man series from Mega Man (1987) through Mega Man 8 (1996) and you'll see his physical behavior and manner of dress start to show signs of the troubled soul within.  We really should have found help for him sooner beyond sending Mega Man in to clean up the mess again and again.

Continue reading "Dr. Wily: Portrait Of A Madman" »

NES Classic Manuals Correct Ancient Injustice

Super Mario Bros. 2Playing a video game on Nintendo's NES Classic Edition console doesn't just get you the nostalgic experience of exploring the 8-bit worlds of the 1980s.  It also entitles you to a trip in the wayback machine via high quality scans of the original instruction manuals of the era.  The company has dipped into its archives to bring the manuals for each and every game on the console back for your reading pleasure (and you don't even need the console to access them; they're on the web at Nintendo's site at  The instructions aren't 100% authentic though, as Nintendo took the opportunity to clean up little typos and mistakes here and there.  Consider, for instance, Super Mario Bros. 2's manual which lists each of Subcon's enemies such as Shy Guys and Pidgets.  The original 1988 manual accidentally swapped the names of Birdo and Ostro.  It's an understandable error; you could look at the two foes and think "Oh, the bird thing must be named Birdo" instead of "Oh, the ostrich thing must be named Ostro".  Now that the manuals are back in action for the modern age, Nintendo swapped the names back to their correct places.  It's this attention to detail that keeps Nintendo fans coming back for more (even if it's been thirty years since their last helping).

Super Mario Bros. 2 manuals