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Power Button - Episode 209: Seeking Our Fortune With Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (Part 1)

Power_buttonWe are men of fortune here at the Power Button podcast, so on this week's episode we seek our fortune with Naughty Dog's recently released Uncharted 4: A Thief's End for the Sony PlayStation 4.  Join Blake Grundman and I for eighty minutes of adventure through the first sixteen chapters of the game (this is your spoiler warning!).  We cover set pieces, character moments, flashbacks, clever details, and favorite moments.  Rock your half-tuck and tune in.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, 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, @ThePowerButtonNext Week: The discussion continues with the second part of the conversation as we take your through the end of the game and beyond.


Sony To Pay Out Over PS3 OtherOS Debacle

Sony PlayStation 3Once upon a time, the Sony PlayStation 3 included an option to install an alternative operating system.  Many curious and creative people used the OtherOS option to install Linux on the console, but all good things must come to an end and as hackers started to crack open the PS3's secrets using the OtherOS option as an attack vector, Sony did the logical thing and removed the feature via a firmware update in 2010.  You'd think that would be the end of that, but the action sparked a lawsuit, lawyers became involved, it all went before a judge, and now six years later the company will have to pay out.  ArsTechnica explains who can claim money as part of the settlement.

To get the $55, a gamer "must attest under oath to their purchase of the product and installation of Linux, provide proof of their purchase or serial number and PlayStation Network Sign-in ID, and submit some proof of their use of the Other OS functionality." To get the $9, PS3 owners must submit a claim that, at the time they bought their console, they "knew about the Other OS, relied upon the Other OS functionality, and intended to use the Other OS functionality."

Alternatively, according to the deal, to get $9, a gamer "may attest that he or she lost value and/or desired functionality or was otherwise injured as a consequence of Firmware Update 3.21 issued on April 1, 2010."

At least it's not another tossed-off download voucher for Rain from the PlayStation Store as we've seen so many times in other PlayStation-related settlement agreements.  Please be honest if you file a claim.  If the closest you ever came to installing OtherOS was thinking "Hmm, maybe I'll try that someday" then forget about the $55 pay day.


Power Button - Episode 208: E3 2016 Wrap-Up

Power_buttonAs another Electronic Entertainment Expo fades away into the sunset, it's time for our annual recap of memorable E3 moments.  Blake Grundman and I are joined by our old E3 pal Ross Polly to discuss Microsoft's Project Scorpio, Levar Burton's excitement for Star Trek: Bridge Crew, Crash Bandicoot's return as a Skylander, Norman Reedus and his Norman fetus in Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding, the Stargate connection in the new God of War, Nintendo's unveiling of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and oh so very much more.  We have an absolutely supersized episode for you this week clocking in at over two hours long.  Grab a drink, settle in, and enjoy.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, 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.


New PS4 Spider-Man Game Coming From Ratchet And Clank Folks

Spider-Man

For far too long we've watched helplessly as our favorite mainstream superheroes such as Iron Man and the X-Men have been farmed out to publishers eager to crank out a quick cash-in game with little regard for the source material.  Since the rise of mobile app games, the licensed superhero shovelware market has dried up immensely on consoles which means that anyone who partners with an expensive, big name superhero franchise wants to actually do right by it.  Warner Bros and Rocksteady showed us how it's done with the Batman: Arkham games and now famed Ratchet & Clank developer Insomniac Games is taking Spider-Man for a spin on the Sony PlayStation 4.  I want quotes!  Quotes from the developers about Spider-Man!

From our first meeting, Marvel, Spider-Man and Insomniac have felt like a match made in heaven. So much so that for the first time in Insomniac’s 22-year history, we’re working on an IP that didn’t originate in-house. We love building big games, with incredible gameplay, deep stories, and beautiful graphics. Spider-Man is one of the most iconic and well-known characters in the world, and we’re thrilled to be given the responsibility to create a brand-new, authentic Spider-Man story. Nope, this isn’t the same Spider-Man you’ve met before, nor is our game based on the upcoming movie. This is a more seasoned Peter Parker who’s more masterful at fighting big crime in New York City. At the same time, he’s struggling to balance his absurdly chaotic personal life and career. All while nine million New Yorkers depend on him for their safety… no pressure indeed.

Activision has published a number of Spider-Man games for consoles dating back to the days of the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films, sadly resulting in diminishing returns over time.  I'm hoping that Insomniac can bring their skills at what they do best for action platformers to Spider-Man and bring us something truly special.  I'm not especially demanding on this one.  Perhaps all those years of subpar Spidey games have lowered my expectations, but the character deserves a gaming comeback and I want this to be it.

OK, I have one demand: J.K. Simmons reprising his role from the films as J. Jonah Jameson. 



Star Trek: Bridge Crew Blasts Into VR

Star Trek: Bridge Crew

Virtual reality headsets are front and center at E3 2016 and while the technology still has much to prove, developers and publishers are very excited to show what they've created.  Ubisoft has snagged the Star Trek license and has built a VR starship bridge simulation adventure for four players, each of which takes on a traditional bridge station aboard a Federation starship.  Star Trek: Bridge Crew looks to be quite the sci-fi adventure, and by "sci-fi" I mean that it's wonderful fiction that Ubisoft expects four people each with their own expensive VR headset to be in the same room at the same time on a large enough scale to make this game profitable.  As a Star Trek fan though, I must admit that if there was ever a game to entice me into VR, this is it.  Don't just take my word for it though.  Let's hear from TV's Levar Burton along with Jeri Ryan and Karl Urban (all Trek alumni) as they play the game in this debut trailer.

How much would I have to pay to be able to play the game with Geordi LaForge himself running Engineering?  Burton still has those old Trek chops, calling out to other players about the warp core, or the phase inducers, or some other damn thing.  Forget playing with friends; I hope there's a single-player mode where the player takes the captain's role and other beloved Trek characters are controlled by the game.  That may be asking too much, but since Ubisoft is asking a lot of the audience in VR startup costs, I'm comfortable making demands of my own.  Star Trek: Bridge Crew is due out later this year for PC and the Sony PlayStation 4 on the compatible VR headset of your choice.


Injustice 2 Announced For 2017

Injustice 2I am such a big fan of 2013's Injustice: Gods Among Us from the Mortal Kombat folks at NetherRealm Studios that I own the game four times over: the original Sony PlayStation 3 release (plus season pass) and the Ultimate Edition for the PlayStation 4 (bought on a disc as a launch bundle freebie and then later as a PS+ digital freebie) and PS Vita (bought during a PlayStation Store super sale).  Knowing that, you can imagine how excited I am that publisher Warner Bros. has announced a sequel due in 2017 for the PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One.  Batman and Superman are back for Injustice 2, but there are some new additions that sound like they will change the flow of the game.  The PlayStation Blog has the details.

The Gear System uses RPG-like mechanics to reward you with loot drops every time you play the game. With each loot drop, you will earn character-specific gear to outfit and power up your roster – changing not only the look of each character, but your fight strategy and your personal approach to every match. As you gear up your characters, you’re building a roster of DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains that reflects your choices, and your preferences, which can be vastly different than your opponents. A few play sessions in, you can expect your Aquaman to look and play different than anyone else’s Aquaman you may come across.

I need to see how this upgradable character mechanic works before I judge it either way.  I do enjoy leveling up characters in game that are not really RPGs.  I feel like I'm making progress in games like Assassin's Creed when I see strength and speed meters increase as I clear objectives.  Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS allow players to customize players with add-on gear and it works pretty well. On the other hand, Capcom's Street Fighter X Tekken used a power-up gimmick with its upgradable gems that was baffling to comprehend and confusing to implement.  I trust NetherRealm, although I also fear the power-ups will fall into microtransaction hell right away.

Continue reading "Injustice 2 Announced For 2017" »


Power Button - Episode 206: Turn The Lights Out When You Leave

Power_buttonVideo Game consoles burst into this world with a collection of highly publicized launch titles, but nobody ever promotes their game as the last title out of the gate before production moves on to the next generation.  Everyone remembers that the Nintendo GameCube debuted with Luigi's Mansion, but what was the final release for the system?  How did the Super NES wrap things up?  Who turned out the lights on the Sega 32X?  On this week's episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman take a walk down the weedy, unkept side of Memory Lane to discuss the final releases for some of the industry's most beloved or infamous consoles.  You know you want to find out how the Atari Jaguar folded.  Join us for an hour and be sure to turn the lights out when you leave.!  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, 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.


Power Button - Episode 205: Favorite Fresh Features

Power_buttonThe current generation of consoles have introduced multiple new features and refined capabilities introduced last generation, so it's only right that this week on Power Button we discuss our favorite of those features.  Share buttons, live streaming, YouTube sharing, screenshot capturing, off-TV play, backward compatibility, Remote Play, and much more!  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, 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.


Uncharted 4 Sells Many Copies Which Pleases Lots Of People

Uncharted 4

Sony and Naughty Dog are happily boasting that Uncharted 4: A Thief's End for the PlayStation 4 is the fastest selling exclusive title in the history of the console in the North American region with 2.7 million copies of the game sold worldwide (counting both discs and PlayStation Store purchases) in its first week on the market.  Its success isn't exactly a surprise; interested parties both inside the video game industry and out expected Uncharted 4 to sell well and we're talking about a franchise that just prior to A Thief's End's release has sold a combined twenty-eight million copies spanning the original Drake's Fortune through its two PS3 sequels and the PS Vita's oft-overlooked Golden Abyss and Fight for Fortune.

I bring this up to say that hopefully this success sends a message that there's still high demand for expertly crafted, AAA-level single-player linearly plotted video games.  We hear so often that these kinds of games are largely unsustainable from a development perspective, that people don't want them anymore in favor of evergreen mutliplayer-exclusive experiences, and that free-to-play mobile experiences packed with consumable microtransactions are where the entire market is headed overall.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Uncharted 4 and cannot recommend it enough.  Developer Naughty Dog has packed the game with so many beautiful details and fun moments that I felt negligent rushing through certain set pieces despite those sequences being built around escaping from danger as fast as I could.  I finished the game, but I know there are moments that I missed and eventually I'll need to replay the game to try and see everything.  I advise you to play the game and see what it has to offer.  Let yourself be captivated by the mystery and explore the story beats.  Don't rush through it, and avoid the endgame spoilers.  You need to experience this one for yourself.