Unreleased Sonic the Hedgehog Game Leaks Out

SegaSonic Bros.Once Sega realized they had captured lightning in a bottle with 1991's Sonic the Hedgehog, the company commissioned all kinds of additional games that used the Sonic branding.  Aside from sequels, we've seen plenty of spin-offs that use Sonic in unexpected ways such as Sonic Spinball and Sonic Shuffle, but one of those games - a block-dropping puzzle title for arcades - went unreleased and is only just recently seeing the light of day.  Created by the mind behind Taito titles such as Bubble Bobble and Syvalion, the oddly named SegaSonic Bros. casts Sonic and his differently colored brothers as falling blocks that must be lined up on a 2D grid in a certain way in order to score big points.  While still unavailable for sale, the game leaked out to the Internet earlier this year and is playable in the MAME arcade emulator.  Hardcore Gaming 101 explains it.

SegaSonic Bros. was never released because it failed the location tests, held in late 1992, and Sega deemed it unfit for wide release. And after playing the game for a round or two, it’s easy to see why. For starters, the rules are a little complicated and difficult to explain, even though the pictures in the game’s tutorial mode makes it seem easy. The game also increases levels, and therefore speed, very quickly, which doesn’t give you much time to learn the game before becoming overwhelmed. One of the other issues is that the 2×2 blocks make it difficult to create straight lines – most of the time you’ll have two of the same color next to each other, so you’ll need to prioritize that color when building towards a loop. Standalone colors are useful for finishing loops, but otherwise will just become blocked with the color next to it.

The game seems complicated and not much fun for the arcade setting, plus it doesn't really need to use Sonic at all.  Just about any brand could have been jammed into the basic game without impacting how it plays.  It feels like it would have been more at home on the Game Gear as a competitor to Nintendo's Game Boy pack-in title, Tetris.  Still, hindsight in always 20/20 and Sega made the right call by canning this one.  Fortunately, the game is around now if you're eager to try it and explore another lost corner of Sonic history.


It's A Claptrap Kind Of Christmas

Claptrap2

As my girlfriend and I worked out our holiday decorating plans for the season, we had plenty of our favorite video gaming and sci-fi franchises represented, but one key ingredient was missing.  Due to what I'm assuming is a careless oversight at Gearbox Software, there are no Borderlands ornaments for Christmas.  We have Super Mario and Star Trek on our Christmas tree, but the theme just isn't complete without a little taste of Pandora.  Luckily we came up with a solution. 

It all started several weeks ago when we were out shopping for decorations.  Earlier in the year we rented a house together, and this is our first holiday season in our new home, so we need new decorations to fill it.  We were browsing the aisles at a holiday home store when I saw stocking holders with gift boxes mounted on top.  The interesting thing about the little gift box was that the sides of the package were sloped inward slightly, giving it a very familiar shape.  "Hon," I said to her, "Doesn't this look like of like Claptrap?", and that's when the idea first took shape.  I'm in love with a creative genius.  She took those gift boxes and using paint, glitter, and some custom-built props, transformed them into little Claptraps straight out of the Hyperion factory.  Now we have a little bit of Borderlands in our holiday season.  Happy Mercenary Day, travelers!


Power Button - Episode 278: Matt Buys A PSVR

Power ButtonBlack Friday offered deals on Sony's PlayStation VR headset that were too good to pass up, so I took the plunge and bought a PSVR set with the camera, Move controllers, and pack-in games.  I haven't kept up with PSVR developments since I hadn't really been in the market for one until Borderlands 2 VR was recently announced, so now I have this headset and no idea how to get the most out of it.  Fortunately, Blake Grundman has owned a PSVR since launch and is ready to answer all of my questions about the device and offer some tips and advice on how to have the most fun with it.  Join us for an hour of PSVR primer, and rest assured that we will follow up on this topic once I spend some quality time with some VR games.   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. 


Nostalgia For A Non-Existent Memory

Electronic Gaming MonthlySomething strange happens around this time of year when darkness falls earlier in the evening and the cool winds blow as I get the craving to play classic Sonic the Hedgehog games, particularly the Sega Genesis titles (including spin-offs like Sonic Spinball and Sonic 3D Blast) and even the lesser Master System/Game Gear titles.  That's not entirely unusual, but the desire to play is rooted in memories of growing up with my game systems and taking time off from life to relax over the holidays, so you'd think that I'm trying to recapture a bit of my youth through Sonic, but here's the twist: I never owned any Sega hardware or Sonic titles when I was growing up.  The first Sonic game I owned was Sonic Adventure 2: Battle for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002 midway through my college years, and then Sonic Mega Collection shortly after that.  I've never been able to figure out why I equate playing Sonic with this time of year until just recently when I finally made the mental connection that explains it all.

When I wasn't playing video games as a kid, I was usually reading about them in the magazines of the day such as Electronic Gaming Monthly and GamePro which were both publications that leaned heavy on Sonic coverage.  The speedy hedgehog was all over those issues in the early 1990s, first as pre-release rumor, then preview, then review, then maps/guides, then finally as part of a year-end recap.  I followed Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD, Sonic Spinball, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic & Knuckles through this printed path year after year, wanting to play them all but never owning the hardware required to do it.  The nostalgia I feel for these games isn't for playing them, it's for vicariously experiencing them through print! 

Now, thanks to retro compilations, I own the classic Sonic catalog several times over across a few different platforms, so the old games are never far from my reach, but I do still think back on the magazines from time to time and the thrill of finding a Sega Genesis demo station in a store like Sears where I could play a round or two of Emerald Hill Zone in the Funtronics section while my parents were shopping.  I've been playing Sonic games lately to scratch that old memory itch, but maybe I should be reading about them instead.


Power Button - Episode 277: Thanksgaming II

Power ButtonAs we enter the annual holiday season buffered by Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, it's time for us to present our traditional Thanksgaming podcast episode in which we discuss all of the gaming things that Blake Grundman and I are thankful for this year.  From the more rational choices like price drops and availability to the special moments money can't buy like playing with family, we have an hour of introspective thought for you to enjoy with your plate of turkey and potatoes.  Save a slice of pie for 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 Smashing Castlevania Halloween Musical Moment

Richter BelmontHalloween at Press The Buttons means spending a moment appreciating Konami's Castlevania franchise which is enjoying a resurgence thanks to the recently released Castlevania Requiem compilation and, better still, appearances from Simon Belmont and Richter Belmont along with a host of Castlevania elements in Nintendo's upcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.  Composers lined up for a chance to rearrange the franchise's most famous and beloved music and the official Smash Bros. website has been offering sample clips over the past few weeks.  ""Lost Painting" from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night will appear in Smash, as will a medley of tunes from Castlevania II: Simon's Quest: "Bloody Tears" and the mansion theme "Monster Dance".  At long last, it's a great time to be a Castlevania fan again!

 

 


Power Button - Episode 276: Belmont Meets Blue Bomber

Power ButtonOctober saw the glorious return of both Richter Belmont and Mega Man as Konami ported Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night to the Sony PlayStation 4 while Capcom released an all-new adventure for the Blue Bomber in Mega Man 11.  On this week's Power Button episode, Blake Grundman and I discuss both of these recent releases with a contentious, tense discussion over whether Castlevania Requiem is worth the time and money and a more friendly approach to Mega Man 11.  Also, be sure to tune in for Blake's Extra Life charity stream this weekend and help him meet his donation goal to help the Beaumont Children's Hospital. Happy Halloween, everyone!   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. 


Full List Of PlayStation Classic Games Revealed

PlayStation ClassicAfter teasing us in September with the announcement of its PlayStation Classic mini console, today Sony has announced the full list of games that are included on the device due for sale in December.  As you'll recall, the PlayStation Classic is the company's PS1 nostalgia box and while we had plenty of suggestions for the included game library on Episode 273 of the Power Button podcast, Sony didn't exactly take our advice as there's not a Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Tomb Raider, or Castlevania title to be found.  Here's what did make the cut for the North American version courtesy of the PlayStation Blog:

  • Battle Arena Toshinden
  • Cool Boarders 2
  • Destruction Derby
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Intelligent Qube
  • Jumping Flash
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Mr Driller
  • Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
  • Rayman
  • Resident Evil Director’s Cut
  • Revelations: Persona
  • Ridge Racer Type 4
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Syphon Filter
  • Tekken 3
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
  • Twisted Metal
  • Wild Arms

That's certainly a collection of PS1 games.  The Japanese version of the console trades out a few of these games for a few RPGs that were popular in that country that didn't quite catch on elsewhere.  I'm passing on this one because I don't have any PS1 nostalgia that isn't already met by the downloadable classics on the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, but I'm sure there's a subset of the gaming community out there that reads this list and is instantly transported back to childhood Christmas mornings of 1996-1999 or so.  There are definitely some gaps in this list though and I also expect I'm not the only person who read this and said to himself, "Huh, OK.  Not my thing but you kids have fun."  The PlayStation Classic will likely sell well, but I wonder how much longevity it will have once its plugged into a TV after those first few days of post-purchase excitement.  Will players still be excited about Battle Area Toshinden weeks later?


Power Button - Episode 275: A Tribute To Developers (Part 2)

Power ButtonPicking up from where we left off last week, this episode of the Power Button podcast continues on with our discussion of our favorite development teams.  This installment focuses on Rockstar Games, Konami's teams behind the latter-day Castlevania games, Blizzard, Sonic Team, and many more.   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. 


Power Button - Episode 274: A Tribute To Developers (Part 1)

Power ButtonWe've talked a lot about our favorite video games over the years, but on this week's episode of the Power Button podcast we're talking about some of our favorite video game developers.  Insomniac Games, PagodaWest Games, Naughty Dog, Nintendo's litany of internal studios and partnerships, and much more.   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.