Della Duck Rewrites NES DuckTales History

DuckTalesROM hacks of classic retro games have come a long way in the past two decades as fans have reworked old favorites into new creations.  Capcom's 1989 hit DuckTales for the Nintendo Entertainment System is one of the console's classics, and while it was given a modern upgrade in 2013 for DuckTales Remastered on then-modern platforms, it remains based on the original game which in turn is based on the 1987 animated series.  Now that the 2017 DuckTales reboot is solving its own mysteries, it's only fair that someone would rewrite Capcom history by replacing the game's protagonist, Scrooge McDuck, with the new show's lead female protagonist, Della Duck.  Thanks to Garrett Gilchrist, Della can take on the Moon stage's challenges in the original DuckTales game with a clever graphics replacement hack meant for use in the Mesen emulator.  Garrett says:

It wasn't that hard to redraw the graphics for use in Mesen, but I'd drawn Della in slightly different positions than Scrooge, mainly her head positions, which got me in trouble later. The NES programming reuses graphics tiles constantly, and any inconsistency was immediately obvious, requiring some tweaking. I would recommend that anyone redrawing NES graphics for Mesen keep their characters either identically positioned to the original sprite or changed consistently on every frame ... just in case!

Trapped on the moon for years, the series features her return to Earth as a running storyline.  The writers even found a clever way to integrate the Capcom game's Moon stage theme into the show's narrative as not just background music, but an in-story lullabye.  It's fun to see her here where she technically doesn't belong, zipping around the NES game decades before her inclusion in any televised DuckTales production.  She's using Scrooge's pogo cane since this is just a graphics update, but imagine a further iteration of this idea that includes Della in a new proper DuckTales video game as a playable character alongside Scrooge, Donald Duck, and the rest of the crew.  I'm certainly interested!

(via @KenPlume)


Secret Origins: Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros. 3Today being the thirtieth anniversary of Nintendo's landmark Super Mario Bros. 3's release in North America, I cannot let the day pass without looking back on one of the defining games of the 8-bit era.  I first became enamored with the adventures of Mario and Luigi in 1986 and over the next several years, Nintendo became my childhood religion with the pair of plumbers at the top of the holy ladder.  I watched the Super Mario Bros. Super Show cartoon while eating Mario fruit snacks and wearing my Mario t-shirt, scribbling in my Mario notebook with a Mario pencil (with flag topper!) and checking the time on my Mario wristwatch.  In May 1989 I picked up a free first issue of GamePro at a Toys R Us while out shopping with my mother and flipping through the pages make my young heart skip a beat.  There was a Super Mario Bros. 3 coming and it looked fantastic.  The two-page preview spread of the Famicom title (already available in Japan) showcased the best visuals I'd seen for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and I scoured the piece for clues about what was ahead for Mario.  This time around, according to the preview article, Princess Peach (who?  Where's Princess Toadstool??) has been captured by the Kuppa King (any relation to the Koopa King?) and it's up to Mario and Luigi to defeat the Kuppa guardians (not kids?) and save the day.  I asked my grandfather about the odd names, comparing Kuppa to Koopa and being unaware of localization, and he told me that since these are made-up names, they can be whatever the creators want them to be.  I just wanted to understand the continuity between the different games.

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Mini-Review: NES Controllers For Nintendo Switch

NES controllersAsk any of us who grew up in the 1980s with a Nintendo Entertainment System controller in our hands and we'll all tell you the same thing: that controller is iconic.  Sure, it's been surpassed by the controllers that came after it (the Super NES controller made it immediately obsolete), but there's a certain special something about that solid rectangle with the red buttons that evokes all kinds of nostalgia.  Nintendo has sold its classic back catalog through download services on its modern consoles for fourteen years now dating back to the original Wii, but players have relied on the modern controllers that belong with those modern consoles to play those old NES games.  You can turn a Wii remote on its side to sort of approximate the NES controller and a 3DS has all of the necessary buttons to simulate the experience, but there's a magic ingredient in the authentic old NES controller that is somehow essential to the experience.  Now that Nintendo is releasing NES games for its Switch hardware, you might expect that the company would have you turn a Joy-con on its side and somehow play Super Mario Bros. 3 and The Legend of Zelda with a tiny little controller, but there's a far better option than that.  Nintendo sells real honest-to-goodness Nintendo Entertainment System controllers designed for the Switch, wireless communication and rechargeable battery included.  At $60 for a pair it seems steep, so when the package was on sale at half off over the holidays, I decided to take a chance and welcome nostalgia home.  I ordered a pack, charged 'em up, and my girlfriend and I set out to explore the two-player library of the Switch's NES library.

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Mega Man 8 For Game Boy Is Not Meant To Be

Rockman 8Capcom adapted their popular Mega Man games for the Nintendo Entertainment System into Game Boy counterparts that mashed up elements of the first four games in the series in unexpected ways allowing for, say, Cut Man and Heat Man to exist in the same game.  Want to shoot Fire Man's weapon at Quick Man?  Go for it!  Mega Man V, however, was an entirely new adventure with original elements, and after that the handheld series went on hiatus.  No Mega Man VI.  Certainly not a Mega Man VII.  And definitely not a Mega Man VIII... unless you count this bootleg knock-off version cobbled together from bits of Mega Man III for Game Boy and the real Mega Man 8 for the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn.  Check out this video of Rockman 8 for the Game Boy from Makon Soft and watch for oddities that imply the creators were either confused about Mega Man or just plain didn't care.  For instance, because Mega Man's portrait is traditionally in the center of the stage select screen, the creators assumed that he's an enemy Robot Master with a stage all to himself, so selecting that portrait brings up a Rock Man stage.  Here's the Bootleg Games wiki to fill us in:

The engine contains many glitches throughout. One serious glitch is that sometimes, after killing so many enemies all of the remaining enemies and moving platforms disappear, making the level impossible to complete. Another major glitch is found when battling the boss on Clown Man's stage, where the game will sometimes reset itself without warning. Rockman's health bar is bigger than normal and he can't collect any weapons in this game, nor does he have any extra weapons at the start. As a result, he only has the Mega Buster and the pause screen is blank, aside from showing his health bar. Charging up the Mega Buster is completely useless, as a charged shot does no damage. As there's no weapon energy, all of the items refill Rockman's health. The graphics are taken from the Rockman games and simplified. The music is poorly remade from Rockman 3 and 4. There is no ending, with the game going back to the robot master select screen after beating all of the bosses.

It's fun to point and laugh at pitiful attempts to con the audience like this, but just think what Capcom could have really accomplished with a Game Boy (Color, by that point in time) version of Mega Man 8.  I bet they could have created a game that maintained the spirit of the original game meshed with the classic NES/GB style.  We'll never know, but there is a fan-made demake of the PS1 game for PC that converts it into the traditional 8-bit style and structure that comes what I have to imagine is pretty close.


Power Button - Episode 299: Loose Ends

Power ButtonAs we close in on our landmark 300th episode, this week Blake Grundman and I take an hour to tie up some loose ends still lingering from the holidays.  My girlfriend and I bought classic Nintendo Entertainment System controllers for the Switch and put them through their paces on a variety of NES games, and we're getting into Star Trek: Bridge Crew for the Sony PlayStation 4.  She's getting into Destiny 2, too.  I also have a lot to say about the surprisingly decent Sonic Forces and my amiibo obsession continues.  Finally, we turn our attention to Zen Studios and their work on the Williams pinball tables in Pinball FX3.  Fish Tales, Theater of Magic, Attack From Mars... what else could we want?   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 298: What I Played On My Holiday Vacation

Power ButtonWith the holiday season of 2019 becoming a hazy memory, Blake Grundman and I catch up on our December doings with a look at all of the games we played during our time off.  New games, backlog games, and everything in between is up for grabs in this seventy-five minutes of discussion of games such as Shovel Knight: King of Cards (and the new amiibo!), Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Borderlands 3: Moxxi's Heist of the Handsome Jackpot, Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn, and much more.  We also take a sidequest diversion into a fun little retro game shop that I discovered while traveling over Christmas where I surprised my girlfriend with an in-box copy of her favorite NES game and Blake's new obsession with smart technology.  If you want to check out the amiibo mini-shelves I mentioned in this episode, check out this Amazon link.   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 297: Celebrating Donkey Kong Country, Sega 32X, and Sony PlayStation Silver Anniversaries

Power ButtonWe've just come out of a series of major twenty-fifth anniversaries for some major video game releases, so for this week's podcast we're turning the calendar back to late 1994 to remember the launches that would CHANGE EVERYTHING in the gaming world: Nintendo's Donkey Kong Country for the Super NES with its rendered visuals that would hold back the side of advancing consoles for another year, Sega's 32X add-on for the Sega Genesis that landed with a thud and began the company's protracted downfall, and Sony's entry into the business with the first model of PlayStation.  The 90s had firmly arrived that things would never be the same.  Join us as we remember what it was like to live through these turbulent times and reflect on how these three releases shaped the industry for years to come.   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. 


Annual Christmas Special Encore! Power Button - Episode 158: Christmas In Videoland

Power ButtonSpecial Christmas encore of our popular holiday episode! It's the holiday season which means that it's the perfect time for us to dedicate an episode of Power Button discussing video games that include Christmas elements such as music remixes, holiday weapons, festive missions, and appearances from Santa Claus himself.  There's some deep cuts mixed in here with the mainstream titles; we cover everything from Christmas trees in Sonic Adventure's Station Square to the special Christmas cheat code in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie's Double Trouble to Banjo-Kazooie's Freezeezy Peak to the special holiday demo of Jazz Jackrabbit to Sega's limited edition Christmas NiGHTS to the hard-to-find Daze Before Christmas from Sunsoft.  Settle in with some egg nog and spend eighty minutes with us this holiday season.  We also sidequest off into NES Remix, adorable amiibo, and much more.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!    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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.


Mercenary Day In Borderlands Christmas Village

Borderlands village

My amazingly creative girlfriend is making new gaming holiday decorations to fill our home again this season, and to pair with last year's Borderlands Claptrap stocking holders this year she's taken an ordinary, drab Christmas village set with its sleep and heavenly peace and given it a Mercenary Day makeover to make it look as if it popped out of the annual Borderlands Christmas event.  Check out the photos of a tucked-in winter wonderland turned into something that would make Mr. Torgue proud.  EXPLOSIONS AND CEL-SHADING, YEAHHHHHH!

 


At Demonhead, We Clash

Clash at DemonheadI rented my share of dud video games for the Nintendo Entertainment System when I was a kid, but sometimes I'd rent a game I couldn't quite crack, and my need to figure it out would drive me to rent it again and again.  Sometimes it's for compellingly bad reasons like with what happened with Back to the Future Part II and III, but sometimes it's for good reasons.  Consider 1989's Clash at Demonhead that was somewhat ahead of its time in terms of level progression, power-ups, and storyline.  This was a game that played out more like an episodic animated adventure with talkative supporting characters and a series of Mega Man Robot Master-type bosses with lots in the charisma department.  Over at Kotaku, Peter Tieryas reminds us all why Clash at Demonhead is one of the console's unsung greats.

Similar to some of my favorite games of the era like Zelda II, The Battle of Olympus, and Goonies II, Clash’s sidescrolling action has areas you can tackle in any order you’d like. The overworld map consists of 42 routes. The routes generally have you going from one end to the other, clearing out enemies, and procuring wads of cash. Some of the areas have multiple levels that take you up into the mountains, sink down into the ocean depths, and barely cross deadly lava pits.

The navigation can be a bit confusing on the overworld map since the actual routes only have their numbers show up if you’ve selected the area (I wish, similar to the way it is in Bionic Commando, destinations could have had numbers on top of them). In this case, a trusty paper-and-pen come in handy to chart the way. To alleviate some of the difficulties of backtracking, which you’ll have to do quite a bit, you gain special Force powers from a magical Hermit that allows teleportation to any route Bang has finished.

I think what really ensnared me was the massive for it's time collection of power-up suits that allowed the hero Bang to fly, jump higher, swim, survive in lava, and so much more.  Each suit offered a different key utility that was essential in some levels and useless in others, and the trick was to accumulate these suits and choose when to deploy them at the optimum time.  Talk about replay value!  Usually the progression in games like these was to constantly grow stronger in a one-way path.  Bigger guns, better shields, etc.  In Clash, the suits could be swapped out when needed to boost Bang's stats in one manner while potentially decreasing them in another.  For me at the time, it was a revelation.  The problem was that the game could be unrelentingly difficult if I wandered off the assumed path and it was easy to end up at a dead end where I needed an ability I hadn't unlocked yet and would have to backtrack across an area I'd only just barely survived the first time.  I really should revisit it as an adult armed with more patience and trusty save states.