Power Button - Episode 334: 30 Years Of 16 Bits

Power ButtonThe anniversaries just keep on coming as this week we turn our attention to the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in North America.  Bundled with Super Mario World and debuting with release titles SimCity, Pilotwings, and Gradius III, the Super NES would go on to host some of the very best video games of all time.  On this week's episode, we discuss the console's highs and lows along with some personal memories of how playing Super NES games were important moments in our lives. Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, Amazon Music Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, 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 333: Metroid Memories

Power ButtonIt's been thirty-five years since Nintendo released the original Metroid, and since then the franchise has gone to sport sequels, interquels, remakes, and spin-offs.  That's a lot of territory for what essentially boils down to four (soon to be five) games that make up the central plot of the series.  On this week's podcast, we're celebrating Metroid's big anniversary with a look back at the games, how they fit together, which ones we played over the years, and what's coming up next.  Join us for an hour of discussion. Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, Amazon Music Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, 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. 


Special Appearance By... Samus Aran

Super Mario RPGWhile Nintendo's Metroid series has taken several years-long breaks over the years while other franchises like Super Mario appear annually in some form, the heroic Samus Aran has popped up in other places where you wouldn't really expect her while her own series is on hiatus.  From puzzle games to racing games to pinball games, she's turned up to give players a smile.  The Metroid Database has chronicled these cameos from 1987-2016 across multiple consoles and even into some third-party games where she and her enemies really shouldn't belong without permission.  Most fans remember her playable appearance in Galactic Pinball for the Virtual Boy, but my favorite cameo has to be Super Mario RPG.  Backtrack to the Mushroom Kingdom at a specific point in the story and you'll find Samus in bed at the castle where she says she's resting up for Mother Brain.  She's gone soon after.  Wherever she went this time, I hope she was successful.


Game & Watch Strikes Back

Game & WatchNintendo has revived its old Game & Watch line for the anniversaries of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, but the $50 handhelds you can buy today are not representative of what the product line used to be.  The original Game & Watch units used primitive LCD graphics instead of full color screens, so it's understandable why Nintendo isn't reproducing the exact old hardware.  Now you can sample the Game & Watch experience with Itizso's lovingly created digital reproductions of three different Donkey Kong handhelds, models DK-52, JR-55, and DJ-101 — that's Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong II, and Donkey Kong Jr. to you and me.  Play the games, look at the time, read the instructions, check out the box, and wish that the faux-amiibo included for decoration were real products that I could display in my game room.  It's a window to a different time and, let me tell ya, these games get much better from here.

(via @DrTomTilley)


Mini-Review: Fixture S1

Fixture S1I play my Nintendo Switch mostly in bed these days as I wind down with a little Super Mario or Mega Man before falling asleep.  The only real drawback to playing Switch in handheld mode are those tiny Joy-con buttons that, while functional, aren't exactly comfortable for an adult's hands.  I'd much rather play with my Pro Controller with its comfortably sized controls, but that's not really feasible when laying down and holding the Switch itself.  Thankfully, there's a mounting clip for Switch out there that I've been enjoying for the past few weeks that snaps on to the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and holds a Joy-conless Switch in place much like the popular smartphone mounting clips used for mobile gaming and streaming services such as PlayStation's Remote Play and Microsoft's Game Pass.  It's the Fixture S1 and it's changed how I play Switch in handheld mode.

The clip is easy enough to install as it fits around the Pro Controller and snaps into place.  Remove the Joy-cons from the Switch and then slide the remaining device into the S1's grooves.  Adjust the viewing angle until it's comfortable to hold the controller and see the screen.  There; installed!  I've had to remove the Switch from the mount to recharge it back in its dock, and it slides in and out of the mount without hesitation or causing any damage.  The Fixture S1 is another in a long line of plastic video gaming accessories, but it's a must-own for handheld Switch players who tire of the Joy-cons and their small buttons.  Consider it recommended.

A Fixture S1 and carrying case were provided for review.


Power Button - Episode 332: Birthday For Barrel And Banana

Power ButtonWe're celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Nintendo's original Donkey Kong arcade game this week on the podcast with a salute to some of the gorilla's best games spanning from the very beginning through his 16-bit rebirth into the modern era.  Join us for memories and a to-do list of games you need to play; yes, the Country series is in there, but we also go into the weeds with lesser known games such as King of Swing and Barrel Blast.  You'll be busy long after the discussion ends. Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, Amazon Music Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, 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. 


New Nintendo Switch Model Boasts OLED Screen, LAN Port

Nintendo Switch OLEDNintendo has finally lifted the veil on an updated model of its popular Switch console after months of rumors.  This new Switch offers a brighter OLED screen, a wired LAN port on the system dock, a wider kickstand, enhanced audio, and 64 GB of internal storage.  Basically, it's a mid-cycle quality of life upgrade.  Don't expect anything new that would change the game (no pun intended); the new Switch still tops out at 1080p resolution when docked, so no 4K powerhouse here.  It'll cost $349.99 when it releases on October 8, 2021.  Here's Nintendo's announcement video featuring plenty of happy people playing Switch alone, together, and together when alone.  Here's some of the press release.

“The new Nintendo Switch (OLED model) is a great option for players who want to experience the new vibrant screen when playing in handheld and tabletop mode,” said Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser. “With the addition of this new model to the Nintendo Switch family of systems, people have an additional choice of a system that best fits the gaming experience they desire – whether it’s Nintendo Switch (OLED model), Nintendo Switch or Nintendo Switch Lite.”

Personally, I'm kind of glad the new Switch isn't drastically different.  If I were buying a Switch now for the first time, I'd choose this one, but as a satisfied current Switch owner, I don't see this new model doing anything new that I absolutely must have.  As for that rumored 4K model, I'm sure we'll see that when the time is right.  Releasing a 4K model may not make financial sense for Nintendo at this time, but not releasing it this year sure makes financial sense for me!  I'm happy to get some extra time with my Switch before a major upgrade is required and my launch model is put out to pasture at a farm upstate.


A Symphony Of Sonic

Sonic SymphonyThe video gaming community is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the original Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis this month, and Sega is celebrating too with a series of events, products, and new games all coming out this year.  Last week one of those events blew the doors off the Internet, so if you missed the Sonic Symphony, it's time to set aside two hours and watch some of Sonic's greatest musical hits performed by a symphony and fan-favorite rock bands such as Crush 40 that have contributed to the franchise's soundtracks over the years.  The expected games are all represented with Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Sonic Adventure are all featured, but there are some deeper cuts such as a medley from the Game Gear titles that are largely overlooked now, there's a Sega Saturn-era piece that covers Sonic Jam of all things, and there's a surprising focus on the disastrous Sonic the Hedgehog from 2006 that is notorious for its unfinished state, but did feature great music.  Noticeably, the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 / Sonic & Knuckles medley did not include any selections from the music tracks composed by Michael Jackson and his team that are now allegedly the reason why the games have not been re-released on any platform since 2011.  I enjoyed the show and even if you're not familiar with everything in the concert, I bet you will too.


Power Button - Episode 331: Days Spent With Days Gone

Power ButtonBend Studio's Days Gone for the Sony PlayStation 4 landed with somewhat of a thud when it released two years ago, but multiple patches, being free for PlayStation 5 owners, and a recent PC port have revitalized the zombie apocolypse title, giving it a second wind and a new admiration that it didn't have before.  On this week's podcast, I explain to Blake Grundman why more people need to play this game by spoiling the hell out of it, so if you want to know the main story beats before deciding to invest thirty hours or more into the game, come on in and let me explain everything you need to know. Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, Amazon Music Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, 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. 


Who Is Shantae?

Shantae

Plenty of us passed over WayForward's Shantae when it was released for the Game Boy Color back in 2002.  After all, it showed up very late in the GBC's lifespan and, if you didn't know any better, you might mistakenly peg it as a childrens' game about a cute little genie that uses the power of dance to fight her enemies including the dastardly pirate, Risky Boots.  Boy, did we miss out.  There's actually a lot of tricky platforming and sly innuendo that makes the game more appropriate for an older audience than a younger one.  As series co-creator Matt Bozon says, the games are "too sexy to be a kid's brand, and too girly for a male gamer brand."

It took a while, but that little game eventually spread its wings into a whole franchise of fantastic character platformers in the Metroid style of collecting new abilities and backtracking to see what has opened up in previous paths.  Today there are a bunch of Shantae games spanning a variety of platforms (not including the games that were cancelled before they could really get off the ground including pitches for Super NES and Game Boy Advance versions), and it can be difficult to keep them all straight.  WayForward has produced a short retrospective detailing all of Shantae's adventures in celebration of the entire series arriving on Nintendo Switch (including that first GBC game!) and, soon, other contemporary platforms.  Review your history lesson and then jump in with whichever adventure appeals to you the most.