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May 2009

Nintendo Planning New Wii Fit

Wii Balance BoardIs anyone else getting the sinking feeling that Nintendo's E3 media briefing will once again skew ultra-casual?  That shouldn't be a surprise by now, and there's still every chance something worthwhilefor the core gamers will come out of the event, but in the meantime we're bombarded by news of a planned Wii Fit sequel of some sort, Wii Fit Plus, as well as what seems to be an art-based title called Art Academy which, personally, conjures up images of the old Mario Paint, but I doubt we'll be that lucky.  Joystiq talks trademarks.

Nintendo's core needs a workout, but it looks like the company may be planning to pump up its casual audience even more at next week's E3 with Wii Fit Plus. Originally uncovered in April via purported retailer listings, the game's title has been officially trademarked by Nintendo in Japan. Heck, there's even a logo for the game. Since the month-old rumor has borne fruit in terms of an accurate title, we're more likely to believe the November 2009 release date it claimed.

Also trademarked by the Big N is Art Academy, a previously unheard -of title with no target platform mentioned. Detailed drawing would seem to lend itself more to DS, though we can't help but imagine a game in the vein of Wii Music in which players "paint" great works of art -- the Mona Lisa, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel -- simply by waggling the Wiimote around.

Wii Fit Plus for the casuals and Metroid Prime Trilogy for the cores.  Hmm, OK; what else ya got?  Too dismissive of me?  Certainly, but I didn't get to be this way overnight.

Big Sale On Xbox 360 Games At Today Only

Xbox 360The recurring console-specific one-day-only sale at has returned today with a focus on Microsoft Xbox 360 games.  New games are added to the sale every few hours.  Here's your chance to pick up games such as the collector's edition of Fallout 3, Call of Duty: World at War, and others for cheap, and a portion of every sale made via that green link helps support Press The Buttons.  I could say more, but you know the routine by now.  Clear out the last of your gaming to-do list before a whole new crop of games are announced next week at E3.  C'mon, you know you want to.

Kombo Breaker - Episode 29: Brad Went to Vegas!

Kombo BreakerThe Memorial Day holiday weekend led to a late edition of Kombo Breaker for the week, but hopefully you'll find the wait to be worth it.  Each of us on the podcast panel had big damn manly things to do all weekend as Joey so eloquently describes:

Alright, look... don't get mad because we're late. Memorial Day Weekend was murder on the crew. Matt's packing up body parts, Dan's playing rock concerts in Cincinnati, Brad's hanging out with strippers in Vegas and Joey's playing golf while drinking beers. Manly things, can't help it.

As for this week's topics, I go on about my experience with the new Bionic Commando, Brad went to Las Vegas to play Prototype and the new Transformers adventure, Dan made peace with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and then there's Joey's encounter with EA's latest Tiger Woodsian golf-related sporting title.  Join us by downloading this week's episode directly from Kombo or subscribe via iTunes

Bill Murray: "You’ve Got Some Real Deep Talent At The Keyboard, Huh?”

Peter VenkmanThe biggest draw about the upcoming Ghostbusters: The Video Game has to be that most of the creative talent from the original films have returned to reprise their roles.  The official Ghostbusters development blog recently published a lengthy look at how the actors approached returning to their beloved characters, which new characters were created to compliment the cast, why New York City is a character unto itself, and what Bill Murray had to say when he found out that an actor and her character basically share a name.

[Ilyssa Shepard is] in distress but isn’t really a damsel; she’s actually pretty tough, and knows what’s going on when Gozer returns. Ilyssa is a highly respected scientist, an anthropologist expert in Pre-Sumerian cultures and ritual. She knows the mythos of Gozer and the ways of his original worshippers better than just about anyone. She’s been called from her field research to NYC to guest-curate the Natural History Museum’s ‘World of Gozer’ Exhibition.

Societies become fascinated with villains, especially when the actual threat of harm has been removed. To the people of New York, Gozer is the ultimate villain, and there’s a craze for all things Gozerian sweeping through the city at the moment.

Two days before the exhibit opens, something goes wrong at the museum, and something old and terrible is set into motion. It threatens to destroy the Big Apple, for starters, and then take over the world. Ilyssa is used to taking care of herself, but she finds herself in the middle of strange and dangerous events and doesn’t know why. Enter the Ghostbusters to solve the mystery, save the girl, and, hopefully, set things right again.

A note about the name: we really didn’t have anybody particular in mind to play her part when the character was named ‘Ilyssa’ (I think Flint Dille or John Zuur Platten came up with that name, and it stuck through multiple iterations). When we were lucky enough to get Alyssa Milano for the part, ideally we should have renamed the character. But Ernie and Dan had already recorded, so we just kept the name.

Bill Murray called it out: “The character is Ilyssa, and she’s played by Alyssa? You’ve got some real deep talent at the keyboard, huh?”

I should probably reiterate how much I need this game to be good, but chances are that you already know that by now.  Instead I'll just restate my hope that Ghostbusters: The Video Game shows every other developer and publisher out there how to create a proper movie tie-in video game and sets the example that keeps us away from quickie cash-in games developed on a rushed schedule.  Overly optimistic of me?  Maybe so, but I'm ready to believe it.

Weekly Poll: Prime Time Redux

Weekly Poll for 5-18-2009There's some guarded optimism in the air as E3 2009 draws closer and closer, and honestly, I'm right there with you.  My expectations are a little more grounded this year after last year's comparatively disappointing event.  I'm ready to be completely amazed, but am also prepared to only be mildly impressed.  If you're curious as to how much my expectations have changed, consider this: the Kombo appointment slot with Nintendo falls during the hour I'll have to be over at NBC to use my tickets for The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien and I'm siding with Conan over demos of Wii Sports Resort and Metroid Prime Trilogy.  Even if Nintendo surprises us all with, say, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Mario will be back soon enough, but there's only one chance to see Conan's second episode of The Tonight Show

Speaking of Metroid Prime Trilogy, have you seen that announcement yet?  All three Metroid Prime games are coming back on a single disc for the Nintendo Wii with motion control and visual enhancements added to the first two Prime games.  What are your thoughts on this impending release?  Is it an amazing value or an unwanted rehash?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Big Surf Island Coming To Burnout Paradise Very Soon

Welcome to Big Surf IslandBurnout Paradise for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC has continued to impress and expand with ongoing releases of downloadable content, and now what promises to the be the most significant addition to Paradise City this year finally has a release date.  Criterion Games has a new trailer for the Big Surf Island add-on to Paradise City along with an announcement of a June 11, 2009 release date.  No word on a price yet, but I wouldn't expect this one to come cheap.  It looks like there's a lot of gameplay to be had on the island along with nine new cars to drive and plenty of ramps and other stunt-related chaos to explore.

Samus Aran Returns To Wii For Metroid Prime Trilogy

Samus AranThe prophecy has been fulfilled!  We're familiar by now with Nintendo's "New Play Control!" line of Wii games which are last generation's lesser-played GameCube games featuring added motion controls, and while a NPC! version of Metroid Prime and its sequel, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes has been on the table for Japan for a while, Nintendo of America is taking an extra step to add the third game in the series, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, to create a single $49.99 Wii compilation title called Metroid Prime Trilogy.  What say you, Nintendo press release?

Each game maintains its original storyline and settings, but now Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes let players use their Wii Remote to aim with precision as heroine Samus Aran. Based on the breakthrough control system that debuted in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, these new Wii controls bring an entirely new level of immersion and freedom to these milestone games.

Metroid Prime Trilogy puts the best first-person adventures all in one place, with a host of new additions that make these three timeless titles more engaging than ever," said Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. "A great deal of care and detail has gone into Metroid Prime Trilogy, providing longtime fans with new ways to experience the games they love."

All three games now reside on a single disc. Players can access the game they want from a unified main menu that ties together all three adventures. Through a new unlockables system, players can gain access to in-game rewards such as music and artwork by accomplishing objectives across all three games.

Kotaku has some additional information, too.  I've said previously that I'm open to revisiting the first two Prime games if Corruption's superior control scheme were added to the package considering that I didn't complete either of the two GameCube titles due to, well, let's just call them "frustrations".  It's hard to go wrong with three games on a single disc for the price of one game, and while a new area to explore in one (or more) of the games would have been nice, I guess I can take the limited unlockable extras as they are.  Samus Aran returns August 24 in North America. 

This had better not be the big core Wii game promised for E3.  Hey Nintendo, let's make a deal.  We all promise to buy Trilogy and like it and you give us a traditional Metroid 5 for the DS.  S'alright?  S'alright.

Starfy's Big Break

Starfy There are some Nintendo properties that remain in the company's homeland of Japan.  International audiences know and love Mario, Link, Kirby, and Fox McCloud, but you'll face a challenge trying to find a North American gamer that knows the ins and outs of Starfy, an easy-going starfish who makes his home in Pufftop Palace (and before you cringe at the setting, remember that we happily accepted exotic locales such as the Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule, Dream Land, and Corneria years ago).  Starfy is quite the hero in Japan with four 2D side-scrolling platformer games under his belt, but the series has never made it to North America (although the character has made the occasional cameo — watch for him briefly in games such as Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Princess Peach).  Now, after years of insisting that Starfy was "too Japanese", Nintendo of America is about to introduce him in his latest adventure for the Nintendo DS, The Legendary StarfyIGN has a few quotes from Starfy's creative masters regarding the character's international debut.

When asked why it took so long for Starfy to come to the US, Producer Hitoshi Yamagami responded quite simply.

"He was swimming all the way from Japan!" joked Yamagami. He went on to explain that the Starfy series was always developed for a Japanese audience. According to the developers, they always wanted to bring Starfy to the US, but Nintendo of America deemed the game "too Japanese" for American audiences.

But with the fifth installment of Starfy, Tose wanted to make a game that new players could get into.

"It's a game that's really the result of all the great ideas we had in 1-4. This is a really accessible game and a great starting point to bring it to the US," said Yurie Hattori, assistant director for the Starfy games on the DS.

If Starfy's new game performs well in North America, there's a possibility that his previous adventures for the Game Boy Advance may find a home here as well (probably in a DS or — dare I say — downloadable format).  I've never played a Starfy game before, but if he can stand next to the likes of Nintendo's other 2D platformer heroes, then I hope he has a bright future here.  Personally, I'd like to play the segment of Starfy's third adventure for the Game Boy Advance where he crosses paths with Wario, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Starfy meets Wario

Amazing Origin Of King Hippo Revealed At Last

King HippoOf all of the characters in Nintendo's Punch-Out!! franchise, King Hippo is the most unusual of them all.  With his extreme weight, malformed head, and bizarre mannerisms, one wonders how Hippo came about his strange appearance.  Now (thanks to an ill-conceived product tie-in) we know the horrible truth.  Poor King Hippo has cancer caused by wearing shorts laced with traces of a hazardous chemical.  Remember that pointless Heavyweight Contender Kit sold through  The one with the boxer shorts, punching bag, candy bar, and crown?  Kotaku has word that, like those belonging to the king, the shorts are contaminated.

Warning - the yellow ink printed on the boxers contains traces of a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer.

The Heavyweight Contender Kit was already rather unnecessary, but now I think we can downgrade it even further to "poisonous".  So King Hippo has cancer then.  Now I feel sorry for knocking him out by attacking his unique vulnerable spot.  How poisonous are the other items included in the Kit?  Does the replica King Hippo crown cause hair loss and scalp pain?  Is the punching bag filled with live bees?  Has anyone eaten the Doc Louis Remedy Chocolate Bar and lived to tell the tale?

Who Are These Punch-Out!! People?

Little Mac If you're a newcomer to the world of Nintendo's Punch-Out!! this week as you enjoy the new Wii game, you may wonder just who these bizarre boxers are and why they insist on beating you senseless.  While it hasn't yet been updated to cover the new game, Hardcore Gaming 101 has an interesting article about the history of the Punch-Out!! series that covers the two arcade games, the timeless Nintendo Entertainment System classic featuring Mike Tyson, and the Super NES sequel that it seems nobody has played.  There's also a look at the dismal Power Punch II semi-sequel and a selection of Punch-Out!! rip-offs and imitators.

Nintendo's take on the boxing world is quite interesting. While not the first boxing video game, it's certainly the first one to become a successful hit. It's really no surprise either, as the game boasts incredibly tight controls and memorable characters (sometimes however, they borderline offensive with the game's excessive use of stereotypes. The Italian boxer named Pizza Pasta, the Jamaican boxer named Bob Charlie and others immediately come to mind). While the arcade games were relatively popular, it was the NES outing of the series that brought it to the forefront of gaming, with the sponsorship of professional boxer Mike Tyson.

Unlike most boxing games, putting yourself on the offensive is a bad idea. A majority of the time, you'll need to wait until your opponent strikes, dodge, and then knock them while they're stunned. Each character usually has a set pattern that can be learned, but you must be able to react quickly against them to truly win. A few of the more colorful boxers have some truly outlandish attacks, some of which bordered on the supernatural (Indian boxer Great Tiger teleports around the ring) or flat-out illegal (Chinese boxer Dragon Chan can jump kick you), but the game is obviously not meant to be taken seriously. Naturally, you'll need to quick reflexes to succeed, along with some elementary puzzle solving skills.

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! was one of the moderately popular games on the playground back in my elementary school years.  There was a clear dividing line between those of us who enjoyed Nintendo games; either you were a Super Mario / Legend of Zelda fan or you were nuts for Punch-Out!! and Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf.  As a Mario booster, I crossed the line a few times to play Punch-Out!! at a friend's house, but never did get very far.  My sports-gaming friends would mock me for falling to Piston Honda and would proclaim themselves the best video game players ever, but the trash talk came to an abrupt end when Mike Tyson demolished them time after time.  We learned at a young age that if you're going to talk trash, you'd better be prepared to back up your claims.  Then, after we learned the lesson, we went back to Fighting Golf where Tyson couldn't hurt us anymore.