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March 2010

Capcom Officially Reveals Enker, Punk, And Ballade For Mega Man 10

Mega Man 10 As the risk of turning into an all-Mega Man blog, I feel the need to revisit the recent revelation that Mega Man 10's secret Robot Masters are the Mega Man Killer bosses from the Game Boy Mega Man titles as Capcom has officially announced their upcoming presence in the game.  It's nice to see them finally depicted as full-color sprites after all these years.

Special Stage 1 will be available the week of April 5th. For Special Stage 1, we have Enker, the first of the Mega Man killers. He was created by Dr. Wily and has completely devoted himself to Mega Man’s destruction. Some of you might remember him from Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge where he appears after the second set of Robot Masters. Mirroring his pokey appendages, there’s a variety of spiky hazards Mega Man will have to avoid in this particular stage. The drill robot for instance will launch a threat from underground, so watch out!

Special Stages 2 and 3 will be available the week of April 26th. Special Stage 2's boss is second Mega Man Killer Punk, also created by Dr. Wily. He was designed to be bigger than Enker in size and his special attack is a rapid spinning tackle. Now folks are going to be tempted to rush through on these stages because they are timed, but be careful because the Parabombs in this stage will make life hell for you.

And finally for the Special Stage 3 we have Ballade, the third Mega Man Killer created after Enker and Punk.  This robot is enormously proud of himself and he will not give up easily, even he’s close to death! Make sure to watch out for the fierce attacks he unleashes from high jumps. His stage requires smart decision-making because a series of conveyer belts and diverse traps will challenge the most masterful Mega Man pro.

Once again, kudos to Capcom and Inti Creates for reviving these commonly forgotten and overlooked characters.  With all of the nods at older Mega Man titles (such as the Weapon Archive), the tenth proper installment in the series truly is meant for the long-time fans. 

Hub World Out, Map Screen In For Super Mario Galaxy 2

Comet Observatory Fans of Nintendo's Super Mario Galaxy hoping for a return visit to Rosalina's Comet Observatory in the upcoming sequel are about to have their wishes dashed as Game Informer confirms that Super Mario Galaxy 2 will do away with the hub world format and replace it with an old fashioned 2D map screen as seen in New Super Mario Bros. Wii.  Is this a natural development progression or a casualization of a top core title?  Shigeru Miyamoto himself puts it in perspective:

"You can think of it in terms of something similar to Super Mario World or New Super Mario Bros. Wii, where you will have a rather convenient map to navigate.  We want players to focus on the joy of the action instead of getting to each game course. We wanted to make it as accessible as possible and as easy as possible for the players. Also because we’re going to incorporate a number of different stars and conquering all the stars is going to be one of the most challenging missions for the player, we want them to understand as easy as possible where they should go next and which places they should go back to in order to get access to the remaining stars."

I do enjoy a solid hub world because I like to take my time to poke around a quiet level at my own pace to search for elusive secrets, but I can handle a map screen as long as the stages themselves make up for the exclusion.  Running around Princess Peach's castle and Delfino Square in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine respectively are very strong, fond memories that overshadow the primary stages themselves in some cases, but when I think back on Super Mario Galaxy, it's not the Comet Observatory that I most remember.  Maybe the development team is on to something here if they're unable or unwilling to build a memorable hub world.  Then again, by cutting development of a hub world, the team can either 1) spend more time creating extra action stages or 2) finish the game sooner than expected, hence the rapidly approaching May release date.

Weekly Poll: The Destruction Of Olympus

Weekly Poll for 3-15-2010There's a definite lack of interest in games for Sony's upcoming PlayStation Move.  I know that it is, at heart, a Nintendo Wii imitator, but I still want to get my hands on it at E3 and see what it has to offer.  My PlayStation 3 expectations have been amazingly exceeded so far, so I feel I should give the company the benefit of the doubt that they know what they're doing here and not just playing catch-up.  There's still too much to do between now and E3 for me to by in Los Angeles mode, but I have to admit that I'm starting to get excited for the trip.

Speaking of PlayStation 3, I finished the new God of War III over the weekend and have been impressed with that as well (don't be surprised if you see a mini-review for it later in the week here on PTB).  Right now, though, I want to ask about what you think of it.  Have you played it yet?  If not, what's keeping you away?  Lack of a PS3?  The excessive gore?  Are you not a fan of the genre?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Big PS3 Sale At Today Only

Buy somethin' will ya!It's time for another of's Gold Box one-day-only sales in which items are discounted for a limited time throughout the day, and today's focus is on Sony PlayStation 3 software.  The big discount (which is also available for the Microsoft Xbox 360 version of the game) is Dante's Inferno for a mere $39 (which, if you read my review over at Kombo, you'll know that is a heck of a bargain for such a deep adventure).  Other titles on sale include Batman: Arkham Asylum, Lego Indiana Jones, Tekken 6, Star Ocean, and more.  Not bad deals at all if you're looking to stock up on diversions for spring (particularly Dante's Inferno and Arkham Asylum).  Each purchase made through the green link helps support PTB, so we each get something nice out of it.

First Look And Listen At Sonic The Hedgehog 4's Splash Hill Zone

Sonic4Sega's upcoming for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and Apple iPhone is continuing on track for a summer release, and as the seasons change, the company is giving out additional information about the blue blur's next adventure.  New screenshots of the first zone, Splash Hill Zone, are available at the game's official website today, as is a sample of the zone's musical theme.  Take a listen.  It sounds sufficiently synthy!

As for the screenshots, take note of the... well, it's a blue blur!... that trails behind Sonic after hitting a springboard.  Considering how fast Sonic can be bounced around between springs and how easy it can be to lose track of him during those zippy moments, it'll be nice to have a visual aid to make it easier to follow him.  Save your cries of "but that's not Sonic!" on this one.  I am in favor of this addition to the formula.

Exploring The Capcom Hand

Capcom Hand We're through the looking glass, people.  My recent article about an ever-present stage design element in many Mega Man adventures has led The Mega Man Network to focus on something similar in terms of character design.  The next time you take a look at some of those great pieces of Robot Master promotional artwork, take special note of each character's hands.  In almost every instance in which the characters have open hands instead of fists or blasters, the Robot Masters have their middle and ring fingers stuck together.  Is it significant?  Does it imply a "W-for-[Dr.] Wily" formation?  What does it mean?!

As you can see, the middle finger and ring finger are practically fused together. It’s really as if the artist had trouble drawing a proper hand with five fingers, and had to make one of them really big to imply two fingers together. This hand pose isn’t present with all Mega Man characters, but many hold their hands in a fist, and some just don’t have hands at all. But when a Mega Man character tries to open his or her hand, those two fingers just won’t come apart.

Of course, the reality is that it’s just the style of the artist, likely Keiji Inafune himself, who began as a character designer. I presume many of these character images were created, if at least drafted, by him. Starting in Mega Man 8, Hayato Kaji became the head of illustrating as Inafune went on to take more production roles, which would indicate why the gesture disappears around that time. Then it naturally reappears in Mega Man 9 and 10, games which try to recapture that retro feel. You can tell they really paid attention to all the small details!

Who knows what this strange gesture, which I am naming the “Capcom Hand,” really indicates. All I can say for sure is it’s very Mega Man.

How many other little hidden elements are hiding in Capcom productions?  I think it's time that we as a community go A Beautiful Mind on the entire Mega Man franchise to crack open its secrets and overanalyze the P-chips out of it.  Pick a topic and get started.  If you need me, I'll be over here in the corner taping printed-out screenshots to the wall to see what kind of secret message they spell when arranged in the proper order. 

DSi XL Launching In North America With Pack-In Casual Games

Nintendo DSi XL Nintendo is launching its supersized DSi XL in North America next week, and when buyers open the box and turn on the device, they'll find three games waiting for them on the system's built-in memory: Brain Age Express: Math, Brain Age Express: Arts & Letters and Photo Clock.  The common thread between these three titles?  They're meant for casual audiences.  This is nothing new from Nintendo these days, but my pal Brad Hilderbrand over at Kombo believes that the company is missing an opportunity here.  He explains:

It's interesting to note that the same press release touting the pre-installed software also makes mention of America's Test Kitchen and WarioWare D.I.Y. as launch titles for the XL. The latter game especially is expected to perform very well so the question then becomes did Nintendo ever consider bundling it with their new handheld? Think about it, isn't it easier to swallow the idea of buying a $190 handheld if it comes with a game you were planning to spend $35 on anyway? Suddenly the price point makes more sense, and the device isn't such a hard sell.

Firstly, Nintendo hasn't given away free gold since it packed Wii Sports in the box with the Wii itself, and the game's runaway success was unexpected when that decision was made.  Next, while the new WarioWare D.I.Y. is a big release for the company this season, it's not exactly aimed at the target demographic for the DSi XL.  Remember that the XL is supposedly meant for older casual gamers whose failing eyes need the assistance of a larger pair of screens.  That audience isn't interested in or ready for WarioWare, but those Brain Age games that everyone in their social circle keeps talking about are right up their alley.

Big Daddy Day Care

Big Daddy Day Care It's not uncommon for video game characters to take side jobs when their primary means of income trail off between adventures.  Mario became a doctor, for instance.  Mega Man tried to launch a soccer career (that one didn't work out so well).  Unfortunately, some characters just aren't suited to secondary work as this comic over at The Escapist proves.  While BioShock's Big Daddies might seem well suited for working a day care center with children considering their devotion for Little Sisters, what do you think happens when the parents come at the end of the day to take the kids home?  It's not pleasant.

Five Years Of Pressing The Buttons

Mario Today marks the fifth anniversary of Press The Buttons, so I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who are regular readers for your ongoing support.  I'm not just writing into the void here.  I like to hear what you all have to say and banter back and forth about the issues of the day, and having those conversations here and on online gaming services like PlayStation Network make it all worthwhile.  Rather than send you down a long retrospective of the last five years (there's a "Best Of PTB" page already for that), I'll just offer a small selection of my favorite PTB articles.

Thanks again for five great years, and here's hoping for many more.

Exploring The Capcom Turnaround

The Capcom TurnaroundIf you pay close enough attention while playing Capcom's 2D action platformer sidescrollers, eventually you'll begin to notice a pattern emerge when it comes to level design.  Eventually the protagonist will come to a point on his journey where the path will force him to drop into a room from above, make a quick jog to the left, drop down to the ground, and continue onwards to the right.  Check out this handy diagram to the right from Mega Man 3, for instance.  Take notice of this fragment of Shadow Man's stage because I'm about to blow your mind wide open with it.  This particular path formation recurs again and again in most every other 2D Mega Man as well as a few other Capcom titles.  How many times can a protagonist drop in from the top, skirt left, drop again, and exit to the right to perform what I've come to call the Capcom Turnaround?  Let's find out by exploring extensive photo evidence.

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