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April 2010

Expensive Uncharted 2 Art Book Coming Soon

The Art of Uncharted 2: Among ThievesI love a good art book, so when I heard that game developer Naughty Dog and publisher Ballistic Publishing were teaming up to create The Art of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves in which concept art, to character studies, environment art, character modeling, game art, cinematics, motion-capture, animation, and effects from the popular Sony PlayStation 3 title are all explored, displayed, and discussed across 272 pages.  Sounds good to me!  The book is due to be released this month and pre-orders are currently available at Ballistic's website.  Now, how much would you expect this book to set you back?  What do you think the price tag is for this publication?  Surely it can't be too unreasonab-

Say what?!

Well, that's... that's on the steep side. I'm reminded of that overpriced Tomb Raider art book that was announced a few months ago.  What on Earth could that $300 edition possibly include that makes it worth so much money?

The Limited Folio edition, of only 200 will be printed, throws in some sweet extras beyond the standard paperback and the leather-bound Special Edition. The Limited Folio Edition of the art book is bound in black suede leather with gold-embossed cover art, and a matching hand-crafted, black suede leather-bound presentation case with a ribbon. Also included is a certificate of authenticity that have been individually numbered and hand signed by Evan, Amy, Robh and Erick.

Look, I know that Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Tomb Raider are about acquiring expensive artifacts, but that doesn't mean that the tie-in media needs to be priced similarly.  Maybe I'm in the minority here, but for me the sweet spot for art book pricing is around $30.  Unless these super maximum special limited editions are signed by Nathan Drake himself (not voice actor Nolan North, but the actual fictional character), then I just can't justify the purchase.

Prototype Hardware Runs Wild

Early Nintendo prototypeThe video game console sitting near your television did come come into this world fully designed on the first try.  Hardware developers spend lots of time and resources to design the perfect case for the technology within, and this design process takes consoles through multiple iterations on the way to becoming what we all know today as, say, the Nintendo Entertainment System or Microsoft Xbox 360.  Platypus Comix has compiled images from around the Internet of prototype game consoles and peripherals spanning from the original NES all the way to the Sony PlayStation 3.

Nintendo's first try at Americanizing the Famicom was the Nintendo AVS (for Advanced Video System), which is on free display behind glass at New York's Nintendo World Store. The AVS prototype involved two wireless controllers with squares for directional pads instead of a very different-looking Zapper, an optional wireless joystick, and keyboard and tape recorder attachments. All these elements nudged themselves into the console for safe storage. It looks even more like a clunky 80's VCR than the actual thing did, but back then, that was the intent. Remember that "game machine" had a stigma at the time thanks to the Atari crash. Nintendo shopped this model around, and Atari themselves almost bought the distrubtion rights, but a legal calamity involving the ColecoVision version of Donkey Kong kiboshed that alternate timeline.

Some of these early concepts are unique at best and downright ugly at worst, but I kind of like some of the alternate Sony PlayStation controllers purely from an aesthetic point of view. There's one variation that looks like an inverse Super NES controller melded with a traditional PS1 controller smashed into the Wii's + and - buttons. If that's not the grand convergence of controller layouts, I don't know what is.

What The BEEP Is That? #4 At Kombo

What The BEEP Is That? Do you think you can identify the eight mystery sound effects that comprise the fourth installment of our weekly Kombo feature that we call "What The BEEP Is That?"  This week's theme revolves around the sounds of the green flag dropping in racing games.  Identify at least one of the sounds of the starting line and you could win Deadly Premonition for the Microsoft Xbox 360.  Sound easy enough?  I wrote the clues that go with each sound effect once again this week, so I tried to cut everyone a break with little hints that should make it easier to look up the title of the game if you don't know the sound.

The Many Faces Of Kirby

The Many Faces of Kirby by Buci01

One of the nice touches in Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. franchise involves finding out how Kirby's appearance will change when he absorbs the powers of an opponent.  For instance, he picks up Samus Aran's helmet when he takes on her powers, while he gains Mario's hat after inhaling everyone's favorite plumber.  If you've ever wondered what the pink puffball would become after swallowing, say, Mega Man or a Shy Guy, then Deviantartist Buci01 has you covered with this piece entitled "The 126 Faces of Kirby".  I especially like the Street Fighter II, Portal, and Plok Kirbies.

(via Reddit)

Introducing The Mega Man Killers

Introducing The Mega Man Killers Enker. Punk. Ballade. To long-time Mega Man players who have fond or frustrating memories of the Game Boy line of blue bomber adventures, the names of Dr. Wily's special Robot Masters designed specifically to eliminate Mega Man are not easily forgotten. Newer fans of the franchise probably have little idea who these characters are or from where they come now that they've returned as add-on DLC content in Mega Man 10 for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Xbox 360, so it's time for a little Robot Master 101 introduction course in the form of a video created by PTB reader Guy Perfect in which these three bosses are reviewed in all their Game Boy glory. You'll learn their moves, weapon capabilities, and even a little backstory where applicable. It's time to introduce the Mega Man Killers.

Power Button - Episode 6: Blasting Across Panau In Just Cause 2

Power ButtonIt's not often that a video game comes along that sucks all three of us into the action at the same time, but Just Cause 2 from Avalanche Studios and Square-Enix has done the job.  This week on Power Button we engage in a spirited discussion about the soaring highs, deep lows, and creamy middles of Rico Rodriguez's adventures on the island of Panau.  Brad Hilderbrand, Joey Davidson, and I spend thirty minutes talking about how the main storyline is just window-dressing for the causing of chaos, how the voice acting could have been improved (Bolo Santosi says hello serdadu), which places and moments have been the most memorable, and towards the end we even give you a shortlist of stunts to try and sights to see.  Then we wrap it all up with a close-out that proves I really shouldn't try to brainstorm new taglines while we're on the air. Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, or subscribe via iTunes, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach all three of us via . You can even follow on Twitter at @PressTheButtons or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. If you're joining the Just Cause 2 party late, be sure to check out my video collection of stunts and sights as well as my review of the game over at Kombo, Brad's review at Worth Playing, and Joey's review at Crave Online.

Power Button - Episode 6: Blasting Across Panau In Just Cause 2

Conan O'Brien Could Have Been A Xbox Exclusive

I'm With Xbox Coco Plenty of people are surprised that Conan O'Brien has chosen TBS as the new venue for his nightly talk show, but the news could have been even more unusual and particularly related to gaming.  As Deadline Hollywood reports, Team Conan was in talks with Microsoft to become exclusive to the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live as downloadable program of some sort.  How's that for a killer app?

A lot of showbiz reporters got it wrong speculating about where Conan would land. They were fixated on Fox and assumed he would only go to a network. But the fact is that, we knew from the very beginning, Team Conan (including his exec producer Jeff Ross, and WME's Rick Rosen, and manager Gavin Palone, and Ziffren Brittenham attorney Sam Fischer), were thinking way outside the network box. For instance, there were discussions with Microsoft about an Xbox deal for Conan's show that would have broken new ground. And yes, discussions took place with Fox. Long presumed the most natural choice for the comedian, who had been clear that he was only interested in a nightly talk show, the sticking point was clearing a time slot behind the late evening news where the Fox O&O [owned and operated] and affiliate stations all have long-term syndication deals.

Don't be too baffled at the idea of Conan on a Xbox-exclusive talk show.  Had that deal gone ahead, I'd have bought a Xbox 360 to watch him.  Somehow I doubt that I'm alone in that.  How's that for the new media revolution and the battle of the living room?  For the first time a game console would have had a non-gaming product driving sales.

Ousted Infinity Ward Heads Respawn With Electronic Arts

Respawn time Things are looking up for the former heads on Infinity Ward, Jason West and Vince Zampella (aside from the lawsuits against and from Activision).  The duo announced this morning that that they're re-teaming with Electronic Arts to form their own development studio called (fittingly enough) Respawn EntertainmentGamasutra reports that this development is the ultimate "screw you" gesture to both Activision and EA.

"Other than that, I see no risk to this at all," says the analyst. "This is the ultimate screw-you to Activision -- and the ultimate screw you to EA," he adds, recalling how the pair left EA and the Medal of Honor franchise claiming they were worth more money.

"By going to EA now and getting paid up, they say, 'you're finally paying us what we're due,'" says the analyst. "EA are being the bigger people here. They're not wounded at all by the fact that they lost these guys and the
Medal of Honor brand deteriorated."

Pachter believes it's worth noting that Respawn's official announcement has a quote of endorsement from EA Games boss Frank Gibeau, not EA Partners' David DeMartini. "It implies that this is a richer deal for EA, meaning a bigger profit share as opposed to a straight distribution deal."

Now the community eagerly awaits news of Respawn's first project.  As for me, I'm betting on Medal of Duty.  Or, perhaps, Call of Honor.

Buying Your Kids' Love The Family Guy Way

Family Guy - 'April In Quahog'When the local news reports that a black hole is about to end all life on Earth, Peter Griffin reveals that he doesn't like spending time with his children in the "April In Quahog" episode of Family Guy.  The kids shun him, and after failing to win back their love, he decides that it's easier to just buy it back instead, producing a brand new Microsoft Xbox 360 as a last-ditch effort.  What starts as a typical Family Guy gag turns into product placement for Activision and Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as Peter tries to compete as a new player with seasoned veterans (Infinity Ward is even given a mention in the end credits).  Check out both segments in this clip via Hulu:

Weekly Poll: Why Did You Say Five Minutes?

Weekly Poll for 4-05-2010 There's generally more excitement for Super Mario Galaxy 2 over Metroid: Other M, and that's certainly understandable.  Given a choice between the two, why not go for the experience that is guaranteed to be too much fun over the one that may or may not work out in the end.  I'm more interested in Mario's latest adventure over Samus Aran's unraveling backstory, but that's mostly because I've always been a Super Mario fan first and foremost.  Some allegiances run deep.

Speaking of unknown factors, last week the BBC announced a four episode run of adventure games featuring the world of Doctor Who.  Are you interested in these?  It's time to digitally join the Doctor and his companion as they... well, from the look of the first screenshots, they explore rubble and encounter Cybermen.  So, what do you say?  Are you game?  Or do you have absolutely no idea what I'm going on about?