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October 2010

Annual Halloween Castlevania Musical Moment

Castlevania JudgmentIt just wouldn't be Halloween unless I took a moment to spotlight an outstanding piece of Konami's Castlevania lore, so of course this year can be no exception.  This time I have a trio of terrifying tunes taken from the 2008 Nintendo Wii release Castlevania Judgment, a 3D fighting game that lacks in every department except for the music.  Indeed, I think you'll find the musical score to be one of the strongest Castlevania soundtracks with its emphasis on rearrangements and remixes of familiar melodies.  Take heart on this dark night of doom with "Vampire Killer" (originally from Castlevania), "Beginning" (originally from Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse), and "Dracula's Castle" (originally from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night).  It's a horrible night to have a curse, but a fantastic night for kick-ass music.

"Vampire Killer"


"Dracula's Castle"

Press The Buttons - Episode 1: Punching Trees With Zombies And A Speedy Blue Hedgehog

PTB Episode 1 v2

The big day is finally here as the first episode of the Press The Buttons show premieres!  Join me — Matthew Green — and co-host Robert Alsbrook for the pilot episode as we tackle a few recent news stories including NBA Jam's impending arrival on the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 as well as a little Minecraft chatter and word on the supposed closing of developer n-Space.  During our discussion segment we swap stories about the scariest games we've played in honor of Halloween, and then I close things out with a review of Sega's new Sonic the Hedgehog 4.  Like with any new endeavor, we're feeling our way forward and throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.  We want to hear your comments!  Meanwhile, you can catch new episodes every Friday at 3pm ET.  Thanks to Will Rodriguez and everyone involved with for helping to make all of this possible.

Classic Donkey Kong References Add Up

Donkey Kong Country Returns

Take a moment and let this new screenshot of Nintendo's upcoming Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii wash over you.  Of course it looks absolutely gorgeous and makes me want to play the game right now and not a moment sooner, but take a look in the background at the giant pixel Donkey Kong statue holding a Wii remote.  It's a fun nod to the character's arcade roots, but don't you think it looks familiar?  Can you recognize it but yet not place the reference?  Maybe if we replace the Wii remote with something less fun and more educational...


Oh, Retro Studios, you're so sneaky.  Hiding a reference to the pretty much forgotten edutainment title Donkey Kong Jr. Math for the Nintendo Entertainment System is a classy move.  I haven't been this charmed by such a reference since the Robotic Operating Buddy turned up as part of the track design in F-Zero GX

Keiji Inafune Departs Capcom

Keiji InafuneTime to wake up this morning to a bombshell from the world of video game development: popular and beloved video game developer Keiji Inafune has stepped down from his positions within Capcom.  If Inafune's name doesn't ring a bell, perhaps some of the titles he's created over the years will: Mega Man, Dead Rising, Onimusha, and Lost Planet.  While I bet we haven't seen the last of these franchises, I'm really hoping we haven't seen the last of Inafune.  He's a major talent in the industry, although perhaps his stature is less than it was since he made some rather inflammatory comments regarding how he believes that the Japanese gaming development industry is finished and that he hates his job.  Here's some of his official statement via his blog:





At least I assume that's some of his resignation.  I think we'll just let Kotaku handle explaining this one to those of us who don't read Japanese: 

"A manager's work means evaluating your subordinates and speaking your dreams. Anyone who can do both of those can be a manager. I thought that when I came here, and I still think that now."

The problem being, Inafune believes he can no longer do both those things.

He also reflects on this 23 years at Capcom. Inafune started out as a character designer but, as he points out, he's now reached the top of Capcom's development structure. "There's nowhere higher for me to go."

"I'm leaving Capcom with the intention of starting my life over", he adds. Inafune says he's looking for his next challenge and will not be taking a break.

"People that really know me, can see where I'm coming from. I'm not a regular dude. It's probably because I'm strange."

He closes saying he'll do his best and with a "thank you".

Wouldn't it be something if Inafune turned up in a few weeks working with a western developer?  If he believes that the future of game development lies outside of Japan, then why not head west and see what opportunities are available?  Someone in North America or Europe must want to hire him.  Can you imagine him having his hand in the next installment of Uncharted or Halo?  Or creating an entirely new property that, for whatever reason, Capcom was reluctant to greenlight?  I really hope he's not leaving the business entirely.  He has far too many good ideas for us to never experience them again.

A 2D Fighter Timeline For The Ages

Chun-liIt's been said that there is one constant throughout human civilization: mankind will find new ways to beat each other to pulps.  One of those "new ways" involves digital simulations of violent martial arts combat set in two dimensions, e.g. 2D video games based around fighting.  We all know Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, and, um, Tattoo Assasins and Violence Fight, but there are tons of other 2D fighters out there just waiting to be explored.  Hardcore Gaming 101 has organized the list of notable entries in the genre by year and innovation, so here's your chance to tell a Killer Instinct from a Waku Waku 7.  Speaking of Killer Instinct...

1994: Rare's Killer Instinct arcade game is treated as a way to preview the upcoming Nintendo 64, although since it is a 2D fighting game with lots of pre-recorded music and video, it is a very inaccurate representation of what the system will offer. In its attract mode there is even an announcement that it will be available for your home in 1995 on Nintendo Ultra 64, which is false for at least three reasons.

When it comes to fighting games I'm largely a fan of Capcom's creations such as Street Fighter, Marvel vs Capcom, Darkstalkers, and a few others, but I do find the Mortal Kombat characters intriguing even if I can't play their games with any signs of talent.  I've never been able to get into SNK's Fatal Fury or Art of Fighting, while the aforementioned Killer Instinct just lacked charisma whenever I tried to see what the fuss was about.  I may not be a fan of every game in the genre, but I enjoyed learning that it's much more expansive than I thought.

(via GameSetWatch; image via SFGalleries)

Nintendo Starting To Ship Club Nintendo Figurines

Club Nintendo Mario figurineDo you remember those neat Super Mario figurines that Nintendo planned to send to Club Nintendo platinum members?  Well, the company has started to ship them out.  In fact, due to the high demand for the figurines, it turns out that they will be shipping them for quite some time.  Here's the word from Nintendo that was sent via e-mail to everyone who registered for a figurine:

We had thousands of loyal Nintendo fans reach Elite Status last June and it is going to take us a couple of weeks to ship all the orders.  So, even though your friends or neighbors may receive their Reward before you do, please be assured that your order is being processed too!

I've wanted a proper Super Mario displayable figurine of some sort for years now.  I have memorable collectibles for most of my favorite major film, television, and gaming franchises, but there's been a distinct lack of quality on-model Mario items out there, so I've never been able to fill this particular gap in my collection.  Now Nintendo has come and not only offered up a solution, but for free as well.  It's a classy move and very much appreciated.

Super Mario All-Stars For Wii Coming To USA

Super Mario All-Stars Nintendo of America is finally marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the classic Nintendo Entertainment System title Super Mario Bros. with a release of the beloved Super Mario All-Stars compilation for the Wii.  The United States joins the rest of the world with a limited run of disc, soundtrack, and history booklet coming December 12 for $29.99.  Here's some of the press release:

The games included in the Super Mario All-Stars collection are Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3. Each game features the enhanced graphics and updated sound from the Super NES™ Super Mario All-Stars collection, and all four can be played on the Wii system using one of several controllers: the Wii Remote™ controller, Classic Controller™, Classic Controller Pro™ or the Nintendo GameCube™ controller.

Also included is a Super Mario History soundtrack CD, a compilation of memorable music from the Mario franchise. Containing classic theme songs and fun sound effects from the original Super Mario Bros. game all the way up to this year's acclaimed Super Mario Galaxy™ 2 game, this special disc also marks the first official release of the "Super Mario Bros. Ground Theme," widely recognized as one of the most famous pieces of video game music in history.

Rounding out the Super Mario All-Stars collection is a 32-page Super Mario History booklet featuring interviews, behind-the-scenes details and rare concept art. Fans from every generation can enjoy firsthand insights into the beginnings of Mario, illustrated with candid photos and never-before-seen design sketches. Together with the game software and soundtrack, it's the ultimate tribute to a unique game series.

There's even a localized anniversary website with wallpapers and other fun material.  And yes, Nintendo of America localized the history wallpaper that I updated myself a while back.  It took a while for the wheels to turn on this one, but I'm glad that the company has decided to release All-Stars in the USA.  I already own these games multiple times in other formats, but I'm easy prey when it comes to neat novelty collectible re-releases with extra goodies.  I will definitely pick this one up.

Power Button - Episode 26: Joey Takes Manhattan

Power ButtonIt's a special double feature of Power Button this week as we clear out a few episodes that were stuck in post-production hell for a bit.  On today's show we spend some time hearing about Joey Davidson's trip to the New York Comic-Con where he played all kinds of interesting games including Epic Mickey and the "Undead Nightmare" add-on for Red Dead Redemption.  Then the three of us step up to discuss some of the games that have had our interest lately including Comic Jumper and Sonic the Hedgehog 4.  It's seventy minutes of our usual banter intermixed with some classic Ghouls 'N Ghosts and Castlevania music to mark the upcoming Halloween weekend (and Emma Davidson, Joey's dog, barks in with an uneditable cameo appearance). 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  and you can even follow on Twitter at @PressTheButtons or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Power Button - Episode 26: Joey Takes Manhattan

PlayStation Phone Prototype Supposedly Revealed

PlayStation Phone PrototypeThe long-rumored hybrid pairing of a Sony PlayStation Portable and a cell phone has apparently been exposed over at Engadget, as photos of a prototype have surfaced that show what looks kind of like a PSPgo with a touch panel melded together with the Android operating system.  It's an early look at hardware that supposedly isn't quite finished yet, but the idea of it certainly is intriguing.  GameLife is as skeptical as anyone with good reason, mind you.  Here's Engadget:

It's hard to believe that what we're looking at is real -- but we assure you, the picture above is in fact the PlayStation Phone you've long been waiting for. As we reported back in August, the device you see is headed into the market soon, likely boasting Android 3.0 (aka Gingerbread), along with a custom Sony Marketplace which will allow you to purchase and download games designed for the new platform. The device snapped up top (and in our gallery below) is sporting a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 (a chip similar to the one found in the G2, but 200MHz faster), 512MB of RAM, 1GB of ROM, and the screen is in the range of 3.7 to 4.1 inches. Looking almost identical to the mockup we hit you with this summer, the handset does indeed have a long touchpad in the center which is apparently multitouch, and you can see in the photos that it's still bearing those familiar PlayStation shoulder buttons. For Sony buffs, you'll be interested to know that there's no Memory Stick slot here, but there is support for microSD cards.

The system specs go above and beyond what the current PSP can do, but it doesn't track with the PSP2 rumors from a few days ago, so it's unlikely that this is a PSP2/phone unit.  So what are we looking at here?  Is it a PSP that can place phone calls or a phone that can play PSP games?  Is it even real at all?  Sony isn't commenting on rumor and speculation, of course.  Leaked photos of a prototype and some hard technical numbers are neat and all, but I really think we need to hear about this gadget's intended market and place (if any) in the PlayStation family before anybody preorders anything.

Get Vanquished!

So there you are, UK readers, sitting in your home or office and minding your own business when suddenly an alien death beam shatters your neighborhood into millions of itty bitty pieces.  Don't you just hate it when that happens?  What do you mean that it never happens?  Well, maybe it should.  As part of the promotional push for Sega's new Vanquish for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 comes this neat little distraction in which your just enter your UK post code, then sit back and watch the fireworks.  Not in the UK? Here are a few sample post codes to try: M1 1AA, M60 1NW, CR2 6XH, DN55 1PT, and W1A 1HQ. Feel free to share any other post codes that lead to interesting results.