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December 2010

November 2010

Sonic 3 & Knuckles Soundtrack Reworked For 8-Bit Hardware

Sonic the HedgehogAllow yourself to slip back into the era of the Nintendo versus Sega console wars and think about what a shock it would be to hear a favorite Sega Genesis game's soundtrack downgraded into beepy Nintendo Entertainment System harmonies.  Over at YouTube you'll find this Sonic the Hedgehog 3 / Sonic & Knuckles musical composition sampler from 8BitDanooct1 that gives the familiar melodies a little VRC6 facelift.  It sounds perfectly right, yet oh so wrong.  Sonic music in a Nintendo format?  It should not be!

Well guys, here is the completed work of over a month of work. It took literally over two hundred hours to complete all the work necessary for it, and I can't thank you guys enough for your support and help. It's finally done, a full version of the Sonic 3 & Knuckles soundtrack that is fully playable on an NES with the right equipment.

You can download the complete project in both conventional MP3 and Nintendo Entertainment System sound type NSF formats and and bask in the 8-bit glories for yourself all night long.  It's impressive stuff that makes one wonder how history would have turned out had Sega and Nintendo joined forces rather than compete in a grueling technology and franchise arms race.

Uncharted 3 May Include Desert Setting

DesertNathan Drake certainly gets around.  We've seen him exploring lush green jungles, climbing frozen mountains, and stumbling through the snow with nasty wounds, and if Kotaku is on the money with its latest rumor report, we may soon see him trudging through the desert.  There are stirrings that the upcoming Uncharted 3 for the Sony PlayStation 3 may well be set in a desert to allow developer Naughty Dog the opportunity to show off its sand skills.

The deserts of Africa have been a frequently theorized and requested setting for the third Uncharted game—one that would put Drake on a path already traveled by Indiana Jones. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy traveled from the jungles of South America to the snowy mountains of Nepal to the Egyptian desert. Coincidence? Crazed theory? We'll find out where Uncharted 3 will take Drake soon enough, if this rumor is right. Sony has something to unveil in Hollywood on December 12, so we'll hopefully know something more official about Nathan Drake's future before too long.

If this turns out to be true, I hope that Naughty Dog can avoid the trap into which most desert levels in games fall: desert levels are boring.  Not all desert levels, of course; I'm thinking of the instances of endless sand that stretches out in all directions as far as the eye can see.  Jungles and snowy mountains work so well in Uncharted titles because they give Drake something with which to interact.  I'd like to believe that if Uncharted 3 were to tackle a desert setting, it would feature enough interesting architecture and environments to make it all worthwhile.  Think of sand temples, underground chambers buried beneath the sand, and other such examples.  Those would be fun to explore.  Eternal dunes?  Not so much.

Say, do you suppose Uncharted 3 will introduce Drake's father and uncle?

Mega Man X Collection Comes Back Around

Mega Man X CollectionAre you heartbroken that you never bothered to scoop up your own new copy of Capcom's Mega Man X Collection for the Sony PlayStation 2 back in 2006?  If so, then take heart.  Word on the street from Protodude's Rockman Corner is that freshly printed copies of the game are appearing in stores here and there.  How much you'll pay for such a thing is up for grabs though.  Some stores are charging a budget-friendly $19.99, while others are going full retail for $39.99.  If you're interested, try your luck and shop around.

The re-printed X Collection apparently comes in the new flimsy, eco-friendly PS2 DVD cases, which noticeably lack the memory card slip above the disc holder. The new packaging alone is a clear indicator the game has seen an official resupply. There's been no sign of a GameCube reprint, currently.

I wrote a long, exhaustive review for Kombo back in the day that breaks down each game on the disc (that's all six Mega Man X titles and the import racer Mega Man: Battle & Chase for those keeping score at home), and my recollection is that the first four X titles are fantastic followed by a so-so fifth entry and a dismal sixth.  For $20 the set is a steal, for $40 it's probably a little overpriced; the sweet spot must be somewhere in between.

Steve Smith Is The Controller On American Dad

Steve SmithIn what could be product placement for either Microsoft's Kinect add-on for the Xbox 360 or the upcoming film Tron Legacy, American Dad hit on the video gaming humor again on last night's episode, "There Will Be Bad Blood".  When Stan Smith decides to take his family to visit his half-brother in Arizona, he finds out that said half-brother is actually phenomenally wealthy.  Stan's son Steve is sent to try out the game room, leading to a series of gags in which players "are the remotes" (Remotes?  Does any gamer actually call a controller a "remote"?).  Here's the clip via Hulu.

Continue reading "Steve Smith Is The Controller On American Dad" »

Weekly Poll: Like Clockwork

Weekly Poll for 11-22-2010It's almost even money across the board when it comes to how much gaming you all expect to do over the holiday season.  I know that I certainly plan to play more this year than in previous years.  I'm taking a full two weeks off this season to just relax and unwind from the year which I've never been able to do before.  I'll be spending my gaming time with Rock Band 3, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Sonic Colors, GoldenEye 007, even more Just Cause 2 (believe it or not!), and a few other things that have been sitting around just waiting for some action.  It'll be glorious!  Ah, I love the holiday season.

Speaking of Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft has apparently decided not to give the franchise next year off after all, as it's planning another major release for 2011's holiday season.  It's become one of many successful franchises that have to have an annual release whether it's justified or not.  How do you feel about this practice?  Do we have to have a new game from your favorite franchise every year?  Let's hear your thoughts.

PTB 2010 Video Gaming Holiday Gift Guide

Donkey Kong plays Santa ClausOnce again it's that time of year, the time when we give presents to loved ones just because they're family and friends.  It's also time for the annual Press The Buttons holiday gift guide, and this year's edition looks to pare things down from the approach of previous years.  Instead of listing pretty much every major release as an option, this year's guide hits of my personal favorite highlights from 2010.  In order for a game to make the list, it must be something that I thoroughly enjoyed.  It's a more personalized perspective that I hope you find useful as you make your list and check it twice.  Before you head out to the mall or over to, take a look at what I'm recommending this year.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (PS3 / Xbox 360)

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Ezio Auditore is back in the follow-up to last year's popular Assassin's Creed II.  This sequel is no mere stopgap side story though.  Everyone's favorite assassin continues his rampage through the Italian Renaissance as he wipes out as many members of the Borgia family as he can get his hidden blade inside.  In addition to the game's online multiplayer mode, there's a massive single-player quest with plenty of people to kill, objects to collect, secrets to find, and tombs to explore.  Gameplay shifts from open combat to platforming to a little bit of Farmville at times, oddly enough.  To truly see and do everything will take players weeks.  It can be just a little glitchy at times, but what does one expect from a one-year development period?  For more on Brotherhood, be sure to read my ongoing series that chronicles my exploration of Rome as well as episode 30 of the Power Button podcast.

Continue reading "PTB 2010 Video Gaming Holiday Gift Guide" »

The Neckless Woman Of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

I've seen some strange things in video games over the years, but this recurring Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood glitch in the Sony PlayStation 3 version of the game has to rank pretty high on the weird stuff-o-meter.  One of the women that Ezio Auditore can recruit into the guild of assassins is missing her neck, causing her head to hover above her shoulders and disconnected from her body.  It's very disconcerting.  Check it out for yourself in this video clip hastily filmed on my iPhone (as there wasn't time to prepare my video capture box).  I've seen her four times so far, and while she is a good assassin, she's also a reminder of what can happen when short development windows get just a little too tight.

Exploring Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Mark Wahlberg Declares That He's Nathan Drake In Uncharted Movie

Nathan DrakeFans of Nathan Fillion are sure to be crushed when they hear that Mark Wahlberg has told MTV's Multiplayer that he has been chosen to portray Uncharted protagonist Nathan Drake in the upcoming Uncharted movie.  Not only that, but apparently actors Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro are set to play members of Drake's family.  Say what?

Recently there have been rumors that O. Russell was interested in casting Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro in the film, and Wahlberg confirmed those, as well. "That's who he wants to write the parts for. I talked to Pesci about it and I know David's people have talked to [Robert De Niro]."

And now for the juicy bit: How would Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro fit into the storyline?

"I'm obviously in whatever David wants to do but the idea of it is so off the charts: De Niro being my father, Pesci being my uncle. It's not going to be the watered-down version, that's for sure."

At this point, it's clear that O. Russell will be exploring "Uncharted" mythos beyond what we've seen on the PS3, given that none of Nathan Drake's family members have appeared in the games before. Even if they don't manage to secure Pesci and De Niro, Wahlberg basically confirmed that he'll be the central character of the film, which is big news.

Personally, I'd have gone with Fillion if I were had final say on casting for this project.  As talented and entertaining as Wahlberg, Pesci, and De Niro can be, none of them are actors that come to mind when I think of an Uncharted movie.  And turning Uncharted into a family affair?  No, this isn't really working for me at all at the moment. 

Two More Stargate Games Culled

Stargate Worlds and Stargate ResistanceSome are saying that the Stargate franchise is cursed when it comes to video games.  First the promising third-person shooter, Stargate: SG-1: The Alliance for last generation's consoles and PC, was shelved due to legal disagreements and financial issues.  Now the unreleased PC MMO Stargate Worlds is off the table and the barely released Stargate Resistance online shooter for PC is ending due to, yes, legal disagreements and financial issues.  Stargate owner MGM is pulling the license from troubled Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment and the resistant Dark Comet.  As for Resistance, its online-only time comes to an end in January 2011.  GateWorld has the news.

When reached by GateWorld, MGM had no comment on the matter of the license expiration or the possibility of its restoration at some point in the future — should, for example, Cheyenne emerge from bankruptcy solvent and ready to resume production on the game.

Dark Comet was formed by former employees and shareholders of CME when that company — several years into the development of its flagship game title Stargate Worlds, as well as Resistance — ran out of money and closed up shop last year.  Both companies and their principals have since been embroiled in a series of legal battles over just who is the rightful head of Cheyenne, and who owns all the Resistance game assets and hardware.

Dark Comet kept the game’s development going, and managed to get it finished and released earlier this year.  But some CME shareholders objected to the fact that the company had acquired the Resistance assets for pennies on the dollar, leaving them with the bill and a bankrupt studio.

I can end the Stargate gaming curse right now.  Here's all MGM has to do: stop licensing the property to developers that are incapable of bringing a successful product to market, give up on entering the crowded MMO marketplace, and ease off on the greed.  The Stargate franchise is very valuable and I understand why MGM wants to wring as much revenue from it as possible, but the company has to accept that it cannot count on a little studio to make a blockbuster game that can compete with the major players in the industry.  License Stargate to a proven publisher/developer with an affinity for third-person sci-fi shooters and let the magic happen.  MGM would have to share the revenue with the major publisher and developer, but at least then there would be revenue to share.

First Back To The Future Screenshots Are Heavy

Back To The Future

The upcoming first episode of the Back to the Future game for PC, Mac, iPad, and Sony PlayStation 3 is due out from Telltale Games sometime in the next month, yet we've seen so little of it in action.  History is changing now, however, as the first look at the game is being touted by IGN.  They have images of Marty McFly, Doc Brown, and the iconic DeLorean as well as a peek at one of the game's dialog trees.  It's thin soup for hungry fans, but I'll take what I can get at this point.  I do like the way the art style is shaping up and the time vehicle has never looked better when it comes to video game appearances.  Now, Telltale, can we play it already?