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December 2010

Wii Release Of Super Meat Boy In Doubt

Super Meat BoyI don't believe I've ever mentioned Super Meat Boy here before, but I have been quietly following it.  For those just now catching up, it's a charming little independent game created by Team Meat in which a bloody cube of walking meat must traverse hair-rippingly challenging levels in order to rescue his girlfriend from the twisted Dr. Fetus.  It's a fun throwback to a simpler era of gaming, but don't let its 2D side-scrolling roots fool you.  It's hard.  Damn hard.  It's out there for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and PC as a downloadable game, but Team Meat has been working on bringing the game to Nintendo's WiiWare service and to retail in a limited capacity.  Word has it now that neither of the latter releases may happen.  See, as Kotaku reports, the developers cannot get the game's file size down under Nintendo's limit for WiiWare games without artistically compromising it, and no third-party publisher wants to take a chance on it.  Here's some of the details:

Team Meat's struggles to pare down Super Meat Boy delayed its originally planned November release. The indie developer said it was able to get the file to 50 megabytes then, but 40 megabytes is the WiiWare cap, and the sacrifices made to get the game there left creators Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes unhappy with the game's quality.

"It's mostly music," McMillen told Kotaku this evening. "We got it close to 40 (MB), but we only have five music tracks, one retro and one boss, and no cutscene music. ... The cut scenes might as well not be there, and if you beat the game, I'm sure you know the final cutscene needs a musical score, to have any impact at all."

McMillen said Team Meat "blindly assumed we could submit a bit higher. ... We assumed we might get a 5 to 10 megabyte addition." He noted that the discussions with Nintendo were not adversarial. "We loved working with them," he said. So they're pursuing leads on publishing a retail disc, but the prospects are not good.

"So far, the three biggest [publishers contacted by Team Meat] say there's no money in third-party retail (on the Wii)," McMillen told Kotaku, "but we are still asking."

While Nintendo does support the indie development scene, it can be a difficult beast to work with sometimes.  The company imposes file size limits for a reason and it's not easy for a small developer like Team Meat to get an exception.  As for a retail release, I'm not surprised that publishers are balking.  Super Meat Boy is not a game for the casual market in any way, shape, or form.  I've been playing 2D side-scrollers nearly my entire life and it's almost too much for me at times (and a few days into playing it on PC, I'm stuck on a level in World 2 already).  Publishers see dollar signs when it comes to releasing casual fare on the Wii, but the marketplace has shown that (with very few exceptions) unless you're Nintendo, you're not going to strike gold with a core-oriented retail release.  I just don't see Super Meat Boy producing the kind of revenue that a retail release justifies.  If Team Meat really wants to produce a game for a Nintendo platform, then their next creation needs to be orders of magnitude easier.  That's right, folks: I'm talking about Meat Sports.

Red Dead Redemption Needs This DLC

How could Rockstar top its Undead Nightmare zombie-infested downloadable content for Red Dead Redemption for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360?  Just add dinosaurs!  As seen on Reddit, this hypothetical addition to the plains of New Austin and points beyond would give protagonist John Martson a lot more to worry about than just cougars and coyotes.  I would definitely buy this DLC if it actually existed.

Mini-Review: Back To The Future: The Game - Episode 1: "It's About Time"

Back To The Future: The Game

It's taken twenty-five years, but someone finally created the Back to the Future video game that does the film and its characters justice.  Telltale Games announced it was taking on the time-traveling trilogy earlier this year in its unique episodic adventure style, and now that the first episode of Back To The Future: The Game is out for the PC and Mac (iPad and Sony PlayStation 3 versions are coming soon), it's time to take a closer look at the end result and see just how the world of Hill Valley past, present, and future fares under Telltale's guidance.

Continue reading "Mini-Review: Back To The Future: The Game - Episode 1: "It's About Time"" »

Power Button - Episode 33: Deep Thoughts Regarding Characterization And Opening Sequences

Power ButtonSometimes on Power Button we like to look beyond the new releases that have our attention and turn to analyzing the very building blocks of gaming itself.  For instance, back in Episode 21 we discussed what digetic music can add to a game.  Today we're taking a similar look at characters who never speak in an age of protagonists who never shut up (for good or for bad) and if they're still relevant, then after a short break we discuss what makes for an effective opening sequence, be it cinematic, tutorial, just a regular first level.  At seventy-three minutes, this week's show is perfect for taking along on that holiday trip to see family.  Why not take us along?  Save a slice of cake for us!  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 all of us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons,@aubradley84, and @JoeyDavidson or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. Next Week: Robert Alsbrook of the Press The Buttons video show joins us to talk about the best games of 2010.

Power Button - Episode 33: Deep Thoughts Regarding Characterization And Opening Sequences

Browser Testing Hits Fiery Snag


Building a website isn't as easy as just throwing some HTML onto a server.  Maybe that's how it worked in 1995, but today's websites demand all kinds of scary acronyms and letter groupings like PHP, JPG, MP3, FLV, Ajax, and more.  It is vital that websites be properly tested in a variety of browsers before launch.  Sometimes, however, that testing can go awry as seen in this charming installment of The System comic from Rosscott, Inc.  If you can master the fireballs, then Javascript is a breeze.  These three panels are just the setup.  Head on over to Rosscott to see the full comic and it's gaming-related punchline.

2010, In Which We Were Disappointed

Vanquish2010 offered a lot of fantastic video games: Just Cause 2, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Donkey Kong Country Returns... you get the idea.  Then there were the games that let us down after a tremendous build-up.  Remember when we were all itching to play games like Dark Void and Alpha ProtocolWired's GameLife has been keeping score this year and has offered up a list of the ten most disappointing games to grace our consoles in the past 365 days.  You'll see some expected entries, some familiar faces, and plenty of things upon which to agree.  For instance, consider Vanquish from Sega and Platinum Games:

From a distance, it seemed like Platinum Games' latest would be the complete package — a fast-paced, immaculately tuned shooter that brutally skewered the American videogame hero. But Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil) couldn't deliver characters or story that lived up to the killer game design. Instead, Vanquish delivered the same tone-deaf, over-the-top genre silliness we've been choking down for the last 20 years. It's time to stop forgiving our favorite designers for bunts when they could be knocking their games out of the park.

Other items of note: two Final Fantasy games make the list (ouch!), Crackdown 2 takes another beating, APB is held up for its moment of shame, and Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I gets the disapproving nod.  While Sonic 4 didn't live up to its Genesis predecessors, it was definitely a step in the right direction for that flavor of the franchise.  Compared to the Sonic games of the last five years or so, it's a revelation.  Granted that Sonic Colors surprisingly blew it out of the water, I don't think it belongs on this list.  Sonic has many crimes for which to answer, but this isn't one of them.

EarthBound In Your Pocket

EarthBoundA little over a year ago I told you about the Kraken screensaver that turns your PC into a simulation of the battle background from the classic Super NES title EarthBound.  It's a great little screensaver, but what if you want to take the visual stimulation out into the world in your pocket?  If you're using a phone running Android 2.1+, you can snag a live background created by Garen Torikian based on the Kraken screensaver concept.  Check it out in this emulated demonstration:

It's a neat likeness and a tribute to one of Nintendo's most beloved franchises. For $1, it seems like a decent deal.

Just Cause Movie Is Just A Man And His Grappling Hook

Just Cause 2Rico Rodriguez first blasted onto my gaming radar earlier this year in Just Cause 2 from Square-Enix and what's left of Eidos for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC.  He's a one-man wrecking ball that smashes his way across the island of Panau (see for yourself if you don't believe me), so it's only natural that someone would want to make a Just Cause movie that runs heavy on action and explosions.  We first heard about the project back in October, but now over at the Just Cause 2 website we have an interview with Adrian Askarieh and Eric Eisner who are apparently the producers of the upcoming film (the interview is a bit vague as to their exact role in all of this).  While they're not ready to tell us everything about the film, we do get a few little details as to the direction it's headed.

MO: What can you tell us about the story so far?

AA: Just that it’s an origin story. We would like to keep the surprise for the fans.

MO: You’ve recently announced that Michael Ross has joined the team as script writer for the movie. What was it that attracted you to him for the role?

EE: Michael is a strong writer. He is great with character, with action and with creating jeopardy.  We felt that he would ground the story, in the best sense of the word, and create a believable character in Rico/The Scorpion.

AA:  We wanted our CASINO ROYALE, if you will, and Michael is the perfect writer to execute that.  He starts from reality and grounds the story in a plausible universe. Once you have done that, the audience will believe all the extraordinary things Rico/The Scorpion does in the story.

MO: Can we expect to see Rico’s signature grappling hook/parachute combo making an appearance?

AA: There won’t be a movie without them.

The overall interview falls into the "How awesome if your movie?" trap, but there are a few interesting things in there to read.  The great thing about Just Cause 2 is that the story is so secondary to the experience that I don't see a problem with dropping it and doing something new that still sticks to the core of the Rico character.  There are also plans to include Rico's ally Tom Sheldon in the script.  All I can say to that is someone needs to introduce these guys and their casting director to Joe Don Baker as soon as possible!

"The Wii Didn't Start The Fire" Features Video Gaming History Via Billy Joel

On this week that saw Billy Joel's music finally make it to a Rock Band game it seems only appropriate to have a look at this video from PopeFriction that rewrites the piano man's 1989 history lesson hit "We Didn't Start The Fire" to cover the history of the video game history.  It's a remarkably clever composition that hits most of the major events while keeping its tongue firmly in cheek.  This kind of thing has been done before, of course; so many ideas are just floating around out there in the ether, after all, but this is one of my favorite takes on the concept.

(via Reddit)

The Trouble With Tannens

Biff TannenI know that we've already covered why Tom Wilson of Biff Tannen fame has chosen not to participate in any new projects regarding Back to the Future and I don't want to completely judge new Tannen voice actor Kid Beyond until I can hear his entire performance in the upcoming Back to the Future: The Game for the PC, Mac, iPad, & Sony PlayStation 3 and judge it accordingly, but based on this new trailer in which the new Telltale Games version of Biff Tannen is showcased (along with his prohibition-era ancestor, Kid Tannen), I think we're really going to miss Wilson's presence in this episodic series.  Listen to the characters speak and just tell me that when you hear Kid Tannen say "What're you lookin' at, punk?" you don't cringe at how much better the authentic Tannen growl would sound.

AJ Locascio's take on Marty McFly, on the other hand, continues to impress me with just how much it sounds like a young Michael J. Fox. Here's another trailer that focuses on Marty's role in the new story:

Continue reading "The Trouble With Tannens" »