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April 2011

Power Button - Episode 46: Who's Ready To Make Some Science With Portal 2?

Power ButtonMatthew Green here with this week's new episode of the Power Button podcast.  Now, we know that lots of you out there have been waiting for Joey Davidson, Brad Hilderbrand, and I to weigh in with our thoughts on Portal 2, so I'm here to tell you to put on your podcasting gloves and get to work.  You're not part of the control group, by the way.  You get to listen to the actual Episode 46 in which we discuss our impressions with cooperative multiplayer mode, the single-player storyline, favorite dialog, and overall general impressions about what goes on inside Aperture Science's darkest corners.  We're not bangin' rocks together here; we go the entire episode without revealing any spoilers.  Now, down the line we want to revisit this topic and spoil the whole damn thing when we know you're ready to hear it, so be sure to flag down a testing associate when you're ready for that to happen.  Enough explanation.  Let's get on with the show.  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. This is Power Button. We're done here.

Power Button - Episode 46: Who's Ready To Make Some Science With Portal 2?

Weekly Poll: Three Of A Kind

Poll041811An overwhelming majority of you out there believe in some of the rumors about Nintendo's next home console.  With an official debut now announced for E3 this year, it won't be too much longer until we see which rumors are true and which will be, in hindsight, hilariously false.  I believe that some of them are true along with you and am eager to see how it all shakes out.  We live in very interesting times. 

Stepping back to something that's happening right now, Valve's Portal 2 has been an amazing gaming experience.  Part of the amazingness comes in the form of the game's three main characters beyond the protagonist: personality core Wheatley, ominous artificial intelligence GLaDOS, and the recorded voice of the posthumous Aperture Science founder Cave Johnson.  Which of these three is the most entertaining?  Who has the best dialog?  The best characterization?  The best personal path to redemption and/or defeat?  Let's hear your thoughts.  For more on Portal 2, be sure to listen to Episode 46 of Power Button.

Nintendo Officially Announces Next Home Console

Nintendo logoIt's official now: Nintendo's Wii is on the way out.  As it did with the 3DS last year, the company has put out a short, terse announcement regarding a new home console launching in 2012 with plans to show the new hardware at E3 in June.  Moreover, it'll be playable there.  Here's the quote:

Nintendo Co., Ltd. has decided to launch in 2012 a system to succeed Wii, which the company has sold 86.01 million units on a consolidated shipment basis between its launch in 2006 and the end of March 2011.

We will show a playable model of the new system and announce more specifications at the E3 Expo, which will be held June 7-9, 2011, in Los Angeles.

Here's my latest Nintendo prediction for E3: there'll be another ungodly long line that all of us at the show will have to stand in for three hours in order to get a hit of the new technology.  However, while everyone else is standing in line when I'm not, the lines for every other booth will be noticeably smaller.  I've seen it happen before.  It's what we in the business call an "un-nintend-ed benefit".  Or, at least, we should call it that.  For more on the Wii successor rumors, be sure to check out Episode 45 of Power Button.

When GLaDOS Met Garfield

While Valve's Portal 2 features plenty of well-written GLaDOS dialog, there are some unused statements from everyone's favorite passive-aggressive artificial intelligence resting in the data files of the PC version of the game that do not appear during the course of the game.  Most of these are incomplete leftovers from earlier versions of the story, but there's one instance of a complete exchange, and emmtee from MetaFilter took the time to stitch it together for our enjoyment.  The subject matter?  GLaDOS sends the cooperative mode's robot characters to search for artifacts from human civilization and ends up trying to understand a Garfield comic strip that was pinned to an Aperture Science employee's cubicle.  She can't find the humor in it any more than we humans can.  This leads her to rewrite the comic based on her own unique views on existence.  Her creation is no Garfield Minus Garfield, but it is a step up from what's published in the newspapers.

Miyamoto Asks For Patience Regarding New Nintendo Console

Miyamoto likes to watchAs much as I want to ignore the rumors about Nintendo's next home console, the nebulous information keeps stacking up, and when the company's own Shigeru Miyamoto weighs in on the situation, it's downright impossible to turn my back on the story.  He's asking for patience while the company decides what it wants to do.  Here's the quote from Game Informer:

“Even when the Wii launched we were developing new hardware, work on 3DS had already started. It’s a matter of when we announce it.”  When asked whether the new Nintendo console would be announced at this E3, he said “Please wait. Be patient until we decide.”

Meanwhile, today's intriguing notion is that the next Wii (or whatever it's eventually called) looks like a modernized Super NES and could cost around $350-$400 when it hits stores next year.  That's a steep price that I doubt the casual market will jump for at launch, meaning that there's a prime opportunity for the company to release some dynamite core games.  The core crowd is not going to line up in massive numbers for Super Wii Sports on launch day, but it will show up for one of the usual AAA+ franchise titles.  Personally, I think $400 is more than I want to spend on a new console at the moment, but if Super Mario HD is a launch title, then the resulting involuntary "shut up and take my money" spasm will guarantee that I'll go ahead and pay it anyway.

Super Monkey Ball 3D Review At Games Are Evil

Super Monkey Ball 3DI'm still trying to figure out what some people adore about Sega's Super Monkey Ball series, so in the name of broadening my horizons I volunteered to take one for the team and take a look at the new Super Monkey Ball 3D for the Nintendo 3DS for my pals over at Games Are Evil, and now my review of the game has been published.  The short version is that I'm still trying to see what people like about these games.  Here's a bit of the opening:

I must open with a confession: I don’t particularly care for Sega’s Super Monkey Ball franchise. Naturally that makes me the perfect person for the job of reviewing the latest entry in the series, Super Monkey Ball 3D.  I volunteered to take one for the team by having a look at this 3DS release based on the fact that I’ve been told time and again by trusted friends who do like Super Monkey Ball that the total sum of my monkeys in rolling spheres experiences have been the lesser parts of the franchise such as Super Monkey Ball: Touch & Roll and Super Monkey Ball Adventure. “You’re not playing the right Monkey Balls,” they tell me without a hint of double entendre. So, eager to see if this latest title was the Super Monkey Ball for which I’d been waiting, I rolled in to check it out.

This is the third Monkey Ball game that I've played and I'm still not any closer to feeling the love.  If someone out there wants to recommend the definitive game in the series that I'm just guaranteed to enjoy, please feel free to speak up and I'll check it out if the opportunity comes up.  Otherwise, I think I'm done with it.  For whatever reason, it's just not working for me.

End Of The Road For DS Lite

Nintendo DS LiteWith Nintendo spending resources on marketing its new Nintendo 3DS handheld system, something from the current DS family had to go to make room, so that means that it's time to say farewell to the beloved DS Lite.  Engadget reports that GameStop franchises have been notified that there are no new shipments of the five-year-old system on the way, so once current stock has been sold, display materials can be discarded.  Considering that the DS Lite's immediate successors, the DSi and DSi XL, are still around in addition to the new 3DS, it's not a surprise that the oldest still-produced product in the family line had to go.  The bigger milestone here, however, is that the DS Lite is/was the last current Nintendo product capable of playing Game Boy Advance titles and certain DS titles that required the Expansion Slot that is absent in all later DS hardware revisions (DS Rumble Pak, we hardly knew ye).  Considering that GameStop is also in the process of phasing out its used GBA sales, I think we can consider that product truly gone now.  At least, when it comes to new units.  Thanks to eBay and other used item marketplaces, the GBA and its legacy will be with us forever.  Meanwhile, the DS Lite's status as a gone-but-not-forgotten system is just beginning.  Circle of life and all that.  Strange; this must be the week for phasing out handheld hardware.

Nintendo Controller With Built-In Screen Allegedly Seen (Unless, Of Course, It Hasn't)

Project CafeFollowing on from last week's influx of rumors about Nintendo's successor to the Wii comes a report from TechnoBuffalo that offers an alleged image of diagrams depicting the system's supposed new controllers that sport built-in high definition screens.  The speculation is that these images are part of the package circulating around select third-party development offices in the run up to an announcement at E3. 

If the look, fonts and “Nintendo Project Cafe” branding are to be believed, we may be looking at company mock ups that are being sent around third party developer offices right now. It has been rumored by several gaming and tech sites around the net that  Nintendo is: A) Going to unveil their next home console at or before E3, and B) That said system is going to pack controllers with screens built into their faces. The screens will be capable of streaming the console’s content to gamers even when their TVs are off.

Now, on Episode 45 of Power Button we dismissed the crazier rumors that have come out of the original story about Nintendo's next home console with Joey Davidson leading the charge against the more irresponsible reports.  In that spirit, normally I'd pay this image no mind (the Internet community loves to whip up fake images in Photoshop and bait the media with them), but considering that it's Joey himself that wrote the TechnoBuffalo article, I'm willing to go along with this one if he is.  The original source, however, is the infamous 4chan, so that's a wild card if I've ever seen one.  Odds are good that someone created this mock-up based on the controller rumors for amusement's sake.  As Joey says in his report regarding the 4chan connection, "Take this with a massive, massive grain of salt."  So it's definitely fake.  Unless, of course, it isn't.  It's all so exciting!  Real cloak-and-dagger stuff!  We're gonna bring down Nixon with this!*

* Callback to the aforementioned episode of Power Button.

Three Minutes Of Sonic Generations Footage

If you're doubtful that the Sonic Generations title announced by Sega for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 will live up to its promised pedigree, then spend three minutes watching this video of a run through both the 2D and 3D segments of the iconic Green Hill Zone from the original Sonic the Hedgehog title and see if you change your mind.  There's a lot to like here from the original jumping sound effect from Sonic CDin use with classic-style Sonic to the whale attack during the 3D segment that invokes a similar encounter in Sonic AdventureGenerations looks to be built on the same engine that powered the speedy daytime joy stages of Sonic Unleashed (also known as the only truly enjoyable part of that game), so hopefully there's much more goodness in store beyond this one segment.

(via TSSZ and Poison Mushroom)

And Now, A Moment With Cave Johnson

How is everyone enjoying Valve's Portal 2?  I started on the Sony PlayStation 3 version of the game yesterday evening and clocked in a few hours in the single-player story and then teamed up with my pal and Power Button cohort Brad Hilderbrand to see what the cooperative campaign had to offer.  I'll have some thoughts on the experience soon and we'll talk more about Portal 2 on the next episode of Power Button, but in the meantime I have to share this dialog snippet in which we hear Aperture Science founder Cave Johnson's thoughts on what happens with life gives us lemons.  I haven't reached this point in the game yet, but couldn't resist checking out a little out-of-context Johnson madness and figured, hey, why not share?  We're done here.