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January 2012

The Daily Show Invokes Floridal Kombat

Mortal KombatThe Republican presidential primary is happening in Florida today, and as the election carnival rolls through the sunshine state in advance of today's voting, The Daily Show is covering the back-and-forth snipping and tripping between GOP frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.  The fun part comes from the use of gameplay clips from last year's Mortal Kombat for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 to illuminate the conflict between the two potential nominees.  Watch Jon Stewart annotate the debate in advance of a political finishing move.

What I find most interesting about The Daily Show using Mortal Kombat clips as a punchline is that last July when the show reported on the Supreme Court decision that extended free speech protection to video games, the show used clips of this same Mortal Kombat game to argue that based on its gory and unsettling content, games should not enjoy such protection.  The show purposefully called out that the Mortal Kombat footage was disturbing and not easy to watch.  Now the program is using clips of the same game in a humorous way to punctuate the political report.  I'm not against the use of Mortal Kombat footage for hilarity purposes (and I thought that this "Floridal Kombat" segment was very funny), but I do think it's odd for The Daily Show to cite Mortal Kombat as an example of a game that is so distasteful that it should invalidate the medium's free speech protection while also using the same game for its comedy needs. 

Waluigi Has Issues

Dorkly has published another of their hilarious videos of famous video game characters sitting around and having a friendly chat.  This installment sees Luigi and his twisted doppelgänger Waluigi sitting down for a meal only for the former to discover that the latter is a disgusting, horrible person.  Better yet, this vignette manages to answer the question of just why we barely see Waluigi as a primary supporting character alongside the other Mushroom Kingdom characters outside of crossover sports titles.  It turns out that he's the hero of his own story and does not see Luigi has his nemesis.  Apparently there's been some other narrative going on in the background of the main Super Mario adventures that we've never been able to see that involves Waluigi seeking out and defeating his own dark double.  Finally, it all makes sense.

Power Button - Episode 75: The Amazing Insanity of Saints Row: The Third

Power ButtonWhile you were busy with Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Skyrim, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword last November, you missed a fantastic and amazingly insane title from THQ called Saints Row: The Third.  This week on Power Button, Joey Davidson, Brad Hilderbrand, and I discuss why you really need to circle back and explore the vibrant city of Steelport in order to experience the madness of Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax, the bizarre Tiger Escort mission, the amazing cameo from Burt Reynolds, the might of the Apoca-Fist, and all of the other crazy things that make the game so much fun to play.  We also touch on some of THQ's recent business problems and suggest ways that the company could turn itself around.  Join us for 80 minutes of good times and favorite moments about a franchise that has long since stepped out of Grand Theft Auto's shadow.  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 leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow all of us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons, @aubradley84, and @JoeyDavidson or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Power Button - Episode 75: The Amazing Insanity of Saints Row: The Third

You Also Can't Own These Gaming Collectibles

Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Master SystemPlatypus Comix has put out another edition of its ongoing list of video game collectibles that are most likely way out of your price range.  There's some interesting and rare items here such as the box for the Sega Dreamcast version of Half-Life that was never released, an invitation to a party thrown by Accolade to celebrate the 1993 release of Bubsy for the Super NES and Sega Genesis (it's printed on a sandal), the Tiger handheld version of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and the special North American version of Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Master System.  What makes it so special, you ask?

The Master System was a failure in the US, and Sega wanted to use Sonic as the main selling point of the Genesis. However, there might have been some stubborn people who wanted the game on SMS, so they put together an inferior port for their older console.

The Master System was still going strong in Europe, and they had plenty of Sonic copies to go around. Sega just took the European version and pasted a new UPC sticker on the box. The European version is nearly worthless. But guess how much that one little sticker makes the same package worth in the US?

eBay Price: $981.33

Stickers are serious business!  There are also a few video games graded by the Video Game Authority on the list.  These are games that have been judged to a set of standards regarding the actual physical condition of the game in question and assigned a numerical score correlating with its supposed worth.  The game is then sealed in a hard acrylic so it can never be disturbed or devalued.  While I'm all for keeping one's games in great condition, the idea of essentially trapping them in amber rubs me the wrong way.  I take great care of my games, but I do play them.  Sealing them up changes them from games to things that I have to lug through life that are only worth as much as some external authority grades them to be.  I'm sorry, I don't care how good a condition it's in, but nobody is going to realistically pay $700 for a copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga for the Sega Saturn that can only be examined through a protective shell and not actually enjoyed.  At least, I hope not.

(image via Price Charting)

Weekly Poll: Blue Bombed

Weekly Poll for 1-23-2012Nintendo's New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the overwhelming favorite when it comes to four-player cooperative platform titles in recent memory.  I certainly enjoyed it as a single-player excursion, and it's great fun when I played it with my girlfriend.  We also tackled Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One which had its moments, but went on a bit too long and became frustrating near the end of the game as interesting level designs and challenges were replaced with wave after wave of identical enemies all attacking at once.  I wound up finishing that one by myself just to get the gold PlayStation trophy for finishing the story (and since I killed the final boss at the same time that it killed me, I was awarded the trophy, but not the actual ending sequence, nor did the game itself give me credit for completing it).  LittleBigPlanet's physics are too floaty for it to be all that much fun in groups.  I'm still trying to get a copy of Rayman: Origins from GameFly, but the service did send out Kirby's Return To Dreamland which we have yet to start.  I love the idea of the co-op platformer, but the subgenre is still a bit rough around the edges.  Like other genres though, I'm sure it'll grow and evolve over time.

Moving on, last week Capcom set the Mega Man fan community on fire once again by announcing that the bizarre off-model version of Mega Man as seen on the box of the original Nintendo Entertainment System title would appear in the upcoming Street Fighter X Tekken fighting game as a playable character.  How do you feel about this version of the blue bomber taking the spotlight over the more familiar face that usually represents the properly?  Do you question if Mega Man should even be in the game in the first place?  Let's hear your thoughts.

The Darkness II Is Lurking

The gothic horror story in 2007's The Darkness is about to continue in the upcoming and appropriately titled The Darkness II for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC.  Publisher 2K Games sent over this launch trailer which shows protagonist Jackie Estacado wielding the dark supernatural force known as (again, appropriately enough) The Darkness against those who would harm him.  I missed out on the original game and have never heard of the comic on which it's based, so now I'm playing catch-up regarding the events of that title and trying to find out what has led us to the events of the sequel.  Wikipedia offers a concise summation of the story so far.  Here's enough to get you started without thoroughly spoiling things:

The player takes the role of Jackie Estacado, with the story presented as a future-narrative on the present events observed by the player. On the eve of his 21st birthday, Jackie was targeted for assassination by the don of the New York mafia, "Uncle" Paulie Franchetti. While hiding in a cemetery bathroom, The Darkness, an ancient force that has inhabited his family for several generations, awakens within Jackie and slaughters the remaining mobsters, with the benefit of Jackie becoming the possessor of seemingly unholy demonic abilities that feed off the dark. Using these powers, Jackie is able to survive further assassination attempts and track down Paulie, but not before Paulie and the corrupt police chief, Eddie Shrote, kidnap Jackie's girlfriend, Jenny Ramano (voiced by Lauren Ambrose). They take her to the orphanage where Jackie and Jenny grew up, and then they murder her and escape while Jackie is unable to stop them or save Jenny due to The Darkness deliberately restraining him, forcing him to watch her die.

He commits suicide out of sheer emotional stress. He finds himself in the Otherworld, the realm of The Darkness with patchwork undead beings in World War I outfits fighting each other, and physical manifestations of The Four Horsemen.

Quite dark, yes?  This seems to skew a bit darker than I typically enjoy, but it does seem interesting.  Here's hoping that developer Digital Extremes can keep things moving and deliver a fitting continuation.  Those who would rather play the first game before embarking on the second and cannot find a used copy out there somewhere should watch for it on Xbox Live Marketplace in the near future.  Those who are up to speed on things or would rather just jump into the sequel can check out the demo now available for Xbox 360 and PS3.  The Darkness II hits stores on February 7, 2012. 

Power Button Presents Kombo Breaker - Episode 45: Heavy Rain Interview

Power Button Presents Kombo BreakerPower Button has to unexpectedly take the week off which means that in its place we have a classic episode of Kombo Breaker for you to enjoy.  This installment features an interview with Petro Piaseckyj of Sony Consumer Entertainment in which we discuss Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain for the Sony PlayStation 3.  The game had yet to hit stores at the time, so we pepper Piaseckyj with questions about how the story unfolds and just how intrigued and/or uncomfortable the game is meant to make players feel (in terms of both narrative and the uncanny valley effect).  It originally debuted on September 18, 2009, but it's just as interesting to listen to now as it was then.  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 leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow all of us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons, @aubradley84, and @JoeyDavidson or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton. Next Week: We're still planning to discuss Saints Row: The Third sooner or later.  Call the hotline and tell us what you think of the game!

Power Button Presents Kombo Breaker - Episode 45: Heavy Rain Interview

Mini-Review: NBA 2K12 Legends Showcase

NBA 2K12 Legends ShowcaseI'm not the guy you want to ask about sports video games.  My pal and Power Button podcast co-host Brad Hilderbrand is.  As I did several months ago when NBA 2K12 from 2K sports arrived, I asked him to check out the latest sports game to land on my virtual doorstep.  Here's his review of the recently released NBA 2K12 Legends Showcase downloadable expansion for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 available now via the Xbox Live Marketplace and PlayStation Store.

Hey there Press the Buttons readers! It’s Brad from the podcast and now official unofficial PTB sports guy back with another review. The 2K folks sent over a review code for NBA 2K12 Legends Showcase so I decided to put it through its paces and report back. The verdict? It’s a fun distraction, but it likely won’t be long before the novelty wears off and you return to playing the more traditional game modes.

Continue reading "Mini-Review: NBA 2K12 Legends Showcase" »

Older, Fatter Mega Man Stars In Street Fighter X Tekken

Mega ManCapcom certainly has a strange sense of humor.  After cancelling two different Mega Man games last year and excluding the character (any iteration of him) from both versions of Marvel vs Capcom 3, the company has finally resurrected him to star in Street Fighter X Tekken as a playable fighter.  The strange thing about this is that it's the version of Mega Man from the original Nintendo Entertainment System game's box art in which he's a pudgy middle-aged armed with a gun and dressed in a yellow and blue body suit.  Capcom officially announced the inclusion with a new trailer that shows him in action (along with Namco's Pac-Man and the previously announced Cole "inFamous" MacGrath and Sony's own cats, Toro and Kuro).  All of them are Sony version exclusives, by the way, landing only on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions of the game.

Mega Man fans are not happy, particularly since this Mega Man's backstory establishes him as some kind of the Mega Man Legends version of the character.  Consider the wound freshly salted.

Known as a Digger, a person who digs up relics from the past for research. He is a hot-tempered man, but has a strong sense of justice and is also very polite. His weak point is that he is easily rattled when backed into a corner. He is always running around in a hurry due to the demands of his partner Roll, and this time he’s been asked to travel to Antarctica to retrieve a mysterious box.

I don't particularly have an issue with this Mega Man appearing in the game.  He's not the version I'd have picked if I were calling the shots at Capcom, but it's kind of a funny gag if you remember that Mega Man fans have been chiding Capcom for decades about the art on the original Mega Man game box and that we were supposed to see this version of Mega Man in Mega Man Universe as a playable character prior to seeing him here had Universe been released.  It's almost as if this is a punchline to a joke that's missing the setup.  I can see how this would cause irritation in the fan community still reeling from the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 and Mega Man Universe, but I wouldn't say that the Mega Man legacy is diminished by this design choice.  Mega Man's original creator Keiji Inafune was even in on the development prior to his departure from Capcom according to Street Fighter producer Yoshinori Ono.  That seems about as sanctioned as it gets.  Besides, things could be worse.  It could be this version of Mega Man that appears in the game.

You Need These Street Fighter Tidbits

KenCapcom's Street Fighter franchise turns twenty-five years old this year, but how much do you really know about the series?  Yes, you know the old Sheng Long story from the Electronic Gaming Monthly days and you know how M. Bison, Vega, and Balrog all had their names shuffled when Street Fighter II left Japan.  However, do you know that at one point in the Street Fighter IV planning process, Abel was a woman?  Or that Chun-Li turns up in the background of a level in Final Fight 2 at a little sidewalk cafe?  Are you aware that Dee Jay's original name was Mantis?  Would you finally like to know that the mode select cursors from the Super NES version of Street Fighter II and Street Fighter II Turbo are taken from Capcom's own Side Arms: Hyper Dyne arcade game?  Learn all of these little factoids and many more over at Street Fighter Miscellany where lots of minor but interesting details about the franchise are cataloged and dissected.  Hurry on over and you can watch the introductory movie from Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix that was cut from the final version of the game.  There's plenty of fascinating minutiae for you to explore in between tournaments.