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April 2012

Weekly Poll: 3DS Special Digital Deliveries

Weekly Poll for 4-23-2012It always surprises me when one group with an awful lot of money attempts to team up with another group with an awful lot of money in an effort to make even more money and yet, in the end, nothing comes of it.  With all of the hypothetical money on the line, you'd think that Microsoft and Hollywood could have worked through their dealbreaking differences into order to make the Halo movie happen, and most of you out there lay the blame on the project's collapse on both sides of the productions.  I tend to side with Hollywood on this one.  I don't think that Hollywood is totally blameless, mind you, but Microsoft seems to have strutted into negotiations believing that it held all of the power thanks to the tremendous moneymaking potential that is the Halo franchise, and Hollywood just doesn't work that way.  It's bad form to walk into someone's house as a guest and start making excessive demands.  Hopefully someday the two can patch things up and try again.  While the Halo games do not interest me, I'd see a Halo movie if it were properly produced.

Moving on, Nintendo has announced that it will soon begin offering full retail games for the 3DS as a eShop downloads that are saved to internal memory in addition to the usual boxed retail package experience.  Which method would you prefer to use when you buy a 3DS title?  Are you aching to leave the days of plastic cases and tiny cartridges behind?  Or do you insist on physical media?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Nintendo Embracing Digital Distribution For Retail Releases

New Super Mario Bros. 2If you want to buy a video game for a Nintendo platform as a digital release, then you're basically limited to Virtual Console titles, fun little quirky titles such as Pushmo, or bizarre shovelware titles that nobody should want.  While Sony and Microsoft have rushed onward to offer first and third-party releases via PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, Nintendo has been hesitant to put its gold in a digital pot at the end of an online rainbow*.  Starting in August, however, you'll be able to buy full retail titles such as New Super Mario Bros. 2 via the Nintendo eShop and save them to your favorite SD card.  Game Informer explains:

[Satoru] Iwata says that customers will have a choice in how they purchase future first-party Nintendo releases on both the Wii U and 3DS. Players who opt for the digital route can download games directly onto their system's SD memory card through either the Nintendo online shop or by inputting a 16-digit code that can be purchased at retail. Iwata says that physically and digitally distributed formats have their own advantages, and that Nintendo wants to give players a choice. It may be more convenient for players to acquire the digital versions of games, but they're locked to the system that they're downloaded onto. Players who do a lot of game swapping with friends will have to stick with physical copies of their games.

While I have gone for downloadable purchases in the past, I always prefer physical media when it's available.  I'm a collector.  I keep all of my games along with their original packaging, manuals, and other materials.  I like having a shelf packed with memories in the form of small plastic objects.  While downloading Mario's next adventure may be more convenient, I'd miss out on looking at the box art, tearing open the plastic wrap, and the enjoyment of inserting the game card into my 3DS.  You get back to me when the Internet can provide that.  Still, I know there are many people out there who want to get out of the habit of collecting cartridges and discs, so I'm glad that Nintendo is providing a digital option.  However, I intend to avoid it as much as possible.

* You like that line?  I worked hard on that one.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Brings The Smash Bros. Formula To PS3

Wouldn't it be great if Sony could take Nintendo's popular Super Smash Bros. franchise and put its own unique PlayStation spin on it?  That rumored Title Fight project from several months ago has evolved into an official announcement for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale for the PlayStation 3 in which famed characters from key Sony franchises such as Sweet Tooth from Twisted Metal, Kratos from God of War, and the stars of the eponymous Parappa the Rappa and Fat Princess all come together to beat the stuffing out of one another.  Here's Omar Kendall of developer SuperBot Entertainment to comment on the upcoming release:

So what is PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale? First and foremost, it’s a celebration of a storied history of great characters and rich worlds brought together in one game. And for us, there’s no better way to celebrate than by creating an experience that players can sit around one screen and enjoy together. There are probably a few types of games that can be enjoyed by four players simultaneously, but for us at SuperBot, a brawler was the obvious choice for one really good reason: the developers here at SuperBot really like fighting games. We love playing them and we love making them. With PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, we set out to make an experience accessible enough for all PlayStation fans to enjoy while also creating something deep enough for the serious fighting game aficionado. We think this “accessible yet deep” strategy is the perfect way to bring PlayStation fans of all stripes together.

While Royale is clearing copying the Smash Bros. formula, I'm fine with that.  This looks like fun!  I can't wait to see what the team behind it can do.  There's an amazing opportunity here to create something special beyond the typical first-party tentpole release.  Expectations will be high and I'm sure there's a lot of pressure on SuperBot to get this right.  I do not think we'll walk away disappointed.

Pilotwings Takes Flight With New OC Remix Album

Pilotwings: Take FlightThe OverClocked Remix community of musicians has struck again with an album of music based on Nintendo's beloved Pilotwings series of flight games.  Masterminded by Drew "halc" Wheeler with contributions from Benjamin Briggs, this collection of seven tracks takes the tunes of 1991's Pilotwings, 1996's Pilotwings 64, and 2011's Pilotwings Resort and reworks them into beepy chiptunes with a heavy dose of smoothness.  Better yet, it's a free download direct from OC Remix (MP3 and/or FLAC — your choice!).  All of your favorite aviation themes are there: light plane, skydiving, rocket belt, hang gliding, birdman, and more.  Strap on your trusty rocket belt, fly through some floating rings with careful accuracy, and check out this track from the album.  It's "9-bit Skies" based on the rocket belt theme from the original Super NES game.

"9-Bit Skies"

Madden NFL 13 Cover Shot Live

MegatronI don't really follow the world of sports video games, but my pal and Power Button podcast co-host Brad Hilderbrand does.  As part of his job with Electronic Arts, he's up in New York this week for the NFL draft and the reveal of which famed athlete will appear on the cover of the company's upcoming Madden NFL 13 for the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, and PC.  Calvin Johnson, Jr. of the Detroit Lions won the honor, so it wasn't long before the man the call "Megatron" took to EA Sports's field to be caught in action for the cover image.  Brad was there armed with his own camera and seems to have inadvertantly shot the cover image himself.  You have to admit that Johnson's pose and the angle of the camera in this photo would make for fantastic box art.  Great photography, Brad!  You'll have to tell us all about the event on the next podcast.  For more of Brad's photos, check out his Twitter feed.  He has pictures of Johnson signing autographswarming up for the photo shoot, and intimidating small children in addition to other photos from the big press event.

Mini-Review: Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City

Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty CityThis article was originally published at on April 30, 2010.

Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV raised the bar for sandbox action games when it released back in 2008, and rather than plunge ahead into a properly number fifth installment of the franchise, the developers chose to explore the nooks and crannies of Liberty City only hinted at during the course of protagonist Niko Bellic's adventures. Releasing exclusively for Microsoft Xbox 360 through the course of 2009, the add-on downloadable content "The Lost and Damned" and "The Ballad of Gay Tony" has finally crossed over to the Sony PlayStation 3 as both traditional DLC via PlayStation Network and a stand-alone disc, Episodes From Liberty City, that combines both "Lost" and "Ballad" as a single retail item. Considering how the genre has evolved since GTA IV's release (consider the advances found in Just Cause 2 and inFamous, for instance), is the Episodes release an example of "better late than never" or "too little, too late?"

Continue reading "Mini-Review: Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City" »

Crazy Koopaling Runs Wild!

Flying Bully

If it's been a while since you checked in with artist Mikaël "Orioto" Aguirre and his superb collection of game-inspired artwork, then you've missed out on some wonderful interpretations of classic video games such as Sonic CD, Ghosts 'n Goblins, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, and (seen here) a take on Super Mario World entitled "Flying Bully".  Aguirre has some serious talent and your computer or tablet is poorer without his creations as your desktop wallpaper.  He even has some 3D images intended for viewing on the Nintendo 3DS.  Definitely check out his portfolio.  Have your sense of amazement ready.

Nintendo Preparing To Patch 3DS Games

Nintendo 3DSVideo game console fans are used to seeing Microsoft and Sony allow developers to update their software post-release to fix little issues and add new features.  Those who want to get the most out of their Nintendo hardware, however, have had to live with the company's inability to enhance games via the Internet.  That's about to change with an upcoming system update for the 3DS.  Starting April 25, 3DS owners can update the handheld's firmware in preparation for software patches.  First up, it seems, is an update for Mario Kart 7.  Here's some of the press release from the company itself:

On April 25, a system update for Nintendo 3DS will give users new functions to explore. By downloading this update, users can create folders on the system's HOME Menu to organize their content. This new feature is designed to make it easier than ever for players to access their favorite downloadable games, videos and demos. With this update, users will also get helpful recommendations in the Nintendo eShop for titles they may like. Other elements of the system update include the ability to update select software, such as a Mario Kart 7 update coming in mid-May that will resolve shortcut exploits in the game.

Smart money is on Nintendo patching the infamous Maka Wuhu shortcut glitch in which it's possible to lop twenty-seven seconds or so off of one's time when racing on the otherwise enjoyable Wuhu Island course.  Thank goodness that Nintendo's technology is finally marching on.  It is far beyond time for the company to be able to fix little problems in its games.  So many great Nintendo DS games became unplayable online once hackers and cheaters learned all of the exploitable tricks.  Mario Kart DS and Metroid Prime Hunters are just two examples of titles from the original DS generation that became impossible to play online over time thanks to exploits that allow for unlimited ammo, super-speedy characters, the ability to pass through walls and barriers, and other infuriating things.  I was afraid that the 3DS era of software would suffer from similar problems over time, but thankfully Nintendo is finally joining the modern world.  And who knows?  The ability to patch games today could lead to free downloadable content tomorrow!

And then paid DLC the day after that. 

You Call That A Handheld Gaming System?

Sega Mega JetToday carrying your favorite classic video game around in your pocket is as easy buying a few downloads of Sony PlayStation classics to play on your PlayStation Portable or hitting up the Nintendo eShop to purchase beloved Nintendo Entertainment System titles to play on your Nintendo 3DS, but back in the 1990s, if one wanted to carry Super Mario Bros. or Sonic the Hedgehog 3 around in your pocket, you had to open your wallet wide and get a deeper pocket. explores some of the more bizarre handheld gaming systems of the end of the twentieth century and observes how impractical they were.  Still, you have to admire their moxie.  Consider the Sega Nomad's predecessor, for instance: the Sega Mega Jet.

In Japan, Sega was more cautious about pushing out new versions of the Genesis/Mega Drive, as was evident with the Mega Jet, a portable version of the system sold exclusively on Japan Airlines flights. The Mega Jet looked reminiscent of the Game Gear, except it didn't have a screen; you could plug it into JAL's seat-back monitors and enjoy it that way. As such, the Mega Jet was as "portable" as the CDX was: it could take up less space in a bag, but you'd still have to contend with the cords and games. It was just another reminder that you shouldn't buy anything on a plane except liquor.

The list is populated with official devices (the TurboExpress from NEC) and unofficial hardware (the Kingway Top Guy) and I was surprised at how much I learned from this article.  Some of the Chinese knock-off gadgets are impressive for their time despite being completely unlicensed and totally unviable in terms of mass production and sale.  Sure, the Top Guy could play Nintendo's 8-bit finest, but each unit was apparently created by hand in someone's workshop.  That's no way to run an electronics concern.  Sega, on the other hand, went gadget wild on a wide scale with a whole stable of handhelds of varying power and capability: Mega Jet, Nomad, CDX... the list goes on.  The one company that you won't see on the list, naturally, is Nintendo.  While the competition was doing everything is could to get its home games on the road, Nintendo recognized the value of keeping home and handheld markets distinct and designed games that played to each segment's strengths.  There's a reason that the company is still going strong (despite the occasional stumble) all these years later. 

(Image via VGRetro)

Amazon Holds Another Video Gaming Lightning Deals Sale

Buy somethin' will ya!Discounts are the name of the game again today as Amazon is holding another of its recurring video game Gold Box and Lightning Deals events in which a variety of games and accessories are on sale at different times throughout the day.  Today's big discount is a whopping 50% off the recently released Mass Effect 3 for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC.  You can pick it up today for $29.99.  Other items included in the sale today include the PlayStation Move, a wireless gaming headset, the latest installment in the King of Fighters franchise, and much more.  Check out the offerings and pick up something you like.  Every purchase you make through one of the green links here helps to support Press The Buttons, and as always, I thank you for that.