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June 2012

Nintendo Announces New 3DS Model

Nintendo 3DS XL

After vehemently denying that it had plans to release a new model of 3DS, Nintendo has announced that it will release a new model of 3DS.  Following on from the supersized DSi, the company has come up with a variation of the Nintendo 3DS that is 90% larger than its pocket-sized predecessor and boasts a slightly better battery.  Coming this August 19 to North America at a $199.99 price tag and with a 4GB memory card in the box, it's the 3DS XL.  Kotaku sums up the new stats:

The top screen measures at 4.88 inches and is 90 percent bigger, while the bottom screen is 4.18 inches and is also 90 percent bigger.  For the 3DS XL, the battery will last 3.5 to 6.5 hours while playing 3DS games (as compared to 3 to 5 hours with the 3DS). The battery will last 6 to 10 hours for DS games (as compared to 5 to 8 hours for the 3DS). 

I know that plenty of people have hoped for a drastic 3DS redesign that features a built-in second circle pad and any other number of improvements, but I'm glad that the new member of the 3DS family is just a larger version of the original model.  As someone who bought a 3DS at launch just last year, I'm not ready for my handheld system to be totally obsolete already (as it stands, this XL model is still $50 cheaper than the launch price of the standard 3DS).  I can't say that I've played a 3DS game yet where a second analog stick is sorely missed.  I'm not interested in a larger 3DS, but it's nice to see that one now exists for those who want it.  Nintendo can tweak the system's size all it wants, but let's leave the feature set alone for a while more, please.


Power Button Presents Kombo Breaker - Episode 13: More Reliable Than FedEx??

Power Button Presents Kombo BreakerFor this week's classic episode of the Kombo Breaker podcast we found ourselves at a bit of a loss as one-fourth of our panel was MIA after Dan Johnson's computer died and went off to that big technical support department in the sky.  FedEx was supposed to deliver a replacement before show time, but, alas, it was not meant to be. In this episode originally from February 1, 2009 we got to know Brad Hilderbrand a little better, discussed my then-newfound appreciation for Grand Theft Auto IV, difficulties with Skate 2, Capcom's hopes for the expensive Lost Planet movie, how to baffle Microsoft technical support with one simple question, and a plea for Nintendo to come home because we all missed it terribly.  We wrapped everything up with a discussion about the first two hours of Ōkami before bidding farewell for another week.  It's ninety minutes of rock music and video game discussion, so join us for some slightly aged but still relevant fun.  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 Presents Kombo Breaker - Episode 13: More Reliable Than FedEx??


Ōkami Coming To PS3 With PlayStation Move Support

ŌkamiCapcom has plenty of niche franchises that are represented by very devoted fans, but it seems that Ōkami has one of the most passionate franchise fanbases who love to spread the word of the heroic Amaterasu's adventures.  The game originated as a Sony PlayStation 2 game back in 2006 by now-closed developer darling Clover Studio, then returned in 2008 for the Nintendo Wii.  Now it's coming back yet again, this time for the Sony PlayStation 3 as a downloadable title boasting PlayStation Move support.  Here's Game Informer with the news:

Capcom confirmed the game is coming to North America and Europe this fall for $19.99. It's available through PlayStation Network. This HD version includes PlayStation Move and trophy support.

Per Capcom: "Ōkami HD brings Amaterasu’s epic tale to the PS3 with fully integrated HD graphics and 16:9 aspect ratio. The trademark sumi-e ink art style lends itself perfectly to HD allowing players to experience more of the awe-inspiring world displayed in greater detail than ever before."

Back in 2009 in the early days of the Kombo Breaker podcast, we tried to spark interest in the audience by inviting everyone listening each week to play through the Wii version of Ōkami with us.  The "Let's play Ōkami" segment didn't last very long on the show, as making time to play the game each week was hard to justify when nobody out there seemed to have any interest in Ōkami.  I slogged through the first few hours of the game and I just wasn't sold on it.  It felt like homework and I wasn't sorry when we discontinued the segment.  I know that Ōkami has its fans, and I'm very glad that they enjoy the game and its vibrant world, but it's just not for me.  I don't blame Capcom for trying to get this game to hit one more time (third time's the charm?), but if it didn't catch fire on two of the biggest selling platforms at the height of their respective powers, what hope does it have now with motion controls for a peripheral that not many prospective Ōkami players own?  Good luck, Capcom, but call me when you revive Clover's Viewtiful Joe.


Saints Row: Enter The Dominatrix Cancelled To Make Way For Proper Saints Row Sequel

Enter The DominatrixTHQ's recent change in leadership is already impacting the company's future line of titles as it's been announced that the previously announced expansion to Saints Row: The Third, Enter the Dominatrix, has been scrapped.  Originally planned to ship later this year, the Steelport side-story featuring an alien invasion has instead been rolled into a proper full sequel due out in 2013.  Emily Gera at Polygon has the story.

The project, tentatively titled "The Next Great Sequel in the Saints Row Franchise," is scheduled to launch next year, according to THQ president Jason Rubin.  "When I looked at the Enter The Dominatrix expansion in production at Volition, I was blown away by the ideas and desire to expand the fiction of the franchise," said Rubin in a prepared comment.

"I asked the team what it could achieve given more time, more resources, and a broader scope for the project. We all agreed we wanted to play that game. When it comes to Saints Row, it's clear our fans want bigger, better, and even more over the top, and that's why Enter The Dominatrix will now be incorporated into a vastly expanded, full-fledged sequel, scheduled for calendar 2013."

While I was looking forward to Enter the Dominatrix, I'm more interested in a proper Saints Row 4 (and I really want to see that tentative title, The Next Great Sequel in the Saints Row Franchise, become the final title; seriously, put that on the box).  New president Jason Rubin is not wasting any time attempting to turn THQ's failing fortunes around, and while canning this year's release will cost some potential revenue, a full sequel next year will undoubtedly bring in more than enough to make up for the shortfall.  Rubin seems to be playing a long game here.  Dominatrix's sudden reveal always felt like a quick fix attempt to bring in some revenue to the ailing company, so Rubin must really believe in the team at Volition to bet on next year's full sequel.  Let's hope that bet pays off.


Mini-Review: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown WarsThis article was originally published at Kombo.com on March 31, 2009.

Who would ever have thought that a sword could cause so much trouble? When protagonist Huang Lee's father dies, our hero must take the family's ancient ceremonial sword heirloom, Yu Jian, to Liberty City and present it to his uncle as part of a time-honored family tradition that dates back to when Huang's father won the sword in a poker game. After arriving in the city, however, Huang is nearly murdered by his uncle's rivals and the sword is stolen right out from under him. Now he's going to work for his crime-boss uncle in a bid to retrieve Yu Jian and restore the family's honor through murder, drug dealing, theft, and all kinds of other nasty, illegal acts that make the Grand Theft Auto series so much fun.

What we have here in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is the traditional Grand Theft Auto experience scaled back in terms of visuals and music but expanded in the gameplay department. Still, there's just as much to do in the pocket sized version of Liberty City as in its home console big brothers. As the story unfolds, Huang will be tasked with all of the usual kinds of GTA mayhem, but there are plenty of new additions and tweaks to the usual formula that play up the Nintendo DS's strengths. While Niko Bellic in Grand Theft Auto IV depended on his cell phone, Huang is completely reliant on his PDA, allowing him to check e-mail, order weapons online from Ammunation for home delivery, plot routes on a GPS, manage his address book, and several other important functions. The PDA fills the touchscreen, providing quick access to just about everything Huang needs at just the tap of a finger (or a stylus).

Continue reading "Mini-Review: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars" »


Do The New Super Mario Bros. 2 Coins Matter?

MarioNintendo has made a point of emphasizing that Mario and Luigi will need to collect one million coins in the upcoming New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo 3DS, but considering how plentiful extra lives have been in recent traditional Mario titles, why do the brothers need so many coins?  What's the point of packing the Mushroom Kingdom coffers with extra gold?  Over at Poison Mushroom, David Oxford explores the need for compulsive greed.

Some people feel that the 1UP mushrooms should be retired, as they’ve become nearly pointless due to how easy they are to obtain, and players should simply be given unlimited lives (personally, I feel they’re too iconic to do away with entirely). As a result, collecting coins seems less important as well, save for in some 3D Mario games, where they restore your depleted life meter. And even then, unless there is a star to be had for collecting them, they are typically ignored unless needed. And with the one million coins goal set in New Super Mario Bros. 2, people are feeling that the coins are even more pointless now.

On the developers’ side, Producer Takashi Tezuka explained to IGN that their thinking was “we really want people to come back to this game again and again, we want them to get their money’s worth and play it for a long time, so let’s make it so you can actually collect a million coins.”

I tend to ignore the large swaths of coins these days, as there are plenty of opportunities to earn 1-Ups without grabbing each and every last coin like we had to do back in the old days of limited color palettes and beepy music.  I collect what I can with ease and leave the rest behind.  Why take a risk on a grouping of three coins near a bottomless pit when I can go to a green mushroom house, play a consequenceless mini-game, and collect eight 1-Up mushrooms? 

I'm not the only one to think that a Mario game built around collecting as many coins as possible feels more like a Wario game, and Oxford goes on to reason why Wario's presence in NSMB2 isn't necessarily required, but the more I think about it, the more I wish that Wario were the second playable character instead of Luigi.  Luigi plays very similarly to Mario, but Wario's methods have become different than those of his colleagues over time.  Imagine a traditional Mario adventure with the running and jumping on Goombas that you could also play as Wario with his dashing body slams.  It would essentially be two games in one thanks to the differing styles of each protagonist.  Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog titles have been doing this for years.  Think back to the old Sonic & Knuckles formula, for instance, that gave players the choice of mastering Sonic's speed or Knuckles's wall climbing and air gliding tactics.  It would require some extra work on Nintendo's part to make it work, but I know it could be done and I believe the result would be memorably fantastic.


Ubisoft Already Considering Watch Dogs Movies

Watch DogsUbisoft's E3 darling Watch Dogs isn't even an actual product yet, but that hasn't stopped the publisher from thinking about the future and putting its ducks in a row when it comes to turning the upcoming video game into a movie.  Game Informer reports that Ubisoft recently registered domains related to a hypothetical Watch Dogs film.

Ubisoft has purchased a number of domain names, all different variations of WatchDogsMovie.com. This is by no means an announcement of a film based on the game that has not even released yet. Ubisoft is probably just purchasing the domains as a, 'just in case Watch Dogs becomes a run-a-way success' preemptive measure.

After the strong reaction from critics and the gaming community in general for Watch Dogs, Ubisoft must be feeling very pleased with itself and is moving ahead with plans to position the upcoming title as a big tentpole release.  I'm typically against synergistic transmedia debuts for new properties (remember how Dead Space burst into existence fully formed back in 2008?), but I think that the overall positive response to Watch Dogs shows that there is a demand for media set in its detailed quasi-futuristic world.  I think it's much too soon for anyone at the company to commission Watch Dogs graphic novels and animated prequels, but I see no harm in Ubisoft considering plans for a Watch Dogs movie to be ready if the game succeeds. 


Street Fighter X Tekken Headed To iOS

Street Fighter X Tekken MobileCapcom's Street Fighter X Tekken has met with plenty of criticism regarding its downloadable content practices, but that hasn't stopped the company from bringing it to additional platforms.  While a handheld version for the Sony PlayStation Vita is due later this year, a newly announced iOS version will get the jump on it when Street Fighter X Tekken Mobile hits the App Store this summer.  Here's the announcement from Capcom:

[G]et your on-the-go SFxT fix with Street Fighter X Tekken Mobile, which converts the console game into a wholly new experience on iOS devices. Think SFIV Volt, but with tag mechanics and a healthy does of juggling.  SFxT Mobile will be compatible with iOS 5 or higher - that's playable on iPhone 4/4S, iPod Touch 4th gen or later, iPad 2 or New iPad (aka "Not iPad 3").

Apparently this conversion was stashed in a corner of Capcom's E3 booth this year as a not-a-product technical demo.  I guess people liked what they saw.  I'm willing to give this one a try, but I hope that it has more in common with Street Fighter IV Volt for iOS and less to do with the iOS port of Marvel vs Capcom 2.  While Volt used onscreen buttons for its input methods, the conversion of MvC2 relied on a swipe system that made no sense to me despite how often I reread the instructions.  I still play Volt when killing time on the go, but my MvC2 purchase was a complete waste of money considering that it's unplayable for me.  Such a shame.  I hope that SFxT has learned from those mistakes.  Despite all of the controversy behind the console version, there is a solid game there and I'd think it could downscale nicely to the iOS format.  Just, please, no DLC for this one!


EvilCast Recap - Episode 131: E3 Wrap-Up

EvilCastE3 2012 may be a memory now, but just as the week was closing out, I was invited back to the EvilCast to talk shop with Games Are Evil's Blake Grundman to wrap up the week as seen from afar.  In this episode of the EvilCast we discuss Nintendo's 3DS announcements including New Super Mario Bros. 2's cooperative multiplayer mode (and how it has its origin back in the original New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS)  as well as some of the other news of the week.  As Blake says, "Revelations were made, tears were shed, and it was decided that the butler did it in the study, with a candlestick.  Be sure to see how the madness plays out."  Download this episode over at Games Are Evil.  Spend eighty minutes with us and we will cure all of your ills. 


Nintendo Can't Decide Which Zelda Game To Remake Next

LinkNintendo has found success over the years in part by remaking its classic video games from the pre-2000 glory days when "playing Nintendo" was shorthand for enjoying any kind of interactive electronic entertainment (sorry, Sega Master System).  The company has a knack for turning its golden games into platinum with visual updates, new levels, or other small tweaks.  The Legend of Zelda series is an especially popular franchise for modernization.  Just to cite three examples, we've seen the original Nintendo Entertainment System adventure remade for the Satellaview add-on in Japan, A Link to the Past land on the Game Boy Advance with a new dungeon, and Ocarina of Time make the transition to 3D on the 3DS.  Which Zelda game should Nintendo remake next?  The company itself is puzzled by that very question and has basically narrowed things down to two possibilities.  Richard George at IGN has the story.

"We haven't quite decided yet, whether we're going to do A Link to the Past, because there's also the possibility of doing a remake of Majora's Mask," [Shigeru] Miyamoto told me in an interview at E3 last week. "This is something we've certainly been talking about and doing a little bit of experimenting with, to figure out which way we're going to go."

"We have so many goals right now," Miyamoto said. "We're always looking at expanding our audience and giving people the opportunity to get their hands on 3DS and see what kind of fun gaming experiences they can have. And now, we're also tasked with pushing the Wii U. So we have lots of good opportunities in terms of thinking about which Zelda game is going to be best for which purpose."

Personally, I'd rather see a new Zelda game in the style of A Link to the Past for whatever hardware Miyamoto and his colleagues believe is the best fit, but if only remakes are on the table, then I say to remake Majora's Mask for the Wii U and rework A Link to the Past as a 3DS title.  I prefer the old overhead view style of Past even after the revolution that was Ocarina's third-person camera perspective, and as Zelda games become increasingly massive and demand more and more time to play, I think cutting back some of the cruft and focusing on the traditional style is the way to go on a handheld system.  I bought Ocarina's 3D remake last year and promptly became bogged down by all that the game demanded of me.  It's just too daunting a quest to play again after all these years, particularly on a handheld format.  Majora's Mask, on the other hand, is perfectly suited for a large television screen, and that handy touchscreen on the Wii U GamePad is just begging to handle our inventory and mapping needs on a larger scale than the 3DS's touchscreen could offer.  Moreover, Majora's more involved quest demands the longer, more dedicated gaming sessions that playing a game on a television can provide with ease.  I'm sure that Nintendo would find success with either project and can hopefully figure this all out before enough time passes for fans to clamor for a Skyward Sword remake.

(via TechnoBuffalo)