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August 2012

Weekly Poll: Coin Time

Weekly Poll for 8-06-2012There's overwhelming support for video game publishers and developers offering more information and being generally more open with the community.  I certainly support it.  As Joey Davidson and I said on Episode 82 of Power Button, all of us on both sides of the equation are in this industry because of (in addition to other factors) a love of games, and that love of games should bring us all closer together rather than driving us apart.  Hopelessly naive?  Perhaps.  That doesn't make it any less true though.

Moving on, Nintendo's New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Nintendo 3DS is now available.  If you've had the opportunity to play it, would you say that it satisfies you?  Are you happy chasing down every last coin in the Mushroom Kingdom in pursuit of the final goal of acquiring one million of the little golden beauties?  Is it nice to fly with a raccoon tail again after all these years?  Or do you feel let down by more of the same and had hoped for more innovation?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Legend Of Zelda Art Book Hyrule Historia Coming To North America, Europe, and Australia

Hyrule HistoriaLast year fans of The Legend of Zelda around the world drooled in jealous delight at the release of Hyrule Historia in Japan.  This art and history book focusing on Link's many adventures supposedly contained the secrets and tales behind Nintendo's famous franchise, but the book's exclusive Japanese printing meant that those abroad had to settle for unofficial translations posted to the Internet a page or two at a time.  Now comes word that an English edition of the book is coming to North America, Europe, and Australia in 2013.  Here's some of the news from The Escapist:

Originally released in Japan in 2011 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the series, Hyrule Historia features "the full history of The Legend of Zelda franchise," as well as concept art and an introduction from series creator Shigeru Miyamoto. There's also "the official timeline of The Legend of Zelda series," putting to rest decades of debate over the chronological order of the Zelda games.

The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia is due out on January 29, 2013, with a US retail price of $34.99. The 25th anniversary of the Zelda series will be long over by then, but better late than never, right?

Thank you, Nintendo, for working to make this happen.  I've wanted to read this book since the original announcement last year, but didn't want to bother with unofficial translations and low resolution JPG scans (seriously, if you're overcompressing scans of an art book, you're missing the point).  I'm happy to hand over my money next year to buy a copy and hopefully this is the first of many Nintendo art and source books to come.  Wouldn't you say that Samus Aran's Metroid mythology is due for an official exploration?

The Many Flavors Of Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. SpecialWhen thinking back on Nintendo's famed original Super Mario Bros., you may think that the game has only turned up in different forms a time or two more over the years.  That's not exactly true.  Over at 1UP, David Oxford chronicles the many different versions and varieties of the game that turned the Nintendo Entertainment System into a mighty retail force.  You'll see the expected revisions including the Super Mario All-Stars upgrade, the Game Boy Color port that is Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, and a nod to the Virtual Console releases, but you'll also learn about some of the more obscure and secret releases such as the arcade game Vs Super Mario Bros., the little game watch that could, the actual Game & Watch unit, the hidden Animal Crossing version, Hudson's Super Mario Bros. Special, and so much more.  For a game that was ubiquitous in the 1980s, it keeps coming back again and again.  What, did you really think that people were buying Nintendo hardware just to play Duck Hunt?

Power Button - Episode 83: How To Turn A Double-A Game Into A Triple-A Smash

Power ButtonLet us take a moment to remember those proud video game franchises that despite showing up for duty with high production values, memorable storylines, and solid mechanics, failed to make a dent in the sales charts.  These so-called AA games fell short of the mark needed to become legendary AAA games.  On this week's episode of Power Button, we set out to analyze why this happens, how publishers can keep it from happening, and how some of our favorite studios have avoided falling into the AA trap.  Join us for an hour of commentary as we journey down the rabbit hole in search of games like de Blob, Red Faction: Armageddon, Bionic Commando, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and many more.  Semper fi, fellows!  You won't be truly forgotten.  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 83: How To Turn A Double-A Game Into A Triple-A Smash

Club Nintendo Offering Gold Nunchuk

Gold NunchukIf you have a gold Wii Remote that came with the special The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword bundle and have wanted a gold nunchuck accessory to match it, then you'd best get over to Club Nintendo right now and order the newly added catalog item for a cost of 900 of the club's reward coins before they sell out.  Believe me; they wil sell out.  Quantities are limited and there is a high demand for these.  Note that Nintendo saw fit to add a disclaimer to the deal:

The gold controller will simply be gold in color and will not contain any actual precious metals.

So much for my plan to melt it down to create expensive objects of breathtaking wonder.  I'm kind of over the gold controller impulse at this point in my life.  When Nintendo Power offered a gold Nintendo 64 controller in a Mario Kart 64 contest back in 1997, I wanted that prize more than anything.  I trained hard to set an impressive time on the Mario Raceway per the contest requirements, but was foiled when I learned that the best times were going to those who exploited the shortcut cheat involved with hopping over a brick wall to cut massive amounts of time off of their results.  I could barely accomplish that once in a race let alone three times, so I gave up and let go of my golden dreams.  Now I can't tell if I'm disillusioned or just saving my coins for something better.  Still, despite my disinterest, I'd like to say that this is an impressive addition to the catalog and I know it will be popular.  Good job, Nintendo of America, for making it available.

EvilCast Recap - Episode 140

EvilCastOnce again I'm sitting in for absent panelists on the Games Are Evil's EvilCast podcast, and Episode 140 is one of the fieriest yet.  I join Blake Grundman, Ross Polly, and Chris Nitz to discuss some of the week's news such as the future of virtual reality technology as related to the Oculus Rift Kickstarter project, Sony taking a loss in their latest financial report, and Star Wars: The Old Republic shifting business models to become a free-to-play title.  Ross even shares a list of the top five losers of the week.  We also talk a bit about what we've been playing lately which includes Borderlands and also gives me an excuse to talk about the GameWarp arcade and pinball event that I attended a few weekends ago.  Some of the panel found that to be boring, but that's their loss.  Head on over to GrE to download this week's show. 

Konami Declines To Patch Buggy Silent Hill HD Collection

Silent Hill HD CollectionKonami has a long, rich history of creating quality products (no matter how you feel about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the Nintendo Entertainment System and its underwater bomb disarming level), but the company is risking some of its reputation with today's news that it has decided not to patch the buggy and semi-broken Microsoft Xbox 360 version of the recently released Silent Hill HD Collection.  The compilation's frame rate and audio synchronization issues will remain intact on the Xbox platform while the Sony PlayStation 3 version was repaired last month.  And why isn't Konami going to patch the Xbox version?  Joystiq fills us in:

Konami has finally issued a long-awaited patch for the PlayStation 3 version of Silent Hill HD Collection.  It's intended to resolve frame rate and audio synchronization issues, among other things. The Xbox 360 compilation, meanwhile, won't be patched due to "technical issues and resources."

To recap for those of you following at home: Xbox 360 technical issues cannot be corrected due to technical issues.

Konami tells Joystiq that they will continue to sell the Xbox 360 version of the Silent Hill HD Collection. "Consumers with any questions regarding their purchase" can contact Konami customer support, the publisher told us.

That's a terrible shame and a nasty black mark on the publisher's record.  It's bad enough that the original release was sent out into stores with such glaring technical issues, but to not patch those issues on one platform while taking care of another?  That's just downright rude.  Who's to say this behavior won't repeat down the line now that we know Konami is capable of it?  This kind of thing leads me to develop some trust issues when it comes to taking a publisher's word that patches or other upgrades are incoming.  Like most things in the business, I suppose I'll have to add patches to the list of things that I'll believe when I see released.

Mini-Review: SPRay

SPRayThis article was originally published at on December 22, 2008. It is repubished here as part of Review A Bad Game Day.

When an evil queen invades the land and smashes the sunshine away, it's up to Spirited Prince Ray (giving us the title SPRay for all of the acronym lovers out there) to don the magic crown that summons little spirits that spit and spray various fluids such as water and vomit in order to recover the crystals that make up the sun and defeat the queen. Players guide Ray and his spewing companions across several worlds within the kingdom to solve puzzles, rescue citizens, gather new abilities, and collect items.

Ray's companions begin the game with the ability to spray water and vomit. Water washes away enemy goo and nourishes flowers that are planted almost everywhere (make a flower bloom and it'll erupt with what appears to be snot for some reason), while vomit sticks to floors and makes things such as invisible bridges visible when fully coated. Fluids are also used to trigger switches, bathe enemies, and draw symbols with the Wii remote among other things. Swing the Wii remote to whack nearby objects and enemies with Ray's staff. New tricks are added to Ray's arsenal as the game progresses.

Continue reading "Mini-Review: SPRay" »

Wii U Box Art Looks Familiar

Assassin's Creed IIITalk all you want about a new video game console's visuals or its online network or its controllers.  The real question on everybody's minds about Nintendo's upcoming Wii U is "What will the game boxes look like?".  Thanks to Ubisoft we now have our first chance to see the box art style for video games published for the Wii U.  Assuming that all Wii U games will share a unified style at the top of the case, the boxes feature a yellow arc containing a blue banner at top of the front of each box.  It's a simple, clean style that draws the eye to the Wii U logo and stays out of the way of the rest of the cover artwork.  GameTrailers has the confirmation that this is the real deal (and that it's always Hammertime over at Ubisoft). 

We've received word from a delightful Ubisoft PR rep, Mr. Michael Beadle, who tells us, "Why yes, the Wii U box art you sent is legit; in fact, it’s too legit to quit."

What really has my attention about this banner is how familiar this style is compared to another box art style from Nintendo's past.  Haven't we seen it somewhere before?  Does that Wii U banner look a little GameCubey to you?  Take a look at this comparison of the Assassin's Creed III box for the Wii U and the Sonic Heroes box for the GameCube:

Wii U / GameCube box comparison

That's a repeat of the GameCube box banner style with Wii U branding replacing the GameCube logo (although the Wii U arc is shaped just a bit differently than the GameCube arc).  I like to see companies reuse design elements from time to time in this manner.  It gives a sense of familiarity and history to a new product line.  I can guarantee that Nintendo's use of the old GameCube style is not a happy accident or a mere coincidence.  If a Wii U game box can give GameCube fans subconscious warm fuzzies on sight which might persuade them to buy a game, then why shouldn't Nintendo take advantage?  Now that we know the secret, however, the mental trick will not work.  We're all too smart to fall for such marketing manipulation.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go preorder a lot of Wii U games for nostalgic reasons I don't quite understand.

Weekly Poll: Secrets To Everybody

Weekly Poll for 7-30-2012Most of you would rather buy a new video game than a remastered old game.  I also prefer new experiences to nostalgia that's been spruced up a bit, but I have a soft spot for replaying an old favorite game in high definition.  I enjoy Sony's revamped classics line and I've rented a few of Nintendo's New Play Control titles for the Wii, but anymore I tend to split my gaming between both old and new with the new titles going to the PlayStation 3 and older titles landing on the Nintendo 3DS via its Virtual Console service.  Later this month, however, that'll flip to New Super Mario Bros. 2 on the 3DS and the Ratchet and Clank Collection on the PS3.  So while I prefer buying new original games, but actual habits are all over the place. 

Moving on, Episode 82 of the Power Button podcast ponders whether or not video game publishers should be more open when it comes to revealing information to the gaming community.  The charge is that there is too much secrecy in the video game industry.  Do you agree?  Do you want developers and publishers to be more open when it comes to sharing new information about past, present, and future products?  Let's hear your thoughts.