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August 2012

Classic Zelda Artwork Demands Analysis

The Legend of ZeldaNintendo and its licensees cranked out a lot of fantastic artwork in the 1980s based on Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, and while it's all off-model and somewhat strange by today's standards of rendered perfection and multiple layers of required approval, it's fun to look back on how things used to be in the world of promotional art.  Over at Poison Mushroom, David Oxford has found a neat piece of art promoting The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link using elements from the two titles in and proceeds to give it some much needed analysis. 

Examining the piece more closely, it hews heavily towards the original game– right down to the logo– though if I’m not mistaken, the Magical Sword Link is wielding comes from The Adventure of Link, as does his attire (the leggings, specifically). It was definitely featured on the box, and he would wield it in some promotional material as well. Plus some merchandise like this, apparently. He also carried a simplified version in the DiC animated series, as well as Captain N: The Game Master.

I love looking back at old artwork like this.  They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore now that the company is much more heavily involved in controlling and maintaining the image of its famous characters and brands.  I think that level of control has been good for everyone; Link is always Link, for instance, and not a poorly drawn stubby man-child, but those of us who grew up at the dawn of Nintendo's famous heroes have fond memories of off-model characters depicted in situations never seen in the games.  You'll never find Princess Zelda taking an active role in either Nintendo Entertainment System adventure, but seeing her fight alongside Link in this image works.  A little variety is a good thing.

Sony Bundling Top PS3 Titles At Bargain Prices

God of War SagaDo you know how we can tell that the current generation of video game hardware is starting to wrap up?  Sony is packing its crown jewel PlayStation 3 titles together at bargain prices in what has to be a move to get one last sales push out of great games like God of War III and inFamous 2 before the carnival tents roll up and the circus moves into the next town for the rise of the PlayStation 4.  The company has announced a new Collections line that bundles the hell out of some of its best PS3 releases starting at a mere $29.99.  Latecomers to the PS3 ecosystem stand to save a small fortune.  Check out the contents of each collection from the first wave of releases due out on August 28 in North America:

God of War Saga

  • God of War
  • God of War II
  • God of War III
  • God of War: Origins Collection (which includes God of War: Chains of Olympus and God of War: Ghost of Sparta)
  • Exclusive Bonus Content
  • Voucher For 1 Trial Month of PlayStation Plus
  • Remastered for HD, DUALSHOCK Control, Full PlayStation Network Trophy Support and 3D (3D supported only in God of War III and God of War: Origins Collection)

inFAMOUS Collection

  • inFAMOUS
  • inFAMOUS 2
  • inFAMOUS: Festival of Blood
  • Extra missions
  • Additional character costumes, power ups and weapon styles

It's all content that we've seen before, but if you've dragged your feet on playing these games or you just bought your first PS3, then these are must-own collections.  Sony has plenty of other franchises that are begging for the Collection treatment when the time comes to release the next wave of titles, too.  I wouldn't be surprised to see a Ratchet and Clank Future Collection that packs together Tools of Destruction, Quest for Booty, and A Crack in Time (heck, maybe throw in All 4 One if the company is feeling generous that day) as well as a Resistance trilogy and, of course, the inevitable Uncharted three-pack with included downloadable multiplayer expansions.  These compilations practically create themselves, and as the next generation of PlayStation hardware looms, the time is coming for the PS3 to take on the budget console role currently filled by the aging (but still popular) PlayStation 2.  Don't mourn for the PS3's impending refocus though.  Sony is throwing the console's game library a very nice retirement party, and these Collections releases are the first invitations.

This Is Not A Real Yoshi Game, But It Should Be

Yoshi Island of Dreams

Despite originating in Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. 2, the Shy Guys have gone to be better associated with the Yoshi's Island spin-off series where the creepy creatures play the role of Goomba to Yoshi's Mario.  Extending that line of thought will get you to the idea that perhaps the master antagonist of that trip to Subcon, Wart, should turn up in the Yoshi's Island world as well as this work of fan art from Michael Julius Peterson demonstrates.  If this image looks familiar, that's because it follows on from a piece of official Nintendo artwork used to promote Super Mario Bros. 2 (and, before that, Doki Doki Panic) but adds a few Yoshi characters into the mix (and a Yoshi-inspired pterodactyl which needs to be in an actual Yoshi's Island game immediately if not sooner).  If you need a refresher on that original promotional image, you'll find it below.  Feel free to compare and contrast.

Continue reading "This Is Not A Real Yoshi Game, But It Should Be" »

Behold The Glorious Glowing Game Boy

Game Boy LightNintendo has a knack for revising its handheld hardware to do more things at smaller sizes, but not every variation makes it into widespread markets.  We've all seen the Game Boy Advance gain a backlit screen as the Game Boy Advance SP and the Nintendo DS's original display evolve into brighter screens, but have you seen the original Game Boy take on a glowing brilliance?  Jeremy Parish at 1UP has a look back at the only-in-Japan Game Boy Light.

The Game Boy Light arrived in close proximity to the Game Boy Color. But it wasn't a color system; it was a black and white Game Boy Pocket with perks. Namely, the GB Light (as its name would suggest) was the first-ever backlit Nintendo handheld. But to up the cool factor and save battery juice, Nintendo didn't give it a full-on backlight (which would have been prohibitively expensive, not to mention brutal to power consumption). Instead, the Light used something similar to Timex's "indiglo" technology, bathing the screen with faint blue illumination. It's barely noticeable in daytime lighting, but in a dark room (or, say, the back seat of a car at night), it illuminates the screen just enough to make it playable.

And, as often happens with Nintendo hardware, the Light stimulates that part of the hindbrain that makes nerds want to own useless gadgets that will probably sit around gathering dust. Sure, you don't need a Game Boy Light, but it's a backlit Game Boy! It's basically your frustrated childhood dream made real. That kind of appeal can be hard to resist.

The hell of it is, he's right.  I have no use for a GBL, but I find that I want one.  I have better hardware that can display those old Game Boy games with much better clarity.  I could pop a classic Game Boy game pak into my GBA SP or buy a cheaply priced title on the 3DS's Virtual Console.  There's no reason for me to buy a GBL for actual playing purposes, and yet... I want it!  More specifically, the younger version of me from 1990 wants it.  Nine-year-old me would gladly take a Timex-like screen over the half-solution that was the old Light Boy accessory when sitting in the backseat of my parents' car on long family road trips.  However, considering that it didn't arrive on Japanese store shelves until 1998, both past and present me will just have to learn to live without it.

1996 Japanese Sneak Peek At Super Mario RPG Revealed

FamimagaUPDATE: More early screenshots including an appearance by Luigi!

Lots of us have fond memories of the Nintendo / Square collaboration that is Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars for the Super NES thanks to its fun story, charismatic stars, memorable enemies, and solid combat system, so there's definitely interest out there in taking a look at some pre-release screenshots from Famimaga magazine's February 1996 issue. Check out these scanned pages of the game in action and marvel at how much (and in some cases, how little) it changed before release. The essentials are already established and in place, but sharp-eyed fans of the game will recognize a few little changes here and there. There's some Japanese text in the article that undoubtedly explains the whole thing if you're able to read it, but I'm willing to settle for examining the images in the name of curiosity and bemused interest.

(Thanks Aaron!)

Power Button - Episode 82: Beneath The Cone Of Silence

Power ButtonWhat is the biggest problem in the video game industry today?  According to Kotaku's Jason Schreier, it's not overpriced downloadable content or insider trading or software piracy.  It's secrecy.  Or, rather, too much secrecy.  Here's Schreier:

The biggest problem in gaming today is that the gaming industry thinks we're all out to get them. They think gamers are the enemy, a group that needs to be treated with disdain and avoided whenever possible. They think the only way to fool us into buying their products is to cover everything in a shroud of secrecy, only drip-feeding us pretty trailers and juicy soundbites during carefully-tailored marketing campaigns. They think we should just sit there and lap it up.

Game makers are afraid to get our hopes up about projects that might be cancelled. They won't talk about games they've spent months or years creating. They won't show us prototypes or tell us about problems or even answer the most rudimentary questions, like "will this game be multiplatform?" or "can we use guns in this one?"

He has an excellent point.  On this episode of Power Button, Joey Davidson and I discuss the article and debate why these high levels of secrecy are encouraged, how publishers manipulate the public discussion, the impact of social media on the message, and how people on both sides of the cone of silence can help to fix the problem.  Join us for forty minutes of conversation.  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 82: Beneath The Cone Of Silence

Spirit Of Old Arcades Lives On At Game Warp 2012

The traditional arcade with its video games teasing would-be players with attract modes and pinball tables demanding attention is an endangered species today, but sometimes there's a spark that brings back the old memories and experiences. Last weekend my girlfriend Nicole and I along with our friends Brad Hilderbrand (of Power Button fame) and his wife Barbara hit Game Warp 2012 in Orlando, Florida's busy tourist district off of International Drive. The Game Warp event brings in dozens of classic arcade and pinball games all set on free play for three days of lights, sounds, and paying twenty dollars at the door to enter.  Plenty of classics were available to try from Street Fighter II: Champion Edition to the Super Mario Bros. pinball machine and beyond; so many old favorites were there showcasing decades of gaming.  Let's go on a little tour of the room and see what the show had to offer.

Continue reading "Spirit Of Old Arcades Lives On At Game Warp 2012" »

Mini-Review: Mario And Sonic At The Olympic Games

Mario And Sonic At The Olympic GamesThis article was originally published at on November 20, 2007.

Gamers who grew up during the 16-bit console wars always wondered if Nintendo's Super Mario and Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog would ever appear together in the same game, and while everyone at the lunch table had his or her own idea about how the two titans may someday clash, very few people would have predicted the setting of the battle to be Beijing. Nevertheless, here we have it, Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games in which heroes and villains from both franchises come together to compete in the Games of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Characters such as Mario, Sonic, Princess Peach, Tails, and "the rest" mix in up in such thrilling events such as the hammer throw, javelin toss, 100m dash, hurdles, trampoline gymnastics, skeet shooting, and many more. Dig deep enough into the mini-game experience to unlock the Dream Events in which traditional Olympic rules are set aside in favor of Mushroom Kingdom madness with power-ups and super moves that one would expect in a Mario sporting game.

Continue reading "Mini-Review: Mario And Sonic At The Olympic Games" »

Buttermilk The Goat Wins Bleat Fighter II

A YouTube video of an adorable baby goat named Buttermilk being a jerk to other goats by jumping on them for her own amusement has taken the Internet by storm in the past day as people just cannot get enough of cute little animals. The Internet also loves to remix content, however, so it's no surprise that someone (in this case it's Aaronisles) has enhanced the original Buttermilk video by adding Street Fighter II music and sound effects. Guile's theme really does go with everything. Buttermilk wins! Perfect!