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August 2012
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October 2012

September 2012

Rifftrax Tackles Super Mario Bros.

The Rifftrax team of Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett has been tackling bad movies since their days on TV's Mystery Science Theater 3000, and now in coordination with IGN the trio has turned the spotlight on 1993's fondly remembered yet hard to watch Hollywood take on Nintendo's classic Super Mario Bros. starring Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and Dennis Hopper.  While not riffing the entire film, there are seven minutes of highlights worth your time.  If you're someone like me who eagerly corralled a group of friends to go see the movie on opening night in a haze of Nintendo-induced rapture that only a sixth grader can experience, then this take-down is all the more sweeter (and a good reminder that I haven't actually seen the complete film since I was a kid so as not to tarnish the fun memories that I have of that evening).

Sony Announces New Smaller PlayStation 3

Sony PlayStation 3

Sony took some criticism at the size of the behemoth PlayStation 3 console when it first launched, so when a smaller PS3 hardware revision launched in 2009, the slimmer size pleased many.  If critics were happy with that announcement then they're likely to be ecstatic now as the company has revealed another PS3 revision that brings the console's size down even further.  Clocking in at a quarter smaller and a fifth lighter than the last PS3 model, this new box boasts 250 GB and 500 GB hard drives (depending on the model you choose) and comes packed with a game.  Kotaku has the story.

In the US, the 250GB model will be out on September 25, and will include Uncharted 3 and a $30 "digital content" voucher for DUST 514 (a free-to-play game). It'll cost $270.

There'll also be a 500GB bundle including Assassin's Creed III that'll go on sale in the US on October 30. No price on that one yet.

I would have thought that the price would have been cheaper for this model, but I suppose these changes were more to bring manufacturing costs down than to aggressively compete in the marketplace.  Plus, now Sony has given itself room to move on future price cuts in case it decides to compete with Nintendo's Wii U.  Moreover, it seems that the 250 GB model is meant for new PS3 owners since it comes with a game that's been out for a year now, while the 500 GB model features a brand new game. 

Oh, yes, and in some regions, there's another model launching: one that comes with just 12 GB of storage space.  That's not a typo.

Those purchasing the 12GB model will still be able to upgrade and drop a HDD in there later; the only change is that when they do, that 12GB will no longer be available for internal storage.

This HDD-less PS3 will be released on September 27 in Australia and October 12 in Europe. It'll be priced at €229 / AUD$300.

I'm not certain why that's needed (or even really practical considering storage requirements for both retail disc games and downloadable content), but if it's meant to be a stock base model into which customers are expected to install a massive hard drive on their own dollar and initiative, then godspeed and good luck to everyone involved.

Borderlands 2 Launches With Explosive Trailer

Borderlands from 2K Games and Gearbox Software only just landed on my radar a little over a month ago.  Despite hearing great things about it since its release in 2009, it's only now that I finally got around to renting the game to see what all the fuss was about.  Now I understand the devotion to this intriguing first-person shooter / RPG hybrid.  I'm not finished with the original game's campaign yet (let alone the extensive downloadable content expansions), and yet here comes the sequel, Borderlands 2 for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC, to keep me occupied when I really should be off doing more productive things.  This launch trailer sums up all of the guns, explosions, violence, customizable skills, over-the-top kills, and dancing robots that the revisited world of Pandora has to offer.  Vault hunters wanted!  Looks like I'll be busy for a while.

Power Button - Episode 86: Here Comes Monied Wii U

Power ButtonNow that Nintendo has let the cat out of the bag regarding the price of its impending Wii U console bundles, Brad Hilderbrand and I knew we had to discuss the news on this week's episode of Power Button.  Blake Grundman from the Games Are Evil's EvilCast sits in as our guest this week in order to talk about the costs of system ownership, who among us is buying one at launch, how we expect and hope to see the Wii U grow in the future, which launch titles sound like worthwhile investments, and where we each see our own personal paths of Wii U ownership leading.  Join us for 48 minutes of analysis and anecdotes.  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 86: Here Comes Monied Wii U

Weekly Poll: Will U Wii U?

Weekly Poll for 9-10-2012Most of you prefer to wait for the complete version of a video game to be released as a Game Of The Year edition over buying new releases at full price and then buying the add-on downloadable content a piece at a time for additional money.  It makes better financial sense, and I know I should buy the GOTY versions, but I hate waiting.  The Internet loves to spoil plot points, so I feel that if I drag my feet on games like Assassin's Creed III or Batman: Arkham City, all of the plot twists and surprises will be ruined for me before I get to play the game.  It's even getting to the point that in the rush to be the all-important First, people are getting hold of early release copies of games and posting spoiler-laden videos to YouTube after which the gaming media posts them everywhere.  I knew the secret reward for collecting one million coins in New Super Mario Bros. 2 before the game even hit stores in North America thanks to an inconsiderate person posting spoilers in a forum without warning.  That's a small, insignificant thing, sure, but imagine if the spoiler was for something that truly mattered in the context of a game and its plot?  That's why I buy earlier than I should.  I don't want to have my escapism spoiled.

Speaking of buying things at full price, now that Nintendo has announced its Wii U prices and release dates, are you planning to buy one this year?  Or, rather, are you going to try to buy one this year as preorders are selling out already and it looks like there will be a mad rush to find one just as with all new game console launches in recent memory.  So, are you in?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Nintendo Announces Wii U Release Date And Price

Wii U launch price

After months of speculation from the gaming community, Nintendo has finally announced the release date and price of its new Wii U console.  North American games can head out to stores on November 18, 2012 to pick up the their choice of console bundles: a $299.99 package that includes a white Wii U package with 8 GB of storage space and a GamePad or a $349.99 black Wii U package that includes 32 GB of storage space, a pack-in copy of Nintendo Land, and stands for both the console and the Wii U and GamePad.  Both bundles also come with a HDMI cable, Wii U sensor bar, and power adapters for both the console and GamePad.  No Wii remotes or nunchuks are included as Nintendo believes that there are more than enough of those accessories out there in the wild to meet demand, although Wii U-branded versions of those items will be available soon for those who need them.

Honestly, this is more expensive than I'd expected.  I was personally hoping for a $299.99 bundle that included New Super Mario Bros. U, as nothing else in Nintendo's current list of launch window games (spanning from launch through March 2013) interests me.  I'm long since burned out on mini-game collections, so Nintendo Land isn't doing anything for me despite its clothing made of famous franchises.  Pikmin 3 isn't in my wheelhouse, and it's been a long time since a third-party publisher did something truly amazing on Nintendo hardware that aligned with my tastes.  I know I'll wind up with a Wii U eventually because, well, Mario, but I'm just not seeing anything else in the launch window lineup that makes me want to rush out to arrange for a pre-order when that money could be better spent elsewhere right now.  From where I stand, this launch announcement sounds like a $349.99* wager that Nintendo will eventually get around to releasing new Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Wario, Star Fox, Kirby, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi's Island games once it's done with the family-friendly and casual stuff, and after the Nintendo 3DS launch price debacle, I'm not so sure that I want to place another long-term launch bet on Nintendo hardware right now.  I do want one, but the timing is not right for me to pay that price.  For Nintendo's sake, I hope the market disagrees with me.

* Seriously, if you're going to buy a Wii U, buy the one with more storage space.  Learn from the 20 GB Sony PlayStation 3 launch controversy.

A Special Message From Captain Qwark

I've been replaying the original Ratchet & Clank as part of the Ratchet & Clank Collection for the Sony PlayStation 3 and have been consistently impressed with how well the classic PlayStation 2 game has aged.  Many PS2 games that have been given a high definition makeover still feel a bit rusty at heart due to aging gameplay mechanics, but Ratchet holds its own.  Part of why the game succeeds after all this time has to be the fun characters and how they interact with one another.  The game must introduce everyone in the Ratchet universe and make those folks memorable, and while other games sometimes fail to rise to that challenge, developer Insomniac Games pulled it off.  To get an idea of how animated and "real" characters like Ratchet, Clank, and Captain Qwark seem in the original game, check out the disgraced Qwark's role as pitchman Steve McQwark in this commercial for the new Personal Hygienator from Gadgetron.  Pay attention to the lively vocal performances from the actors behind the characters and take note of their reactions to Qwark's pitch.  It's impressive stuff and a hint that while Ratchet & Clank fires on all cylinders, the best is yet to come.

Power Button - Episode 85: The Rise And Fall Of Nintendo Power, G4, And Beyond

Power ButtonIt's been a depressing few weeks for fans of video game coverage in the form of printed media and television channels.  Both the famed and long-running Nintendo Power and the collapsing G4 network are said to be not long for this world as the magazine closes down and the channel is rumored to head for a non-gaming revamp.  On this week's episode of Power Button, Brad Hilderbrand and I say goodbye to these two familiar brands and discuss where we believe that gaming media is headed as the format continues to grow, change, and evolve.  There's also a little Doctor Who discussion in there as well for some reason.  Join us for forty-two minutes of fond memories and analysis.  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 85: The Rise And Fall Of Nintendo Power, G4, And Beyond

Organize Your Borderlands 2 Plan Of Attack

Borderlands 2 skill treeOne of the highlights of creating a character in Borderlands from Gearbox Software and 2K Games involves mapping out one's skill tree.  The idea is that when a character levels up, the player earns a skill point that can be spent on a number of different upgrades unique to his or her character class such as increased ammunition, health boosts, attack bonuses, and so on.  The catch is that some of these upgrades are only available after other upgrades are unlocked and there aren't enough skill points in the game to unlock them all, so there's a definite strategy involved when it comes to choosing which way to enhance one's character.  With multiple character classes available each with unique skill tree elements, it's highly unlikely that any two Borderlands characters are exactly alike. 

Now with the sequel, Borderlands 2, on the way to the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC, it's time to plan your skill tree progression all over again.  There's no need to wait for the game to release next week, however; Gearbox has released a skill tree simulator of sorts that allows you to set up your character's progress right now while experimenting with different options and combinations.  You'll have to wait for the game to see the upgrades in action, but at least you can get a head start on things.  For example, I'm mapping out the Gunzerker-class character Salvador with plenty of Brawn and Rampage boosts.  It's never too early to have my eye on health regeneration and an increased rate of weapon fire.

Weekly Poll: Pay Me Now, Pay Me Later

Weekly Poll for 9-04-2012It looks like the Nintendo Wii U price tag sweet spot is at the $249.99 or $299.99 mark for most of you out there.  I'm looking to pay $249.99, but I'd spring for the $299.99 option if a game that I plan to buy anyway (such as New Super Mario Bros. U) is a pack-in title at that price point.  Realistically I should admit that I would pay just about anything for a new Super Mario fix, but the more expensive the cost, the more likely it would have to wait.  Money doesn't grow on trees in this economy even if it's money earmarked for Mario.

Speaking of buying new games, this generation has popularized the Game Of The Year edition re-release in which last year's biggest $60 hits are repackaged with most or all of the game's post-release downloadable content included and sold at a discount.  GOTY editions make it a more fiscally attractive option to wait a year and buy the complete package for less money, but there are some games that demand immediate exploration for any number of personal reasons (risk of story spoilers, all of one's friends are playing the multiplayer modes at release and may not be in a year, etc.).  Do you prefer to buy the newest releases as they reach stores or do you bide your time and wait for the complete GOTY repackaged product?  Let's hear your thoughts.