Black Friday has come and gone for this year, but if you're still doing holiday shopping for yourself or someone else, then Amazon has you covered with a slate of Cyber Monday deals on video gaming products. Watch for deals on new games and accessories such as Epic Mickey 2, Madden NFL 13, Halo 4, the Sony PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3, DOOM 3 BFG Edition, Assassin's Creed III, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Resident Evil 6, the Devil May Cry Collection, and so much more. Sales come and go all day long, so be sure to check back often to see what's available. Every purchase you make from Amazon via the green link here goes to help support Press The Buttons which is ever so important this holiday season.
While I spend most of my gaming time stomping monster and shooting enemy soldiers, I also enjoy more traditional challenges. Give me a solid word game any day. Nintendo has done just that with Crosswords Plus for the Nintendo 3DS which packs a wide variety of crossword puzzles, word searches, and anagram challenges of varying difficulty levels. Perfect for the more low-key moments in our lives, there's something here for everyone who enjoys fun with letters.
Sometimes it's nice to get out of the house and go play video games somewhere else. This past weekend Brad Hilderbrand and I took our respective ladies to the second annual Southern Pinball Festival in sunny Orlando, FL for an afternoon of pinball action spanning decades worth of play. All of the great tables were there - Pinbot! Star Trek: The Next Generation! GoldenEye! Gorgar! Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines! Grand Lizard! - and on this episode of Power Button, you're going to hear about them all in a special edition devoted entirely to pinball. Silver ball aficionado Blake Grundman of the EvilCast joins us to talk about the best tables, the most intriguing designs, and the impressive world of video pinball that brings the action to modern video game consoles and handhelds. We cover Zen Pinball 2, Pinball FX 2, Pinball Arcade, and our other favorite ways of playing pinball when an actual table is not within reaching distance. Join us for an hour of pinball wizardry! 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.
Each year it seems that there are more and more fantastic video games worth giving as holiday presents to friends, family, and loved ones. 2012 goes above and beyond that with more top titles than ever before. This is a holiday season that brings us a new generation of assassins, vault hunters, speeding cars, a pair of plumbers, traumatized soldiers, and battling console mascots. How can anyone possibly hope to separate the good from the better from the best (as usual, we won't waste our time on the terrible)? Leave it to me to suggest a variety of titles suitable for gift-giving that will delight anyone on your list. In order for a game to make the list, it must be something that I thoroughly enjoyed or have definite intentions of buying for myself as well as be available in a wrapping-friendly physical format. It's a more personalized perspective that I hope you find useful as you make your list and check it twice. Before you head out to the mall or over to Amazon.com, take a look at what I'm recommending this time around.
Assassin's Creed III (PS3 / X360 / Wii U / PC)
Leaving the Renaissance period of the other recent games in the series behind, this fifth major entry in the Assassin's Creed franchise (despite the "III" in the title) shifts settings to the American Revolutionary period in which a young Native American boy is drawn into the eternal conflict between the power-mad Templars and the shadowy Assassins. As the Assassin Ratonhnhaké:ton, players participate in the such key historical events in American history as the Boston Tea Party, the first battles at Lexington and Concord, the Continental Congress, and so much more. While a bit rough around the edges at times (and future patches propose to fix many of the oddities), Assassin's Creed III is a must for fans of the series and anyone looking to lose himself or herself in a rich period of history and intrigue.
Using the warp whistles to skip ahead in Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of those wonderful gaming rites of passage, but one must be careful to toot the correct tune. Mess up the fingering or the timing and the resulting whirlwind will take you to the wrong far away land as Mario discovers in this Dorkly original video. See, this is why Link takes whistle lessons when he's not questing through Hyrule. Dark? Sure, but it made me laugh.
People like Ezio Auditore and Ratonhnhaké:ton get all the glory as the legendary heroes of the Assassins order, but my choice for unsung savior of the Assassins Creed franchise has to be Shaun Hastings. He provides the Assassins with tactical information and relays messages between operatives, but his most laudable accomplishment is the ongoing maintenance of the Animus database which chronicles each major character and location in the Assassin's Creed world. It's a joy to read Hastings's work, as he's clearly kind of bored of working on what's essentially an abridged encyclopedia and has inserted cynical wit into the data and even openly questions if anyone is reading his work. He also had a knack for intentionally comical misinformation. Check out this database entry from Assassin's Creed III in which Hastings explains the role of the Frontiersmen in the wilderness with an emphasis on the legendary Daniel Boone. Somehow I think that Hastings has mixed up his fanciful tales here. Keep up the great work, Shaun. At least one person is reading your work (and is catching the references to popular science fiction that you throw!).
Not wanting to wait for the Black Friday shopping frenzy, Amazon.com is running a little pre-Friday shopping event focusing on video games. While there are surely deeper discounts to come on some of this stuff, today is the day for sales on what appear to be mostly last year's big titles. You can save up to $115 on a Microsoft Xbox 360 bundle, trade in your Nintendo Wii for a $50 credit, save 64% on Sonic Generations, score Kirby's Epic Yarn for $17.06, snag BioShock 2 for under $10, and much more. Amazon appears to be emptying its warehouses of aging gaming stock, but if any of these items are on your shopping list, this is a good time to pick them up. Every purchase you make via the green link here goes to help keep Press The Buttons operating and as always I'm very appreciative of your support.
If you preordered a new Nintendo Wii U from the Canadian arms of GameStop or EB Games and were hoping to pick up your new acquisition on release date this Sunday, then you may have some disappointment in your future. Rumor has it that the retailer sold more preorders than it has incoming stock and will not be able to fill all of its commitments on launch day. GoNintendo sums up the discussion from NeoGAF:
If you live in Canada and plopped down some preorder cash on a Wii U, you might want to check out your local EB Games. We're hearing a rumor that locations can't promise a Wii U to anybody who preordered after September 25th. Supposedly those people will have to wait until the second wave of shipments to get their system.
This kind of thing always seems to happen with popular hardware. I'm reminded of a scene from the Seinfeld episode "The Alternate Side" in which Jerry Seinfeld reserves a rental car, then goes to actually pick up the car only to find that the rental service has run out of cars. See, GameStop knows how to sell the preorder, but not hold the preorder and that's really the most important part of the preorder, the holding. Anybody can just take them.
Now that PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale for the Sony PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita are working their way to stores, the development studios behind the game have announced its upcoming downloadable content plans. While free character costumes were a pre-order bonus, the real action is coming through new downloadable characters to be released early in 2013. Kat from Gravity Rush and Starhawk's Emmett Graves are coming to the fight, but the best part of the deal is the price: free for a limited time. Here's Seth Killian at the PlayStation Blog:
Yes, you heard that right. We’re very happy to announce these first two DLC characters will be free to everyone for the first two weeks once they are available for download early next year.
That may sound a little tricky, so let me be clear: once Kat and Emmett are finished, we’ll put them up for download. They’ll be totally free for two weeks. The only limit is that you have a two-week window to claim the characters. Once you have Kat and Emmett, they are yours forever. That may sound like a lot to remember, so don’t worry, we’ll be back closer to their release to remind you of all these details.
This is a tremendous deal that companies could stand to follow. When Capcom's Marvel vs Capcom 3 downloadable characters Jill Valentine and Shuma-Gorath debuted for sale, they cost $5 each. Then there's the controversial move of Street Fighter X Tekken locking away eight new playable characters behind a $20 paywall. Now here's Sony and its partners giving away new characters for the first two weeks of availability. That's how you thank and reward customers. Hopefully certain other publishers take notice of this example when planning future DLC options.
Speaking of video game publishers and developers that go the extra mile to do right by fans, our next example of corporate altruism that brings in some positive media attention comes to us from BioWare thanks to a mix-up with the recent release of Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Word on the street is that some PC Black Ops players opened their new purchases to find that the second disc of the set contained not Call of Duty data, but Mass Effect 2. That's quite the feat/mistake, as neither Call of Duty nor Mass Effect share a publisher or developer. Sounds like a screw-up down at the disc manufacturing facility. It's up to Activision to make things right when it comes to Call of Duty, but BioWare is upping the ante with a special offer to those impacted by the issue.
Rumor has it that about a thousand customers who purchased Call of Duty: Black Ops II for PC today were also treated to a surprise copy of Mass Effect 2. If you were one of the affected, chances are you thought it was a mistake, but we prefer to think that it was an omen, and when the universe talks, you should listen.
If the universe thinks that you should be playing Mass Effect right now, who are we to argue? In fact, we want to help! The first fifty fans affected by this phenomenon to send us a picture holding their special disc 2 will receive a code for a FREE PC copy of Mass Effect Trilogy.
That's downright generous of BioWare. Once again, kudos to the studio for reaching out and giving back to the community despite the fact that they were not responsible for this mistake. Hopefully more companies realize that the good press that results from these giveaways is more than worth the cost of a few free products. The companies get that positive press, fans get to enjoy free games, and I get to write uplifting articles like these rather than gripe about the latest publisher that wants to suck money from your pocket with its patent-pending long distance vacuum hose. Everybody wins!