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January 2013

Free Street Fighter X Mega Man Update Adds Passwords

Street Fighter X Mega ManCapcom earned back some gamer goodwill last month when it released Street Fighter X Mega Man for the PC as a free download, but while the 8-bit take on Mega Man battling World Warriors earned a lot of positive reviews, the one overall criticism that most everyone who played the game expressed was that it needed passwords.  Badly.  In this busy modern age, who among us can be expected to sit and play a new, unfamiliar Mega Man game from start to finish in one sitting without a break or a safety net?  Capcom has heard our pleas and has announced a free updated version of the game due out on January 18, 2013 that adds the highly requested feature.

Surprise! We spent the holiday break looking at your feedback and have since made a few adjustments to last month's SFxMM freebie. This update will also be on the house, available via the Mega Man group page.

So, what does this update... update? Well, for one, [Mega Man 2]-style passwords!

The update includes a few other minor tweaks, but no new content.  Honestly, from what I played of the game before I stopped, I don't think the game needs any additional content.  I haven't bothered to play more of the game since my initial time with it because I didn't see the point if the game couldn't save my progress, but now that passwords are coming, I will definitely make the time to revisit it.  Thanks, Capcom, for listening to the community and general common sense on this one.

"Keep Shooting At The Robot Guard Until It Blows Up" And Other Useful Advice

Strategies for Nintendo GamesThose of us who grew up during the era when the Nintendo Entertainment System was a gaming powerhouse have fond memories of official publications such as Nintendo Power, but plenty of other publishers wanted to get a piece of the 8-bit action which led to a glut of unauthorized, unofficial players guides and strategy manuals that provided simplistic, strange, and sometimes just plain wrong information in a bid to separate young gamers from their allowance money.  Consider Strategies for Nintendo Games as published by Consumer Guide, for instance.  This thin wire-bound book sold at school book fairs and grocery store magazine racks everywhere in 1989 boasted assistance for titles such as Bases Loaded, ContraLife Force, Bionic Commando, Super Mario Bros. 2, and Xevious, but managed to be a special combination of unhelpful and patronizing.  Kid Fenris walks us through the guide:

The book is far more mundane in its descriptions of notable first-generation NES games. Each writeup covers the basics of a particular title, with a big red suggestion that ranges from helpful (“SHOOT THE WALLS” for Gauntlet) to the confusing (“PRACTICE” for Skate or Die). Each screenshot is accompanied by some sort of tip, and one can easily tell when the writers were weary of penning one bluntly obvious caption after another and just wanted to finish up the page and move on to writing about printers or the new Honda.

Consumer Guide followed up a year later with More Strategies for Nintendo Games which offered more of the same (literally more of the same, as several games from the first book were covered again).  As a young Nintendo fan, I eagerly snapped up the first volume when I found it for sale at my elementary school's book sale event.  Even at the tender age of eight, I knew useless trash when I saw it, and had I bothered to leaf through the book before buying it, I wouldn't have bothered to add it to my growing Nintendo collection.  Still, the Nintendo brand had such a hold on me at that time that I gladly bought everything I found related to it on faith that I was buying a quality product.  I learned a valuable lesson about always examining an item before buying it thanks to this book, and that's why it's so terrible that I made the same stupid mistake the following year when I happily bought the More sequel book without checking it over first.  Needless to say, it's not one of my prouder moments. 

PlayStation 4 Reveal May Come Before E3 2013

InterocitorWith Nintendo's Wii U already in stores, the competition is heating up as we transition from one console generation into the next.  Both Microsoft and Sony are working on their next generation video game consoles with flashy reveals assumed to be happening at E3 2013, but GamesRadar cites reports that indicate a possible early showcase for the next PlayStation.  According to a translated report (which, to be fair, could be a mistranslation), the company may start to show off its new flagship product in May.

Hiroshi Sakamoto, vice president of Sony Home Entertainment, reportedly confirmed a near future PS4 reveal in a Spanish language interview conducted with at CES last week.

Asked if a new PlayStation will be revealed in the coming months, Sakamoto said, according to a Google translation of the original report: "That's still a big secret, but our friends are preparing Sony PlayStation. I can only say that we are focused on the E3 gaming event, scheduled for June. [The] announcement may be in that minute or even earlier in May.

Pressed on whether the company is preparing a "big announcement" or "something additional", Sakamoto replied "probably the first," adding: “In that time we expect to deliver great news, but we must wait until May at least."

Whether anything has been lost in translation is unclear, but Sony Computer Entertainment UK declined to comment on the interview and Sakamoto’s reported statements [were] contacted by CVG.

I don't usually bother to report third-hand translated rumors, but I just had to mention this one to point out that Nintendo routed around E3 back in 2006 when it announced some early information about the then-upcoming Wii prior to the big media briefing.  In that instance, the extra time allowed the gaming community to get past the silly name and arrive at a point where people were ready to actually see and experience Wii games.  Perhaps Sony has a similar plan in mind in which the PlayStation 4 basics will be shared in May so that when E3 opens in June, everyone is ready to focus on the games and not the insignificant little questions about pointless details that always pop up when new hardware is first announced.

Weekly Poll: Still Catching Them All

Weekly Poll for 1-09-2013It's a close vote on interest in Valve's planned home PC-based video game console.  From what I've heard talking with friends, major PC gaming enthusiasts cannot wait to buy a Steam Box, while those who stick to Microsoft, Sony, and/or Nintendo offerings exclaim a mere "meh" when asked.  Once again, it looks as though Valve continues to own the PC gaming market as a storefront.  I'm curious where their hardware plans will take them.  I'm glad to see that the Steam Box is / will be a product, but it's not for me.  I'll stick to my Sony and Nintendo consoles for my favorite first-party products and continue to buy third-party productions for the better of the two options.  PC gaming just doesn't appeal to me as much as console gaming thanks to the endless software and hardware upgrades required to play at top performance levels.  Sure, my PS3 and Wii need firmware updates from time to time, but beyond that the games just work without further tweaking or configuration.  As I have less and less time to spend playing games, I'm not interested in using some of that time just to get a game working as intended.

Speaking of first-party games, Nintendo has announced the next pair of Pokémon titles: Pokémon X and Pokémon Y.  Hitting the Nintendo 3DS later this year, the gaming community is already excited for the new installments.  Are you interested in the new Pokémon titles?  Are you ready to buy a 3DS to play them?  Are you over the whole "gotta catch 'em all!" thing?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Aqua Man Gets His Day In The Sun

Torrent Of Love

When one thinks of Mega Man's rouges gallery of Robot Masters, familiar figures like Air Man, Guts Man, and Shadow Man from the earlier Mega Man titles come to mind far ahead of the likes of Turbo Man, Cold Man, and Aqua Man.  Ah, poor Aqua Man, forever doomed to be better known as a DC Comics superhero and lame character from the Superfriends era.  Now Mega Man 8's Aqua Man finally gets his due in this striking image created by Mikaël "Orioto" Aguirre.  There's even a 3D wiggle-type variation if you're into that sort of thing.  If you're looking to start 2013 off with some new Mega Man desktop wallpaper, then I think your search is over.

EvilCast Recap - 2012 Outtakes Special

EvilCastI appeared on the Games Are Evil's EvilCast show several times last year as a guest to talk about such varied topics as Spec Ops: The Line, pinball, Zynga's financial troubles, Windows 8, Kickstarter projects, and a slew of E3 coverage.  While the show is entertaining enough as aired, what's also amusing are the parts that don't make it into the episodes.  The gang likes to cap off the year with an outtakes and blooper edition, and while I haven't had the chance to listen to it yet, I'm told that I feature prominently in the 2012 outtake special.  Head over to GrE to check it out.  I hope that I didn't say anything too stupid last year.  Parental discretion and/or headphones are recommended.  It gets a little blue at times.

Sony Planning More Updates To PlayStation Store

PlayStation StoreSony updated the look and overall format of its PlayStation Store last year, and while the new design is certainly flashier, I have to admit that I don't care much for its hodgepodge approach to organization.  However, the company is working on a new feature that I look forward to using, as it will make purchasing and downloading PlayStation 3 content so much more convenient.  C|NET has the news:

Following a similar move in Europe, Sony plans this month to launch a Web browser version of its PlayStation Store so U.S. gamers can remotely browse titles and make purchases. Eventually, the Web store will allow users to buy a game on the browser and have that content automatically downloaded on the PlayStation 3.

Bring it on!  It can be frustrating to buy a new digital PS3 title and discover that I have a multi-gigabyte download ahead of me before I can play my latest acquisition.  I'd much rather authorize a download remotely and then find the new game ready and waiting for me when I get home.  Imagine scooping up all of the month's new PlayStation Plus content ahead of time or queuing the latest demos before leaving work.  What's not to like? 

Lost Would've Made For a Great RPG

The Internet is going wild sending around this video spoof of a 16-bit Square-style RPG built around the 2000s television phenomenon Lost, but I just can't resist sharing it here as well.  Lost was amazing appointment television in its day and key episodes such as "The Man Behind the Curtain" are still worth a rewatch now and then for old time's sake.  Ubisoft took a crack at turning it into a proper video game several years ago with middling results as Lost: Via Domus (it's really not Ubisoft's fault that they chose to license the property during Season 2 just before all of the real craziness began happening that would have made for a better game).  This take on the idea from College Humor is pretty darn close to what I'd envision an actual Lost RPG to be like, although I have to admit that I'm still partial to my brainstormed ideas for Lost games that I came up with back when the series finale was looming.  I really want to play Candidate Fighter.  You just know that the Smoke Monster has a brutal Fatality.

Candidate Fighter

Weekly Poll: Steam Box Heat

ValveThere's plenty of news coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show this week, but the story that has PC gamers buzzing the most is the official revelation that Valve is hard at work on a video game console of its own that aims to bring the Steam marketplace to the living room.  There are still plenty of unknowns and many pundits are making educated guesses (and wild wish lists), but the idea is that the "Steam Box" would allow you to play all of your Steam purchases with ease in a more traditional game console setting.  To kick off the weekly polls for 2013, let me ask you: are you interested in the Steam Box?  Is this just the sort of thing that you've been waiting for in order to kick off your Xbox shackles?  Or do you yawn and point to your existing PC when hearing this news?  Are you happy with the console ecosystems you already own?  Let's hear your thoughts.  Look for the big red poll box on the right PTB sidebar to vote.

Capcom Planning Arcade Tribute

Black TigerCapcom has a long history in the arcades even if you take major money makers like Street Fighter out of the equation.  The company cut its arcade gaming teeth with quarter-slurping cabinet units boasting titles like Trojan, Bionic Commando, 1942, Commando, Little League, and many more.  While Capcom franchise anniversaries marking Street Fighter, Resident Evil, and Mega Man have stolen the spotlight in recent memory, the company is reaching back to its arcade roots with a new compilation release for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360.  Here's Polygon with the first news about Capcom Arcade Cabinet: Retro Game Collection:

"I can't go into details on titles yet," said producer Kenji Kataoka, "but we're definitely focusing on the games that came out earlier on in our history. These are completely faithful reproductions, too. You used to have arcade games ported to the NES and such and wind up being completely different titles on that platform, but that's not the case here. Even if there were bugs in the original, we've kept them in there if we felt we needed to in order to retain the original feel of the game."

The first game announced for the series is Black Tiger, a fantasy-themed side-scroller originally released in 1987. Capcom hinted at the rest of the lineup with silhouetted art of many other titles in the Famitsu preview, suggesting that games like 1942, Commando, Gun.Smoke and Trojan will also make appearances.

These games are slightly before my time, so there's not much of a nostalgia pull drawing me in here, but I'm glad to see these games come back for an encore.  The Capcom retro market has been dominated largely by fighting games because, well, they sell, but also there are so many of them in Capcom's vault.  The company has filled entire PlayStation 2 discs with Street Fighter revisions!  I hope these older titles find success in the modern market.  Classic games of all kinds deserve some renewed attention, particularly games as important to arcade history as Capcom's titles.