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February 2013

Learn To Run A Nintendo Retail Store In One Easy Module

Nintendo Retail Store Training ModuleWhen your Nintendo product breaks down or you have a burning question about Nintendo games, who ya gonna call?  Back in the glory days of the 8-bit and 16-bit consoles, you'd have to seek out an authorized Nintendo repair outlet to have your ills healed by your friendly neighborhood Nintendo repair representative.  Someone has to train those repair technicians in the art of basic troubleshooting and brand marketing, however, which is where the Nintendo Retail Store Training Module comes into play.  Take a peek behind the curtain over at Nintendo Player at an October 1994 copy of the document that teaches employees how to become Nintendo repair wizards.

This Nintendo Retail Store Training Module was given to a game store by Michael Palazzo, a Nintendo of America Retail Representative, during the last days of the NES in 1994. The binder’s contents include laminated troubleshooting guides for the NES and the Game Boy, technical comparisons between the NES and the SNES, advertisements for new titles, and various FAQs that provide some creative PR.

The document runs thirteen pages of which more than half are marketing and PR materials.  You'll learn about all of the hottest new Super NES games like Stunt Race FX and Donkey Kong Country in addition to talking points about why Nintendo products beat the competition in a variety of ways.  For instance, Nintendo doesn't need to produce a CD-ROM add-on for its consoles because CDs don't do anything worthwhile to enhance or improve video games.  Also, Super Play Action Football is the only sports game you'll ever need and the Game Boy is the only truly portable video game system.  Nintendo was king during this era, so who are we to doubt this module's clearly stated truths?

Assassin's Creed IV Features Pirates

Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagNot one to let up on a chance to produce a major annual release of a key video game franchise, Ubisoft is headed full speed ahead on the next Assassin's Creed title.  Coming this fall for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U, and PC (and, who knows, perhaps a next generation console or two if the planets align), Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag brings players into the era of pirates in what has to be the logical next step after the developers at Ubisoft spent so much time creating ship and sailing mechanics for Assassin's Creed III.  As is usual for the series these days, the PS3 version includes exclusive missions.  Maybe it's just me, but I'm feeling a bit pirated out since seafaring swashbucklers have overwhelmed pop culture in recent years.  While I'm sure there's historically rich material for Ubisoft to mine here, I hope that whatever Black Flag has up its sleeve, it's not a retread of other Creed titles or overworked pirate lore.  Ubisoft is planning to announce additional details (hopefully a character and a bit of backstory) next week, but until then I'm sure that the company would like to remind you that with more downloadable expansions for Assassin's Creed III on the way, you're not quite done paying for or playing that one yet either.  Also, I'm reminded that I really need to finish Assassin's Creed III one of these days.

THQ Auctioning Off More Of Its Properties

THQWhile THQ sold a decent chunk of its properties such as Saints Row and Metro a few weeks ago, some of its holdings are still up for sale.  Since the troubled publisher is closing up shop and all things must go, the company is auctioning off more of its franchises in April.  THQ (which at this point I imagine to be just one guy working out of a desk in a U-Store-It garage) has grouped more of its holdings into Steam-style themed packs in order to best divest itself of some of what's left.  Kotaku has the story of the auction, while Game Informer has a complete list of the bundles for sale

The series up for grabs include Darksiders, Homeworld, Red Faction and Destroy All Humans!

Final bids for the properties are due on April 15. THQ says it has already received over "100 expressions of interest" regarding "various titles" still left in its vaults.

There will be six items in total for sale, four properties available individually and two "bundle" deals, one for internal properties, the other for licensed IP.

There are some titles on the auction list that offer lots of great potential to the right owner, so I hope that franchises like Darksiders and Homeworld end up under control of someone who knows what to do with them; I could see Electronic Arts doing great things with either.  Destroy All Humans deserves another chance and I wonder if Ubisoft would be a good fit for it.  de Blob never quite found its niche, but I could see it working well for Sega.  As for the licensed properties, I can't think of a single one on the property list that's worth saving beyond Costume Quest which should go back to its developers at Double Fine Productions.  It's a shame that the Home Alone game for the Game Boy is not for sale, as I have an affinity for trying to buy the rights to old, forgotten handheld titles.

Power Button - Episode 94: The Linkitivity And Connectitude Of PlayStation 4

Power ButtonNow that Sony has officially unveiled the PlayStation 4 and shared its vision of high powered, socially-driven gaming, it's time for Brad Hilderbrand and I to spend this week's episode of Power Button discussing the announcement and reacting to what we see as the PS4's loftiest goals and most important promises.  We discuss the Share button, cloud gaming, digital distribution, the new DualShock 4 controller, video capture, announced titles such as inFamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, Destiny, and much more.  Remember: for all your podcast needs, just press the Power Button.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, or subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, 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 94: The Linkitivity And Connectitude Of PlayStation 4

Freemium Uncharted 3 Multiplayer Details Revealed

Uncharted 3: Drake's DeceptionFollowing on from yesterday's rumor, the PlayStation Blog has blown the lid off of the free version of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception's multiplayer mode.  Releasing today on the PlayStation Network, players can get into the game's competitive modes and play through level 15, but making progress after that will cost money.  $5 raises the level cap to level 25, while $20 will remove the cap completely.  The cooperative modes also cost extra money to play.  Developer Naughty Dog plans to offer free multiplayer access in all of its games going forward.  Polygon has that story:

"This isn't just an Uncharted thing or a Last of Us thing; it's sort of going forward, whatever we do," [director Justin Richmond] said. "I think this is going to be a 'how it works'; there is going to be a component that is digital-only, or a component that is free-to-play ... that is something that we'll see what happens. If it's a complete disaster maybe we will rethink it. But right now we're very excited for it. I think this is something that is going to pave the way for stuff that we are thinking about for the future."

If you're really going to play the Uncharted 3 multiplayer and invest some major time into it, I'd recommend just buying the complete game in its Game of the Year incarnation for a retail price of $40.  That'll get you the single-player mode of the game as well as $45 worth of extra downloadable content such as maps and character skins in addition to a capless multiplayer experience complete with full cooperative modes.  Freemium multiplayer is a great way to test the waters on a game of which you're unsure, but don't fall for the trick of paying more money for less content.  Get the most that you can for your money when you're ready to buy.

New Need For Speed DLC Adds Airport, Movie Cars

Need for Speed: Most WantedCriterion Games and Electronic Arts are releasing new downloadable content into the city of Fairhaven this week for Need for Speed: Most Wanted for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC.  Three new packs add an airport location and two collections of famous cars to the experience.  Joystiq has the details.

Terminal Velocity is the first offering and most substantial, bringing speeders to Fairhaven International Airport. The airport itself is under construction in-game, and features lots of launchers for high-flying antics, along with a new "nitrous jump" mod for extra pop off those construction ramps.

Need for Speed Movie Legends is a DLC pack centered around iconic movie rides. Bond's Aston Martin DBS 2008 and Aston Martin DB5 are here – Smokey's Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am Special Edition 1977 is represented, as is Vin Diesel's chunky ride from the Fastion & Furious, the Dodge Charger R/T 1970. Rounding out the pack is the Shelby GT500 1967 from Gone in 60 Seconds.

The third DLC pack focuses on the Need for Speed series' lineage of locomotion. Need For Speed Heroes comes sporting five new whips: the Lamborghini Diablo SV from Need for Speed III Hot Pursuit; Need for Speed: Underground's Nissan Skyline GT-R; the Nissan 350Z from Need for Speed Underground 2; Porsche 911 GT2 from Need for Speed Undercover; and the BMW M3 GTR featured in the original Need for Speed Most Wanted from back in 2005.

I love new content, Most Wanted was one of my top picks for 2012, and I have fond memories of how much DLC brought to Burnout Paradise back in 2009-10, so I was all set to buy these new offerings until I saw the price that EA is asking.  The Terminal Velocity airport costs $14.99, while each pack of cars is $9.99 each.  That's way too steep for content which I'll muck around with for a short while before moving on to something else.  Burnout's free and fairly priced DLC added hours and hours of new experiences to the game, but Most Wanted's additions just seem like cash grabs in comparison.  I know the days of Burnout-priced DLC are long gone now that publishers know what the market will pay for additional material (and I've certainly been burned on high priced, low value DLC before), but I'm tired of overpaying for content.  I'll just hold out for a sale and if a sale never comes, I'm alright with skipping this altogether.  I know that sometimes I sound like a cheap bastard when it comes to issues like this, but I'm tired of seeing the price of DLC creep ever upward.  I know I can't be alone in that.

Weekly Poll: PlayStation 4ever

Weekly Poll for 2-14-2013Most of the interest out there for the "Year of Luigi" centers around Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, and while I do want to play that one, I'm much more intrigued by Mario and Luigi: Dream Team.  Alphadream has a knack for creating hilarious and engaging RPGs featuring everyone's favorite plumber siblings, so naturally I can't wait to pick up the new sequel.  I'm sure I'll get to New Super Luigi U eventually, but I'm less enthused for another round of Mario Golf.  After Nintendo and Camelot dumbed down Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS, I'm not very hopefully for a golf title that does the same.  That's just my assumption, but it's one that I'm confident in sharing.  I really do hope that I'm wrong about it.

Moving on to other things, Sony has announced early details and a vision statement of sorts for its new PlayStation 4 console.  Based on currently available information, are you interested in the PS4?  Are you already planning on placing a preorder?  Or are you eyeing one of the other next generation console options?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Uncharted 3 Multiplayer May Be Going Free-To-Play

Uncharted 3UPDATE: It's happening!

Perhaps Sony figures it has sold as many copies of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception has it's going to sell at this point because rumor has it that the multiplayer portion of the game is about to hit the freemium market as a free-to-play downloadable title.  Joystiq reports that the PlayStation Blog ever to briefly listed the title as an upcoming release.

According to a post on the official PlayStation Blog detailing upcoming PSN releases, a heading revealed the multiplayer component of the latest Uncharted title would be free-to-play; information found under the apt heading "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception Multiplayer (Free to Play)."

Sending the multiplayer mode out into the world is a smart decision as players who may not have been interested in paying full price for Drake's last PlayStation 3 adventure may be willing to pay a few dollars for expansions and per-purchase weaponry that a free-to-play title can offer.  As you'll recall, Sony teamed with Subway to give away free downloads of the Uncharted 3 multiplayer prior to the full game's release back in 2011 to hype the then-upcoming release, but I imagine that someone at Sony and Naughty Dog was watching those download and play statistics.  I wouldn't be surprised if a revitalized Uncharted 3 freemium multiplayer is the result of someone's analysis of that data and Sony has expressed an interest in offering more free-to-play options on the PlayStation Network.  Everything about this idea makes perfect sense to me. 

Ghosts Gone Wild In Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Luigi's Mansion: Dark MoonThe Super Mario series rarely spends a lot of time on establishing detailed storylines.  Typically the games present a basic framing device to justify the action and then turn Mario or Luigi loose for some running, jumping, and shell-throwing.  The upcoming Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon for the Nintendo 3DS seems to be headed in the other direction though, as the opening cinematic has made its way to the Internet a month before the game reaches stores and explains why Luigi is back among the ghosts.  King Boo is causing trouble again and when Professor Gadd finds himself in trouble with wild and crazy ghosts, he calls the only ghostbuster he knows via a fun Poltergeist reference.

Even this introductory bit is just a more elaborate framing device than we usually see in Mario games, but it's still nice to have it there.   I don't expect long, deep narratives when it comes to Mushroom Kingdom adventuring, but even just a little bit of entertaining explanation beyond "[Character] was kidnapped!" to kickstart events can be vital.

Twin Zelda Games Coming To 3DS Virtual Console

LinkNintendo and Capcom teamed up during the Game Boy Color era to create a pair of new Legend of Zelda games, Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons.  Based on the Link's Awakening engine and released on the same day, the games were unique, individual adventures that could also link up in a special way.  Progress from one game could carry over to the other via a special password allowing events in Ages to influence what happens in Season and vice-versa.  These games have been difficult to find in the used market at a reasonable price (at least, I haven't had much luck!), so I'm glad to see that Nintendo is about to release them on the Nintendo 3DS's eShop as part of the Virutal Console service.  Joystiq has the news:

So it was foretold: The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons will come to the 3DS eShop in Japan. The Capcom-developed Game Boy Color games, hits with fans and critics alike in 2001, arrive individually on the Virtual Console February 27, priced ¥600 each (around $6.50), and then in a combined pack next month at ¥1000 (around $10.50).

While Japan is the first to see the games, they are headed to the rest of the world sometime later this year.  Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma has asked international fans for patience as they prepare releases for other regions.  Here's hoping that the twin pack pricing scheme turns up abroad as well.  Of course Zelda fans are going to want to buy both games, so why not offer them at a slight discount?  Despite being similar in style, each game offers its own special features.  Ages is primarily an puzzle game based around time travel in which Link switches between time periods to progress, while Seasons revolves emphasizing action and around changing seasons.  Both bring traditional Zelda action (despite each game having an action or puzzle bias, both factors of a successful Zelda adventure are present in both) and are well worth your time.  Set aside a few dollars for them.  It seems that those of us outside of Japan have time to squirrel away the spare change.

There was supposed to be a third game as part of this project, but that's a story for another day...