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April 2013

March 2013

PTB Celebrates 4,500 Entries

WarioIt's been another five hundred entries since we paused to look back at some of my personal favorites from the recent batch of articles, so let's take another moment to review a few things.  In this crop of picks we have a look at crummy ports of great games to pitiful consoles, a pre-release warning of porting older games to the Nintendo Wii U rather than creating new experiences, a look at the Legend of Zelda concert that toured the world last year, discussion on why Mario matters, the end of my ten year journey to acquire Luigi's Mansion, sweepings from Portal 2's cutting room floor, a visit to a secret arcade featuring F-Zero AX, multiplayer Super Mario 64 amazement, the pinball episodes of the Power Button podcast, an analysis of Sony's PlayStation 4 announcement, and the story of how I asked Nicole to marry me.  The last five hundred articles have certainly been eventful!

Previous Milestone Celebrations

DuckTales Remastered Animation Is True To The Cartoon

Nephews Scrooge


UPDATE: Never mind. They're all images from the game. Pardon my gullibility.

I continue to be entranced and amazed by the animation and visual design at work on Capcom and WayForward's upcoming DuckTales Remastered for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii U. Check out these animations of Scrooge McDuck and his nephews reacting in fright with startled jumps. Compare the game (above) to the original DuckTales cartoon (below) as seen at Fandom Flare. Pay special attention to how the WayForward animators have captured the poses and keyframes of the cartoon and recreated those for the game. When Scrooge hops, he moves in the same motion across both mediums. He even grabs his hat the same way in both instances! The nephews behave similarly; notice the movement of their legs, arms, and eyes. It's exact! DuckTales Remastered is bound to be something special when it releases this summer. Just seeing these beloved old characters in motion once again has me convinced.

BioShock's Andrew Ryan Loves It Under The Sea

BioShock's underwater city of Rapture turned a lot of heads both in-game and in reality, and while the game's stunning submerged setting was the work of Ken Levine and his team at Irrational Games, it's much more fun to imagine that antagonist Andrew Ryan really was behind it all.  CollegeHumor has put together a little tribute to Ryan, Rapture, and Disney's The Little Mermaid with an animated Ryan singing the praises of Rapture set to "Under The Sea".  It's full of spoilers, but even if you've never played the original BioShock you're probably familiar with its key elements such as Big Daddy, the Little Sisters, "Would you kindly", plasmids, and other such things.  If you're not, then this song will bring you up to speed.  It's a charming production worth a few minutes of your day.  Good luck getting the song out of your head afterward though.

EvilCast Recap - Episode 169

EvilCastMy friends at the EvilCast podcast at Games Are Evil have anointed me their official guest chair, so whenever one of the standard panel takes off, you can expect to hear my glorious voice adding to the experience.  I was summoned last week to sit in for Episode 169 while half of the group was off at PAX East, so I joined usuals Blake Grundman and Ross Polly along with other guest Mike Deneen to discuss the Electronic Arts one-two punch of more Origin service issues and CEO John Riccitiello's departure, Richard Garriot insulting the masses, fighting games on the Sony PlayStation Vita (I've somehow acquired five brawlers most of which include Street Fighter characters), the Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball table expansion for Pinball Arcade, a Top 5 list from Ross featuring fake spoilers for BioShock Infinite, and much more.  Join us for a couple hours of lively debate and joking around.

Hyperkin Preparing Ultimate Retro Gaming Console

RetroN 5Famed classic consoles such as the Nintendo Enterainment System have been out of production for a very long time now.  Finding a used NES that works reliably can be a challenge, but fortunately there are companies manufacturing their own hardware that can play beloved cartridges from days gone by.  Consider Hyperkin's RetroN line that has a history of playing NES, Sega Genesis, and other formats.  The company recently announced that it's going all out with its next product, the RetroN 5.  Expected to release this summer, the RetroN 5 boasts the ability to play NES, Famicom, Super NES, Super Famicom, Genesis, Mega Drive, and Game Boy Advance cartridges.  Remember that the GBA hardware can also handle Game Boy Color and original Game Boy games and we're looking at a home video game console capable of playing games from nine models of hardware.  That's impressive!  Here's some of the press release:

Along with the features already announced on the RetroN 4, Hyperkin also revealed several key features of the RetroN 5 which include the ability to save games at any point during gameplay, audio interpolation to improve sound output quality, shaders to up convert video signals to show clearer images of up to 720p resolution, button reassignment, and manual and passive overclocking to speed up or slow down the speed of games. Also revealed is more information on the Bluetooth wireless controllers; a Microswitch Directional Pad will be utilized instead of a traditional directional pad, and Macro Buttons have also been included. Users will also be able to use any controller to play any of the compatible systems, as well as given the option to remap buttons on any of the original controllers as well.

Assuming it lives up to its promises, I'd expect the RetroN 5 to be the biggest thing to hit the retro gaming scene since ThinkGeek sold Dingoo A320 units several years ago (you remember the Pocket Retro Game Emulator, right?).  Of course, while the A320 was emulating games, the RetroN 5 is using actual hardware to produce the classic gaming experience.  In my experience these kinds of retro game systems tend to fall just under the mark of total compatibility (perhaps a sound effect or music clip is off pitch or a complex image may not appear properly) and games with special microchips tend not to work at all, but I hear that Hyperkin is going for 100% compatibility with this one.  I really hope they succeed.  I'd love to replay my old favorites in clear high definition. 

Power Button - Episode 97: Paging Through The Industry

Power ButtonIt seems like all kinds of video game journalism companies and websites are folding these days, but something great can come from the ashes.  This week on Power Button, Brad Hilderbrand and I are joined by our friends and colleagues from our old Kombo days, Casey Ayers and Sean O'Neill, to discuss their new media venture.  The Industry is a digital magazine for iPad, Kindle Fire, and the standard Kindle publishing platform that focuses on key trends and events in the video game industry with several feature length articles.  Published twice a month, the magazine is on the verge of releasing its third issue.  Join us as we discuss the magazine, the goals that drive it, and how gaming journalism is changing in the face of lower ad revenues and shifting audience trends.  We have an hour of discussion for you.  Plus you can listen for the special keyword that will earn you a bonus entry in the BioShock Infinite contest.  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 us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @aubradley84, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Power Button - Episode 97: Paging Through The Industry

Forty-Five Minutes In Columbia

BioShock InfiniteThe gaming community is rushing to consume BioShock Infinite for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC before the story can be spoiled by those who just want to get their kicks by ruining the experience for others, but there's no harm is seeing how the story begins if you're on the fence about jumping into the game.  BN Games has recorded the first forty-five minutes of the game (PS3 version) and posted it to YouTube if you'd like to check out what's essentially the prologue and first chapter of the story.  I started on Infinite last night and am already captivated by what was presented.  I won't spoil anything on this site without fair warning, but I will say that the prologue area really drew me in and is the best introductory sequence I've seen in a game in quite a while.  You really should see it for yourself in-game.  Explore.  Experience.  If you can't wait for that or need a little push to get you interested, then watch the video below.  Hold out otherwise.  I'm giving away two copies of BioShock Infinite this week, so be sure to enter the contest for a chance to win.  If you just can't wait and want to see what's in store, however, I completely understand.

Continue reading "Forty-Five Minutes In Columbia" »

CONTEST: Win BioShock Infinite For PS3 Or Xbox 360

BioShock Infinite

Congratulations to the winners: Jeffrey Tang and "AB".

The fervently awaited and critically acclaimed BioShock Infinite hits stores this week, but if you're looking to score a free ride to the skybound city of Columbia, then have I got a deal for you.  I'm giving away two copies of the game, one for the Sony PlayStation 3 and the other for the winner's choice of PS3 or Microsoft Xbox 360.  Note that the PS3 version includes a free copy of the original BioShock.  Your choice of formats is brought to you by Appliances Online, while the dedicated PS3 copy comes from an anonymous benefactor who believes in Press The Buttons and its audience.  Big thanks to both of them for supplying the prizes!  All you have to do to enter for a chance to win is send an e-mail to [email protected] with "BioShock Infinite" and your console platform of choice (PS3 or X360) in the subject line.  For an extra bonus chance to win, follow @PressTheButtons on Twitter and retweet the contest announcement tweet.  Mention the contest on Facebook (and link to that mention in your entry e-mail) and I'll throw in another bonus entry.  If you want to go all out, listen to Episode 97 of the Power Button podcast and pay attention for the special keyword during the show.  Include that keyword with your entry (or after the fact) for yet another bonus chance to win.  Two winners will be chosen at random.  The deadline for entries is 8pm ET on Tuesday, April 2, 2013.

Now for the customary reading of the rules, and pay attention because this is a bit more complicated than usual.  Contest for the dedicated PS3 copy is open only to those with a North American mailing address, while the PS3/X360 copy is open to North American and UK residents.  PTB is not responsible for lost or misdelivered entries or prizes.  The winner will be notified to provide a mailing address for prize delivery which will be shared with the prize sponsors in order to send out the prizes.  Each assures me that they will only use it to mail the prize and not for marketing purposes.  If you have any questions about all of this, would you kindly ask?  Good luck!

Beyond Beeps: Luigi's Mansion

Luigi's MansionOf all of the characters in Nintendo's stable to send into battle against a house full of angry ghosts in order to rescue the famous (and missing!) Mario, it seems that Luigi would be the least capable choice, but somehow it all works in 2001's Luigi's Mansion for the GameCube. In honor of the sequel, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon for the Nintendo 3DS, launching this week, it's only appropriate to look back at the original game and its fun soundtrack composed by Kazumi Totaka. Far from frightening, the music of Luigi's Mansion accompanies the green-capped plumber in his journey with some familiar tunes and a memorable, hummable recurring melody that appears in several forms from traditional instrumental theme to frightened whistle by the unlikely hero himself.

Continue reading "Beyond Beeps: Luigi's Mansion" »

The Nintendo Force Is Strong With This One

Nintendo ForceIn the wake of the iconic Nintendo Power shutting down last year you may have heard of a startup magazine produced by a group of familiar names from the Nintendo side of the game journalism world.  Intended to take over where Power left off, Nintendo Force follows on in Power's spirit with a wide look at all things Nintendo.  Issue 1 has been around for a bit now with Issue 2 just becoming available now.  Both print and digital options are available via MagCloud, and they now offer subscriptions.  I've had the pleasure of reading the first issue and came away very impressed with what the team has accomplished.  Here's the promotional pitch:

The all-new source for Nintendo players, straight from the pros! Nintendo Force is keeping the legacy of Power alive, built by a dream team of 16 of the world's most well-known Nintendo writers, artists and designers. The same previews, reviews and features you're used to continue here, complemented by the best of yesteryear – comics, clay models, envelope art and even a Retro section. The Power may have been unplugged, but the Force is advancing boldly into the future. Join us!

Force feels like a Nintendo Power for the modern age.  Fans apparently agree; I'm told that Force has sold over 4,000 copies of its first issue making it the top seller on MagCloud for the past two months.  The first issue takes a look at games such as Pikmin 3, Rayman Legends, Mutant Mudds Deluxe, Crashmo, and Call of Duty: Black Ops II, while the second issue focuses on sequels like Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, the latest from Castlevania, and the celebration behind Nintendo's Year of Luigi.  Each issue also includes clay model artwork similar to the art from the old days of Nintendo Power and fun comic strips in the spirit of what Power used to offer in its glory days.  I'll be watching Nintendo Force's career with great interest.