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August 2013

Remember When Wario Made A Deal With The Devil?

Wario makes a deal

You'll never see racist Yoshis or Satan possessing a Game Boy Camera as long as Nintendo of America is minding the store, but back in the 1990s, things were a bit more unrestrained at some Nintendo subsidiaries.  NeoGAF has dug up some old official comics from Club Nintendo magazine as published under Nintendo of Germany's watch back in the 1990s in which the company's beloved characters (and even a few third-party guest stars) become involved with all manner of unsavory, bizarre adventures.  You'll see Wario making a deal with the devil for power over Princess Peach, Mario transforming into some unholy creature of the damned, Princess Peach cursed to become an eyeless undead thing, Luigi scamming his brother with fake goods, Link shifting into a werebat, and many other disturbing images.  Cultural standards are different around the world, of course, but I'm absolutely shocked that Nintendo's home office in Japan allowed this to go on.  Can you imagine anything like this being produced today?  Read on for some of my favorite strange panels.  Some of them have even been translated into English which, somehow, just makes them more baffling.

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Grand Theft Auto V Adds Massive Online Mode

As if there won't be enough to keep you occupied in the single-player story in Rockstar's upcoming Grand Theft Auto V, today the company has announced a massive online mode due to be patched in as a free update coming October 1.  Grand Theft Auto Online allows players to team up with friends and run wild through Los Santos doing pretty much whatever they want: crime, racing, story-based missions, stunts, sports, and all kinds of other things.  It's a persistent world designed to eat your remaining free time.  Here's how the PlayStation Blog describes it:

Players can invest in their character through customizing their appearance, improving their stats, owning customized vehicles, purchasing personal property, and taking part in missions, jobs and activities to earn reputation and cash to open up new opportunities to rise through the criminal ranks. The world of Grand Theft Auto Online will constantly grow and change as new content is added, creating the first ever persistent and dynamic Grand Theft Auto game world.

This sounds like a fun addition to the game, as I'd much rather roam the streets with friends than alone.  It's another ambitious project from Rockstar and I know at this point we wouldn't expect anything less.  I'm especially surprised that it's free to play, as I'd expect something like this to have microtransactions or a recurring fee.  Perhaps it's all part of a gambit designed to keep players from trading the game back to GameStop?  I'll never have the free time required to get the most out of it, but I'm glad to know that it's there and will continue to be developed.  I had a blast with Red Dead Redemption's similar online mode and from the sound of things, GTA's take on the idea is set to be larger, more involved, and much more chaotic.  That sounds like a fun recipe to me!

Mini-Review: DuckTales: Remastered

Scrooge McDuckHigh definition remakes of popular games of yesterday are popular right now, but of all the games out of the past that I expected to return, I never reasonably considered we'd see Capcom's 1989 release DuckTales for the Nintendo Entertainment System reappear.  After all, the licenses and property rights are tied up between Capcom and Disney and the property itself is dead and buried.  When is the last time you saw anything new with the DuckTales brand on it?  Still, miracles do happen as Disney, Capcom, and WayForward have teamed up to give the classic title a revival for the Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC as DuckTales: Remastered.  Featuring hand-drawn animation, backgrounds created by legacy Disney artists, and the voicework of the surviving cast of the original cartoon, DuckTales: Remastered brings the nostalgia along with a few new elements that require veteran treasure hunters to learn a few new tricks.

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$199.99 PS3 Coming To North America With A Catch

Sony PlayStation 3Despite years of redesigns and price reductions, the cost of new Sony PlayStation 3 is still just a bit too much for some people.  Eager to combat that, Sony is about to launch a new cheaper model of PS3 in North America as early as next week if Engadget is to be believed.  Soon you'll be able to pick up a new PS3 for just $199.99, but there's a catch: the onboard storage is a mere 12 GB of flash memory.  Nintendo offers a Wii U model with more storage than that.  That capacity will get you, what, one or two full retail releases in digital form (if they're small) or a small handful of modestly sized download-only games like Mega Man 10 or DuckTales: Remastered.  An after-market hard drive can be purchased separately and installed as a quick do-it-yourself project to increase the storage capacity of the console.

It seems rather pointless to me to offer this model in North America (it's been around overseas for a while now), but I suppose Sony wants to be able to advertise the PS3 as "starting at $199.99" during the madness of the holiday shopping season.  $200 seems reasonable for a PS3 if $400 for a PlayStation 4 is too much money (never mind the $500 Microsoft Xbox One) and it undercuts the Wii U in all its forms.  What's really baffling is that an extra $70 will get you a new PS3 with a 500 GB hard drive and a pack-in copy of Grand Theft Auto V.  If you're in the market for a PS3, surely you can come up with the extra money for that package.  If you factor in the cost of the game, you're basically getting a massive hard drive boost for an extra $10.  It's difficult to justify buying the lesser model with that bundle out there.  Basically, it sounds like Sony has created its own version of the Wii Mini by removing one of the console's key features in the name of price tag bragging rights.

Xbox One No Longer Requires Kinect To Function

Xbox OneMicrosoft has backpedaled on many of its plans for the upcoming Xbox One including the always-on Internet requirement and DRM schemes, and now the company has rolled back another of its forced features.  Previous plans for the upgraded Kinect that comes with each new console required that the camera be plugged in for the Xbox One to function at all, but plans change and now it's possible to unplug the Kinect and toss it in a closet if that's what you really want to do.  IGN has the news in the form of a Q&A with Microsoft's Marc Whitten.

[L]ike online, the console will still function if Kinect isn’t plugged in, although you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor. 

You have the ability to completely turn the sensor off in your settings. When in this mode, the sensor is not collecting any information. Any functionality that relies on voice, video, gesture or more won’t work. We still support using it for IR blasting in this mode. You can turn the sensor back on at any time through settings, and if you enter into a required Kinect experience (like Kinect Sports Rivals for instance), you’ll get a message asking if you want to turn the sensor back on in order to continue.

Kotaku has more information and quotes.  Privacy concerns and a general dislike of Kinect itself led many in the gaming community to speak out against the camera requirement, but Microsoft has shown that it's willing to listen and act based on customer concerns.  There's no reason to force Kinect connectivity on people if they truly don't want the sensor silently working in the background all of the time.  Obviously much of the Xbox One experience will revolve around Kinect and removing it from your console will hinder some of what you can do, but that seems to be a fair trade-off.  Kinect can always be reconnected on an as-needed basis.  Once again, kudos to Microsoft for acting on valid criticism even if it goes against the company's long-range Xbox One master plan.

Gold DuckTales Game Pak Is An Instant Collectible

DuckTalesTo promote the new DuckTales: Remastered for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U, and PC, Capcom has printed up a new run of DuckTales gold game paks for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  Neater still, the game paks actually work on NES hardware.  The company actually created 150 new copies of the game in partnership with iam8bit Productions.  Ben Kuchera at The Penny Arcade Report details how it was done.

DuckTales was programmed onto brand-new circuit boards and chips, ensuring each game's longevity. They're housed in vintage NES cartridge shells, which have been carefully refurbished and hand-painted with a golden sheen,” a [iam8bit] representative told the Report.

“Special attention was also paid to the cartridge labels. The PAL and NTSC versions have each been updated with the new DuckTales: Remastered key art. And YES, the cartridge is totally playable on an original or top-loading NES,” they continued.

That's an instant collectible if I've ever seen one.  I'm sure that every fan of the original game is very envious of the press outlets that received one (I know I am!).  After all, new NES game paks don't just grow on trees.  It's admirable that Capcom went to the trouble to create these.  I'd imagine these game paks are destined to end up in press libraries or donated to charity, but in true Scrooge McDuck fashion, I must admit that I'd hoard one of these like the unique treasure that it is for my private collection if I came into possession of it.  Nostalgia and rarity rolled into one?  How can this not be framed and displayed with honor?  It belongs in a museum!

Power Button Wants Your DuckTales: Remastered Questions For WayForward Director Austin Ivansmith

Scrooge McDuckBless me bagpipes!  We're going to be joined by DuckTales: Remastered director, WayForward's Austin Ivansmith, on Episode 103 of the Power Button podcast, so it's time to send in your questions for him about the game and other related topics.  Post your question as a comment below, send it to us , or call the podcast hotline at (720) 722-2781 and leave a voicemail message.  We'll try to get to as many as possible on the show.  DuckTales: Remastered releases for the Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii U, and PC next week with a Microsoft Xbox 360 release slated for next month.

Power Button - Episode 102: What's To Come For PlayStation Plus And Xbox Live Gold?

Power ButtonSony and Microsoft have each found varying degrees of success with their paid online services, PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold.  Both services have evolved over the lives of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but what does the future hold for these services?  On this episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I discuss our experiences with the services, outline what about them needs improvement, and predict what's to come for them in the next generation of consoles.  Will the Instant Game Collection thrive on the PlayStation 4?  Will Microsoft take Netflix and other video apps out from behind the paywall?  Will Nintendo join the party with a similar paid service of its own?  We don't know for sure, but like to think we do.  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 @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Power Button - Episode 102: What's To Come For PlayStation Plus And Xbox Live Gold?

A DuckTales Remastered Musical Journey

When people speak fondly of Capcom's DuckTales for the Nintendo Entertainment System, they often spend extra time complimenting the game's fantastic soundtrack.  How can that 8-bit greatness be updated for the modernized DuckTales Remastered?  In this third in a series of "duckumentaries", the staff at developer WayForward talks about the process behind composing new arrangements of those classic tunes.  You'll get to hear a bit of everything from the old soundtrack reworked for the new style and you'll also get your first listen to the new theme for The Moon level that everyone loves so much (I'm still a The Amazon theme guy though like the game's director, Austin Ivansmith).  DuckTales Remastered begins rolling out to the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U, and PC starting next week and spanning through early September depending on your console and delivery method of choice.

New Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Details Revealed

LinkAs part of today's Nintendo Direct announcements, Satoru Iwata took the virtual stage to explain some new information about the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for the Nintendo 3DS.  Following on from the classic Zelda title A Link to the Past, this new adventure is set long after the Super NES title, features a new Link, and includes some new surprises.  Disappointingly enough, Iwata points out the differences between not the easy-to-follow Light World and Dark World, but The World Link Lives In and The Other World.  Those names aren't very thematic, but I'm speaking as a traditionalist.  A Link Between Worlds is due out in November 2013 in North America and Europe.  Japan must wait until 2014 for this one which has me wondering what Nintendo will add to or change about the game during that otherwise idle time.