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September 2013

It's Time For Some Mystic Cave Zone Metal

Music break!  Coming from OverClocked Remix is a jamming arrangement of Sonic the Hedgehog 2's Mystic Cave Zone theme.  PirateCrab performs the honors here with "Mythic Mist" giving us a metal remix that's heavy on rocking guitar riffs, familiar hooks from the Sega Genesis source material, and a Sonic sound effect or two that'll turn your head involuntarily as you search for the Special Stage entrance ring out of old habits.  I'm not normally a fan of the heavy metal remixes in the OC Remix library, but this one is something special.  Check it out and fill your funk quota for the day.

Let's Manipulate Grand Theft Auto V's BAWSAQ Stock Market For Fun And Profit


Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto V features many ways to earn money.  Most of them are illegal, naturally, but one way of bringing in some quick money in a totally legal way is to manipulate the in-game stock market.  Many of the companies in Los Santos and Blaine County have a presence on the Liberty City National and BAWSAQ markets.  LCN's rise and fall is determined by the events in your own personal game, but the real potential for manipulation comes from the online BAWSAQ market which is infuenced by the actions of every person playing GTA V while connected to Rockstar's Social Club network.  This makes it possible for large groups of players to conspire outside of the game to buy up large amounts of a given stock, drive up its value, and then sell off shares en masse.  It's the ultimate pump-and-dump maneuver.  The catch is being able to mobilize a large enough group to make the activity worthwhile.  That's where Reddit comes into the picture.  Over at the GTAMarket subreddit, players are organizing BAWSAQ investment opportunities for quick cash turnarounds.  As a large group, players agree to buy a stock during a given window and then sell off those shares at an appointed hour.  For instance, as of this writing, the group is dealing in Pisswasser beer stock (symbol PIS) until this evening.

There'll be another chance to play the market next weekend with another stock. The community is testing this approach to easy money, but early indicators are that this method is worthwhile. The more you invest, the more you stand to gain, but it's advised that you keep a backup save file with your pre-investment cash supply just in case something goes wrong. I'm certainly going to get in on this. Why steal when the real money is in old fashioned capitalism, commodities, and banking?

Valve Working On Steam Machine, SteamOS, And Controller

SteamControllerValve has been busy lately.  Over the course of the week the company has made three separate announcements designed to tease and draw out the community with anticipation.  The end result of the news is that Valve has created its own Linux-based operating system (SteamOS), is working on its own console (Steam Machine), and has even come up with its own controller (Steam Controller).  The SteamOS and Steam Machine announcements were rather standard for the industry these days; the company wants in on the walled garden app store future that everyone else in the business has adopted in semi-response to Steam, but without its own hardware to call home, Steam is destined to be the also-ran of the PC gaming world once Apple and Microsoft formalize and lock in their native app stores on their own operating systems.  SteamOS on a Steam Machine keeps Valve in the game (no pun intended) in the uncertain future.

The real wild card in all of this is the unusual Steam Controller.  You've never seen anything quite like this.  Sporting dual trackpads instead of control sticks or control pads, Valve's creation wants to bridge the gap between PC gaming with a mouse and console gaming with a standard controller.  The ABXY buttons are spread all over the device.  There's a touchscreen involved and the trackpads are clickable buttons.  There's a lot of talk about haptic feedback.  Since it's so unusual, the community is laughing at it and being cynical (and I can't say I'm above that today).  I don't know if this design has a future, but Valve's clout should be enough to convince us to at least try the thing before condemning it.  Valve wouldn't put this out there for the world to see if it didn't believe it was on to something.  That said, I do like my traditional control stick, so I may have a hard time letting go of the familiar.  What do you think of Valve's push to conquer the living room?  Does any of this interest you?  And what is your reaction to the Steam Controller?

Power Button - Episode 107: Playing Lackluster Favorites

Power ButtonJust because a game is terrible doesn't mean that it can't be fun. On this episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I banter about some of our favorite horrible games. Nintendo Entertainment System licensed garbage, handheld disappointments, early 3D shooters, and modern attempts at glitz are all grist for the mill as we discuss really bad games that somehow manage to keep us coming back for more over and over again.  Before we wrap up, Blake takes us through his participation in the Extra Life charity event happening in November that you can help sponsor in order to enter to win a free PC game. Join us for an hour of surprise fun wrapped in crushing defeat.  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.

Tanooki Mario Statue Coming Soon

Tanooki MarioFirst 4 Figures has been selling small displayable statues of beloved video game characters for years now (I have an Ocarina of Time Link already), but despite having a deal with Nintendo to create statues based on the company's famed properties, they've never done much of anything with the Super Mario license.  That's changing now with the reveal of a Tanooki Mario statue based on Super Mario 3D Land.  It's-a expensive!

After collecting a Tanooki Leaf, Mario dons the Tanooki Suit thus granting him new abilities such as a glide and a powerful tail whip attack. We've captured him in his trademark pose from the game, shaking his tail and ready unleash the tail whip at any moment. The base that he is stood on is styled after the first world in the game with a rich green lawn atop striped brown soil.

Tanooki Mario is made from high quality polystone resin, complete with hand finished detailing and paint work. He measures 15 inches from the base to the tip of his ears. The exclusive version features an additional red scarf and Tanooki Leaf on its own Question Mark Box Base!

At fifteen inches tall and selling for $229.99, this is an impressive design.  I've wanted F4F to create Mario statues for quite some time now, but I'm going to have to pass on this one.  Tanooki Mario is great, don't get me wrong, but I'm holding out for a traditional Mario statue with the classic red and blue overalls.  At these premium prices, if I'm going to buy a Mario statue, it has to be the one I specifically want and with which I have a special nostalgic tie.  Yes, I'm picky, but for $229.99, I have to be.

Time For Another Gaming Sale At

Buy somethin' will ya!It seems like it's been a while since held one of its all-day Lightning Deal and Gold Box sale events focusing on video games.  We're due for it, so it's only natural that today offers discounts on a variety of recently released gamesSaints Row IV is the star of today's sale as all versions of the game are available for low prices.  You can pick up the Sony PlayStation 3 or Microsoft Xbox 360 version for $37.49, the PC version for $29.99, or one of the premium special editions with pack-in goodies for special prices.  If you're in the market to be the savior of virtual Steelport (it's fun!), don't miss this deal.  Other games on sale throughout the day include new packs for Skylanders, a $50 credit when buying a new Xbox 360, something from the world of BioShock, and more.  A portion of every purchase you make via the green link above goes to help support Press The Buttons which is vitally important.  Happy shopping and happy gaming!

People Seem To Love jRPGs

EarthBoundEvery video game genre has its fans, but Japanese role playing game enthusiasts have a knack for spreading the word about their favorite games.  The right game can inspire a fan to share the experience with anyone willing to listen and consider giving the title in question a try.  Over at Daily Girl Attack Panic Super HD Remix, Lauren Wainwright has assembled a small group of writers from the community to briefly explain why their favorite jRPGs are so special.  You'll see thoughts on Persona 3, Star Ocean, Final Fantasy XII, Wild Arms, and many more.  Hey, look, I'm included in this!  I'm the one who spoke up in praise of, naturally, EarthBound.

Entire dissertations have been written about Nintendo’s masterpiece EarthBound, but one part of the game that I’ve always liked and never hear much about is the section in which Paula is kidnapped in Fourside and hidden away at the top of the local department store.

Ness and Jeff have to storm the darkened store and fight their way to rescue her.  The trick here is that at this point in the game, Paula is the character with the most useful and powerful PSI powers.  Ness still has some levelling up to do and Jeff’s weapons aren’t up to the task of fighting a small alien army.  By removing Paula from the group, Ness and Jeff are left vulnerable in a way that I had not anticipated during my first play of the game all those years ago.  I spent a few hours spread out over several days trying to complete this area, and even stocking up on the best items and buying a decoy teddy bear wasn’t quite enough at first.  This section is the first real challenge in the game from my perspective, as it turns my usual battle strategies against me by teaching me not to over-rely on any one character in the group.

The game later pulls a similar trick by sending Poo away on his own mission, but by that point Ness and the others are powerful enough to stand alone for a while without much difficulty.  EarthBound teaches teamwork, but also stresses the individual parts that make up the team.  That’s admirable in an era where the star protagonist is generally unstoppable and the other members of the party are just window dressing.

Thanks to Lauren for including me in the group even though I kind of feel like the odd one out here.  I'm not much of a jRPG fan overall, truth be told, but I do love my personal favorites.  It's a short list, but in addition to EarthBound, I highly recommend that you experience Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG.  I'm not one for the usual jRPG trappings, but there's something special about these games that have a certain crossover appeal.  Even though I'm not into the mainstream jRPG scene, I'm glad I could dip my toe in the water here.

Conan O'Brien Is Loose In Los Santos

Conan O'Brien may not know much about video games, but that doesn't stop him from trying the latest releases.  In the latest installment of his Clueless Gamer series, Conan gives the recently released Grand Theft Auto V a thorough review (by which I mean he mostly spends his time at the strip club).  Watch as Conan attempts a few missions and tries to get even with club bouncers out to ruin his fun.  It's a hilarious ten minutes that showcases some of what the game has to offer and offers Conan's clever commentary.

Power Button - Episode 106: Blake Wants His PlayStation Vita TV

Power ButtonSony made a variety of announcements earlier this week for the Japanese market including a 2014 launch date for the PlayStation 4, the existence of a new design for the PlayStation Vita, and the reveal of a microconsole called Vita TV that plays PS Vita games and compatible content on your television.  On this episode of Power Button, Blake goes on and on about how much he wants a Vita TV just short of outright begging for an international release.  Just for fun we drag other microconsole-type devices into the conversation for comparison purposes in order to wonder how the Vita TV compares to the futures of the Apple TV and OUYA.  Lots to talk about on this episode, so let's get right to it!  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 106: Blake Wants His PlayStation Vita TV

PS4 Version Of Grand Theft Auto V Spotted

Grand Theft Auto VIf you've already preordered Grand Theft Auto V in advance of its release next week for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 and you've also reserved a next-generation video game console, then you may want to rethink something.  Amazon of Germany is currently offering preorders on a PlayStation 4 version of GTA V indicating that a presumably better version of Rockstar's latest title is coming sooner rather than later.  Why burden yourself with a $60 PS3 title that will be technologically outdone in just a few short weeks or months?  Surely a Xbox One version of the game is on the way as well.  It just makes too much business sense to offer GTA V on as many current platforms as possible while also keeping the next-gen versions a secret until early adopters buy the first available versions for current hardware.  If Rockstar can get you to buy the same game twice, then why shouldn't they try?  Don't fall into their trap if you have a PS4 or Xbox One on the way.  Save your money and hold out for the best possible version of the game.  Los Santos will still be there later.