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June 2014

Sonic The Hedgehog And Friends Switch Roles

Amy Rose in Sonic the Hedgehog 2Fans of Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog are a clever group with technical talent and lots of free time.  I say this because of the past few days I keep stumbling across hacks of the various Sonic games that have been changed to remove the iconic hedgehog as a playable character and replace him with the franchise's supporting characters.  If you want to play the original Sonic the Hedgehog as Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as Amy Rose (complete with hammer) & Cream the Rabbit, or Sonic the Hedgehog 3 as Metal Sonic, then the fan community has you covered.  Check out these YouTube videos of Sonic's friends and foes appearing in places they shouldn't.

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Power Button - Episode 135: Unfinished Business With Infamous: Second Son

Power ButtonAt the end of Episode 124 we promised we'd circle back and finish our discussion of Infamous: Second Son for the Sony PlayStation 4 once my co-host Blake Grundman finished the game, and now that time has come at last.  Join us for an hour-long conversation packed with spoilers about the back half of Delsin Rowe's adventure.  We dig into the evil ending, choices within the narrative, the weakness of binary morality systems, brother Reggie's characterization, the allegorical structure of the story, exploration of side missions, exploiting world design for kicks, the Paper Trail missions, fun with photo mode, and a look ahead to the future downloadable expansion game Infamous: First Light.  This one was worth the wait.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, 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.

The Rarest PS3 Game Ever Is About To Be Released

Class of Heroes 2GIt's not often that you get an alert that a video game is going to be rare before it is even released, but MonkeyPaw Games has put out the word that it's on the verge of sending Class of Heroes 2G for the Sony PlayStation 3 out into the world as a one-time, limited printing.  Available only by preorder, Monkeypaw will print enough copies to meet initial demand and then plans no further releases.  Don't expect to find this game at retail.  Here's my old Kombo pal Ryan Olsen now of MonkeyPaw to fill us in:

We can’t stress enough how limited these copies will be. Once we’re done taking presales, that’s it. No more copies will ever be reprinted. This will make Class of Heroes 2G one of the rarest disc based releases on the PS3. The cost of the game will be $49.99 for the game and an additional $4 for shipping/handling.

There's some extra goodies included in the package as well.  If you're a collector who dreams of retiring to a private island one day because you had the foresight to keep that copy of Chrono Trigger for the Super NES in its original sealed package, then this might be a game to pick up and put away for later.  Ryan told us about this impending release a few weeks ago in Episode 127 of the Power Button podcast so you had fair warning that this was coming, but if you want a copy either to play or to hoard, now is the time to act.

The Nintendo Difference Is Hands


What makes Nintendo's video games so special?  Is it the attention to minor details?  Is it the insistence on developing new technologies?  Is it the stable of fun characters?  As seen on Reddit, I believe the Nintendo Difference is actually hands.  As it turns out, games across the Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Kirby, Super Smash Bros., and Star Fox franchises have all used the same basic boss over the years: disembodied hands.  Some of these boss battles are more memorable than others; I'll never forget the secret of Shifting Sand Land's pyramid or facing Andross's true form, but I really don't remember facing the handsy boss in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap.  Other than the creepiness factor, what is it about this design that fascinates Nintendo's developers enough to keep returning to it time and time again?

Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night Developers Reflect On The Experience

DraculaKonami's 1997 release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the Sony PlayStation is one of the most fondly remembered entries in the franchise, but few people talk about its Japanese-exclusive Sega Saturn version released in 1998.  Developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Nagoya, the team at KCEN wanted to leave their mark on their Saturn port, so they included a secret Microsoft Word file on the disc in which they comment on the porting process, music development, making Maria a playable character, and much more.  It's all in Japanese, but The Cutting Room Floor has translated it into English (and offers the original Japanese document as a downloadable file, too).  It's an interesting read that shines some light on how it all works behind the scenes and begs you to be kind to the new monsters the team created.  Here's what designer Yoshinori Suzuki had to say, for instance:

Thank you very much for buying our game. 

Thinking back, we had our difficulties, but we were somehow able to pull things together in the end. Because the SS version is a little different from the PSX version, a variety of new elements were added to the game, so I believe that those who own the PSX version will be able to enjoy this one, too. 

I'll tell you a little story from the developers' point of view. There's actually another version of Maria with a full set of graphics different from the one the player meets in the actual game. It ended up going unused. 

It might've been neat if she had been used, though. Because she was a dark version of Maria, the opposite to the light version of Maria, her attacks and such would have been entirely different. Go ahead and imagine for yourselves what she might have been like. (Perhaps, if she'd appeared in the game, she'd have been called Black Maria?) 

Feel free to write us a letter or something. In any case, enjoy the game!

We've come so far in terms of developers being able to speak about and take credit for their creations.  In the olden days of the Atari 2600, developers weren't even allowed to take credit for their work due to management's fears that competing studios would plunder departments and hire away the best talent.  During the Nintendo Entertainment System years, developers were listed in credits by odd pseudonyms such as "Bun Bun" or "Yuukichan's Papa" rather than their real names.  The 16-bit years finally allowed developers proper credit on a larger scale, and of course today players sit through more credits than anyone ever thought possible as not only developers, but publishers, international localization staff, marketing departments, and the many other people involved with creating a AAA+ game are listed by name.  At one time publishers didn't dare mention real names and now they practically credit people who just drove by the studio one day.  That's certainly progress!

Assassin's Creed Unity Contest Wants To Hook You


Ubisoft is readying its annual Assassin's Creed sequel, Assassin's Creed Unity, for release later this year.  As part of the preorder campaign, the publisher is handing out free downloadable content to those who reserve a copy of the game.  There's the single-player Chemical Revolution mission pack as well as retailer-specific weapons.  What makes this campaign notable is that it includes access to a weekly slot machine contest.  Each week players can spin the online slot machine for a chance to win a variety of prizes ranging from more DLC all the way up to a trip to Paris, France.  To entice those on the fence, Ubisoft will even give you the first spin of the machine for free.  I like free stuff and I was curious about the slot machine game, so I used my free spin and to my delight I won a DLC code for the Hooked Impaler weapon.  All I had to do to actually get the code was to log in to my Uplay account.  That's reasonable; I have a Uplay account and I've linked DLC to it before for other Ubisoft titles.  That's when things took a turn for the slimy.

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The Gaming Soundtracks Of Amazon Prime

Diddy and Dixie Kong JamA few weeks ago added a new perk to its Amazon Prime premium service.  In addition to free video streaming and free delivery options, the service now includes free access to a large music library in the style of competiting services such as Spotify and Sony's Music Unlimited.  While the current selection has its share of rock, pop, rap, country, and other popular genres, it's easy to miss that the service also has a handful of video game soundtracks available for free streaming.  Famous game soundtracks such as Portal 2, Batman: Arkham City, The Last of Us, Bastion, and Mass Effect 3 are available for on-demand listening.  I've dug deep into the catalog and picked out the currently available relevant music for your enjoyment.  Not every track from every album is free to stream (the Video Games Live albums on the list only have a few choice tracks available, but thankfully the Castlevania medley is one of them), but there's enough here to keep your ears busy for no extra charge beyond Prime membership.  Enjoy!

Power Button - Episode 134: Behind The Lines Of Console Wars With Blake J. Harris

Power ButtonWar is hell, but Console Wars is pretty awesome.  On this episode of Power Button we're joined by the author of the recently released Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation and one of the masterminds behind the upcoming Wikimusical, Blake J. Harris, to talk about the process of writing a book that chronicles the rise of Sega in the early 1990s as Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske worked to turn the Sega Genesis and Sonic the Hedgehog into legitimate competition for Nintendo and its Super NES.  We'll hear stories about Sega of Japan clashing with Sega of America for control of the soul of the company, Sonic's original design as a fanged guitar-playing beast, how Sony's involvement with both Nintendo and Sega that led to the rise of the PlayStation, MGM's deal to make a theatrical Sonic the Hedgehog movie in the mid-1990s, and so much more.  You may think you know the story of Sonic versus Mario, but you won't see the complete picture until now.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, 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.

Conan O'Brien Tours E3 2014

Conan O'Brien is exploring the video game world again, this time dropping in on E3 2014 to see what's going on with all the new titles and hardware.  Watch as Conan taps into his German side for the new Forza, gets a little too intimate with Sony's Project Morpheus demo, attracts a bevy of women to watch him play Nintendo's Hyrule Warriors, and other hilarity.  The whole segment is framed as a case of "local nerd makes good" mixed with "what the hell is this?", but it's obvious that Conan is playing up the clueless gamer aspect of his shtick.  It's extremely funny and worth a watch, but you can tell that he's feigning some of his lack of knowledge about some of the more obvious parts of games that have bled into pop culture at large.  We talked a little on a recent episode of Power Button about how the Clueless Gamer segments of Conan are essentially paid advertising and I don't doubt for a moment that similar financial arrangements impacted which booths Conan visited and which games he played, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining.

Watch Me Play The New Deadpool Zen Pinball 2 Table

I finally got around to streaming some video game action this evening, and what could be better than kicking things off with an unreleased game?  Zen Studios set me up with early access to their new Deadpool pinball table for Zen Pinball 2, so it seemed only right to share the wealth with the Twitch audience.  Thanks to the few folks that showed up early on a Thursday evening; it's not exactly primetime viewing hours, but good enough for a test of this whole streaming thing.  Miss the show?  Here's the archived recording for your enjoyment.  Since I'm very new to the Deadpool table, I'm pretty terrible at it, but I do usually get better at this things, so stick around for future streams and higher scores.  I'll be streaming again this weekend, so be sure to subscribe to the PTB Twitch channel and watch for notices of future shows.

Don't have an hour to spare? Take ten minutes and watch the best scoring session of the evening in this highlight clip.

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