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June 2014

Sony Refocuses PlayStation Vita Development

PlayStation VitaDid you enjoy Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the Sony PlayStation Vita?  Sure, it had its problems, but on the whole was a very well-done effort at shrinking the PlayStation 3 experience down into a handheld.  The days of AAA game development for the Vita appear to be over as Sony has decided to pivot and change the aims of the platform.  We already knew about the indie push, but still I expected the occasional big budget release here or there.  Polygon reports on Sony's Shuhei Yoshida's recent comments that the days of portable Uncharted on a grand scale are over.

"So when we launched the Vita with Uncharted, it was amazing; PS3-like quality in your palm, but as time moved on, you are seeing PS4 quality and people's expectations for the graphic fidelity has gone up."

Yoshida said as graphics become less of a "talking point" for the Vita, the focus on what they want to put on the portable platform shifted.

"It's very fortunate that the indie boom happened and they are providing lots of great content to Vita," he said. " Gameplay, game mechanic wise, people want to spend 10 minutes, 15 minutes getting in and out. On Vita, it's great with suspended functionality, so these indie games really great for that from a game design standpoint.

"Instead of watching big stories or cinematics, you can spend hours on Vita. So, I think that's actually the biggest star to help provide great content to Vita going forward. And we continue to make games cross-platform games, especially on digital side."

Do you think the Vita then will be getting fewer first-party games, I asked.

"I would say, yes, that's correct," Yoshida said.

Well, that was fun while it lasted.  That's not to say that there are no major games for the Vita.  Besides Uncharted there's handheld versions of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, all four Sly Cooper games, the Ratchet & Clank trilogy, the God of War Collection, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Street Fighter X Tekken, and so on.  I was really hoping to see original handheld takes on those franchises instead of just porting the console titles down to the smaller screen.  Then there's the third-party situation.  Where are the new iterations (not port, mind you) of games like Konami's Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles or Capcom's Mega Man Powered Up?  Where's the Grand Theft Auto title made with Vita in mind?  Something tells me we won't be seeing those any time soon in an era where mobile games reign and it's a lot cheaper (and even more profitable) to toss a $5 game up on the App Store instead of taking the time to craft a new $40 experience for the Vita.  This all ultimately comes down to business and not art, of course, but I hate to see wonderful hardware like the Vita be dismissed as a console port and indie machine.  Console ports and indies are fun, but I like a tasty main course with my side items and snacks.

Why Yarn For Yoshi's Woolly World?

YoshiNintendo teased us with early images of a project tentatively known as Yarn Yoshi over a year ago, but at E3 last week the company showed us the mostly fully formed iteration of the idea now titled Yoshi's Woolly World.  Developed in conjunction with the studio behind Kirby's Epic Yarn, Good-Feel, it's curious that Nintendo would go back to the artsy craftsy yarn style so soon.  Why yarn and why now?  Reagan Morris at NZGamer spoke with legendary Nintendo designer Takashi Tezuka about his take on Yoshi's string theory (and a bit of Mario Maker, too). 

While I was working on New Mario I had a chance to play Kirby’s Epic Yarn and I really admired the aesthetic sense of the dev team who made that game. At the time I had been working on Mario for a while and I had always been thinking about creating the next Yoshi game but couldn’t find the time to do so. After playing Kirby’s Epic Yarn I thought why not make a Yoshi game with Good-Feel [developers of Kirby’s Epic Yarn] using a yarn aesthetic. So that was where it all started.

[W]e did a lot of trial and error, and so, as you know, Good-Feel made Kirby’s Epic Yarn, so we started by trying a similar aesthetic with a single strand of yarn. Kirby has a fairly simple shape but Yoshi is a little more complicated. He has more curves and different shapes involved, so it was hard to express him in that same way. We made all sorts of Yoshis using different materials and stuff.

It's easy to think that Nintendo is going to run the yarn visual style into the ground, but the aesthetic suits Yoshi's world more than it works for, say, Star FoxKirby's Epic Yarn had a specialness about it, but its style wasn't exactly suited for the 480p resolution that the Wii produced.  An idea like this needs high definition to really shine and I'm glad to see it resurface for the Wii U where the hardware can really do Woolly World justice.  As for the Yoshi gameplay itself, the series has never managed to hit the highs of the original Yoshi's Island, so naturally I'm hoping that this new game can at least compete if not top the Super NES classic.  The yarn gimmicks add some new tricks to Yoshi's repertoire (such as being able to unravel parts of the scenery to reveal secrets) and this time around there are no excessive babies to get in the way of things.  Yoshi's Woolly World is due out in the first half of 2015.

Metal Baby Dr. Mario Coming To Mario Kart

Mario Kart

Nintendo's Mario Kart 8 has taken some heat for the multiple clone characters on the driver list instead of additional original characters.  For every Mario there's a Baby Mario and a Metal Mario.  Princess Peach has a baby and a golden incarnation.  Then there's the baby forms of Luigi and Rosalina in addition to the adult versions.  How much more filler could there be on that list?  Yves Bourgelas answers that question with this comic depicting a future installment of Mario Kart that goes overboard on the variant clones.  Are you ready to hit the road as Teen Peach or Grandpa Mario?

So yeah, I’m not really complaining about the presence of Metal Mario and Pink Gold Peach in Mario Kart 8, I’m just poking fun at what it might come to if Nintendo keeps the same path (which they won’t… won’t they?). My bets are on Angsty Teen Mario.

The baby versions of the characters are way out of hand; I'm honestly shocked that the preexisting Baby Wario and Baby Donkey Kong weren't also included.  There's a Baby Bowser out there in the world of Nintendo, too, just waiting for some future sequel.  The metallic variants are odd inclusions, too.  Where are characters more worthy of appearing?  Show me Kamek, Birdo, and Boom Boom.  Give me obscure characters like Wart, Tatanga, and even Pauline.  Baby Mario and Baby Luigi were fun inclusions are first, but the variants have spiraled way out of control.  At least we'll always have Green Mario.

(via Reddit)

So How Is Super Smash Bros. Shaping Up For 3DS?

Super Smash Bros for 3DSMost of the focus and glory lately when it comes to the upcoming Super Smash Bros. titles has gone to the Wii U version of the game, but there is a handheld iteration on the way for the Nintendo 3DS as well.  How is it shaping up?  What sets is apart from the Wii U version?  Does it ellicit as many smiles?  Nadia Oxford recently spent seven minutes with the game and answers a number of questions about it over at's Nintendo DS base of operations.  Here's a brief impression of the game's exclusive Smash Run mode:

Smash Run is what Brawl's Subspace Emissary should have been - Smash Run is filled to the brim with enemies to wallop and obstacles to surmount. Bad guys from multiple games make appearances, and saying "hi" to these acquaintances (with Mega Man's fist) made me feel warm.

Even though I only experienced a sliver of Smash Run, I feel it's more interesting and charismatic than the Subspace Emissary single-player adventure mode in Super Smash Bros Brawl. The terrain is more varied and fun to clamber over, plus Smash Run's familiar enemies are more fun to greet and fight than Emissary's blank, shadowy enemies.  

One of Brawl's most glaring oversights is not using established enemies from the starring franchises in the Subspace Emissary mode.  I'm glad to hear that Nintendo listened to the feedback from that decision and has made the effort to pivot the other way in the 3DS Smash title and include familar elements.  I'm looking forward to the 3DS version, will certainly pick it up at launch, and tear through it just as I will the Wii U version.  While I haven't yet played it myself, it seems like skipping the handheld version of Smash would be a mistake.  It sounds like we're beyond the days when portable fighters would cut characters and stages to fit into a tiny cartridge.  This isn't Street Fighter II for the Game Boy, after all.

Zen Studios Readies Pinball Table Based On Deadpool

DeadpoolHere's a [pineapple] surprise for you.  Zen Studios has been quietly hard at work on a new pinball table for Zen Pinball 2 and Pinball FX2 based on Marvel's twisted Deadpool.  Releasing next week, the Deadpool table features all the fourth wall busting antics you can stand and the voice talents of Nolan North as the man himself.  Here's how Bobby Loertscher describes the experience at the PlayStation Blog:

Zen Studios is extremely excited to be working with the fine folks at Marvel to bring Deadpool fans a pinball experience that is as true to the character as you can get. Featuring the supreme voice talents of the one and only Nolan North as Deadpool, this table will capture the acerbic, fourth wall-crushing attitude of the character, as well as other supporting characters from the Deadpool universe, including Blind Al, Weasel, Lil’ Deadpool, and more. Deadpool’s pinball debut will feature a dynamic table that will switch at his whim, quick-time events, a “Blind Mode” courtesy of Blind Al in which only the ball, flippers and target lanes are visible, and even a mode where the player can help Deadpool take down some of his most nefarious enemies: raging comic book fans!

Deadpool seems like a natural choice to become a pinball superstar.  His sense of humor is all over the map which guarantees that just about anything can happen on this pinball table.  The only rule seems to be to expect unpredictable things.  There's a trailer in circulation that shows off some of Deadpool's tricks.  Like Zen's other pinball offerings, this one looks like great fun.  The last time we spoke to Zen's Mel Kirk on the Power Button podcast, he hinted that more Marvel tables were on the way, but I'd never have guessed Deadpool would be one of them.  It's nice to be surprised.

Power Button - Episode 133: E3 2014 Wrap-Up

Power ButtonAnother Electronic Entertainment Expo come and gone.  On this special crossover episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman and I are joined by the EvilCast's Ross Polly and Chris Nitz as we discuss our favorite news stories from E3 2014.  We touch on the Ubisoft controversy regarding leading woman and animation time, Blake renews his devotion to the PlayStation TV, the future of Street Fighter, the Los Angeles Times botching the week's news by reporting on the Nintendo PlayStation, increased visibility on indie game developers, and so much more.  We have nearly two hours worth of show for you, and like every other time we meet up with the EvilCast, this episode treads into explicit language territory, so you have been warned.  With that in mind, make yourself comfortable and enjoy the show!  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.

OverClocked ReMix Releases Super Mario 64 Album

Portrait of a PlumberYou don't need an invitation from Princess Peach to get in on OverClocked ReMix's latest album.  Portrait of a Plumber reworks the classic and immensely catchy soundtrack from Nintendo's Super Mario 64 into twenty-one freely downloadable tracks that celebrate the 1996 Nintendo 64 launch title.  From the bombastic main athletic theme to the calming tones of "Dire, Dire Docks", everything you remember about exploring Peach's castle and its magic paintings is here.  Here's a little of what album director Justin Medford has to say about the project:

Musically, this album showcases OverClocked ReMix's reputation as a community proficient in a diverse set of genres. Portrait of a Plumber features rock, electronic, orchestral, and more. There's really something here for everyone. I sincerely hope that this will serve to highlight both Kondo's fantastic work as well as the work of the many many talented artists who came together to make this possible.

I was fortunate enough to listen to an advance copy of Portrait of a Plumber and I came away incredibly impressed.  This may be my favorite OC ReMix album of all time (and there have been some amazing OC ReMix albums).  I especially enjoy the ultimate Bowser medley, "Devastation's Duel", which combines "Koopa's Theme," "Koopa's Road," and "Ultimate Koopa" into a single flowing composition.  Maybe I'm a little biased since I have such fond memories of the original Super Mario 64 soundtrack, but when you start with such iconic source music as Koji Kondo's soundtrack, you already have a solid base on which to build.  Compliments to everyone involved with this album.  It's another release that should be on a list of required video game remix playlists.

I Transferred My Wii Content To Wii U And Lived To Tell The Tale

Wii U Transfer ToolNintendo constantly pushes the narrative that it is a forward-thinking company.  It's so forward-thinking, in fact, that it has a nasty habit of making attempts to look backward into a frustrating, mind-boggling exercise.  On Sunday morning I finally decided to transfer my old Nintendo Wii content (Virtual Console games, Wii save game data, WiiWare, and my Wii Shop Channel history, among other little things) to my new Wii U so that I could reclaim some shelf space and attempt to unify as much of my Wii/Wii U content as possible.  Moreover, I wanted to upgrade some of my Virtual Console games to their Wii U counterparts to take advantage of off-TV play.  I knew that Nintendo offered a special transfer utility on the Wii to handle this process, so I figured it would take about thirty minutes to complete and that would be that.  Not hardly.  Instead I spent over two hours jumping through Nintendo's hoops and suffering error message after error message.

I started by downloading the transfer utility from the Wii Shop Channel on my Wii.  I read the basic procedure guide and quit out of the utility in order to copy Virtual Console games off my Wii's SD card into system memory, as only data in system memory can make the leap to Wii U.  I packed my 512 MB of storage as full as I could with as many cherished games as possible, and in the end I had only eight blocks left.  I returned to the transfer utility to start the process again and was told I needed to have my Wii U initialize the SD card I would use for the transfer.  That's not entirely unreasonable, so I turned on the Wii U and entered Wii Mode to access the transfer utility on that console.  The Wii U's utility explained the process again and I initialized the SD card.  I then went back to the Wii and tried to start the transfer again, this time with a kosher card.  After thinking about it for some time, the Wii complained that it didn't have enough free system memory space to begin.

Continue reading "I Transferred My Wii Content To Wii U And Lived To Tell The Tale" »

The Games Of E3 2014 Are Already For Sale

Buy somethin' will ya!Sometimes it seems that the further away a new video game's release date is scheduled, the sooner you can preorder it.  Amazon proves this maxim true by offering many of the games announced at E3 2014 for sale already.  Some of these games don't even have solid release dates, full titles, or even finished box art yet, but you can place a reservation for them now and Amazon will fill in the blanks as time goes on.  Super Smash Bros., Assassin's Creed Unity, Destiny, Halo 5, Far Cry 4, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and so many more are up for grabs, so I've put together an Amazon widget to assist with any preorder needs you may have.  Any purchase made via this widget goes to help support Press The Buttons, so if there's something you want to order that you don't see listed here, let me know and I'll add it.  I'm nothing if not helpful.

Nintendo Hasn't Forgotten About Metroid

Samus AranFans of Nintendo's Metroid franchise were hoping for the announcement of a new adventure for Samus Aran at E3 2014 (of course, they were hoping for that at E3 2013, E3 2012, E3 2011...), but came away disappointed when the bounty hunter was nowhere to be seen outside of Super Smash Bros.  After the comparative disappointment that was Metroid: Other M, had the franchise been shelved?  Not really.  Despite not having anything to show or announce just yet, the company's Shigeru Miyamoto and Shinya Takahashi insist that they're thinking about how to bring Metroid back in both 2D and 3D.  Kotaku has the interview.

Shinya Takahashi, Nintendo: So it has been a while since we released the last one and we're having discussions internally about what we can do next. So at this point we have two different types of Metroid games. We have the Prime style of Metroid game and we have the more traditional style of Metroid game. We feel that we do need to take care of both of these styles of play. And the hope is that at some point in the near future we'll be able to share something about them.

While I believe that the creative people at Nintendo have had discussions on how to best serve Metroid in the Wii U and 3DS era, I also believe that they'd hint at similar discussions for any other currently dormant franchise that could excite fans and spark hardware sales right now.  Personally, I'd like to see a new side-scrolling adventure in the style of Super Metroid released for the 3DS and a new Prime-type shooter for the Wii U.  Metroid Prime Hunters for the DS proved that 3D Metroid titles are best suited for home hardware, while I imagine whoever takes on the Prime style next could have a lot of fun integrating the GamePad into the mix.  I'm patient.  I can wait until the company is ready to share the results of its discussions.