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August 2014

Power Button - Episode 142: The Worst Gaming Accessories Of All Time

Power ButtonThe Super NES mouse!  The Power Glove!  The Speedboard!  On last week's episode of Power Button  we took a stroll down memory lane with the best video gaming accessories of all time, but this time we're going to explore some of gaming's greatest misfires and most baffling add-ons.  Hold on tight, gang.  This one is going to hurt. 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.

Abandoned Ghostbusters Video Game Theme Park Ride Revealed

GhostbustersGhostbusters used to have a stage show presence at Universal Studios theme parks, but it's been years since the old firehouse has been home to a special effects spectacular.  As it turns out, the old stunt show wasn't the first attempt at bringing the franchise to theme parks.  Blastr (via a longer interview at 2600 Connection) has a look at the aborted Six Flags video game-based theme park ride featuring the Ghostbusters property combined with interactive shooter mechanics and a riff on Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion attraction.

It was another 'first' of its kind as it was the first interactive theme park game/ride, giving its riders a ghost busting gun mounted in front of them, and a variety of sophisticated "ghost" targets to shoot at, and receive a score and prizes. In this way, it was a huge game that required many plays to learn and master. The target ghosts were a combination of physical animated props with CG displays that were combined through mirrors, and they reacted/exploded when hit. The guns were a combination of laser pointer and IR emitter that kept track of hits and displayed the player's score. The whole thing was created, designed, engineered, and prototyped at Sente, and the ride system was in the hands of a prominent roller coaster engineering company, Intamin.

Plans for the ride were scrapped thanks to business dealings and management changes.  It just sort of fell into the void, apparently.  Blastr has concept art of how the ride would have worked and some designs for ghosts and it looks like fun.  I'd have gone for a ride.  Such a shame for it to have been dropped. 

Thrill At Negotiation Simulation In World Of Peacecraft

Late night talk shows have been mining video games for humor for a while now, but I believe this is the first instance of HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver tweaking the medium for a laugh.  Here's a clip from this past weekend's episode which advertises the new alternative to war-based video games.  Why fight on the battlefield when you can fight in the conference room?  Prepare for World of Peacecraft. It's a parody now, but give it time. Someone will create this game and put it up on Steam Greenlight before too long.

Rise Of The Tomb Raider Is Exclusive To Xbox One

Rise Of The Tomb RaiderAfter rebooting again last generation, the Tomb Raider franchise is moving on to the next sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider.  Announced back around E3 time, the gaming community assumed the game was headed for the new generation platforms and PC, but this morning at Gamescom, Microsoft turned heads and riled up the fans by announcing that the sequel is to be a Xbox exclusive.  That's enough to make news, but what's really keeping people talking today is that thanks to some unspecific and nebulous language, nobody's quite sure how long this exclusivity will last.  Rise is due on the Xbox One exclusively for Holiday 2015, but that doesn't mean that Rise of the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for the Sony PlayStation 4 isn't six months around the corner from then.  It's all speculation right now until someone on the inside of the deal decides to talk; I've heard compelling arguments from both sides.  Here's a statement from developer Crystal Dynamics:

As you may have seen, we’ve just announced that Rise of the Tomb Raider, coming Holiday 2015, is exclusively on Xbox. We consider all of you to be the lifeblood of Tomb Raider and the work we do at Crystal. I’d like to give you some insight into this decision, and why we feel this is the very best thing for the Tomb Raider sequel we’re creating at the studio.

Tomb Raider in 2013 was a success due in large part to your continued support. Our goal has always been to deliver something truly special with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Today’s announcement with Microsoft is one step to help us put Tomb Raider on top of action adventure gaming. Our friends at Microsoft have always seen huge potential in Tomb Raider and have believed in our vision since our first unveil with them on their stage at E3 2011. We know they will get behind this game more than any support we have had from them in the past - we believe this will be a step to really forging the Tomb Raider brand as one of the biggest in gaming, with the help, belief and backing of a major partner like Microsoft.

That's quite the bombshell of an announcement, one that few people saw coming.  On paper, it makes sense from a business perspective.  Microsoft gets a big exclusive for the holidays to help sell consoles and compete with Sony's Uncharted 4 due out around the same time.  Crystal Dynamics and publisher Square-Enix get a nice payment to keep the game on the Xbox platform which will surely please investors.  Interested Xbox One owners can play the game as they'd originally planned.  Owners of other platforms are the losers here, but assuming this is timed exclusivity and not a lifetime deal, the game will turn up elsewhere sooner or later.  Of course, the community is pissed, petitions are circulating, and the immature fans are throwing around death threats as usual.  Just another day in the gaming industry.

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Battletoads Cartoon Theater

Chances are that unless you had nothing better to do Thanksgiving weekend of 1992, you missed watching the one and only episode of a planned Battletoads animated series.  Changing the origins of the 'toads yet again to fit whatever seemed cool at the moment, the cartoon casts the characters as high school students who can transform into the Battletoads when the situation requires.  Written by David Wise (the television writer, not the music composer who coincidentally composed the soundtrack for the original Battletoads game), the cartoon was poised to compete with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles juggernaut that was flying high at the time, but I think once you watch the show, you'll see why it didn't have a chance.  It's generic, poorly done, and generally stale even for its time.  Enjoy!

Power Button - Episode 141: The Best Gaming Accessories Of All Time

Power ButtonThe Zapper!  The Power Pad!  The NES Advantage!  These are just a few of the beloved accessories from the world of video gaming that Blake Grundman and I heap praise upon in this week's episode of the Power Button podcast.  Spanning the Nintendo Entertainment System era up to the present day, we trot out some of our favorite peripherals, dust 'em off, and discuss why we like them so much.  It's an hour and a half  of nostalgia for your listening pleasure. 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. Next Week: We flip the disc over to explore the worst gaming accessories of all time!

Hyrule Warriors Offers Retailer-Specific Preorder DLC

Hyrule Warriors

Retailers offering different packs of downloadable content as a preorder incentive is nothing new, but now Nintendo is getting into the act along with Koei Tecmo by offering a variety of costume packs at GameStop and Amazon for those who reserve the upcoming Hyrule Warriors for Wii U.  GameStop has the exclusive The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time costumes for Link and Zelda, while Amazon offers Twilight Princess variants.  A Skyward Sword pack is believed to be on the way from a still-unannounced retailer.  Zelda Informer has the news.

I hate to see Nintendo adopting the practice of splitting DLC across retailers, but so long as the content is offered later on the eShop, we'll learn to live with this just as we have every other practice that leaves a sour taste in our collective mouth.  At least the costumes look detailed enough to be worthwhile.  It would have been easy for Nintendo to crank out quickie outfits for these variants, but Link and Zelda really do look like their original game counterparts in these images.

Mini-Review: Super Monkey Ball Adventure

Super Monkey Ball AdventureThis article was originally published at on September 25, 2006. It is repubished here as part of Review A Bad Game Day.

Video game franchises have been crossing over from one genre to the next for years. Often times a platformer hero will jump behind the wheel of a go-kart or pick up a tennis racket, but sometimes characters move into genres in which they aren’t really expected. Ever seen a puzzle game spawn a platformer adventure spin-off? Consider Super Monkey Ball Adventure from Sega and Traveller’s Tails for the Nintendo GameCube, Sony PlayStation 2, and PlayStation Portable which attempts to take puzzle game heroes Aiai, MeeMee, GonGon, and Baby and give them a whole world and storyline in which to play.   

The story of Super Monkey Ball Adventure (told in flashback, incidentally) involves the forbidden love of a prince and a princess from neighboring kingdoms. Without happiness throughout the land, the proposed marriage can never be. Enter AiAi and the other monkeys of Monkey Ball fame who must travel around the islands of Monearth to perform little odd jobs and tasks for the monkey inhabitants. Accomplishing these tasks raises the total happiness level of the world.  For instance, early in the game a monkey sitting on a top hat has lost her little monkey baby. The player is tasked with finding the lost monkling, but the catch is that the baby likes to hide in top hats, and - what a coincidence! - there just happen to be five other monkeys nearby who are all wearing top hats. It's up to AiAi (or whichever of the monkeys the player chooses at the start of the game) to roll around the area, find these monkeys, and roll into them in order to knock the hats off of their heads. The lost baby is in one of the hats, and knocking off the correct hat will reveal the child and bring happiness to the fretting mother. The catch, however, is that hat- wearing monkeys do not like to be bumped by other monkeys inside of small transparent balls. The behatted monkeys will step out of the way of an impending rolling, causing players to have to aim carefully and make last-minute course adjustments. Beyond that, rolling into a hat- wearing monkey at full speed just flattens the monkey into a pancake, hat and all. Eventually the flattened simian will right itself, leaving it open for another collision (but just not so fast this time).   

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Castle Rock Goes 8-Bit In Rayman Legends

A little while ago I spotlighted the Castle Rock musical action level from Rayman Legends for the Sony PlayStation 4 and other modern consoles in which moving to the beat of the music is the only way to win.  As the game draws to a close, these musical levels are reprised with some added tricks and gimmicks.  Check out this 8-bit musical mix of Castle Rock that adds 1980s visual distortion to the video to up the challenge.  This really is the game that keeps on giving.  It's just packed with fun content.

A Peek At Sega's Sonic The Hedgehog Style Guide

Sonic style guideEarlier this week Blake J. Harris gave us a brief look at Nintendo's official character guide, but no recounting of Nintendo's mid-1990s history is complete without looking at the comparative Sega side of the story.  With that in mind, Steve Lin has dug up the company's official style guide for the world of Sonic the Hedgehog and shared a few pages.  It's more in-your-face than the Nintendo guide with lots of character art of Sonic breaking the fourth wall and speaking to the reader.  It's another interesting look back in time at simpler times before Sonic had a dozen friends and lost what made him so approachable.

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