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January 2015

Super Bowl All-Stars Horrified By Mortal Kombat X

ConanThe Mortal Kombat series has always been [in]famous for its shocking brutality, but the next game in the franchise, Mortal Kombat X, takes things to a level that horrifies even Super Bowl all-stars.  Marshawn Lynch and Rob Gronkowski join Conan O'Brien for the latest Clueless Gamer segment of Conan in which the two tough guys and the talk show host sit down to play the in-development Kombat and react to the violence.  I found it interesting that two athletes who have found success by being professional tough guys were aghast at the new Fatalities and would rather be playing Mario Kart instead.  In fact, neither athlete seemed to know much about the cast of Kombat, but they knew their Mario Kart characters and mechanics.  Seeing them reject the hardcore gore of Kombat in favor of racing as Toad and Bowser made me smile.  Mortal Kombat X is due out in April for the Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.

Zelda: A Link To The Past Comic To Be Reprinted

A Link to the PastBack in Episode 154 of the Power Button podcast we reminisced about our favorite Nintendo-based comics, and one of the stories held up for discussion was the multi-part comic adaptation of 1992's The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past that was published over the course of 1993 in Nintendo Power.  Written and drawn by manga creator Shotaro Ishinomori, the comic has been out of print and long gone for years now (save for scanned images found online).  Now Viz Media is due to bring it back.  It's due out in North America on May 5.  Here's Comics Alliance with the details:

As for why they’re doing it now, it actually makes a lot of sense. After all, the Zelda-themed Hyrule Historia from Dark Horse was one of last year’s biggest selling comics projects, topping the New York Times best-seller list, and while Viz published Akira Himekawa’s Zelda comics a few years ago, none of them had the mix of Nintendo Power nostalgia and a legendary manga creator that you get from Ishinomori’s comics.

UDON Entertainment was interested in reprinting these Zelda comics, but when they looked into getting the rights to do so, they were told that someone else had beat them to it.  Now we know the rest of the story.  I wasn't much of a fan of the Zelda adaptation, but I'm glad to know it's coming back for those who want to own it in print.  Modern audiences deserve to read shocking twists like this one all over again:

The Legend of Zelda

No, wait, my mistake.  That's a page from the old Legend of Zelda comics printed by Valiant Comics.  Here's some of the Nintendo Power comic:

A Link to the Past

Hmm... that's remarkably similar to the Valiant comic, isn't it?

Sony Disabling Three PlayStation Vita Apps

PS VitaSony's PlayStation Vita has had a tough time cracking into major mainstream success.  For a console that launched with a bang of 3G mobile access and AAA franchise titles like Uncharted, it's withered on the vine since the bottom fell out of the handheld gaming market and been left to subsist on PlayStation 3 ports and digitally distributed indie darlings.  Now Sony is about to remove a few features from the system, shutting off the lights on three seldom-used apps.  The built-in Maps app and the downloadable YouTube app are due for retirement, while the confusing Near app is going to be stripped down.  Here's Game Informer with the news:

The Maps app, which provided access to navigation services on the device, is being phased out. This will be removed in the March update. Sony also says that some aspects of its ‘Near’ social suite will no longer function at that time. Sony has not yet specified which of the Near functions will cease to work.

Sony will also be eliminating the YouTube app from its portable console. It will no longer be supported as of April 20, and will be unavailable to download as of today, January 28. 

Maps and YouTube have long-since been replaced by more convenient, more manageable mobile apps in the smartphone market (and Maps was really only useful if you own a 3G-capable Vita).  Few people ever really knew was Near was all about beyond being a poor man's StreetPass-type of experience.  Will you miss these apps?  While YouTube may have been nice to keep around just because it's always nice to have options (my guess is that it's being removed because somebody at Sony didn't want to pay the license fee for continued access), I can't say that I'll miss any of these.  I hate to see functions removed from hardware, but in this instance, these changes won't really impact how I use my Vita.

Let's Check In With Wii Fit U

Wii Fit UA few months ago I told you about how I started with Nintendo's Wii Fit U for my exercising and fitness needs, so I thought it was worth checking in to let you know how the program is working for me.  I wear the game's Fit Meter both at home and when I'm out, so it's tracking an accurate picture of my movements.  Wii Fit U will take a look at my weight and your activity level and then come up with a daily goal of calories to burn.  I started at 580 calories to burn each day, and since I work in a largely stationary office job, I only burn about 230 calories during the workday.  I have to fill the gap when I get home with a workout.  Thankfully, the weather has been so nice outside lately that I've been able to finish my daily goal by walking several miles in the evening.  I'm up to walking four to five miles each day, music blasting from the online cloud and Fit Meter beeping with progress.  It's a good feeling to come home after having met my goal; the remaining calories burned before going to sleep (usually about 150) are a bonus.

So with all of that walking going on, I haven't needed to use the Wii Fit U software at all for actual exercise.  That'll change once the weather tips back towards the perpetual Florida heatwave we call summer here beginning in March, but until then I'm happy to be out in the breezy mild winter.  I still use the software's Quick Check app to track my weight and over the course of using it since I last wrote about it in November, I've lost three pounds (my goal, as you'll recall, was to neither gain nor lose anything since I'm at my target weight, but I can live with three pounds lost).  Of course, Wii Fit U is a video game at heart, and what happens in video games when you prove you can meet the challenge set by the game?  The difficulty level increases!  Just last week the system set my new daily calorie burn goal at 680 calories each day.  Time to add more miles around the neighborhood, I guess.  I'm going to need a longer music playlist.

By the way, don't forget that I've created a custom Miiverse community gym for Press The Buttons readers.  The code to access the gym is 0922-3622-7333 which is input in the community gym options section.  Come join up!  We can all motivate each other. 

Power Button - Episode 163: Limited Special Ultimate Collectors Editions With Ryan Olsen

Power ButtonWhy buy a new video game when you can instead pick up the limited edition version of today's new hotness that includes a steelbook case, an art book, CD soundtrack, DLC costumes, stickers, a statuette of the protagonist in action, and a real wearable version of the protagonist's iconic socks for an extra eighty dollars?  On this week's episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman and I are joined by Ryan Olsen of Monkeypaw Games to discuss the ongoing trend of video game publishers offering special ultimate editions of games with extra goodies packed in.  We cover our favorite special editions, draw the line at what marks a worthwhile special edition from a pointless one, and question the artificial scarcity behind the harder-to-find releases.  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 Time: We discuss the changing face of gaming media as Joystiq announces it's farewell and Nintendo announces its YouTube partnership program.

Last Dance With The iPhone 4S

iPhone 4SI'd been pushing my iPhone 4S long past its expiration date.  Purchased in June 2012 after my iPhone 4 did a spinning flip off of a countertop and smashed screen-first into a cabinet handle, my trusty 4S had been showing signs of wear and tear for a while.  No cracks, scratches, or cosmetic damage, thankfully, but instead I'd noticed little things like ongoing decreased battery life, apps frequently crashing, apps forgetting data, settings not staying set, and the ballooning of "Other" data that iTunes was unable to recognize, delete, or handle that had filled up the gadget's meager 16 GB of storage.  The phone even refused to be wiped for a fresh install from a backup.  I keep my technology around until I've clearly worn it out, so the 4S's time had clearly come.  It was time to upgrade.  Like all technology transitions though, nothing is ever as easy as it sounds.

Continue reading "Last Dance With The iPhone 4S" »

Power Button - Episode 162: The Great Prognosticus Predicts!

Power ButtonGaze into the future with this week's episode of Power Button in which our in-house seer, The Great Prognosticus, speculates on what the year 2015 holds for trends in the video game industry.  Marvel at potential price drops!  Wonder at the bottom falling out of the crowdfunding movement!  Look onward to where Destiny will go!  Fear the coming glut of microtransactions!  Tomorrow's just your future yesterday.  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 Time: Preorder early and often if you want to get your hands on our discussion of limited collector edition releases. Ryan Olsen of MonkeyPaw Games is your exclusive pack-in for this spirited discussion.

Club Nintendo Closing Worldwide

Club NintendoMaybe it was the costs of running the program or maybe it was the complaints from underwhelmed members that did it, but for whatever the reason, today we're faced with the news that the Club Nintendo loyalty program is closing down worldwide.  Nintendo's coins-for-surveys operation isn't just shutting down overnight, thankfully; there's a sunset plan to phase out the program and allow members to fill out the last of their product surveys and cash out their remaining coins.  There will even be one last round of Platinum and Gold status gifts this year (although they will be downloadable games once again).  Here's some of Nintendo of America's announcment (exact closing dates differ across regions):

All Coins will be deleted when Club Nintendo accounts are closed on July 1, 2015.  As a result, to give our members the best opportunity to use their Coins, we will add dozens of downloadable games and a limited quantity of exclusive reward items to the rewards catalog in February.  In addition, as a small token of appreciation for your loyalty, all Club Nintendo members will receive a free download code for Flipnote Studio 3D in February 2015.

Nintendo also announced that a new loyalty program will rise from the ashes of Club Nintendo later this year.  I have no idea what that will entail, but I bet it'll be cheaper for the company to run than the current iteration.  For all the complaining I've done about the program, I will miss it.  It had the opportunity to be so much more than it was and the reason I was so hard on it was that I wanted to see it rise to its full potential.  Perhaps the next loyalty program will meet that challenge.  I'm also thankful that Club Nintendo isn't just going to disappear overnight and that there's time to redeem those last lingering coins.  In the meantime, spend those last coins.  There is no tomorrow here and nothing more to save for, so we might as well go out with a free game bang.  Games like Super Mario Bros. 2 for Wii U and Wario Land 2 for 3DS are available now with a promise of more downloadable titles on the way.  I have 1,600 coins that I was saving for a rainy day.  I suppose it's pouring now.

Revenge Of The Gremlins

Gremlins GizmoBack in October last year we took a look at the two games produced by Sunsoft based on the classic 1990 film Gremlins 2: The New Batch, but those games for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy are not the only games from the Gremlins franchise that have been released over the years.  Spanning from the Atari 2600 to the Nintendo Wii, Gizmo and Stripe have been trading blows for years courtesy of a variety of publishers.  Some were better at their development craft than others.  Hardcore Gaming 101 returns to take us on the rest of the Gremlins journey to explore text adventures, platformers, and — oh, please, no — a virtual pet mogwai experience.

On the DS, Gremlins: Gizmo kind of acts like it wants to be a Tamagotchi style raising sim, as there are three stats for each mogwai that you're supposed to maintain - love, music and strength. But keeping them up is so laughably easy that all that remains are the various mini games the creatures use to entertain themselves. On the DS, of course most of them are played with tapping or swiffing at the screen with the stylus. There are three or four similar rhythm games and a number of faux rhythm games, several of which are just adaptions of Ralph Baer's Simon.

The game was also announced for release on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation network, but the only other version that made it out the door was for Nintendo's Wii. Like the NDS version, the Wii version features five mogwai, but drops the weak sim pretense and replaces it with many more and funnier costumes and more rooms. The highlight of the new challenges is a neat if rudimentary cart racer, but there's also braindead stuff like ball games where you just point an enormous Wiimote cursor at the incoming ball to bounce it back, or a game where you just walk around with a vacuum cleaner to collect "dust bunnies".

When I was at E3 in 2011 I'd heard rumblings that there was a Gremlins revival game somewhere on the showfloor.  I went looking for it one afternoon when I had time to kill without knowing which publisher was showing it off.  I searched high and low until I finally found it on display on a small table off by itself in the middle of an aisle.  There was no signage around it to signify who was responsible for it, nor was there anyone around to talk with about it.  I stood and watched the demo for a moment as poorly animated mogwai danced to whatever Top 40 pop song was the flavor of the moment.  My heart sank; this is what Gremlins had become?  You deserve better, Gizmo.  You deserve so much better.

Nintendo Announces New Amiibo Figurines


Have you filled up your display case and emptied your bank account acquiring Nintendo's amiibo toys yet?  Hopefully there's still some room in both because the company has announced more of the NFC figurines are on the way with Wave 4 of the Super Smash Bros. line (here comes Ness, Pac-Man, and Wario among others) along with a new Super Mario line that offers fresh poses for Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser, and Yoshi with only little Toad as the new character featured.  Characters are interchangeable with supported Wii U games so you can use your Super Mario Bowser in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U without hesitation.  The upcoming Mario Party 10 will include amiibo functionality although be warned that using Smash-compatible figurines with Party will wipe out your amiibo's Smash data and vice-versa.  Kotaku explains what you'll be able to do with the toys in Party:

Nintendo did say that Mario Party 10 will feature a new gameplay mode known as "Amiibo Party" in addition to the two that were previously announced. This mode works by putting you on a specific game board tailored to the amiibo that you're using, complete with character-specific abilities and traits. Mario Party 10 will be compatible with nine amiibos: Mario, Luigi, Toad, Peach, Bowser, Rosalina (and Luma!), Yoshi, Donkey Kong, and Wario.

Can the market sustain all of these products sent out in the market so quickly?  Is anyone buying these besides collectors and scalping middlemen?  As for me, I've decided only to pursue amiibo of my absolute top favorite characters in fun poses.  So far I'm holding at owning two of them (Mario and Kirby) with one upcoming release pre-ordered (Mega Man).  I'd buy Wario if he wore his traditional yellow and purple colors rather than his biker outfit.  The new Luigi figurine is tempting (his Smash pose is ridiculous and I won't stand for it sitting on my desk) and I have a soft spot for Ness after all EarthBound has done for me.  It would be a waste to own Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and not get the Toad amiibo to go with it.  Hey, look, there's Pac-Man!

Uh oh.