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May 2015

Konami Promises It Isn't Done With Consoles Yet

CastlevaniaA few weeks ago we came to terms with the news that Konami was exiting the traditional video game console publishing business in favor of the more lucrative mobile market where microtransactions are king.  Just as it seemed as if the days of Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill were behind us, now Game Informer brings word that the company has clarified its position and intends to continue creating new games for consoles as well as mobile, arcades, cards, and wherever else games may be.

Konami provided us with its own translation of the interview, providing context around the statements dealing with mobile. Judging by the cover letter from Jay Boor, Konami director of public relations, it's clear that the company doesn't want Metal Gear and Silent Hill fans to panic.

"Konami will continue to embrace the challenge of creating entertainment content via different platforms; across not only mobile platforms, but for home consoles, arcade units, and cards, to meet the changing needs of the times," Boor writes. He also reaffirms what we've heard from Konami before: Metal Gear and Silent Hill will live on. The publisher just isn't ready to talk about how yet (though we know that the Guillermo del Toro-led Silent Hills is canceled).

Konami has a funny way of showing it's still interested in the console market considering the high profile game cancellations and staff dismissals in recent weeks.  I'll take whatever good news I can get though, and knowing that Konami intends to stick with traditional markets is good news indeed.  Let's just hope that its next attempt to reboot Castlevania works better than Lords of Shadow did, and would it kill them to let some of the old Hudson properties they now own like Bonk and Adventure Island out to play?  Oh, who am I kidding?  The next major release will undoubtedly be Metal Gear Solid VI: The Search For More Money.  At least it'll be for a home console!

See The Portal Pinball Table In Action

Thanks to developer Zen Studios providing me with early access, I've spent the weekend exploring the company's newest pinball table based on Valve's popular Portal seriesWatch as I set a new high score by completing missions while GLaDOS takes shots at me, Wheatley interferes, and Ratman lurks in the shadows.  It's another winning table for Zen Pinball 2 and Pinball FX2 with plenty of fun little touches from the series.  The Portal table is available across the Zen product line starting this week.

Power Button - Episode 175: Scarred By Hard

Power ButtonVideo games today are too easy.  Back in the glory days of the 16-bit processors, we knew what a hard game was!  Join us for this episode of Power Button in which we reminisce about some of the most challenging video games that combine those elusive factors of legitimate difficulty and poor design.  Battletoads, Mega Man, Ghosts n' Goblins, Road Runner's Death Valley Rally, Star Wars, and many other familiar titles are offered up on the sacrificial slab.  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.

Mini-Review: New Super Mario Bros.

New Super Mario Bros.This article was originally published at on May 10, 2006.

Mario’s come a long way since his 1981 inception as Jumpman in Donkey Kong. After setting the side-scrolling platformer world on fire in classic games such as Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World, our plumber hero moved on to other genres as he sped around in a go-kart, kicked a mean soccer ball, wandered around with a bucket on his head, danced like a madman, became thin as paper, and even taught us how to type. Now years after Super Mario World, the world’s most famous gaming mascot has returned to his roots in New Super Mario Bros.  When the Mushroom Kingdom is attacked yet again, Mario races to the rescue. Caught in a moment of distraction, Mario drops his guard and watches as Bowser Jr. snatches Princess Peach. The twisted turtle prince races off with her to the nearest fortress, leading our hero into a classic chase across grass lands, deserts, water worlds, icy wastelands, and the eventual Koopa-esque dark land.

Continue reading "Mini-Review: New Super Mario Bros." »

Konami Exits The Game Console Market

CastlevaniaThe writing has been on the wall for a while, but one of the long-standing stalwarts of the video game console business has announced that it's leaving the market in favor of the world of mobile gaming.  Game Informer reports that Konami is focusing purely on mobile for upcoming products and that it looks that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for the Sony PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox One, and Xbox 360 will be the last traditional console release from the company.

Speaking to Nikkei, Konami Digital Entertainment president Hideki Hayakawa says that mobile is the company’s future. “From now on, mobile is at the center,” Hayakawa told Nikkei (roughly translated via Google). 

He also indicates that key franchises, like Metal Gear Solid, may also be pushed into the mobile space. The company is exploring ways to expand its presence in that sector in Japan and overseas.

Konami itself isn't going anywhere.  Aside from plans in the mobile space, the company also has profitable holdings in non-gaming markets such as health clubs, and of course it's been around long before video games were a popular form of entertainment (fun fact: it started out with jukebox rental and repair in 1969).  Konami is currently sitting on a lot of popular properties such as Castlevania, Silent Hill, Goemon, Dance Dance Revolution, Gradius, and Contra plus it also owns the old Hudson catalog giving it control of familiar names like Bonk, Adventure Island, and Bomberman.  It's a shame that the company is unable to find a way to keep these properties around as profitable games; how badly do you have to screw up to fail with a powerhouse portfolio like that? 

Much of the company's talent has left for greener pastures in recent years with developers like Castlevania's Koji Igarashi and Metal Gear Solid's Hideo Kojima departing to pursue other interests (Igarashi just unveiled a new Castlevania-type project via Kickstarter this week which brought in nearly two million dollars in just a few days).  Upcoming console games such as the eagerly awaited Silent Hills have been canceled.  Now we'll get to watch as Konami parades the soulless husks of our favorite franchises into the mobile world as shallow freemium titles out to make quick money.  It didn't have to be this way, Konami, but, alas, here we are.

Power Button - Episode 174: Double-dipping With Shovel Knight And Mortal Kombat X (Part 2)

Power ButtonLast time on Power Button we started a discussion on buying remastered or otherwise upgraded versions of favorite video games centering around two recent experiences with Shovel Knight and Mortal Kombat X.  This week we finish the conversation by digging into an examination at why we rebuy games and what it takes to persuade us into repeat purchases.  We also take a ballpark look at our own collections and speculate how many of our games are double-dips.  Along the way we talk about the Nintendo Wii to Wii U transfer process and return one more time to Shovel Knight for a look at guest appearances from Kratos and the Battletoads.  Let's do this!  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.

Portal Pinball Table Coming From Zen Studios

PortalThe busy people at Zen Studios must never sleep because they keep cranking out new pinball tables at an increasingly amazing pace.  Just weeks after sending tables based on Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: Rebels out into the world, the company has announced this morning that it's teamed with Valve to create a new table based on Portal.  It's due out the week of May 25, 2015 across the Zen line.  Here's what to expect via the Zen Studios blog:

Guide Chell and Wheatley through test chambers by navigating portals, using aerial faith plates, defeating turrets and facing other obstacles, and battling against GLaDOS as you attempt to escape the facility and reach the surface. Team up with ATLAS and P-Body for their Cooperative Testing Initiative Multiball and wreak havok on the Turret Factory by discovering Ratman’s hidden mini playfield.

I'm calling it right now: combining pinball and thinking with portals will make this one of the most challenging Zen tables ever made.  It's hard enough to follow the ball sometimes as it is, but once we add folding space to toss the ball all over the table, I know I'm going to need some serious practice to keep up with this one.  The description certainly sounds like they're making good use of the Portal license though, so I look forward to finding out how true they stay to the source material.

Fifteen Minutes With Star Wars: Rebels Pinball

Happy Star Wars Day to you all!  If you need a Force fix mixed with some pinball action, I'd recommend you check out the new pinball table Zen Studios based on Star Wars: Rebels.  Now, I don't know a thing about Rebels or any of its characters, but I do know pinball, so when Zen sent me a free copy of the table for the Sony PlayStation ecosystem, I was eager to dig in and learn the ins and outs of it.  I'd never have guessed that my first time playing the table would last nearly twenty minutes and rack up a high score.  I captured the last fifteen minutes of my performance (the maximum length of the PlayStation 4's video capture buffer) and now bring you a replay of that amazing feat.  Get comfortable and watch as the missions pile up and multiball sessions run wild.  Let's join the game already in progress.

At Last, It's Sub-Zero Versus Goro In Mortal Kombat X

I wasn't interested in fighting games as a young teen, so it was exposure to the Super NES versions of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat at a friend's house along with the Electronic Gaming Monthly and GamePro features on the larger than life characters that finally sparked my interest in the genre.  I was terrible at playing them in the beginning, but when it came to Mortal Kombat, I finally found my rhythm after some practice.  One thing I could never do, however, was defeat Goro.  Sure, I'd worked up enough minor skill with Sub-Zero to make it to the infamous match against the four-armed Shokan, but I could never beat him.  That's why it's so cathartic in the recently released Mortal Kombat X that I finally took him down in the Mortal Kombat I segment of the Living Towers.  Revel in my victory as finally have my revenge... and yes, it is a dish best served cold.