I've always liked to show you something interesting from the world of Konami's beloved (but lately mistreated) Castlevania franchise on Halloween, and this year is no different. OverClocked ReMix gives us our moment for 2015 with a trilogy of Castlevania remix albums, one of which just released today. Vampire Variations volumes 1-3 offer up remixed soundtracks from the original Castlevania, the PC Engine obscurity Rondo of Blood, the Genesis favorite Bloodlines, and the classic Super NES release Super Castlevania IV. Your Halloween party soundtrack is right here waiting for you.
Happy Halloween! For this year's special Halloween episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I turn our attention to gaming's best costumes. So many favorite heroes love to dress up in alternate outfits. From Super Mario to Street Fighter and beyond, join us for an hour of raiding the wardrobe. 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.
Expectations were high yesterday when word came out that Nintendo was set to announce its first mobile title at an investor briefing. The gaming community held its collective breath waiting for a Super Mario or Pokémon title, but instead the company shared its vision for a free-to-play social game with optional microtransactions called Miitomo based on a fusion of the Mii characters and the curiously popular Tomodachi Life for the 3DS. It's due out in March 2016. No Pikachu for you! But you know what? That may be for the best. Jeremy Parish at USgamer explains:
While Nintendo hasn't shared full details on the workings of Miitomo, it's easy enough to make some educated guesses based on early screens. As the name suggests, Miitomo makes use of Mii avatars, seemingly with the ability to mingle with the avatars of other people and interact directly with the player. That sounds, not coincidentally, a great deal like Tomodachi Life, a connection alluded to in the app's name. Tomodachi Life became a solid success upon its western release last summer, but it's been a monster hit for years in Japan. Goofy, fun social apps (most recently Line) tend to be far more popular in Japan than in the west as well. Combine the two and a massive hit seems practically guaranteed, at least in Japan. It's less of a guaranteed slam-dunk in the U.S., but the Nintendo factor should at least grab people's attention.
Nintendo's stock dropped following the announcement and the community complained that this wasn't the Pokémon Red port they'd just assumed would happen if everyone wished really hard, but Miitomo could work well for the company. Nintendo aims to draw mobile gamers into its own hardware ecosystem, and apps like Miitomo could do just that by whetting appetites and sparking curiosity about what Nintendo has to offer on its hardware home turf. Japan will eat this up, but North America and beyond could be a harder sell beyond app-loving kids seemingly born with an iPad in one hand. The company's new NX project is moving forward and I'm sure that it would love to capture some lapsed Wii owners to bring them back to the world of Nintendo. Like so many other things in this industry, we'll just have to wait and see what happens. However, to all of you out there who have complained that you want to play Pokémon on the go, then I have good news for you. Nintendo already sells a product that will let you do that. It's called a Nintendo 3DS and it's in stores now.
Video game enthusiasts can do some intriguing things given enough talent and time. Consider this project to bring Nintendo's classic 1991 Super NES release Super Mario World to the 1983 MSX computer platform, for instance. Sure, it features fewer colors than the source material, degraded music, and other changes to fit the limitations of the platform, but that's the point. Check out this video of a work-in-progress sample of the game in action from last year. The finished version is slated to be displayed at a MSX exhibition in the Netherlands in January 2016 where it will be made freely available. Demakes such as these are always interesting to see, and since other famous games associated with Nintendo hardware such as Castlevania and Contra have appeared on the MSX, why not Super Mario?
Nintendo's new multiplayer-focused The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes for the 3DS features a number of useful and unique outfits for Link to wear from a Zora suit to a Hammer Bros. costume to Princess Zelda's exquisite dress. However, a much more inventive and scandalous costume was considered for Link during the development process. Bob Mackey at USgamer recently interviewed director Hiromasa Shikata, and one of the discussion topics involved ideas cut from the final game. For a while, the developers considered sending Link out into the world without any costume at all. If there's a Zora suit, why not a Birthday suit?
USg: Were any costume ideas for Tri Force Heroes left on the cutting-room floor?
HS: I can think of one right off the top of my head. That would be one that was inspired by the folktale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” which as you know is the story of the emperor who thinks he’s wearing something of the highest fashion, but he’s actually—when other people look at him, he’s not wearing anything. They thought that would be a great idea for an outfit, but they weren’t able to come up with an implementation that would—they weren’t sure how to wrap up that whole thing as one good feature spec, you know, “How could we actually implement that neat idea as something that’s relevant to the game?” They unfortunately weren’t able to come to a conclusion, so that never made the cut.
It's an interesting idea, but how could that be portrayed without turning the game into a localization challenge outside of Japan? Nintendo has sent its heroes out without clothes before (consider Ness appearing in just his baseball cap in Mother 2's Magicant realm which was changed for international release in EarthBound by dressing him in his pajamas instead), but I think it would be much more effective to use that "Emperor" idea and have Link appear to the player as wearing an amazing, majestic set of the finest robes, but when he talks to other characters, they treat him as if he's not wearing anything at all. The player never actually sees any skin. That raises the question of what the other players controlling the other Links see, however; which side of the fourth wall are they on? Moreover, what special status effect would this suit offer that makes it worthwhile compared to the other costumes? This is a complicated idea and I can see why it went unused in the end.
Just to put the capper on yesterday's big Back To The Future day festivities (you listened to the new Power Button episode, right?) let's check in on the Laser Time Shit Show as the brave crew dares to play through the awful Back To The Future Part II And III for the Nintendo Entertainment System. I've written about this game before where I called it "compellingly terrible" and- well, I'll just quote myself here:
The graphics in this game are some of the worst I've ever seen on the NES. Sprites lack detail and animation, the level colors are drab green and flat, and the music is monotonous and contains piercing beeps from time to time. Somehow the creators also licensed the Huey Lewis and News song "Back in Time" and a poor rendition of it appears in the game. The play control is sloppy and the different sectors all resemble one another, providing no change of pace during the game. Worst of all is that the game lacks a password or save feature, so the entire game must be completed in one sitting if one wants to win.
Now you can see for yourself why this game is simultaneously horrible and fascinating. Godspeed, Laser Time crew, and thanks for the shout out to PTB during the show. The Internet will never forget your sacrifice.
Nintendo's Super Mario Maker for Wii U has already seen players create over one million levels, but since so many of those creations are painful garbage, how does one know which levels are worthwhile and which are worthless? My old friend Joey Davidson is doing some Super Mario Maker curating these days with his new Club Mario Maker catalog of hand-picked levels. It's just getting started, but so far there are several stages worth exploring and he's continuing to add new picks as time goes by. Check it out, add some levels to your playlist, and help do your part to keep the Mario Maker ecosystem healthy.
Today we celebrate the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown came to that far-off future date October 21, 2015 from the year 1985, and to commemorate the occasion properly, Blake Grundman and I invite you to join us for a thorough discussion of the many Back To The Future video games that have been released over the years spanning some only-in-Japan obscurities to a pinball table with unusual artwork to the recently re-released Back To The Future: The Game. We have lots of stories about the film trilogy, the games it spawned, and so much more. Make like a tree and listen to the show. It's your density. 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.
Zen Studios won't release its new Balls Of Glory pack for Zen Pinball 2 and Pinball FX2 until next week, but I was provided with a pre-release copy of the new pinball tables featuring American Dad, Family Guy, Archer, and Bob's Burgers in all their bumper and flipper glory, so I just have to share some gameplay video of me learning the ins and outs of Stan Smith's CIA challenges and Peter Griffin fighting Ernie the Giant Chicken on the table. There's even a skirmish with Stewie's half-brother Bertram in there and you'll see me nail the Avery Bullock skill shot three times in a row. Despite the overuse of certain sound clips from the television shows (the American Dad table loves to replay Klaus explaining the "Wheels and the Legman" gimmick and Patrick Stewart's Bullock often says "You're a complicated man, Smith"*), overall I'm enjoying these tables and all of the nods to their source material.
* The game cuts off the rest of this Bullock quote which is "I would love to do mushrooms with you." I find myself saying it aloud just to finish it.
The recent release of a fumingly incomplete Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 has spawned this week's new podcast in which Blake Grundman and I discuss video games that launch in an unfinished state and depend on a day one patch to fix the game (or try to fix it; sometimes these patches don't correct all of the problems). We talk a stroll down the walk of shame of unfinished games for a little over an hour. 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.