As 2016 is underway, it's only right to look back at the predictions that Blake Grundman and I made in 2015 way back in Episode 162 to see just how many of our gaming wishes came true. We keep score as we revisit last year's hopes and dreams, then we go on to make a new round of predictions that we'll revisit in 2017. It's the endless cycle of dreams and we invite you to join us as we look both back and forward. 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.
I'm working on some reviewing of Sony PlayStation products for PlayStation LifeStyle and my first piece for them, a review of the recently released Rebel Galaxy for PlayStation 4, has just been published. The short version is that the game is heavily channeling Joss Whedon's Firefly but with more emphasis on space travel and less emphasis on being Malcolm Reynolds which is all anyone who would play a Firefly game really wants. Here's a piece:
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A transport ship alone in the unending blackness of space deals in doing jobs for people (don’t much care what they are). Along the way the ship encounters pirates, militias, and traders just looking to go their way (even if their way is through you). Meanwhile, a western guitar twang belts out on the soundtrack. Sound familiar? Rebel Galaxy, last year’s PC title, brings its special mixture of elements from pop culture such as Firefly, Star Wars, and even a little Mass Effect to the PlayStation 4.
Can you catch all of the Firefly reference in the review? There's quite a few of them! You can't take my wordplay from me.
It's time to kick off 2016 by discussing our top picks for the best video games of 2015! Join Blake Grundman and I as we count down our favorites from last year (along with a few honorable mentions). Does Destiny: The Taken King take all? Will Yoshi's Woolly World wow us? Might Super Mario Maker reach the top spot? What about indie gems like Her Story and Tales From The Borderlands? Join us for two hours of ranking and discussion. 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.
When you think about Atari hardware, you probably think of the iconic Atari 2600 joystick with its little red button. You likely do not think of the Atari Mindlink which was the company's unreleased attempt at directly controlling video games with the awesome power of your brain. How could such a thing be possible in 1984? Gizmodo explains as part of a feature on unreleased gadgets.
Have you ever tried to control a video game... with your mind? That was the idea behind Atari’s Mindlink controller, which was on display at CES in 1984. Atari claimed that the device could pick up electrical impulses from your head. Supposedly all you needed to do was tighten and relax the muscles in your forehead to influence the action on the screen.
Needless to say, mind control controllers weren’t quite ready for primetime in the early 1980s. And despite claims that the Mindlink would be in stores by Fall of 1985, the product was scrapped.
The Mindlink was intended to work with the Atari 2600, 7800, and the company's home computer line, so I have to praise them for planning a peripheral with a wide-reaching audience. Consider today's add-ons that work with one console alone such as Sony's upcoming PlayStation VR headset exclusively for the PlayStation 4 or Microsoft's various models of Kinect for its Xbox line which are not interchangeable across console models. At least Nintendo has spanned generations with its GameCube controllers (for GameCube and Wii) and Wii remote (Wii and Wii U).
As for Mindlink's functionality, it was rather limited. Pong and Breakout were used for demos, although few people were able to get their hands heads on the prototypes. The initial test units could only control up-down and left-right controls (for which Pong and Breakout are perfect), but lab tests on other games were promising. Maybe we should be glad that this idea faded away and didn't evolve with gaming hardware over the years. If basic controls were a challenge, imagine how involved today's version of Minklink technology would be with all of the buttons and control sticks present on a modern controller. I get a headache just thinking about it.
For a deep dive on the Mindlink, check out the history of the peripheral at The Atari Museum. They have a fascinating look at how the technology developed, how it overpromised and underdelivered, how it nearly found a second life with the Special Olympics, and why it ended up in the dustbin of history.