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March 2016

Nintendo Hoax Pokes Folks

Senator VreenakBe it for attention or kicks, some people love to create fake imagery of supposed video gaming products and "leak" them online as if they were real upcoming items destined for imminent legitimate announcement.  The most recent of these hoaxes involves an alleged buttonless controller for Nintendo's secret NX console.  It's far from the first fake product that someone has cooked up in their spare time.  Peter Paltridge at Platypus Comix takes a look back at three notable Nintendo-related hoaxes including that NX controller and, in the process, sums up the changing nature of these fakes.

You might notice that this hoax had a different tone than the one from eleven years prior -- instead of faking something the audience wanted, they faked something the audience didn't. Reaction from those who believed the controllers were real was overwhelmingly negative. They wanted buttons; they wanted to feel the correct finger placement. No doubt, the fakers preferred that as well. So if they were making up something, why not something they wanted?

The reason is because they were playing to the current expectation. Instead of being hopeful for Nintendo's future, fans are now afraid of what they'll come up with next. They fear that, in a renewed effort to get back the phone-game audience, Nintendo will embrace the gamer-unfriendly business practices of that market, and fall into ruin as a result. The football controller is a representation of that fear. Where people once were seduced by visions of magic head-shaped VR devices that displayed 512,000,000 castles at once, now they're just hoping Mario doesn't crap the bed.

I'm not a fan of hoaxes.  The gaming community is so hungry for information and news outlets are so desperate for traffic that fake images are held up right away to spawn discussion as if the item or game depicted is solid undisputed truth.  These hoaxes waste everyone's time and energy, producing passionate arguments over what ends up being nonsense.  Stop encouraging these things.  Save that enthusiasm to discuss the real news once it's announced.  If the Internet should have taught us anything by now, it's to be skeptical (especially in advance of the upcoming April Fool's Day annual festival of nonsense).

Super Mario Maker Bragging Time

Super Mario MakerLast year the team over at USgamer held a Super Mario Maker level design contest.  Many entered, but only a few won, and I'm happy to boast that I was one of those winners for my level Doors To Doom (ID code 3C6B-0000-007D-9D6E).  Named for the title of an old Nintendo Adventure Book from my youth, the level allows players to choose their challenge with obstacle indicators labeling each door (the door with a Spiny above it, for instance, leads to a room full of Spinys).  There's even a secret path that requires some backtracking to reach.  I'm pleased that people have enjoyed Doors To Doom and happy to share pictures of my prize that arrived this week: a Mega Man Yellow Devil keychain and a Wario sketch from USgamer's Jeremy Parish.  Thanks for everything, USgamer team.  I hope you all had as much fun with this contest as I did. I have plenty of other Super Mario Maker levels, so be sure to give them a try.

Power Button - Episode 200: PS3 Revisited

Power ButtonWith Sony PlayStation 4 providing a fresh start for many video game players who chose the Microsoft Xbox 360 last generation, it's only right that X360 owners who missed out on all the fun that the PlayStation 3 had to offer be able to catch up on the hits with their new console.  The PS4 hosts many great PS3 games either through upgraded editions or PlayStation Now offerings, and on this week's episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman and I list and discuss some of the top PS3 games that meet this criteria.  Yes, heavy hitters like Uncharted and God of War are included, but so are some lesser known and semi-forgotten favorites.  Join us for an hour of recommendations.  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.

Sony Supposedly Developing An Upgraded "PS4.5"

InterocitorJust as the mobile market has seemingly conditioned us to buy slightly upgraded phones and tablets every two years or so, it would seem that the video game console market is going the same way.  Kotaku has a compelling report about a supposed "PS4.5" upgraded version of the PlayStation 4 in the works over at Sony.  The new half-step console would bring some added horsepower to the popular console required for 4K gaming and more detailed virtual reality experiences.  Patrick Klepek reports:

Based on conversations with developers who have spoken with Sony, this ‘PS4.5’ will include an upgraded GPU both to support high-end 4K resolution for games and add more processing power that can enhance the games supported by PlayStation VR, the headset Sony will launch this fall. It’s unclear if ‘PS4.5’ is an official name or just a nickname that developers have been using. One developer jokingly called it the ‘PS4K’ while telling me about the device.

First let's get the negativity out of the way.  While I'd love to get involved with all of this new technology, I don't have plans to buy a 4K television or a PlayStation VR any time soon.  This stuff is expensive!  I don't like the idea of the next big PS4 game I want to play requiring a PS4.5 just because some people will be able to use VR and 4K screens with it.  Like Philip Fry said in the classic "I, Roommate" episode of Futurama when confronted with the idea of renting an apartment based on the famed M.C. Escher print "Relativity", "I'm not sure we wanna pay for a dimension we're not gonna use."   I'm also against my PS4 heading for semi-retirement so soon.  I'm still dragging my feet on replacing my Nintendo 3DS with a New Nintendo 3DS and I've had my original 3DS for five years now.

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Aiming For A Perfect KO In Street Fighter V

Street Fighter VDespite it being light on content compared to past Street Fighter releases, I've enjoyed learning the basics and new gimmicks in Capcom's recently released Street Fighter V.  Lacking the usual Arcade Mode, I've spent most of my time playing the game's Survival Mode in which the player's lifebar does not automatically replenish between rounds.  That's why when I'm able to perform a perfect knock-out of a CPU-controlled opponent, I capture it for later bragging purposes.  So, let's brag.  Here I am knocking out R. Mika and Laura without taking any damage and finishing both fights with a Critical Art maneuver.  Sure, it's only Survival Mode and I'm just getting started taking on online opponents, but achievements like these make me pretty pleased with myself. I'm not cut out for a proper tournament, but I do alright against friends.

PlayStation VR Launch Window, Price Announced

PlayStation VRThe video game industry is cranking up for another shot at bringing virtual reality to the masses, and today Sony announced when players can expect to find their PlayStation VR on store shelves.  Coming to North America this October for a price of $399 ($549 in Canada), Sony expects that this new product will transform the PlayStation 4 gaming experience.  But don't listen to me quote their marketing buzz; I can just share the relevant text from the PlayStation Blog:

PlayStation VR represents a transformative experience in gaming, and we wanted to take the time needed to launch with a broad variety of content and a sufficient supply of hardware. We are beyond excited to deliver to consumers the amazing experience that PS VR offers.

Today more than 230 developers are building content for PlayStation VR, from smaller independent teams to larger studios at the industry’s top publishers. We expect to have more than 50 games available from launch in October 2016 until the end of the year. Of course, the full promise of PlayStation VR will continue to grow over time as talented developers create new experiences and new genres that wouldn’t be possible outside of VR. The future looks bright indeed.

What Sony isn't telling you in this announcement is that the PlayStation VR requires the PlayStation 4 Camera to function.  The camera add-on, available since the PS4's launch for $60, hasn't found much use in the PlayStation ecosystem, so maybe now Sony can finally sell a few.  I'm sure the PSVR will do well at launch with early adopters, but I haven't seen any compelling games that require the device and I'm still working my way through a small stack of games for the hardware I already own, so I don't see myself jumping into the virtual reality experience just yet.  I'm interested, but not launch-interested, if you know what I mean.

Power Button - Episode 199: Benched

Power ButtonVideo games have ceased to be singular items and have become mass franchise universe worlds, and with great worlds can come great exhaustion.  On this week's Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I take a trip down Repetitive Lane and single out a few franchises that we believe are due for a break.  Some are annualized titles such as Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed, while others just annoy us personally on one level or another.  Is your favorite due to be benched?  Listen and find out!  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.