Previous month:
May 2016
Next month:
July 2016

June 2016

Come Get Your Super Mario T-Shirts, Cookies, And Phones In This 1990 Nintendo Retailer Catalog

NES boxes

1990 was a hot time for Nintendo and its retail partners.  This was the era when the Nintendo Entertainment System was king, when a third-party licensee could slap Mario on just about any consumer product to earn a healthy profit, and when games like Boomer's Adventure In Asmik World and Wall Street Kid were positioned as the next big thing.  I remember those crazy days, but if you're too young to have been around for them, then you can vicariously experience the thrill of laminated wood displays and cartridge storage kits with the Official 1990 World of Nintendo Buyers Guide provided by Video Game Ephemera.

The Official 1990 World of Nintendo Buyers Guide was a custom-publishing project aimed at Nintendo’s retail partners, which included more than 6,000 locations with special “World of Nintendo” areas reserved for Nintendo-related products. The article on page 6 describes this type of installation as a “store within a store,” a neighborhood mecca for Mario maniacs.

In the pages between the product listings, you’ll find short articles about certain Nintendo licensees as well as paid ads from some of them. The articles are actually labeled as “advertisements,” so they were obviously paid for as well. Many of the ads speak to consumers, but several of them are written for the people who sold the games. It’s fascinating to see the soft-sell tactics employed by game publishers as they tried to convince retailers to carry their products in the early ’90s. Most of them promise “aggressive” advertising campaigns and dealer support while extending friendly invitations to visit their booths at the Consumer Electronics Show.

This guide and others like it are a peek behind the curtain at the layer of middlemen between Nintendo's licensees and your local retailer down the street.  I remember seeing plenty of these Oakcasestore displays in the Kmarts of my youth when I longed to scarf down the licensed cookies and collect the cards and wear the t-shirts bearing Mario's smiling face.  Nintendo was hot, Nintendo was king, nothing could ever possibly knock Nintendo off its pedestal.  Nope, not at all.  The days of officially licensed cartridge storage cases made of oak will last forever!  Actually, those oak cases do look pretty sweet.  I bet they'd look right at home next to my classic oak VCR cassette storage case.  Not all family heirlooms are impressive or valuable.

Power Button - Episode 209: Seeking Our Fortune With Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (Part 1)

Power_buttonWe are men of fortune here at the Power Button podcast, so on this week's episode we seek our fortune with Naughty Dog's recently released Uncharted 4: A Thief's End for the Sony PlayStation 4.  Join Blake Grundman and I for eighty minutes of adventure through the first sixteen chapters of the game (this is your spoiler warning!).  We cover set pieces, character moments, flashbacks, clever details, and favorite moments.  Rock your half-tuck and tune in.   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, @ThePowerButtonNext Week: The discussion continues with the second part of the conversation as we take your through the end of the game and beyond.

Sony To Pay Out Over PS3 OtherOS Debacle

Sony PlayStation 3Once upon a time, the Sony PlayStation 3 included an option to install an alternative operating system.  Many curious and creative people used the OtherOS option to install Linux on the console, but all good things must come to an end and as hackers started to crack open the PS3's secrets using the OtherOS option as an attack vector, Sony did the logical thing and removed the feature via a firmware update in 2010.  You'd think that would be the end of that, but the action sparked a lawsuit, lawyers became involved, it all went before a judge, and now six years later the company will have to pay out.  ArsTechnica explains who can claim money as part of the settlement.

To get the $55, a gamer "must attest under oath to their purchase of the product and installation of Linux, provide proof of their purchase or serial number and PlayStation Network Sign-in ID, and submit some proof of their use of the Other OS functionality." To get the $9, PS3 owners must submit a claim that, at the time they bought their console, they "knew about the Other OS, relied upon the Other OS functionality, and intended to use the Other OS functionality."

Alternatively, according to the deal, to get $9, a gamer "may attest that he or she lost value and/or desired functionality or was otherwise injured as a consequence of Firmware Update 3.21 issued on April 1, 2010."

At least it's not another tossed-off download voucher for Rain from the PlayStation Store as we've seen so many times in other PlayStation-related settlement agreements.  Please be honest if you file a claim.  If the closest you ever came to installing OtherOS was thinking "Hmm, maybe I'll try that someday" then forget about the $55 pay day.

Explore The Wonderful World Of Amiibo

KirbyFor as popular and successful as Nintendo's amiibo figurines have been in both the fan and collector markets, it seems that few people who own the toys know the extent to which they can link them to all kinds of video games for the Wii U and 3DS.  Yes, the Super Smash Bros. link is well known, but did you know that the amiibo can unlock extra functions in games such as Chibi Robo: Zip Lash, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and Kirby and the Rainbow CurseNintendo's messaging needs work, but fortunately the Internet is here to help.  A Twitter user going by the name MoldyClay has put together a massive compatibility chart to spell out which amiibo which work which games and what functions are unlocked when linked together.  From Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. to Mario Kart 8, this chart has it all in one easy-to-read place.  As of this writing, it's up to version 9.0.

As an amiibo owner (I own a dozen of the figurines ranging from commoners like Smash Mario to the hard-to-find Ness), I appreciate this chart to keep track of what I can do with the games I own.  I enjoy amiibo functionality.  That said, what I do not enjoy is that amiibo for characters can split into multiple product lines and one version of a character may not unlock the bonus that another version does.  For example, I own the Smash Bros. Kirby amiibo.  I can use this Kirby in Kirby: Planet Robobot for the 3DS to unlock a hard-to-find Smash power-up for Kirby.  However, only the recently released Kirby amiibo from the new Kirby line of figurines unlocks the exclusive UFO power-up.  I know Nintendo wants to sell me as many amiibo has humanly possible, but buying two Kirbys just doesn't sit right with me.  Kirby should be Kirby regardless of his shape (especially as older amiibo go out of production; it's been a while since I've seen a Smash series Kirby on a store shelf).

Power Button - Episode 208: E3 2016 Wrap-Up

Power_buttonAs another Electronic Entertainment Expo fades away into the sunset, it's time for our annual recap of memorable E3 moments.  Blake Grundman and I are joined by our old E3 pal Ross Polly to discuss Microsoft's Project Scorpio, Levar Burton's excitement for Star Trek: Bridge Crew, Crash Bandicoot's return as a Skylander, Norman Reedus and his Norman fetus in Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding, the Stargate connection in the new God of War, Nintendo's unveiling of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and oh so very much more.  We have an absolutely supersized episode for you this week clocking in at over two hours long.  Grab a drink, settle in, and enjoy.   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.

New PS4 Spider-Man Game Coming From Ratchet And Clank Folks


For far too long we've watched helplessly as our favorite mainstream superheroes such as Iron Man and the X-Men have been farmed out to publishers eager to crank out a quick cash-in game with little regard for the source material.  Since the rise of mobile app games, the licensed superhero shovelware market has dried up immensely on consoles which means that anyone who partners with an expensive, big name superhero franchise wants to actually do right by it.  Warner Bros and Rocksteady showed us how it's done with the Batman: Arkham games and now famed Ratchet & Clank developer Insomniac Games is taking Spider-Man for a spin on the Sony PlayStation 4.  I want quotes!  Quotes from the developers about Spider-Man!

From our first meeting, Marvel, Spider-Man and Insomniac have felt like a match made in heaven. So much so that for the first time in Insomniac’s 22-year history, we’re working on an IP that didn’t originate in-house. We love building big games, with incredible gameplay, deep stories, and beautiful graphics. Spider-Man is one of the most iconic and well-known characters in the world, and we’re thrilled to be given the responsibility to create a brand-new, authentic Spider-Man story. Nope, this isn’t the same Spider-Man you’ve met before, nor is our game based on the upcoming movie. This is a more seasoned Peter Parker who’s more masterful at fighting big crime in New York City. At the same time, he’s struggling to balance his absurdly chaotic personal life and career. All while nine million New Yorkers depend on him for their safety… no pressure indeed.

Activision has published a number of Spider-Man games for consoles dating back to the days of the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films, sadly resulting in diminishing returns over time.  I'm hoping that Insomniac can bring their skills at what they do best for action platformers to Spider-Man and bring us something truly special.  I'm not especially demanding on this one.  Perhaps all those years of subpar Spidey games have lowered my expectations, but the character deserves a gaming comeback and I want this to be it.

OK, I have one demand: J.K. Simmons reprising his role from the films as J. Jonah Jameson. 

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Changes All The Rules

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Nintendo's campaign of extreme secrecy has whipped up fan fervor again as by the time the curtain went up on today's E3 announcement for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, everyone was ready to finally see what the creative team had cooked up this time.  Showcasing a ruined Hyrule where technology had made progress against magic, a slumbering Link awakened in a mysterious chamber and was sent out into the untamed wilds of the E3 demo.  Check out this trailer to see what everyone is talking about:

I'm intrigued by the new additions to the Zelda formula.  Link's weapons and clothing have RPG-style statistics attached to them, he can only regain health by finding and eating food, basically everything in the environment is interactive in some way (burnable grass, choppable trees, etc.).  The traditional eight or so dungeons have been scaled down to a mere four with dozens of smaller puzzle shrines filling the gap.  They added a dedicated jump button!  There's so much potential here for something new and engaging.  Maybe I'm just not in the E3 zone this year because while I like what I see here and am looking forward to playing the game when it releases next year for Wii U and NX, I can't say that it rocked my world or that "2017 seems so far away!" or any of the other usual E3 game preview boilerplate we writers use to pad out word lengths when running on a deadline with little sleep.   I'm not interested in getting caught up in the online debates about whether or not Link should be female this time or if the E3 demo region is too empty or if the changes to the formula will Ruin Everything Forever.  I don't want to analyze every single frame of the trailer and gameplay videos.  All I can say is that I like what I see, Hyrule looks like a fun place in which to get lost, and I will happily show up to play the game whenever it's finished.

Star Trek: Bridge Crew Blasts Into VR

Star Trek: Bridge Crew

Virtual reality headsets are front and center at E3 2016 and while the technology still has much to prove, developers and publishers are very excited to show what they've created.  Ubisoft has snagged the Star Trek license and has built a VR starship bridge simulation adventure for four players, each of which takes on a traditional bridge station aboard a Federation starship.  Star Trek: Bridge Crew looks to be quite the sci-fi adventure, and by "sci-fi" I mean that it's wonderful fiction that Ubisoft expects four people each with their own expensive VR headset to be in the same room at the same time on a large enough scale to make this game profitable.  As a Star Trek fan though, I must admit that if there was ever a game to entice me into VR, this is it.  Don't just take my word for it though.  Let's hear from TV's Levar Burton along with Jeri Ryan and Karl Urban (all Trek alumni) as they play the game in this debut trailer.

How much would I have to pay to be able to play the game with Geordi LaForge himself running Engineering?  Burton still has those old Trek chops, calling out to other players about the warp core, or the phase inducers, or some other damn thing.  Forget playing with friends; I hope there's a single-player mode where the player takes the captain's role and other beloved Trek characters are controlled by the game.  That may be asking too much, but since Ubisoft is asking a lot of the audience in VR startup costs, I'm comfortable making demands of my own.  Star Trek: Bridge Crew is due out later this year for PC and the Sony PlayStation 4 on the compatible VR headset of your choice.

Power Button - Episode 207: Donkey Kong For Juniors

Power_buttonSince the dawn of the medium, children have gravitated towards video games.  What began with kids grasping that first arcade joystick or Nintendo Entertainment System controller decades ago has led to today's children becoming enraptured with apps and motion controls.  How should a responsible parent encourage a child's burgeoning gaming interests?  On this week's podcast, parent of two Blake Grundman reflects on how he's introducing his kids to video games and outlines his plans to spread the hobby to the next generation.  From Yo Noid! to Just Dance, we have you covered.   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.

Injustice 2 Announced For 2017

Injustice 2I am such a big fan of 2013's Injustice: Gods Among Us from the Mortal Kombat folks at NetherRealm Studios that I own the game four times over: the original Sony PlayStation 3 release (plus season pass) and the Ultimate Edition for the PlayStation 4 (bought on a disc as a launch bundle freebie and then later as a PS+ digital freebie) and PS Vita (bought during a PlayStation Store super sale).  Knowing that, you can imagine how excited I am that publisher Warner Bros. has announced a sequel due in 2017 for the PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One.  Batman and Superman are back for Injustice 2, but there are some new additions that sound like they will change the flow of the game.  The PlayStation Blog has the details.

The Gear System uses RPG-like mechanics to reward you with loot drops every time you play the game. With each loot drop, you will earn character-specific gear to outfit and power up your roster – changing not only the look of each character, but your fight strategy and your personal approach to every match. As you gear up your characters, you’re building a roster of DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains that reflects your choices, and your preferences, which can be vastly different than your opponents. A few play sessions in, you can expect your Aquaman to look and play different than anyone else’s Aquaman you may come across.

I need to see how this upgradable character mechanic works before I judge it either way.  I do enjoy leveling up characters in game that are not really RPGs.  I feel like I'm making progress in games like Assassin's Creed when I see strength and speed meters increase as I clear objectives.  Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS allow players to customize players with add-on gear and it works pretty well. On the other hand, Capcom's Street Fighter X Tekken used a power-up gimmick with its upgradable gems that was baffling to comprehend and confusing to implement.  I trust NetherRealm, although I also fear the power-ups will fall into microtransaction hell right away.

Continue reading "Injustice 2 Announced For 2017" »