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May 2017

Follow The Aeros

Aero the Acro-batI'm long on the record of being a fan of the Aero the Acro-Bat series from the Super NES era (so much so that, as you'll recall, I tracked down the original design documents for the first game in the franchise), but I never managed to pick up a copy of the Game Boy Advance version of Aero's debut adventure.  While wandering around the dealer area at Megacon last weekend, I browsed the display case at one of the game vendors and found the game pak in great condition for a mere $6.95, so naturally I had to have it.  It's a mixed bag of ports; the music took a hit from the original Super NES version (as did most 16-bit ports to the GBA thanks to the handheld's comparatively lesser quality sound capabilities), but there are a few new additions to the game that help to clearly define the storyline and the goal of each level.  It joins my collection and hopefully I can give it the level of play that it deserves.  According to the save data already on the cartridge, the previous owner never even completed the third level!  Yes, I can definitely do better than that.

I, Wario: A Megacon MemWAAAHoir

Megacon Wario and Syrup costumes

I went to my first Megacon last weekend.  My girlfriend and one of her friends went in together on a vendor table to sell their jewelry, masks, and hair decorations, so I was there to help out behind the scenes.  Apparently you can't go to Megacon without wearing an appropriate outfit, so we chose a couples costume worthy of our gaming backgrounds.  On Saturday we became Wario and Captain Syrup from Nintendo's famed Wario Land series, and in my travels around the convention I experienced what it was like to be recognized (and not recognized) as one of gaming's most famous anti-heroes.

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Power Button - Episode 238: Gothams And Guardians: The Telltale Discussion

Power ButtonTelltale Games is having a prolific period lately with last year's Batman: The Telltale Series and this year's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series.  On this week's podcast episode, Blake Grundman and I are picking up where we left off from Episode 212 in which we covered the first Batman episode by finishing off our discussion of the series.  We also talk a bit about Telltale in general including their history and their aging game engine.  That leads us into talking about the first episode of the new Guardians series.  As you can imagine, there's a spoiler warning for all of this, so consider yourself warned!  Join us for ninety minutes of conversation.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.

Once More Unto The Mega Man Breach

Mega ManMega Man music remixes are not hard to find (even if it seems like more than half of them are someone twanging away at Air Man's theme or metal raging at Dr. Wily's Mega Man 2 fortress theme), but I like to point out when I come across something special.  Today's selection comes to us from the original Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System and is a soulful, almost forlorn take on the first theme of Dr. Wily's stages"Breach" by Brandon Strader is available as part of the tribute album For Everlasting Peace: 25 Years of Mega Man from OverClocked ReMix, and it's rare to hear a Mega Man remix with such spirit and energy behind it while still enhancing the original source material.  There's genuine talent here that evokes the uphill battle of Mega Man's original campaign against Dr. Wily and the Robot Masters.  Fight on, blue bomber!  For everlasting... oh, you know the rest.

(image via The Mega Man Network)

Microsoft Launches Xbox Game Pass

Microsoft Xbox One SThe idea of a "Netflix for video games" isn't new by any means.  Sony offers PlayStation Now which uses the old OnLive/Gaikai streaming option to deliver gaming experiences, while services like GameFly have been sending out rental discs by mail for years, but now Microsoft is set to deliver the best of both worlds with its Xbox Game Pass.  For $9.99 a month, subscribers can download a selection of Xbox 360 and Xbox One games to their Xbox One and play them.  No waiting for discs in the mail and no dealing with latency and buffering issues that come with a streaming service.  Matt Kim at USgamer sums it up.

This includes both Xbox One games and backward compatible Xbox 360 titles. Some of the launch titles include Halo 5, PayDay 2, and NBA 2K16. You can see a full list of available launch games on Microsoft’s website.

This is an amazing deal if you like to jump from game to game, don't always need to play the latest and greatest releases, and aren't interested in permanent ownership.  I wish Sony would offer something like this for the PlayStation 4, and of course Nintendo fans have been clamoring for something similar for the Virtual Console service since the dawn of the Wii a decade ago.  While streaming games are the future, the infrastructure is not there yet on the consumer end to make it worthwhile and ISPs imposing data caps & penalty charges for consuming too much data pretty much kill the prospect of using such a service, while mailing discs is out of the past as nobody wants to wait around for a game to arrive in our instant gratification culture.  Microsoft's solution to offer on-demand full downloads fits neatly into the present.  Good work, Microsoft.  Thanks for doing the right thing here.

Is It Too Soon For The PlayStation 5?

InterocitorI know people who have just recently joined the Sony PlayStation 4 generation of gaming, but Eurogamer is postulating that it's almost time for Sony to unleash the PlayStation 5.  Is it time for the next-next generation of gaming?  Here's Richard Leadbetter on the possibilities as spread out by a Wall Street Journal article.  Basically, it's analysts all the way down.

We can add some additional flavour to the speculation as we spoke to PlayStation system architect Mark Cerny last year, where he was very specific about how PS4 Pro was not a next-gen console, sharing with us the criteria he has for what constitutes a new console generation. Games hardware is years in the making - work on PS4 began in 2008 - so we can safely assume that his words do have some bearing on what to expect from the next PlayStation, which is almost certainly in the works now, even if a 2018 launch does seem unlikely.

"Each new generation brings with it a new set of capabilities: CPUs, GPUs and the like but also controllers and new types of display devices. If you go back to the 1970s, it was colour TV. That was the new display device," Cerny told us. "These capabilities unlock new potential for the type of games that can be created. For example, increased CPU power might not seem like a game-changer but it actually allows for much better enemy AI, more enemy characters, better world simulation and a whole host of other evolutions in the game experience."

So, is it too soon for a PlayStation 5?  I say a resounding DEAR GOD YES.  PS4 games are just hitting their stride.  The console is still selling well.  Sony just launched a mid-generation upgrade last year.  Some of the most anticipated PS4 games such as the recently-delayed Red Dead Redemption 2 and the new God of War aren't even released yet.  Why this rush to move on to a new generation already?  I certainly believe that Sony is working on a PlayStation 5, but these new consoles take years and years of research and development before they are ready to become a product.  Just because Microsoft is prepping its Xbox Scorpio does not mean that Sony needs to rush another new console to market just to leapfrog the competition.  The PS4 is a solid console.  It's best days are just beginning.  Let's all just enjoy it for a few more years before we latch on to the next big thing, shall we?

Bring Metal Man To Your Desktop

Metal Man Room by Orioto

I am in ongoing awe over Mikaël "Orioto" Aguirre and his video game art.  Suitable for framing, it has been a mainstay of my desktop for years.  One of his latest creations showcases Mega Man and Metal Man locked in combat from Capcom's beloved Mega Man 2.  The detailed background sparks the imagination and brings some color to your display, so it's just the thing you need to start the week.

Nintendo Says "See It. Touch It. Play It."

Nintendo DS shirtIn the old days of E3 in the mid-2000s, video game publishers were more generous with their promotional handouts than they have been in recent years.  It wasn't uncommon to find people lugging sacks of collected goodies around with them as they trudged between North and West Halls at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  2004 was my first year in the video game reviewing biz, and at the time I was working for GameCube Advanced, a little outlet that would later go in to become Kombo.  Being new to the GCA group in 2004, I worked the so-called homebound team covering E3 that year, writing up previews and opinion pieces based on the material that our on-site team in Los Angeles would send back after a long day on the show floor (remember, this was before the convenience of iPhones and ubiquitous Wi-Fi).  It was a long week of late hours, so as a thank you gesture, the on-site team sent all of us at home a box of E3 hand-outs.  The best and most interesting thing I received in that box was this Nintendo DS t-shirt that was handed out as part of the handheld's premiere.  What's especially interesting about it is that the DS design on the shirt is not the final design that would ship to stores later that year, but is the iteration of the handheld that Nintendo was showing at E3.  Take a trip back on memory lane to IGN's archives if you'd like to see more of the original DS design.  I'm just here to show you the shirt.

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Telltale's Guardians Of The Galaxy Brings The Humor

Guardians Of The Galaxy: The Telltale SeriesI'm a big fan of the creative works of Telltale Games.  I was a fan as back as Sam & Max and Back To The Future, but what really made me take notice was when Tales From The Borderlands became the backdrop to the early weeks of my girlfriend and I starting to date each other.  Whenever Telltale takes on a favorite franchise, I'll be there, so when the company sent over a download code for Guardians of the Galaxy, I eagerly joined up with the Milano crew.  I'll have a lot to say about Episode 1: "Tangled Up In Blue" on an upcoming episode of the Power Button podcast, but for today I want to share three moments from the first episode that, without spoiling any plot points, encapsulates while I enjoy both Telltale products and the Guardians characters.

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Two Months In, I've Barely Put My Nintendo Switch On The Dock

BowserOne of the great things about the Nintendo Switch is the many ways it's possible to play it: on the television in its dock, as a Game Boy Advance-style handheld, propped up on its kickstand, etc.  Over at Kotaku, Patricia Hernandez is talking about how she's barely taken her Switch out of its dock and has been playing it exclusively as a traditional home console, and this kind of article pretty much invites the community to respond with all of the neat ways its played with the Switch.  Here's Patricia:

The big concept behind the Nintendo Switch is that it can be enjoyed both on the TV, and in handheld mode. Instead, the Switch largely operates like any other console system in my household, and I like it that way.

Oh, I’ve tried to take the Switch with me. I’ve braved the dangers of on-the-road scratches, I’ve propped the console up on its tiny stand, Joy-Con in each hand. The idea of taking Zelda anywhere with me is nice, but I don’t like the actual experience of playing the Switch on-the-go.

The general consensus is that players are either playing the Switch docked to the television or carrying it around as a traditional handheld out into the world, but there's a variation missing from her assumptions, and it's the one that I've favored in my two months with the Switch.  To my surprise, I've played a decent 80% of my Switch time as a handheld in my house.  I started out playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild purely on my television in full HD glory with a vow that I would only handle fetch quest busy work errands in handheld mode.  I wanted to experience the major moments of the game on the big screen.  The little stuff like gathering monster parts and scouting shrines could happen while I was laying in bed in the evenings, typically with a classic episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 playing in the background.

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