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June 2017

Do You Need The Xbox One X?

Microsoft Xbox One XMicrosoft formally announced the finalized version of its Project Scorpio experiments at E3 2017 this week, the result of which is the Doomsday Device Xbox One X console.  Designed as a 4K-capable beast of a machine, Microsoft is boasting that it's the most powerful home console ever.  It has gigaflops and liquid cooling!  Certainly sounds advanced to me.  So do you need one?  Should Xbox One owners upgrade?  Or is the X1X a PlayStation 4 Pro-like optional step up?  Stephen Totilo at Kotaku explains your options.

“We’re all about 4K, as you know,” Microsoft’s Moore said near the kickoff of my demo. He pointed out that Xbox One S supports 4K streaming and Blu-Ray, but the X is the machine for doing 4K gaming. He pulled up a still shot of the eight million pixels that can fit in a 4K image, compared to the two million pixels you can see on an HD TV running a game in 1080p. Yep, it was definitely four times as many pixels. Xbox One X will do “supersampling” for people who connect the machine to a non-4K TV, which they say will crunch those eight million pixels into something that’ll still look better than 1080p.

Basically, my takeaway on all this is that if you're the kind of player who demands top visual fidelity from your gaming experience and you have the expensive hardware (4K television, Atmos surround sound, etc.) and expendable income to back it up, upgrading to the X1X is probably a no-brainer.  Those who are unable or unwilling to throw down $499 just for extra pretty pixels and are happy with their existing television (which, by now, is most likely a 1080p or 720p set), then there's nothing essentially missing from the Xbox One ecosystem.  There are no truly exclusive X1X games that will buzz in anger if you try to run them on a regular Xbox One.  Like PS4 owners who haven't jumped up to the PS4 Pro, you're fine.

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Classic Xbox Games Coming To Xbox One

XboxAching for something to play on your Microsoft Xbox One and feel like reaching into the past?  Grab your old original Xbox games and prepare to party like its 2001 all over again because Microsoft has announced that its extended the Xbox One's backward compatibility past the Xbox 360 into the realm of the original Xbox console.  Jeremy Parrish at Retronauts points out how big a deal this is from the game preservation perspective.

Xbox 360 backwards compatibility has often been a selling point for the machine in the past, often with the arrival of something legendary that’s not easily played elsewhere such as Red Dead Redemption, and Microsoft’s learned friendliness towards backwards compatibility is in direct contrast to Sony — who have not really cared about it much since taking PS2 compatibility out of the PS3, and are instead content to offer a limited range of older games through their PlayStation Now streaming service…still, highlighting the OG Xbox for backwards compatibility now is a surprise, considering there’s games on there that are now old enough to take their GCSE exams.

Peripheral manufacturer Hyperkin is even getting in on this action by offering a resurrected original model Xbox controller for the Xbox One.  Backward compatibility is, despite what executives at Sony would insist, an important part of a console's backbone.  Yes, we're all spending more and more money on the latest and greatest new releases, but sometimes you want to revisit an old favorite without having to dig out dusty cables and searching for lost memory cards.  Microsoft is playing catch-up this generation, and offering easy, affordable access to those original Xbox games is something that its chief competitor just isn't interested in doing.  Keep pushing this angle, Microsoft.  A rising tide lifts all boats.  Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge is the first classic Xbox game to be playable on the X1 later this year with more to follow. 

Banjo-Kazooie In The Mushroom Kingdom

Banjo-KazooieIf you consider how Nintendo characters tend to hop around each others' worlds, it makes sense how Rare's Banjo-Kazooie exists in the same world as Nintendo's Super Mario Bros.  Banjo appeared in the Nintendo 64 version of Diddy Kong Racing (back when the two companies were best of business buddies) who, of course, co-starred with Donkey Kong Country's Diddy Kong.  Kong co-starred with Donkey Kong in DKC, and he bumps into Mario all of the time in the Mario vs Donkey Kong series which, and you know where I'm going with this, stars Mario himself.  This transitive property gets us to a place where Banjo and Kazooie may have visited Princess Peach's castle at some point in time, and thanks to ROM hacking, we get to see that encounter.  Luke Ford is working to transplant Super Mario 64's levels into Banjo-Kazooie.  The hack doesn't seem to be publicly available and this video is from 2016, but it delighted me so much that I had to share it.  It's strange to see the bear and bird duo wandering around Whomp's Fortress and the castle gardens, but they're an interesting fit and I would be interested in playing through the entire game with them just for the novelty factor. 

8-Bit Darkwing Duck On Patrol

Darkwing Duck

He is the terror that flaps in the night!  He is the Perler bead sculpture that I bought at Megacon a few weeks ago!  He is Darkwing Duck as seen in Capcom's Nintendo Entertainment System game of the same name which was recently re-released as part of The Disney Afternoon Collection for modern consoles and PC.  I came across the Perly Pixels Perler bead art shop while I was roaming the dealer tables and this Darkwing sculpture caught my eye immediately.  In fact, artist Luis had the whole Capcom Disney set there including characters from Rescue Rangers and Talespin, but I knew I had to have Darkwing.  He's remarkably well crafted from his 8-bit sprite and the first aid box base is modeled after the health pick-ups in the game.  It's very well done and I'm happy to share it with you all here.

Bubsy Returns In The Woolies Strike Back

Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back!

In the 1990s when video game publishers everywhere were searching for their own radical mascot to star in a 16-bit platformer adventure, many characters answered the call to compete with Sonic the Hedgehog.  There was Awesome Possum, Radical Rex, Plok, my beloved Aero the Acro-bat, and poster child of them all: Bubsy the BobcatDebuting in 1993's Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind, he would later go on to sequels in Bubsy 2, Bubsy: Fractured Furry Tales for the Atari Jaguar, and Bubsy 3D for the Sony PlayStation which was so poorly received that it killed the franchise dead and, not long after, saw publisher and rights holder Accolade go down too.  In the years since, Bubsy has become something of a gaming punchline, a shorthand for "lazy bad radical game", and a meme star.  There's also that aborted cartoon pilot kicking around online that he'll never live down.  He deserves much better, so I'm glad to see that Bubsy is returning in a new game for the Sony PlayStation 4 and PC.  Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back! is due out later this year.

Bubsy: the Woolies Strike Back! is an all new Bubsy adventure featuring Bubsy in a bevy of exotic locations as he travels the planet looking for the beloved Golden Fleece. Bubsy must use all of his classic moves and a few new ones to dodge and out bobcat a battalion of Woolies, not mention the gnarliest UFO bosses to ever grace a Bubsy adventure. The wisecracking lynx also adds over a 100 new one liners to his lexicon to keep fans guessing what he’ll say next.

You'll find many other gaming websites covering this news with cynical ho-hum trying hard to not care attitudes such as "why is this happening?", "nobody asked for this", and so on, but just the idea of Bubsy coming back has me excited.  It's popular to hate the character and his games, but the original two 16-bit titles are enjoyable and offer some fun challenges once you get past the learning curve and beef up your patience stamina.  This new Bubsy title comes to us from a reborn Accolade, although it's just a revived name owned by Chinese firm Billion Soft out of Hong Komg and is developed by Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams studio Black Forest Games.

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Nintendo Switch Online Comes Into Focus

Nintendo Switch OnlineLate last week Nintendo announced a little more about its paid online service for the Switch console which will be conveniently called Nintendo Switch Online.  We knew a little about it prior to this announcement, but only in abstact: it will cost money, it's coming "later", and some form of classic Nintendo games will be included with the subscription and will be adapted to allow online play.  Now we know more.  Check out Nintendo's site to learn all about it.  Here's the high points:

  • You’ll be able to play compatible co-op and competitive games online by signing in with your Nintendo Account. Online play will be free for Nintendo Account holders until our paid online service launches in 2018.
  • Our new dedicated smart device app will connect to Nintendo Switch and let you invite friends to play online, set play appointments, and chat with friends during online matches in compatible games─all from your smart device.
  • Subscribers will get to download a compilation of classic titles with added online play, such as Super Mario Bros. 3, Balloon Fight and Dr. Mario.

All of this will set you back twenty dollars a year (slightly more if you pay month to month).  There's already lots of criticism about this announcement.  On the one side, you have complaints about being charged any amount of money while online play has been free on the Wii, Wii U, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS; dissatisfaction at Nintendo relying on a smartphone app for in-game chat while the competition can do it in-console; and of course the lackluster launch titles like Balloon Fight.  On the other side, what do you expect for $20 while the competition charges $60 for their services?  Like everything else Nintendo does in the online space, it's best to keep your expectations low and see what the company actually manages to produce.  I'm not clamoring to play Balloon Fight in single-player mode let alone online, but at least we can all be glad that Urban Champion isn't on the list. 

The fact of the matter is that Nintendo is rising back to the top of its game and leaving the free offers and generous discounts of the Wii U era behind.  The company can't keep Switches on store shelves.  They do not need to be charitable or offer enticing deals to sell units anymore.  I enjoyed the "please buy this, we're begging you!" phase of Nintendo history too when the company gave away a free game for buying Mario Kart 8 and gave back a percentage of each Wii U eShop purchase in store credit, but those days are over.  Even the fun freebies of Club Nintendo have given way to the lackluster loyalty program My Nintendo.  Nintendo leadership has changed and the company is ready to be profitable again, and those profits?  They come from us.

Power Button - Episode 239: Destiny 2 Is Coming

Power ButtonWith the excitement building for Destiny 2 coming to consoles and PC later this year, it's a good time for me to turn to Blake Grundman and ask him to try and sell me on this new sequel and answer some of my questions about things that have come up since I first played (and walked away from) the basic pre-DLC version of Destiny.  Spend an hour with Blake as he busts loose and tells us all the reasons he's excited about the game and where we think the series will go in the future.   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.

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 Announced

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2Capcom brought back the original six Mega Man games for the Mega Man Legacy Collection last year, but right away people began to ask why the other numbered sequels in the series did not make the cut.  Now the company is back with Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 which offers Mega Man 7, Mega Man 8, Mega Man 9, and Mega Man 10 with all of the usual museum modes and new challenge options included.  It's due out in August 2017 for the Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, and PC for $19.99 both digitally and at retail in a box.  All of the downloadable content for the latter two games are included, too.  Here's the trailer:

I was very pleased with the original Legacy Collection (so much so that I bought it twice; once for PS4 and again for 3DS) and I'm definitely interested in this second collection as well.  There are a few classic series Mega Man titles still unaccounted for here.  Most egregiously, 1998's Mega Man & Bass for the Super NES is missing in action.  Perhaps Capcom is choosing only to use the numbered sequels in these collections or perhaps the company does not want to bother with translating the Japanese-exclusive title into English for international release.  The game was translated when it was ported down to the Game Boy Advance in 2002, but that version is notoriously difficult to play thanks to challenging controls and a notoriously cropped screen.  Trust me, you don't want that version back again!  We're also missing the five Game Boy games, the Wily Wars set for the Sega Genesis (which could be redundant, I suppose), and Mega Man Soccer for the Super NES.  Why, there's enough additional Mega Man titles left to bundle together in a third collection...