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March 2019

April 2019

Power Button - Episode 288: Everybody Announces Everything

Power ButtonIt's been quite a week for video game news as it feels like everyone had something to announce.  Sony teased us with the first peek at the concept for the PlayStation 5, Microsoft introduced a new Xbox One S variant that lacks a disc drive, Nintendo dropped version 3.0 of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate featuring Joker from Persona 5, and Capcom baffled everyone with their confusing arcade stick home console box.  Join us for an hour as we discuss all of these stories and more.   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. 


PlayStation 5 Development Well Underway

InterocitorSony gave us all a peek behind the curtain this week in an article at Wired in which the company's lead PlayStation hardware architect, Mark Cerny, explained the direction that the upcoming PlayStation 5 is headed.  There's a lot of technical talk in the article, but the bottom line is that Cerny is aiming big with talk of solid state drives, 8K graphics, ray tracing, backward compatibility with the PS4 and existing PSVR, and much more.  Here's a piece:

To demonstrate, Cerny fires up a PS4 Pro playing Spider-Man, a 2018 PS4 exclusive that he worked on alongside Insomniac Games. (He’s not just an systems architect; Cerny created arcade classic Marble Madness when he was all of 19 and was heavily involved with PlayStation and PS2 franchises like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, and Ratchet and Clank.) On the TV, Spidey stands in a small plaza. Cerny presses a button on the controller, initiating a fast-travel interstitial screen. When Spidey reappears in a totally different spot in Manhattan, 15 seconds have elapsed. Then Cerny does the same thing on a next-gen devkit connected to a different TV. (The devkit, an early “low-speed” version, is concealed in a big silver tower, with no visible componentry.) What took 15 seconds now takes less than one: 0.8 seconds, to be exact.

But without loading time, when will I have a chance to quickly check Twitter while waiting for the progress bar to inch along?  But seriously, Cerny is saying all of the right things about the PS5 and I am there for it.  It really sounds like he is trying to balance Sony's needs with the needs of video game developers and players.  I'm still using my launch day PS4 and it's hanging in there, but sometimes I think about upgrading to a PS4 Pro just to futureproof my PS4 library similarly to how I retired my launch day Nintendo 3DS in favor of a New Nintendo 3DS.  Knowing that the PS5 will support my PS4 games and PSVR keeps me satisfied that I can just wait for the next generation, and honestly I'm not in any great hurry to get there.  I still have a small stack of PS4 games that I need to explore.  Community chatter predicts a late 2020 launch for the PS5 which should give me plenty of time to finish my PS4 library and save up some preorder money.  All of that fancy technology won't come cheap.


Explore Nintendo's Virtual Boy From Start To Finish

Virtual BoyWith virtual reality making a resurgence in the past few years with companies like Sony, Oculus, and HTC leading the modern wave of headsets, it's only natural to take a look back to the 1990s when VR first tried to break out in a major way.  While Nintendo's failed Virtual Boy wasn't exactly true VR, it did gain a reputation for being something unique, special, and painful on the eyes.  In this vintage article from Benj Edwards we can explore the genesis of the hardware from a little company aiming to create private PC displays all the way to Nintendo's big gamble.  Fun fact: Sega checked out the prototype hardware and passed on it for safety and marketing reasons.

“A big issue was kids got sick, threw up, or fell over when using this,” remembers Tom Kalinske, the former president of Sega of America, which encountered the Private Eye while reviewing potential VR technology in the early 1990s. “We couldn’t take that chance.” But that wasn’t the only downside Sega saw. “As I recall, our problem with it was it was just one color,” says Kalinske. “We were already promoting Game Gear in all colors.”

Nintendo later faced similar safety issues and was afraid of kids playing Virtual Boy in the backseat of cars getting into wrecks which would shove all of the hardware's plastic and glass into a child's face at point blank range.  That's a reasonable fear!  Design limitations and compromises continued to chip away at what Virtual Boy could have been until eventually it became the product that we know and love.  At least, I love mine.  I bought a used VB off of eBay in 2003 before the big retro push drove up the prices on all things related to the system as well as a decent library of games.  I keep it stored safely in a large wooden Super Mario trunk and take it out sometimes to bewilder friends and family with it.  People who weren't paying attention to Virtual Boy in 1995 are always surprised when I set it up and tell them to stick their face into the viewing area.  Whether that's a good kind of surprise or a bad kind of surprise is left to your imagination.


Power Button - Episode 287: Matt's Top PSVR Picks

Power ButtonBack in Episode 278, I bought a PlayStation VR headset without really having a game plan for what to play, so Blake Grundman helped me out with some tips and suggestions on VR games I needed to try.  Now that I've spent several months playing in virtual worlds, I'm ready to offer my own top picks for some of the best that the PSVR has to offer.  Join us for an hour as we discuss VR experiences in Borderlands 2 VR, Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Catlateral Damage, Batman VR, and plenty more.   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. 


Power Button - Episode 286: Writing Future History With Blake J. Harris

Power ButtonFriend of the podcast Blake J. Harris is back on the show this week to discuss his recently released book The History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality and chronicle the work that went into writing it. Join us for an hour and a half of conversation about the genesis of the project, how he was able to get in-depth access to Oculus, what happened with Facebook cut off that access, and whether or not Palmer Luckey ever got his trophies back from the Facebook campus. Plus we have some virtual reality stories for you that weren't in the book, information on what is coming in the second edition, and when we may just see History of the Future: The Movie coming to screens near you.   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.