Special Christmas encore of our popular holiday episode! It's the holiday season which means that it's the perfect time for us to dedicate an episode of Power Button discussing video games that include Christmas elements such as music remixes, holiday weapons, festive missions, and appearances from Santa Claus himself. There's some deep cuts mixed in here with the mainstream titles; we cover everything from Christmas trees in Sonic Adventure's Station Square to the special Christmas cheat code in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie's Double Trouble to Banjo-Kazooie's Freezeezy Peak to the special holiday demo of Jazz Jackrabbit to Sega's limited edition Christmas NiGHTS to the hard-to-find Daze Before Christmas from Sunsoft. Settle in with some egg nog and spend eighty minutes with us this holiday season. We also sidequest off into NES Remix, adorable amiibo, and much more. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.
My amazingly creative girlfriend is making new gaming holiday decorations to fill our home again this season, and to pair with last year's Borderlands Claptrap stocking holders this year she's taken an ordinary, drab Christmas village set with its sleep and heavenly peace and given it a Mercenary Day makeover to make it look as if it popped out of the annual Borderlands Christmas event. Check out the photos of a tucked-in winter wonderland turned into something that would make Mr. Torgue proud. EXPLOSIONS AND CEL-SHADING, YEAHHHHHH!
I rented my share of dud video games for the Nintendo Entertainment System when I was a kid, but sometimes I'd rent a game I couldn't quite crack, and my need to figure it out would drive me to rent it again and again. Sometimes it's for compellingly bad reasons like with what happened with Back to the Future Part II and III, but sometimes it's for good reasons. Consider 1989's Clash at Demonhead that was somewhat ahead of its time in terms of level progression, power-ups, and storyline. This was a game that played out more like an episodic animated adventure with talkative supporting characters and a series of Mega Man Robot Master-type bosses with lots in the charisma department. Over at Kotaku, Peter Tieryas reminds us all why Clash at Demonhead is one of the console's unsung greats.
Similar to some of my favorite games of the era like Zelda II, The Battle of Olympus, and Goonies II, Clash’s sidescrolling action has areas you can tackle in any order you’d like. The overworld map consists of 42 routes. The routes generally have you going from one end to the other, clearing out enemies, and procuring wads of cash. Some of the areas have multiple levels that take you up into the mountains, sink down into the ocean depths, and barely cross deadly lava pits.
The navigation can be a bit confusing on the overworld map since the actual routes only have their numbers show up if you’ve selected the area (I wish, similar to the way it is in Bionic Commando, destinations could have had numbers on top of them). In this case, a trusty paper-and-pen come in handy to chart the way. To alleviate some of the difficulties of backtracking, which you’ll have to do quite a bit, you gain special Force powers from a magical Hermit that allows teleportation to any route Bang has finished.
I think what really ensnared me was the massive for it's time collection of power-up suits that allowed the hero Bang to fly, jump higher, swim, survive in lava, and so much more. Each suit offered a different key utility that was essential in some levels and useless in others, and the trick was to accumulate these suits and choose when to deploy them at the optimum time. Talk about replay value! Usually the progression in games like these was to constantly grow stronger in a one-way path. Bigger guns, better shields, etc. In Clash, the suits could be swapped out when needed to boost Bang's stats in one manner while potentially decreasing them in another. For me at the time, it was a revelation. The problem was that the game could be unrelentingly difficult if I wandered off the assumed path and it was easy to end up at a dead end where I needed an ability I hadn't unlocked yet and would have to backtrack across an area I'd only just barely survived the first time. I really should revisit it as an adult armed with more patience and trusty save states.
Landmark anniversaries can really sneak up on you in the video game industry, particularly when you forget sometimes that consoles once often launched a year or more earlier in other regions than the one you call home. Consider Sony's original PlayStation which landed in North America in 1995, but released in Japan on this day in 1994, so it's time to celebrate the console's twenty-fifth anniversary (and I'm sure we'll do it all again next year for the American date). Game Informer has a massive cover story by Jeff Cork chronicling the life and times of the PS1 and beyond as remembered by the people who were there at the time. It's an absolute must-read for fans of the industry itself, not just Sony products.
KEN KUTARAGI [Former Honorary Chairman, Sony Computer Entertainment]: There was a fair amount of resistance within Sony for devoting precious resources toward the creation of “children’s playthings.” However, we were convinced that the technological and business prowess required to position ourselves at the apex of a new entertainment age existed within our walls. Hence, I went straight to Mr. Ohga, the president of Sony at that time, who possessed the necessary knowledge and experience in both the software and hardware fields. I believe his dream at the time was to build Sony’s next big business domain from the ground up. At the executive meeting slated to decide the future of the PlayStation project, I voiced my passion to Mr. Ohga directly, to which he responded, “If you believe you can do it, then do it!” Those decisive words still echo in my mind like it was yesterday.
As a teenager, I skipped out on the entire PS1 era. I was a Nintendo guy, so while Sony's initial console was launching stateside in 1995, I was eagerly anticipating Donkey Kong Country 2 for my Super NES, and then a year later Super Mario 64 and the Nintendo 64 arrived, so for many years I never looked back. I did look from side to side sometimes though as my favorite franchises such as Mega Man and Castlevania skipped out on traditional side-scrolling adventures on the N64 in favor of Mega Man 8 and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the PS1. I continued on solely with Nintendo consoles until the summer before the Wii era arrived, and with Nintendo's GameCube wrapping up and development moved on to the next still-unreleased thing, the company and its partners weren't publishing enough games to meet my needs. I ended up with a free copy of Street Fighter Alpha Collection to review for the PlayStation 2 in 2006 and figured, hey, why not? I bought a new PS2 from Best Buy, picked up a few of the most popular games including Ratchet & Clank and Grand Theft Auto III, and indulged. I continued buying Nintendo consoles and handhelds as the years have gone on, but that PS2 led two years later to buying a PlayStation 3, and then a used PlayStation Portable off of eBay, and then a new PlayStation Vita, and then a new PlayStation 4, and then a PSVR unit, and next year most likely a PlayStation 5. Who could've guessed that Street Fighter would be a gateway drug?
As for the PS1, I never really did circle back around to buy one. Thanks to the PS2 and PS3 supporting classic PS1 discs, I picked up used disc copies of Mega Man 8 and Mega Man X5 to play prior to those games re-releasing digitally on the PlayStation Store where I bought them again, and of course today both are available in various collections that I also own. I bought a few choice PS1 digital titles such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon to experience those for the first time on my PS3. Earlier this year I caved and bought the lackluster PS1 Classic at its get-it-out-0f-here price of $30 and have yet to open the box. Who has time when there are so many new games to play?
I've logged a lot of hours with PlayStation products in the past decade and change, and while I'll forever be a Super Mario man at heart, there's always something special happening on PlayStation consoles.