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April 2020

The Pirates Of Smuggler's Cove: An Assassin's Creed Mystery

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Thanks to the pandemic lockdown, I've had lots of extra free time to dump into a video game I've wanted to come back to playing for months, Assassin's Creed OdysseyACO is set during the era of Ancient Greece and sees the protagonist, Kassandra, wandering the Greek world doing all of the usual Assassin's Creed kinds of things.  This time around there is an evil Cult of Kosmos whose members are all hidden away across the land and their identities kept secret.  Over the course of the ninety hours I've spent so far in the game, I've managed to uncover most all of the cult members and eliminate them.  As the cult eradication sidequest starts to wrap up, I'm left to hunt cultists that aren't explicitly set in my path by the main story.  These last cultists are covertly hanging around Greece and I must uncover clues that will uncover their true identities so I can go finish them off.  Clues are acquired by slaying other cultists or, as I'm dealing with now, finding stray letters and memos hidden in unexpected places. 

I only need one more clue to uncover a specific villain and slay his portion of the cultist org chart, and the game helpfully tells me to search Smuggler's Cove in Achaia for the clue.  This should be easy enough.  For some reason, I expect pirates to be there.  I've been to enough places in Achaia that I've uncovered most all locations, but I don't remember seeing a Smuggler's Cove on the map.  That it's a cove is a giveaway that it's somewhere on a coastline, so I have Kassandra climb aboard her trusty fire horse of the damned (that's a long story) and I start riding my way around the Achaia coastline waiting to see which of the little inlets on the map is Smuggler's Cove.

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Train Your Amiibo Right With Figure Fight


Now you too can learn the secrets of the great amiibo fighting champions of the world and become a renowned figurine coach as you train your plastic buddies for ultimate domination in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate!  Or, at least, you'll learn what makes an amiibo fighter tick and discover the most efficient ways to turn them into little smashers.  Yes, I'm talking about John Harris's new book Figure Fight which is currently available as part of the latest Story Bundle.  You'll learn what amiibo are doing when they're training to fight and what happens to them when they go on a journey across the Internet to battle against other amiibo.  How do they learn?  Can you influence that learning?  How can you smooth over any bad habits they pick up along the way?  There's plenty to explore and learn here.

Buried in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a curious little subgame where you can take AIs housed in amiibo toys and bring them forth to great and violent life within its fighting game universe, with you put in the role of their trainer. What's more, you can take these uppity little trinkets online and pit them against the belligerent knickknacks of other players. The author has been obsessed with this bizarre yet entertaining mode for months. Smash Ultimate's amiibo support still holds many mysteries, but here he reveals to you what strategy and secrets he could suss out of this thoroughly ridiculous mode.

I had the privilege to read an advance copy of the book and was impressed with the attention to detail and Harris's persistence in tracing what amiibo are really doing behind Nintendo's glitzy presentation on screen.  There's such a tiny amount of writable data space in each amiibo that it's outrageous to me how it's used to contain so much information used for Smash Bros.  This book taught me things about how Smash uses amiibo under the hood that I had absolutely no idea was happening. If you want to raise a top tier amiibo, this must be your first read.  And yes, those are my amiibo on display on my gaming room wall in the photo above.

Power Button - Episode 304: Tribute To The 1988 Nintendo Buyer's Guide

Power ButtonI recently fell down the rabbit hole of, the Internet's premiere archive of video gaming magazines from days gone by.  I was inspired to look up the first gaming magazines I ever read, Game Player's August 1988 Nintendo Buyer's Guide and Game Player's August 1988 Nintendo Strategy Guide, which inspired this hour of discussion about what constituted a video game magazine over thirty years ago.  We're essentially ripping on a dated publication that I'm sure was doing the best that they could with the resources they had, but this magazine has not aged gracefully.  It's a time capsule of hype for Nintendo Entertainment System games like Amagon, Bubble Bobble, Zanac, Metal Gear, Flying Dragon, Ghostbusters, and many more.  Download these two issues and follow along with us as we have some laughs.   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. 

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Sony Wants You To Play At Home

Nathan DrakeHow are you holding up during the pandemic?  My fiancee and I are on Week 5 of isolation, only going out twice a month to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions.  We get our groceries delivered and disinfect everything that comes into the house.  Being immunocompromised can be tough on a regular day, but we all know that days lately are far from regular, so we're doing our best to stay home for our own sakes and for the sake of anyone we would come into contact with if we were to contract the virus.  Times are tough, scary, and uncertain.  Sony is doing a little to try and help with the isolation madness by offering free downloads of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Journey for the PlayStation 4 for a limited time as a little incentive to stay home.  The PlayStation Blog has the details on this limited time offer.

People all over the world are doing the right thing by staying home to help contain the spread of COVID–19. We are deeply grateful to everyone practicing physical distancing and take our responsibility as a home entertainment platform seriously, so we are asking our community to continue supporting the safe choice and the need to Play At Home.

As a thank you to all who are doing their part to lessen the impact of this pandemic, Sony Interactive Entertainment is pleased to announce the Play At Home initiative. 

To support Play At Home, PlayStation will try to make those occasionally dull moments more exciting by offering Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Journey available for free for a limited time through digital downloads from April 15 at 8pm PDT through May 5, 2020 at 8pm PDT Once you redeem the games, they are yours to keep.

The company is also earmarking ten million dollars for a fund to help independent developers stay afloat.  Anything that helps communities is greatly appreciated right now.  Everyone could use a little happiness, and a free download of Uncharted is a great way to facilitate that.   Stay home!  Play some games!  You'll be healthier for it.

First Look At "CD Sonic" Was Impressive

CD SonicBack before the Internet turned video game news into a daily content-generating operation, fans had to get the latest information once a month through the magazines of the day.  In the early 1990s I was a subscriber to three of the big publications: Nintendo Power for my Nintendo needs, GamePro for strategy tips, and Electronic Gaming Monthly for glimpses of what was going on overseas.  EGM was very much a fan of Sega's 1991 Genesis release Sonic the Hedgehog, so much so that it felt as if every little Sonic tidbit that leaked out of Japan was worth at least one page of information.  All sorts of Sonic projects that never saw the light of day were mentioned in the magazine, but one that did make it out the door was Sonic CD for the Sega CD add-on.  The March 1993 issue of EGM showcased a first look at the game (known as CD Sonic at the time) with early screenshots and preliminary buzz about what to expect.  The Sonic the Hedgeblog Twitter account recently dug up that article and, let me tell you, it brought back a blast of memories. 

Seeing this coverage at the age of twelve made me feel for the first time that I might be missing out on something by owning only Nintendo consoles.  While I've never owned the Sega CD version of Sonic CD, I spent years trying to play the game on other platforms to mixed results.  I bought the Windows PC version of the game in 1996, but it was finicky and often crashed.  Emulating the Sega CD version on my PC all came down to the capability of the emulator and the horsepower of my computer.  The Nintendo GameCube version included in Sonic Gems Collection played decently enough, but it wasn't until the 2011 reworking of the game for iOS and the Sony PlayStation 3 that I finally felt like I could dig into the game the way it was meant to be played... and that wasn't even the original version of the game that the developers meant for us to play!  The online Sonic fan community has long since parsed through articles like these to discover the original source of the screenshots from early demo versions of the game. It's like getting closure on the rest of the story all these years later.

2020 Nintendo Hallmark Ornaments Revealed

NesornamentNintendo and Hallmark have had a nice partnership going over the past few years in which the former licenses characters to the latter for its line of Keepsake Ornaments.  That partnership continues this year with the reveal of new ornaments featuring Mario, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, Yoshi and even tributes to game hardware with a Legend of Zelda game pak and the Nintendo Entertainment Console itself.  Open your wallets and purses because this holiday season isn't going to be cheap.

Recall hours spent sitting in your bean bag chair parked in front of the television, video game controller in hand. Nothing mattered except defeating Bowser and ultimately completing the entire "Super Mario Bros." game. Relive the care-free fun when you display this classic Nintendo Entertainment System console Christmas tree ornament that lights up and plays the familiar music and sounds of the iconic video game (battery-operated).  Magic Light and Sound Christmas tree ornament. Press the button on the ornament to see the power light illuminate and hear sounds from the "Super Mario Bros." game. Requires three (3) LR44 batteries, included.  Artist crafted by Rodney Gentry, this Keepsake Ornament comes pre-packaged in a box for easy gift giving, preservation and storage. Dated 2020 in copyright.  Plastic Christmas tree ornament is lead-free and measures 3.8" W x 1.8" H x 2.8" D.

Yoshi releases in July, while the others are coming in October.  My mother started me on collecting Keepsake Ornaments when I was a young teenager with our annual purchase of Star Trek ornaments.  Each holiday we would buy the new starship and the new character ornament.  That tradition has mushroomed into an annual purchase of all kind of ornaments as Hallmark licenses my favorite properties like Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, and Gremlins.  Now with so many Nintendo ornaments in the mix, I think I'm going to need more display space.  I love the look of the 8-bit characters and the go-karting Yoshi matches up with the go-karting Mario ornament previously released, but I think I'm most excited about the light-up Nintendo Entertainment System.  The sculpt on this ornament is so detailed that it includes the connection ports on the back of the console.  There aren't any photos of the underside, but I wonder if they went the extra mile and included the expansion port.



Power Button - Episode 303: The Many Games Of Nintendo Direct Mini

Power ButtonNintendo has come to save the day during lockdown with a surprise Nintendo Direct Mini which announced a variety of new games coming to the Switch.  Borderlands Legendary Collection, Burnout Paradise Remastered, a new fighter from ARMS for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and many more titles of interest were featured in the broadcast, and on this episode of the podcast we take an hour to discuss which announcements we are more interested in.  Plus there's also a rumor floating around that Nintendo is remaking/remastered a whole slew of 3D Super Mario titles, and we take that topic on as well to talk about our hopes for such a project if it turns out to be real.   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.