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August 2020

September 2020

Power Button - Episode 318: Cities In The Sky

Power ButtonCity-building simulators and their ilk are all the rage on this week's podcast episode.  Join us as we reminisce over classic titles including SimCity, SimCity 2000, SimCity 3000... well, you get the idea there, plus SimCopter, SimFarm, Rollercoaster Tycoon, SimTower, and all the way to our current obsession, Cities: SkylinesDownload this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, Amazon Music Podcasts, 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 317: Preorder Tech: The Next Generation (Or, PlayStation Versus Xbox: Mayhem At The Terrordome)

Power ButtonThe ongoing game of pricing and release date chicken between Microsoft and Sony finally reached the cliff this week as both companies lifted the curtain on their plans for the next generation of video game consoles.  We're spending the hour discussing the new details about the Sony PlayStation 5 and the Microsoft Xbox Series X and Series S plus a quick dip into the world of Nintendo for some pre-release Super Mario 3D All-Stars gossip.  Pull up a retailer's website and mash the refresh button with us as we try to preorder a console. Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, Amazon Music Podcasts, 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. 


Nintendo 3DS Belongs To History Now

New Nintendo 3DSWord came this morning that Nintendo has discontinued production on the entire Nintendo 3DS family of hardware, ending the company's dedicated handheld gaming dynasty that extends back to the Game Boy era and, if you want to argue beyond that, the Game & Watch.  Launched in 2011, the 3DS brought us all so many happy memories with stand-out titles such as Super Mario 3D Land, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Mario Kart 7, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Kirby: Planet Robobot, and I could basically fill the rest of this article just naming great game after great game.  After a rocky overpriced start that eventually led to an early price cut and a handout of free Virtual Console games to 3DS Ambassadors, the 3DS never hit the heights of the DS line before it, but represents the culmination of Nintendo's handheld reign.  After all, the 3DS can play not only 3DS games, but also DS games and, via Virtual Console, some of the best hits ever for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super NES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Sega Game Gear, and if you're one of the aforementioned ambassadors, Game Boy Advance.  My god, what a library to have all in one place.  We'll never see anything like it again. 

I got my first taste of what the 3DS could do back at E3 2010.  Some of the tech demos and sample games Nintendo displayed at their booth never actually became full retail products.  I still have fond memories of playing 3D versions of Yoshi's Island and Mega Man 2.  I bought my shiny black 3DS at launch along with Pilotwings Resort which was the sort of launch window game you buy to ooh and ahh at for a few days, then put back in its case and never touch again once better games release.  I carried my 3DS with me to E3 2011, collecting StreetPass tags and puzzle pieces from hundreds of people.  I took it with me on trips, sat out on my condo's balcony playing Mario as the weather turned cooler, and stayed up late in bed vowing to just clear one more stage in Kirby Triple Deluxe before calling it a night.  When Nintendo began releasing amiibo in 2014, I bought a 3DS amiibo reader so my aging system could take advantage of all of the scannable bonus content.  Sadly, in 2016 my 3DS's battery began to wind down and could only hold a full charge for thirty minutes, so I upgraded to the New Nintendo 3DS and its world of benefits including a built-in amiibo reader, extra buttons that I don't think any game I own actually uses, and the ability to play Super NES Virtual Console games.  I stopped carrying it around for StreetPass tags when the Nintendo Switch released in 2017 and everyone else stopped carrying their 3DS around too, and at best I could only count on still getting a few stray tags at the pinball and arcade festivals I attended.  Today my New Nintendo 3DS is still powered up in its charging cradle by the bed, ready to go at a moment's notice.  The last 3DS game I acquired was Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn as a holiday gift last year; incidentally, that's also the last Nintendo-published 3DS game to be released.  Good night, 3DS, and thank you for all the fun.  Switch: it's all up to you now.


It's My Fault That Donkey Kong Country 2 Is Only Just Now Coming To Nintendo Switch

Donkey Kong Country 2I have a terrible confession to make, friends, and I hope you can forgive me.  You see, Nintendo announced yesterday evening that three more Super NES games will be coming to the Nintendo Switch Online's Super NES collection next week, one of which is 1995's Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest.  I regret to say that it's my fault that the game is only just now coming to the service instead of arriving weeks ago.  Earlier in the summer when the first game in the series, Donkey Kong Country, was added to the service, I took my sweet time getting around to replaying it, and even then only playing a level or three in the evenings before turning it off and going to sleep.  It's taken a while to finish, but yesterday afternoon I finally took down King K. Rool and the credits rolled.  Then, mere hours later, Nintendo announced DKC2.  Obviously they were just waiting for me to finish the game before bringing on the next installment.  I apologize for dragging my feet on this one and promise to slam my way through DKC2 as quickly as possible so that we can get to Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! immediately if not sooner.


Console Wars Documentary Premieres September 23

Console WarsThe long-gestating documentary based on friend-of-the-podcast Blake J. Harris' Console Wars is finally ready for its premiere.  Set to debut on the CBS All Access streaming service on September 23, 2020, a trailer for the film was released yesterday that looks to keep the heart and soul of the book intact thanks to interviews with key figures from the Nintendo versus Sega battles of the 1990s including Howard Phillips, Peter Main, and Howard Lincoln on the Nintendo side and and Tom Kalinske, Shinobu Toyoda, Al Nilsen, Ellen Beth Van Buskirk, Paul Rioux, and Bill White from Team Sega.  I absolutely loved the book.  I've even given copies of it as gifts.  Obviously I'm excited for the documentary.  If you're a fan of gaming in the 1990s, you should be too.  I'm certain we will discuss the film on the Power Button podcast shortly after its premiere.


Power Button - Episode 316: The Tomb Raider Rises

Power ButtonPlayStation Plus offered Square-Enix's Rise of the Tomb Raider as a free download earlier in the summer and since my fiancee is an Uncharted fan, I suggested she might want to try it out since they have some similarities.  She enjoyed it, got me into playing it, and that led to this week's podcast discussion in which we brief Blake Grundman on our experiences with the dry monologues, hunting animals with poison mushroom arrows, avoiding the gory deaths, and tracking a mythical witch.  Good luck to you, Lara Croft!  With us at the controls, you'll need it. 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. 


There Sure Are A Lot Of GameCube Controllers

GameCube ControllerSome people collect video games, but other people collect video game controllers.  Consider the collection of Nintendo GameCube controllers on display at The Controller Library as maintained by Carl Synnett, for instance.  You're probably thinking that if you've seen one GameCube controller, then you've seen them all.  How many can there be?  I mean, there's your basic wired model, and then the wireless WaveBird, and then maybe a few different color variations, and you're done, right?  You've got some nerve, mister.  There's a lot to see from prototypes cobbled together from spare parts to Club Nintendo-exclusive variants to specialized models used in hotels to some downright strange creations that integrate extra functions in surprising ways.  There's even room in the collection for the more recent version of the controller produced during the Wii U and Switch eras for Super Smash Bros.  Spend some time browsing and prepare to be intrigued.


Xbox Series X Price, Release Date Announced

Xbox Series XMicrosoft and Sony have been playing a game of announcement chicken over the past months, each seemingly waiting to see what the other will charge for their next generation console.  Microsoft moved first this morning, announcing that the new Xbox Series X will cost $499 at retail with a release date of November 10 in North America.  Yesterday an early leak revealed a budget version of the console, the Xbox Series S, which lacks a disc drive and cannot output 4K video for a reasonable $299.  The X price is pretty much on target for what a box of its capabilities would cost, but that $299 S price could really shake things up.

Not everyone is equipped or financially able to upgrade their home entertainment systems to 4K, so why pay extra money for a console that can output a resolution you won't be able to use?  Losing the disc drive is a benefit to those who go all-digital with their libraries, but I feel like the S is really meant to be a lean, affordable Xbox Game Pass machine.  For a comparatively low startup cost and a monthly fee, there's more than enough games to play than most people will have time to enjoy, plus it was also announced this morning that Microsoft and Electronic Arts are teaming up to bundle the EA version of Game Pass, EA Play, into Game Pass at no additional cost.  If you're primarily a Game Pass player who doesn't buy physical media anymore, it's hard to beat the S package.  Your move, Sony.


Lost F-Zero: GP Legend e-Reader Tracks Recovered

F-Zero: GP LegendNintendo released a trio of F-Zero titles for the Game Boy Advance to diminishing returns internationally.  The second of the three, 2004's F-Zero: GP Legend, was based on the anime of the same name and included support for the e-Reader accessory exclusively in the Japanese version of the game.  These e-Reader cards were distributed through a combination of retail and Cardass card vending machines and added new tracks, racers, and course ghosts into the game.  You can probably guess what happened next; the cards were hard to find, then they improperly preserved in the online community, and it wasn't long until the add-on tracks and other scannables fell into obscurity.  Thankfully, F-Zero modder Guy Perfect has spent the past few years working on adding these e-Reader add-ons into all regions of the game (even those that did not originally support it such as the North American release) without the need for the e-Reader or the cards and eliminates the limit on how many courses can be saved to the game at once.  The mod is finally complete and ready for the green light.  Here's the breakdown of what's going on here from the mod's documentation:

This hack is a mod for all three versions of F-Zero: GP Legend (Japanese, North American, PAL) that incorporates all of the e-Reader content directly into the game. The modifications are as follows:

All versions
• Time Attack and Training are now permanently unlocked
• Card e+ is now permanently added to Time Attack and Training
• All 20 e-Reader courses are available in the Card e+ cup
• Challenge ghosts are available on select courses
• Existing save files will automatically be migrated on first boot

Japanese version
• e-Reader exclusive machines are now available if they were still locked
• The e-Reader+ option has been removed from the Link menu

PAL version
• The Card e+ cup menu has been localized for each language

The courses are available in the "Card e" cup for time trials and training modes and, having played them, I can say there are some bizarre layouts here that I've never seen in a typical F-Zero game.   There are courses shaped like a hand, a foot, and a bird.  Want to race through a lightbulb?  Here's your chance.  Take a look at these layouts.  The developers were having fun with these.

 

 

I love to see the fan community working to preserve this sort of content that would otherwise be lost to time.  I asked Guy to explain a little more about the work that went into the project.

Continue reading "Lost F-Zero: GP Legend e-Reader Tracks Recovered" »


Power Button - Episode 315: A Celebration Fit For A Plumber

Power ButtonNintendo opened the floodgates on its Super Mario Bros. thirty-fifth anniversary plans and game announcements this week with lots of new products on the way to celebrate the occasion.  On this week's podcast, we're discussing all of the news including the Mario Kart Live toys, Super Mario 35 battle royale game, Super Mario 3D All-Stars coming to the Switch, and so much 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.