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It's A Claptrap Kind Of Christmas

Claptrap2

As my girlfriend and I worked out our holiday decorating plans for the season, we had plenty of our favorite video gaming and sci-fi franchises represented, but one key ingredient was missing.  Due to what I'm assuming is a careless oversight at Gearbox Software, there are no Borderlands ornaments for Christmas.  We have Super Mario and Star Trek on our Christmas tree, but the theme just isn't complete without a little taste of Pandora.  Luckily we came up with a solution. 

It all started several weeks ago when we were out shopping for decorations.  Earlier in the year we rented a house together, and this is our first holiday season in our new home, so we need new decorations to fill it.  We were browsing the aisles at a holiday home store when I saw stocking holders with gift boxes mounted on top.  The interesting thing about the little gift box was that the sides of the package were sloped inward slightly, giving it a very familiar shape.  "Hon," I said to her, "Doesn't this look like of like Claptrap?", and that's when the idea first took shape.  I'm in love with a creative genius.  She took those gift boxes and using paint, glitter, and some custom-built props, transformed them into little Claptraps straight out of the Hyperion factory.  Now we have a little bit of Borderlands in our holiday season.  Happy Mercenary Day, travelers!


Power Button - Episode 277: Thanksgaming II

Power ButtonAs we enter the annual holiday season buffered by Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, it's time for us to present our traditional Thanksgaming podcast episode in which we discuss all of the gaming things that Blake Grundman and I are thankful for this year.  From the more rational choices like price drops and availability to the special moments money can't buy like playing with family, we have an hour of introspective thought for you to enjoy with your plate of turkey and potatoes.  Save a slice of pie for us!   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 275: A Tribute To Developers (Part 2)

Power ButtonPicking up from where we left off last week, this episode of the Power Button podcast continues on with our discussion of our favorite development teams.  This installment focuses on Rockstar Games, Konami's teams behind the latter-day Castlevania games, Blizzard, Sonic Team, and many 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 274: A Tribute To Developers (Part 1)

Power ButtonWe've talked a lot about our favorite video games over the years, but on this week's episode of the Power Button podcast we're talking about some of our favorite video game developers.  Insomniac Games, PagodaWest Games, Naughty Dog, Nintendo's litany of internal studios and partnerships, and 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. 


Power Button - Episode 272: A Farewale To Telltale

Power ButtonAs we spent the week watching Telltale Games crumble into mismanaged dust, it's only right to take an hour to reminisce about the best of times and the worst of times regarding the beloved developer of adventure games.  Sam & Max, Back To The Future, The Walking Dead, Tales From The Borderlands, Game of Thrones, Puzzle Agent, Law & Order, and beyond fill the conversation as we sent the studio off in style.  Special thanks to all of the developers formerly of Telltale who worked so hard to bring us these memories.  You all deserve better than to be unceremoniously dismissed without warning and we know you'll land in better places soon.   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 271: Big Williams/Zen Pinball News Plus The Last Round Of Updated Re-Releases

Power ButtonWe're wrapping up our mini-series episodes of video games that changed when they were re-released with discussions on games such as Donkey Kong Country 3, Half-Life, and the Xbox Duke controller, but before we dig into that we have a dive into the big news that Zen Studios has acquired the licenses for the Williams and Bally pinball tables.  Spend an hour with us for some fun.   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.


Borderlands' Handsome Jack Says Ain't No Rest For The Washer

Handsome JackAs I mentioned on a recent podcast episode, my girlfriend and I have rented a house and moved in together.  We're still unpacking and finding the best ways to make use of the space, and something we hit on right away was the need for one of those magnets that can be flipped around to indicate whether the dishwasher is clean or dirty.  We're decorating the house in gaming art and memorabilia, so we wanted something along that theme in a dishwasher magnet.  We looked online and found lots of options that are cookie-cutter merchandise; magnets like stock art of Yoda saying "Dirty, these dishes are" or an old promotional photo of Captain Picard ordering "Make it clean".  We're not talking about inspired ideas here.

We wanted something better, something that spoke more to us.  Early in our relationship we bonded over Borderlands and we have some Vault Hunter art hung around the house, so right away I hit on the idea of a Borderlands dishwasher magnet.  Gearbox Software and 2K Games haven't created such a thing yet, so one idea led to another and before I knew it, she had created a Handsome Jack magnet for the dishwasher with his handsome mask side up for clean dishes and his scarred face for dirty.  It's just one of the personal touches we're adding around here that makes us smile.

Handsome Jack magnet


Power Button - Episode 270: Another Round Of Updated Re-Releases

Power ButtonPicking up from where we left off last time, Blake Grundman and I resume our discussion of video games that are enhanced or otherwise altered when they are re-released.  We discuss more of Mega Man X Legacy Collection and its X Challenge mode plus dip into older titles such as Ratchet & Clank Collection, Donkey Kong Land 3, GoldenEye 007 Reloaded, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX, and more.  Also, we briefly discuss my new house and the story of the clothes dryer.  It'll all make sense in the end.   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.


Who Needs Copyright?

The Revenge of ShinobiMany video game developers work their entire careers to have the opportunity to make a game involving popular icons such as Batman, Spider-Man, or Godzilla, but if those opportunities can't be earned, why not just take Batman and make him your own?  Hardcore Gaming 101 has put together a fun list of games that, ahem, "borrow" famous characters that, legally speaking, really should not be there.  The king of this kind of thing has to be Sega's The Revenge of Shinobi which runs wild with unauthorized cameos and, as a result, has been revised many times over the years.

The Revenge of Shinobi is probably the most famous game for these type of changes, with numerous revisions. REV00 was only released in Japan and has enemies that resemble Rambo, Spider-Man, Batman and Godzilla. REV01 changes the Rambo enemy (by removing his bandana and making him bald), and Batman (by making him resemble the manga character Devilman). However, the Spider-Man enemy originally only looked kind of like the comic book character, but here he was redrawn to look exactly like him. The REV02 version included a copyright notice for Marvel, indicating that his appearance was official. This was done because Sega had the license for Spider-Man arcade and console games, so they decided to go for a bit of cross promotion. REV03, which appeared on compilations, changed the Godzilla boss by turning it into a dinosaur skeleton. The final revision, released on the Wii Virtual Console, changed the Spider-Man enemy’s color to pink, and changed the ninja on the title screen to less resemble Sonny Chiba.

There's a major difference between an indie hobbyist thinking he's going to make the next Metroid game without Nintendo noticing and a professional outfit like Sega deciding to just co-opt Batman and Godzilla for the hell of it.  In a strange way you have to admire the chutzpah of it all. 


Assassin's Holiday

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed stumbled into becoming an annual franchise after it found great success in the Ezio years and kept up that yearly release momentum until it became clear that by rushing the games to meet holiday shopping season deadlines, each game was becoming worse than the last.  Rather than kill their golden goose with great greed, the company backed off of the accelerator and allowed the series to release whenever the next entry has successfully baked in the oven long enough.  That's a lot of mixing of metaphors to say that Assassin's Creed is finding its footing again and can take a year off when needed.  Over at USgamer, Mike Williams looks through Ubisoft's development portfolio and speculates which teams are working on the next Assassin's Creed games and when we may possibly see them.

Assassin's Creed games tend to get three-and-a-half to four years in development. In my mental picture, I actually expected Assassin's Creed Odyssey to be released in 2019, not this year. Odyssey's development is led by Ubisoft Quebec, with some of the same leads as 2015's Assassin's Creed Syndicate. Scott Phillips is the director and Thierry Dansereau is the art director on both games. There have been some shifts in the team: Syndicate world director Jonathan Dumont is now the creative director of Odyssey, Syndicate creative director Marc-Alexis Côté is now the senior producer on Odyssey, Syndicate assistant narrative design director Mel MacCoubrey is now narrative design director for Odyssey.

I am perfectly happy to let Assassin's Creed rest from time to time.  Have you played one of these games lately?  They're huge!  And getting bigger all the time!  And they're better than they have been in years now that they have more time to complete development.  After ho-humming my way through most of Assassin's Creed III and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and then ending up frustrated by the broken nature of Assassin's Creed Unity, I was unexpectedly surprised by how much fun I had playing Assassin's Creed Syndicate.  I finished every objective on that game's map plus the DLC, and you know how packed the maps of Assassin's Creed can be.  I wondered if that was a strange on-off occurrence but then turned around and completed as much as I possibly could do in Assassin's Creed Origins over a six-month span.  I'm still working on the DLC for that one, so much so that I don't really need a new game in the series right now.  I would have been fine if the upcoming Assassin's Creed Odyssey had held out until 2019, and I probably won't get around to picking it up until next year anyways (I came into both Syndicate and Origins months after they released as well).  It's great to have Assassin's Creed back in top form.  It's truly become worth the wait.