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A Symphony Of Sonic

Sonic SymphonyThe video gaming community is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the original Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis this month, and Sega is celebrating too with a series of events, products, and new games all coming out this year.  Last week one of those events blew the doors off the Internet, so if you missed the Sonic Symphony, it's time to set aside two hours and watch some of Sonic's greatest musical hits performed by a symphony and fan-favorite rock bands such as Crush 40 that have contributed to the franchise's soundtracks over the years.  The expected games are all represented with Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Sonic Adventure are all featured, but there are some deeper cuts such as a medley from the Game Gear titles that are largely overlooked now, there's a Sega Saturn-era piece that covers Sonic Jam of all things, and there's a surprising focus on the disastrous Sonic the Hedgehog from 2006 that is notorious for its unfinished state, but did feature great music.  Noticeably, the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 / Sonic & Knuckles medley did not include any selections from the music tracks composed by Michael Jackson and his team that are now allegedly the reason why the games have not been re-released on any platform since 2011.  I enjoyed the show and even if you're not familiar with everything in the concert, I bet you will too.


Who Is Shantae?

Shantae

Plenty of us passed over WayForward's Shantae when it was released for the Game Boy Color back in 2002.  After all, it showed up very late in the GBC's lifespan and, if you didn't know any better, you might mistakenly peg it as a childrens' game about a cute little genie that uses the power of dance to fight her enemies including the dastardly pirate, Risky Boots.  Boy, did we miss out.  There's actually a lot of tricky platforming and sly innuendo that makes the game more appropriate for an older audience than a younger one.  As series co-creator Matt Bozon says, the games are "too sexy to be a kid's brand, and too girly for a male gamer brand."

It took a while, but that little game eventually spread its wings into a whole franchise of fantastic character platformers in the Metroid style of collecting new abilities and backtracking to see what has opened up in previous paths.  Today there are a bunch of Shantae games spanning a variety of platforms (not including the games that were cancelled before they could really get off the ground including pitches for Super NES and Game Boy Advance versions), and it can be difficult to keep them all straight.  WayForward has produced a short retrospective detailing all of Shantae's adventures in celebration of the entire series arriving on Nintendo Switch (including that first GBC game!) and, soon, other contemporary platforms.  Review your history lesson and then jump in with whichever adventure appeals to you the most.


Local Cat Enjoys Super Mario Play Tower

Cat MarioThe old saying goes: you can pick your cats, and you can pick your toys, but you can't pick your cat's toys.  Buy a cat a fancy new toy and she'll prefer to play with the cardboard box that it came in instead.  Set out a tower for a cat to climb, and they'll stare at it and then walk away unimpressed.  My wife had an old, scratched-up cat tree that has put in many years of service that, after all this time, the cats in our clowder have grown bored of playing in and sleeping on.  We had it set up in the living room where it was ignored with prejudice.  How do we make it more appealing?  My wife gave it a Super Mario makeover, covering the ratty carpet with new fabrics invoking the familiar Mushroom Kingdom bricks, pipes, and piranha plants.  Now we can't keep the cats off of it!  Check out this brief video of Moxxi playfully batting around a Starman.


Power Button - Episode 328: A Love Letter To The Delisted

Power ButtonSony made some waves in the gaming community recently when it was announced that they were closing the PSN stores for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation Vita.  There was such a loud uproar of resistance to this news that Sony doublebacked on the plan and will leave the PS3 and Vita stores open while the PSP is still closing down.  This led us to start talking about our favorite video games that have been delisted from online stores, never to be seen again.  This week's podcast is all about those lost games that we still love and may or may not have had a chance to buy such as The Simpsons arcade game, Castlevania The Adventure ReBirth, ModNation Racers, Noby Noby Boy, and many more.  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 Podcasts, 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. 


2021 Hallmark Gaming Ornaments Revealed

Caped MarioOver the past few years Hallmark has produced a variety of its popular Keepsake ornaments for a range of video game franchises, and while we started out with just a handful of Super Mario ornaments, this year the product line as revealed early by Keepsake fan site Digital Dream Book has expanded to include a little something for everyone from Caped Mario's famous Super Mario World appearance to a pair of 8-bit pixelized Link and Princess Zelda ornaments to commemorate the thirty-fifth anniversary of The Legend of Zelda with Sonic the Hedgehog and his pals showing up for the Sega crowd.  There's even ornaments from Mario Kart, Pokémon, Mortal Kombat, Fortnite, Kingdom Hearts, and Minecraft.  Oh yes, and I can't forget to mention the little Super NES replica following on from last year's Nintendo Entertainment System ornament that will light up and play sounds.  You can see all of these and more in the Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments Dream Book when it's officially released later this month.  It's going to be an expensive holiday season.  I love collecting these ornaments, getting my start as a young teenager with the Star Trek line and continuing on through the years.  Here's the complete lineup with pricing and release dates.

  • Caped Mario (Super Mario World) - $17.99, 7/10/21
  • Donkey Kong (Mario Kart) - $18.99, 7/10/21
  • Link (The Legend of Zelda) - $8.99, 10/2/21
  • Princess Zelda (The Legend of Zelda) - $8.99, 10/2/21
  • Super NES console - $19.99, 7/10/21
  • Charizard (Pokémon) - $17.99, 10/2/21
  • Sonic and Tails (Sonic the Hedgehog) - $19.99, 10/2/21
  • Knuckles (Sonic the Hedgehog) - - $17.99, 10/2/21, Limited Availability
  • King Mickey (Kingdom Hearts) - $17.99, 10/2/21
  • Sub-Zero (Mortal Kombat) - $17.99, 7/10/21
  • Crackshot (Fortnite) - $17.99, 10/2/21
  • Enderman (Minecraft) - $18.99, 10/2/21

 

Donkey Kong, Super NES, and Charizard 2021 Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments

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Power Button - Episode 324: 2020's Biggest News Revisited

Power ButtonWith the portal sealed and 2020 banished back into Hell, it's time for our customary look back at the most memorable video gaming news from the year that was.  Thanks to the coronavirus, 2020's news was largely "inside baseball" in nature as nobody could safely stage a large physical presence at a convention or trade show, but there was still plenty to talk about as Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. celebrates its thirty-fifth anniversary, Apple and Epic go to war over - what else? - money, Microsoft goes on a buying spree, and so much more. 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 Podcasts, 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 323: Movie Mode: The Mandalorian

Power ButtonWe're taking a break from video games this week to discuss Blake's recent source of excitement, The Mandalorian.  Spoilers ahead for seasons one and two!  And we also dip into Wonder Woman 1984 as a sidequest using Pedro Pascal's presence in both as a stepping stone. 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 Podcasts, 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. 


A Christmas Gift Fit For A Princess

Princess Peach's CastleWhile my wife and I have only been married two months, we've been together for five years now and always have fun exchanging gifts.  She's the artistic one and is a master of tailoring, crafting, and painting, and she's given me several of her creations that have special romantic sentiment to us that also tie together with our love of video games.  Climb our stairway and you'll find framed photos of us next to the jerkass goose from Untitled Goose Game stitched with his to-do list of tasks, one of which is a crossed off "Steal your heart".   Around the holidays she hangs our Mushroom Kingdom-inspired wreath and we bring out the menorah she built based on the pipes from Super Mario Bros.  As for me, I'm not creative in that way.  I'm a writer, not a builder.  Usually I give her things that I buy from stores instead of something I create because I know that's not where my talent lies, but this year I was struck with special inspiration for a Christmas gift, and like so many of the good things that have come out of this damned year 2020, it all started with our wedding.  No, wait; actually, this really goes all of the way back to over twenty years ago.

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Power Button - Episode 321: You Are Cordially Invited...

Power ButtonWe have a very special double-length podcast for you this week as my wife joins us to discuss our recent wedding that was packed full of hidden video game references.  From the Borderlands vault symbol arch to the stomping of the Goomba glass to the Super Mario pixel art in my tie, we tell you all about how we slipped video games into our wedding in ways that you wouldn't notice unless you were in on the joke.  All of our favorites are there including The Legend of Zelda, Untitled Goose Game, Donkey Kong, Sonic the Hedgehog, and so many more.  Of course, my Best Man Marcus Dunderheim Blake Grundman has plenty of stories to share from that day too including what he thought when I arrived at the venue in an authentic Doc Brown Back to the Future DeLorean.  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 Podcasts, 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 320: Gaming's Greatest Weddings

Power ButtonIn celebration of my own imminent wedding day, this week's podcast is all about gaming's greatest weddings!  From Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach for a wedding on the moon in Super Mario Odyssey to the shotgun weddings of Fallout 2 to the Mad Moxxi love potion scheme of Borderlands 2 to, uh, Booster kidnapping Princess Toadstool for a wedding in Marrymore in Super Mario RPG and beyond, we're talking about the good, the bad, and the matrimony.  Join us for seventy minutes of discussion before I head off to say my vows. 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.