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Williams Pinball: Vol. 6 Coming To Pinball FX3

Williams Pinball Volume 6Zen Studios has gone quiet over the past few months when it comes to new pinball table announcements for Pinball FX3, but the company is back on track with the upcoming Williams Pinball: Volume 6 which includes three more classic Williams tables coming to the usual platforms Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows 10, and Steam. Mobile users can play through the Williams Pinball app on iOS and Google Play.  This pack includes 1990's infamous FunHouse (with Rudy!),  1987's Space Station, and 1990's Dr. Dude and His Excellent Ray.  There's no announced release date yet, but the tables will include the usual FX3 features including challenge modes and leaderboards.  You know, the usual.  If it ain't broken, don't fix it.  Check out the trailer.


Hallmark NES Ornament Is The Real Deal

NES ornamentHallmark has done it again with its recently released Keepsake ornament of a classic Nintendo Entertainment System.  I ordered mine last week when it became available and happily received it yesterday.  Sculpted by Rodney Gentry, the little NES is incredibly detailed and includes tiny little video and audio ports plus antenna connector, channel switch, and power input.  The control deck door even flips open to reveal a Super Mario Bros. game pak inside.  Underneath the ornament is a small compartment for batteries (representing the infamous unused expansion port on the real console).  Press the Power button and the red LED lights up and the ornament plays the overworld theme from Super Mario complete with flagpole tune and end-of-level fireworks.  It's a must-own ornament for all NES fans.  I'm not even saving it for a Christmas tree.  It's taking a place of honor on my game room shelf.  Check out the embedded video below to see and hear it in action.


Power Button - Episode 310: The Big Borderlands Show

Power ButtonOn his fifth attempt to get into Borderlands, Blake Grundman is finally making progress on his way to open the vault thanks to playing the Borderlands Legendary Collection for the Nintendo Switch.  Now that he's ready to talk about his experiences on Pandora, we brought in our resident expert vault hunter, my fiancee Corey, to join the discussion.  We have an our of conversation about all things Borderlands for you, so catch a ride to Moxxi's bar and pull up a seat. 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 309: Not-E3 2020 Roundup

Power ButtonIn a normal year would have just come off of a June full of E3 announcements and news, but this is no ordinary year.  News has still come in bits and pieces though, so as we leave this Not-E3 behind, it's time to take an hour and discuss some of that news.  We have Min Min arriving in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Nintendo backing away from the mobile gaming world, Crash Bandicoot 4 on the way, and more.  Join us and escape for a little while.  Apologies for my poor audio quality this week.  Skype decided to be "helpful" and use the ambient room microphone instead of the proper desk microphone. 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. 


Shakedown: Hawaii Coming To Wii And Wii U

Shakedown HawaiiVblank Entertainment's delightful 16-bit-stylized Shakedown: Hawaii was released for modern gaming platforms such as the Nintendo Switch last year, but developer Brian Provinciano loves a challenge, so he's bringing the action/adventure title to a pair of older consoles just for kicks.  Later this summer the game will launch for the Nintendo Wii and the Wii U.  Why did he do this?  Because he can.  Here's how it worked out:

While it still feels like yesterday, it's been nearly 14 years since the Wii launched. Although we've still seen some Wii releases over the past few years, seeing one more wasn't a given. Indeed, despite my best efforts, it just wasn't in cards anymore, at least, not for North America. However, as luck would have it, the doors hadn't quite closed yet with Nintendo of Europe, so it was still able see a release! Words truly can't express how appreciative I am, and I can't thank them enough for all the heavy lifting they did on their end to make it a reality. It's meant the world to me, and these Wii discs specifically hold an immense place in my heart.

As incredibly as it all worked out, unfortunately, Wii discs aren't region-free, and I didn't want North American players to be left out. Although I continued talks with NOA, floating around a Plan B, Plan C... Plan Z, sadly, every idea hit a wall. The clock was ticking, and after exhausting all other options, I decided to pivot to the next best thing: the Wii U. After all, the Wii U still supported Wii Remotes, Wii Classic Controllers, and even 4:3! So, I rushed against time to port Shakedown: Hawaii to Wii U as well, and get it through certification before that door could close too!

I absolutely love this.  Bringing this game to a pair of dead platforms is really money down a hole, but sometimes things need to be accomplished just because they can be.  North America will miss out on the Wii version completely, as in addition to the disc not launching outside of Europe, the Wii Shop Channel was discontinued some time ago, so a downloadable release is out of the question.  I suppose this makes Shakedown: Hawaii the final Wii game to be released on disc.  Hang on to that for future trivia nights.


Official Mario Paint VHS Teaches Digital Artistry

Mario Paint VHSNintendo's 1992 release Mario Paint for the Super NES sought to turn the console's audience into artists and musicians with its suite of creative tools, and while the game came with an instructional manual, the learning curve could be steep if you didn't have a basic grasp on the concepts behind digital art and music.  Nintendo published an official player's guide packed with stamp templates and basic tips to get you started on your creative adventure, but in Japan you could also get an official Mario Paint instructional videotape.  Released by Ape Inc., this thirty-minute video explains how to use the tools in far more detail than any printed page could ever hope and shows off some of the creations developed by the video team.  James Eldred at Mostly Retro bought the VHS and ripped it into a YouTube video for posterity. He also has some of the promotional inserts for other guides that came packed in with it, so be sure to go to his site for the full story.

I really wish I would’ve had something like this when I was a kid and playing with Mario Paint. There are some really fantastic tips in here. Using stamps to make ultra-fine lines, for instance, I don’t know if I ever thought of that. I only used stamps to make pixel art.

I enjoyed messing around with Mario Paint as a kid, but never accomplished much beyond recreating sprites from my favorite games with the stamp tool (more pixel art!) and tinkering with the music editor.  Nintendo Power would occasionally run images from Mario Paint animation videos sent in by very talented artists that blew away anything I could ever hope to create.  It was intimidating stuff and helped drive me back over to Super Mario Kart when the inspiration ran out.


Nintendo Backs Off From Mobile Gaming

MaxresdefaultNintendo believed it was poised to become a billion dollar force in the mobile gaming app market a few years ago when it announced its first game developed exclusively for mobile hardware, Super Mario Run, but as Takashi Mochizuki at Bloomburg reports today, the company is retreating from that market following a series of lackluster returns and a question of whether its worth continuing to pursue that market now that the Switch is so successful.  As the article points out, Nintendo's mobile projects were announced during the Wii U era when the company needed profitable successes, and with that console never reaching the heights of its predecessor and the handheld Nintendo 3DS approaching its sunset years, the only other option was to strike out into the mobile market.

President Shuntaro Furukawa proclaimed two years ago that smartphone games would be a $1 billion business with growth potential, building on his predecessor’s promise that Nintendo would release two to three mobile titles each year. That spurred hopes among investors that the gaming powerhouse could carve out a substantial slice of the market. In May, however, the president adopted a markedly different tune, saying “We are not necessarily looking to continue releasing many new applications for the mobile market.”

Mobile games are expected to make $77.2 billion this year, which would account for half of the overall video game industry’s sales, according to research from Newzoo. But “since the release of Mario Kart Tour in fall 2019, Nintendo’s mobile pipeline is empty,” said Serkan Toto, a mobile games consultant in Tokyo. “In a sense, Nintendo’s enormous success on console reduced the need and the pressure to put resources into mobile.”

The central problem with Nintendo's mobile games is that to be a highly successful and profitable mobile gaming company, you pretty much have to be a greedy amoral jerk of a company.  The most successful mobile games are bottomless pits of endless microtransactions that are designed to entice players to spend more and more money without really thinking about it.  That way of doing business has never been Nintendo's style.  Super Mario Run required only a one-time ten dollar fee to unlock everything in the game, while other games in the company's mobile realm included microtransactions, they were never as predatory as the other big fish in that pond. 

I bought the full game unlock for Super Mario Run, but I haven't played the game in over a year.  I tried Dr. Mario World, but never paid any money for it and soon quit playing it.  I pay the five dollars a month that it costs for a Mario Kart Tour gold pass which earns me extra bonuses while playing the game, and I feel I get my money's worth out of it as I play multiple races every day.  Yes, there are more expensive packs for sale that offer exclusive drivers and vehicles that are priced for the so-called mobile gaming whales out there, but that little five dollar fee is enough for me.  It would seem that to be profitable enough to be worthwhile, it's not enough for Nintendo.  I'm OK with Nintendo letting mobile go.  Their best work has always been found on their own hardware.


Mini-Review: Evan's Remains

Evan's RemainsWhen a genius inventor named Evan Goldstein disappears, his last supposed location is on a mysterious island.  Years later, a letter arrives asking that a girl named Dysis go to the island and find him.  That's about where things are when we pick up the plot of Evan's Remains, a new indie game developed by Matías Schmied for the Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.  The publisher, Whitethorn Digital, offered me a free download of the game to check it out, and since I'm a fan of side-scrolling puzzle platformer adventures, I eagerly accepted.  What I got in the end wasn't what I expected at all and I'm left wondering if perhaps this is one of those games that just isn't for me.

Continue reading "Mini-Review: Evan's Remains" »


Zelda 3 Lives On

Electronic Gaming MonthlyThose of us who grew up with gaming in the 1990s relied on magazines such as Nintendo Power and Electronic Gaming Monthly for our news on new titles, and often those titles were teased in print before they had official titles.  Everyone was talking about Zelda 3 before it was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and, and before we bought The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time we knew it as Zelda 64.  The thing is, these shorthand titles tend to stick.  Clyde Mandelin discusses the staying power of temporary titles over at Legends of Localization.

I’m not alone, actually – many other gamers my age still refer to A Link to the Past as “Zelda III” out of habit. A large part of it is that magazines at the time called it “Zelda III” even though it had a subtitle. This led everyone to call it that on playgrounds, in homes, at workplaces, etc. Basically, for a short period, “Zelda III” was what almost everyone called it, at least for short.

A similar thing happened with “Link’s Awakening” and “Zelda IV”. My recollection is that this numerated title didn’t stick around nearly as long, so it’s rarer to hear anyone refer it to as “Zelda IV” these days.

While this kind of thing isn't exclusive to the Zelda franchise (Super Mario World was colloquially called Super Mario Bros. 4 before its debut and the game even carries that subtitle in Japan), the wordy titles of the franchise tend to make the numerical shorthand something of a necessity.  Somehow I expect that if the third Sonic the Hedgehog game was entitled Sonic the Hedgehog and the Floating Island, we'd still refer to it in passing as Sonic 3.  There are too many Zelda games today to count them off in sequential order, but for a while there it was a handy tool. 


Power Button - Episode 307: Favored Endings

Power ButtonWe're looking at some of our favorite video game endings on this week's new podcast episode with a trip through our dreams with Super Mario Bros. 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, a long game of endings spanning the Mega Man X series into the Mega Man Zero series, Halo Reach's unhappy ending, Mass Effect 2's suicidal ending, Portal 2 ending with a song, 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.