Nintendo Feed

Virtual Boy Strikes Back In Luigi's Mansion 3

Luigi's Mansion 3When a Nintendo game really wants to commit to a gag, it goes all out to ride that joke as far as it can go.  Chris Kohler at Kotaku raises the recent example of Luigi's Mansion 3 for the Nintendo Switch following in the footsteps of its predecessor titles by outfitting Luigi not with a Game Boy Horror from the original Mansion or a Dual Scream from the sequel, but with something much more red and failed.

Early on in the game, Professor E. Gadd gives Luigi a way to communicate with him as he trawls the many floors of the hotel. It’s his latest invention… the Virtual Boo.  Nearly 25 years later, the Virtual Boy still fascinates video game likers for its sheer ridiculousness; a “virtual reality” system that projected monochrome red graphics in a headset to create a rudimentary 3D effect. It was pure out-of-left-field Nintendo, but this time it was way over the foul line, and Nintendo had to discontinue Virtual Boy within a year of its release.

I absolutely love this.  The Virtual Boo!  It's perfect and I didn't see it coming.  Using the VB even shades the screen a familiar tint of red and headache and the upgrade cartridges for the device are shaped like the Virtual Boy game paks of days gone by.  It's fantastic when a long-time game developer and publisher isn't afraid to poke a little fun at itself and leave its more recent fans wondering just what the hell is going on.  The Virtual Boo gimmick feels like the culmination of a wonderful twenty-five-year-old in-joke and those of us who remember 1995 are in on the gag.


Power Button - Episode 294: Everything Old Is New Again

Power ButtonGreat games don't die, they just get remastered.  On this week's episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I spend an hour discussing three games from yesterday that are back for more today.  The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for the Nintendo Switch first appeared on the Game Boy in 1993 and consumes our first segment, then Blake takes us back into Destiny 2 to discuss elements of the original Destiny that have been upgraded for the sequel's latest DLC.  Finally, I'm always eager to discuss 2009's Ghostbusters: The Video Game and the recently released Remastered edition is a perfect excuse to go on and on about what may as well be the third film in the franchise's mythology.  Join us as we prove that everything old is new again.   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 293: Nintendo Direct Inspect

Power ButtonNintendo dropped forty minutes worth of Switch news and announcements in a recent Nintendo Direct so on this week's podcast we're discussing all of the most interesting material from that broadcast including Banjo-Kazooie launching in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Super NES games arriving on Nintendo Switch Online, Overwatch inbound for Switch, Doom 64 getting a second look after all these years, new teases for The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, and much more.  Join us as we inspect and dissect the Direct.   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. 


Super NES Games Come To Nintendo Switch

Nintendo SwitchNintendo seems to have drained the well of worthwhile available Nintendo Entertainment System games to bring to its Nintendo Switch Online service judging by the past few months worth of lackluster releases, so now is a perfect for the company to switch gears and get to the truly good stuff: Super NES games.  Debuting today as part of the paid service, twenty games are available for play including some all-time heavy hitters such as Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario Kart, and Star Fox along with some obscurities like Stunt Race FX and Demon's Crest.  In fact, this is the first re-release for Stunt Race FX having skipped the previous three Virtual Console services and the Super NES Mini.  Check out the initial release list.

Nintendo Switch SNES games

I know there are the inevitable complaints in the gaming community that Nintendo is just serving up Super Mario World again and that these games should have been added to the service months ago, but they're here now, so let's all enjoy these classics and take the unfamiliar games for a spin.  The best games like these never get old!  Nintendo plans to add more games over time and there are plenty of all-star titles that I'd like to see included such as Super Mario RPG, the Donkey Kong Country trilogy, Chrono Trigger, EarthBound, and Kirby Super Star.  If you want to get into wishful thinking territory, there's always Star Fox 2 which so far has only appeared on the Super NES Mini and, for a deep cut of similarly unfamiliar proportions, there's Special Tee Shot which is the finished, unreleased game that became Kirby's Dream Course.  So much to play, so little time.


Power Button - Episode 290: Now We're Reminiscing About Portable Power

Power ButtonIn celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of Nintendo's famous Game Boy, Blake Grundman and I spend this week's podcast discussing the iconic portable gaming system and remembering our favorite handheld memories.  From our own Game Boy origin stories to classic games such as Super Mario Land, Tetris, and Wario Land to underwhelming licensed games including Ren & Stimpy: Space Cadet Adventures and Home Alone, we honor the big gray brick and recommend a few games you may have overlooked in the past three decades.  Oh, and of course I'm going to tell you to play Bionic Commando.  You had to know that was coming.  And did someone say Pokémon?   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. 


Nintendo Expands

Super NES expansion portThese days if you find a slot on a piece of Nintendo hardware it's likely that it's a place for a standardized piece of technology such as an SD card or a USB port, but the company used to have a knack for adding proprietary ports and slots to its consoles that were used for increasingly esoteric add-ons and upgrades.  Check out this fun article from the Nintendo World Report archives chronicling the history of Nintendo's various expansion ports from Nintendo Entertainment System to Nintendo 64 to Nintendo GameCube and beyond.  How many of these add-ons did you own?  Hint: likely zero.

First up is the Famicom and NES. Unlike the NES, the Famicom came with hard-wired controllers. Any extra controllers and peripherals could be plugged into Nintendo's first expansion port, which was located at the front of the machine. This port was used to host light guns, 3D shutter glasses, keyboards, extra controllers, and other items. Many system expansions plugged directly into the cartridge slot, such as the Famicom Disk System and the Famicom Modem. The Sharp Twin Famicom, a system that combined the Famicom and Disk System into one machine, added an additional three expansion ports, but these remained unused.

The NES shipped with an expansion port on the bottom of the console. On multiple occasions, modems were planned to be connected there. However, the NES expansion port never received a commercial application. Originally, the port was covered by a snap-in cover, but later model systems actually had a plastic tab covering the port completely. The port was still there, but the plastic actually had to broken off to access the port. The lack of expansion port utilization outside of Japan was an ongoing trend that started with Nintendo's first system.

Nintendo had lofty goals that usually went underwhelming fulfilled with most of the expansion port accessories debuting in Japan to provide niche gameplay experiences with experimental ideas and then appearing nowhere else.  Third parties filled the gap with increasingly obscure hardware that used the ports without achieving much success.  The NES, Super NES, and N64 all featured commonly unused expansion ports overseas and it wasn't until the GameCube era that the ports saw a mainstream use with the Game Boy Player (a pair of networking add-ons which also made use of the ports were offered for sale online in limited quantities and worked with a handful of games).  Hobbyists have long since cracked the mysteries of these ports, too.  While Nintendo didn't get around to doing much with these ports internationally, I'm glad they were there.  Had history unfolded a little differently, we could have been able to experience some of the unique ideas made possible by the expansion hardware and those ports were the gateway to making that happen. 


Power Button - Episode 289: Blood And Spiders

Power ButtonWe're back!  We've been on a forced hiatus for a few months due to my sudden health issues and Blake Grundman's conflict with the Norwegian tax authorities, but now that everything is getting back to normal we are here to discuss recent gaming happenings including Nintendo's announcements about the Switch Lite and a better battery for the original Switch, time spent with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, and Blake finally getting around to Marvel's Spider-Man.  Join us for an hour of catching up.   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. 


A Family Guy Salute To GoldenEye 007

Family Guy - GoldenEye 007Family Guy has skewered pop culture for two decades and I always laugh the most when the production team sets their sights on a classic video game.  In Season 17's "Griffin Winter Games", Peter Griffin and his daughter Meg are captured while trespassing in North Korea and must stage a thrilling escape in the style of a nostalgic video game.  Peter suggests they use Rare's famed GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64 as their inspiration, and what follows is a loving tribute to the console's most beloved shooters.  From the ammo count in the lower left corner of the screen to the targeting reticule that appears when Meg needs to target bolts to shoot open a grate to the little cinematic cut scenes, Family Guy knows the source material and has fun with it.  Peter even offers fun observations about the gameplay and environment while they make their escape.  It's an unexpected moment that will make GoldenEye fans smile.


Mobile Mario Kart Tour Enters Beta

Mario Kart TourNintendo's ongoing flirtatious partnership with the mobile gaming space continues with the upcoming Mario Kart Tour for iOS and Android in which the console Mario Kart experience is reformulated for a streamlined experience with microtransactions.  While the company's Super Mario Run released as a one-time purchase and failed to meet sales expectations, follow up titles based on Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem included microtransactional elements and have, so far, lit up sales charts, so I'm not surprised that Mario Kart Tour follows that mold.  The game is in beta for Android starting today and while players are bound by a restriction on posting screenshots of the game, you know that hardly anybody is honoring that.  Ethan Gach at Kotaku has a writeup on how the game plays and how much money it expects you to spend to have a fighting chance at winning.

To unlock additional circuits you collect Grand Stars by completing races and other challenges. Earning stars is also how you unlock gifts, some of which contain green gems, Mario Kart Tour’s premium currency. This is where things start to get weighed down with overlapping in-game currencies. For five gems you get to “pull” on a green pipe that shoots out a new driver, kart, or glider, each of a different rarity. My first pull got me Morton, one of the Bowser minions. Currently the in-game shop, which doesn’t allow you to buy gems yet, is advertising Metal Mario.

I'm interested in trying Mario Kart Tour once it releases, but I don't expect to put any money into it if it's just going to go to lootbox-style random pulls from a bank of items or characters.  I will spend money on mobile games provided that it's a single fee (such as the aforementioned Super Mario Run) and I realize that is a dying if not already dead business model in the mobile space that is increasingly built around monthly subscriptions or slot machine-style payouts of randomly generated items.  That said, I enjoy Star Trek Timelines and have paid a few dollars into its premium currency from time to time to support the development studio, but we're talking more along the lines of four dollars every few months as opposed to the $99 whale package that the game promotes every few days.  I'm sure that Mario Kart Tour's beta period will be used to gauge whether or not the current pricing model used in the game is fair and undoubtedly the marketplace in the release version will be balanced based on player input.  Whenever a mobile game goes into a public beta these days I naturally assume that's really what the developers are testing.  The gameplay is probably pretty well locked in by that point and its the engagement with the in-game store that really needs testing and input.  Mario Kart Tour's shop doesn't sell gems yet for real money, but it's only a matter of time before it does.

(Image via ResetEra)


How High Can This Donkey Kong Shelf Get?

Donkey Kong shelf

Since the dawn of time, humanity has had a single collective dream: to have a wall-mounted shelf that resembles a stage from Donkey Kong and to stock that shelf with little 8-bit stylized figurines of Nintendo characters.  Now I have achieved this dream.  Gaze upon the Donkey Kong shelf and the tableau it presents with Donkey Kong himself on the top level guarding both Princess Toadstool and a classic Donkey Kong arcade machine (it lights up and plays sound, too!).  Mario and Luigi are on their way to save the day and maybe earn a free game, plus Toad and Link are heading up the rear for backup.  A lone Goomba patrols the lower level; sadly, Link is the one hero on the scene who cannot jump, so maybe the Goomba has a fighting chance.  Also, Gizmo the mogwai from Gremlins has stumbled into the scene and is hanging from a ladder for no reason other than he looks cute doing it.  Hang on, Gizmo! 

Special thanks and appreciation to my girlfriend who spotted the basic shelves at IKEA and painted them to something more appropriate for a big gorilla.  Acquiring the figurines was a costly chore as several of them have been out of print for some time.  Amazon to the rescue, naturally, but it took patience and time to wait for a third-party seller who wasn't charging outrageous prices for essentially an $8 chunk of plastic.  Seriously, resellers, when it comes to pricing, how high can you get?