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An Early Look At Aero The Acro-bat For GBA

Aero the Acro-batLongtime PTB readers will remember how much I love the two Aero the Acro-bat games for the Super NES, and even though the Game Boy Advance port of the first game isn't quite up to the original's level of quality (particularly the amazing music), it has enough going for it that it's worth a play (especially for the bit of new material).  I missed this news when it was new, but Forest of Illusion has recovered a very early version of that GBA port which apparently represents only a few days of work.  The Aero character's sprite set in use comes from the first game, while the final GBA port would use Aero's sequel sprites, for instance.  Hard4Games has created a playthrough video on YouTube so we can see the early progress and it's an interesting watch for those of us familiar with the game.

Have A Mario Christmas

Mario ChristmasCheck out this vintage piece of Nintendo merchandise from my collection.  I've held on to this Mario Christmas decoration over the years; it hung on my childhood game room door each December when I was a kid and as a teen, and now it hangs on my game room door of my adult home.  Dating back to 1989, this decoration sports the Super Mario Bros. 2 style of character artwork with the classic red overalls and blue shirt for Mario instead of today's modern color swap.  The pop-out tree was originally held in place with a small plastic clip that has gone missing since last year, so now a twist tie does the job.  It's also a little banged up from over thirty years of use and storage, but there's no way I would part with it.  I love the artwork on this decoration.  While I still love Super Mario games and the modern incarnation of the franchise, this version of the character was my Mario and always reminds me of those comforting holiday memories from when my biggest concern was wishing that I'd find a Super NES and Super Mario World under the tree.

Mario Christmas

Super Mario World Localization Prototype Revealed

Super Mario WorldMore and more development builds and assets from classic Nintendo video games have found their way to the Internet in the past few years, but it's still a nice surprise to see in-progress versions of beloved favorites pop up.  Today's game under the magnifying glass is 1991's Super Mario World for the Super NES, as Forest of Illusion has acquired and documented an October 1990 localization prototype used to prepare the game for its North American release.  This version contains a different title screen logo, different fonts, a few script changes, a slew of enabled debugging tools, and some other interesting changes.  Check out the video for the full set of documented differences. It's an interesting peek behind the curtain.

All I Want For Christmas Is Wii U


Mash up the perennial Christmas hit "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey with the beloved background music from Nintendo's Wii Shop Channel and you get a little something like this tune as arranged by Kuribo98.  I'm amazed at how well these two songs intertwine, preserving the beats and riffs of both simultaneously.  The same treatment has been given to "Jingle Bells" and the Mii Channel theme, too.  Tis the season!

(via MetaFilter)

Power Button - Episode 352: Gather The Family Around Video Gaming's Warm Glowing Warming Glow

Power ButtonAs the holiday season is upon us and people are planning to spend time with family, we thought it was the perfect time to recommend video games perfect for some family multiplayer fun time.  Gather the kids, your siblings, your parents, and everyone in your circle who enjoys controllers to spend some time with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, Kirby's Dream Buffet, and many more.  Join us! 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. 

New Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Update Adds Item Toggles

Mario Kart 8 DeluxeAs part of the new Wave 3 update of the Booster Pass expansion, Nintendo has also added an extra surprise for all players of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch.  Players can now toggle individual items on and off in certain modes similarly as to what Super Smash Bros. offers for item customizations, so now you can disable the dreaded blue shells or have a race with just mushrooms and horns if that's your thing.  Or, if you want to go all-in on madness, you can race with nothing but blue shells.  Let the chaos begin!

Power Button - Episode 351: Thirty Hours With Sonic Frontiers

Power ButtonThere's lots to do in the open zones of the Starfall Islands in Sonic Frontiers, and since I spent thirty hours last week seeing it all and earning the platinum trophy, it seems only right to spend this episode of the podcast discussing the game.  Before we get into that though, Blake Grundman regales us with tales of his recent European tour and we take a suggestion from the audience and give The Pinball Wizard for PC, iOS, and Nintendo Switch a spin. 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. 

Star Fox Gets A Boost

Star Fox EXNintendo's Star Fox for the Super NES is fondly remembered today despite aging terribly.  It runs at twenty frames per second if you're lucky, its polygons are very basic, and it lacks the refinements found in its sequels.  Aiming to make the game a better modern experience without sacrificing what still makes it fun, kandowontu has created a hack of the game called Star Fox EX that adds a ton of improvements and refinements.  There's seventeen new levels, a model viewer, support for the Super NES mouse and Super Scope, multiplayer mode for up to five players, wingmen controlled by the player, and much more!

The Mario Bros. have decided that the Star Fox franchise no longer has a place within the grand Nintendo universe, and has set out to destroy the Lylat System forever, with the help of characters from more successful Nintendo IPs! They have also posed as Andross in order to hire the infamous Star Wolf team, a rival band of mercenaries led by Wolf O’Donnell, to distract Star Fox while they pull off their plans! Can Fox and his team put aside their former friendship with the Nintendo All-Stars to save both the Lylat System and everything associated with their franchise?”

I love hacks that build something entirely new out of the original content.  Watch for appearances from Mario and Luigi, Metroids, and many other familiar faces from the Nintendo universe.  Better yet, if you have the right accessories, you can play this hack on original Super NES hardware.  It's exciting stuff.

Build Your Own Game Boy Pocket SP

Game Boy Pocket SPNintendo's Game Boy Pocket does a lot of things right when it comes to handheld gaming, but the one thing you cannot do with it is fold it in half (and expect to be able to use it again afterward, anyway!).  Programmer Allison Parrish set right what once went wrong by taking the best aspect of the successor Game Boy Advance SP in terms of folding, the hinge, and applied it to the Pocket hardware.  The result is a Game Boy Pocket SP, and with a little engineering knowledge and access to the proper resources, you can build one of your own.

Over the summer I dug in deep with Game Boy modding and made this: the Game Boy Pocket SP. It’s a Game Boy Pocket motherboard that I cut in half and then put into a custom-designed shell with a hinge, a la the Game Boy Advance SP. The build has a pair of custom-designed flex PCBs to make routing signals between the two halves of the board easier. Along the way I taught myself CAD (with FreeCAD), PCB design (with KiCad) and 3D printing. The 3D models and PCB layouts for the Pocket SP are available on GitHub.

In this post, I’m going to talk about why and how I made the Pocket SP, and how you can make your own.

At first I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to do this.  After all, the GBA SP already plays Game Boy games right out of the box and then some.  The Pocket cannot play Game Boy Color or Game Boy Advance games.  Why go through all this trouble just to end up with a piece of hardware that does less than its more advanced counterpart?  Then I saw the photos of the GBP SP and understood completely.  Sometimes these kinds of things are worth doing just to accomplish them.  I have no need for a GBP SP, but damn if it's not a beautiful little device.

(via MetaFilter)

Special Thanks To Vram Stoker

CastlevaniaOn this Halloween, let us turn our attention to the end credits of Konami's original Castlevania for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  Rather than credit the staff that worked on the game (either real names or pseudonyms), the credits list the supposed cast of the game itself as played by notable horror icons such as, er, Christopher Bee and Jone Candies.  Mistranslation much?  Probably not.  Drew Mackie at Thrilling Tales of Old Video Games has dissected the Castlevania credits to explain who these parodic names are supposed to be.

Slide two: “Screenplay by Vram Stoker / Music by James Banana.” Again, the first one is very obviously a nod to Bram Stoker, author of the novel Dracula, with a little of the [b]/[v] confusion I mentioned in my piece on Sypha’s name. Interestingly, the person who best fits the title of screenwriter for the first Castlevania is again Hitoshi Akamatsu, so I’m guessing the credits are all purely horror references and not stand-ins for actual people. 

James Banana is presumably a reference to James Bernard, Hammer Films composer and specifically the person who scored the 1958 Dracula. The music for the first Castlevania game was composed by Kinuyo Yamashita and Satoe Terashima. For whatever reason, the name has stuck to Yamashita specifically, even though it’s Terashima who wrote the iconic track “Vampire Killer.”

Those three NES Castlevania games use the tropes of classic horror movies starting on the title screens, so it's no surprise that the credits would complete the experience. Today's modern games include closing credits full of real names that scroll on and on and on, listing everyone who worked in programming, marketing, catering, international versions, people who drove by the studio one day, etc., and it's important to credit everyone who works on a game, but sometimes I think we've lost something by doing away with quick credits that go for a laugh (or at least, in Castlevania's case, a bemused "huh?").