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Journey With The Doctor To The Edge Of Time

Doctor Who: The Edge of Time

I can understand why it's a challenge to make a video game based on Doctor Who that honors the spirit of the source material.  The Doctor abhors guns, so a shooter is out of the question.  You could make a platformer because the Doctor and his/her companions certainly do a lot of running, but there's not much of the show's soul in a jumpfest.  Match-5 puzzle game?  Well, now you're not even trying!  Thankfully, the folks at the BBC, PlayStack, and developer Maze Theory have seemingly cracked the puzzle of what it takes to make a solid Doctor Who game with a VR adventure that casts the player in the role of the Doctor's latest assistant who must come to the rescue when she (voiced by Jodie Whittaker from the television series) needs help solving the latest universe-ending jam.  Doctor Who: The Edge of Time released last week for the PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Vive Cosmos.  Here's a bit of the press release that summarizes the experience:

Armed with the iconic Sonic Screwdriver, players will solve mind-bending puzzles, grapple with classic monsters and encounter new horizons in a quest to find the Doctor and defeat a powerful force that threatens to destroy the fabric of reality. They will face the infamous Daleks and other known faces from the Doctor’s world plus some brand new never-before-seen monsters as they travel through stunning cinematic environments that truly bring the show to life!

The Doctor has been hurled through time to the end of the universe. A virus that threatens to rip apart reality itself has been unleashed. Players can pilot the TARDIS on a journey across worlds both familiar and strange to recover a series of powerful time crystals that can repair spacetime and ultimately, save the universe itself.

I've been playing the game on PSVR and am impressed with what I've seen so far.  I mean, I get to wave a sonic screwdriver around to make things happen, and that right there is at least 25% of what you need for a real Doctor Who game.  The rest comes from monsters both familiar and new, an engaging story that feels like an episode of the TV show (even the opening credits have been reworked for VR, sending players hurtling through the time vortex in first-person), solving puzzles, and finally being able to remark for myself that "It's bigger on the inside" when I step inside the TARDIS for the first time.  I have more to play before I'm ready to write a review and issue a verdict, but first impressions are solid except for one issue: as I unfortunately experienced with Borderlands 2 VR, playing the game for more than twenty minutes or so makes me incredibly nauseated.  I swear there's a monkey's paw at work because the more I want to play a VR game, the more likely it is to make me sick.  My girlfriend (who is also a gamer and Doctor Who fanatic) and I have decided to switch off playing every few minutes so that we can recover from nausea by watching the old fashioned 2D television screen while the other one wears the PSVR helmet.  We'll solve the puzzles together and stave off stomach issues just like in one of those grand romantic montages from an old movie.  I'd like to think that the Doctor would appreciate our teamwork.


Power Button - Episode 296: Super Fun Holiday Season Gaming Preview Show

Power ButtonWith only about six weeks left in 2019 we are staring down the end of the year and all of the new games that come along with it.  This week Blake Grundman and I are talking about all of the new games due out between now and the end of December that we want to check out including titles like Luigi's Mansion 3, Death Stranding, Mario & Sonic the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, and more.  It's a great season to play some games!   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. 


Can You Survive The 8-Bit Nightmare?

Bloodstained: Ritual of the NightEach year on Halloween at PTB we take a moment to appreciate something from the world or lore of Konami's Castlevania franchise, but this year we're looking at something a little more Castlevania-adjacent.  Koji Igarashi's long-awaited spiritual successor to Castlevania, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, finally reached stores earlier this year and one of the hidden areas that players may overlook at a tribute to those original Castlevania titles for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  The 8-Bit Nightmare sends heroine Miriam into a side-scrolling level fashioned after the classic NES trilogy complete with legally distinct versions of ghosts, zombies, and bone dragon pillars originally made famous by Igarashi's previous series.  Kotaku tells you how to find the area (it's twice hidden as a secret room accessible from another secret room), but beware: it's a challenge!


Power Button - Episode 295: The Force Is Strong With Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order

Power ButtonBlake Grundman had a unique opportunity last week to play a preview version of the upcoming Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order at a press event in California, so of course we're going to spend an hour discussing this Unchartedesque / God of Warish / Assassin's Creedy kind of game.  Then marvel as Blake explores the recently opened Galaxy's Edge Star Wars section of Disneyland and then lingers around past closing to adventure his way through the empty park.   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 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. 


Shareware Memory Lane

EGA TrekIn the days before Steam and the Epic Game Store, PC gamers would encounter new games in the form of shareware passed around for free via BBSs or for a small fee at your local Wal-Mart or Best Buy.  Gaming classics including Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, Commander Keen, and Rise of the Triad all existed as games that offered the first episode for free and then, if you liked what you saw, you could send away for the remaining episodes of the game for a standard price.  Gamers were even encouraged to trade these free introductory episodes with friends; as in, share the software.  Shareware!  What a concept!  Over at ArsTechnica, Samuel Axon remembers some of the great classics from the world of DOS shareware including one of my old favorites that I hadn't thought about in years, EGA Trek, which is basically a Star Trek simulator with all of the Trek elements changed so as to not infringe on copyrights.

As the name suggests, one of EGA Trek's claims to fame was adapting the earlier Star Trek gameplay for the 16-color display format of the time. EGA Trek features a robust interface, a detailed, gridded galaxy map, a whole bunch of commands, and even a view window showing nearby ships, planets, and other objects of interest.

Your goal is to destroy all the invading ships from a rival space empire—a Klingon analog unfortunately called Mongols in this game. You travel between sectors, scan them, stop at starbases and planets for supplies, and battle enemy ships while managing your resources, redirecting power to the ship systems that need it, and conducting repairs.

I first encountered EGA Trek as a shareware download from a local BBS and then I later went on to buy the game on a 3.5" floppy disk from K-Mart.  None of those things exist anymore! All of the great PC games of the 1990s existed as shareware and people like me downloaded them over dial-up connections to try the latest titles from companies like Apogee and independent developers with a PO box and a dream.  The shareware model worked though.  I happily paid money for Commander Keen in Goodbye Galaxy after playing the shareware version of the game which encompassed basically half of the experience, but for every purchase like that there were also games that, for me, the shareware version was enough.  Duke Nukem 3D was awesome, sure, but I was happy with the three levels that the shareware version offered, so it was many years before I ended up buying the complete version on Steam.  There's still magic in those old shareware games, so check 'em out on modern digital distribution platforms where available or, hell, see if one of those old PO boxes is still open for business.


Ghostbusters Coming To Planet Coaster

Ghostbusters X Planet CoasterGhostbusters seems to be poised for another resurgence as a new film is in production, the 2009 video game is rumored for a current console generation re-release, and Dan Aykroyd has written a prequel script featuring the Ghostbusters characters in high school.  Now comes word that the amusement park simulation title Planet Coaster is crossing the streams with the supernatural spectacular featuring Aykroyd reprising his role as Ray Stantz who will mentor players throughout the campaign and William Atherton returning as Environmental Protection Agency antagonist Dickless Walter Peck.  New rides and other surprises await in this crossover add-on.

Ghostbusters fans will be steeped in nostalgia as other fan-favourite ghosts and characters make appearances as the story progresses, including Slimer, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and even the legendary ECTO-1 car. A new in-game interactive dark ride, The Ghostbusters Experience, allows Planet Coaster players to engage with the game in a whole new way as they take on the role of a Ghostbuster to bust ghosts with their particle throwers and log their high score.   

I've never played Planet Coaster, but if there's ever a reason for me to check it out, it would have to be this expansion.  The reveal trailer shows off just enough to pique interest.  No release date has been announced just yet.


Power Button - Episode 283: Wii Shop Channel Ends, Bungie Meets Its Destiny, and Anthem Performs

Power ButtonWe took January off due to busy schedules and terrible illnesses, but we're back and ready to go again by catching up on three big happenings from last month that we have talked about had we been producing new episodes.  First off we bid farewell to the recently closed Wii Shop Channel and cover one last run through the store's virtual aisles.  Next we hit Bungie and Activision calling it quits as Destiny returns home to its creators.  Finally, Blake Grundman takes us behind the scenes to discuss the Anthem preview event he recently attended at an Electronic Arts facility.  It's an hour of catching up on things.   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 282: The Best That 2018 Had To Offer

Power ButtonWith 2018 behind us we say a final farewell to the year with a look back at our top picks for Game of the Year.  Once again we're joined by our friend Ross Polly as we count down the best games that came our way last year.  With so many contenders such as God of War, Spider-Man, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Kirby Star Allies, Mega Man 11 and beyond it's a challenge to narrow the field and pick an absolute best, but somehow over the course of an hour we managed to do it.  Send 2018 out in style with 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 276: Belmont Meets Blue Bomber

Power ButtonOctober saw the glorious return of both Richter Belmont and Mega Man as Konami ported Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night to the Sony PlayStation 4 while Capcom released an all-new adventure for the Blue Bomber in Mega Man 11.  On this week's Power Button episode, Blake Grundman and I discuss both of these recent releases with a contentious, tense discussion over whether Castlevania Requiem is worth the time and money and a more friendly approach to Mega Man 11.  Also, be sure to tune in for Blake's Extra Life charity stream this weekend and help him meet his donation goal to help the Beaumont Children's Hospital. Happy Halloween, everyone!   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.