Retro/Classic Feed

Game & Watch Strikes Back

Game & WatchNintendo has revived its old Game & Watch line for the anniversaries of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, but the $50 handhelds you can buy today are not representative of what the product line used to be.  The original Game & Watch units used primitive LCD graphics instead of full color screens, so it's understandable why Nintendo isn't reproducing the exact old hardware.  Now you can sample the Game & Watch experience with Itizso's lovingly created digital reproductions of three different Donkey Kong handhelds, models DK-52, JR-55, and DJ-101 — that's Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong II, and Donkey Kong Jr. to you and me.  Play the games, look at the time, read the instructions, check out the box, and wish that the faux-amiibo included for decoration were real products that I could display in my game room.  It's a window to a different time and, let me tell ya, these games get much better from here.

(via @DrTomTilley)


Power Button - Episode 332: Birthday For Barrel And Banana

Power ButtonWe're celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Nintendo's original Donkey Kong arcade game this week on the podcast with a salute to some of the gorilla's best games spanning from the very beginning through his 16-bit rebirth into the modern era.  Join us for memories and a to-do list of games you need to play; yes, the Country series is in there, but we also go into the weeds with lesser known games such as King of Swing and Barrel Blast.  You'll be busy long after the discussion ends. 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 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.


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. 


Castlevania Resurrection For Sega Dreamcast Resurrected

Castlevania ResurrectionSega and Konami had trouble making a partnership involving the famed Castlevania franchise work.  Despite releasing Bloodlines for the Genesis in 1994, plans to produce Castlevania titles for the 32X and Dreamcast never did come to fruition as those hardware platforms went down in flames in the market.  One of the more intriguing cancelled games is Castlevania Resurrection for the Dreamcast which focused on the then-origin of the Belmont family line, Sonia Belmont from, 1997's Castlevania Legends, as she embarked on a 3D adventure that was to be a step up from what the 3D Castlevania titles on the Nintendo 64 offered.  While a few screenshots have made it out over the years since the game was canned in 2000, it's only now that a playable demo from E3 1999 has made it into eager fans' hands.  Playable in emulators and real Dreamcast hardware, it's supposedly 25% complete and includes four playable areas that were shown to the press behind closed doors.

Castlevania Ressurection, dans sa version prototypale de l’E3 99, comporte ainsi 4 stages (et un cinquième accessible via émulateur). En sachant que le titre, selon les rumeurs, n’est pas allé au-delà des 25 % de développement, cela laisse envisager qu’il subsiste peut-être une autre version mais si c’est le cas, elle ne doit pas être beaucoup plus avancée. Les intentions étaient là, la réalisation n’a rien de spectaculaire pour une Dreamcast mais il y a tout de même de jolis effets et certains décors sortent du lot. Le titre de Konami aurait pu être un très bon jeu mais il semblerait que des dissensions entre la maison-mère japonaise et la filiale américaine (tiens, ça me rappelle un autre éditeur) aient eu raison du projet. C’est dommage car le potentiel était là.

I've never felt satisfied playing a Castlevania game in 3D and I don't know if Resurrection would have changed my opinion, but it certainly looks sharper than the games that would come after it for the Sony PlayStation 2, Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness.  We'll never know if the finished game would have lived up to expectations, but at least now fans can have a taste of what was in in development.


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 327: Twenty Years Of Playing With Advance Power

Power ButtonNintendo's Game Boy Advance turns twenty years old in month, so it's the perfect time to reminisce about one of the strongest handheld libraries that only use a single screen.  On this week's episode we're sharing GBA stories, covering the usual suspect games like Super Mario Advance, and recommending some obscurities such as Drill Dozer, marveling at unusual accessories including motion sensors, rumble paks, TV tuners, media players, and the e-Reader.  Join us for an hour of conversation about the popular handheld.  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. 


Super Mario 64 But You Are The Scary Piano

Mad PianoHobbyist ROM hackers and modders have made minor changes to classic video games since the dawn of computer gaming.  Well, maybe not the dawn.  Perhaps the week after the dawn.  When I was first dabbling with console emulation back in the 1990s I saw a glut of crudely changed games clearly altered for shock value such as nude and/or racism-inspired hacks of Super Mario Bros. where all someone did was change a few pixels here and there.  Today that scene has evolved, and while I'm sure there are still young teens making trash for their own amusement, most hacks and mods today focus on quality of life improvements, creating new levels, reviving canceled features left dormant in the game data, and even changing the player character into someone completely different.  For instance, here's a mod for 1996's Super Mario 64 that removes Mario from the equation and replaces him with the terrifying, sharp-toothed piano from the Big Boo's Haunt level.  Once confined to a dingy room, the mad piano is free to explore the world.  Ramming into familiar foes with mighty chompers, the piano seems absolutely unstoppable.  It's somehow able to grab Bowser and swing him around even without arms and can even don wings to fly free.  Go, piano, go!  You've earned it.

(via Platypus Comix)


Watch The Nelsonic Mario Watch

Nelsonic Mario watchToday when you talk about handheld gaming, most players think of a Nintendo Switch or a mobile device connected to a remote play or cloud gaming service.  Twenty years ago, handheld gaming meant carting around a Game Boy Color.  Thirty years ago?  Well, there was the original Game Boy, of course, but for a cheaper and more portable experience there were the Nelsonic gaming watches featuring famous licensed franchises from Nintendo including Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey KongI wrote about my cherished Mario watch back in 2006, but Brian Crecente at Pad and Pixel dug into the history of the gaming watch concept and details how Mario wound up on our wrists once upon a time.

“Of course, the game-changer was the Pac Man game watch,” he said. “Again, I think the reason Bernie saw this first was because we were the demographic of the kids putting hundreds of quarters into the arcade versions. To play this game on your wrist was just too unbelievable. We had two suppliers in Hong Kong making the game for us. Both had color screens that looked identical to the arcade version and made that thoroughly annoying munching sound. One version actually supplied four colored mini joysticks to insert into the port in the watch face and play the game as if it were in the arcade.”

I had no idea Nelsonic was producing these watches into the Super NES era with a Star Fox model.  Today these watches are more of a unique collectible and conversation piece than an practical way to tell time or play a video game.  I wore my watch to my office job once on a lark and spent most the day explaining what the hell was strapped to my wrist.  Now it resides in my gaming collectibles display case with other Mario memorabilia.