Retro/Classic Feed

Unreleased Sonic the Hedgehog Game Leaks Out

SegaSonic Bros.Once Sega realized they had captured lightning in a bottle with 1991's Sonic the Hedgehog, the company commissioned all kinds of additional games that used the Sonic branding.  Aside from sequels, we've seen plenty of spin-offs that use Sonic in unexpected ways such as Sonic Spinball and Sonic Shuffle, but one of those games - a block-dropping puzzle title for arcades - went unreleased and is only just recently seeing the light of day.  Created by the mind behind Taito titles such as Bubble Bobble and Syvalion, the oddly named SegaSonic Bros. casts Sonic and his differently colored brothers as falling blocks that must be lined up on a 2D grid in a certain way in order to score big points.  While still unavailable for sale, the game leaked out to the Internet earlier this year and is playable in the MAME arcade emulator.  Hardcore Gaming 101 explains it.

SegaSonic Bros. was never released because it failed the location tests, held in late 1992, and Sega deemed it unfit for wide release. And after playing the game for a round or two, it’s easy to see why. For starters, the rules are a little complicated and difficult to explain, even though the pictures in the game’s tutorial mode makes it seem easy. The game also increases levels, and therefore speed, very quickly, which doesn’t give you much time to learn the game before becoming overwhelmed. One of the other issues is that the 2×2 blocks make it difficult to create straight lines – most of the time you’ll have two of the same color next to each other, so you’ll need to prioritize that color when building towards a loop. Standalone colors are useful for finishing loops, but otherwise will just become blocked with the color next to it.

The game seems complicated and not much fun for the arcade setting, plus it doesn't really need to use Sonic at all.  Just about any brand could have been jammed into the basic game without impacting how it plays.  It feels like it would have been more at home on the Game Gear as a competitor to Nintendo's Game Boy pack-in title, Tetris.  Still, hindsight in always 20/20 and Sega made the right call by canning this one.  Fortunately, the game is around now if you're eager to try it and explore another lost corner of Sonic history.


Nostalgia For A Non-Existent Memory

Electronic Gaming MonthlySomething strange happens around this time of year when darkness falls earlier in the evening and the cool winds blow as I get the craving to play classic Sonic the Hedgehog games, particularly the Sega Genesis titles (including spin-offs like Sonic Spinball and Sonic 3D Blast) and even the lesser Master System/Game Gear titles.  That's not entirely unusual, but the desire to play is rooted in memories of growing up with my game systems and taking time off from life to relax over the holidays, so you'd think that I'm trying to recapture a bit of my youth through Sonic, but here's the twist: I never owned any Sega hardware or Sonic titles when I was growing up.  The first Sonic game I owned was Sonic Adventure 2: Battle for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002 midway through my college years, and then Sonic Mega Collection shortly after that.  I've never been able to figure out why I equate playing Sonic with this time of year until just recently when I finally made the mental connection that explains it all.

When I wasn't playing video games as a kid, I was usually reading about them in the magazines of the day such as Electronic Gaming Monthly and GamePro which were both publications that leaned heavy on Sonic coverage.  The speedy hedgehog was all over those issues in the early 1990s, first as pre-release rumor, then preview, then review, then maps/guides, then finally as part of a year-end recap.  I followed Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD, Sonic Spinball, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic & Knuckles through this printed path year after year, wanting to play them all but never owning the hardware required to do it.  The nostalgia I feel for these games isn't for playing them, it's for vicariously experiencing them through print! 

Now, thanks to retro compilations, I own the classic Sonic catalog several times over across a few different platforms, so the old games are never far from my reach, but I do still think back on the magazines from time to time and the thrill of finding a Sega Genesis demo station in a store like Sears where I could play a round or two of Emerald Hill Zone in the Funtronics section while my parents were shopping.  I've been playing Sonic games lately to scratch that old memory itch, but maybe I should be reading about them instead.


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. 


Full List Of PlayStation Classic Games Revealed

PlayStation ClassicAfter teasing us in September with the announcement of its PlayStation Classic mini console, today Sony has announced the full list of games that are included on the device due for sale in December.  As you'll recall, the PlayStation Classic is the company's PS1 nostalgia box and while we had plenty of suggestions for the included game library on Episode 273 of the Power Button podcast, Sony didn't exactly take our advice as there's not a Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Tomb Raider, or Castlevania title to be found.  Here's what did make the cut for the North American version courtesy of the PlayStation Blog:

  • Battle Arena Toshinden
  • Cool Boarders 2
  • Destruction Derby
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Intelligent Qube
  • Jumping Flash
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Mr Driller
  • Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
  • Rayman
  • Resident Evil Director’s Cut
  • Revelations: Persona
  • Ridge Racer Type 4
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Syphon Filter
  • Tekken 3
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
  • Twisted Metal
  • Wild Arms

That's certainly a collection of PS1 games.  The Japanese version of the console trades out a few of these games for a few RPGs that were popular in that country that didn't quite catch on elsewhere.  I'm passing on this one because I don't have any PS1 nostalgia that isn't already met by the downloadable classics on the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, but I'm sure there's a subset of the gaming community out there that reads this list and is instantly transported back to childhood Christmas mornings of 1996-1999 or so.  There are definitely some gaps in this list though and I also expect I'm not the only person who read this and said to himself, "Huh, OK.  Not my thing but you kids have fun."  The PlayStation Classic will likely sell well, but I wonder how much longevity it will have once its plugged into a TV after those first few days of post-purchase excitement.  Will players still be excited about Battle Area Toshinden weeks later?


Power Button - Episode 275: A Tribute To Developers (Part 2)

Power ButtonPicking up from where we left off last week, this episode of the Power Button podcast continues on with our discussion of our favorite development teams.  This installment focuses on Rockstar Games, Konami's teams behind the latter-day Castlevania games, Blizzard, Sonic Team, and many 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. 


Power Button - Episode 274: A Tribute To Developers (Part 1)

Power ButtonWe've talked a lot about our favorite video games over the years, but on this week's episode of the Power Button podcast we're talking about some of our favorite video game developers.  Insomniac Games, PagodaWest Games, Naughty Dog, Nintendo's litany of internal studios and partnerships, 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. 


Power Button - Episode 273: PlayStation Classic Means Blake Has A Problem

Power ButtonSony is joining the retro console market with its upcoming PlayStation Classic featuring twenty built-in original PS1 games in the style of Nintendo's classic mini consoles.  This week on the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I explore some of the games from the PS1 library that we believe have earned a place on the console.  Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Tomb Raider 2, Parappa the Rappa, Spider-Man, Mega Man X4, and more all deserve a shot.   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.


Castlevania Returns For PS4

Castlevania RequiemIt just wouldn't be the Halloween season without Castlevania, and considering that Konami has backed away from the video game publishing world over the past few years compared to its output from the 1980s-2000s, well, let's just say that it hasn't been the Halloween season for the past few years.  That's changing on October 26 as Konami has announced that it's bringing two Castlevania classics, Rondo of Blood originally for the PC Engine and Symphony of the Night from the PS1, to the PlayStation 4 with trophies, 4K/1080p upscaling, and more.  The PlayStation Blog fills us in on the new content.

Both games are the originals emulated for the PlayStation 4, with several updates that take advantage of the new hardware. This includes 4K/1080p upscaling, multiple high resolution backgrounds, different rendering options such as smoothing and full Trophy support. Word of warning though, that Platinum will be tough to get. Elsewhere, Requiem will make use of the DualShock 4’s vibration, analogue stick and speaker, with the latter meaning you’ll hear a cool little chime when you pick up an item.

It's $20 for the pair bundled together under the name Castlevania Requiem It appears from the screenshots that these are not the original PCE and PS1 games, but instead the versions of the games that were included as secret unlockables in the 2007 PlayStation Portable release of Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles.  That game featured a new side-scrolling 3D remake of Rondo as its spotlight title with the original Rondo and Symphony included as bonuses, although unlocking those bonuses was nearly impossible without a guide (and even with a guide, it's difficult).  Notably, the PSP version of Symphony includes, among other things, a relocalized script and a second playable character: Maria Renard*.  While Symphony purists hold the original PS1 version in high esteem, the PSP version is a different experience that puts a fresh spin on a classic.  It's the right call to include it here, and hopefully we'll see more classic Castlevania titles brought back in the future. 

* She's not the same playable Maria from the Sega Saturn version of the game, and my goodness you don't want to play that version.


Sony Joins The Classic Mini Console Craze

PlayStation ClassicWe truly live in the age of the classic mini retro console as Sony has joined the club with its new PlayStation Classic.  Seemingly following in the footsteps of Nintendo's NES Classic and Super NES Classic, the PlayStation Classic is a small PS1 console with twenty built-in games, HDMI output, and two non-DualShock controllers selling for a MSRP of $99.99 with a release date of December 3, 2018.  The PlayStation Blog has the news.

Today, we are excited to announce that we are bringing back the original PlayStation experience in a new miniaturized version – PlayStation Classic! The console will come pre-loaded with 20 classic titles, including fan-favorites such as Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms.

The mini console is approximately 45% smaller than the original PlayStation, and it emulates the original’s look and feel by featuring similar controllers and packaging. Long-time fans will appreciate the nostalgia that comes with rediscovering the games they know and love, while gamers who might be new to the platform can enjoy the groundbreaking PlayStation console experience that started it all. All of the pre-loaded games will be playable in their original format.

I'm curious how this will do in the marketplace.  While the pixel graphics of the NES and Super NES have aged well due to their iconic visual style, early 3D games from the era of the PS1 and the Nintendo 64 have not fared as well.  Nobody fondly remembers low resolution textures and a limited draw distance.  Nostalgia is a powerful draw though, as I've seen comments online today about people yearning to revisit the PS1 as it was their first console or the console they spent a lot of two-player nights with in college.  I didn't grow up with a PS1 and didn't play a PS1 game until well into my years owning a PlayStation 3 after college, so I'm not in the market for one of these, but I say play whatever makes you happy no matter how well or poorly its aged. 


Power Button - Episode 271: Big Williams/Zen Pinball News Plus The Last Round Of Updated Re-Releases

Power ButtonWe're wrapping up our mini-series episodes of video games that changed when they were re-released with discussions on games such as Donkey Kong Country 3, Half-Life, and the Xbox Duke controller, but before we dig into that we have a dive into the big news that Zen Studios has acquired the licenses for the Williams and Bally pinball tables.  Spend an hour with us for some fun.   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.