Another year done means a new batch of video games elevated into the vaunted Top 5 List of our Game of the Year picks. This week on the podcast we discuss our top picks for 2020 along with a few honorable mentions. Will the next-gen consoles sweep the honors or is there still juice in last generation's library? We have a supersized show in which to hash it all out. 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.
This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the original Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and so on this special occasion it's only right to take a look back at the ten greatest moments in the franchise's history. From the initial burst of releases in the early days of the series to its 16-bit and 32-bit reinventions to its unfortunate lull in the 2000s and then back in action with new sequels and compilations, there are many moments from which to choose and so many games to replay. While time does not permit spotlighting all of the best moments, there are some that demand attention. Read on for everlasting peace!
10: Mega Man - Versus Yellow Devil
While later games in the series would refine what became a familiar formula, the original 1987 Mega Man game established the basic framework of what a Mega Man game would be, and while the game threw plenty of (sometimes unfair) challenges at players, those challenges were largely built around stage design or dealing with enemies roughly the same size as Mega Man himself or smaller. That's why it's such a surprising shock when, in the first Dr. Wily stage, Mega Man enters what appears to be an empty boss arena (a gateless one, in fact; a first for the game). As new intense music starts to play, a stream of flying fragments zip into the dead-end room one by one, catching players off guard, inflicting damage, and quickly forming the monstrous Yellow Devil (aka Rock Monster). Today we know that a single bolt of the Thunder Beam and the game's infamous pause glitch will take out the Yellow Devil in seconds, but encountering this boss for the first time without warning or foreknowledge is a moment of breathtaking panic.
As Stephen Colbert prepares to sign off from Comedy Central's The Colbert Report for one last time tonight, I thought it was only right for us to take a look back at some of my favorite moments from the show that intersect with my love of video games. Colbert didn't go to the gaming well that often, but when he did, the results were golden. Revisit some of these classic moments as Stephen credits the BP oil spill solution to an anonymous plumber, points out how games influence children, coins new gaming catchphrases, dismantles GamerGate, launches his own MMORPG, and so much more.
Stephen Credits BP Oil Spill Fix To Super Mario
One of those great rules in life is that in most cases, the simplest explanation behind a question is also the correct one. Consider the recent attempt to cap the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill that was suggested by an anonymous plumber, for instance. Who is this mysterious figure? How can we possibly identify him or her? Leave it to Stephen Colbert, as he knows the answer. It could only be Mario behind the fix! After all, he had just as much to lose in the spill as anyone else. Also, we know for a fact that he has experience cleaning up spilled gunk. Just ask the residents of Isle Delfino.
Zen Studios has created something special with its Zen Pinball / Pinball FX platform, and thanks to our modern day system of buying downloadable expansions, the company can offer up new tables on a regular basis. In addition to original tables like Paranormal and Sorcerer's Mansion, Zen has created some amazing pinball tables based on popular franchises such as Star Wars, The Walking Dead, Street Fighter II, and the many properties under the Marvel Comics banner. That's all well and good, but I have a few suggestions for new table collections. Allow me to share the top five pinball table sets on my personal wish list.
Zen already has an arrangement with Capcom to license Street Fighter II, so why not take the next step and produce a Mega Man table? I envision a single table loaded up with encounters with Robot Masters rendered up in full 3D glory so they can move around the table as objectives change. Complete missions to earn new "weapons" which are worth point multipliers. Perhaps spelling out the letters B-A-S-S triggers a multiball mode. It all builds up to a battle against Dr. Wily as the final challenge, and I'm counting on the whole experience to include remixed arrangements of the franchise's best music.
It seems that Nintendo of America needs some help choosing items to offer as Platinum and Gold rewards for Elite level Club Nintendo members. After offering a Mario figurine in 2010, the program began to slide downward with soundtracks for aging games before landing with a dull thud in 2014 by offering a single download from a selection of lesser Virtual Console and eShop releases (exception: EarthBound, NES Remix, and Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D were great choices for those who did not already own them, but still flies counter to the idea that Elite rewards should be exclusive items). Clearly Club Nintendo has run out of ideas on how to make its members happy, so I'm ready to step up and suggest a few items off my wish list of dream Club Nintendo prizes any one of which would be perfect for 2015's Elite offerings.
Nintendo is working to launch its Amiibo product line of game-compatible figurines later this year, and while it's certain that many people who usually qualify for Elite status will pick up at least one, it would be wonderful to see Club Nintendo offer an exclusive figurine. Now, I'm against exclusive figurines that lock people out of in-game content, but I like the idea of an exclusive displayable that activates content in-game that could be earned elsewhere. Give us a special Mario figurine in which everyone's favorite plumber is wearing a Super Mario World cape or sporting a trusty raccoon tail. Show me Toon Link in his Wind Waker street clothes. Let's see Pikachu in a party hat. It's all about rare variants, but let's not lock out any actual game material from everyone else. There's exclusivity and then there's just being completely unfair. Gold members get a desk calendar showcasing the Amiibo product line.
Nintendo's Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U boasts an impressive and downright catchy soundtrack that will burrow into your brain and make a comfortable home. So much of the music that Mario and friends bop around to during their adventure is spectacularly fun, and since many people are missing out on the Wii U experience, I consider it a public service to bring my five favorite selections from the score to your attention for some listening pleasure. Take a seat, turn up the volume, and grab your favorite catsuit (that last part is optional and you can keep it to yourself if you choose to indulge). This soundtrack was performed by the Mario 3D World Big Band and composed by Mahito Yokota, Toru Minegishi, Yasuaki Iwata, and Koji Kondo. The Club Nintendo loyalty program has made a two-disc CD set of this music available in Japan and Australia and I highly recommend picking it up should you have access to it. The music is just that good.
One of the first songs heard when diving into the game is this main theme that makes up much of the soundtrack; different arrangements of it turn up from time to time performed with different instruments, at different tempos, and with different thematic relevance. This is the primary arrangement with its smooth saxophone and general swinging feel. It's perfect for climbing a wall or stomping a Goomba.
Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog has covered a lot of ground since his debut nearly twenty years ago. Some of that ground has been good, some bad, and, unfortunately, too much in recent memory has been absolutely awful. Sonic's fortunes seem to be changing with this week's release of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and — last week — Apple iPhone, but before we look forward, let's take a moment to took back. I invited my pal and Sonic aficionado Lucas DeWoody to help me narrow down Sonic's geography to the ten best levels that the franchise has to offer and banter back and forth a bit about what makes for a solid Sonic stage. My text is in red; his is in blue. Let's get right to it with the first stage on our list, shall we?
Sonic the Hedgehog: Green Hill Zone
The stage that started it all has to be included here. Reading my monthly gaming magazines as a kid, seeing the large maps of Green Hill Zone stirred my imagination. The checkerboard pattern of the ground and unusual loops had me wondering just what this Sonic the Hedgehog fellow was all about and, moreover, left me doing the mental acrobatics to trace a path for Nintendo’s Mario through Sonic’s world (couldn’t be done with the plumber’s Nintendo Entertainment System skill set, sadly). As a Nintendo child, I only sampled Sonic at demo kiosks while out shopping with my parents, so I logged a lot of time with this zone and only this zone.
It was the same way with me. My first exposure to Green Hill Zone was in 1991. I was at Toys R' Us when (unbeknownst to be) my Mom was trying to find me a Super Nintendo for Christmas. Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario World were both facing off on different sides of the aisle in rival kiosks. While I still believe Super Mario World to be the better of the two, I have to admit that even in 1991 Green Hill's iconic checkered structures and abstract visual design was far more interesting than Donut Plains 1. However, I was a Nintendo fan, so my torrid affair with Sonic the Hedgehog would have to take place back at the office or in hotel rooms – far away from the watchful eye of my Super Nintendo.
GameSpy ran two features last year that rate the top ten best and worst video game box arts of all time. Well, in their eyes, at least. A lot of what you'd expect to find in such an article is there (The Legend of Zelda is one of the best, while Mega Man is listed as the worst), but I still found both features lacking. Here are a few of my picks for best and worst box art of all time... or, at least, in recent memory of games I've bought over the years. Anyone can point to pictures online and say "That sucks!" but it takes guts to have purchased some of these godawful boxes.