Whenever I vanish for a prolonged period, you can be sure that a new episode of failing health is behind it. This time around I'm dealing with an attack of pancreatitis which is a new experience for me. Sure, I've had my intestines, gallbladder, kidneys, and liver fail at times before (not to mention that time when several of those organs plus others all fused together and had to be surgically separated), but the pancreas is a new spot on the bingo card. For the past month I've dealt with pain, dehydration, malnutrition, and all of the other fun things that come with a issue adjacent to Crohn's Disease. I've spent most of the time asleep in bed or at my doctor's office being pumped full of fluids, plus I have new medication to take the stress of my ailing pancreas for a while. There were two weeks there where I didn't even have the strength to play any video games! That's how you know things are really tough. I'll be alright in the end and thankfully I've been able to stay out of the hospital this time, but for now I continue to rest and recover and, yes, I'm back to playing again when I feel up to it. Thanks for your patience while everything has gone dark temporarily here at PTB. I'll be back as I continue to feel better and can sit at the PC for longer periods.
Blake Grundman hijacks the topic this week for an hour of discussion about Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Spoilers abound and may the Force be with you! 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.
This is a deep rabbit hole of could-bes and might-haves, but I appreciate a good bit of digital sleuthing, so let's go on the journey together. USgamer reports that a line of Nintendo GameCube games being sold digitally in China for the Nvidia Shield is running The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess not natively, but in a GameCube emulator. Since the Shield and the Nintendo Switch share some hardware, it's a nice leap to assume that this is all leading up to GameCube games available for the Switch sometime down the line. But is this emulator really all that it seems?
Obviously this offers up an interesting possibility. Since the Shield shares technology with the Switch, it's possible this GameCube emulator could work for Nintendo's latest console, paving the way for a possible GameCube Virtual Console.
However, this is by no means an official confirmation and we don't know who developed the emulator itself. When the Shield was announced for China, Nintendo issued a statement to Bloomberg that seemed to imply that Nvidia was responsible for the high-resolution ports.
There are some fun GameCube games that would undoubtedly do well on the Switch including Super Mario Sunshine, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and, yes, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but Nintendo has been satisfied so far with holding back its legacy catalog from the Switch in favor of new titles and ports from the Wii U era that players may have missed the first time around. If the company was going to release Twilight Princess for the Switch, you'd think they'd polish up last generation's Twilight Princess HD rather than rely on the GameCube version running in an emulator. So, the takeaway from all of this is that Nintendo may have a GameCube emulator that runs on the Switch. There's some smoke here, but we'll have to wait to see if Nintendo brings the fire.
As we finish our wrap-up of 2017, it's time for our annual Game of the Year episode in which Blake Grundman and I discuss the best games of the past year along with a few honorable and dishonorable mentions. We have a supersized two hour show for you this week because there were a lot of games last year that are worth some discussion. From Destiny 2 to Bye Bye BoxBoy and beyond, there's certainly a lot to discuss. 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. Next Week: We're going back to a galaxy far, far away for a special Star Wars discussion.
I walked away from Street Fighter V back in 2016 after a few weeks of playing through what little single-player content the game offered, and while there was a solid fighting game at its core, there just wasn't enough to do that kept me engaged. Now that Capcom has added an actual Arcade Mode that goes above and beyond my expectations, I'm back into the fray and exploring just how much the game has expanded with post-release content over the past two years.
One aspect that has really captured my attention is the soundtrack, particularly new remixes and rearrangements of my favorite music from Street Fighter II. Ken, Zangief, Ryu, and Guile all have rocking new tunes scoring their battles, but Shadaloo enforcer and dirty cheat Balrog has to have the absolute best new take on a familiar theme. Check out his personal theme song and marvel at how it's structured like a flashy, glitzy Las Vegas boxing match. I can practically envision Balrog making his entrance into the ring and then letting loose with a flurry of punches... then throwing it all away with illegal headbutts. "You should be grateful you even had a chance to step into the ring with me!"
Nintendo has a new product that uses its popular Switch console as something of an accessory instead of the main attraction: Nintendo Labo, a series of cardboard sheets that assemble into toys and gizmos. Think of them like Lego bricks for the engineering fan in all of us (but mainly kids). Due out in April 2018 starting at a MSRP of $70, the Labo kits (dubbed Toy-Cons which is a delightful bit of wordplay on the Switch's Joy-Con controllers) fold and bend into real life working interactive toys such as a piano, a fishing rod, and a robot. Slip the Joy-Cons into the assembled contraption, attach the Switch screen, and the fun begins. Powered by Switch and the included game card, the Labo kits look to be the next big thing from Nintendo and a sign that we're moving into the second phase of the company's plan for Switch world domination. Keza MacDonald at The Guardian breaks it all down.
Inside the Nintendo Labo box are 25 sheets of thick, brown, branded cardboard, and a little cartridge that pops into a Nintendo Switch console. Following Lego-like instructions on the Switch screen, you punch out the cardboard pieces and assemble them into contraptions of varying complexity. The first project, which takes maybe 15 minutes, is a simple little bug-like radio-controlled car; slot the Joy-Con controllers into its cardboard sides, pull up the controls on the Switch’s screen, and the vibrations send it juddering across a flat surface with surprising speed.
The more complex constructions are a telescopic fishing rod with a working reel, attached to a base with elastic bands and string for realistic tension; a cardboard model of a piano with springy keys; an abstract motorbike, with handles and a pedal; a little house. Each contraption is made out of cardboard and string, and transforms into a digitally augmented toy when you slot Joy-Con controllers and the Switch screen into it. The piano, especially, is quite amazing, and takes about two hours to build. The infrared camera on the Joy-Con controller can see reflective strips of tape on the back of the keys, which come into view when a key is pressed, telling the game software to play the right note. Cardboard dials and switches modify the tone and add effects to the sound.
There's a lot to unpack here, but Labo is going to be big. The idea reaches back to those third-party plastic Wii remote shells from the Wii Sports craze of 2006-2008 or so when people believed that snapping a tennis racket or a bowling ball toy on to a Wii remote would somehow make the game easier to play. Instead of cheap overpriced plastic that adds nothing to the experience and was destined to collect dust on a shelf, Nintendo opted for cheap cardboard that can be easily mended when damaged and recycled at the end of its life. Nintendo will also offer replacement cardboard if Labo parts are mutilated beyond repair, so there's no need to rebuy entire kits. And yes, while on the surface the Labo kits look like a $70 box of cardboard, remember that the package includes the Switch game needed to make it all work (which itself includes interactive instructions to guide users on assembling the toys). Given the proper promotion, Labo is going to be huge for the holidays with parents who want to give their kids a Nintendo product that educates (everything from basic principles of mechanics to the "some assembly required" experience of putting it all together) as well as entertains (be a robot!).
We always take a look back at the previous year and close the books on it each January, so this week's Power Button podcast episode sees Blake Grundman and I joined by Ross Polly, our Special E3 Correspondent live from the Los Angeles Convention Center loading dock (we really should let him come home one of these days). The three of us spend a supersized show talking about the big gaming news from 2017 including the rise of the Nintendo Switch, the end of the Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft Xbox One trying to change its image with more 4K & less Kinect, the continued rise of eSports in surprising places, loot box controversies, 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. Next Week: We wrap up 2017 with our annual Game Of The Year episode.
The inaugural issue of Nintendo Power magazine features an iconic cover of a clay Mario pursued by a clay Wart, but modern Mario fans can spot the error right away: Mario's colors are all wrong for 1988, particularly his blue hat. Even in a time when Mario's color scheme was in flux (red and brown in Super Mario Bros., red and blue in Super Mario Bros. 2, etc.), how on earth did the cover's artist mix up Mario's hat color and swap famous red for unusual blue? As part of a year-long series focused on the thirtieth anniversary of Super Mario Bros. 2, David Oxford at Poison Mushroom has seemingly figured it out.
Moving on, something people take notice of right away (aside from the use of cool clay models) is that Mario’s colors are very mixed up. At this point in time, he was typically presented with red overalls, a blue shirt, a red hat, white emblem with a red “M” on said hat, yellow buttons, and brown shoes. Meanwhile, his hair seemed to vary from picture to picture, being either black like his mustache, or brown. These days, they seem to be going with a dark brown for both, at least in 3D modeled assets.
Mario’s overalls and shirt would settle on blue and red respectively over time, but the rest was still off. One might guess that with Mario seemingly adopting a new color scheme with each new appearance that Nintendo hadn’t settled on anything firmly yet, but I don’t think anything has been firmly said on the matter to this day — merely speculated upon.
That said, it turns out that the colors aren’t exactly wrong for Mario, they just more closely reflect an earlier game: The arcade version of Mario Bros., as seen at right. Though not a perfect match, it seems a more likely link that makes it easier to get an idea of where the cover artist might have been coming from.
Or someone just screwed up royally. We may never know, but some of the images used inside the issue itself would at least seem to imply it wasn’t solely the cover artist’s doing.
Mario has worn many costumes over the years and Super Mario Odyssey celebrates his most memorable. Maybe a special "Blue Mario" Nintendo Power cover costume would be appropriate in a future update.
I was overjoyed when Accolade returned from the grave in 2017 and announced a revival of everyone's favorite chatty bobcat, Bubsy. Starring in the sequel/reboot Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back for the Sony PlayStation 4 and PC, Bubsy's big revival stumbled out of the gate which brought to mind other moribund franchises that came back and then left again just as quickly. On this week's Power Button episode, Blake Grundman and I discuss the new Bubsy which leads us into some of our favorite and reviled video game reboots. Also, it's last call as our annual News of the Year and Game of the Year episodes are coming up and we want you to get in on the 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.
Watching Microsoft do its best to integrate the Kinect motion sensor camera for the Xbox One has been interesting to watch as the device started out as an absolute necessity for the latest generation of Xbox that could never, ever be unbundled from the console and has become not just an afterthought, but now an unsupported afterthought. The Xbox One S and Xbox One X hardware revisions did away with the built-in Kinect port and instead required a proprietary USB adapter to use the add-on, and now that adapter has been discontinued entirely. This essentially scuttles the Kinect for good. Samit Sarkar at Polygon reports.
“After careful consideration, we decided to stop manufacturing the Xbox Kinect Adapter to focus attention on launching new, higher fan-requested gaming accessories across Xbox One and Windows 10,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to Polygon. As for any plans to bring back the item in the future, the representative declined to discuss Microsoft’s product roadmap, but said the adapter “will no longer be available.”
We've come a long way from the motion control madness kicked off by the Nintendo Wii which led to both Sony and Microsoft playing catch-up with ways to wave your arms around in front of a television while a perfectly good traditional controller sat nearby. More than a decade after Wii, Sony and Nintendo have backed down to building motion control technology into those traditional controllers to find a happy compromise between moving and not, while Microsoft ran headlong into Kinect territory only to find that the market really just wanted a happy compromise.