Streets Of Rage 2 Starring Bubsy The Bobcat

Bubsy in Streets of Rage 2

Time for a quick history lesson!  Sega launched the sequel to its signature side-scrolling beat-'em-up title Streets of Rage in 1992 which went on to become a major seller and a mainstay in many Genesis owners' libraries.  A year later in 1993, publisher Accolade tried to break into the side-scrolling platformer mascot genre with Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind which was a fun enough romp that inspired a few sequels, but was largely buried in the mascot glut of the early 1990s.  You'd never expect these two franchises to cross paths, but now here in our amazing future where former franchise rivals become best of friends, a ROM hacker named Metal64 has signed Bubsy up for a guest appearance in Streets of Rage 2 where he now appears as a fully playable fighter.  I hope this is just the beginning of this sort of thing.  So many out-of-work mascots could find new jobs in brawler games.  Plok in Final Fight!  Aero the Acro-bat in Splatterhouse!  The Battletoads in Double Dragon!  Well, OK, maybe that last one has already been done, but it's still a fun idea.

(via Tiny Cartridge)


Power Button - Episode 227: Watch Dogs 2 And Other Open World Favorites

Power ButtonWhile recovering from my recent surgery I've spent a lot of my rest time exploring the world of Watch Dogs 2.  It's a fantastic open world adventure, so on this episode of Power Button I talk a lot about the game and some of its best moments.  That leads into a discussion with Blake Grundman about our favorite open world games of all time.  Join us for a conversation about Watch Dogs 2, Crackdown, Destiny, Sleeping Dogs, Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption, Assassins Creed SyndicateFar Cry Primal, Fallout 4, The Witcher 3, 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.


Get Screwed With Drill Dozer

Drill Dozer

You'd think that when a video game has "from the makers of Pokémon" as an attribute, it would garner lots of attention, but Nintendo / Game Freak's 2006 Game Boy Advance release Drill Dozer failed to attract as large an audience as Pikachu and company.  Featuring a built-in rumble pak motor in the game cartridge, Drill Dozer follows the adventures of benevolent thief Jill Dozer and big drill mech on her journey to rescue her father from a rival gang of thieves.  Along the way she'll use her drills to tighten and loosen screws in a platformer puzzle adventure that really should have caught on more than it did.  Hardcore Gaming 101 reviews Drill Dozer's case.

The eponymous Drill Dozer is exactly as it sounds: a walking tank with arms that form a huge screw bit. While far from a stealthy vehicle, the simple straightforwardness of its design and mechanics finds a plethora of uses. Sure, it serves as your sole means of offense as well as a great way to reek destruction of walls, but the heavy drill proves its versatility as a means to deflect projectiles, turn cranks, bore through tunnels, and even twist the tumblers in safe locks. The drill arms can spin clockwise or counter-clockwise with the press of the L or R buttons, with many puzzles based on the "righty tighty, lefty loosey" mnemonic; they're even color-coded with blue/red for L/R respectively. This leaves the game rather unique as the B button is placed as a secondary passive role like entering doors or answering messages from your crew. Those shoulder triggers will get quite the workout as every obstacle Jill faces is solved with either jumping, drilling, or the combination of both.

I love a solid platformer so I eagerly bought Drill Dozer when it was released and played it on my Nintendo DS.  It builds a wonderful framework for future titles that never came to be.  There's so much world-building happening in this game that it's impressive that it doesn't derail the actual game experience.  This is a game packed with levels and challenges.  Establishing all of the characters and their motivations complements the entire experience and I was eagerly awaiting a Wii sequel that never came.  Drill Dozer is available now on the Wii U's Virtual Console, so if you overlooked it over a decade ago, I recommend you try it now.  You won't be disappointed.


Microsoft Throws Scalebound Down The Memory Hole

Scalebound CafeRumors kicked up recently that the Microsoft / PlatinumGames partnership behind the Xbox One exclusive title Scalebound was in trouble, and yesterday the news broke that Microsoft has indeed pulled out of the deal and canceled the game.  Plenty of Xbox One owners are disappointed at this (social media is filled with people who apparently bought the console with Scalebound in mind), but what's even more surprising is the speed at which Microsoft is erasing preview information about the game from sites such as YouTube.  If you go to watch previously released Scalebound videos on Microsoft's YouTube channel, you'll find this:

There ain't no Scalebound and there never was!  It's not entirely surprising; Microsoft doesn't want you to focus on the games it's not producing and would instead rather you salivate over games that are still in the pipeline.  For instance, the company's cancellation statement spends more time talking about other games coming out in 2017 rather than explaining why Scalebound is no more.  They don't have anything to gain by explaining it.  Here's the statement to the press that reminds us all that when you're in marketing, you should always be selling:

After careful deliberation, Microsoft Studios has come to the decision to end production for “Scalebound.” We’re working hard to deliver an amazing lineup of games to our fans this year, including “Halo Wars 2,” “Crackdown 3,” “State of Decay 2,” “Sea of Thieves” and other great experiences.

Scalebound has been mired in development hell for quite some time; it was originally announced in 2014.  Perhaps Microsoft grew tired of waiting and decided to cut its losses rather than throw more money at it.    I can't help but wonder if the game will find a new home with another major publisher.  Microsoft obviously wouldn't want to promote its competition, hence the rapid deletion of videos and quick deflection to other Xbox One games.  PlatinumGames has too much riding on Scalebound to dump it completely.  I doubt we've seen the last of it.

(special thanks to Matt Moylan for the image)


Mega Man Stumbles To Mobile Platforms

Mega Man 3

Capcom's classic Mega Man titles for the Nintendo Entertainment System have certainly been around through most of the past twenty years in different formats (and were just re-released last year as the superb Mega Man Legacy Collection for modern consoles), so it makes sense in a "tick off the checkboxes" sort of way that the company would want to bring the games to mobile app stores for iOS and Android.  The problem with this idea is that Mega Man titles demand pixel-perfect precision and controls that a touch screen interface just cannot provide.  A number of critics have weighed in on the mobile ports and the verdict is seemingly in: avoid, avoid, avoid (or maybe tolerate).  Here's Shaun Musgrave at TouchArcade being savage:

Do not buy these. Just don't. Not even for a laugh. Not even because they're only a couple bucks a pop and what harm could it do? I am sitting here trying to imagine how these ports of the 8-bit Mega Man games could have been worse, and I'm coming up dry. Nothing is right about them. Nothing. It's like someone was given the graphic and audio assets of the games and were told to re-create everything else on their own. The gravity is off. Enemy behavior is off. Hit detection is weird, and even the recoil from getting hit doesn't work properly. The games are crash-prone. The framerate is awful. The default speed is absurdly slow and choppy, and while the faster speed setting makes things a little better, it's too fast, still choppy, and messes with the games' fundamental workings even more.

I'm sure there's a way to bring the Mega Man franchise to mobile, but porting these old games (beloved as they may be) is certainly not it.  I'll stick with the Legacy Collection on my Nintendo 3DS when I need a blue bomber fix when on the go.  Some games just require a control pad and actual buttons, and no two dollar quickie touch-based port can provide that.  Capcom should take a page from Nintendo and develop a new game based around touch controls, not try and cram an unsuitable game into the touchscreen mold.  I'd be up for a hypothetical Mega Man Run over these sloppy ports.

(image via The Mega Man Network)


Health Update

MarioI've been away for a few weeks, but I wasn't on a relaxing holiday vacation.  Long-time PTB readers are familiar with my ongoing difficulties with Crohn's Disease and my multiple surgeries over the years, and while I'm happy to say that my Crohn's is in remission, unfortunately I do have other organs that can fail.  For instance, this time around it was my gallbladder which was kicking out gallstones into my pancreas, causing an excruciatingly painful infection.  What was supposed to be a simple outpatient laparoscopic surgery to remove my gallbladder turned into what my surgeon called the most challenging surgery of his year as he discovered that all of the organs on the right side of my abdomen — gallbladder, liver, etc. — were fused together into a single mass along with the major blood vessels that serve those organs. 

My surgeon spent several hours carefully separating everything and then removing my gallbladder which, as it turns out, was  difficult to identify because it was lost in the organ mass.  He eventually found it and removed it leaving me with a twelve inch-long horizontal incision wound and four small puncture wounds.  Five days in the hospital over Christmas later and I was back at home where I've been resting ever since.  Naturally, you can understand why everything here at PTB came to a halt.  I'm back up and moving around the house now though, my surgical staples have been removed, and I'm able to sit at the PC for a while, so I intend to get back to writing and podcasting.  Thanks for your patience as I recover from my fifth surgery.  There can't be many more of these in my future; I'm running out of removable parts!


Power Button - Episode 226: Let's Go For A Super Mario Run

Power ButtonNintendo has brought out the big guns for its first non-Miitomo app as Mario and friends come to iOS in Super Mario Run.  Blake Grundman and I have been enjoying the game and have some thoughts on how it plays, what it means for Nintendo, what we like about it, and what we do not.  Come for the Mario, stay for the sidequest into the madness of the holiday season.   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.


Give Up Your Appellations, Technical Monkey

Gradius 3There's a long line of confusing video game mistranslations out there spanning from the basic "Conglaturations" from Ghostbusters to "A Winner Is You" in Pro Wrestling to the infamous "All your base are belong to us" from Zero Wing.  You can typically deduce the original intent of the bad localization, but sometimes a game throws you such an odd statement that it takes several leaps of logic to arrive at the proper translation.  Consider the arcade difficulty mode of the Super NES version of Konami's Gradius 3 which, if you can finish all of the game's levels, offers up the praise "I'm give up your appellation's Technical Monkey".  What on earth could that possibly mean?  ReyVGM has solved the puzzle and, like all good mistranslations, there's a fun story of design decisions behind it.  I won't spoil it here, but the answer makes perfect sense.  Well, as much sense as a bizarre localization ever makes.  Appellations all around!


Annual Christmas Special Encore! Power Button - Episode 158: Christmas In Videoland

Power ButtonSpecial Christmas encore of our popular holiday episode! It's the holiday season which means that it's the perfect time for us to dedicate an episode of Power Button discussing video games that include Christmas elements such as music remixes, holiday weapons, festive missions, and appearances from Santa Claus himself.  There's some deep cuts mixed in here with the mainstream titles; we cover everything from Christmas trees in Sonic Adventure's Station Square to the special Christmas cheat code in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie's Double Trouble to Banjo-Kazooie's Freezeezy Peak to the special holiday demo of Jazz Jackrabbit to Sega's limited edition Christmas NiGHTS to the hard-to-find Daze Before Christmas from Sunsoft.  Settle in with some egg nog and spend eighty minutes with us this holiday season.  We also sidequest off into NES Remix, adorable amiibo, and much more.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!    Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, 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 225: Pinball Fever

Power ButtonIt's been a busy time for pinball fans with real world events and new digital releases coming furiously like an assortment of metal balls all flipping around an area at once in some kind of multiple arrangement.  As we like to do from time to time here on Power Button, this week is another of our in a series of episodes focusing on pinball experiences.  First I talk about the fun of going to the Free Play Florida arcade and pinball event where I was able to play new tables like Ghostbusters and classics like Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and 24, then Blake Grundman takes us on a journey into the new Stern Pinball Arcade Collection for modern game consoles and we wrap things up with a look at the new Zen Studios release of Bethesda-based pinball tables based on Skyrim, DOOM, and Fallout.  Bump out for an hour and join 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.