Nintendo Classic Edition Brings Iconic NES Back To Stores

NES ClassicNintendo hit the big time in the home video game console space thirty years ago with the beloved Nintendo Entertainment System and while the company has been re-releasing its greatest hits such as Super Mario Bros. 3 and The Legend of Zelda on the Virtual Console service for the Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS, there's a large startup cost involved if all you really want to do is play Mega Man 2.  Nintendo is cutting through that expense this November with the release of a cute little micro version of the classic Nintendo Entertainment System control deck dubbed the Nintendo Classic Edition.  Priced at $59.99 and packed in with thirty solid, popular games (no Urban Champion here!), the NES is primed to take over living rooms all over again.  The new hardware offers HDMI out and even uses new NES controllers with Wii remote connectors on them so Wii and Wii U owners can use them for the Virtual Console service.  Read the press release for all of the details.  Here's the list of games that are built into the new console.

  • Balloon Fight™
  • BUBBLE BOBBLE
  • Castlevania™
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest™
  • Donkey Kong™
  • Donkey Kong Jr. ™
  • DOUBLE DRAGON II: THE REVENGE
  • Dr. Mario™
  • Excitebike™
  • FINAL FANTASY®
  • Galaga™
  • GHOSTS’N GOBLINS®
  • GRADIUS™
  • Ice Climber™
  • Kid Icarus™
  • Kirby’s Adventure™
  • Mario Bros. ™
  • MEGA MAN® 2
  • Metroid™
  • NINJA GAIDEN
  • PAC-MAN™
  • Punch-Out!! ™ Featuring Mr. Dream
  • StarTropics™
  • SUPER C™
  • Super Mario Bros.™
  • Super Mario Bros. ™ 2
  • Super Mario Bros. ™ 3
  • TECMO BOWL
  • The Legend of Zelda™
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link™

This is a phenomenal idea and I'm surprised Nintendo hadn't acted on it sooner.  This product hits every basic type of gamer demographic: casual, lapsed, and core.  It will be a popular gift this holiday season for sure.  Even if you discount the cost of the hardware itself, you're paying $2 per game which is a much better deal than the Virtual Console's $5 per game.  Just imagine all of the modern parents who grew up with the NES buying one of these to both play themselves and to share the fun with their young children.   I still have my original NES from thirty years ago hooked up to my media room television, although the muddy visuals from running an old fashioned signal through coax cables and RF adapters looks horrible on my modern HDTV.  I also own a variety of the built-in games on the Virtual Console for both Wii U and 3DS, but I can't resist the nostalgic draw of this mini console.  I think it's time my bedroom TV had a NES of its own.


Be Ready To Believe The Inside Story Of Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Ghostbusters

Long-time readers of my work may remember I once wrote for a now-defunct video game news and reviews outlet called Kombo, and when I learned that developer Terminal Reality was working on a new Ghostbusters game featuring most all of the cast of the original films, I pushed hard to convince the staff that we needed to cover this game with all the resources we could muster.  That led to a great working relationship with Terminal Reality's Environmental Lead / Senior FX Artist Glenn Gamble who became a good friend of the Kombo Breaker podcast, who over the course of several episodes told us lots of inside dirt and fascinating secrets and stories about the development process.  It broke my heart that we weren't able to get the Internet at large to care about the coverage, and while I've read retrospectives about the game over the years, I've never seen anyone reproduce the stories we had on Kombo all those years ago.  Now with a resurgence in Ghostbusters interest thanks to the new Paul Feig-helmed film due out soon, people are starting to wonder about the 2009 game and how it all came to be.  Matt Paprocki has written a brilliantly detailed look at the game's history from initial idea to finished product that corroborates much of what I was told both on and off the record back in 2009.  This is excellent work and digs deep.  For instance, here's a bit on the difficulty of working with actor Bill Murray who reprised the role of Peter Venkman for the game:

There was a problem: for reasons known only to Bill Murray himself, Murray had planned only to do some of his lines to get started, and to return later to do the rest. “He thought he would give us lines to get started,” said Melchior—but development time was short at this point. “Well, the game ships in June [2009], so, no.”

Melchior recalled the stressful days that followed. “We went through as many lines as we could on Saturday, took a lot of breaks. We kept him engaged because he likes baseball, I like baseball. Every time there was a dead period where it looked like it was going south, I just started talking about baseball. He recorded [a] few lines but delivered them well then said we were going to do the rest tomorrow because we had two days. There was a sleepless night between me and the associate producer Ben Borth in New York because there was a chance he was not going to show up for day two. True to his word, he showed up.”

The problem was Murray never finished. How many lines Murray completed is unclear—Melchior claims it was half of his scripted 750-800 lines, while Haworth hesitated to give a number. Regardless, Murray’s work was done. He wasn’t coming back. “I’m not going to judge the way he works because it’s how he probably works on everything,” said Melchior.

If you're hungry for more Ghostbusters game stories, then you'll be happy to know that I've republished most of my old Kombo coverage here on PTB over the years along with some new material that was exclusive to this site because, well, to be honest I think I made my Kombo co-workers sick of the topic and they were tired of indulging my interest.  There was just so much to tell!  Settle in and consume as much as you like.  Covering the development of this game was the absolute highlight of my years with Kombo. 

Continue reading "Be Ready To Believe The Inside Story Of Ghostbusters: The Video Game" »


On The Outside Looking In At Pokémon Go

Pokémon GoI missed Pokémon when it enjoyed its original spotlight moment.  The original Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue released in 1998 in the United States, and by then I was driving a car for the first time and focusing on finishing high school (with breaks for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on my Nintendo 64).  Since most of my Game Boy time had been spent in the backseat of my parents' car as an underage passenger, once I was able to hit the road on my own and pal around with friends on our own terms, my interest in Game Boy games began to wane (I even missed out on Wario Land 2 and the twin Zelda games Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, all experience gaps I rectified as an adult).  Combine all of that with societal peer pressure that older teens like myself should not partake of the "gotta catch 'em all" sensation that was gripping our collective elementary school siblings and cousins, my social circle never had to choose between Charmander and Squirtle.  Having missed that original window into Pokémon, I never really bothered to pursue it later in life.  That's all a long way to start to explain why when it comes to the new mobile augmented reality sensation Pokémon Go, I'm on the outside looking in.  I'll never have the connection to it that my friends do, but that's OK.

Continue reading "On The Outside Looking In At Pokémon Go" »


Boxboy Comics Are Charmingly Cute

BoxBoy!

Nintendo and HAL have created something simplistically challenging in the BoxBoy! series for the Nintendo 3DS, and while the puzzle-platformer title is short on colorful details, it's long on personality.  Take the star of BoxBoy!, for instance.  Qbby is just a square with eyes and legs, and yet he oozes charm.  We only see him walk, jump, and occasionally dance in the game, but over at the official BoxBoy! website you'll find him starring in short yonkoma comics in which he gets into all kinds of misadventures.  They're delightful little quick hits of BoxBoy! fun.


Assassin's Creed Comes Home For The Holidays As A Hallmark Ornament

Assassin's Creed Hallmark ornamentWhen I was growing up and the holidays set in, my family would decorate our house with all kinds of creative decorations and ornaments, and I always looked forward to going to Hallmark with my mother to pick out our new ornament for the season.  The Star Trek collection caught my eye quickly in the 1990s when the company began making Next Generation ornaments such as the Enterprise-D and Captain Picard, but being a video game player, I wanted official ornaments of Mario, Mega Man, and Link.  Games were still "just a kids thing" at that time though, and it wasn't until just recently that game publishers realized they could license their IP on a decorative scale.  Last year GameStop offered a collection of officially licensed Super Mario Maker ornaments, for instance, and I've seen some Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword ornaments as well, but they're standard spherical bulbs with existing stock character artwork on them.  That's a step in the right direction, but I know everyone involved can do better.  Ubisoft is taking that leap this year with most detailed video game character ornament yet.  Hallmark is poised to sell an Assassin's Creed ornament featuring everyone's favorite Renaissance assassin, Ezio Auditore.

You better watch your back with this ornament! Ezio Auditore da Firenze from the video game series Assassin's Creed will make a brave and mighty statement hanging on your tree.

Ezio will sell for $15.95 when he releases in November 2016.  Somewhere along the way I became a pop culture ornament collector, and Ezio will join my other ornaments based on Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, and, of course, a whole lot of Star Trek.  I hope that if Ezio sells well we will see many more video game ornaments in the years to come.  There are plenty of other Assassin's Creed characters to feature, of course, but let's see some Katamari Damacy ornaments with the Prince of All Cosmos, Ratchet and Clank characters to hang from the tree, and I'm going to need more shelf space and more disposable income if Capcom ever comes up with ornaments of the classic Robot Masters from the world of Mega Man.


Mini-Review: A Boy And His Blob

A Boy and His Blob

This review was originally published at Kombo.com on November 11, 2009.

Relaunching the original Nintendo Entertainment System adventure of the same name, WayForward Technologies and Majesco have come together to put A Boy and His Blob back on the right path in a new for Nintendo Wii title that overhauls the original clunky gameplay while elevating the sweet tone. When a friendly alien from a distant planet - the blob - crashes on Earth, he befriends a local human - the boy - to aid him in saving his homeworld from the evil emperor. Armed only with a bag of jellybeans that enable the blob to transform into various helpful forms such as ladders, trampolines, cannons, parachutes, and even a rocket, they will progress through forty stages of puzzle platforming action that takes them across the planet and deep into space.  

A Boy and His Blob's most impressive attribute is its heartwarmingly adorable art direction. Everything in the boy's world is smoothly animated, inviting, and charming. Some levels even make endearing use of shadows and silhouettes to help paint an emotional picture of the bond between the two heroes. Considering that the boy and the blog are silent protagonists (well, the boy does occasionally call out to the blob to hurry), all of the characterization comes from the various visual elements. The game even goes out of its way to avoid distracting the player with on-screen meters and indicators which lends a cinematic vibe to the action. Fans of the original NES game will spot the tribute to the 1989 adventure in Stage 11 immediately, too.

As far as the action itself goes, each level tasks the duo with reaching the golden jellybean at the end of each stage. Along the way are enemies and hazards that must be dispatched or avoided with the blob's transformations. Be prepared to crush foes with a blob-anvil, float by enemies with a blob-parachute, drop them to lower levels with a blob-hole, and other such activities. Along the way are three treasure chests that can be collected, which unlock a grand total of forty challenge levels. This is not a game that one will want to play for consecutive hours, as the concept began to grow a little tedious after playing five or six stages in a row. Dividing the game's eighty levels into little groups results in impressive longevity.

There's not much to complain about with A Boy and His Blob. The boss battles that cap each world take some trial and error to complete, but what's a video game without the need to repeat sections from time to time?  Sadly, I fear that A Boy and His Blob will be overlooked by the market in favor of games with flashier boxes and larger marketing budgets. WayForward and Majesco have produced a top notch title that carries the spirit of the original game and brings in plenty of new material. This is an entertaining, semi-challenging, adorable adventure for the ages that you must not miss.

A Boy and His Blob is also available on the Sony PlayStation 3, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Mac, and Linux as of 2016.


The OneUps Bring You Part Seven

Metal ManSomewhere along the line when I wasn't paying attention, my favorite video game music cover band, The OneUps, released a new album.  Entitled Part Seven, this latest release includes songs from Final Fantasy VI, Double Dragon, F-Zero, Donkey Kong Country, EarthBound, and many more each performed in the band's unique jazzy funk style.  Check out this version of Metal Man's famous theme from Capcom's classic Mega Man 2, "Saw VIII", and prepare to be impressed.  You can download the entire album from many of the usual digital storefronts including Amazon. If this is your first exposure to the band, I highly recommend that you check out their complete discography. Fans of video game music from the medium's most beloved franchises will find so much to enjoy.


Here's All Three Hours Of Street Fighter V's Story Mode

It's all the rage these days for gaming websites to offer up complete video streams of new content the day it's released before most people can experience it for themselves, so in that spirit I give you the complete three hours of Street Fighter V's new cinematic story mode.  Thrill as characters trail off in mid-sentence and pose before battle.  I'm still undecided on how satisfied I am with the overall plot, but I'm glad that Capcom went ahead with creating it.  It really adds some meat to the game's basic bones.


Power Button - Episode 210: Seeking Our Fortune With Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (Part 2)

Power ButtonFollowing on from last week's discussion about the first half of Naughty Dog's Uncharted 4: A Thief's End for the Sony PlayStation 4, this week's episode of Power Button digs into the back half of the game and focuses on the adventure's overall themes and relational set pieces.  From cut content that would have filled in some of the gaps to impressive performances by the cast to the game's ultimate strengths and weaknesses, we finish unpacking Nathan Drake's final(?) adventure.  Major spoilers ahead!   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.


Come Get Your Super Mario T-Shirts, Cookies, And Phones In This 1990 Nintendo Retailer Catalog

NES boxes

1990 was a hot time for Nintendo and its retail partners.  This was the era when the Nintendo Entertainment System was king, when a third-party licensee could slap Mario on just about any consumer product to earn a healthy profit, and when games like Boomer's Adventure In Asmik World and Wall Street Kid were positioned as the next big thing.  I remember those crazy days, but if you're too young to have been around for them, then you can vicariously experience the thrill of laminated wood displays and cartridge storage kits with the Official 1990 World of Nintendo Buyers Guide provided by Video Game Ephemera.

The Official 1990 World of Nintendo Buyers Guide was a custom-publishing project aimed at Nintendo’s retail partners, which included more than 6,000 locations with special “World of Nintendo” areas reserved for Nintendo-related products. The article on page 6 describes this type of installation as a “store within a store,” a neighborhood mecca for Mario maniacs.

In the pages between the product listings, you’ll find short articles about certain Nintendo licensees as well as paid ads from some of them. The articles are actually labeled as “advertisements,” so they were obviously paid for as well. Many of the ads speak to consumers, but several of them are written for the people who sold the games. It’s fascinating to see the soft-sell tactics employed by game publishers as they tried to convince retailers to carry their products in the early ’90s. Most of them promise “aggressive” advertising campaigns and dealer support while extending friendly invitations to visit their booths at the Consumer Electronics Show.

This guide and others like it are a peek behind the curtain at the layer of middlemen between Nintendo's licensees and your local retailer down the street.  I remember seeing plenty of these Oakcasestore displays in the Kmarts of my youth when I longed to scarf down the licensed cookies and collect the cards and wear the t-shirts bearing Mario's smiling face.  Nintendo was hot, Nintendo was king, nothing could ever possibly knock Nintendo off its pedestal.  Nope, not at all.  The days of officially licensed cartridge storage cases made of oak will last forever!  Actually, those oak cases do look pretty sweet.  I bet they'd look right at home next to my classic oak VCR cassette storage case.  Not all family heirlooms are impressive or valuable.