Microsoft Launches Xbox Game Pass

Microsoft Xbox One SThe idea of a "Netflix for video games" isn't new by any means.  Sony offers PlayStation Now which uses the old OnLive/Gaikai streaming option to deliver gaming experiences, while services like GameFly have been sending out rental discs by mail for years, but now Microsoft is set to deliver the best of both worlds with its Xbox Game Pass.  For $9.99 a month, subscribers can download a selection of Xbox 360 and Xbox One games to their Xbox One and play them.  No waiting for discs in the mail and no dealing with latency and buffering issues that come with a streaming service.  Matt Kim at USgamer sums it up.

This includes both Xbox One games and backward compatible Xbox 360 titles. Some of the launch titles include Halo 5, PayDay 2, and NBA 2K16. You can see a full list of available launch games on Microsoft’s website.

This is an amazing deal if you like to jump from game to game, don't always need to play the latest and greatest releases, and aren't interested in permanent ownership.  I wish Sony would offer something like this for the PlayStation 4, and of course Nintendo fans have been clamoring for something similar for the Virtual Console service since the dawn of the Wii a decade ago.  While streaming games are the future, the infrastructure is not there yet on the consumer end to make it worthwhile and ISPs imposing data caps & penalty charges for consuming too much data pretty much kill the prospect of using such a service, while mailing discs is out of the past as nobody wants to wait around for a game to arrive in our instant gratification culture.  Microsoft's solution to offer on-demand full downloads fits neatly into the present.  Good work, Microsoft.  Thanks for doing the right thing here.


Is It Too Soon For The PlayStation 5?

InterocitorI know people who have just recently joined the Sony PlayStation 4 generation of gaming, but Eurogamer is postulating that it's almost time for Sony to unleash the PlayStation 5.  Is it time for the next-next generation of gaming?  Here's Richard Leadbetter on the possibilities as spread out by a Wall Street Journal article.  Basically, it's analysts all the way down.

We can add some additional flavour to the speculation as we spoke to PlayStation system architect Mark Cerny last year, where he was very specific about how PS4 Pro was not a next-gen console, sharing with us the criteria he has for what constitutes a new console generation. Games hardware is years in the making - work on PS4 began in 2008 - so we can safely assume that his words do have some bearing on what to expect from the next PlayStation, which is almost certainly in the works now, even if a 2018 launch does seem unlikely.

"Each new generation brings with it a new set of capabilities: CPUs, GPUs and the like but also controllers and new types of display devices. If you go back to the 1970s, it was colour TV. That was the new display device," Cerny told us. "These capabilities unlock new potential for the type of games that can be created. For example, increased CPU power might not seem like a game-changer but it actually allows for much better enemy AI, more enemy characters, better world simulation and a whole host of other evolutions in the game experience."

So, is it too soon for a PlayStation 5?  I say a resounding DEAR GOD YES.  PS4 games are just hitting their stride.  The console is still selling well.  Sony just launched a mid-generation upgrade last year.  Some of the most anticipated PS4 games such as the recently-delayed Red Dead Redemption 2 and the new God of War aren't even released yet.  Why this rush to move on to a new generation already?  I certainly believe that Sony is working on a PlayStation 5, but these new consoles take years and years of research and development before they are ready to become a product.  Just because Microsoft is prepping its Xbox Scorpio does not mean that Sony needs to rush another new console to market just to leapfrog the competition.  The PS4 is a solid console.  It's best days are just beginning.  Let's all just enjoy it for a few more years before we latch on to the next big thing, shall we?


Bring Metal Man To Your Desktop

Metal Man Room by Orioto

I am in ongoing awe over Mikaël "Orioto" Aguirre and his video game art.  Suitable for framing, it has been a mainstay of my desktop for years.  One of his latest creations showcases Mega Man and Metal Man locked in combat from Capcom's beloved Mega Man 2.  The detailed background sparks the imagination and brings some color to your display, so it's just the thing you need to start the week.


Nintendo Says "See It. Touch It. Play It."

Nintendo DS shirtIn the old days of E3 in the mid-2000s, video game publishers were more generous with their promotional handouts than they have been in recent years.  It wasn't uncommon to find people lugging sacks of collected goodies around with them as they trudged between North and West Halls at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  2004 was my first year in the video game reviewing biz, and at the time I was working for GameCube Advanced, a little outlet that would later go in to become Kombo.  Being new to the GCA group in 2004, I worked the so-called homebound team covering E3 that year, writing up previews and opinion pieces based on the material that our on-site team in Los Angeles would send back after a long day on the show floor (remember, this was before the convenience of iPhones and ubiquitous Wi-Fi).  It was a long week of late hours, so as a thank you gesture, the on-site team sent all of us at home a box of E3 hand-outs.  The best and most interesting thing I received in that box was this Nintendo DS t-shirt that was handed out as part of the handheld's premiere.  What's especially interesting about it is that the DS design on the shirt is not the final design that would ship to stores later that year, but is the iteration of the handheld that Nintendo was showing at E3.  Take a trip back on memory lane to IGN's archives if you'd like to see more of the original DS design.  I'm just here to show you the shirt.

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Telltale's Guardians Of The Galaxy Brings The Humor

Guardians Of The Galaxy: The Telltale SeriesI'm a big fan of the creative works of Telltale Games.  I was a fan as back as Sam & Max and Back To The Future, but what really made me take notice was when Tales From The Borderlands became the backdrop to the early weeks of my girlfriend and I starting to date each other.  Whenever Telltale takes on a favorite franchise, I'll be there, so when the company sent over a download code for Guardians of the Galaxy, I eagerly joined up with the Milano crew.  I'll have a lot to say about Episode 1: "Tangled Up In Blue" on an upcoming episode of the Power Button podcast, but for today I want to share three moments from the first episode that, without spoiling any plot points, encapsulates while I enjoy both Telltale products and the Guardians characters.

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Two Months In, I've Barely Put My Nintendo Switch On The Dock

BowserOne of the great things about the Nintendo Switch is the many ways it's possible to play it: on the television in its dock, as a Game Boy Advance-style handheld, propped up on its kickstand, etc.  Over at Kotaku, Patricia Hernandez is talking about how she's barely taken her Switch out of its dock and has been playing it exclusively as a traditional home console, and this kind of article pretty much invites the community to respond with all of the neat ways its played with the Switch.  Here's Patricia:

The big concept behind the Nintendo Switch is that it can be enjoyed both on the TV, and in handheld mode. Instead, the Switch largely operates like any other console system in my household, and I like it that way.

Oh, I’ve tried to take the Switch with me. I’ve braved the dangers of on-the-road scratches, I’ve propped the console up on its tiny stand, Joy-Con in each hand. The idea of taking Zelda anywhere with me is nice, but I don’t like the actual experience of playing the Switch on-the-go.

The general consensus is that players are either playing the Switch docked to the television or carrying it around as a traditional handheld out into the world, but there's a variation missing from her assumptions, and it's the one that I've favored in my two months with the Switch.  To my surprise, I've played a decent 80% of my Switch time as a handheld in my house.  I started out playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild purely on my television in full HD glory with a vow that I would only handle fetch quest busy work errands in handheld mode.  I wanted to experience the major moments of the game on the big screen.  The little stuff like gathering monster parts and scouting shrines could happen while I was laying in bed in the evenings, typically with a classic episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 playing in the background.

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It Belongs In A Museum!

Mega Man for four hundred damned dollarsWe were on the road again this past weekend and, while wandering a mall, my girlfriend and I came across another local used video game store.  This one was smaller than last week's find, but it was stuffed with cartridges and discs spanning the late 1970s to present.  It didn't take long for my attention to drift to the lit glass case at the front of the store which contained boxed copies of Super NES games and loose Nintendo 64 and Virtual Boy cartridges, but what really leapt out at me were the price tags.  I'm accustomed to seeing high prices for the Super NES games of my youth, but this place wanted $400 for Mega Man 7 which is, last I checked, available for $8 on Nintendo's Virtual Console service across three different consoles.  Now yes, that is like comparing dollars to downloads, but c'mon — four hundred damned dollars for Mega Man 7?  Seriously?

I had to ask, so I dug down deep and channeled my late father who had a habit of asking shopkeepers if they were serious about this kind of thing.  "I have to ask," I said to the clerk, "Do people actually pay this kind of price for Mega Man 7?"

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Mini-Review: Mega Man X: Command Mission

Mega Man X: Command MissionThis article was originally published at Kombo.com on October 13, 2004. 

Capcom's futuristic take on the blue bomber has resulted in some of gaming's most memorable side-scrolling platformer games, but in recent years Mega Man X has begun to slip somewhat. His more recent adventures have been half-hearted misfires, containing more frustrating moments than actual fun. Poor localization/translation has also dogged the series in addition to some rather dismal voice acting. The Mega Man X storyline has also been circling the drain for some time, as one game in the series contradicts another (the end of Mega Man X6 proclaims that X's Maverick Hunter partner Zero has gone into a deep sleep for one hundred years so that he can star in the spin-off series Mega Man Zero, and yet Zero appears alive and well in Mega Man X7 and X8) and, on occasion, one game will contradict itself. When Capcom announced that an RPG starring X and friends was in development many fans shuddered at the thought of the company that seemingly couldn't tell a consistent story in an action game taking a stab at a plot-intensive RPG. It would seem those fears are misplaced, as X's first RPG — Mega Man X: Command Mission for the Nintendo GameCube and Sony PlayStation 2 — actually tells a coherent story and features voice acting from actors who can actually, well, act. Add in a deeply customizable battle system and plenty of playable characters and it would appear that if this is Capcom's attempt at bringing some cohesion to the Mega Man X saga, than they look to be successful.

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Wario Is The Crossover Hero We Need

Wario Ducktales

Nintendo and Hudson briefly took greedy anti-hero Wario in a surprising direction in 1994 when they dropped him into Bomberman's world in the Game Boy title Wario Blast.  For a hot second there I had hoped that this collaboration would be the beginning of a fun new career for Wario: professional party crasher.  I wanted him to drop into other game properties where he may not exactly be welcome and cause all kinds of trouble.  Imagine the possibilities!  Mega Man discovers that Wario has sold the Robot Masters for scrap.  Teenager Dave turns to his friends Bernard and Wario to save Sandy from Dr. Fred in Maniac Mansion.  Dracula gets more than he bargained for when Wario raids Castlevania. 

Above all else, I truly believe that the world is a poorer place because we were never given the natural team-up adventure with Wario and Scrooge McDuck of Ducktales scouring the world in search of treasure.  Working as reluctant partners in search of gold, they could work together until the time was right to try and screw the other over.  The co-op gameplay opportunities practically program themselves!  I know you're nodding your head in agreement right now as you read this.   It's the crossover you never know you needed in your life.  Nintendo, Disney, and Capcom, please start making calls.  This needs to happen!

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Power Button - Episode 237: Back To The Wild With The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Power ButtonIt's been a few weeks since we checked in with my progress in Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, so it's time to dip back into the action as I explore Death Mountain with the help of a stupid Goron guide, attempt to ride an electric dragon, and stumble through a ninja hideout where the locals love their bananas.  Join Blake Grundman and I for an hour of discussion.   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.