Mega Man 4 Soundtrack Gets Equipped With An Upgrade

Mega Man 4The Nintendo Entertainment System was home to many classic 8-bit soundtracks, but it was Konami's special VRC6 expansion chip that really made the melodies sing.  While never used in games outside of Japan, the custom mapper has found a following in the twenty-first century with fans who are eager to take their favorite NES compositions and rework them to use the VRC6.  Consider RushJet1 and his upgraded soundtracks for Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3, for instance.  Released over the past few years, I've mentioned them both on PTB before and, at the last release, wished that he'd take on Mega Man 4 as his next project.  Good news, everyone: he has!  A custom VRC6 version of Mega Man 4 music is now available over at Bandcamp as Mega Man 4 Remade.  Get equipped with your favorite headset and give it a listen.  There's some great things happening here and if the Mega Man soundtracks are the songs of your people like they are for me, you won't want to miss this.

(via Protodude's Rockman Corner)


Power Button - Episode 197: Power Button Conquers The World!

Power ButtonVideo games thrive on evil masterminds plotting global conquest, but what would they do if they succeeded?  On this episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman and I discuss some of our favorite would-be despots such as Dr. Wily and King Koopa, ponder why their plans were doomed from the start, and wonder what would happen if they actually succeeded in their goals.  What does Dr. Robotnik plan to do with a planet of robot animals?  Some questions just don't have answers.  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.


Power Button - Episode 196: Going Mobile

Power ButtonI've always preferred traditional console and handheld video games rather than the shallow experience that mobile games provide, but that hasn't stopped me from playing a few games on my iPhone in spare moments.  On this week's episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman tells me why I'm playing the wrong mobile games as I discuss my experiences with Fat Princess: Piece of Cake, Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, and Star Trek: Timelines.  Join us for an hour of hearing all that I'm apparently doing wrong.  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.


Adventures Of A Depleted Nintendo 3DS Battery

Nintendo 3DS batteryI enthusiastically bought a Nintendo 3DS at launch back in March 2011 and have put a lot of hours into it since.  I've taken it cross-country to E3, on trips to visit family, and just with me in my pocket for StreetPassing when I'm out and around.  Unfortunately, after five years of adventures, something is going wrong with my 3DS.  More specifically, with its battery.  My 3DS battery has been showing gradually diminishing returns over time, but when playing Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam recently, I was surprised to find that my fully charged 3DS would flash its red battery warning light after just a half hour of play.  That's not right!  While the 3DS has always taken a knock for its weak battery (running with full 3D only scores a little over four hours of power), it's never been this bad.  Years of use must have tired the battery out, so it's time for a replacement.

Fortunately, several years ago I was given a high capacity battery for the 3DS manufactured by third-party accessory company Nyko.  Installing it requires replacing the entire bottom 3DS cover plate with an uncomfortable rubbery plate, so I was hesitant to use it.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I pulled it off the shelf, performed a little 3DS surgery, and plugged the handheld into the wall to charge up.  That's when I found that the new battery wouldn't hold a charge and the 3DS would only work when plugged in.  That's actually worse than my dying battery since at least that can hold a little charge, so I switched the old battery back into the unit.  That'll teach me not to leave a battery sitting around unused for years.

So now I'm back where I started and looking to replace the battery.  Nintendo's official online store sells new 3DS batteries for $14.99 plus shipping, but Amazon offers what is supposedly the same battery for $7.99 through a third-party seller (with free shipping!).  I've read horror stories of people ordering what they thought were new batteries for other devices and ending up with counterfeit knock-offs of questionable performance, so I'm wary of too good a deal.  Have any of you bought one of these batteries from this Amazon seller?  If so, was it an authorized Nintendo product?  Help a guy out here before I do something foolish like just declare "the hell with this" and buy a New Nintendo 3DS instead.  In the meantime, I'll be over here playing Paper Jam while tethered to the wall.


Power Button - Episode 195: The Great Prognosticus Predicts Again!

Power ButtonAs 2016 is underway, it's only right to look back at the predictions that Blake Grundman and I made in 2015 way back in Episode 162 to see just how many of our gaming wishes came true.  We keep score as we revisit last year's hopes and dreams, then we go on to make a new round of predictions that we'll revisit in 2017.  It's the endless cycle of dreams and we invite you to join us as we look both back and forward.  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.


Rebel Galaxy Review At PlayStation LifeStyle

Rebel GalaxyI'm working on some reviewing of Sony PlayStation products for PlayStation LifeStyle and my first piece for them, a review of the recently released Rebel Galaxy for PlayStation 4, has just been published.  The short version is that the game is heavily channeling Joss Whedon's Firefly but with more emphasis on space travel and less emphasis on being Malcolm Reynolds which is all anyone who would play a Firefly game really wants.  Here's a piece:

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.  A transport ship alone in the unending blackness of space deals in doing jobs for people (don’t much care what they are).  Along the way the ship encounters pirates, militias, and traders just looking to go their way (even if their way is through you).  Meanwhile, a western guitar twang belts out on the soundtrack.  Sound familiar?  Rebel Galaxy, last year’s PC title, brings its special mixture of elements from pop culture such as Firefly, Star Wars, and even a little Mass Effect to the PlayStation 4.

Can you catch all of the Firefly reference in the review?  There's quite a few of them!  You can't take my wordplay from me.


Power Button - Episode 194: The Best That 2015 Had To Offer

Power ButtonIt's time to kick off 2016 by discussing our top picks for the best video games of 2015!  Join Blake Grundman and I as we count down our favorites from last year (along with a few honorable mentions).  Does Destiny: The Taken King take all?  Will Yoshi's Woolly World wow us?  Might Super Mario Maker reach the top spot?  What about indie gems like Her Story and Tales From The Borderlands?  Join us for two hours of ranking and discussion.  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.


Meeting Of The Mindlinks

MindlinkWhen you think about Atari hardware, you probably think of the iconic Atari 2600 joystick with its little red button.  You likely do not think of the Atari Mindlink which was the company's unreleased attempt at directly controlling video games with the awesome power of your brain.  How could such a thing be possible in 1984?  Gizmodo explains as part of a feature on unreleased gadgets.

Have you ever tried to control a video game... with your mind? That was the idea behind Atari’s Mindlink controller, which was on display at CES in 1984. Atari claimed that the device could pick up electrical impulses from your head. Supposedly all you needed to do was tighten and relax the muscles in your forehead to influence the action on the screen.

Needless to say, mind control controllers weren’t quite ready for primetime in the early 1980s. And despite claims that the Mindlink would be in stores by Fall of 1985, the product was scrapped.

The Mindlink was intended to work with the Atari 2600, 7800, and the company's home computer line, so I have to praise them for planning a peripheral with a wide-reaching audience.  Consider today's add-ons that work with one console alone such as Sony's upcoming PlayStation VR headset exclusively for the PlayStation 4 or Microsoft's various models of Kinect for its Xbox line which are not interchangeable across console models.  At least Nintendo has spanned generations with its GameCube controllers (for GameCube and Wii) and Wii remote (Wii and Wii U).

As for Mindlink's functionality, it was rather limited.  Pong and Breakout were used for demos, although few people were able to get their hands heads on the prototypes.  The initial test units could only control up-down and left-right controls (for which Pong and Breakout are perfect), but lab tests on other games were promising.  Maybe we should be glad that this idea faded away and didn't evolve with gaming hardware over the years.  If basic controls were a challenge, imagine how involved today's version of Minklink technology would be with all of the buttons and control sticks present on a modern controller.  I get a headache just thinking about it.

For a deep dive on the Mindlink, check out the history of the peripheral at The Atari Museum.  They have a fascinating look at how the technology developed, how it overpromised and underdelivered, how it nearly found a second life with the Special Olympics, and why it ended up in the dustbin of history.

 


Power Button - Episode 193: 2015's Biggest News Revisited

Power ButtonAs we do at the end of every year, it's time for us to spend an episode of the podcast looking back at the biggest gaming news of the year.  We're joined by our old friend Ross Polly for this one, too.  2015 brought us the hideous treatment of Hideo Kojima, Destiny's ongoing changes, Club Nintendo closing up shop, lots of fan service, the death of Nintendo's Satoru Iwata, Microsoft adding Xbox 360 compatibility to the Xbox One, Nintendo announcing its NX and mobile app projects exist, and much more.  Close out the year in style!  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.


Winter In The Mushroom Kingdom

The Mushroom Kingdom is known for its varying environments; one world you're in a grassy field, then a desert, then tropical waterway, and so on.  Eventually Mario and friends wind up in a snowy winter wonderland which brings us to this arrangement of the iconic Super Mario Bros. overworld theme mixed with Christmas chimes and sleigh bells.  It's from Nintendo's NES Remix 2 for the Wii U and 3DS and, despite its catchy beat, only appears in one particular remixed Super Mario level.  Check it out and add it to your holiday playlist today for something different than big buttery standards from Holiday Inn and the endless replays of Mariah Carey's greatest Christmas hits.