Nintendo Badge Arcade Ends Its Broadcast Day

Nintendo Badge ArcadeThe daily updates of new badges and fun commentary from the Arcade Bunny at the Nintendo Badge Arcade for the Nintendo 3DS have ended with the service signing off from new updates in North America yesterday.  This follows similar finales in other regions around the world.  While the arcade will still be available, new badges will no longer be added and will instead rotate out some of the more than eight thousand existing badges.  Playing at the arcade will still cost money, but the service will offer two free plays per day starting late next week.  Over at USgamer, Caty McCarthy says farewell to the arcade.

The Nintendo Badge Arcade was an odd thing when it burst onto the scene around the same time that the New 3DS did in late 2015, with its customizable faceplates and all. It was the peak of "customize everything" Nintendo—the badges were both a joyful celebration of neglected IPs (Rhythm Heaven, Tomodachi Life) just as much as it showed off the familiar ones (Mario, Pokémon). Badges were digital trinkets implemented to spice up a 3DS' home screen, whether with obtrusive clutter or careful implementation. Some even replaced icons that already resided there, like a necessary settings icon, now made cute and functional.

I was a fan of the arcade and played it several times per week especially when free plays were offered.  I often told my podcast pal Blake Grundman to never give it any money to encourage the continued rise of free-to-play services in the Nintendo ecosystem, but I'm guilty of tossing a few dollars at the Arcade Bunny over the years to try and get that one badge or two that I really absolutely had to have. 

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Power Button - Episode 240: E3 2017 Wrap-Up

Power ButtonAs another E3 draws to a close it's time to review and recap the year's biggest week in gaming.  Join us with annual guest Ross Polly to discuss all the news and excitement including Microsoft's new Xbox One X console; classic Xbox games arriving on Xbox One; Blake's excitement for Crackdown 3, Sony hitting trailers hard with teases for the new Uncharted, Spider-Man, and Days Gone; Ubisoft's ambitious Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and Assassin's Creed: Origins; and Nintendo's big showcase featuring Super Mario Odyssey, Metroid Prime 4, Metroid: Samus Returns, Yoshi, Kirby, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions, and much more.  We have a supersized two and a half hour episode for you, so settle in and prepare for some 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.

Nintendo Is Committed To Amiibo

Samus Aran amiiboWhile the toys-to-life market is shrinking after the withdrawal of Disney Infinity from the business, Nintendo continues to support its successful amiibo line with over a dozen new figurines announced at E3 2017 based around Mario, Peach, and Bowser in wedding attire from Super Mario Odyssey; the four champions from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild; assorted Links from other Zelda games; Goomba and Koopa Troopa from the world of Super Mario Bros.; Samus Aran and a metroid from Metroid: Samus Returns; new Fire Emblem entries; and more.  It's an impressive product range that offers at least one thing for just about everyone.

I love amiibo.  Despite only planning to buy three or four of them when the product line first launched, I now have over a dozen.  I've taken them out of the packaging and use most of them.  Amiibo like Mario and Bowser are frequently used in games like Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, but some of the figurines like Waluigi and Pac-Man I only bought as desk decorations.  Basically, my amiibo collection is a land of contrasts.  Each time I tell myself I'm done with purchasing amiibo, Nintendo goes and announces something like a metroid amiibo that has an actual squishy membrane.  How can I not want that as a long-time fan of the little lifesuckers?  Then there's the iconic and beloved Goomba and Koopa Troopa to which I've decided that my glow in the dark Boo amiibo needs friends.  I'm not at the level of fans who want to own each and every amiibo and hang the boxes on the wall in a showcase, but I can understand how some people get to that point.  These little figurines are just so neat.  So, in the end, I'm glad that Nintendo is committed to amiibo because goodness knows I am too. 

Metroid: Samus Returns Gives MercurySteam A Shot At Redemption

Metroid: Samus Returns

Nintendo surprised every today during the company's E3 2017 showcase by announcing two new Metroid games.  Metroid Prime 4 for the Nintendo Switch was revealed with a logo and a statement that the game is in development, while the Treehouse Live broadcast spent nearly an hour discussing Metroid: Samus Returns for the Nintendo 3DS which is an updated remake of 1991's Metroid II: Return of Samus from the Game Boy era.  Not since the coming of Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion fifteen years ago have Samus Aran fans had so much Metroid on the way.  Here's the bullet points from Samus Returns:

  • This intense, side-scrolling action platformer has been completely remade with engaging and immersive 3D visuals and a rich, atmospheric color palette.
  • Classic Metroid II: Return of Samus gameplay is joined by a wealth of new content, including a set of brand new abilities that utilizes a mysterious energy resource called “Aeion,” a powerful melee counterattack, and 360-degree Free Aim Mode. 
  • There are plenty of secrets to find—and if you uncover enough of them, you may even start to unravel the mystery of Planet SR388’s past. 
  • Two new amiibo™ figures*—Samus Aran and Metroid—will be released as a set alongside the game. This game is also compatible with the Zero Suit Samus and Samus amiibo from the Super Smash Bros. series. Functionality details will be revealed at a later date. 
  • While supplies last, fans will be able to purchase a special edition of the game, which includes a physical copy of the game, a sound-selection CD featuring 25 tracks from across the Metroid franchise, and a reversible title-sheet insert for the game case. 

Developer MercurySteam is behind this one and you may remember them from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and its 3DS spinoff, Mirror of Fate.  I wasn't happy with any of their Castlevania work, but Mirror of Fate was very much in the Metroid/Castlevania: Symphony of the Night style, so they have the skills to pull this off.  They are talented people, but they seem to have a bad habit of letting their games wander away down the path without proper guidance and oversight.  Each of their Castlevania titles started strong and then ended up in the weeds, becoming long slogs where the immediate goal was easily forgotten.  Nintendo is surely keeping them close to help move Metroid in the right direction. 

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Spider-Man Swings To PS4 In 2018

Spider-ManThe collaboration between Insomniac Games and Marvel Entertainment continues to develop as Sony debuted new gameplay footage of Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4 at the company's E3 media briefing last night.  Coming off as Spider-Man: Arkham City with shades of Uncharted thanks to the takedowns, quicktime events, and seemingly linear story, Spider-Man closed out the show and had everyone hungry for more.  Here's the clip:

I was excited when Marvel announced it was getting back into the gaming business and was teaming with top talent to create the big budget games their characters deserve in addition to the smaller fare.  Licensing characters like Iron Man and Captain America out to any publisher that wanted them to turn a quick shovelware buck did nothing good for anybody in the end.  Actually being a bit choosy about who gets to play in the Marvel sandbox boosts property profiles, will surely make a lot of money for everyone with a financial stake in the games, and ideally leads to the creation of all-time classics that will be fondly remembered for years to come. 

Best of all from a fan perspective, Marvel's gaming licensing is free from the restrictions of its cinematic and television deals, so we get to see Spider-Man and Wilson Fisk interact rather than relegating the former to films and the latter to Netflix's Daredevil series where, despite supposedly existing in the same universe, they can never meet.  Even Miles Morales gets in on the fun, so it's going to be so much fun to play the game and see who else from the Spider-verse appears that we may not expect.  Spider-Man is due out in 2018 and I say that Insomniac should take all the time it needs to get this right.  Polish, polish, polish.  When it comes to games like this, I'm very patient. 

Do You Need The Xbox One X?

Microsoft Xbox One XMicrosoft formally announced the finalized version of its Project Scorpio experiments at E3 2017 this week, the result of which is the Doomsday Device Xbox One X console.  Designed as a 4K-capable beast of a machine, Microsoft is boasting that it's the most powerful home console ever.  It has gigaflops and liquid cooling!  Certainly sounds advanced to me.  So do you need one?  Should Xbox One owners upgrade?  Or is the X1X a PlayStation 4 Pro-like optional step up?  Stephen Totilo at Kotaku explains your options.

“We’re all about 4K, as you know,” Microsoft’s Moore said near the kickoff of my demo. He pointed out that Xbox One S supports 4K streaming and Blu-Ray, but the X is the machine for doing 4K gaming. He pulled up a still shot of the eight million pixels that can fit in a 4K image, compared to the two million pixels you can see on an HD TV running a game in 1080p. Yep, it was definitely four times as many pixels. Xbox One X will do “supersampling” for people who connect the machine to a non-4K TV, which they say will crunch those eight million pixels into something that’ll still look better than 1080p.

Basically, my takeaway on all this is that if you're the kind of player who demands top visual fidelity from your gaming experience and you have the expensive hardware (4K television, Atmos surround sound, etc.) and expendable income to back it up, upgrading to the X1X is probably a no-brainer.  Those who are unable or unwilling to throw down $499 just for extra pretty pixels and are happy with their existing television (which, by now, is most likely a 1080p or 720p set), then there's nothing essentially missing from the Xbox One ecosystem.  There are no truly exclusive X1X games that will buzz in anger if you try to run them on a regular Xbox One.  Like PS4 owners who haven't jumped up to the PS4 Pro, you're fine.

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Classic Xbox Games Coming To Xbox One

XboxAching for something to play on your Microsoft Xbox One and feel like reaching into the past?  Grab your old original Xbox games and prepare to party like its 2001 all over again because Microsoft has announced that its extended the Xbox One's backward compatibility past the Xbox 360 into the realm of the original Xbox console.  Jeremy Parrish at Retronauts points out how big a deal this is from the game preservation perspective.

Xbox 360 backwards compatibility has often been a selling point for the machine in the past, often with the arrival of something legendary that’s not easily played elsewhere such as Red Dead Redemption, and Microsoft’s learned friendliness towards backwards compatibility is in direct contrast to Sony — who have not really cared about it much since taking PS2 compatibility out of the PS3, and are instead content to offer a limited range of older games through their PlayStation Now streaming service…still, highlighting the OG Xbox for backwards compatibility now is a surprise, considering there’s games on there that are now old enough to take their GCSE exams.

Peripheral manufacturer Hyperkin is even getting in on this action by offering a resurrected original model Xbox controller for the Xbox One.  Backward compatibility is, despite what executives at Sony would insist, an important part of a console's backbone.  Yes, we're all spending more and more money on the latest and greatest new releases, but sometimes you want to revisit an old favorite without having to dig out dusty cables and searching for lost memory cards.  Microsoft is playing catch-up this generation, and offering easy, affordable access to those original Xbox games is something that its chief competitor just isn't interested in doing.  Keep pushing this angle, Microsoft.  A rising tide lifts all boats.  Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge is the first classic Xbox game to be playable on the X1 later this year with more to follow. 

Banjo-Kazooie In The Mushroom Kingdom

Banjo-KazooieIf you consider how Nintendo characters tend to hop around each others' worlds, it makes sense how Rare's Banjo-Kazooie exists in the same world as Nintendo's Super Mario Bros.  Banjo appeared in the Nintendo 64 version of Diddy Kong Racing (back when the two companies were best of business buddies) who, of course, co-starred with Donkey Kong Country's Diddy Kong.  Kong co-starred with Donkey Kong in DKC, and he bumps into Mario all of the time in the Mario vs Donkey Kong series which, and you know where I'm going with this, stars Mario himself.  This transitive property gets us to a place where Banjo and Kazooie may have visited Princess Peach's castle at some point in time, and thanks to ROM hacking, we get to see that encounter.  Luke Ford is working to transplant Super Mario 64's levels into Banjo-Kazooie.  The hack doesn't seem to be publicly available and this video is from 2016, but it delighted me so much that I had to share it.  It's strange to see the bear and bird duo wandering around Whomp's Fortress and the castle gardens, but they're an interesting fit and I would be interested in playing through the entire game with them just for the novelty factor. 

8-Bit Darkwing Duck On Patrol

Darkwing Duck

He is the terror that flaps in the night!  He is the Perler bead sculpture that I bought at Megacon a few weeks ago!  He is Darkwing Duck as seen in Capcom's Nintendo Entertainment System game of the same name which was recently re-released as part of The Disney Afternoon Collection for modern consoles and PC.  I came across the Perly Pixels Perler bead art shop while I was roaming the dealer tables and this Darkwing sculpture caught my eye immediately.  In fact, artist Luis had the whole Capcom Disney set there including characters from Rescue Rangers and Talespin, but I knew I had to have Darkwing.  He's remarkably well crafted from his 8-bit sprite and the first aid box base is modeled after the health pick-ups in the game.  It's very well done and I'm happy to share it with you all here.

Bubsy Returns In The Woolies Strike Back

Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back!

In the 1990s when video game publishers everywhere were searching for their own radical mascot to star in a 16-bit platformer adventure, many characters answered the call to compete with Sonic the Hedgehog.  There was Awesome Possum, Radical Rex, Plok, my beloved Aero the Acro-bat, and poster child of them all: Bubsy the BobcatDebuting in 1993's Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind, he would later go on to sequels in Bubsy 2, Bubsy: Fractured Furry Tales for the Atari Jaguar, and Bubsy 3D for the Sony PlayStation which was so poorly received that it killed the franchise dead and, not long after, saw publisher and rights holder Accolade go down too.  In the years since, Bubsy has become something of a gaming punchline, a shorthand for "lazy bad radical game", and a meme star.  There's also that aborted cartoon pilot kicking around online that he'll never live down.  He deserves much better, so I'm glad to see that Bubsy is returning in a new game for the Sony PlayStation 4 and PC.  Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back! is due out later this year.

Bubsy: the Woolies Strike Back! is an all new Bubsy adventure featuring Bubsy in a bevy of exotic locations as he travels the planet looking for the beloved Golden Fleece. Bubsy must use all of his classic moves and a few new ones to dodge and out bobcat a battalion of Woolies, not mention the gnarliest UFO bosses to ever grace a Bubsy adventure. The wisecracking lynx also adds over a 100 new one liners to his lexicon to keep fans guessing what he’ll say next.

You'll find many other gaming websites covering this news with cynical ho-hum trying hard to not care attitudes such as "why is this happening?", "nobody asked for this", and so on, but just the idea of Bubsy coming back has me excited.  It's popular to hate the character and his games, but the original two 16-bit titles are enjoyable and offer some fun challenges once you get past the learning curve and beef up your patience stamina.  This new Bubsy title comes to us from a reborn Accolade, although it's just a revived name owned by Chinese firm Billion Soft out of Hong Komg and is developed by Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams studio Black Forest Games.

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