Flashback: Satoru Iwata's 2004 Comments On Nintendo DS

Satoru IwataStephen Totilo recently found an old interview tape from 2004 in which he interviewed Nintendo's Satoru Iwata about the upcoming Nintendo DS and how Sony's new PlayStation Portable seemed poised to steal away the handheld gaming market from the world of Game Boy products.  Totilo has published the recovered audio and transcribed some of the more interesting parts of the interview for us to enjoy.  I know hindsight is always 20/20, but I found this to be an interesting window into Iwata's thoughts at a critical fork in the road for the company.  He had a lot to say about why Nintendo was pursuing the DS philosophy that would eventually bring in lots of money.  Remember, at the time of this interview, a device like the Nintendo DS with its two screens and touchscreen was unheard of in the gaming space.

The tape is crackly, and the live translation is not the best. Mr. Iwata, then two years into his tenure as Nintendo’s president, listens to my questions in English, answers in Japanese and then waits as his comments are translated for me.

The topic is the Nintendo DS, a then-upcoming Nintendo handheld that proved one of gaming’s biggest successes but at the time seemed like a potentially disastrous idea. Could it even be the end of Nintendo?

I want to share parts of the Iwata interview with you. But I need to first give you some set-up about the Nintendo that Iwata inherited and the jeopardy the company appeared to be in when he and I spoke.

Nintendo’s big problem at the time, or so I and many other reporters, pundits and industry figures thought, was Sony. Nintendo, the company that had saved the home console industry from the Atari crash of the early 80s with the introduction of the Nintendo Entertainment System, had then won a multi-generational dog-fight with Sega. But an attempted partnership with electronics maker Sony curdled, and Sony entered the console business with 1994/1995’s PlayStation, which would crush 1996’s Nintendo 64, 102 million units sold lifetime vs. 33 million

Go read the whole thing.  I won't spoil any of the fun details.  One thing I did come away with that I will share is that the industry as a whole is poorer without Iwata.  I wonder what he would say about business today if he were still with us.


Power Button - Episode 374: Welcome Back, Super Mario RPG

Power ButtonWe're back after an extended medical hiatus, and this week we're focusing on the recently released remake of Super Mario RPG for the Nintendo Switch.  Marvel as Blake Grundman explains where he hit the wall with this game and had to bail out, plus I annoy him by explaining the unexplained convoluted path to opening the hidden casino and earning the mysterious Star Egg item.  I also explain where I've been in my recent medical struggles and tell the story behind my recent hospitalization over the holidays.  Join us!  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, subscribe via iTunes, Amazon Music Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way. 


Power Button - Episode 373: At Long Last Spider-Man

Power ButtonWay back in 2019, Blake Grundman started playing Marvel's Spider-Man for the Sony PlayStation 4 and couldn't wait to finish it.  We said we would revisit the topic once he had, and he finally just completed it last week.  Better late than never!  And so this week we're finishing that conversation originally started in Episode 289 as well as going to the Miles Morales sequel that he also finished last week, and along the way I slip in some thoughts on Spider-Man 2 which I finished while Blake was playing catch-up.  There are no spoilers for Spider-Man 2 in this episode, but the statute of spoiler limitations for the other two games is long past.  We'll come back to talk in greater detail about Spider-Man 2 once Blake finishes it (which should be sometime in 2027).  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, subscribe via iTunes, Amazon Music Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way. 


Power Button - Episode 372: The Mario And Sonic Wonder Superstars

Power ButtonWe have a special supersized double-length episode for you this week with lots to talk about.  First, I visited Verse, an augmented reality experience that uses the Microsoft Hololens to allow players to explore a surreal garden of animals and the outer reaches of our solar system.  Next, Blake tackled Sega's recently released Sonic Superstars with his son and just had a terrible time of things.  Third, I spent a weekend with Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. Wonder and smiled the entire time.  Finally, we have a teaser for our next show in two weeks where we discuss Sony's Spider-Man 2.  That's a lot to cover.  Let's do it!  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, subscribe via iTunes, Amazon Music Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way. 


PowerWash Simulator Goes Back To The Future

PowerWash Simulator - Back To The FutureI wouldn't have expected to enjoy PowerWash Simulator as much as I do, but it's become one of my favorite games of this generation because it's just so relaxing.  I turn on a podcast or an audiobook and wash the hours away with mindless fake accomplishment.  Sure, I could go outside and wash my real fence, but I'm much too sick for that anymore, and my recliner is a lot more comfortable and dry.  There's a new expansion coming to PowerWash that I think I may have willed into existence somehow, as on November 16, 2023 the Back To The Future DLC will release, allowing players to clean up iconic Hill Valley locations such as the famous courthouse where lightning struck the clock tower in 1955 and the holomax theater showing Jaws 19 in 2015 plus vehicles such as the DeLorean, the time train, and Doc's van.  New achievements/trophies are part of this pack, too. 

Publisher Square-Enix has an information page about the DLC, but fitting for a time travel expansion, the page says the DLC is available now when it's not yet released.  Incidentally, in what I'm certain is not a coincidence, November 16, 1955 is the date that Marty drove the DeLorean to 1885 to rescue Doc from being shot in the back by Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen in Back To The Future Part III.  Nice bit of timing on that release date.


How To Make Spider-Man Look His Best

Spider-Man 2A few years ago I upgraded my aging television that could "only" output up to 1080p and replaced it with a larger 4K 120Hz unit, but even with the Sony PlayStation 5 hooked up to it, I never felt that I was truly getting everything out of it.  Now here comes Spider-Man 2 from Insomniac Games and it has a number of visual options for high-end displays that I can finally turn all the knobs up past 11, but how do I know if I'm really getting the best image for my screen, and just because it's the best, does that mean it's right for playing the game smoothly?  Thankfully, Samit Sarkar at Polygon has written a thorough explanation of what all of the in-game settings mean and how to get the best image for my (and your) needs.

There are two ways to play Spider-Man 2: Fidelity mode and Performance mode. You’ll find them under the “Graphics” area of the settings menu’s Visual section, and unlike in many other games, you’ll also find detailed descriptions of each mode and the associated options.

As you’d expect, the image quality and resolution are at their highest in Fidelity mode, which has a frame rate target of 30 frames per second (and is the default setting). The Performance mode makes trade-offs in resolution and other areas to target 60 fps. Both options use dynamic resolution scaling, adjusting the amount of pixels being rendered in order to hit the frame rate in question.

Neither mode can quite maintain a flawless locked frame rate. Playing the game’s intro sequence in Performance mode, for instance, I noticed some minor hitching during Sandman’s attack in Lower Manhattan as the screen filled up with billowing dust clouds. But across 15 or so hours with the game thus far, I’ve only run into a few instances of this issue, lasting for a couple of seconds at most.

The Fidelity mode operates in a resolution range from 2160p — i.e., native 4K — down to 1440p, and scales the output to 4K using Insomniac’s temporal injection technique for anti-aliasing, according to the studio. That lower end, 1440p, is where the Performance mode tops out; the average resolution there fluctuates between 1080p and 1440p.

So far I've played on Performance mode to get that sweet fluid 60fps, but after reading this, I'm tempted to switch to the hybrid mode available to 120Hz televisions that lowers to 40fps overall, but it a bump up from the regular Fidelity mode.  I suppose I should play around with the settings and see which looks best to my eye and responds best to my style of play.  Insomniac included so many options and settings in Spider-Man 2 from the visuals to the sound to what should really be industry-standard accessibility tools that I almost feel spoiled. 


Power Button - Episode 371: Grab Bag Goodies

Power ButtonThis week's podcast is a hodgepodge of smaller topics that don't have the structure needed for a full hour of discussion, so it's a lot more easy-going and breezy than the average show.  Join us as we flit around for 75 minutes through Sea of Stars, Magician Lord, Starfield, simulators for mowing lawns, simulators for power washing, and whatever else is on our minds as we clear out some mental baggage.  Also, I have an important update about my health and how it will impact the recording of upcoming episodes.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, subscribe via iTunes, Amazon Music Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way. 


Power Button - Episode 370: September 2023 Nintendo Direct Recap

Power ButtonNintendo saw fit to release a new Nintendo Direct presentation this past week, showcasing a variety of games for the Switch for the rest of 2023 and into the summer of 2024.  On this week's podcast, we're discussing the announcements that interested us the most from remakes of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Mario vs. Donkey Kong to, um, remakes like Luigi's Mansion 2 HD and Super Mario RPG, and... hey, Princess Peach: Showtime and F-Zero 99 are new games!  Join us for nearly ninety minutes of conversation.  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, subscribe via iTunes, Amazon Music Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way. 


Power Button - Episode 369: September 2023 Catch-Up

Power ButtonWe've been playing a lot of games lately as we come out of the summer season, so before the holidays hit with all of their big new releases, we're spending an hour discussing what we've been playing lately as we clear out the backlogs and sample new releases.  Blake Grundman and I both have some harsh words for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge DLC, I finished the World Tour storyline in Street Fighter 6, Blake is on his way in Starfield, and I'm just setting out in Sea of Stars.  Honorable mentions to Baldur's Gate 3 and Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection.  Join us!  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, subscribe via iTunes, Amazon Music Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, 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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way. 


Listen To Me Discuss Classic Nintendo Comic Books From Valiant On The Retronauts Podcast

RetronautsWhat it says on the tin, folks!  Recently I was invited to the popular Retronauts podcast to discuss my affinity for the old Nintendo Comics System comic books published by Valiant in 1990-91.  I still have all of my old issues of Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Captain N: The Game Master, and Game Boy!  So many happy memories, so little time.  Join host Nadia Oxford as she leads me and Daniel Kaszor through a fascinating discussion of these strange little stories.  I had a blast talking about them, and hopefully you'll enjoy listening just as much.  It's Episode 554, now on their paid Patreon feed and their free feed.