The Apes of Summer

While the King of Kong scandal, centered on the alleged cheater Billy Mitchel, is heating up, Donkey Kong is yet again taking center stage in a port on the Nintendo Switch, and the timing couldn’t be better for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. If you know anything about me, you probably know that I am an absolute sucker for playing games at certain times of the year and this one is a perfect game to pick up in the summer. It starts out in the tropics and the player progresses into the later levels that slowly transition into dark and wintry which feel oddly dystopian. Tropical Freeze happens to be one of my favorite Wii U games. While this statement may not seem that earth shattering (sorry, Wii U), Tropical Freeze puts on a master class of what a platformer should be. It’s a challenging game and when player gets comfortable with one thing, the game throws in something totally new and unexpected. It took everything that was right with Donkey Kong Country Returns and amped up the experience tenfold.

First off, the game is pure beauty. The tropical vistas have never looked better, and the water effects are top notch. For me, the thing that sets this game apart is the ambiance. This is something that is hard to get right, and many developers still haven’t figured it out. It’s amazing how Retro Studios captures the ominous feeling of a dark and scary storm approaching on a clear and beautiful day. This game has the player experience the environment through the use of genius shading, intricate detail of the environment, and what seems to be a real life simulation of weather changes and other natural disasters. Whether the player is swimming deep in the ocean while there is a thunderstorm looming overhead, running through a scorching wild fire, or even bracing through a tornado, there is never a dull moment. What sets this apart from recent Mario side scrollers is that nothing is blocky and linear, it all looks like natural environment and from a development perspective, there is no noticeable copy and pasting of environmental textures going on.

Of course, the ambiance wouldn’t be possible without the music. David Wise, who was the composer for the original DKC Trilogy, captures the same magical feeling through his sweeping and oddly calming scores. Playing through the game, the level that actually gave me goose bumps was Grassland Grooves in the Bright Savannah. This level starts slow and builds up to a grand climax of cheerful music and visuals. It’s not all pleasant though. Some of the music also matches the fear of a raging thunderstorm and it only adds to the intensity. If you don’t believe me that this game has intense music, go ahead and Youtube “Vikings Island Theme” and tell me that isn’t one of the most adrenaline inducing songs you have ever heard.

Like any game, however, it does have some flaws. My biggest gripe is that there isn’t really enough variety between characters. Cranky Kong’s “Duck Tales” pogo-cane technique is fun, but the game never really forced me to utilize it so I usually wound up using Dixie Kong for her twirl technique. I do want to note that it never really subtracted from the gameplay. The other issue with the Wii U version was load times. These were downright awful. Loading a level could take upwards of half a minute, and sometimes it felt even longer. Lastly, some people critique the challenge in this game. Personally, I have no issue with it, but I can see where it would be challenging for newcomers of the series. The Switch version seems to have a solution for every one of these issues. For one, Funky Kong is now a playable character and should take some of that difficulty edge off. I’m not sure how much I will use him, but it’s nonetheless a neat addition. I’m expecting load times to be better based on the new hardware, but that is to be determined.

So if you can’t tell by now, I’m pretty pumped to play this game again. It should be a huge success on the Switch and will give those that didn’t want to get near the Wii-U a crack at a game that was already near perfection. By nature, platformers are great “pick up and play” games, so it should adapt perfectly to the Switch. Up to this point, I haven’t used the Switch portable feature much, but I predict that should change upon release of this game. Though the price point may seem a little steep for a release of an older game, if you have never experienced the joy that is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, do yourself a favor, pick it up, and go bananas. (Sorry!)

Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze (+ Controversy)


Nintendo decided to rerelase Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for Nintendo Switch at a high price point… $40 higher than the Wii U Nintendo Selects version, and $10 higher than they charged for the original at launch. This game is now 4 years old… something smells fishy… Oh—nevermind, it’s just some frozen fish.

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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DKC2 – Diddy’s Kong Quest (It’s a Pun)


Each week, Patrons of Two Button Crew vote on which classic game we will play live on our stream. This time, DKC2 was the winner! Simeon and Scott have played the original on a previous video, and weren’t too taken with the game’s weird graphics. Will the sequel win them over? Will patron’s feelings be hurt? Watch and find out!

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

The Nintendo Experience: Controlling Outside the Box

With Nintendo Labo announced, something that is sure to change the way we view how video games control, I find it appropriate to look back on some of the times that Nintendo flipped game control on its head. Now, obviously, not every time Nintendo ventures into an unexplored frontier is a smashing success, but they are usually the only company “daring” enough to branch out as far as they do. Games like WarioWare: Twisted, Kirby’s Tilt ‘n’ Tumble, and 1-2-Switch brought a whole new dimension to gaming that took the geniuses from the Big N to complete. Today, I will be adding three new games to the Nintendo Experience that challenged the boundaries of what it meant to be “in control”. (If you are not sure what the “Nintendo Experience” is, check out the previous blog posts).

Donkey Konga was Nintendo’s attempt at jumping into the (then-budding) rhythm genre. It was a little more entry-level than staples like Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero, a little more immersive than Parappa the Rapper, and, of course, containing that Nintendo charm. Overall, it was an average game with mediocre covers of classic songs, but it did give birth to the DK Bongo peripheral. Once you had enough of Donkey Konga and its sequel (and tried it out on Smash Bros.), there did not seem to be much use for the hunk of plastic; I mean, if you consider the size-to-button ratio, you are losing the space-saving-game.

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (GameCube)

Leave it to Nintendo to make a deep, compelling platformer that only uses two buttons. Consumers had the option to buy the whole package, including the bongos, or just the disc if you had the bongos already (you could also play it with the normal GameCube controller, but where’s the fun in that?). This game was fantastic, and is a must-play for fans of Nintendo that want that truly unique hybrid experience.

Wii Sports (Wii)

What more can I say about Wii Sports than has already been said? Motion controls may not have turned out how we thought they would (only seeing wide application currently paired with VR or AR), but it was really nothing before Wii Sports. Now, it is true that there was motion control games before Wii Sports, and that the Wiimote was not 1:1 like we (at least, I) thought, but from the first time I picked up this game, my view of what video games could be was never the same. I do not think I need to elaborate too much further, as I can almost be certain that everyone reading this blog has either played this or, at least, its sequel, Wii Sports Resort, and had a similar life-altering experience.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)

Just as Twilight Princess rolled the dice with motion controls in a beloved Nintendo franchise, Metroid Prime 3 similarly pioneered how the Wiimote would handle first person shooters. Other FPS’s had released on the Wii by the time Prime 3 was released, but those could not be compared to what Corruption brought to the table: not in genre, and certainly not in successful execution. In fact, Prime 3 controlled so great that Nintendo decided to re-release all three games of the trilogy with the new Wiimote controls. The world it created and the story it tells are fantastic as well, but the way Samus controls in the new age was forever revolutionized by this fantastic piece of Nintendo history.

These are just a few examples of Nintendo’s abstractly-controlled masterpieces. What are some of your favorites? The Nintendo Experience continues to grow…

Which Nintendo Character Am I? Scott's Thoughts

Today, I endeavor to discover which Nintendo character I identify with. I hope to find the perfect match, one that resonates and rings true. Without further ado…

Mario

I don’t think so. Mario is more like a father figure than an equal. He’s very sporty and multi-talented, which is in contrast to my narrow set of specialized skills. He wears loud clothing (especially in Super Mario Odyssey) and is a brave hero that throws himself into danger without a plan. All around: no. Not at all.

Link

Hyrule’s silent protagonist is a more likely match. He doesn’t waste any breath, which I appreciate, and he is guided by a strong sense of loyalty. Link always tries to do the right thing, and once he has found a noble cause, he applies himself and sees it through. These are all personality traits that I admire and (at least attempt to) share. However, Link is also quite the outdoorsy fellow, and can often be found traversing planes on horseback or scaling imposing mountains. He’s probably too adventurous to be considered my analog.

Donkey Kong

This big brown brute is way too strong to resemble me. He’s bigger, faster, and stronger, too, after all. I am none of those things.
DK is also easily pleased. All he needs is a pile of bananas to be content. First of all, I hate bananas because they make my mouth itchy. Second, I’m not in touch with the “simple pleasures” of life. I require technology, innovation, and the cutting edge. I wouldn’t no what to do with a stack of fruit in the jungle. Donkey kong can keep his lifestyle and I’ll keep mine, thank you very much!

Samus

Another strong contender, because like Link, Samus doesn’t say a whole lot. This is pleasing to my introverted tendencies. We’re both completely happy with alone time; in fact, this bounty hunter pretty much blasts anything alive until it stops moving. She doesn’t spend a lot of time outdoors, and she’s on top of the latest tech. I think we’d get along well.
There’s a pretty big difference that separates us, though. Samus is compassionate, and when push comes to shove, she lets even the most vicious creatures live when it means that their race will be spared. I don’t share that same level of empathy, unfortunately. But she’s currently leading the pack!

Captain Falcon

Captain Falcon enjoys everything I don’t; cars, speeding, rivalries, working out, yelling loudly, taunting people, wearing skin-tight unitards, and I could go on. Suffice it to say: FALCON NO!

Kirby

While I do enjoy eating a lot of food, the similarities end there. I am not round, cute, smiley, or cuddly, and I don’t look like a girl.

Tom Nook

Okay, this is a possibility. I do have an affinity for money, and I enjoy some aspects of business and entrepreneurship. But I hope I don’t match this raccoon’s level of greed, because he’s gone so far as to break child labor laws and employ underage animals at his store. He’s also after your real life $ bills now in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Please tell me that I am not like Tom Nook.

Captain Olimar

He traverses alien planets and commands little living plants around all day (until the annoying timer runs out). I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like this.

Fox McCloud

I’m running out of options here, but Fox is promising. He also likes technology, leads a team, accepts missions and gets them done, etc. He’s got this huge amount of self-confidence and determination though, that I’m not sure I measure up to. Fox also spent a long leg of his life outside the cockpit, galavanting around Dinosaur Planet and acting like a low-rent hero of Hyrule.

However, there was one man (bird) that refused to leave the cockpit…
This guy knows what up. He prefers the air, and that’s where he stays (when he’s not shooting people up in Assault or smacking them silly in Smash Bros.). He has a narrow but deep skillset and can always be relied upon for bombs. He has a quick wit and isn’t afraid to crack a joke even in the face of danger. He appears cold on the outside, but deep down he cares for his friends and is always bummed when they get shot out of the sky. Falco is a loyal, skilled, sarcastic and cool wingman. I am Falco Lombardi!

Donkey Kong Country: To Hate, or Not to Hate?


Simeon and Scott are trying to give Donkey Kong Country a fair shake here, even though they’ve never touched the game because of its graphics. Spoiler alert: they end up having a lot of fun and discovering some really challenging parts of the game. Extra spoilers: mine carts are involved. Beware the mine carts.

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

D-Pad: 4 Directions of Patented Genius

Remember kids, Up, Down, Left, Left.


#577 – The Directional Pad is something that many gamers take for granted, but it really was a novel invention at the time that Nintendo introduced it. While it’s been largely taken out of the spotlight by analog sticks, the digital input solution still has its own merits. We’re going to discuss its inception, the Nintendo patent, and what their competitors did in response. It’s another interesting history lesson brought to you by Two Button Crew!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

History and Future of Retro Studios

Maverick Hunter reboot from Retro, anyone?


#560 – Retro Studios is home to some of Nintendo’s most talented developers, but it always seems like such a mystery what they’re working on! Each year as E3 approaches, speculation is always bound to circle one topic: What is Retro cooking up in Austin Texas? Some hope for a new Metroid Prime, while others are content with Donkey Kong Country, Returns entries, but what about new IP? We discuss all the possibilities in today’s episode of the Two Button Crew show.

Footage credit: Metroid Prime Sunken Frigate – AuraChannelerChris | Donkey Kong Country Returns Minecart – AlphaAxl | Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze – NintenDaan | Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: 3DS DK Jungle – GamerJGB

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Trip to a Retro Arcade (Vlog)

Pretty sure we’re the next Steve Weibe.


While Ryan Van Liere was in town for the launch of Nintendo Switch, Simeon and Scott decided to take him out for a night of fun at the local arcade. We played a lot of arcade games, Nintendo and others, and sunk a lot of quarters into the slots. Our skills, you ask? You’ll have to watch and see for yourself.

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

History of Nintendo Arcade Games

We’re gonna be hitting up one of these arcards real soon! Vlog incoming.


Before Nintendo was making the Switch and other video game consoles, they created arcade cabinets with knock-off games inside! It’s true! What’s more, they placed them inside of abandoned bowling alleys. Yes, Nintendo’s history is murkier and muddier than the polished vibe they give off now. Just before plunging into a new era of console-gaming goodness, we take a step back and look at how far we’ve come.

Game Footage Credits: Plush Time Wins | World of Longplays | arronmunroe | TheSkuxxedOne

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Game Theme Hum-Down #3

This is probably our last time trying this game. We did way better our past two attempts!


We thought we were better at this game. It’s where you hum the tune to a Nintendo or 3rd-party game and try to get your buddy to guess the game. Well, we didn’t do so hot this time around but it might be even more entertaining to our viewers this way!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

October’s Nintendo Experience

Welcome back to the Nintendo Experience! I’m once again expanding the list of necessary games for every Nintendo fan. We’ve since added Photo Dojo to the list as the essential DSi game, and we’re moving on.

For the past few weeks I’ve really been enjoying the indie title Axiom Verge, and while it won’t be making its appearance on the Nintendo Experience, it is a great game. While trudging through the depths of cyberspace… or the subconscious… or another dimension… whatever that setting is, it got me thinking of the game that inspired it.

Super Metroid for the SNES is a Nintendo classic through and through. Originally marketed as Nintendo’s biggest game yet (see our Watching Old Nintendo Commercials episode), it sure does show. The game’s environments and inhabitants are varied and give an awesome sense of exploration and conquest as you traverse the world of Zebes. from your initial encounter with Ridley to the final showdown with Mother Brain, it is an unforgettable thrill-ride.

One of the clear inspirations that Axiom Verge took from Super Metroid is its use of traversal items. Though the two games’ items differ in specific application, they both serve the purpose of making you feel like you have the freedom to go anywhere and everywhere. You may start out feeling like you don’t have much in the way of mobility, but soon enough you’re getting from point A to point B using methods of which you’d never dreamed. The sense of control you have over your character and freedom to explore the environment is truly a great feeling.

It was also nice to recently revisit Donkey Kong Jungle Beat in a recent episode (man, I’m killing it with these shameless self-promotions!). There is something to be said about the Donkey Konga Bongos. While Donkey Konga and its sequel were alright for rhythm games, Nintendo didn’t leave the peripheral to be used for one game only. They decided to do what no one else had thought of: use a rhythm game controller for another kind of game. That’s genius! Have you seen “Guitar Hero Platformer” or “DDR Fighter”? No! Of course, you haven’t because Nintendo has harvested all of the geniuses in the world to come up with those ideas for them.

As far as how the game actually plays, it’s pretty good (nothing ultra groundbreaking besides the control method). But it’s the fact that one day, someone sat down and said “let’s use a set of drums to control a character,” then made it work that lands it a “must play” sticker for me.

Well, that’s it for the Nintendo Experience for now. It feels good to finally see the shelf start to fill out.

nintendo-experience

Beat it Blind: Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

PUNCHPUNCHPUNCHPUNCHpunchpunchpnchpnchpnchpchpchpchpch!


What’s harder than playing a Donkey Kong game with a bongo controller? Probably nothing… No, wait – doing it while blindfolded!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Coolest Arcade Experience

Simeon needs to bring Scott with him on his crazy arcade adventures, so he doesn’t feel so left out!

Simeon recently experienced the coolest arcade ever, and got to conquer some screens of Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and more. The legacy of arcades lives on in every gamer, so we take some time to enjoy arcade culture!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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