Thursday, April 28, 2011

Poke-continuty

Update from previous post: Beat FFIII thanks to a metric shedload of job grinding. Decided not to go for 100% completion because that requires Onion equipment, pretty much. Started into Strange Journey but got sidetracked pretty badly by a little thing called "I didn't know it acted like a roguelike".

So I decided to finally get 646 in the Pokedex instead. And let's go inside the numbers...

2: Number of consecutive hours I spent in the Pokeshifter minigame. 6 at a time is a pain, but logical. Also, the number of times I had to recharge my DS Lite during the procedure (thank you Easter holiday for making it that I could do it without getting in trouble at work).

210: Number of Pokemon, at least, that I ended up Shifting (I went from box 8 to 15, you do the math.)

13: Number of levels my Giant Chasm Ditto grew in the process of breeding the Pokemon that I sent in, which were largely final form.

12: The Route used for grinding. One long stretch of grass that it's easy to trigger Audino grinding with? Probably saved me a good 3 hrs when compared to doing it in the Giant Chasm.

24,922: Amount of experience earned by a L1 Duskull holding a Lucky Egg when it kills an Audino at L49.
30: The number of levels a Fast group Pokemon (such as Duskull) gets from 24,922 exp.
06: The TM that makes these numbers possible (Toxic).

And finally 1 gets four facts:
- The number of times I dropped my DS
- The amount of hours since I last saved and thus lost the progress
- The number of Nintendo World Report writers who said "Goddamn" upon seeing the screenshot I took in celebration...
- And the number of Pokemon from my first 3rd generation file that I still have, and is now sitting in box 14 or something - Blair the Blaziken.

I first spoke of Blair in 2003, in the Universal RS Adventure Archives over at the still-flailing Azure Heights forums. Because of the data cutoff necessitated by going from GBC to GBA, and the notoriously dead batteries of GSC games, it's the longest-lasting Pokemon I've owned. I yanked it out of Pokemon Box in 2008, Pal Parked it up to Diamond, then over to Platinum when that superseded Diamond in 2009 and now to White.

Its nature sucks (Gentle: +SpDef, -Def), its effort is jacked to hell because I used it ingame before EV reducing berries got that effect, and I think its moveset is something like Bulk Up/Slash/Flamethrower/Brick Break. I don't even want to know what its IVs are, but if I find out it's triple 31 or something I might cry. Still, I've had that Blaziken since I was in my freshman year of university, I was still working at libraries and the Toronto Maple Leafs were making something allegedly called the "playoffs".

Hell, if R/S allowed you to see the date of acquisition mine would say March 19/03. That's the launch day of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire in Canada, or at least when EB Games called me to pick up my preorder (it's the 2nd game I ever pre-ordered, with Zelda: Wind Waker being # 1). I'm never letting it go, and that's pretty much the only Pokemon I'll say that for.

(Yes, even my uber-rare Wish/Heal Bell Lickitung from the New York Nintendo World - back when it was the Pokecenter, I think - could be available. One of these days, I'm going to open the Pokemon equivalent of Ebay and let it run like the lady who sold a mint Stadium Events for the NES for $22k.)

But what I can't wait for is the inevitable RSE remakes next gen. I'm going to send Blair back home, and probably create a time paradox in the process. But I don't care. It's already had a long journey through time - or so says its status screen in White - so it's only a few more years until it'll return. I don't know if GameFreak will include some sort of easter egg for people who manage to hang onto a Pokemon that long, but we'll just have to wait to find out.

Is there anyone else out there who still has a Pokemon that knows what it's like to play with an Afterburner light? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Paralysis by Choice

My preferences in games tend to focus on 3 genres - puzzle games, 2D platformers and eastern RPGs. And even then, there's some pretty big holes in my JRPG history:

- I've never played a tactical RPG beyond the tutorial for Final Fantasy Tactics on PS1 (exception being the PVP portion of Pokemon back in the day, which only counts for a certain definition of tactical)
- I've beaten less than half of the Final Fantasy games (1, 4, 6, 7 and 10).
- I've never played an Atlus RPG, though I picked up Strange Journey for a song and want to get my hands on Persona 3/4. Also Radiant Historia, though it scares the crap out of me.

I've started playing Final Fantasy III (DS) today, in what would be my 4th attempt to beat the 4th DS game I ever bought (of approximately 60). The farthest I've ever gotten in the game is the point when I get the 2nd set of job crystals, at which point my brain shuts down at trying to process the party options I've got and I go running back to Pokemon to finish filling a Pokedex.

Notice the Final Fantasies I've beaten - they're the ones that have the simplest character technique-building system (locked-in jobs at the start, Espers, Materia and only the basic Sphere Grid respectively). If it gets any more complicated than that - like a full job system or heaven forfend, 12's License Grid - I have no idea what to do because I want the optimum setup with the least amount of time.

The same thing happened with Pokemon, in retrospect. Once the system moved beyond 130 options and one set of simple stats, I was done.

So if I get freaked out by this in a genre that I've pretty much been playing since I went through gaming puberty in 1995, it's no wonder I haven't broken out into open-world games (even though I've had access to GTA: San Andreas since about 2005), western RPGs or shootan of any kind. Though one would think that I'd be more into shooters now that they're basically down to the Final Fantasy IV level of railroading compared to the fact that I beat Final Doom when I was 12.

I don't want to be a fanboy, it's just come down to circumstances.

To start changing this, I'm going to see FFIII through to the end even if it takes me 50 hours to figure out that I should go Dark Knight, Devout, Summoner and Knight in the endgame. From there, it'll be on to Strange Journey to see if I'll be able to handle Persona without pulling an Evoker on myself.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How to fill a 'dex in 12 days

Due to some RL issues, I've been unable to update for a while (as you can tell), but those have largely been resolved - so I just had a mild case of writer's block (and concentrating on playing the US White). In fact, I've put 56 hours onto the game clock since the 6th, not even counting the time I've lost soft-resetting for what have you (usually non-sucky natures).

In fact, I managed to fill the entire Unova-dex last night, finishing with Hydreigon. And people are accusing me of having no life. Admittedly, that was true for the first few days, but that always happens with a hot new release.

But let's face facts:
1) If you catch everything possible in every area and explore the optional areas, you'll have a caught count of 100+ by the first credits. The second credits fill in about 15 more, and throw enough money at you that you can afford to buy full sets of vitamins to dope up Woobat and Swadloon for their happiness evolution. That takes about an hour per route/cave. (If you're going for Cryoganal, catch something at level 31 and use a Repel). This takes an hour a route and maybe 45 minutes for Cryo.

2) The GTS, despite having its share of L9 Reshiram requests, actually works decently well if you're throwing something up and making an offer. I was able to get both my Gothitelle and Mandibuzz by throwing up their counterpart - I got them in a half hour. Then the game speeds up breeding for foreign Pokemon, so...

3) As mentioned, the Lucky Egg does a LOT to speed things up. I wouldn't have been able to take Deino up to its final form without getting 6k experience in Audino punting.

4) Speaking of Audino... even in the late game you've got 3/4 odds of finding something that gives anywhere from 2k to 4k base experience in the low 40s. Vanilluxe certainly enjoyed it, at least. Generally, once something's in the late 30s it can survive to get KOs on the Route 12 Audinos (easiest to trigger since there's only one long patch of grass).

5) The new experience curve set up a situation where I got 10k experience for a freshly hatched L1 Pokemon while holding the Exp Share. Or 23 levels. I could probably do more if I had done it with the Elite 4. And now that I realize the Stadiums fill up quite dramatically post-credits - with L67 Pokemon and trainers who randomly hand you PP Max for no readily apparent reason, not that I'm complaining - there's a fresh source of Exp Share abuse daily.

6) I still have my import Black for Reshiram, Tornadus and trade evos + a second DS. That's all I used it for, though.

So add all that up, and yes - it's possible to complete a regional Pokedex in two weeks. Especially when you commute to work and have an hour lunch at said work.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

There is no Gray. Or spoon.

So during the big Black and White press tour, one of the developers was asked about Pokemon Gray. His response was not unexpected: "We finished this story with the Black and White versions".

Suuuuuuuuuure.

Now, I know I said that Word of God trumps all in this very space a few months ago. However, there's a point when executives have to lie. And asking about the sequel when on a press tour for the original is certainly one of them.

Is it possible that they could be cutting this generation off prematurely? They've thrown just about every other tradition out the door in the 5th gen, so it's possible. And I'm not sure if they would cross the White Forest/Black City, or just run both. However, it's incredibly unlikely that they would let this go early.

There's no less than four Pokemon or items (largely related to Kyruem) that would form the storyline basis for a 3rd version. And of course, follow the money. Because of the engine work being largely done and paid for, 3rd versions have maybe 20% of the production costs of the first two and have the built in hype of a new mainline Pokemon game to sell 6 million+ worldwide.

And you know what you call a company who (supposedly) announces new products while on the marketing tour for the existing ones? Osborne Computers. Or Sega, or Sony Ericsson, or Nokia. One of those companies is bankrupt, one is stuck whoring Sonic until the end of days, and the last one is in the process of becoming a subsidiary of Microsoft. (The 3rd one is basically irrelevant in its markets.)

Nintendo and its subsidiary companies all have a history of blatantly lying in their marketing, too.
"There is no GBA redesign in the works." - Official Nintendo statement, January 16, 2003. Guess what got announced the next day?
"The DS is a 3rd pillar of our platform strategy." - Nintendo, E3 2004. That lasted until Nintendogs/Mario Kart DS started printing money.
"The next Zelda game will launch in 2010." - Miyamoto himself, up until the E3 demo last year. Oops, now it's 2011.

The question becomes what platform Gray would go on, and I'm tempted to call it for the 2DS. Now, despite what Serebii Joe is claiming about the ease of programming DS->3DS compatibility (for trading and such), programming DS->DS compatibility and pointing out that the games can be played on the 3DS would probably be easier. There's always two sendoff games for the old system from Nintendo before they drop programming for portables - a Kirby game of some kind, and a 3rd version of Pokemon. The first of those two was announced last year with the 3DS launch announcement.

We don't have precedent to go with to decide, though. Crystal was Game Boy Color exclusive after Gold/Silver were dual-mode Game Boy/GBC games and the GBA was out in North America, while Emerald was a GBA game despite coming out after the DS release. In both cases though, the new system was not out in Japan at the time of Crystal/Emerald's release, which is why they got held back. And Crystal probably could have been dual-mode, all things considered. In this instance, unless Gray launches next week in Japan and nobody knows it, it's not going to beat the 3DS to market. And IGN (doubtful source) did have a reference to Black and White having 3DS enhancements up for a while but have since removed it.

But in the end, I think TPCi's (or Nintendo's, considering they're the majority shareholder) interest in ROI will win out, and I won't have to buy a new console that I can't friggin' afford right now to play Gray. I look forward to the February 2012 CoroCoro reveal, the September 2012 importation, and the March 2013 campout where I hand out Melotta and Keludo like candy.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

English Name Awards

Alternate title: "Internet Throhs Party As Nintendo Lawyers Fail To Put A Sawk In It"

Before we get onto name theory, there's something I forgot for my Gray requests, so we'll call it #8:
All elemental stones available for purchase in a shop during the game.
This is pretty much the only thing Red/Blue got right - having the element stones available during the game is a Pokedex completionist's dream, and there was a tease for it in Black City at grossly inflated prices. Maybe put them in the 5th badge city next to the guy who sells the bitter medicines.

As more and more of the English names get confirmed by outlets such as Nintendo Power and IGN, it's becoming more obvious that the image I linked in the last post is the nearly-full list of localized Pokemon names. The only thing we don't have is the event legends, and those will probably be found by March 8 and not released until next year anyway.

And lemme tell ya, there are some real winners in this bunch.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My requests for Gray

First off, my brother-from-another-mother/heterosexual life partner Ryan has actually started blogging. Check him out here and let's all hope he updates more than I do. Everything about the bus is true, by the way.

Someone asked recently if a mid-tier Pokemon in the tier listing (specifically, Solosis/Yuniran) is worth using. I should clarify: Just because something was "Mid" in the tier list doesn't mean you shouldn't use it, and if I was adding Upper-Mid and Lower-Mid to the listing Yuniran would've been the former. Especially since it can do things Sigilyph/Shinbora can't (like use Electric moves and Psycho Shock before the endgame). And I might have to re-evaluate that list since it turns out Rankurusu/Reuniclus is going through a Smogon suspect process right now. We all know what that means.

Having taken a few weeks off to grind Dragon Quests before VI comes out (BUY IT, YOU FOOLS!), I've begun to consider the inevitable 3rd version, which will undoubtedly be called Pokemon Gray and feature Kyurem as its version mascot. But that wouldn't justify me spending $35 on the remake.

But these things would.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Punting hoarders in the face

We interrupt this program to bring you a mild rant.

On Tuesday evening, I had two run-ins with the collective pain in the rear known as hoarders. In this case, it's the people who populate RedFlagDeals, and the people who abuse everything ever posted at CheapAss Gamer.

In this case, I had two examples. First, I went to Future Shop to burn off a Christmas gift card and picked up Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. As it turns out, I had purchased something left over from the first printing, so it came with a soundtrack CD. Or in this case, a nicely-pressed data disc with a bunch of .wav files.

Some quick Googling turned up this Joystiq story about the problem. No problem, I go to request a replacement disc, only to see that it's sold out. How can a replacement disc be sold out? Turns out that once I hit the forums, more people requested the disc than actually purchased copies of the game, leaving me holding the bag.

Now, a couple of things I should point out:
1) I was only going to rip the damn things to .mp3 anyway, so all I had to do was run them through Audacity (which is what I did).
2) Part of the problem was on Atlus's end for not requesting proof of ownership beforehand, such as a UPC code from the box.
Still, I'm not Joe Q Public, so imagine their reaction when this happened. Especially since I grabbed it on sale for $25+tax (regular price: $40) and someone could have made the same choice.

The more egregious example, however, came when I swung over to a local Rogers Video store. My cell carrier and almost-employer also runs video stores across Canada, and for a while also sold video games. They're where I picked up God Hand and Zack & Wiki for $25 total. Unfortunately, they've elected to get out of selling the vidya. As a result, after Christmas they had a buy 1/get 1 sale on all video games, new or used.

When I went to check out the store that evening, I expected that there probably wouldn't be a lot of the CoDBlops of the world, but there may be 1 or 2 things that may be worth employing the limited amount of free cash I had. When I got there, the video game section was GONE. According to the clerk, about 15 people lined up before store opening on the first day of the sale (12/27, in my city) and bought everything.

It wouldn't be so bad if they were going to buy a copy to give as New Year's gifts or what have you, but to a man they all admitted that they were going to spin the stuff on Ebay or get mad trade credit at FutureShop/Gamestop/Best Buy.

So instead of picking up a couple and giving other people a fair shot at some inexpensive games, they throw them to the corporate overlords who will mark them up to $5 below retail and sell them at a massive profit. And then they'll lower the trade value on the games, so when I go to trade in, say, Other M in a month, I'll be the one getting screwed.

Thanks, assholes.

I don't have a problem with capitalism. What I do have a problem with is people such as the one pictured intentionally fucking with the market, making it harder for me (who actually wants to play these things) to find them at a lower price. I've bought cheap games in the past and thought "this might pay off someday", such as finding Disgaea DS for $10. But I'm going to play the damn thing before I sell it (if I sell it).

I'm certainly not going to walk into a store, build a pile of games up to my crotch including multiple copies of the same game (confirmed by the Gaffer who took the original photo) and spin them for a profit.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Dueling Version Exclusives

Now that we have a release date of 3/6 and even knowledge of when the gerbils and Celebi are being released (and those events have already leaked), a lot of people are going to have to make the decision on what version to buy.

Not to be racist, but I'm going with White on this one because I value White Forest and it making sure I have to do less Pokeshifting than I would with Black. Wanna know why? Here's the list.

But I had to resort to deciding based on the additional Pokemon, because looking at the version exclusives in this gen didn't help one bit.

Pre-National
Note: Monmen/Churine (the Grass-types) are not version exclusive as they can be ingame traded for each other in the respective versions.

Psychic types
White: Yuniran/Daburan/Rankurusu
Black: Gothimu/Gochimiru/Gochiruzeru
Stat wise, White gets the advantage on Special Attack (105 in the first form? Yowza) and HP, but Black's have the advantage on speed although neither one is fast by any means. The kicker is the ability advantage - there are way more situations where Magic Guard or even Dustproof will come in handy than Frisk ever will. 
Advantage: White

Flying types
White: Washibon/Wargle (Normal/)
Black: Baruchai/Barujiana (Dark/)
Oooh, a Dark type. Except the only thing that kept Wargle Low in the tier list was the location and late evo - Wargle especially is absolutely amazing post-National as it can actually do damage. Baruchai's offensive stats, as previously mentioned, are TERR-IBLE.
Advantage: White

Flying type Legendary Genies
White: Voltolos (Electric/)
Black: Tornolos (no dual type)
Both having identical stats means it comes down to typing and movepool - and Voltolos having the advantage of STAB Thunderbolt out of the box when you get it + just enough Special moves to be usable gives it the win.
Advantage: White

Version Mascot Dragons
White: Zekrom (Electric/)
Black: Reshiram (Fire/)
These things were designed to be perfectly identical to each other, and it works out pretty well. I do have to give the edge to Reshiram since it can super-effect the only thing that resists its other STAB - although quite frankly, 100 power off a base 150 Attack stat is going to KO whatever hits it anyway.
Slight advantage: Black

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Technical Incompetence

"I'm pretty sure my choice of Water Pokemon is about to get future endeavoured. It failed Test 1: 'Can it use TM13?'"
- Twitter comment in reference to Gamengorge, 9/28/10

In my many Black and White playthroughs, this isn't the first time I've been shocked - SHOCKED - that a Pokemon didn't have the capabilities to use a TM. It seemed to be endemic to the Water type as I learned when Swana was compatible with Ice Beam, but not Blizzard, but upon further digging over at Veekun it seems that certain rules from the last generations are being chucked out the window.

Specifically, the rules would be:
- Starters get wide compatibility for attacking moves, and the final forms get Earthquake. Not this time: Snivy's compatibility is Grass moves, Aerial Ace, and Normal moves, and neither it nor Oshawott's final form (in correction of something I posted in the tier lists) learn Earthquake. At least Tepig's family did all right (but it also gets the benefits of two STABs).

- Water types learn Ice Beam and Blizzard, full stop. (Not anymore: Gamergorge doesn't get either one, and Swana misses on Blizzard as previously mentioned.)

- The average final-form Pokemon in gen IV had roughly 40 TMs (30 + mandatory 10) that they learned. With 3 more TMs and only about 20 existing ones changing, this has gone down to only 15-20 over and above the mandatory ones in gen V.

So what's responsible for the changes?

The biggest thing is probably the fact that TMs are now basically HMs that don't require the move deleter to get rid of. Once you get say, Ice Beam and can throw it on anything that moves, the game needs to restrict the Pokemon that have access to it. (Especially given that you've already beaten the Dragon gym).

Another factor is that some of the newer TMs pay much more attention to flavour than they would have in gen IV. If Ice Breath (TM79) existed last gen, it probably would have gone to every Water type not named Magikarp (giving it an automatic learnbase of 90+ Pokemon) and probably a few Dragons (like the Latis). Instead, its movepool is roughly 15 out of 649, and all of that is Ice types and Mew (who of course learns everything). There's no Pokemon (again, Mew excluded) that can learn Ice Beam and Boiling Water simultaneously, and there's an obvious reason - if you're capable of breathing Ice like that, you can't emit water hot enough to be "boiling".

Lastly, there's still the factors of last gen's TM base to consider. Remember, we're one generation removed from Stealth Rock being either one of the first two TMs you get (in Diamond/Pearl/Platinum) or buyable for $2k in a department store (HG/SS). They've gone to great lengths to reduce Stealth Rock use by seemingly preventing it from showing up in random Wi-Fi battles, and TM76 is now a 30 power Bug move (which makes it as unappealing as you can get). If Stealth Rock was introduced in gen V, it would likely have its natural movepool (which is all Rock-types) + maybe a few Ground types, and that's it.

So on March 6, make sure to keep a Pokedex handy online (such as Bulbapedia or Veekun) and check that TM's capability before you start throwing it around willy-nilly. You may not like the results.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Black/White Ingame Tier List; The Special types

Part 2: The Special Types

You saw the Physical types last time, so let's go with the Special types for now. Note that I've also updated Part 1 with first location data (which I've worked into the listing for the Special types).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Black/White Ingame Tier List: The Physical types

Since Black and White's release, Smogon has been running a thread to determine an ingame tier list for Black/White to correspond with similar lists they have created for other generations. I've chipped in a few times, but after what is now my 6th playthrough of Black and White, I think I've furrowed out the best Pokemon of each type in the game.

The main factors for a good ingame Pokemon:
1) How faster am I getting through the game by using them? Higher offensive stats, or more move type variety, or learning awesome moves, means you rank higher.
2) How soon can I start using them in their final form? Happiness evolutions, evolving at ridiculous levels or trade evolving hurts their placement (though not as much as it would with the GTS being available).
3) As a type, are they useful for clearing Gyms/Elite 4 members? If you have access to Fighting, Ghost, or Dragon moves, it certainly helps.

This is strictly for getting to the end credits for the first time, and only ranks Pokemon that you are guaranteed to encounter ingame. So Zoroa and event Pokemon (read: Victini) are flat out. The same goes with the version mascots (since they last a whole 2 battles at most), and of course DQs the two Pokemon that can only be encountered legally postgame at L70/75 (Kyruem and Landorus).

Since this is going to be a long post, I'm splitting it into two entries - this one will be the pre-4th gen physical types (Normal, Fighting, Poison, Ground, Flying, Bug, Rock, Ghost and Steel). In the case of dual-types, their stronger STAB gets priority, with the determination on the "however I feel like it" methodology.. The ranking is a simple 3 tier system: High, Mid or Low, unlike the Smogon system.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Donald's Pokemon Black/White Review

This review is based on a Japanese version of the game. Certain online features such as Dream World will have to wait until the North American release due to a lack of Japanese knowledge on the part of the writer.

When it was announced several months back that the Black and White versions would feature no old Pokemon for a majority of the adventure, there was some fear among experienced players that everything would just be cloned over from the 1st generation like they did in Ruby and Sapphire. Despite some evidence to the contrary - namely the 3rd consecutive Fire/Fighting starter - enough has changed and enough of the annoying things from prior games have been excised that this is the most enjoyable ingame romp yet.

Addition Through Subtraction
The key is that a lot of the little annoying things in the game - Golbats, HMs and the old experience curving - have been ditched. Golbat is pretty self-explanatory, but there is a grand total of 1 time in the game prior to the Elite 4 where you need to use an HM out of battle. The first time through, I didn't even pick up Strength until two cities after it was needed and didn't miss it.

If you're the kind of person who wants to explore the side areas - and you should, considering the rewards are pretty powerful Pokemon and some good moves - you will need Strength and Surf. But since you're probably using them as in-battle moves anyway, it won't cause you many problems going through.

The other major timesaver is that it's quite easy to add new members to the team if you need to. Although they did take out the Vs Seeker, it's made up for with four things:

- Repeatable TMs
- A way to trigger an encounter with a wild Pokemon that has the highest base experience of any Pokemon in history
- A new experience curve that gives Pokemon more experience at lower levels
- A free Lucky Egg during the course of the storyline

All of these boosts make it really easy to use favourites or cool-looking Pokemon, although there are certain ones that are still more equal than others.

Story Considerations
Although the bar isn't set very high for Pokemon storylines, it was set by Platinum with the Team Galactic storyline. At least from what I can gather from reading story FAQs, the TVTropes article and various fanon that the storyline is actually deeper than the one in Platinum. Much like the older heroes in the game, it's a reflection of the maturity of the franchise.

(Again, this is subject to further reflection once the English version is out.)

New Pokemon
Let me lay it out first; A 3rd consecutive Fire/Fighting final form of the Fire starter is annoying, and if Pokemon #655 is Fire/Fighting, there may be mass homicide. However, I've been able to play through the game five times over with wildly varying teams in each one (even allowing for the one mono-fire expirement).

The only odd thing is that there's not many specially-focused Water types - you have Daikenki (who ends up with a better physical movepool anyway), Brungeru (the Water/Ghost) and, uh, that's it. Of the other Water-types, they're mainly physically focused - if Kerudio wasn't an event Pokemon I'd be a lot happier.

Conclusion
As usually happens, I've basically put away my 4th gen games at this point - the only times I've booted one since were to get Mew and to refresh the Pokewalker in Heart Gold. For a game that I really can't even read, this is one hell of an accomplishment.

If this is the end of Pokemon on the 2DS, it's a helluva way to go out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meeting transcript: How Garchomp got Rough Skin

 When the Dream World abilities were announced, the questions were flying fast and furious. Who did Ninetales fellate to get Drought? Is Wobbuffet legal now? And most importantly... how in the hell did Garchomp get Rough Skin when Salamence got Overconfidence?

The last one boggled my mind until my spies at GameFreak came through with a recording of the decision - and it didn't go down as you would think. I originally put this on GameFAQs, but it was too good to waste over there.

---

Masuda: Monster of the week, sign in please.

*Garchomp enters*

Masuda: Ah, Garchomp. Welcome. I must say, you had a good run last generation. Getting banned before Platinum was beyond our wildest espectations.

Garchomp: Thanks, boss.

Sugimori: We want to replicate that success this time around, so we're going to give you an awesome Dream World ability. The problem is, we couldn't decide which one to give you.

Masuda: So we're going to settle this the old fashioned way. Gardevoir, could you send in... The Wheel of Abilities.

*A Wheel of Fortune-like wheel floats into the room. It is 24 pegs wide, with 4 pegs for Huge Power and 2 pegs for Sandstream, Shadow Tag, Rough Skin, Sand Fence, Sand Power, Intimidate, Overconfidence, Speed Boost, something called "Reverse Technician" which would be a 50% boost for attacks over 60 power, and Bankrupt.*

Garchomp: Ooooh, this looks like fun.

Sugimori: Wanna give it a spin?

*Garchomp spins the wheel*

Sugimori/Masuda: Wheel of Abilities, turn turn turn. Tell us the weapon that he should earn.

*The wheel is slowing down, and looks like it'll land on Huge Power.*

Garchomp: Aweso...

*... but it clicks over one peg to land on Rough Skin.*

Garchomp: ARCEUSDAMNIT!!

Masuda: Well... that's the way it goes. Sorry, Garchomp.

Garchomp: Tell it to the Oddish I'll be eating for dinner tonight. *Exit Garchomp*

Sugimori: Uh, why was Rough Skin on there? I thought we were trying to clinch a ban for it again. Lemme check...

*Sugimori walks over to the wheel and pulls at the Rough Skin tag to reveal that it was covering Mold Breaker.*

Masuda: WHO RIGGED THE WHEEL?

Tajiri: *laughs*

Flareon: Hey, let me spin that one!

Masuda: NO!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Killing It With Fire

Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Darumakka

As promised, I decided to mono-type run Black shortly after solving the White gametape as much as I could. The rules where simple: Only Fire-type Pokemon can obtain experience points during the game, except for one Double battle that is mandatory before I could get a 2nd Fire-type. Other Pokemon can be used but strictly for HM muling.

In order of obtaining, the team was:
1) Pokabu family
2) Yanappu/Baoppu (the former is the Grass monkey that took the Exp in the mandatory double battle. Latter is the Fire monkey.)
3) Victini
4) Darumakka
5) Hitomoshi family (aka The Candle)
6) Meraruba family
7) Reshiram (where Baoppu got ditched)

There is one Pokemon eligible but I didn't use due to obtaining it late: Kuitaran (the Anteater).

In order of awesomeness and ingame tiering, the order goes something like this:

Sir-Not-Available-Anynore Tier: Victini
Fire/Psychic is a great offensive type combo, although Victini's best Psychic move goes Confusion -> Zen Headbutt -> Psychic by TM in the East Isshu area. It was my main anti-Water between Grass Knot as soon as I got it and Thunderbolt in the Surf area. Of course, it's not available anymore until the NA launch, so... yeah.

God Tier: Darumakka/Hihidaruma
One word: Wow.

Sure, his baby form has Hustle. Sure, the result of Hustle is that his Rock Tomb is about as accurate as a Obama biography produced by Fox News. But when it hits, it hits HARD. I was able to stick with Fire Punch pretty much from L22 on as both forms have an innate Attack boost, and mine was Adamant (perfect nature for Encourage ones) running a 140 base Attack. Moveset was Fire Punch, Dig, Rock Tomb/Slide, and Strength until I could use Earthquake (again, postgame).

Good Tier: Pokabu line, Reshiram
You might be wondering why a cover legendary is on the same tier as a starter relatively assumed to be the 3rd best Fire/Fighting starter ever. Simply put, you can't play this way without the former, and the latter gets 2 battles total before you see the credits for the first time. That and the Fighting type STAB actually made him useful against the Dragon gym, and it could run Wild Bolt (off TM 93) with its high HP. Moveset at the end: Nitro Charge, Brick Break, Wild Bolt, Dig/EQ for Enbuoo and Dragon Pulse/Flamethrower/Extrasensory/Fly for Reshiram.

Needs Babying tier: Baoppu, Hitomoshi, Meraruba
In order of severity:
- Baoppu was the weak link most of the way, especially since I wanted Crunch on it for some perverse reason which means keeping it until L43. I couldn't even grind it up with the free Lucky Egg because I needed Acrobat to be high-powered (which means no items on it). It picked up upon evolution but the lack of a dual type and no real ability while equipped with Acrobat kills it. Moveset: Flame Burst, Acrobat, Crunch, Grass Knot

- Hitomoshi is bad, but the final form is a) badass, and b) available at level 41 if you get a good draw on the dust. Will-O-Wisp + Evil Eye (50 pwr special Ghost, 2x if the opponent has a status) was a good combo, but you get Shadow Ball shortly after it so that becomes the go-to attack. Flame Body was also appreciated for random burns + egg hatching (see below). Moveset: Shadow Ball, Flame Burst, Solarbeam, Will-O-Wisp

- Oh god, Meraruba. Sure, it evolves into a badass (Ungamoth) but that happens at level 59. The irritating part is that its main moves as a baby are all physical, and that is the better attacking stat, but the final form is base 130 SA so I ended up ditching mine in the post-game and soft-resetting for a Modest one in the Ancient Cave. Still, seeing something go from L1 to L24 in one Pokemon because of the new experience formula and the Exp Share? Awesome. Moveset: Bug Bite, Nitro Charge, Return, Leech Life (Meraruba) - Flamethrower, Bug Buzz, Psychic, Butterfly Dance as Ungamoth.

 Other things I've learned in the run:
- Gyms that give you hell: 1st (obviously, that's what its there for), 8th. And that's it. You're going to beat 2, 3, 4, and 7, 6 is neutral, and the 5th uses a Ground/Steel as the main Pokemon in which you can win a damage race.

- I was able to go through the game with just 1 HM, except for a few items and the whole getting Meraruba/TM 24 sequence needing a Water-type for Surf. Cut's last use was around the 4th gym, and all of the Surf areas pre-first credits are optional. Love it.

- As mentioned, there's a new experience curve that is still being worked out, but the offshoot is that if you are lower leveled than what you get experience from, you get more points. Proof of this is that I got Meraruba immediately after getting Surf, and it was even with the team by the time I returned to the main game.

- Nothing warmed my heart more than seeing the champ use 3 Bugs.

- Can a brother get a Flamethrower TM earlier? Like maybe, I dunno, before the Elite 4?

- Even with the EXP curve, Kuitaran has the problem of a better Special Attack and a largely physical movepool. Hopefully Gray's move tutors are kinder to him. Then again, there's a whole class of Pokemon I'd probably have to trade eggs in for an ingame run - including Wargle. Sad end.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Black/White launch week awards *SPOILERS*

Confession time: I've been playing White for the last several days. I went with it over Black for now because quite frankly, it showed up first. And apparently I'm not alone, since about 3.6 million people have bought the game in Japan already by "press" time.

Right now, I just finished the 6th badge and am rocking a full party, though I could use a Flyer. I'll list them after the break since there's spoilers involved. But right now, I think I'm far enough along to hand out some preliminary awards

Best Mea Culpa:
Me.

What can I say, the spanish dude got it right. Props to him... I still cannot fathom how he got the leaks of the Pokemon, but he did. Serebii Joe needs to chill, though - surely you have a site to run, there's no reason to spend several hours a day posting on GameFAQs, of all places.

Best incident of self-inflicted gunshot wound:
To Nintendo of America for sending DMCA takedown notices to PokeBeach and Serebii. News flash guys, this is 2010. Stuff leaks. Not even Apple is immune to leaks, and they decapitate the leakers when they catch them and hang their heads from 1 Infinite Loop as a warning to others.

Both sites got nailed for posting pre-release stuff from 2ch, not sprites as is to be believed, but using the DMCA as a club instead of tightening your own security or starting a Smash Dojo-equivalent site to get ahead of the leakers is a pretty cheap shot. And why does the UK allow this to happen to Joe? I almost wish I had the kind of free time to run my own news site/podcast, if only because I could mock them for trying to run a takedown on a site that's not in US jurisdiction.
(Last warning: Everything after the jump could be considered a spoiler.)