Wednesday, December 23, 2009

HG/SS version exclusives - a Dr. Jack Ramsay special

If you're purchasing only 1 of Heart Gold or Soul Silver, and you haven't decided which one based on nostalgia, the main deciding factor for which one you're picking up is usually the version exclusives. So far, it appears most people are leaning toward SS (at least based on the Media Create sales out of Japan), but should they be?

In the immortal words of Winston Wolf, let's not start licking SS's "popsicle" just yet. We need to do some math on this. So I'm going to rip off every sports series preview ever and go position by position trying to determine which game you need.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The (2nd) greatest Battle Tower streak in history

Edit: As of January 13/10, this record has already been broken. Youtube video evidence here:

On September 6, a Smogon poster named peterko moved to the top of the board's unofficially official Battle Tower list when he had a streak end at 696 consecutive wins. Immediately after that, he began a new streak that would last over 3 months and came to an end last night... at 2,362 wins.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The first three generations are dead to me

Recently I was going through my backlog of games to try and set up a plan of attack for beating them all. During the process, I found the following Pokemon games:

1st gen: Red, Blue, Yellow and Stadium 1

2nd gen: Silver (the same one I wrote the FAQ using), Crystal, Stadium 2

3rd gen: All 5 + the Gamecube games

After looking it over, I decided to add them to the pile of stuff I'd be eventually throwing up on Kijiji for the simple fact that 4th gen has completely spoiled me, and I can never go back to anything playable on a GBA.

Right now, I have completed files on Red, Blue, and Yellow, a dead battery on Silver and Crystal (thank heavens for the Mega Memory Card), a half-done Fire Red run from before Diamond/Pearl launch day, and barren Ruby/Sapphire/Leaf Green/Emerald games that were strip-mined for Pal Park.

Now that you can get every Pokemon with either 1 game + an internet connection or just DS games, I don't need to play anything from 3rd generation back any more. I tried reading goon runs (RedChocobo's epic Let's Play runs for Emerald, FR and Crystal) to see if it would inspire me to bust out the GBA again but nothing. Why is that?

First off, I can't go back to RBY because the inventory in that game is broken - 20 in the main, 50 in the PC, and that's it. Good thing there's only 20 usable TMs... oh, wait. The base game comes down to "install Dugtrio/Jolteon, problem solved". Add in the lack of running shoes, and little things that they got rid of like having to go into the Pokemon menu to use HMs... yeesh. I know the originals were groundbreaking, but when the newer games largely use the same formula with a much improved interface, the original games just can't hold up today.

The 2nd generation makes minor improvements to the 1st but I just played Johto/Kanto again in HG/SS, so if I want to explore Johto again I can blow away the file on HG and start again. Oh, and the whole "doesn't save anymore because the battery died PSP-style" issue can't help matters. I could replace it or use a *gasp* emulator, but I got an exemption from the soldering portion of shop class in junior high so it's not really feasible.

And then there's 3rd gen, but I got enough satisfaction out of clearing Emerald a couple of years ago and can redo Kanto again if I want to for some stupid reason in HG/SS. The 50 TMs return identically in 4th gen, and of course the changes to physical and special moves in 4th gen threw me for a major loop when I had to speedrun Ruby for a fresh set of Regis (this was pre-movie Regigigas). Once you can use Breloom with three types of move (Grass, Electric, Fighting) off the physical attack instead of one, it's hard to go back.

If I ever get a chance to start a retro game of the week blog (which is the plan if I retire before I'm 27 by way of hitting the lottery or a game show), I might revisit them for the heck of it. But for now, make mine Platinum.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My retirement from Mystery Dungeon

There is a main-game related blog entry I want to do, but it's an ongoing story and I'm holding off until it's over - which looks like it'll be December 23, 2012 at the pace it's going now. It involves the Battle Tower and a streak that looks like it's going to make Cal Ripken Jr's look short.

When I get bored of the main games, I'll sometimes borrow a copy of one of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games. I keep thinking that as someone who appreciates a good eastern-style RPG, I really need to get into rougelike games in order to have a fuller appreciation of the genre. But not any more. As of November 16, 2009 I am officially done with the Mystery Dungeon series.

And here's why.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The (Ingame) Winners and Losers of HG/SS

The 4th gen mechanics have caused a severe altering of everything you ever knew about the ingame Pokemon. Aside from ones that are now showing up ingame for the first time, certain monsters are now suddenly usable - or no longer usable. The major culprits for this of course, are 4th gen mechanics and the sudden lack of elemental punch TMs, as you'll see...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The final Heart Gold/Soul Silver review

If a Pokemon game's story can justify a spoiler warning, there will be spoilers. Viewer discretion is advised. This review may contain language that may be offensive to young children and 2nd gen fanboys.

When starting Diamond and Pearl, the player is greeted by a television report discussing a Red Gyarados. The minute this was revealed, the speculation for a GSC remake went from non-existant to ludricrous speed. Nostalgia blinded everyone to the flawed execution of the second generation games and ??? was promoted as some sort of good character.

This wouldn't be the first time this phenomenon was observed amongst the hoi paloi of the Internet Pokemon Community (IPC) - after all, we saw this same pattern played out after Ruby and Sapphire's release with Fire Red and Leaf Green. The key difference is that in the 3rd generation, the remake was followed up by a canonical 3rd version for the true 3rd gen games (Emerald for Ruby and Sapphire) which was a superior experience in practically every area. The same thing happened in the 4th generation, except they got the order backwards and put the best game of the generation out before they put out the remake.

That isn't to say that Heart Gold and Soul Silver are bad games, but once you've had Scizor it's hard to go back to Heracross. What remains is what 2nd generation should've been crossed with a 5th generation tech demo.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Shattered dreams: The Pokemon MMORPURGER

Note: I'm planning to do a CGW-style review (read: no score) of HG/SS once I finish a third run with Chikorita as a starter. But for now...

A few months ago, I went into detail as to why a main-series Pokemon game on a console would never happen. If I went to Las Vegas and was asked to set a line on the possibility, it'd be 30,000-1 (or roughly the odds the St. Louis Rams will win Super Bowl 44). But the odds for a Pokemon MMO? 4,000,000-1 (or the Rams win the next 2 Super Bowls).

Oh, I know, the entire Internet would be lined up to preorder it day 1 (or so I heard) and it may be the only game capable of toppling the WoW juggernaut. But there's a lot of reasons Nintendo's never going to greenlight it...

1) Money, money. Yeah, yeah.
The first question has to be how the hell they're going to support the ongoing maintenance required for a MMO. This requires a lot of money, and Nintendo's certainly got the coin to at least get a game off the ground - but that's money that can be used to pay for new tea tables for Miyamoto to turn over.

In addition to standard development costs for a full game, there's ongoing server maintenance, paying GMs and programmers for patches. These things aren't cheap, and any money going into PokeMMOn is money that's not being spent on R&D or funding new projects.

Nintendo's not going to make it a no monthly fee MMO (think Guild Wars) or a free-to-play/microtransaction MMO (think Club Penguin or a lot of Korean MMOs), so they'd inevitably go to the WoW model of base game + monthly fee in order to turn a profit. And when you consider that Pokemon is a series designed exclusively for kids, Mommy and Daddy won't be happy when Billy and Sarah ask for raises in their allowance to pay the toll for the game they got them for Christmas.

(For a further examination of Pokemon's marketing, grab the September 22 episode of ListenUP.)

2) Wrong place, right time
Realistically, what Nintendo platform is suitable to handle a MMO? And is Nintendo Wi-Fi, where you use the 10 digit friend code (cell phone #) to get the 12 digit friend code, set up to handle a MMO?

In order to handle game updates and character storage, you need a system that has usable storage. That leaves the regular DS flat out, as there's no expandable storage. Sure we have 4 gigabit DS cards (used for The Another World, the Level 5/Studio Ghibli joint) but a MMO is going to need even more than that.

The Wii and the DSi both have SDHC support, so theoretically you have up to 32GB available. Even 8 GB SD cards are cheap now - I got a 8GB microSDHC for $35 at Walmart a few months ago. But that may be too much additional expense for players to bear. The DSi has 256MB internal, and the Wii has 512MB. If you're lucky, you'd have 3/4 of that available and it's no way suitable for an MMO. Nintendo would much prefer to make this as easy as possible, but the fact is the earliest system that could be designed for a MMO would be the next rev of the Wii (with HD-DVD drive).

And even then, there's the hurdle of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. They haven't even brought in random matchmaking into the DS games, and the only systems that use friend lists and other "modern online features" are 3rd party efforts. Again, this isn't going to change until the next generation of Nintendo systems (both handheld and console). The DSi doesn't count here.

The easiest way out for Nintendo is to put it on PC, but they haven't developed a PC game (as far as I know) in their company's history and would rather fall on their sword than let a 3rd party company handle it. (I'd give it to Blizzard personally, but it'd be delayed to 2018). And can you name a MMO on ANY console in history that could remotely be considered succesful? The only one I'd even think of being in that ballpark is PSO (no monthly fee style) and that ended up dying for the most part with the Dreamcast.

3) Everything you know is wrong
As mentioned in the console post, the developers have said they prefer players trade in person rather than work online. But people always say that there would be a lot of people who would be willing to play different roles in PokeMMOn.

Really cool articles about dancing in Star Wars: Galaxies from CGW aside, I can't think of any MMO that's known for a player base willing to do anything. In Pokemon you'd likely have a makeup of 55% casuals, 40% hardcore PVPers, and 5% in the other roles (collectors, breeders, contest fiends, et al). Eventually, the PVPers would end up running the show based on sheer time in the game, and the other players would get frustrated and quit when they get called a n00b (or prole, or whatever) for the Nth time.

The other thing, and it's a minor thing but one that worries me, is the effect this would have on Pokemon's canon. There's only a few birds, gerbils, Regis etc to go around in the current world (the ones you catch and the occasional user in the Battle Frontier) - but what happens in a MMO? Is there a 40-man raiding group going to get Lugia? And if so, who's going to end up with it? Do they respawn so that everyone and their mother-in-law has one?

There's simply too many things that have to be considered before a Pokemon MMO would get published, and why bother doing it when you can sell 2 million DS games in a week for a tenth of the effort and five times the profit?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Heart Gold-Stopping Design Insanity (or: "How The PokeGear Ruined Everything")

Now that I've had a chance to dive further into Heart Gold/Soul Silver (13 badges at the time of this writing, looking for Chanseys due to my mild OCD about getting everything at the first opportunity), I've noticed some things that are driving me batty during the playthrough.

First of all, among the buyable TMs are Return, Dark Pulse, Taunt... and STEALTH ROCK. Yes, for the low low price of $2,000, you too can have the move solely responsible for preventing me from using entire types of Pokemon in PvP!

Now, I realize that this isn't going to stop most people from using it, since anyone who needs mass quantities of TM76 could've played through the first badge on a second game and traded it over, or is playing on a simulator. Still, at least that prevented casual use until now. This is probably the nastiest purchasable TM since Double Team was available (for $1000, by the way) in the halcyon days of RBY.

 Next is the new (or old) Itemfinder. In trying to chase down the Machine Part, the thing was bloody useless - maybe the instructions will make more sense when I can read them in something other than Japanese, but I eventually had to resort to running around the Cerulean gym like an idiot jabbing A. At least with the Dowsing Machine, you can eliminate a lot of space in one touch if the item doesn't appear.

But probably the most irritating thing is everything that goes in the Pokegear. The radio was functionally useless in the originals except for catching Snorlax, so I can understand adding something to it. And they did, in the form of the Hoenn and Sinnoh sound stations. A good idea and probably better than the Poke Radar, which I've gone on record as wanting to break a developer's legs over. But why restrict it to a day of the week for each? I'd rather not waste an appointment space on my phone's calendar that says "Catch Bidoof today", and I doubt anyone else would either. Make them each post-National stations and I'd be a little happier at using the radio to charm a Pokemon. (Or build the GB Player and this into a "pPod" item and kill two birds with one stone.)

I also prefered the Poketch Marking Map to using the PokeGear Town Map for legendary Gerbil and Lati tracking. Sure, it's just two additional button presses, but it's a lot easier to just have the map there and have it auto-update than hit the menu every time. Of course, it appears that these games are tech demos for the 5th gen engine, so we'll probably be stuck with this for the forseeable future. (Of course, they could just not have roaming Pokemon, but what do I know?)

The thing that really grinds my gears, however, is the return to the phone system instead of using the Vs. Seeker for rematches. Look Bug Catcher Wade, I don't give a flying fadoo that you beat a Bellsprout... I just want to know when you bothered to level up your stupid Caterpie so I can KO them while grinding my Mareep. (yeah.... stupid Bellsprout.) Although getting the calls from Mom that she bought me type-resisting berries - thanks to her, I've got enough Yache Berries for an entire platoon of Garchomp - and other hold items, it'd be just as easy to have the guy in the Poke Mart when I walk in.

Again, this is something that may be remedied after the localization - and unlike the originals, you can ignore the call by going into the menu. But if I need to grind at the endgame, I'd like to be the one who controls the timing for the rematches. Emerald was sorely missing this feature, and these games are going to feel the same way.

Other quick hits:

- I never realized how much Mareep relied on the elemental punches until now, especially Fire Punch. I finally had to get rid of it for Magnemite around Ecruteak City because if something's going to take up a slot in my party with its only usable attack being Thundershock, it can at least have a boatload of resistances.

- The relative hatred of Fire-types continues unabated. Houndour still is Kanto-exclusive pending a nightime visit to the new Safari Zone, Typhlosion is going to have the same problems Mareep did (not learning anything beyond its own type until high levels) and I couldn't find a Magmarizer anywhere. And Flareon's still a comedy option, before you ask (especially when it comes at L5 now).

- Miltank has Scrappy, which means it's still going to put a dent in Giratina with STAB attacks. Next time I get a chance, I'm using Dialga for native Stomp/Rollout resistance and Attract immunity.

- Lance broke out Pokesav again - LEVEL 40 DRAGONITE. At least Rock Slide is legal on Aerodactyl this time.

- I brought home a massive haul in a 2+ hour run to the Safari Zone - among previously unattainable-in-Johto Pokemon were Murkrow, Misdreavus, Mr. Mime, and Larvitar. I really hope someone goes into detail as to what can be done with the customization, since it may throw the concept of a version exclusive out the window.

- Modest Ho-oh on the 3rd Poke Ball. Hells yeah.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Quick and dirty HG/SS release thoughts

Normally Pokemon games get their street dates shattered about a week before release, but Heart Gold and Soul Silver managed to go until the day before release before getting squirted out to the teeming masses.

And between Smogon, Serebii and Pokebeach, we now know 80% of what's going to show up in an FAQ sometime around April of 2010. There's some things I like about the remakes... but the amount of sickening fanservice in this game makes me wonder just how far shoved up their nostalgic ass we have to go.

The things I like:

The Gravity tutor.

Legends and even STARTERS from previous generations available. Now all we need is the Ruby/Sapphire dongle Pokemon catchable.

Gym Leader fights that pose a challenge, assuming we can ever get to them.

The delicious tears that flow because people STILL haven't figured out the easy mode to beat Whitney's Miltank (it's called Geodude, guys...)

Being able to rape the game in half and stuff it through a mailbox ( with the Origin Form Giratina learning everything before L50. (Even Aura Sphere.) If you have a Movie Arceus, this game is officially a speedrunner's dream.

Aqua Jet/Belly Drum Azumarill being legal for a few hours (then again, this happens every time).

Death to the Defog HM. (Of course, Whirlpool... yeah...)

Togepi not only has an attack when you hatch it... it's Extrasensory.

Kanto is actually a usable continent, pending the release of the wild Pokemon locations.

The things I can do without:

The Gym rosters staying largely the same or regressing (see: Whitney). Couldn't they have at least given Bugsy Ledian and Spinarak? And Clair getting Gyarados just makes it easy mode.

Pokemon following me. And it sounds like you can't turn it off. I'm sorry, I just found that annoying in Yellow (and evolved my rats as soon as they learned Thunderbolt so I could get rid of the things) and now that I CAN'T GET RID OF IT... I'd say more, but Penny Arcade sums it up quite well, I think. Unless they start finding Master Balls.

Raising a Caterpie to Butterfree. I might have to adjust the ingame monsters list as I forgot just how much of a pain in the tukus it is to get to Butterfree in the first place. Still, 98% Sleep Powder...

The rumored tutors (priority moves ahoy) falling through, and no expansion to Rapid Spin... yet they found room to make String Shot a tutor. String Shot. I wish I was making this up. Without question, the worst tutor move ever.

Most of the Johto Pokemon still being stuck in Kanto (Houndour, Murkrow, Larvitar, etc) while I have to trudge around without a Fire type for the nth time.

And probably the one thing that makes me irrationally angry... the GB Player. Maybe it's because I play with the volume at minimum so I can listen to podcasts and such, but the fact is they devoted programming time to 1999 graphics and sound to appease people who are living in the past. That's time they could have devoted to, I dunno, making Chikorita not suck.

But this is the hand we got dealt, and I suspect my clean game is going to end up as Soul Silver while I run through Heart Gold whenever I'm really bored and not beating the best Pokemon game of this generation (Platinum).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Moves that we need to see

There's over 400 moves in Pokemon, and 92 of them are TMs in addition to the 40 or so move tutors in Platinum. But they're overdue to change the TM list - probably as soon as the next generation - and there's a few moves that need more exposure either as a tutor or TM. Plus, a few moves that I wouldn't mind seeing introduced next time around.

First, the candidates for TM or Tutordom:

Rapid Spin
#1 with a bullet. If Stealth Rock is going to continue to be one of the most commonly available TMs in existence, it needs a check. Making Rapid Spin a common move (and hopefully with the same changes I suggested a few months back) gives Yanmega among others new life.

Power Gem
Rock is primarily a physical type, but there is no 100% accurate physical Rock move. Special Rock has two, and Power Gem is just powerful enough to be possibly useful (70 power, though ideally it would be +10) while picking on a defensive stat that tends to be lower overall for the ones that are weak to it. The only complaint is that a whole 2 Pokemon gets STAB on it (and it's bloody Corsola and Probopass) and the other Pokemon that use it have better things to do.

Although usually following "Yeah, I" it's not as if the flavour of the move prohibits it from being used. In the right hands (something slow and bulky, perhaps) it could provide a great deal of support to allow a switching Pokemon to survive a stray priority move. And it would put a certain pink whore out of a job.

Crush Claw
75/95/20 with 50% chance of making successive hits more powerful? I'll take two. Problem is, it comes from Zangoose first and has to be bred, which gives it a learnset of approximately 8 and all of them have no room for it except comedy Sandshrew sets. This would more than likely be a tutor move, and if it can be, let's make sure it goes to Dunsparce for massive damage. (I'd use a Choice Scarf Crush Claw 'sparce in a heartbeat as long as I could breed one with Serene Grace).


Not just for the theme song for the Joystiq Podcast. Again, this move has a single-digit learnbase (9, yippie) and has so many effects (neuters Flying type and Levitate, makes things vulnerable to Spikes, etc) that bringing this in as a TM or tutor would throw the entire game into chaos. And again, we need to put the fat whore out of a job.

The only major problem this move has is 5 PP, otherwise it's a great counter to things such as Dragon Dance Pokemon provided you can survive a powered-up hit (good luck). Add this to something with Intimidate - or even Bibarel with Unaware? - and shove the Dances right back whence they came.

Aura Sphere
This one has the least odds of happening given that its current learnset is a mascot, Togekiss and a bunch of banned Pokemon. Clearly, they think it's powerful enough to have to hold it back dramatically. Still, if they insist on keeping Double Team in its current form a TM, they're way overdue to bring in a powerful move not affected by evasion mods. Yes, I remember Swift Dancing. I was there. It sucked.

And there's a few moves I'd like to see introduced next time around and used as TMs:

False Swipe with Extremespeed: A 80 power, low PP (15 prefered) Normal move that cannot faint. It's a dual purpose move: It makes catching this less of a pain in the rear, and lets you play some serious mind games in PvP. Speedswipe w/a priority move? Or how about with Whirlwind/Roar and an entry hazard?

Fighting Flamethrower: A 80-100 power physical Fighting move with 100 accuracy, 10-15 PP and no drawback (or a small odds of causing flinch). I went over this before, but the only 100 accuracy Fighting moves with decent power are the ones that lower TWO stats. I know the Fighting type is supposed to be all about power, but certainly something like Medicham (who's part Psychic) at the very least can figure out a way to hit unless evasion is in play without making itself vulnerable?

Breaking The Mold: A field effect move that neutralizes abilities for all Pokemon for 5 turns. There's moves that change abilities, suppress them, change them to Insomnia or let you copy them, but it'd be interesting to see what would happen when we can go back to RBY for a minute. (Only problem is: Use this move and all of a sudden Regifailure can switch in and start beating crap down for three turns before Slow Start kicks in. It'll blow you away []).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Starter Showcase

One of the rules for the Greatest Ingame Monsters post was that I wouldn't include the starting Pokemon because it would've made the list nothing but a ranking of the various starters.

And while on vacation recently, it gave me a chance to sit down and do a full ranking of the starters. All of them.

Red/Blue, Fire Red/Leaf Green
1) Squirtle
2) Bulbasaur
3) Charmander

A lot of this ranking came down to the general usefulness of the Water type over the best of the Grass type. In RBY, Squirtle is favored by all the speedrunners for its ability to learn the two good HMs and to abuse the crap of the $200 Ice Beam TM (look it up). And in Fire Red/Leaf Green, Bulbasaur might've picked up an early Sleep Powder but the old ingame advantage of being able to beat the first two gyms gets beat down thanks to a new Dark-type Bite beating down Starmie. Charmander, for all of its popularity and the FR/LG Metal Claw addition, just had a bad Gym arrangement for the Fire type (it beats 1 and pushes against another).

1) Pikachu

And ironically, it's still better for you than the Eevee you would've gotten otherwise.

Gold/Silver/Crystal, Heart Gold/Soul Silver
1) Totodile
2) Cyndaquil
3) Chikorita

For all intents and purposes, the GSC starters are the worst of the bunch. Totodile has two major advantages over the other two: It has access to an early Ice move (Ice Punch in GSC, Ice Fang in HG/SS assuming natural movesets stay the same) and it hits final form at L30. Cyndaquil has no natutral variability out of Fire moves and Thunderpunch but it can't even pick that up until it hits final form at L36. And Chikorita... worst starter ever. Unquestionably. Sure, it's good for defense, but that's not what you look for in a starter. It can't even Sleep Powder, which if you can't attack is the least you ask for out of a Grass type.

The problem is that Totodile falls to Starmie/Lapras in GSC and the mandatory Red Gyarados in HG/SS.

1) Torchic
2) Mudkip
3) Treecko

The jump to the new stat system brought the toughest decision of the groups. All three are pretty strong, but the only time I ever bothered to do a solo-starter run, it was in Ruby with Torchic (eventually Blaziken). Since they all evolve at the same levels and work out well against the same number of Gyms, the deciding factor was actually how they would fare against the Elite 4 and champion - and Torchic wins that pretty handily.

1) Mudkip
2) Treecko
3) Torchic

Emerald really buggered things up for Torchic though - where it could hold its own against the Water gym, the new additions plus the Champion training Water as well knocks it to last. Mudkip's movepool gives it more variety than Treecko (and hey, STAB Earthquake in the final form - great success!) to give it the edge.

1) Chimchar
2) Turtwig
3) Piplup

The biggest factor in Chimchar's success is the limited Sinnoh Pokedex in DP. Because of it, Chimchar can work well against practically every gym, and the original gym arrangement gives Chimchar the ability to function well against every Gym. Turtwig is a strong number 2 due to the natural Earthquake it gets as soon as it evolves into Torterra...

1) Turtwig
2) Chimchar
3) Piplup

... and it's the natural Quake that gives him the win in Platinum. The Ghost gym going 3rd when he learns Bite in the early 20s works in his favour as well - the only gym he can't really be used in is Candice's, and even then he can still take out Piloswine with a type bonused attack.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Last Sunday, the worst kept secret in Pokemon was officially announced when they announced you would be able to go to Kanto in HG/SS after beating the Elite 4.

Even though this should come as a shock to absolutely nobody considering it's a remake, there was still much rejoicing. (Yaaaaay.) And I really have to ask - why? Haven't we been there enough?

I mentioned this a few entries ago, but just for review (especially since I made posts to this effect on at least three message boards): Kanto has been playable in every generation since the game was made.

1st gen: Duh.
2nd gen: GSC's infamous 16th-assed Kanto
3rd gen: Fire Red/Leaf Green
4th gen: HG/SS's Kanto, hopefully bearing less of a resemblance to a vacuum (please do not suck AND blow simultaneously).

I understand there's a lot of nostalgia for the original games and that they're the best selling Pokemon games ever. But at some point, you have to say enough is enough and quit living in the past.

Rather than remake the same routes for the 5th generation and have to buy 3-5 games again like I've ended up doing the last two gens, I'd do the following:

1) Create a storyline that is big enough to cover the main game plus 4-5 postgame legends, and one of:
2a) Create a tower (Tower of Legends, perhaps) that has access to the old game's starters and offers resetable legends at the end, or...
2b) Offer a downloadable game that acts as a 5th generation Pokemon Box. Although Nintendo hasn't shown Activision levels of dickery yet with download content, the incentive would be that it would be included with a brand new version of the game. Bought your game used? 500 points, please.

Storage would be handled by a SD card, and 4th gen games would have deposit privileges only. 5th gen games could deposit at any time, with withdrawl available upon getting the National Dex. (And that stupid Ranch restriction where they have to return from the file from which they came is ditched with prejudice.)

This eliminates the need for what would have to be a Emerald remake, and hopefully stop the fan whinging for yet another trip to a territory more worn out than a WWE main eventer's welcome.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Mainline Pokemon on consoles - like oil and water

A few months ago, Phil Kollar did an interview with the Pokemon developers (WhatTheyPlay) in which they admitted that they focus on creating a handheld experience and they aren't working to bring it to the Wii or to any other console.

Despite this emphatic statement from the creators, the frothing demand for a mainline Pokemon RPG on the Wii increases daily. "Console Pokemon" is right up there with "Pokemon MMO" (which is a whole other entry on its own) on "What game should they make" lists (as seen at the Gaming Age forums).

Which makes me wonder if I'm completely missing something, or if the hardcore Pokemon community has lost its mind.

First of all, everyone seems to forget that the name Pokemon is short for Pocket Monsters. Key word: Pocket. Doesn't that imply that the series is intended to be on portable systems to begin with?

The biggest advantage that being portable gives the series is to allow for trading, and one of the common arguments is that the introduction of the GTS brought wireless trading so you don't have to do any local trading anymore. But as Matsuda would remind us, that's not the point:

"Trading is a core concept of Pokémon. So when you're trading, you meet with a friend and decide which one you want and which one they want. I would like to emphasize real-world communication. You don't see each other online."

Also, a combination of past history and future needs hamstrings the development of a traditional Pokemon game on a console (for our purposes, a "get badges, take down evil team, beat Elite 4, complete Pokedex, beat up everyone you know in a 5-mile radius" game). Although all Pokemon got represented in XD's Battle Mode (and in Colosseum's), the fact is this generation is probably going to end with either a PBR 2 (supporting HG/SS connectivity) or with HG/SS itself. The next gen is going to add another 100 Pokemon at minimum, putting the total near 600 Pokemon with a similar number of attacks to animate.

And development of this game would have to be handled by "Genius" Sonority, who see fit to use models for the original 151 Pokemon that date back to Stadium 1. Let me put this another way: Current 3D Pokemon models were designed for a system that started its design the same year my favourite baseball team made the playoffs.

If they didn't upgrade the models, the same people that want this game to happen would lose their minds, and to get it to a decent 3D model for that many Pokemon would fill a Wii disc with no room for story. Or god forbid, the My Pokemon Ranch models. Why go to all that effort, when they can create a DS RPG at maybe 1/4 of the cost, and sell 5.66 million copies in nine months worldwide like Platinum just did (according to Nintendo's Q1 financial report)?

The last thing to realize is that Nintendo as a whole (giving Metroid to Team Ninja aside) is a very conservative company that has a massive foothold in Japan. And Japan as a culture has gone whole-hog portable between Pokemon/Dragon Quest IX on the DS and the success of the Monster Hunter series on PSP. That, among other things, is why I would be shocked if Iwata stood up at a E3 press conference and said "Pokemon RPG, on the Wii, spring 2010. And it works with the Vitality Sensor."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pokemon's biggest ingame monsters

One of the most common memes on the GameFAQs Pokemon message boards are to ridicule any poor prole who dares to ask for help with their ingame team. Basically, "everything works ingame".

But if all Pokemon are equal, some are clearly more equal than others. And all things considered, these are one man's best bets if he needs to do a speedrun and chuck his starter.

10) Ramprados (Diamond, Platinum)
Despite how much of a pain he is to raise as a Cranidos (and to get, especially in Platinum), bear with me. Because of the way his experience curves, as the levels increase he levels up faster and faster. His main feature is Mold Breaker, though - you have no idea how much easier the Galactic double battle is when you can laugh at the Bronzor and their Levitate. He's just fast enough to avoid being a complete glass cannon...

9) Lapras (Fire Red/Leaf Green)
Sure, it's somewhat late to the party - but when it gets there, it turns everything upside down and all for the low price of a little leveling and a quick visit to Mr. Psychic's house. During the Silph Co run it'll level to the point of learning Body Slam and Ice Beam on its own, and it tears the back half of the game apart.

8) Zigzagoon (Ruby/Sapphire)
The only Pokemon on this list not in it for their ability to tear things apart - but the original Pickup distribution giving you Nuggets, Rare Candies and Hyper Potions off your first Pokeball? I'll take five, thanks.

7) Machamp (Gold/Silver/Crystal)
Strictly on the list for the purpose of survival against Whitney and that damn cow of hers. And even after that, he's growing 1.5x faster than the rest of the team so you might as well let it hang around. There's a Dig TM right after that so you can even use it against Morty. (Shame this won't happen in the remakes, stupid Levitate).

6) Nidoking (Red/Blue/Yellow)
It's amazing how much a quick evolution can help you. In Nidoking's case (L16 + a Moon Stone and you get two in Mt Moon) it almost triples Nidoran M's TM capability, and it learns enough of the expendable TMs to have a hell of a lot of move variety. Despite being nasty, it's not as evil as...

5) Dugtrio (RBY)
You should never need to use a starter against Surge, and here's why. Thanks to the way RBY criticals function, Dugtrio got double damage about 30% of the time with that insane speed, and it had Slash (a high CH move). Dig getting downgraded and not having Magnitude in FR/LG cost him a top 3 spot.

4) Butterfree (FR/LG)
If you're trying to play it somewhat straight (weaken, sleep, throw) then Butterfree is your god and it's all thanks to 98% accurate Sleep Powder. He's not a killer, but he's a crippler and probably the best crippler in the history of the game (ingame).

3) Golem (GSC)
The perfect combination to beat GSC quickly: The Geodude family to start, then finish with #1. You get it early and Rock Throw beats the first two gyms, at which point you get Magnitude to take everything out. Bonus points for a natural Earthquake. Although the last two gyms give him pause, he's still damn lethal. Don't believe me? Ask the speedrunners.

2) Staraptor (DPPt)
It's like they took every complaint about the early-game Flying types and made the ultimate Flyer. Intimidate and jacked up attack/speed keeps him tearing things apart and he could feasibly be used against every gym except the first and last. Throw in Close Combat and Return (he's an amazing candidate for the bonus Return TM in Platinum) and it can even beat the Rocks and Steels that stop a typical Flyer cold.

1) Alakazam (GSC)
The math is simple:
1 Abra + $9,000 = broken.
It's so easy to raise Abra when you have three base 75 special moves available for purchase in the city next to where you catch it. And Alakazam's Speed and SA are both high enough that no matter what, he's going to go first and probably take something out as you move up the chain of Psychic moves. Did I mention he can beat the Elite 4 on his own except for two Pokemon (Umbreon, Houndoom)?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pokemon by (x)

So after a haze of exhaustion on the way home from work today, I got to thinking a little bit - what would happen if GameFreak was owned by another publisher instead of Nintendo? Aside from the multi-platform implications, it caused me to have several scary thoughts, outlined below.

Microsoft Game Studios: Instead of a RPG, a M-rated shooter with bullets, blood and breasts. A 17-point achievement for catching a shiny Pidgey ("Memetic Mutation"). Event Pokemon available for 240 Allards instead of being distributed for free over wi-fi.

Sony: 3-D graphics out the ying-yang because 2D is for suckers. You'd have to take out a second job to pay for stat drugs in game. The games would come on a proprietary format and Spiderman would be in the Elite 4. Kingler kept out of high-level play after everything attacks the weak... nah, too easy.

EA: Although the games would stay as they were (except maybe a PC port), Pokemon Stadium would be released every year. As a side effect, the announcer would provide such salient advice as "If you hit the Pokemon, they lose hit points".

Activision: If they actually bothered to release it because GameFreak wouldn't allow it to be molested diddled exploited, it would be released annually with some sort of Poke Ball peripheral that would make the games cost $90. Treyarch and Neversoft would take over development after GameFreak bolts to join EA Partners, and although Smogon loves the games for giving Rattata a 2 catch rate they become nigh-unplayable for everyone else.

Valve: Although the games would be high quality, Valve's perpetual development cycle would mean we'd be anticipating Pokemon Crystal's release in 2009.

Ubisoft: The two versions would consist of Tom Clancy's Pocket Monsters and Assassin's Monsters, both games requiring massive amounts of unnecessary stealth to complete. The third version? Imagine: Mudkipz.

Capcom: Pokemon Diamond: Championship Edition. Search your hearts, you know it to be true. And every starter would learn Sketch 8 times per game.

SquareEnix: Nomura takes over NPC design to ensure proper amount of belts and zippers. Red and Green re-released on every platform known to man.

Level cap raised to 9999, Arceus available as a bonus boss after beating the game except its base HP is 1 billion. May's chest swells even further. Instead of evolving by level up, trade, etc Pokemon evolve by the trainer pulling out a gun and SHOOTING THEM IN THE HEAD.

Bethesda: A first-person RPG where NPCs now have voice acting. Despite using approximately five voice actors for the whole game, all is forgiven by the community after Professor Oak is voiced by Liam Neeson or Samuel L. Jackson. No Mutants Allowed threatens a boycott because Nintendo isn't publishing it, but eventually folds like a cheap suit.

SNK: Champion's party has 6 L100 max stat Pokemon. Chosen from the ingame legendaries. May be dual-published with Capcom.

PopCap: You thought Pokemon was addictive before...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A real World Cup of Pokemon

On the list of things that I would ever do if I ever got in Bill Gates's will/got some stock in Berkshire Hathaway - right after get a CFL team in Halifax and get ringside seats for Wrestlemania 26 - would be to hold a World Cup of Pokemon.

Clearly this isn't a new idea - in fact, I got prompted to write this entry after seeing one in progress at GameFAQs - but this wouldn't be an online thing. So we're looking at taking the Video Game Championships and blowing it out into a major event, with cues taken from the World Cup, World Hockey Championships and the Little League World Series.

At which point you're probably thinking "Wait... what?"

See if you can follow me for a minute, though.

My ideal setup would be 32 people from 17 countries. Looking at the events page at Project Pokemon gives us 10 European countries (UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland) - apologies to any countries I've forgotten. North America would have the US and Canada, Australia brings more PAL love, Japan and South Korea are practically mandatory, Brazil and South Africa to hit the missing continents.

The key is that while 16 countries are playing down, the host country is having their national championships at the same time with 16 regional qualifiers. This keeps the interest in the host country high as the host country is guaranteed a berth in the finals. (LLWS influence - US v. the World).

The core format would be a 3-day, double round-robin tournament. All battles are 6v6 singles. Ideally, GameFreak would have brought the auto-L100 function to local wireless play, but if not we'll have to make due with PBR. Sleep Clause would be on, Freeze Clause would be in play if it can be automated. Known ubers and Wobbuffet are banhammered (but alternate Rotom forms are in play), and the matches have a 30-minute time limit to discourage DT use. Also, anyone invoking the Platinum weather glitch or any other glitch will be drug into the street and beaten about the head and neck with a large trout, then thrown out.

Day 1: 32 players divided into 8 pools of four. In order to guarantee everyone 6 matches, this round would be a best 2 of 3 matches. Top two in each pool advance to Day 2. After Day 1, the players can change their team but it is locked in after that.

Tiebreakers are: head to head record, then Pokemon differential, then a one-game tiebreaker if needed. This would only be invoked if it made the difference between qualifying or not. (Also, I just guaranteed that this tournament's going to get slammed to high hell on Pardon the Interruption. Woo hoo!)

Day 2: 2nd round robin. Survivors of day 1 are thrown into a single 8-player bracket and everyone plays each other once. Top four in each bracket advance. Same tiebreaker rules apply, but they will be invoked in the event of a tie for placing as well. This is because...

Day 3: Quarterfinals, semi-finals, and the championship matches. The winner of the two brackets plays the 4th place finisher, and 2nd plays 3rd in the quarterfinals. The championship match is another 2 of 3 match pitting the home country champion against the interrnational champion.

Aside from the all-expenses-paid trip to the site of the tournament, quarterfinalists receive $2500 cash and whatever Nintendo console is out at the time with a good-sized game collection. Semifinalists receive $5k, finalists get $10k with $25k going to the winner. (All dollar amounts in US funds, adjusted for currency).

And for those who want to follow the tournament, we'd have a couple of livebloggers updating the tournament site with up to the minute results. The Day 3 action would be set up for live streaming with a system similar to the one used by Leo Laporte for the This Week in Tech network, with the right combination of intelligence and snarkiness provided by having yours truly calling the play with Smogon's Jumpman16 on color commentary.

This would take a lot of planning and I'd have to find an appropriate site for the first one, but if it works well it could be an annual or biannual event.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Update to the Platinum Location guide and news musings

I've submitted an updated version of the Platinum Location guide to GameFAQs, which should go live on Monday. It contains the following:

- A rollup of a lot of typo corrections and filling in some missing "other method" information (mainly that I missed Route 226-230 pretty badly for swarms/Pokeradar information). HT to The Mattinator @ GameFAQs for also pointing out that I've been spelling Kirlia wrong for the last SIX YEARS.

- Added in a section where I explain how to regenerate legends in Platinum. I'm pretty sure this is a new feature for Platinum, but I'm not sure.

Speaking of new features, there's been a lot of news recently hitting about GSDS, so let me get some quick hits in:

- So Kyogre/Groudon AND Rayquaza are going to be catchable? Can we get random Latis so I can throw out Ruby and Sapphire? In all seriousness, I get the feeling as the release date nears we're going to find out that Lotad, Seedot et all are going to be version exclusive, they're going to open up Cerulean Cave so we can catch Mewtwo... basically, they're going to make it so DSi owners aren't completely boned as far as finishing the Pokedex goes (as long as they have friends with Pokemon, which sums up Japan in a nutshell).

- The movie Arceus unlocks Dialga, Palkia, or Giratina at L1. Watch them come with their orb and the other two Pokemon's special moves (as I rub my hands in glee at the mere thought of a Spacial Rend Dialga...)

- Jirachi's new toy (Draco Meteor) makes it the first Pokemon to resist the move while learning it except for Arceus-Steel. Good for a gimmick, anyway.

- I have to ask: Is the 1st-slot Pokemon following you going to be a menu option? Sure, I'm going to have Lucario out in front for a while to lure all the furries into shotgun range, but it's going to get old after a while.

- It may take the PokeWalker to get me to raise something to L100 this gen, because you don't need to otherwise. (btw GameFreak, if you could bring the auto-L50/L100 options to local wireless play, that'd be great).

- Bulbapedia headline: "(site) reports HG/SS will include Kanto". Not exactly a big story. Now, if they DIDN'T include Kanto, even Iwata would hear the fanboy rioting as he goes to his daily swim through the piles of 10,000 yen bills at NCL. In fact, there's a part of me that kinda wishes they left Kanto out and blew out Johto. But as it stands, the streak of Kanto being playable in every gen continues. Fire Red/Leaf Green remakes for 5th gen confirmed?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A little story of awesome customer service

In the meatspace, I'm a customer service drone. I've done it in various roles since 2004 and if Malcolm Gladwell needs an example of someone who's done 10,000 hours in a role for a sequel to Outliers, he can call me. So I know what good customer service is all about.

Recently, one of my DS Lites developed a crack. It started small and ended up massive, to the point where I could see the innards of the hinge when opening it. I decided a week ago Monday to call Nintendo about it.

The timeline:

Tuesday: Call Nintendo, get instructions for sending the package in. They're paying for return shipping, since it's under warranty because I registered the thing for Club Nintendo.

Wednesday: About 6:00 my time, drop the package off at the shipper.

Saturday: Check the tracking, it's about to arrive.

Monday: Package arrives at Nintendo. They look at it, determine that the DS is boned, and...

Tuesday: I get a Twitter message that there's a package waiting for me at home. I get home... and it's a new DS Lite. Same color, intact hinge and everything.

They freaking OVERNIGHTED the replacement.

It's not going to take stuff like a 2D Mario on the Wii for me to keep getting Nintendo products - it's the awesome customer service.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pokedex design for fun and profit

There's been a lot of hand wringing since the remakes were announced as to what the Pokedex is going to contain. Since the split Pokedex is practically guaranteed, let's go inside the numbers for a second and see what we can determine. For our purposes, let's assume it's required to go to Kanto.

The baseline for the number of Pokemon in the Johto Pokedex is 130 - that's the number of Pokemon between Chikorita and Celebi, plus any Pokemon you need to get the Pokemon through evolving or breeding. There are certain families that are going to appear because they always do - the Red Gyarados means Magikarp and Gyarados are going to have to appear as a story event and the families that always appear will probably continue to. So yes, you get to be sick of Tentacool all over again.

But that brings us to 147, and Diamond/Pearl caught no end of flak for having only 150 in its regional dex. Certain Pokemon have counterparts, though - the Oddish line has the Bellsprout line, Miltank needs Tauros until they create a calf in the 5th gen and they're probably going to need some Pokemonn to balance
out the ones that only appear at specific times or to stock the Bug Catching Contest.

So how do we get a decent number for Johto (somewhere around Platinum's 210)? It's actually pretty simple. Take the New Pokedex from the originals and toss out the Pokemon you had to bring up from the 1st gen games - 9 starters, 5 fossils and five legendaries. Celebi won't be required as an event, so that gets us to 230. I'm sure we can find 20 Pokemon to toss out to bring it down to 210 while still keeping the Gym Leaders well stocked just by looking at older Pokemon that didn't show up until Kanto anyway.

Here's who I'd ditch:
The Rattata family, the Nidorans, the Diglett family, the Ponyta family, the Doduo family, the Grimer family, the Cubone family, Kangaskhan and Mr. Mime.

By tossing out 20 Pokemon that are either redundant or were original Pokemon that didn't show up until Kanto, you get to a clean 210.

But one concern that's been brought up - what to do with the evolutions or baby forms for these Pokemon that came in since? Consider for a moment that there's 20 existing Pokemon that have evolved or formed a babby since the 2nd gen. Are we going to re-create the scene in FR/LG where you literally could not trade in a Pokemon from outside until you got the National Dex, even if it came from another remake? Probably, if they want to recreate the GSC experience as much as possible. So what do we do?

There's actually a clean solution for this, though. There's 5 babies and they require an item to create. It's a lot easier to breed in the post game, so if I was in charge an item I'd put the breeding items post game and simply exclude the babies from the Johtodex. That brings us to 225. You can take 3 out from Magnezone, Leafeon and Glaceon since they have to be in a specific location to evolve. Leave the Dubious Disc in Kanto, since Porygon2 might be as good if not better than PorygonZ (especially if you go by their Twitter feeds) and put the move returner in Kanto for Piloswine's evolution and you have 220.

Of course, if they choose to deny the existence of the other evolutions I can understand too. I just want to rip stuff up with Togekiss in-game.

This is all my own opinions based on past actions in remakes and my limited knowledge of Pokedex design.
Edited 5/21/09: Forgot Tangela/Tangrowth

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Time for some move updates

This is a modified and updated version of a post originally made on the GameFAQs Pokemon Diamond board on April 11, 2008. The original can be viewed here.

Every generation sees a few moves get modified in the name of competitive balance. Sometimes it's because of a mechanic change (like the Special split), sometimes it's in the name of nerfing stuff (like original Dig). But there's still a few moves that could use some tweaking, and that's where I come in.

Let's start with a prime complaint I see whenever people make 5th gen requests - HMs that aren't Surf or Waterfall blow, and the fact that you have to carry Tropius/Bibarel/HM whore du jour is a pain. So here's what I'd due with the HMs. (All numbers are Power/Acc/PP unless otherwise indicated).

Now: 55/95/25 Normal
I'd make it: 60/--/20 Steel
Thematically it makes sense as you need something sharp to cut stuff. Moving it into Swift territory makes it a decently usable move and beats up the one guy that uses evading Rocks. The only thing holding me back is that Scizor doesn't need any more help.

Now: 90/95/15 Flying
I'd make it: 90/100/15 Flying, bypasses Protect, impact goes last
In order to improve Fly, I stole a side effect from Shadow Force (which doesn't get used much anyway) and added the extra effect to provide a chance to miss 2 attacks. It'll still force switches, but if you Fly against a Machamp you won't get Stone Edged to death.

Now: 80/100/10 Normal
I'd make it: 80/100/10 Rock
Strength's out of battle effect involves moving rocks. The original battle animation involves hurling a rock at the opponent. You make Strength a Rock move, and Rock moves suddenly become usable in the Battle Frontier among other places.

Now: 15 PP, lowers opponent's evasion, removes battle obstacles and entry hazards on opponent's side
I'd make it: Would remove entry hazards on the user's side
I can't help but think this was an error on GameFreak's part, but they didn't fix it for Platinum so I dunno. Maybe in the remakes? Either that, or just dump the Fog altogether.

Rock Smash
Now: 40/100/15 Fighting, 50% lowers Defense one stage
I'd make it: 50/100/20, 100% lowers Defense one stage
Combination of "make it a usable early game move" and to provide a concept for a move that lets you take a couple of quick jabs before dropping the opponent with a power move like Manny Pacquiao (or Brock Lesnar, for the MMA crowd).

Rock Climb
Now: 90/90/20 Normal, 20% confuses
I'd make it: 90/100/20 Normal, 30% confuses
I thought about making it 100/100 but that slaughters Return. So we'll make it stop missing, and up the confusion chance by a mildly significant amount - the only problem is it completely obsoletes Body Slam.

And while I'm at it, let's fix some other moves as well.

Acupressure: 10% of increasing current stats, 10% to recover 50% of HP, 5% of Ancientpower boost, 5% nothing. Let's just make it the official move of Press Your Luck and get the "NO WHAMMIES" chant started on wi-fi.

Assist: If the Pokemon you get your move from is still alive, you get a 20% power boost because they're helping you out on the move.

Baton Pass: 20 PP, because I've never seen this used for more than 5 PP.

Brine: Becomes physical and learned by Bibarel. A move that doubles when your opponent is under 50% on your better and a move that cuts the opponent's HP in half? YES PLZ. Also makes Wake a bigger pain because Gyarados among others love this move.

Double Team: If this is going to be learned by everything that can learn a TM, it can't be so blatantly broken. The new effect would be that the next move is a guaranteed miss - a delayed Protect with the same failure odds.

Drain Punch: Gets an additional 5 base PP to bring it to parity with Giga Drain.

Fire/Ice/Thunder Fang
: Originally I thought about making them elemental Body Slams, but that'd be too broken and ruin the concept of the elemental punches. At the very least bring them to parity with the punches - 75 power and 100 acc. They have two added effects, so...

Gastro Acid: If used on Slow Start, the affected Pokemon gets its stats restored. Regiphail no longer.

Hammer Arm: 100 accuracy and lose the Speed lowering. My fellow Canadian ranter Slowflake covered this (#15, link mildly NSFW) - why does every physical Fighting move have a drawback? Either power up Brick Break to 90 or fix Hammer Arm.

Knock Off: Knocks item off, then deals damage - make it like Swagger and Flatter where the boost occurs THEN the side effect.

Last Resort: Instead of being unlocked by using the other moves in your moveset, it'll get unlocked by going under 25% like a Salac Berry boost. If it's a Last Resort, you should be able to FIRE MAH LAZER in an act of desperation.

Natural Gift: Right now, it consumes the berry when used basically allowing it to be used once. If it's going to be the physical Hidden Power, let it keep the berry so you can use it multiple times.

Rapid Spin: If there are hazards on the user's side: +5 power for every layer of Spikes, changes to Rock type if Stealth Rock is down, and 30% of poison/Toxic if Toxic Spikes down. It'll provide incentive to use a Spinner (especially if they drop Stealth Rock).

Stealth Rock: Either ditch the multiplier for Rock weakness/resistance, or make it only kick in after it's used twice (6.25% dmg otherwise). As it stands right now, there's a pretty heated debate as to whether it needs the banhammer.

Tailwind: 1 speed stage boost for 3 turns? Not enough, especially given how rare it is. 5 turns and a 1-stage PRIORITY boost (where everything acts like Quick Attack)? That's a winner.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Did we need Heart Gold and Soul Silver? Really?

So despite my best efforts at misinformation, Yahoo Japan and Nintendo decided to announce that yes, they are remaking Pokemon Gold and Silver for a release in the fall in Japan, with the inevitable NA release probably next spring.

I used to have a running tally in my signature on the GameFAQs boards that added two weeks every time someone asked for a remake, and I tried to convince myself (and people on The Twitter, Joystiq et al) that Nintendo was more interested in trolling the obsessive fans and would end up releasing something more appealing to their expanded audience. Like Hey You Pikachu DS or Pokemon Channel 2.

But they went ahead and did it anyway. And as someone who played the second generation games more than would be healthy, I'm not sure if I'm happy about it.

Let's look at what great innovations the second generation brought:

- Events based on time of day and the day of the week
- The split of the Special stat into Special Attack/Defense
- Dark and Steel types
- Two regions in one game
- The coolest Pokemon
- Running legendaries

All of these things are either gigantic pains in the ass or were refined to be much better in the newer games. Having the clock worked out well until it killed the game's internal battery.

The Special stat, although pretty meaningful in the long run (it made Mewtwo only slightly broken instead of being a proto-Arceus) was upstaged by the split of moves in gen 4. There were barely any Dark and Steel types, and those were sacked away until the endgame anyway (Tyranitar, Houndoom, and Skarmory was a version exclusive).

Running legendaries were old the minute Raikou took off - they're supposed to be rare, but it shouldn't take me five hours or cloned Master Balls to get these things. And not only is it questionable - and unlikely - that they'll use the Crystal storyline so Suicune's going to be running around, but if the trend of making the GBA games unneeded (largely because of the DSi) continues the Latis will probably be running around in the post game too.

The coolest Pokemon? Purely debatable, and I spent most of the time on my original playthrough using Alakazam, Golem, Machamp, Lapras and Fearow to rape the game in half and stuff it through a mailbox (@igndotcom). Notice anything? Not a single GSC Pokemon. There were maybe ten usable families debuting in GSC plus a couple of trade evolutions, and they've spent two generations evolving everything else to make it usable. Feraligatr's good now because of the physical/special change giving him Waterfall and Ice Fang/Punch to play with, but Typhlosion's a one-note gimmick and Meganium is outclassed by everything, for one thing.

And finally, the concept of two regions in one game has done nothing but set an unnecessary expectation that sets off a torrent of bitching all over the internets and offline. If they had held off on doing it for one generation, it could have been done so well - and you would still have the prior games if you wanted to go to Kanto. As a result, the developers ran headfirst into the limitations of a dual GB/GBC game and the end result was two inferior continents. The description of the 2nd gem games as a half-assed Johto paired with a 16th-of-an-assed Kanto might be unfair to the developers, but the complete lack of branching (Johto) and a point (Kanto) is pretty clear.

Hell, there's more post-game content in Platinum, which has a whole 2.5 cities, 6 routes and the Cheating CPU Frontier. That little island has more content than Kanto, which can literally be beat start to finish in an hour and a half. (30 minutes if you Dodrio Mode it through Pokemon Stadium 2).

So the question becomes, am I going to buy the remakes? After all, when Diamond and Pearl came out, I pre-ordered both of them, one version each at two different places. I think I've figured out my plan of attack, though - especially as if I do end up getting them I'll probably end up FAQing them out of force of habit.

If there's a significant amount of content added - enough that both regions are anywhere near Sinnoh-sized - then I'll end up pre-ordering one (Gold, because I got Silver in 2000 and want something different) and hoping Best Buy re-runs the deal they did in Canada for Platinum where you get the player's guide for free. Because let's face it, 624 page guides are cool. Otherwise... we'll throw a Garchomp at the bridge when we get there.

Still, I can't help but wonder what the 5th generation would have if they took all the effort around remaking games and focus it on making a good 5th generation. Or maybe they'll bring in a Flare Blitz tutor Flareon can't use and not evolve Farfetch'd again.

It's not going to stop me from speculating about the remakes here either.