Thursday, April 28, 2011


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 I yanked it out of Pokemon Box in 2008, Pal Parked it up to Diamond, then over to Platinum when that superseded Diamond in 2009 and now to White.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".


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.