April 2020 Goals

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I have a feeling there just won’t be as many jokes today. It’s still a very serious time for everyone. I received news yesterday that the date for working at home has been extended until at least May 1st. I didn’t think I’d miss going in to work. Working from home was cool for 2 weeks but the novelty has worn off. Plus, I think my cat is sick of me being home all the time…

Let’s take a look at the March goals:

Finish Epistory – Typing Chronicles: I did that! It only took me 2 play sessions to finish it up after I made it a goal.

Play More Neverwinter: I don’t think I’ve touched Neverwinter since the beginning of March and I don’t have much of a desire right now to go back.

Play Animal Crossing: New Horizons: I’m currently doing that and in an unexpected turn so is my wife. It’s been a blast to play together and send each other weird items we find. I’m looking forward to playing a lot more.

Read 2 books: So I sort of completed this. Technically one of the books I finished was mostly read in February but I finished it in March so I’m counting it. I read The Uploaded by Ferret Steinmetz and Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

April Goals

Finish Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX: This was one of the new games I bought this year. The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games are my favorite spin-off games of the franchise. I might even like them more than the mainline games. It’s an interesting mix of pokemon and rogue-like dungeon crawling. The gameplay is great the story is….not so much. I knew I’d play less of this when I got Animal Crossing and was trying to finish it up before then but I’d say I still have a ways to go.

Finish the Kingdoms of Amalur DLC: I’m ready to go back to this now. I had an idea where I would respec my character and try out a different class for both DLC’s but I kind of miss raining meteors down on my enemies.

Start Tales of Berseria again: This is the last game on my list that I wanted to play through. The issue is I had put 10 hours into this game at some point but don’t remember what’s going on. So when I tried to start over it felt like I’d done all this before. I think I’m just going to push past that feeling and try to get back into it.

Read 2 more books: During my time in isolation, I’ve been trying to maintain a good reading habit. Currently, I’m reading Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky and I’m hoping to finish Deadhouse Gate by Steven Erikson this month as well. We’ll see how that goes since they’re both lengthy titles.

Backlogged: Pokemon Shield

This is a rare event indeed. Not only did I buy Pokemon Shield but I played it all the way through with very little breaks. Yes, my dear friends, I have become the Pokemon Champion of the Galar region in just a few week’s time!

This year (or rather last year) my wife and I got each other a Switch for Christmas. You see my wife only likes to play “cute” games and who has cuter games than Nintendo? No one that’s who. I, on the other hand, wanted a pokemon machine. Ok, and a play indie games on my couch instead of at my desk machine. Not nearly as catchy of a title though.

Ever since I played Pokemon Blue on my cousins’ couch at 9 years old I’ve been hooked on Pokemon. I was a child of the late 90s and early 2000s so I didn’t stand a chance from avoiding the Pokemon hype train. Those were some prime Pokemon years. It was everywhere and every kid in elementary school was watching the show, trading the cards, playing the games. Oh, and of course there were the spin-offs. Remember Pokemon pinball? Pokemon the Trading Card Game The Game? And who could forget Pokemon Snap?

But you know, as great as it was to pretend to be Ash I always wanted to play Pokemon on my TV. Even in the old days with 2d sprites and 8 bit music I always the experience would be enhanced if I could just play it on my TV. Also not having to change batteries and having to find a light source you had to angle just right to see the Gameboy screen would have also been a plus. Man handheld gaming was hardback in the day.

Then there was Pokemon Stadium for the N64 and that really gave me a taste of what I wanted. But that wasn’t enough for me, oh no, I wanted a mainline Pokemon game on my TV. You know what I got instead?

  • Pokemon Stadium 2
  • Pokemon Colosseum
  • Pokemon XD
  • Pokemon Battle Revolution

Sadly, I’ve had to wait 19 years for a pokemon adventure I could play on my TV. And you know what? It was worth the wait!

To tell you the truth, I had fallen out of love with Pokemon games ever since finishing Pokemon Y. Pokemon y was the first time I experienced 3d pokemon battles in a mainline Pokemon game. That alone had me hooked until the end. Pokemon Alpha Sapphire did not inspire the same level of excitement. Neither did Sun and Moon. I’ve bought these games but I lost interest about 2 hours in.

Things I Liked:

I think that break helped to make this Pokemon installment that much better. I was constantly discovering Pokemon that I’d never seen before only to find that they were a generation or two old. I only found one pokemon from this newest generation I wasn’t a fan of (Carkol I mean it’s a cart full of coal with eyes…) but I thought the rest were solid additions. My favorite by far was Centiscorch which had a place on my team ever since I found her. Oh and can we please talk about Sirfetch’d. This pokemon right here is the reason I have to berate my friends with Sword to trade with me.

The graphics worked for me. I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t 3DS pokemon blown up to TV size. I had no issues with the way the pokemon looked or their animations. It all made me feel like I was in a season of Pokemon ripped from straight from 90s TV.

The length of the game was perfect for me. I completed it in just over 21 hours and througholy enjoyed my whole time with it. I haven’t done the post game story yet but I’ll get to it eventually. I never was into the endgame of pokemon. Grinding EVs to battle online and looking for shiny’s never did it for me.

The way the story was presented as a tournament was a nice change of pace. I liked the way the “Elite 4” of this game were just the same Gym Leaders with stronger pokemon. At the same time, I did miss not having the Elite 4 to take on at the end.

Showing which moves are effective against the type of pokemon your facing.  I lost track of strengths and weaknesses in like…Gen 3. So this was a welcome addition. Of course, you have to fight the pokemon once to have this show up.

Character customization. Tacking on dress up to a pokemon game was not something I knew I wanted until I had it.

Things I Didn’t Like:

The difficulty: I don’t expect a lot of challenges from a Pokemon game but I expect to have some close calls and need to level a little bit. I tore straight through Shield without doing any leveling and was always a good 10 to 15 levels ahead. I lost once at the end of the tournament to the Champion. That was the only time I had a total party wipe. Though this could be because I wasn’t cheap this time around and spent money on potions and status restorers

I could take or leave Dynamaxing. While it was cool the first few times, after a while, it was just kinda there. Oh that gym leaders on their last pokemon? They’re gonna Dynamax and we’ll have to finish the match with the big pokemon. It was hilarious to Dynamax Inteleon. He’s already tall and when he’s Dynamaxed most of the time I couldn’t see his head.

Other Stuff

The team I used to beat the Champion:

  • Inteleon – because I have to keep my starter always
  • Centiskorch – my favorite out of this gen
  • Heliolisk – because I’ve never used it before
  • Eternatus – Because I have to use the legendary even if it is basically a god. Props to the developers putting in a line about the strongest trainer using the strongest pokemon when you face the Champion.
  • Tyranitar – Found her at level 60 but she didn’t end up being that useful
  • Drifblim – Ended up being one of the staples of the team. His description in the Pokedex though  “It grabs people and Pokemon and carries them off somewhere. Where do they go? Nobody knows.”

On a side note, I didn’t realize the internet was all up in arms about this game until after I finished it. Mostly of the “they sold us an incomplete game” variety. Even more, so that DLC was announced. I felt this was a complete game even without 800 pokemon. 400 pokemon is plenty of variety for me.

On the side side note: This lack of screenshots brought to you by the Swtich being a pain to get screenshots out of without an SD card.

A Bizarre Weekend with Pokemon Rumble World

 

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Before I went out of town this weekend I went down to my local library to see what kind of 3DS games they had. What I was really looking for was Fire Emblem: Birthright and for the past couple of weeks every time I visited the library it was there. But of course this time, when I actually wanted to play, it was checked out. Go figure.

So I instead opted for Pokemon Rumble World because it looked sort of interesting. I remember downloading it once out of curiosity, it’s a free to play title on the 3DS complete with micro transactions and mobile-esque timers. But i remember it being kind of fun, a super easy action RPG with Pokemon. Curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to know what the retail version was like. Ever since Pokemon Mystery Dungeon I’ve enjoyed the Pokemon spin-off games a little more than the main ones. Nevertheless, It was a really strange experience.

Like most mobile games it hooks you in with easy but fun gameplay. Your Pokemon has one or two moves and you go around beating up hordes of other Pokemon. THere are different balloons you can buy which are basically packs of Pokemon and dungeons that you can enter. They either drop some coins or a collectable version of themselves that you can then play as. There’s the same arbitrary power ranking like in Pokemon Go. associated with every Pokemon drop. At the end of the dungeon there’s a boss a bigger more powerful Pokemon that will either drop a lot of coins or a supped up Pokemon. the dungeons take between 2-3 minutes and afterwards the balloon goes on a timer to inflate. Of course you can always bypass that by using the premium currencey. There are also challenges you can do to get some diamonds and of course you can annoy your friends with requests to play to get more diamonds

The game gives you 3,000 Pokediamonds, the premium currency, and a diamond mine that you can use once a day to get 40 diamonds. This is actually pretty good considering it only takes one diamond to inflate a balloon and only a few diamonds for special upgrades like better Pokemon drops and faster Pokemon. At first the game seems kind of predatory. Some of the timers are 4 plus hours with the shortest ones being 20 minutes. But what I found most interesting is that even if you play the free version you can only ever buy 3,000 diamonds or whats included in the retail version. After which the game gives you a diamond mine same as the retail version and you can’t buy any more.

I’ve never heard of a pay cap on a free to play game, you would think that limiting the amount of money you can extract from each user wouldn’t be great for your bottom line. But it is great for the player especially when we are seeing more and more games who rely on the “whales” and the players with less financial self control to turn a profit. I’d like to see more of this kind of business model who knows maybe what’s good for the players can also be good for the companies as well.

It turns out Pokemon Rumble World was good for my 3 hour road trip. It’s a great time waster but the charm wears off after a couple of hours. It turns into the same repetitive, non challenging game play and collect-a-thon. Which is great for scratching a grinding itch if you have one. One thing is for sure, there are a lot of Pokemon. In my short time with the game i managed to collect 191 of them, that still leaves over 500 more to go.

 

Pokemon in the Park

I was sitting on my balcony in the warm summer sun reading a book when I heard music coming from down the street. Often times there are little free concerts or festivals of sorts in my town. I sat there for a minute trying to figure out what kind of music it was when I heard the firs few chords of the original Pokemon Theme Song. I immediately got up, put on my shoes, and took the two minute walk to “downtown” to see who was playing.

As I got closer, people were milling around both young and old staring at their phones. I saw a big sign that said “Pokemon in the Park” sponsored by the Senior Center. What I thought was live music turned out to be a DJ with a bunch of speakers set up in the middle of the park who mixed Pokemon noises with top 40 hits. After every song he would announce what kind of Pokemon were near by.  There were food trucks, vendors, some arts and crafts, a full on festival in my book. I’m not sure why the senior center put it on because there wasn’t a senior in sight but it looked like everyone was having a great time. Even though I wasn’t playing Pokemon Go, it was fun to listen to the music and see the booths. And you know, “Dangerous Woman” with expertly placed squirrel noises sprinkled in…not as bad as you’d think

Tomorrow the library is putting on a Pokewalk where a group walks around town finding different Pokemon together.  Are there any Pokemon Go related events popping up around you?

 

Pokemon Go: From Mobile back to Handheld

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In the month since Pokemon GO launched I’ve gone through a whole slew of emotions. At first I was super excited just like every one else. There were Pokemon that needed catching everywhere. It was fun to take pictures of Pokemon with the AR on and it was really cool to see where the closest Pokestops and Gyms were.

After the initial wonder wore off, I understood the basic rules of the game and how to progress. I ended up walking around my town and going places I had never been before. I also started to notice how many people were playing this particular game. People were out in droves near gyms and popular Pokestops  around the neighborhood capturing the creatures and chatting with each other.

Then came the hording. Flocks of pidgeys were captured and whole herds of evees were placed into my backpack. The alpha of the herd was fed the weaker members. Survival of the fittest at its finest. I made a career change from Pokemon trainer to Pokemon exterminator. Lately, I’ve been opening the game less and less. I feel like I’ve experienced everything it has to offer and I had a great time doing it.

Two years ago I bought Pokemon Alpha Sapphire on the day of its release. I never got the chance to play the original on the Gameboy Advance and I was all about seeing that generation of Pokemon in 3d. I put a couple of hours into the game before I set it down and never picked it back up again. I’m not sure why this was, I spent a good amount of time playing Y with a bunch of friends in college. However, as my interest decline in Go I had the urge to pick Alpha Sapphire back up again.

Here’s where I have to applaud Niantic and the Pokemon Company. They’ve created a game with enough features to stir up nostalgia but not enough to overshadow the fun of the handheld games. If anything it was the lack of some features that made me pick up my 3DS and sink sometime into Alpha Sapphire. I’m 4 badges in and still playing.  Now that I’ve gotten back into the 3DS game I’ve started to think I just might buy Sun or Moon in November. You got me back Pokemon and I never would have guessed it would be from a mobile game.

Pokemon Go: Adventures on Nature Island

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I didn’t even know Pokemon Go was still coming out until I opened my Feedley a few days ago and saw all these posts about it. I immediately opened up my phone and downloaded the app, caught a squirtle 10 feet in front of me and continued on my day. I was on vacation all of  last week and this particular day we decided to go walking in a county park.

For the most part it was a frustrating  experience full of crashes and server messages. Until we walked to Nature Island. Now I don’t know about you, but to me Nature Island sounds like a prime Pokemon location. It almost sounds like a location from one of the games and besides being a beautiful hiking trail it was close enough to a cell tower that I could actually get to playing.

Playing I felt like my childhood dreams somewhat came true. I was walking around in the world searching for Pokemon and throwing pokeballs at them. My girlfriend found this all very amusing when I would stop and say “Hold on I got to get this one!” Her Snapchat story for the day was full of me yelling about Tangelas and Snorlaxes. There were also several unclaimed gyms, not being level 5 I couldn’t do anything about this though.

I only got to play the one day as I was visiting family and didn’t want to be staring at my phone the rest of vacation. So I closed out of it, put my phone back in my pocket and enjoyed the rest of my time.

When I got home I realized just how popular this game had become in such a short time. I also discovered there are about 20 pokestations a mile or less in any direction from my apartment and 4 gyms. As a result, my little town is crawling with people day and night looking at their phones and walking around. It’s great to see so many people interacting with one another and coming together because of Pokemon and a silly mobile game. I can’t wait to join them and hunt for more pokemon.

I was able to catch 4 pokemon on Nature Island before I lost reception.

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Growing Up Gaming

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This post is in response to this weeks NBI 2016 writing prompt.

 

When my family moved closer to the rest of the extended family, I got to know my cousins better. They were around my age and we liked the same things. We would have sleep overs and watch Pokemon, talk about digimon and play with action figures.

Growing up I never had cable. While other kids were watching Cartoon Network I was watching PBS. So it’s not really a surprise that when Saturday Morning Cartoons were still a thing, I was glued to the TV.

Our Saturday morning cartoons were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spider-man, Batman, and Power Rangers. I was always looked forward to Pokemon and Digimon the most.

One day they showed me a Gameboy Color with Pokemon Blue. My 7 year old mind was blown.   Not only could I catch whatever Pokemon I wanted, but I could battle them and get gym badges too! I  watched them play these games any chance I got. Never playing a video game before, I was ecstatic when they let me play. We spent a lot of afternoons after school sharing a Gameboy and leveling our horde of Pokemon.

We played Pokemon games for a long time. my cousins got a second Gameboy and Pokemon Red so we didn’t have to share as much. We could finally collect them all. I remember having to connect the Gameboys with a cable to trade and battle. Ialways wondered how the pokeballs fit through that tiny wire.

We eagerly looked forward to the next installment of the series when the Ash set out for the Johto Region on TV. I don’t remember much about Silver or Gold, but I distinctly remember cloning 6 Quilavas and completing the game, good times.

A few years later, they got a Nintendo 64. I took every chance I could get to visit the cousins. We’d spend hours together playing Super Smash Brothers, chasing each other around in Golden Eye, and trying to get all the stars in Super Mario 64.

As we grew up, we grew apart. They grew out of Pokemon (I still haven’t).

Now when the family gets together it’s the younger cousins who want to play the games. They take out the Wii U and school us in Super Smash Bros. They teach us about Minecraft and show us their favorite streamers. We take out the N64 and they make fun of the graphics. But when we all get together we still play games and it’s just as much fun as it was back then.