Category Archives: Gaming

3DS GET! MII GET! QR CODE GET!

So I got the 3DS today. I know I’m behind in my other posts, but I’m anxious to experience the full social aspect of this thing so I’m posting my Mii’s QR code for everyone to scan and enjoy. Please feel free to leave links to your in comments! I’ll totally scan each and every one who leaves theirs here.

AdrianM Mii QR Code

Yay!

UPDATE 2011/04/11 : I probably should have posted my 3DS Friend Code here as well, so here it is: 2492-4116-4578. If you add me, please let me know in the comments (with your own Friend Code) so I can add you back!

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Pokémon White Diary #003 :
Encounter With Team Plasma

Encounter With Team Plasma

Upon reaching Accumula Town I quickly headed to the Pokémon Center already knowing it's usefulness in healing tired Pokémon. I'm greeted by Juniper again, as well as Bianca, and the professor reviews the uses of the Pokemon Center. In this game, the Pokémon Center is been expanded to include the Global Trade Center as well as the PokéMart which used to be separate buildings. This change is greatly appreciated and makes the task of preparing for a mission fairly easy as well as mirroring how real-world businesses are becoming more and more multi-purpose.

After healing my Pokémon and having a quick chat with Bianca, I left the Pokémon Center and went to explore the town. My travels were quickly interrupted by a gathering in the middle of the town where the newest crime syndicate – Team Plasma – were staging a rally. The man in charge was a mysterious, cloaked individual named “Ghetsis” and his message was one of liberation. He and Team Plasma as a whole believe that the relationship between humans and Pokémon is one-sided and needs to stop – we take so much from them and command them to do our bidding, but what are they really getting in return? Pokémon should be liberated from their PokéBalls and allowed to roam free without the control and ambitions of their trainers. It's an interesting thought that has surely crossed the minds of fans over the years and it's nice to see them acknowledging it in-game. It will be interesting to see where they go with this – either Team Plasma is "wrong" and our hero will show them that Pokémon do benefit from the partnership of humans… or everyone will agree with Team Plasma and set their Pokémon free. I'm inclined to believe it’s the former.

As soon a Team Plasma's speech was over, the grunts formed a perimeter around Ghetsis and the whole lot of them marched out of town. In their wake a young man that goes by the name "N" introduced himself and claimed that he agrees with Plasma’s message. He then hypocritically challenged me to a battle where I promptly disposed of his single Pokémon – Purrloin. Upon defeat, N rambled on for a bit and then left the scene. His clothing seem to indicate that he's not part of Team Plasma, but his enthusiasm for their cause and general mysterious attitude make me think there&s probably some connection to them. Either way, it&s hard to take him seriously when he keeps his Pokémon in a ball just like everyone else…

I took the opportunity to explore the city and talk to some of the people. Accumula Town is pretty small overall, but I guess that's just how it is this early in the game. One thing I really liked about this city was the music, though not necessarily because of how it sounds. There are two musicians in one of the houses and, if you talk to them, they&ll add their instruments to the town theme. It's a very small detail, but it was nice to be able to influence the game world in a way that wasn&t directly related to battle. I should note that these changes are not permanent though – after leaving the town briefly and then returning the music reverted to it&s previous sound and the two musicians need to be asked again if you want to hear their contributions. It kind of ruins the impact of the feature and I don&t see why they couldn't make the change persistent. Oh well.

After finishing up my tour of the town I headed to Route 2 where I spent the next little while training my Tepig. I caught a Purrloin for my Pokédex, but otherwise this route had the same Pokémon as before and was only useful for level grinding. By this point Wakka was still the only one on my team and his growing level concerned me – if he gets too powerful I wont be able to use him for catching new guys without killing them. I need to find another team member soon…

Adrian's Team So Far
Wakka the Tepig
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Pokémon White Diary #002 :
Choosing A Starter

Choosing A Starter

Before starting a new game, I took the opportunity to check my WiFi settings and download the Victini event via Mystery Gift. The process was fairly quick, and I was happy to be able to download the Liberty Ticket now rather than having to wait until later when it’s actually needed as I have a habit of forgetting things. The ticket saved to my cartridge and I selected the "New Game" option.

Professor Juniper – the new regional expert on Pokémon – introduced me to the world much like the many professors before her and then let me choose my gender and name. I'm happy to see the professor this time is female – it doesn't technically change the game in any way, but it’s nice to see that the games are becoming a bit more progressive and open minded with gender roles. Juniper is young and spunky compared to the previous professors, and I look forward to seeing what she adds to the story.

After the introductions were complete, the game faded to my room where a blue present sat on the table. With it, a note from Juniper asking only that we settle our decisions politely. As I head toward the present the nostalgia of the four previous generations wash over me – I’ve done this before and I remember this feeling. Once again, I’m presented with a choice that will shape the rest of my experience with this game. I was both excited and nervous – had my months of deliberation brought me to the right choice or am I making a mistake? Should I really choose the Fire type starter Tepig that I’d settled on weeks earlier? When faced with the decision I froze. Oshawott is was adorable so I wanted to choose him too, but looking Snivy and remembered that I’ve always chosen the Grass type starter before so maybe I should continue the tradition… I didn’t know what to do! And then, suddenly, I remembered the other decision I’d been dreading… the name!

I abruptly closed the DS and took a deep breath. It was just a game, so why was I taking it so seriously? “"Just pick something, and go with it! Stop OCD-ing over every little detail!"

I swallowed my anxiety and made a decision. I picked Tepig and, thankfully, the game did not ask me to nickname it yet. Instead, my in-game friends Cheren and Bianca challenge me to a Pokémon battle and in no time we’re in the heat of things. I immediately noticed how vibrant the game's sprites were on my Nintendo DSi XL and how – even though the sprites were a little blocky at times – they still managed to look fairly smooth in when motion. The way the camera pans around the battlefield now and occasionally zooms in on the Pokémon really make this game feel engaging and visually attractive than the others and I'm happy the series is finally moving away from static battle scenes. I quickly defeat both of my friends and as a result end up trashing my room. That's alright though, because once we head downstairs to tell mom she immediately offers to clean up in that typical motherly way. I may be a veteran to the series, but there are a lot of people who are not and I really liked how these intro battles played out and introduced the game's core mechanics. In a short time, I’d already been introduced to not only how battles and attacks worked but also how experience levels worked along with the increased stats associated with them, and all without any instruction. I think that’s good game design, and I appreciate it.

Our little party heads on over to Juniper's lab where she wastes no time giving us our new mission and sending us off on our journey. Like all games before, the goal this time is to fill the Pokédex by encountering and catching many different types of Pokémon. This task is a daunting one (with well over 600 Pokémon in total now) but at least she’s only talking about creatures native to the Unova region (for now) and that makes it a little more realistic. Juniper also takes this time to let me nickname my Tepig and though I hesitate for a second, I finally settle on the Final Fantasy theme and name my male Tepig after the headband-wearing, easy going Blitzball player from Final Fantasy X, Wakka. For a moment I’m uneasy with the decision, but once I let it wash over me I end up liking it and confirm my selection. Wakka is now an official part of my team, and I’m happy to have him. I will admit that I spent a few minutes just looking at Wakka‘s status screen entry and flipping his sprite over and over – I know it’s just a bunch of pixels, but there’s something almost magical about seeing your Pokémon jump around like that. I’m so happy these games are animated. :)

Our little group exits the lab and heads up Route 1 to watch Juniper show us how to catch a Pokémon. The demonstration is fairly straight-forward and repeats the steps we’ve all seen before – find wild Pokémon, weaken wild Pokémon, throw ball at wild Pokémon. Simple. The professor hands us a few balls and officially sends us on our way – from here we go where we want and do what we want. What more could a new Pokémon Trainer ask for? By this point I'd noticed how quickly events were going by. In previous games you didn’t get to actually choose your starter until much later, let alone have battles with your rivals, but in this game I’d already done that and was about to start the core part of my adventure – it was great.

With my back against the little town of Nuvema I ran toward the tall grass and started searching for potential additions to my team. This area has wild Lillipup (the Puppy Pokémon) and Patrat (the Scout Pokémon) both of which are Normal type and both of which are fairly plain. Don't get me wrong – Lillipup is adorable and I think Patrat could grow on me – but neither of them have anything unique to bring to the table. I know I shouldn’t hate on Normal type Pokemon (they have their uses) but this early in the game it’s all about type-matchups and Normal is the least useful in that department. I decided to catch one of each species for the sake of my Pokédex, but they were otherwise only good for experience points. I relentlessly slaughtered enough Patrat and Lillipup for my Wakka to learn a new move (Ember) and then I headed for the next city.

Adrian’s Team So Far
Wakka the Tepig
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Pokémon White Diary #001 :
Press Start

Pokémon Black and White

Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version were released in North American today, and I was there bright and early to pick up my copy of the game. I chose White Version this time mostly because of how badass the version-exclusive legendary "Zekrom" looks, but also because I’d heard that the version-exclusive "White Forest" might be more useful later in the game. All that aside though, I really just wanted to start my adventure!

I admit, I was a little tired going in to get the game. I had obsessed all night trying to settle on a nickname for my starter and a subsequent theme for all the rest. I considered using the names of only Final Fantasy characters, only Mega Man, or Zelda, or Avatar The Last Airbender, and then eventually I moved onto only the names of fruits, then spices, then flowers… needless to say I grew restless settling on a theme. I eventually fell asleep, but my restlessness woke me up early in the morning and the decision racked my brain the entire time I was getting ready to leave the house. Even as I swiftly made my way to EB Games I couldn’t stop thinking about it – I barely remember my trip to the store I was so distracted. I finally reached the steps and cleared my head before opening the door – I needed to stop thinking about it.

At the counter I picked up my copy of White Version as well as a copy of Black Version for my co-worker and friend Kiele. Through some clever bargaining, I’d convinced her to try out the new Pokémon game with me and I offered to pick one up on her behalf come launch day. Kiele has little experience with gaming overall, and none with the Pokémon franchise, but I’m hoping that this game will be fun enough to hook her and bring her the same enjoyment that the series has brought me for so many years. In addition to convincing Kiele to play with me, months of gushing have also persuaded my friend Christine to play too! She’s just as much of a gamer as I am – maybe even more so – but while she has played a Pokémon game in the past (Sapphire, I believe) her experience was only mildly entertaining and she’s since avoided the games (much to the dismay of me and her partner – also a total Pokémaniac). Christine and I plan to recount our experiences and thoughts on our respective blogs, so we’ll see how that goes. :P

After paying for the games and some having a bit of small-talk with the guy behind the counter, I stuck ’em in my bag and raced out of there. On my way home I made a pit-stop at Tim Hortons to pick up some breakfast and coffee, and while I was there I saw a group of two young men playing the new games together. It’s an interesting feeling seeing strangers playing your favourite game. It’s kind of like hearing someone talk about a TV series that you follow, but better somehow… I managed to pull myself away, remembering that I had my own game to play and the sooner I got home the better, and made my order at the counter. Coffee and donuts in-hand I quickly scurried home and took delight in how quiet the streets were – nothing to slow me down from starting my adventure!

Finally home, I peeled off my winter skin in a hurry and headed for the couch. I tried to focus on the matter at hand – playing the game – but I was starving and figured I should probably fuel up before starting anything. I decided to skim the instruction booklet while I inhaled by breakfast, but only got as far as the "Victini" insert before I finished so the instruction booklet would have to wait for another day. Anxious to start my adventure I grabbed my DSi and went to swap in the new game, but as I pulled HeartGold from my DSi a quiet feeling of closure washed over me – this day officially marked the end of my 100+ hour journey in the Johto region and I decided to take a moment to reflect upon my team and adventures. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in that game and while that story was coming to a close, I was happy that I would be starting a new one with friends to enjoy it with me.

I inserted Pokémon White and turned on the system. The game loaded and the opening cutscenes played. I was finally playing the game after months and months of anxiously waiting and I was loving it. After the opening credits concluded the cameras started swirling around a giant model of Zekrom, the Electric and Dragon type legendary I would eventually be able to encounter. Zekrom’s eyes glowed a bright red as the camera zoomed in and the words “Press Start” appeared on the screen. I paused one last time to smoke-up with my boyfriend and pressed Start (why would't I wanna play Pokémon high?). The journey begins!

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Do You Nickname Your Pokémon? Because I do.

Trainer Snapshot / Ageman20XX / Diamond VersionTrainer Snapshot / Ageman20XX / HeartGold Version

The first Pokémon game I ever played was Red Version, and I loved the shit out of it. Unfortunately – because it and the Gameboy itself were borrowed (actually bribed) from a friend – it didn’t feel like a very personal experience. It was more like I was living vicariously through his cartridge or something. As such, I didn’t nickname any of my Pokémon – I just didn’t see the point. Aside from my trainer name, I left everything else untouched and played with the defaults. It was a very fun experience and I liked it enough anticipate the release of Gold & Silver some years later, but I didn’t have any kind of personal connection with my monsters. I mean, they were just little pieces of data so why would I?

When I played Pokémon Silver, it was my game bought with my own money. No one could ever take it away from me and the Pokémon that I caught and raised would not be released or deleted later by someone less invested in them as I was. This connection to them (however ridiculous it may sound) is what prompted me to start nicknaming my Pokémon from that point on. It just made them feel more unique, more like they were my friends or pets and not just random animals fighting each other. It’s been so long that I can’t remember any of the nicknames for my Silver team, sadly, but the tradition has lived on.

From Pokémon Silver onward I’ve always made sure to nickname my Pokémon and I often put a lot of thought into them. I don’t name every Pokémon I catch, but I always nickname the ones I plan to have on my team and I always name my starter. The way I look at it, training a Pokémon without giving it a nickname would be like caring for a dog named “Dog” or a cat named “Cat”. It’s kind of funny at first, but it represents a lack of interest and compassion for your animal and it’s not the way I feel about my Pokémon.

When I start a new Pokémon game, I try to think of some kind of theme to work with. I don’t always follow-through with the theme, but it definitely gives me a starting point. My Pokémon Diamond game, for example, started with a theme of character names from my favourite TV shows and moved on from there. I had an Aerodactyl named “Sylar” (from the TV show Heroes), a Torterra named “Dexter” (from TV show Dexter but also the name of my pet bearded-dragon), a Lumineon named “Lumine” (from game MegaMan X8), a Gallade named “Beryl” (from the anime Sailor Moon), and a Frosslass named “Yuriko” (from the anime RockMan.EXE Stream). Unfortunately I couldn’t think of a character to name my Luxray after so I just used the name “Lynx” and went with that.

In my Pokémon HeartGold game I managed to name all my team after characters from TV shows or video games I liked. We have “Midna” the Honchcrow (Zelda : Twilight Princess), “Crusher” the Golem (Star Trek : The Next Generation), “Tron” the Magnezone (MegaMan Legends), “Hiro” the Starmie (Heroes), “Vanille” the Vileplume (Final Fantasy XIII), and “Sisco” the Blaziken (Star Trek : Deep Space 9). I really liked these names and I’m glad I decided to go with them – they just make the entire experience feel more personal.

I fully intend on nicknaming my Pokémon when Black and White hit store shelves in a few weeks but I have no idea what kind of theme I’m going to use this time. How about you? Do you nickname your Pokémon? Where do you get your inspiration? And if you don’t, why not?

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Pokémon Battle Revolution 2 Wishlist

As posted on several other blogs, a rumour is going around that Nintendo will release a second Pokémon Stadium / Colosseum / Battle Revolution game on the Wii, complete with a multiplayer battle mode and a single-player story mode similar to the Nintendo Gamecube games.  Rumour or not, if they do plan on releasing a new Stadium-style game on Wii there are a few items on my wishlist that I really feel are key to a successful Pokémon console adventure (in no particular order).

1.  Rental Pokémon
The game needs to have a full library of rental Pokémon, just like the N64 games.  Hardcore fans will no-doubt be able to import their own teams from their DS games, but what about everyone else?  I want my other gamer friends who don’t have the DS game to still be able to battle with me, and I don’t want any of these crappy “Battle Passes” with 6 pre-selected Pokémon and some lame-ass, random trainer.  What fun is that?

2.  Gym Leader Castle
The game should let you battle 3D versions of the Unova Region’s leaders (and possibly other regions’ as well) just like the N64 games.  If the console games had any creativity in their character design I wouldn’t be so harsh, but none of the throwaway characters I’ve seen so far have been anywhere near as interesting or well-designed as those introduced in the main series.  I miss the days when the console games paid tribute to the handheld one – it’s the whole reason I even consider buying the console games in the first place!

3. Trainer School & Battle Lessons
The school / academy aspect of the series needs to return.  There was nothing cooler than being taught advanced combos through live battles rather than just through text-boxes or online message boards.  I still remember the battle with a rental Graveler teaching me the Defense Curl + Rollout combo from Stadium 2.  Such good times…  Hundreds more combos have been introduced since then and with all-new players entering the scene, there’s no reason to leave this feature out again.

4.  Physical Contact
Pokémon should make contact for physical attacks.  I don’t care if the game needs a teen rating.  On the DS they may be able to blame technical limitations, but these weak-sause cut-away attack scenes are pathetic on a 3D console game.  Pikachu is allowed to headbutt other Pokémon in the anime, which is clearly aimed at children, so why can’t he do it in the games?  Fix that shit!

5.  Return of the Battle Frontier
Whether they call it the Battle Frontier or replace it with the new “Battle Subway” doesn’t matter, I just want something similar within the console games and with just as much focus on Triple and Rotation Battles as the other types.  Oh, and there should obviously be multiplayer options – both competitive and co-operative.  Different “cups” or themes would also be appreciated – things like the “Tiny Cup” for physically small monsters of the “Heavy Cup” for big ones.  This would make the aforementioned rental Pokémon even more useful.

6.  Pokémon Box Storage & Transfer
This feature was in the original N64 games and was extremely useful.  As Nintendo is well-aware, fans of the series often purchase more than one version of the game.  I can’t speak for everyone, but when the inevitable Pokémon Grey comes out, I plan to treat it as a replacement for Black/White.  The issue then becomes getting all my monsters from one cartridge into another so I can benifit from all my hard work.  Sure I can manually trade them over, but with 649 different characters available that’s an extremely time consuming investment.  I just don’t understand why this feature has not appeared in any games since the N64, with all console Pokemon games released since explicitly forbidding people from moving monsters between games.  Why Nintendo?  Why?!

7.  Constant Weather Effects
In every single main-series Pokémon game to date, weather effects have not been constant throughout the battle.  Between turns the game will remind you that it’s raining or sunny or snowing and show a quick animation, but that’s it – there is no snow, rain, or sun animation during the actual attacks or character selection phases.  I know that the Wii isn’t as powerful as the PS3 or Xbox 360, but it’s still a very capable system and there is absolutely no reason it can’t display the snow/rain/sandstorm/sun/hail on a consistent basis.  What is this, the original Gameboy?

8.  Actual Wild Pokémon
I want to be able to go into a field or patch of grass, and actually see wild Pokémon running around.  I want to be able to run up to one and initiate a wild Pokémon battle with it.  I want to have double or triple battles occurring automatically based of the proximity of other wild monsters in the area when the battle starts.  I want that wild Caterpie I’m attacking to “call friends” and have other Caterpie (or maybe even a Butterfree!) come to fight by it’s side.  Can you imagine the experience gain from a string of battles this way?  Abilities like “Stench” could prevent such chains, while “Sweet Scent” could increase them (for example).  There are so many mechanics that could come into play, and the thrill of actually seeing a shiny in the wild could not be rivaled.

9.  Safari Zone for DS Games
I think it would be totally awesome if there were a special area in the game only accessibly by connecting your DS to the Wii and importing your trainer.  This area would function like a Safari Zone or Great Marsh but much larger, having several different types of environments and being packed with monsters from the older games.  The Pokémon may have different attacks than they normally would or may be holding rare items, but the point would be that you could catch a large amount of the older Pokémon in a current-gen game – something Black & White do not currently allow.

Those are all my suggestions for this potential new game.  They’ll probably never see the light of day, but it’s fun to dream – no?  What do you think?

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