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Found 12 results

  1. Jonathan Higgins

    Review: Pokémon Sun and Moon

    Developer: Game Freak Publisher: The Pokémon Company Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: November 18th, 2016 ESRB: E for Everyone Note: This review is based on a playthrough of Pokemon Sun, though Pokemon Moon is largely the same game with minor differences, such as its own exclusive Pokemon and the clock being twelve hours ahead. Many people call me many different things. But — without a doubt — I am “the Pokémon guy” of my friend circle. My long-running feature articulates my love, minor compulsions, and many criticisms of the series in a way that what I“m about to write... must concentrate into something much shorter, more concise. As I“m sitting down to write this, I“ve spent over a hundred hours with the game. I“ve absorbed everything the main story and the plot-driven portions of the post-game have to offer. My Alolan Pokédex is even 100% complete. It“s probably the furthest I“ve ever sunk into a game before sitting down to review it, if I“m being honest. Brevity has never been my strong-suit, in both playing Pokémon and attempting to analyze it. But without further ado, let me say this: Above all, I am very conflicted about Sun & Moon. The newest games actually have a brand new director behind them, Shigeru Ohmori. A different pair of eyes overseeing all aspects of development is likely one of the key reasons that Alola, the new region... feels like the most refreshing thing to happen to Pokémon since fan-favorites Gold & Silver. Anyone who“s been playing these games forever will likely sing praises of major and minor adjustments to “the Pokémon formula,” as it were. That“s where I“ll start. Moves called Hidden Machines used to force players who wanted to fully explore the world to build their Pokémon team around them. Want to cut obtrusive bushes that block the way to hidden items? Better raise a Grass Type Pokémon with you that can learn “Cut,” or you won“t be able to proceed. Want to fast-travel from one town to the next? Put a Flying Type Pokémon and “Fly” on your team, lest you be inconvenienced. Sun & Moon finally make HMs obsolete with Riding Pokémon. Folks who want to fast-travel can use their nifty Ride Pager to call up a Charizard on a whim, who“s happy to take you wherever you need to go. Want to Surf? Eventually you“ll get a Lapras to call on, even if you never put a single Water Type Pokémon on your team. Pokémon games used to be about collecting eight Gym Badges, then taking on the Pokémon League and becoming the Champion. It was that way from 1996 to 2013 — always the same song and dance, no matter where you were or what system you were playing on. Alola introduces something else brand new: the Island Challenge. While this concept serves a very similar purpose to the one Gyms used to... it knocks down the archetypes of four walls and eight people being the biggest trials you“ll ever overcome. I“ve personally found Gyms to be the biggest reason why each new Pokémon region and game amounted to predictable fodder at best. Their removal meant me approaching Alola itself... and the game“s story... with unpredictability and wonder. Instead of conquering gyms, I was doing things like... exploring a haunted shopping mall, taking pictures of Ghost Pokémon with my PokéFinder before they discovered me and challenged me to a battle. Instead of Gym Leaders, the biggest challenge of each Island Trial was its “Totem Pokémon” — a big, burly boss with buffed up stats. This boss could call underlings in what I would soon learn was called an “S.O.S. Battle.” More on those, which extend far beyond Island Trials, in a bit. After clearing each and every Island Trial of a particular Island I was on... I would take on its “kahuna”... a leader figure to each island that serves more like a mayor, or a defender of justice, than a mere “Gym Leader.” Riding Pokémon and the Island Trial are the two biggest changes to what longtime fans know. They“re what you“ll see in every single review, and probably what“s on the back of the box (I can“t verify since I went digital). But there are several minor adjustments that I“ve been waiting for someone, somewhere to implement too. I“ve already blabbed about the evolved GUI for the length of a full review. I could probably double that with the new things I“ve learned about it since playing. Suffice to say: if you“re brand new to Pokémon... and most of what I“ve been saying sounds like complete gibberish? The game wants to help you. It“ll tell you how effective a particular move you want to use will be against a foe, once you“ve seen for yourself what type of Pokémon it is. If you“re carrying the maximum six Pokémon you can take with you and catch another... the game will ask you whether you want your new friend to join your party, or be sent off to the PC. It lets you see a full summary of the Pokémon“s moves and Nature, as well as the ones currently with you, before you ever leave the capture screen! There“s just so much. Sweeping and small mechanical changes are just half of what makes Alola so refreshing, to me. I loved the characters and “world” more than any other Pokémon game, so far. Hau, your rival... completes every island trial after you do, is brimming with optimism almost to a fault, and deeply cares about Pokémon and the people around him. He reminds me of Pokémon Trainer Red from the Game Boy days. He“s always happy lagging behind someone more experienced, with a Pikachu no less... but with seemingly great potential, too. Lille is a character who“s got a bit of mystery around her, and undergoes the most evolution and development in the story. The Pokémon Professor Kukui, the kahunas and the trial captains, the bad folks (Team Skull), and every other major character in Alola... all help communicate this idea that Alola is a truly unique place in the world of Pokémon. If creating something refreshing and new, that feels welcoming to new and returning players alike, was what Director Ohmori endeavored to do... I“d say he achieved his goal. It“s just a shame that I feel so many compromises were made in the process. In 2013, Pokémon X&Y introduced players to the Kalos region. With it, the total Pokémon count went from 649 to 721. Of the 721 known Pokémon at the time, 450 of them were available to catch with just Pokémon X or Pokémon Y. Each time you visited a new part of Kalos, you were given a new piece of the “Regional Pokédex” that had 150 or so brand new critters to find, to help make up that total. There was never any overlap. You could never really run out of things to catch or evolve, unless you were the compulsive type like me. And therein lies my biggest problem with Sun & Moon: the Alolan Pokédex is tiny! With these games, the total Pokémon count goes from 721 to 802. The DexNav from Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire helped catalog the tons of Pokémon you could find in any given area. I suppose that feature was removed in Alola because... there aren“t nearly as many to worry about. In order to make Sun & Moon less intimidating on newcomers, it seems, the total catchable critters in the game is only 300. That“s less than the Kalos region, and less than half of the total Pokémon out there. Alola is a region of four islands. Each island has its own “Regional Pokédex”, similar to Kalos. This time, though, there is definite overlap. Upon arriving to the game“s final island... I“d already completed over 50% of its Regional Pokédex... indicating that I“d see most of the same critters I“d already been seeing, over and over again, despite being in a brand new place. Alola“s environments are refreshing and new... but its fauna doesn“t boast the same qualities. There“s not even a “National Pokédex.” For the first time in 12 years: the 300 Pokémon currently native to the Alola Region are all that will ever be recorded in your game“s Pokédex, as far as I can tell. It encourages newcomers to “catch ”em all” and be card-carrying Pokémon Masters... by actively ignoring over half of the Pokémon that aren“t in these games. But see: that“s just something I personally don“t see eye-to-eye with. The fauna of Alola, and one“s Pokédex progress, could bounce off a whole lot of you. And that“s fine. But let me get into properly explaining what“s so flawed about the concept behind S.O.S. Battles. After completing the first Island Trial of the game... normal Wild Pokémon can call for help in the same way the Totem Pokémon do. If you“re trying like heck to catch a Pikachu... you“ll have to put off catching him if he calls one of his buddies at the end of your turn. Over and over again, until the “help doesn“t appear” or it decides not to. I was trying to catch a Cubone... and I had to knock out 16 other Cubones to get to him. That“s just cumbersome, no matter how you slice it. I get trying to add an extra layer of challenge to catching Pokémon. But I think S.O.S. Battles take things a little too far sometimes. Of the 300 Pokémon available to catch in Alola, 39 of them are “S.O.S. Battle Exclusive.” This means that they only appear in the wild if a friend calls them for help... and their appearance is typically hinged on a 10% or 5% chance, if not lower. That... is how you take “a little too far” even farther, to the point where I“ve relied on trading online to complete my Pokédex more than ever before. Even outside of S.O.S. Battles — there are several Pokémon with a 1% encounter rate by normal means. Some evolution items, like Sneasel“s Razor Claw, can only be found being held by Wild Pokémon. You have a 5% chance of encountering a Wild Jangmo-o in a certain place... and said Jangmo-o has a 5% chance of holding onto the Razor Claw you need. That“s a problem! Your only solution is to have absolutely incredible luck, or to spend forever having Jangmo-o call for help in an “S.O.S. Chain” until one shows up that“s holding the item. The concept of a “rare Pokémon” or “rare item” is taken to absolutely obscene levels in Alola... making most not worth the effort to seek out without online intervention. And hey: if you experience a communication error while trading or battling online, you will be unable to use those features for “a while” — anywhere from fifteen minutes to up to 72 hours. There really is a lot to love about Pokémon Sun & Moon. I didn“t even address some of the other stuff I enjoyed: like how PokéPelago is going to be worth investing time into for the unique items and rewards it yields, with minimal effort. Trainer customization is back, too; you can style your character in heaps and handfuls of different ways. And the soundtrack, which I consider to be the best they“ve ever produced, by a long-shot. There“s at least one major “dislike” I didn“t get to either... because mentioning the changes to Effort Values and competitive play would keep me here forever. To most, the Alola Region, and these games, are probably going to be widely hailed as the finest hour for the franchise so far. And I“d agree with them... but only to a point. I love that Alola is the most refreshing place I“ve had the pleasure to explore in my twenty-year Pokémon journey. I“m vexed that handfuls of Sun & Moon“s more obtuse mechanical changes, and artificial means to make “rare stuff” all the rarer, make me miss the games that came before. Pros + Several long-awaited mechanical changes help to make this the most refreshing, and somewhat unpredictable Pokémon game you'll play so far. + The region of Alola is expertly crafted, with a strong sense of individuality and community that extends far beyond the narrative, to even influencing the GUI and altering traditional sound-effects. + I didn't run into a single new Pokémon I don't like...and hey, Pokémon you might know, like Raichu, have new appearances and battle styles! Cons - The Alolan Pokédex is the smallest compendium of creatures since Pokémon Diamond & Pearl, which released almost ten years ago. - The concept of a "rare Pokémon" or "rare item" has been stretched to levels border-lining the obscene. More than one Pokémon has a 1% encounter rate by normal means, Almost forty others are hidden behind "S.O.S. Battles" - "S.O.S. Battles" are extremely tedious to work with, outside of the Island Trials. If you want to catch a Pokémon, you'd better be ready to take down 2-6 of its buddies, minimum. Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great The Alola region of Pokémon Sun & Moon is probably the most refreshing place to hit Pokémon games in sixteen years. But some oddball design decisions may make some longtime fans miss how certain things used to be.
  2. Welcome to the eighty-ninth week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed last week's, check it out. Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday. Genesect is being distributed at GameStop until November 24th. Every single Mythical Pokémon will be distributed during a specific month for the remainder of this year. Now may be your only chance for a really long time, to actually catch them all! -------------------------------- The Wait Is Over As you“re reading my final thoughts before sitting down to play Pokémon Sun...I“m probably curled up somewhere, making my way through it. The rolled out this week, too. The end of it, which showed off a collection of all the “big moments” as they were revealed to us since February, definitely made the cogs in my head turn a little. Over the next few weeks, my brain will shift from speculative to critical...since I“ll be reviewing the game. It“s been over 85 weeks since I started this Individual Values feature, on the cusp of Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire. Time and time again, Game Freak has made me think critically about this goofy series with psychic surfing, purple ghosts and Popplio...and where my life [and future wife] are now because of it. I“ve chronicled all my thoughts over tens of thousands of words, making sure to leave no stone unturned. We“ve been fed tiny trailer bits for almost nine months that all seem to indicate, “Things are different this time! Better than ever before! There“s so much to do, and so much to see.” They“ve had an unprecedented bolster in sales expectations, likely due to the success of Pokémon GO—another thing I would have never seen coming, at the start of all this. All of Shigeru Ohmori“s proverbial [Psy]ducks are in a row. There“s never been a better opportunity to release a brand new Pokémon game, especially one that mixes up long-established series conventions. And that“s why...I“m going to be among its harshest critics. I“ve been around and in love with the series for most of its major marketing shifts. The last time Game Freak tried to do something “different” was Black 2 & White 2—my least favorite games in the entire franchise. I know these are fundamentally different times and approaches. But rest assured, even if I never get around to properly elaborating on what exactly I dislike about B2&W2, I will not gush about Sun & Moon just because they're different. One thing I“ll note in particular, speaking of Unova. The Festival Plaza seems like a refresh of Join Avenue, from those games. Now that they“ve taken an entire generation to improve upon Pokémon“s online communications, I“ll be interested to see just how much the basic concept has evolved since 2012. There are multiple parallels to be drawn from the franchise“s entire history...and I suppose that“s fitting, for the “major anniversary games”. I wonder how hard I“ll be fighting with myself to write a review that doesn“t sound like a glorified list of “same vs. different”. I suppose there“s not much left to say, other than that. Let“s all see and judge for ourselves, starting today! I“m not sure what the next few Individual Values pieces will focus on, but you can at least expect a full review, another “The Year in Pokémon”, and...one heck of a send-off to Pokémon“s 20th anniversary from me, at least.
  3. Welcome to the eighty-fourth week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed last week's, check it out. Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday. Keldeo is available via the Nintendo Network until October 24th. Volcanion, will be distributed at GameStop starting on October 10th. You you have a second chance to get Hoopa by using the code 2016HOOPA until this Sunday, so act fast. No idea when the second-chance Darkrai ends, but that code is Darkrai20. Every single Mythical Pokémon will be distributed during a specific month for the remainder of this year. Now may be your only chance for a really long time, to actually catch them all! -------------------------------- Secondary Forms and Festivals I“m not even sure where to begin this week. has a wide variety of talking points, many of which could afford to take up their own “spots” in a weekly feature. But I“ll take things little by little, and certainly try my best. We got to see the secondary evolutions of the Alola Starters: Dartrix, Torracat, and Brionne. There“s the debut of a brand new area to the series called the “Festival Plaza”. PokéPelago is a “paradise for Pokémon in your PC”. Mega Evolution is confirmed to return. And last but certainly not least--a Special Demo Version of the game will be available on October 18th--and it“ll feature Ash-Greninja. The website detailed changes coming to the Pokémon Global Link as well, and people discovered a new Evolution Stone along the way, too. Let“s start with the starters, shall we? I imagine some of you have seen the “Dartrix = Miles Edgeworth” memes circulating, as well as other playful jabs at its hair and personality. Torracat remains quadrupedal and sticks with just the Fire type...although I don“t think it“ll remain that way. And Brionne seems to take Popplio in a bit of a more feminine direction, much to certain corners of the Internet“s dismay. (Never mind the heaps of other examples, going all the way back to Jigglypuff & Clefairy...to the much more recent Delphox line.) I“m not going to post the image here on the article, in case of potential spoilers. But for those curious: these secondary evolutions seem in-line with a piece of supposed concept art that“s been floating around for a long time depicting each starter“s final evolution. According to this image: Rowlett“s final form kind of takes on the appearance of a hooded archer, like Green Arrow. Litten“s final form has it standing on two feet, and kind of reminds me of the old SWAT KATS cartoon from the nineties, if I“m being honest. And Popplio takes on the appearance of a sort of mermaid--certainly in line with the feminine-looking Brionne, if I do say so. Nothing is confirmed or denied as of yet, but I“m certainly more convinced of this image“s authenticity after seeing the new trailer. The Festival Plaza seems to imply changes in how the games handle online communication since XY & ORAS. The website mentions that this will be the specific place to go in order to trade and battle with players from around the world. I guess that means you won“t be able to trade Pokémon from anywhere you stand anymore? I suppose the developers considered many ways XY & ORAS Trainers could take advantage of the “go online anywhere” features--like getting all the starters immediately, and so on. Benefits attached to the Festival Plaza seem to point towards cosmetic things [like using its currency to purchase dye that will alter the colors of clothes you“re currently wearing], as well as battle-related things. It mentions being able to grab “bouncy houses for your Pokémon to train in”, and I see Pokémon“s stats--presumably IVs--going up in the trailer. Could this also be a new approach to purchasing Battle Items like Leftovers & Choice Specs, in lui of something like the Battle Maison from Generation 6? That part“s just me speculating, but it would certainly be a decent alternative to “battle tower hax”. Finally, Pokémon in your PC will be given something to do besides sit in cyber-space collecting dust. PokéPelago seems to be an interesting way to encourage interacting with critters you wouldn“t normally use while advancing the story, kind of like the PokéWalker and other accessories or mini-games from games past. The trailer showed off gathering beans for use in the new Grooming portion of the game, as well as a means to obtain Evolution Stones. It really seems as useful as it does fun. I think Game Freak is attempting to address the criticism that stones/Evolution Items/Battle Items are tough to obtain for non-competitive players due to the “hardcore” nature of things like the Battle Maison...by introducing mini-games to play, rather than battles to fight. And then there“s the demo. As “hyped” as plenty of people are--I offer a bit of caution, in the coming weeks. The Special Demo Version for Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire was data-mined to oblivion shortly after its release, spoiling a great many new details about the game. I have little doubt hackers will dissect the Sun & Moon demo with an unrelenting fervor, bringing about leaks that will likely be impossible to avoid on Social Media in the month before the game releases. Be careful out there, if you don“t want to be spoiled! But hey, Ash-Greninja is a thing in the games! It“ll probably be like the Notch-Eared Pichu from HG/SS, and forever stuck in the 7th Generation. But I“m interested to see how the demo ties in the appearance of this character from the anime in the new games, for sure. Ultimately, I“m immensely satisfied with this trailer in particular. They always reveal just enough to make me feel like I know something, but also want to hear way more about newly revealed features and mechanics. We won“t be waiting long, as more news is coming on October 14th...just a few days before the release of the demo. How do you all feel about some of the things introduced in the newest trailer? Have you changed your mind about what starter you“ll choose? Be sure to let us know!
  4. Welcome to the eighty-third week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed last week's, check it out. Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday. Keldeo will be available via the Nintendo Network from October 1st through 24th. Furthermore, the final 6th Generation Pokémon, Volcanion, will be distributed at GameStop sometime this month. I'll let you know when, as soon as we know more. Every single Mythical Pokémon will be distributed during a specific month for the remainder of this year. Now may be your only chance for a really long time, to actually catch them all! -------------------------------- Server-side Structure I“m about 55 hours deep in Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past. So I don“t really have anything new to report on the Pokémon front this week. However—more news has been hinted for October 4th, so I won“t rest on my laurels for too long. The spin-off series is still continuing, and you can use Mystery Gift & enter the code Darkrai20 to claim the Mythical Pokémon Darkrai, which was distributed at GameStop earlier this year. If you already got a code from GameStop earlier, you won't be able to use this one. That should have y“all about current! Let“s talk about part of last week“s news that The Pokémon Company kind of glazed over, and didn“t choose to devote parts of a trailer to it or anything. Verified here: an update to Pokémon Bank in January 2017 will allow you to port Pokémon from XY and ORAS over to Sun & Moon via a one-way transfer. Indeed: once again, Game Freak is choosing not to let you port your all-powerful critters from past games to the brand new ones until about two months after release. I get why that“s kind of necessary: it“ll stop people like me from becoming a Pokémon Master again in just a couple of weeks, right? It gives everyone ample time to enjoy the Alola Region as a whole, and catch everything we can there before Lv100 Mewtwos plague the GTS forever. It“s interesting to me, though, that once Pokémon are transferred over from Gen6 to Gen7, they can“t be brought back to the games they came from. It“s not a new practice for the series, but...I kind of anticipated Pokémon Bank to make things more uniform, and allow the first 721 critters to move freely between all past and present Pokémon games starting with XY/ORAS. Guess I thought wrong! Furthermore: [an updated] PokéTransporter is going to be the means by which critters from Red, Blue and Yellow can be brought over to Sun & Moon, also restricted to a one-time transfer. Once they leave the Kanto region, they can“t go back! I“m probably going to wait a while before I transfer my full batch of RBY Pokémon over, until I“m fully aware of what moves are going to be viable in Alola. My dreams of a battle-ready No Guard Machamp with Fissure may yet still come true! And last but not least: a new National Pokédex feature is coming to Bank with the latest update. Using it will analyze the save data(!!!) from any game you use with Bank in order to generate a Pokédex that will tell you what games you can find critters you may be missing. That“s kind of crazy! Seems like they genuinely want folks to “catch ;em all”, since they“ll be able to use data from multiple games to do it. All this Bank stuff begs the question though, considering my previous thoughts on backing up save data. Can Pokémon Bank be accessed in a new way, starting with the Generation 7 games? Picture this: You walk into any Pokémon Center and access your PC, as always, which features 30+ unique boxes of offline storage, ready to be grabbed at anytime. However: what if they were to add a separate tab onto the Pokémon Center PCs that let you access your data on the Pokémon Bank servers without ever leaving your game to go into the app? Not leaving the main games to access Bank would remove a largely inconvenient, [seemingly] unnecessary barrier preventing folks from simply storing every Pokémon they have on Pokémon Bank“s servers, just in case of a data loss. Being able to grab Pokémon freely from “the cloud” without ever having to leave my game to go into an app and prompt ten different loading cycles...would be the single most welcome change to come to the franchise, for me personally. If my 3DS is ever lost or stolen--as long as I have all my existing Pokémon saved to the server instead of the games, I could conceivably get every critter back, once I“ve migrated to a new system. I wouldn“t mind a brief lag to connect to the Internet every time I used the PC, as long as there was always an offline option to use in case I“m not around Wi-Fi. So there we have it! A little Bank-related PSA, and some hopeful speculation on my part. How do you all feel about my idea? Disappointed you have to wait a few months before porting critters over from previous games? Be sure to let us know!
  5. Welcome to the eightieth week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed last week's, check it out. Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday. Victini will be available via the Nintendo Network until September 24th. Every single Mythical Pokémon will be distributed during a specific month for the remainder of this year. Now may be your only chance for a really long time, to actually catch them all! -------------------------------- Poké-Finding Your Place It“s very rare that I come away from Pokémon News feeling almost overwhelmed. Where do I even start this time? The stuff you can unpack from the newest trailer probably rivals a Snorlax in weight, so I think we should start by watching it. I guess I can discuss everything our eyes take in here, even though multiple bits from it could probably stand to have future IV pieces devoted to them. So it goes. First and foremost, we have the new Pokémon Type: Null. Its typing [Normal] and ability [battle Armor] don“t necessarily speak to anything remarkable about it--but that“s definitely a weird name, and a very bizarre appearance, too. Take a look at the website“s listing for it, too. Type: Null seems to be a constructed Pokémon—kinda like Mewtwo, I suppose—that “can adapt to any situation”. Here“s my theory, based on everything we“ve seen about it so far...particularly the fact that it “wears a mask...meaning ”Nothing“.”: We could be looking at what MISSINGNO turns into, if you transfer it from Pokémon Red, Blue or Yellow Version on 3DS by way of Pokémon Bank. Its overall appearance, name, and “nothingness” references kind of beg for this. Its stats from back then could certainly rival “Pokémon spoken of in mythology”. ... It“d be real weird for them to make MISSINGNO canon in the anniversary games. Next up is Jangmo-o... a Dragon type Pokémon that“s likely going to be immune to Hyper Voice since it packs Soundproof as an ability. Not bad at all! Can“t wait to see what it evolves into. The Alolan Forme of Raticate is going to beg for memes as much as its pre-evolution. Those cheeks are the stuff of legends! And now for something a little nuts: Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon are set twelve hours apart from one another, but they“ll still operate in real time. This means that if you play a copy of Pokémon Moon at 4 PM Eastern, it“ll be 4 AM in the game. There“s a real possibility that Moon players will be in practically endless night, depending on when you“re most able to play the game. Both story and battle elements will play out differently in each version, as a result of this time schema. I can definitely see why they“re attempting something like this. It could certainly make for the biggest crop of version differences in series history. Also introduced is the Aether Foundation. There“s Lusamine, Faba, Wicke, and their employees. This group seems kind of like the opposite of Team Skull--existing primarily to protect Pokémon from harm, on a man-made island separate from the four major spots in the Alola region. The Internet is already predicting which one of them is going to end up a turncoat. Wonder how Team Skull“s “Enforcer” will work into it. Oddly comforting to see a bit of nihilism in the Pokémon “fandom”. Call me crazy from reading a little too much of the Pokémon Manga lately--but what if the whole foundation turns crazy on us, deciding that humanity is a blight that are getting in the way of Pokémon and...seek to eradicate everyone but them? ...Moving on… There seems to be a whole sidequest involving the search for Zygarde“s Cells and Cores, too. I guess the game is following behind the anime, in this respect. But could Zygarde“s appearance in Sun & Moon bring more Kalos-specific characters besides Dexio and Sina from X & Y? I wonder if “Z-Moves” factor into Zygarde itself, too. While it“s not looking very likely that players will be able to journey to Kalos itself, I think a whole subplot involving Zygarde, Lysandre, and Team Flare will indeed factor into Sun & Moon somehow, as discussed here. And then we reach the point in the trailer where the Internet/fandom exploded: Pokémon Snap is returning to the main series, by way of the “PokéFinder”. This gizmo is a camera for use with the Rotom Dex that lets you snap photos of wandering critters around the world. The trailers showcased things like a wild Pikachu striking a pose, a Dragonite flying through the air, an Eevee and Lillipup playing together, and more. Your photos can be rated--and as your sense of photography improves, you“ll gain extra features to go along with it [like the ability to zoom in]. Sure sounds like a fully functional “Snap” to me. Take a look at this tweet. “Take pictures of every Pokémon”? Yes, please! It seems like only certain areas in the Alola region will be "Snap"-friendly. Last, but most certainly not least: What the heck are Ultra Beasts? They“re a thing that “poses a threat to both humans and Pokémon”--so I don“t think the newly revealed “UB-01” is a Pokémon at all. I“m piggy-backing off Twitter-friend @BombosMedallion here, but: what if these things help pave the way to actual “RPG-style bosses” in Pokémon? If they“re not Pokémon themselves, they cannot be “caught”. And they“re not Trainers, so they won“t use other critters in battle. It could be crazy if these things end up being very high-powered foes to face in battle using tricks like Z-Moves to gain the upper-hand. Here“s another person that may be onto something. These UBs could resemble major characters in-game. What if their narrative is set up kind of like Persona, where we get a major character developed around a UB that ends in a big boss fight--not against the Trainer, but against a UB--like many an RPG sidequest? Certainly not unique to the genre, but absolutely a first for Game Freak themselves. I“m interested to see where they decide to take these things. ...Almost 1,000 words later: like I said, there“s a lot to unpack. What“s your favorite new reveal of the latest Sun & Moon trailer? Does the twelve hour time-difference make you rethink your previous “version of choice”? Be sure to share!
  6. Welcome to the seventy-sixth week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed last week's, check it out! Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday. Arceus will be available at participating GameStop stores until August 24th.You'll need to get a card with a serial code. Every single Mythical Pokémon will be distributed during a specific month for the remainder of this year. Now may be your only chance for a really long time, to actually catch them all! -------------------------------- Paradigm Shift I think I“m finally beginning to understand why it took The Pokémon Company so long to reveal Sun & Moon. After weeks of my focus being outside of the upcoming games, has given me way more than just new Pokémon to talk about. Before I address the specific pieces and parts of the footage we got, let me open with this: Each region in the World of Pokémon definitely has some unique characteristics and places to them. My Region Spotlights highlighted some cool sights to see in each region, as well as what I felt were the main “point”s each game was trying to communicate through its locales. Regardless of how each region differs thematically, one of the biggest criticisms I“ve heard from people who left the series is that “Pokémon is the same game over and over. Get eight badges in gyms, defeat the Big Bad, get the Legendary on the box, and win.” There isn“t really much defense you can offer towards this argument. With the exception of Pokémon Black & White, every game ends with a Hall of Fame entry, after all. Gyms have long been what“s held the Pokémon series back, in my opinion. No matter how distinguished a region is, or what lengths a game“s mechanics help to set them apart from the ones that came before it--it“s still “get 8 badges to win”. Omega Ruby made me happy when it gave me the National Pokédex and said “okay, the world“s your oyster now” before I defeated the Elite 4 and became the League champ--that was a nice change of pace. ...But after seeing the new footage, watching what appears to be the first major paradigm shift in Pokémon history since the Nintendo WFC was introduced to it back in 2007...I haven“t been This Freaking Excited for a new crop of Pokémon games in a long while. BUT FIRST! Let“s talk about my precious little ice fox. I know the Internet seems far more attached to Exeggutor, but there“s a clear winner for “best new Alola forme” in my heart, and it“s not just because Vulpix is my fiancée“s favorite Pokémon. Let“s briefly address what “region-specific formes” bring to mind. Will this new appearance and typing only affect Alolan Vulpixes you find in the wild, who have made this place their habitat for However Long? Or will there be some way to transform a Vulpix you caught in Kalos or elsewhere, once you“ve transferred them over using Pokémon Bank? While there“s no conclusive evidence yet, I suspect it“s going to be the former. It gives folks who“ve already raised these critters a reason to raise another all over again. Might make a few folks angry? I“m indifferent either way. I also feel like Exeggutor, Vulpix/Ninetales, and Sandshrew/Sandslash are just the beginning. that explains why Marowak/Cubone could be getting an Alolan forme as well. But the biggest one missing for me personally is Tropius. The Alolan region and Exeggutor both boast tropicality -- Tropius kind of sticks out like a sore thumb now, doesn“t it? It really does feel like they“re going above and beyond to make the Alolan Pokédex -- not just the region itself -- feel unique (Rotom, don“t forget!) and tropical, in nature. I haven“t run into a single design for the 7th Generation Pokémon that I don“t like. Whether we“re talking critters that spawn a million Donald Trump memes, a Pokémon that just wants to be loved like Pikachu, or a freaking meteorite with a brand new ability to distinguish itself… I“m truly happy with how the Pokémon of this region are shaping up. The biggest change introduced to Sun & Moon so far was its new UI, which I went on about some time ago. With that, they addressed a pretty consistent criticism with the series, making things more accessible to newcomers who weren“t all that familiar with Pokémon attacks and how they worked. The second huge criticism their addressing appears to be how to deal with HMs, as seen with "Riding Pokémon". These allies will never become a part of your team, but they can be called upon whenever, to carry out properties similar to Surf, Rock Smash, Fly, and possibly more. While it“s not directly stated that these new buddies are going to be the replacement of HMs, so that you don“t need to bog down Pokémon on your team with moves like Cut for the entire game, it“s certainly implied, from both the footage and the website. Huge deal! But the hugest deal of all is the Island Challenge. Without going into too much detail--new Trial Captains seem to offer many unique tasks that aren“t confined to the four walls of a gym anymore, allowing for much more varied tasks that aren“t always “battle the trainers to get to the leader, then win”. Regardless of how the challenge is constructed, there definitely isn“t a Gym Leader at the end of it -- instead, they“ve introduced “Totem Pokémon”. These super strong foes fight you one-on-one... until you“re about to make them faint, then it becomes two-on-one, in what“s called an “S.O.S. Battle”. After you“ve defeated each island“s trial--there“s a Kahuna waiting at the end. I think it“s supposed to function like the “Elite 4” of sorts, since there are four islands and four Kahunas [who also govern each island]. But you don“t save fighting them for the end of the game! So: for the first time in series history: there are no Gyms or Gym Leaders, so the game“s biggest challenges aren“t confined to small buildings in any given town. And -- there doesn“t appear to be an Elite 4 or Pokémon League, outside of the Kahunas themselves... so I genuinely have no idea how this game is going to end. Even if I liked the idea behind gyms (I never have...not since after GSC, anyway), not knowing what“s going to happen next excites the heck out of me. I haven“t even gotten to Z-Moves or how this crazy thing ties into the Pokémon Sun & Moon experience. Maybe I“ll devote an entire piece to them sometime, since they seem primarily focused on letting smaller Pokémon like Pikachu pack a larger punch than previously conceivable, in battle. But: with the UI change, seemingly replacing HMs with Riding Pokémon instead, and the removal of gyms -- we could be seeing the dawn of a new era in Pokémon. What if no new regions going forward had gyms, and instead offered a unique narrative and challenges going forward that no “Pokémon expatriate” could call “more of the same”. I hope the concept of Island Trials--not Gyms--are carried into future main games, to help each and every new region going forward feel refreshing and new. We won“t be waiting long for new news, it seems, as The Pokémon Company has promised even more stuff in less than a week. How do you all feel about some of the biggest changes to come to the series? If you“ve previously become disinterested in Pokémon -- will some of these brand new elements bring you back?
  7. Welcome to the seventy-fourth week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed my send-off to the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series over the past two weeks, check here and here! Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday. Shaymin is available via the Nintendo Network. It'll be live until July 24th. Every single Mythical Pokémon will be distributed during a specific month for the remainder of this year. Now may be your only chance for a really long time, to actually catch them all! -------------------------------- Indulging in Interaction Even though my work in Pokémon Yellow is done, I still go back from time to time just to indulge in Pikachu“s Beach. When ping-ponging around the idea of talking about how the Pokémon games have allowed a trainer to interact directly with their collected critters, my first instinct was to say “let“s look at how far we“ve come”. While it“s easy to track a steady growth in most aspects of the main game--everything from music, to graphics, to even the battle UI like I discussed a few weeks ago--Pokémon interactivity has been a bit of a spotty Thing. I“m going to do my best to sum things up here: In Yellow Version, we could interact with the Pikachu we started with directly, as it followed behind us the whole time [so long as we didn“t let it faint or deposit it in a PC]. It had a voice, unique facial expressions, and more than one tiny contribution to the narrative as a whole. Its purpose was...to be the first ever measure of the Happiness value many veteran trainers know the ins-and-outs of, by now. ...Once the Pika-purpose was served, they shelved the concept for Gold & Silver. Still, it inspired things like Pokémon Pikachu [2]. I“m not sure if your experiences differ, but: when we were kids, all my friends yearned for the ability to have any Pokémon you wanted walk behind you. We“d all get our wish eventually...but I“ll get to that. Do you all consider [super] Contests to be along the same lines of interacting with any Pokémon? I personally don“t, because the experience is so closely aligned with battling. HP never goes down, but there are various mechanics and formulas to master if you want to get all your ribbons--you couldn“t really casually raise a “Contest Pokémon”, lest you risk feeding them poffins that aren“t good enough and permanently filling them up. That“s what happened to my ten year-old Pikachu since the Diamond & Pearl days--I am amazed that her contest stats are still alive and at the fixed value they“ve been since around 2007, despite being transported across two generations of games since first raising them. Speaking of Diamond & Pearl: Let“s address Amity Square. This special place in Sinnoh allowed you to bring your own Pikachu, Clefairy, Jigglypuff and Psyduck from first gen--Torchic, Shroomish and Skitty from third gen--and the Sinnoh starters, plus Drifloon, Buneary, Happiny and Pachirisu from the newest games at the time...and explore a small, gated area with one of them at a time. It“s a tiny area, and that“s really a tiny amount of Pokémon when you consider there were 493 upon Diamond & Pearl“s release...but I“m grateful for its inclusion nonetheless. Since I caught my Pikachu in FireRed, I hadn“t gotten the chance to have it walk behind me until Amity Square happened. And then HeartGold & SoulSilver blew the whole concept of interactivity out of the water, beyond most fans“ wildest hopes and dreams. Not only could every single Pokémon in existence follow behind the trainers in that game [including taking the time to program shiny color alterations for those special Pokémon], but it had various places to take photos with your team, dress them [and you, the trainer] up in outfits, and… the PokéWalker. This thing took the premise that Pokémon Pikachu tried to create and put it on steroids, allowing you to walk with any Pokémon you wanted & potentially fight to capture new and exclusive Pokémon when you weren“t walking around with it. As far as feeling like your critters were “walking with you in real life, too”, the PokéWalker was the closest we“ve ever gotten. If you were young enough--or willing to suspend your disbelief enough--it was something really special, you know? And then Black & White took it away and dashed our dreams...okay...so maybe they decided on a different approach instead. Didn“t mean to bring us down a bit there! The Dream World offered a rather obtuse way to catch exclusive Pokémon--through use of flash games and an interactive website. Instead of having Any Given Pokémon walk behind you in the games themselves, Unova let you walk behind them in a dream. There were various mini-games that offered a bit of fun on top of what was otherwise simple point-and-click exploration. And that leads us to 6th Gen, where the flash games of sorts have returned to our Nintendo handhelds, with a bonus means to pet our Pokémon and feed ”em treats, in order to raise a unique stat. Since Affection--not Happiness--is a new attribute to gauge Pokémon with, I thought “PokémonAmie” might come back in some form with Sun & Moon. Turns out I might be right. ...What new levels of interaction will the upcoming games hold beyond PokémonAmie? I hate to dash dreams here, but as Pokémon graphics and presentation start to evolve towards reflecting more realistic-looking people and proportions, the concept of having “all 800-something Pokémon” following behind you will be incredibly out-of-reach. In HeartGold, Wailord took up a single sprite on the screen--in Sun & Moon, if they“d want to keep a more realistic look both inside and outside of battle, there“s no conceivable way our favorite large whale friend will be able to follow behind us faithfully. But! I“m kind of hoping for the return of an Amity Square kind of place, where we can take a select (larger) group of Pokémon behind us to explore a (larger) dungeon, as they walk behind us. You“ve all seen augmented reality photos like this one since the launch of Pokémon GO a while back. I“m not sure if I have it in me to add to the handfuls of “Pokémon GO Thinkpieces” out there, since the Thing is a bigger success than anyone [myself included] could have anticipated. But I will say this: The biggest “problem” I have with the app, philosophically, is that these types of photos can only be taken before the Pokémon in question is actually caught. As far as I know--there is no way to interact with your critters after you catch them. Ever since Red, Blue & Yellow--the “point” of your Pokémon journey is to bond with the critters you catch. GO has Gym Battles, training, and other fodder. But it“s missing the option to--as an example--highlight a Pikachu once you catch it, and let it out of its PokéBall...for photo ops with friends & in various locations besides where you found it. The inclusion of such a feature could be easily added, and it“d help Trainers to become more attached to their respective critters, wouldn“t it? Anyway. That“s quite enough from me. At the end of the day, I“m just looking for mainline [and even spin-off] games that let you do more with your Pokémon friends than make them fight each other. How do you all feel about the level of interaction you“ve seen from games past? Are HeartGold & SoulSilver your favorite because of reasons like I listed? Goodness knows, I“ve jumped back into Johto to help scratch an itch that GO just can“t reach. Be sure to share your thoughts!
  8. Welcome to the seventy-first week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed the last one, check it out! Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday. If you're reading this on the day it's published, Shaymin should be available via the Nintendo Network. It'll be live from July 1st through 24th. Every single Mythical Pokémon will be distributed during a specific month for the remainder of this year. Now may be your only chance for a really long time, to actually catch them all! -------------------------------- Interface These past few weeks have been filled with all kinds of surprise twists. I“ll get to E3 2016 in a moment since just one aspect of is what I“ll be focusing on. But after I got back from Los Angeles, I caught one heck of a severe cold [hence my absence last week], and then... three Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games were released on the Wii U Virtual Console. Europe already had Red & Blue Rescue Team, the first games in the series. But we got Explorers of Sky ahead of them -- you know, the one I said was the pinnacle of the series both in a previous IV and in my Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon review. Since I replayed the entirety of Sky“s main story and Special Episodes while I was in repair -- next week, I“ll talk about the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series quite a bit. For now, let“s go back to the main series. There are plenty of to talk about. Heck, they even revealed . And Battle Royale seems like it“s going to turn the competitive metagame on its head once again. But my biggest takeaway from the 45 minute “Zelda distraction” from Nintendo“s inaugural Treehouse Live stream for this year“s E3 is how welcoming and crazy-good the new UI feels in Pokémon Sun & Moon. Barrel can attest, ”cause he watched it right along with me: I was over the moon about how cleaned up the menus looked in battle, and how much more accessible they“ve made attacks, typing and more. I will never not fight for making the games I love friendlier to newcomers. I“m the type to consider adding Easy Mode to Dark Souls and other “controversial” fodder. Thankfully, though, Pokémon“s barrier of entry is relatively tame. Key items like the Experience Share (current gen) have made the grind easier than it“s ever been, which helps more people finish what they start. Everything“s become rhythmical and increasingly easier to bear over time, because -- as the adage goes -- it“s always someone“s first ever Pokémon game. Still, the Pokémon series“ largest barrier is... that there are now over 721 Pokémon. We might break 800 with every new critter Sun & Moon introduce! So let me be the first to say: it“s about dang time that they“ve rolled out a UI that accounts for things like what type an enemy Pokémon is, what move that you select will be most effective against it, and even how your specific stats have been lowered by altering moves like “Growl” and Abilities like “Intimidate”. There“s no more uncertainty when it comes to that. If you“re the type, you can literally stack numbers against your opponent, to see who will come out on top! Gosh, it feels so utterly refreshing. I“ve been waiting for them to make cosmetic changes like this to the battle menu since at least Diamond & Pearl. The battle menus aren“t all that“s improved, though. Zeroing in on your character when a trainer is near will stop from being surprised when a battle initiates, and make for the younger crowd playing these games to have an easier time of it. Indeed, I“m quite interested in the narrative, for the Sun & Moon Legendaries, how Magearna factors in to all this, the QR code stuff, and more. But my single biggest takeaway from all the E3 news and footage is that Pokémon as a whole just got a little more welcoming. The changes appear subtle to most people, but I for one am elated. It“s been a long time coming!
  9. Welcome to the sixty-ninth week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed the last one, check it out! Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday. Manaphy is live on the Nintendo Network until June 24th, 2016. Every single Mythical Pokémon will be distributed during a specific month for the remainder of this year. Now may be your only chance for a really long time, to actually catch them all! -------------------------------- It's Alive! The shown for Pokémon Sun & Moon this time yesterday morning was over before two minutes went by. But it gave us a closer look at the Alola region, key characters and Pokémon, and something to... liven up the Pokédex, unlike ever before. It may have been a tiny trailer, but -- what little information we could gather should fuel excitement and speculation for the whole summer, since Pokémon won“t be at E3. ...Oh, wait. As it turns out, shortly after revealing a new trailer, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company announced that both Sun & Moon and Pokémon GO would get special segments devoted to them during Day 2 of Nintendo Treehouse Live @ E3. I still can“t figure out why they didn“t tell us about this from the get-go, but I suppose now we know why Mr. Masuda will be at E3, and fans can reasonably assume that Pokémon could share some of the spotlight with a very Zelda-focused Nintendo booth in Los Angeles. Pokémon GO“s Q&A will take place at 10 AM PT on June 15th. And the “E3 2016 Pokémon Special will happen at 7 AM PT on June 16th. Since the latter takes place before the show floor opens that day... I wonder what kind of presentation we can expect? If you“re reading this on the day it“s published, the E3 excitement begins in just ten days -- technically eleven if we“re considering when the show floor opens. Crazy; I guess Pokémon is alive and well during E3 this year. But hey! Alola is confirmed to be a region consisting of multiple islands, like many have theorized. It“s kind of crazy how detailed this artwork is. You can see where various roads on each island lead, as well as distinct environments, cities and facilities that each one has. While the “tropical” theme of Alola is most definitely consistent, I feel like the whole region hides plenty of surprises. One thing I mentioned last time that seems even more evident now: I think each island is a little too far away to allow for surfing between them. I feel like boats, and then Soaring (like the system introduced in Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire) will be how players can access each island. While I could be right about the soaring speculation -- it seems I“m definitely wrong about how shifting to battles could work. Among the things we saw in this trailer that weren“t in the last one: tall grass, likely for encountering Wild Pokémon. Freeze frame a few times during the trailer, specifically after the big artwork for the full Alola Region is shown. But, I“m not counting out my point of view completely. See this showcasing Hau, your new friend in Alola? The trailer specifically skips a battle transition like you“d normally see in the games, fading from one screen to the next -- but still highlights Hau (while he“s very close to the screen) -- to introduce the “Trainer wants to fight!” text as it moves to the battle unfolding. Wild Pokémon battles may be the same as always, with a screen-fade in tall grass. But I still suspect the way you face trainers could be altered in Generation 7, and moving forward. Hau also wasn“t the only new character formally introduced in the trailer. Kukui is confirmed to be (one of?) the game“s Professor(s). Did they put his left hand in his pocket in this artwork to hide a wedding ring, like many have speculated? And then there“s Lillie, Kukui“s "Mysterious Assistant," who gets a bit more airtime in . Not really sure what makes her “mysterious” just yet, but I suppose we“ll see! Okay. One last bit -- one that I might devote an entire piece to, once we have more information. This game“s Pokédex is literally alive -- it“s a Rotom. It talks, and is quote, “...a whole new way for people and Pokémon to communicate, woo!” WHAT. So you“re telling me -- for the first time in series history -- players could have a Pokémon travelling with them that has the ability to speak, like Meowth from Team Rocket in the anime? Do we have a Pokémon translator now? IS THIS A NEW FORM OF ROTOM THAT CAN FIGHT IN BATTLE?! ...Okay, I“m way too excited about this & have way too many questions. And did I mention that you can add pages to your Pokédex by using Pokémon QR codes on real-life products, as seen in this artwork? What the heck could this be pointing towards? I have a feeling the brand is about to expand in previously unprecedented ways -- like amiibo, Heaven help me. The Japanese trailer showed off bits that the rest of the world didn“t see -- like what“s happening on the bottom screen. It“s definitely a map of the area where you“re standing, but ... those symbols fill my head with more questions. Is the DexNav indeed returning? Is this just a tiny piece of the bottom screen, or what...um, Rotom-Dex... is capable of? I guess we“ll know even more information in the weeks ahead! I didn“t even talk about Solgaleo and Lunala. They“ve got new typing combinations, new moves, and new abilities. How do we all feel about the new slew of information? How do you feel about Nintendo“s expanded E3 plans that came after the trailer was shown? How unreasonably excited are you that the Pokédex is ALIVE? Be sure to share your thoughts!
  10. Welcome to the sixty-eighth week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed the last one, check it out! Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday. Manaphy is going to be distributed starting June 1st, via the Nintendo Network. So, not now--but soon! Every single Mythical Pokémon will be distributed during a specific month for the remainder of this year. Now may be your only chance for a really long time, to actually catch them all! And hey, battles for the Johto Classic tournament begin today and last through the weekend. If you registered, you have a chance to earn Whitney's Miltank for participating. -------------------------------- Dog Day Afternoon When I covered Pokémon Snap last week, a small part of me expected it to show up on the Wii U Virtual Console prior to the published piece going up. While my wish didn“t come true -- we did end up getting something Pokémon-related: PokéPark Wii: Pikachu“s Great Adventure. I“m not sure if it was due to financial reasons or just too many other things to play at the time, but I never got around to that game or its sequel when they first came out. Maybe I“ll devote one of these IVs to playing that for the first time. For now: Let“s speculate s“more about Pokémon Sun & Moon in the weeks leading up to E3. A few things of note have come to light in subsequent screens and tiny bits of footage released since the big Alola reveal, and there“s even more news promised on June 2nd. There are two unique things about the above screenshots that you might not see unless you know where to look. The first image, courtesy of CoroCoro“s own unique starter trailer, show off what many believe to be a brand new dog Pokémon. I“m kind of curious if it“ll wind up being designed from a handful of exotic, even extinct dog breeds specific to Hawaii, like the Poi Dog, for example. Most generations have tried their hand at some sort of dog-like Pokémon. Growlithe is native to Kanto, Houndour to Johto, Poochyena to Hoenn, Lillipup to Unova, and Froufrou to Kalos. As each region has picked up a unique real-life counterpart, so too has its respective dog Pokémon. Am I blanking on a dog for the Sinnoh region? Seems like Diamond & Pearl had more cats! The second screenshot is even more interesting. I mean, it“s one thing that both battling trainers themselves are now shown in scenes, as we“ve seen since the reveal trailer. But if you look a little closer--someone“s spectating their match. This could be a special instance, and moments where someone“s watching your fight could only happen a few times. Or--if you“ll indulge me for a paragraph or two--it could be a much larger signifier. What if, for the first time in series history, battles don“t transition from the “overworld screen” to the “battle screen”? For the past twenty years, mainline Pokémon games“ battle interface has always looked similar to Final Fantasy, where the screen fades and opens up to the arena. It would be a pretty big change if, for the first time, the battle screen worked more like Chrono Trigger--where trainers simply take a few steps back and hawk their Pokéballs out on an arena in real time. It would account for there being little difference in the arena that the main character and his friend are fighting in, as well as allow for spectators to watch whenever the scene“s appropriate. What if a Gym Leader“s subordinates got to watch as you fought for your badge? What if your battle with the Big Bad Team Leader had a group of onlookers--or even civilians--watching as you administered defeat? This small, subtle Thing could be pointing the way for some rather big changes. “But what about tall grass?” That“s just it -- did you see any in ? We haven“t yet! What if every single Pokémon you encountered was a shadow that ran up to you, or flew out at you, like several have in various environments throughout Generations 5 & 6? The shadow could approach you, and then reveal itself as the game moves into “battle formation” from the same overworld screen. What if, instead of worrying about too many encounters in caves and on the waters of Alola, you could take measures to strategically avoid hanging shadows or other means of enemy encounters? ...Indeed, I realize that“s a bit of a stretch. But you“d be surprised how much just seeing an additional person in a battle scene has got my proverbial cogs turning. All right: one last thing. It“s been theorized that Alola will have a bunch of islands, like the Hawaiian islands themselves. But how will you travel between them? Like the guy behind Serebii dot net brought up -- I think Soaring is going to come back. I“d say you“ll travel by boat from island to island most of the time, but being able to take to the sky would solve the potential for another region with…”too much water”. And there we have it! There“s a little more speculation on my part, to lead us into the next reveal. I“ll be a happy guy if my educated guesses end up becoming true in the next trailer. I wonder if we“ll see the final evolutions of the new starter Pokémon as well. What do you hope to see?
  11. Welcome to the sixty-sixth week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed the last one, check it out! Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday. Now is your chance to grab Darkrai at participating GameStop stores. The last day to do so is May 24th. Every single Mythical Pokémon will be distributed during a specific month for the remainder of this year. Now may be your only chance for a really long time, to actually catch them all! And hey, if you're reading this on the day it's published, you can grab a Shiny Xerneas from the Nintendo Network with your copy of XY/ORAS. -------------------------------- Aloha, Alola! I had a Pokémon Snap-related feature ready to go for this week, but then The Pokémon Company decided to have E3 come a month early--likely because Zelda won“t share much of the stage in Los Angeles. For those of you who haven“t heard, or who want to hear it again--this is the part where I say Aloha to Alola, the newest region in the world of Pokémon. We“ll get a chance to explore it for ourselves in Pokémon Sun & Moon when they release on November 18th, 2016 in most parts of the world. I have many things to say about both new trailers--the English and Japanese ones, that is--which you can see below. Let“s get the big part out of the way. The new starter Pokémon of the Alola region are Rowlet, Litten, and Popplio. Rowlet is a Grass Quill Pokémon that can attack without making a sound--it“s an owl with a bowtie. Litten is a logical, but also passionate...Fire Cat that has Ember hairballs. And Popplio is a Sea Lion Pokémon that can...snort out bubble attacks. Check out the official artwork of these new starters by clicking on their corresponding links there. I honestly haven“t been this wholly satisfied by the new set of Pokémon starters since seeing Johto“s for the first time. All three seem to be brimming with personality, which both the official art and even the footage we see in the Japanese trailer seem to highlight. I“ll be very surprised if my fiancédoesn“t end up with Rowlet as her starter, but me? I genuinely can“t decide. This may be the first time in a very long while that I wait until release day to make my Big Decision. Okay, now for the other big part: The English trailer and box arts both reveal two brand new Legendary Pokémon, which don“t have official names just yet. Pokémon Sun boasts a white lion very similar in appearance to Entei, while Pokémon Moon has a lunar bat whose closed wings form a complete circle that kind of reminds me of a clock. There“s a lot to love about both--they join the three starters, Magearna, and the two “wire-frame Pokémon” as the first handful of brand new Pokémon ushering in what is now unmistakably 7th Gen. Here“s an interesting thread about the subtle nods The Pokémon Company has made to more than one generation of Pokémon on specific hardware. Now then. There“s definitely talk of there being more to Alola than meets the eye...e.g. more than what the trailer has shown so far, which seems rather tiny in comparison to other regions. Here“s one school of thought that paints Alola as being several islands, like Hawaii itself. I, for one, think that the reason the trailer seems to have this obsession with showing just the southern parts of the region, hiding the rest behind mountains and clever camera angles, is because Alola is directly connected to Kalos, as discussed here. Only time will tell if one or both schools of thought are right, though. If 6th and 7th Gen are directly connected like Kanto and Johto, will it be a surprise revealed in the game, or will Game Freak heavily market it? It“s going to be interesting to watch this unfold. The Japanese trailer is so much more sentimental than the English one. It feels more like a natural extension of the that focuses on our own personal connections to the world of Pokémon and the real one. Here“s some things of note: 1) The Japanese trailer is listed as “#1”, so this is probably a “real life journey” that will continue a few more times until the game releases. And 2) There are a bunch more CoroCoro issues coming before the game“s release, and arguably no major Pokémon presence at E3, so...information could come a few more times, just like it did today. I know there are people out there who play differently than I do--but I“d honestly prefer to know as little about these games as possible, going in. I hope they keep new information to a minimum! And hey, here“s one last thing. Could the more sentimental Japanese trailer be hiding allusions to the new games, like the Super Bowl ad did? That settles it. The first major bit of news for Pokémon Sun & Moon is behind us. Have you decided which version you“re going to get based on its Legendary Pokémon alone? Which starter are you the most excited about? Be sure to let us know!
  12. Welcome to the sixty-second week of my Pokémon feature here on Game Podunk! In case you missed the last one, check it out! Sorry for the two week hiatus! You shouldn't blame Chronicles of Teddy & Yoshi's Story at all. ...Nope! Stay tuned for future entries coming every Friday. Now is your chance to grab Jirachi via the Nintendo Network. No trip to GameStop necessary this time; just get your Mystery Gift via any Internet connection. Every single Mythical Pokémon will be distributed during a specific month for the remainder of this year. Now may be your only chance for a really long time, to actually catch them all! -------------------------------- How Much Is Too Much? This past weekend, the Japanese TV show Pokénchi promised the first ever TV broadcast of Pokémon Sun & Moon. While many people misinterpreted this to mean that gameplay footage would be shown [trust me; I could go on for days about how stir-crazy the community has gotten, like I have in the past], what“s far more interesting to me is something Mr. Masuda said during the broadcast. He joked -- confirmed, but joked -- that there would be “over ten new Pokémon in [the new games]”. "What if the number of added critters is actually teeny tiny, like even less than 6th Gen?" Even a bit of humor can get the cogs in my head turning. The jump from Black & White [Generation 5] to X & Y [Gen 6] only brought the running total of Pokémon from 649 to 721. That increase [72] is certainly the smallest one in Pokémon“s entire history. And I think the focus of both XY and ORAS combined was to make every Pokémon obtainable again. Since newcomers to the Nintendo 3DS family of systems have almost certainly punched a decent dent in their quest to “catch ”em all”, and previous Mythical Pokémon have become widely available during the 20th anniversary... many expect 7th Generation to feature a sizable increase, like Black & White did in its day. But Masuda“s joke has me thinking. What if the number of added critters is actually teeny tiny, like even less than 6th Gen? 721 is already a fairly large number to anyone looking at the franchise from the outside. What if Pokémon Sun & Moon combined only brought that total to 750, and instead focused on battle mechanics, an immersive story with multiple regions, and the other fodder [besides creature collecting] that makes Pokémon so great? How would people react to another increase that“s even smaller than the last? Would the new generation even “count” in some people“s eyes if it didn“t reinvent the wheel [like 6th did by adding the Fairy Type] and only added fewer than forty new Pokémon? What makes a Pokémon Generation “count” to you all? My personal take is that I“d prefer a game that heavily focused on narrative, world-building, and adding new Mega Evolutions and ways to use the 720 Pokémon we already have...instead of adding 100 new ones so that we can forget, or competitively replace, several of them. I“d rather a Pokémon game spend time improving its more flawed or dated mechanics over just coming up with new things to catch with each go-round. I“m still in the camp that the region Sun & Moon takes place in will be directly connected to Kalos, like Johto to Kanto in Gold, Silver, & Crystal. While the argument that “the ultimate 20th anniversary game will just add 100 more critters to catch, emphasizing ”Train On“” is a perfectly valid one.... I“ve always thought my ideal 20th anniversary game would celebrate the many people and places and stories of Pokémon, instead of the critters themselves. Part of making the games a living, breathing world is letting us go back to old and new places, fleshing out the narrative [in a way that doesn“t alienate newcomers], and focusing on so much more than actually...catching new ones over and over. I“ve already asked the more controversial questions. People are angry at Masuda“s joke -- does that mean the reaction would be super-strongly negative if the increase in number was tiny, and Sun & Moon focused on other aspects of the series instead? I“m interested to know how you all feel.
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