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  1. Welcome to the forty-second 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. -------------------------------- The Grind When #TwitchPlaysPokémon was a phenomenon, I went back and played Pokémon Red from start to finish for the first time since I was a kid. I“ve often mentioned how far the franchise has come in terms of aesthetics, music and more. But the one aspect I feel deserves some discussion this week is how much the Pokémon Company has done to alleviate “the grind” and respect new and old players“ time. By "the grind", I“m referring to raising a team of brand new Pokémon--whether for story or extra-curricular purposes--from Lv1 (or 5 if it“s a starter, or whatever level you catch them at) to Lv100. We can also wrap a few extra bits like breeding in there, too. Playing through the Game Boy games for their story and the nostalgia factor is always insightful. Like I“ve mentioned many times in the past--going back can easily bring all kinds of memories to the surface. We used to imagine the monochrome Kanto filled with color and life--now the processing power of the Nintendo 3DS can do that for us. But going back to 1998 in terms of Pokémon raising isn“t as fun as it used to be, for me personally. I think there“s a reason I cheated and used the Cinnabar Island glitch to have infinite rare candies back in the day. Pokémon Red doesn“t have the experience share, Lucky Egg, O-Powers, or means to fight handfuls of consecutive battles that sometimes yield 13,000 experience points for traded, boosted and item-holding Pokémon. I raised my mono-type “Gym Leader” team from eggs with just a couple hours of gameplay; they“re all fully trained and battle-ready. The process has become absolutely streamlined over six generations of games. You can make sure a hatched Pokémon has a specific nature and desired Egg Moves by giving a parent [with the desired Nature] an Everstone. You can influence what hidden IVs a Pokémon inherits from its parents by making one of them hold an item, too. EV training used to require taking notes and fighting wild or trained Pokémon one at a time to raise certain stats. Now you can gather a team of six Pokémon who all need their Speed EVs raised [for example], turn on the Experience Share key item, give them all Pokérus, and fight about twenty-six horde battles with Zubats in Meteor Falls (ORAS). Less than fifteen minutes will have your desired stat at its maximum EV potential--for however many Pokémon you like. Thanks to the Lumiose City restaurants and the cafe in Mauville City, you can carry one use of the Experience Boosting O-Power across anywhere from 5-10 full battles [sometimes with three Pokémon at once] to easily raise your new team“s levels once you“re done training them. In XY, the restaurants can be visited an infinite number of times, provided you have the cash. In ORAS, Mauville City“s spots can be visited once per day. It“s all become so effortless! If you haven“t looked into any of this stuff and wonder how I“ve raised so many competitive Pokémon over time--it“s way easier than it seems, these days. I view this streamlining as a positive. But the talking point I“ll give you this week as that it“s made the gameplay or sixth generation games very easy. The moves Game Freak has taken to respect players“ time doesn“t necessarily respect those who want a challenge. If you think Pokémon“s gameplay has suffered because of how easy a team is to raise in the modern era, I want to hear from you! What could the series do to be more difficult, yet still maintain all the aforementioned new endeavors? If you love the steps they“ve taken over time, and find it difficult to go back: do you feel the same way I do?
  2. Welcome to the forty-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. -------------------------------- Pokémon Bank and Friendship I“ve been accomplishing two main goals in my Pokémon-related downtime, lately. Inspired by the first Region Spotlight and my many “conspiracy theory” pieces, I restarted my copy of Pokémon Y with hopes to play through the game again prior to the release of “Pokémon Z” (I still think that announcement is coming by October 29th, by the way). And...as always, I“m forming new teams to use in whatever competitive battle that comes my way. I“ll talk up my new adventures in Y and my “Fossil Maniac Gym Leader” team in the not-too-distant future. But for now, I want to talk about my two Shiny Eevees. Not necessarily because I“m bragging, but… I caught one of them in a Friend Safari prior to erasing my Y file. And the other, I hatched naturally in Omega Ruby using the Masuda Method. I evolved the baby into Umbreon with no trouble, and I wanted to raise an Espeon for fun Doubles antics. I used Pokémon Bank to safely transport my Eevee, Axiom, to Hoenn some time ago. Then I EV trained and raised it, expecting the evolution to occur eventually because Friendship isn“t too hard to raise in the modern era. But when it got to Lv90 or so without ever evolving, I got worried. A quick aside for those who don“t know: Eevee evolves into Espeon and Umbreon when it has max Happiness/Friendship, depending on the time of day. This isn“t to be confused with Affection, the Pokémon-Aime trait that allows Eevee to evolve into Sylveon. A lot of the popular search results for “Eevee won“t evolve” on Google were just people confusing happiness for affection -- an easy mistake to make. But, as you can see in this video I posted when making an inquiry over Twitter, Axiom“s Friendship was indeed at maximum, and no evolution occurred. My system“s clock was correct (another thing that stops time-based Friendship Evolutions), and none of my Pokémon are hacked. So...what was going on? As it turns out, Pokémon Bank may be the cause of a glitch when it comes to Friendship Evolutions. Here“s a thread with someone who experienced the same problem I had. Using Pokémon Bank to transport Pokémon should normally work like trading from one game to the next would. I“m not sure if the glitch is caused when two trainers share the same name, since their Trainer IDs are always different. But -- just be careful when transferring Pokémon that evolve based on Friendship, because something related to Pokémon Bank may cause them to not evolve despite Friendship being at maximum. Something in the game“s code may get lost in translation when transferring Pokémon. The way I fixed the problem and eventually got my Eevee to evolve was by trading it back and forth to my lady. Trading a Pokémon resets its base Friendship value, and you can work on maximizing it again without increasing the Pokémon“s level. Thanks to the Soothe Bell, Befriending O-Power, and biking lots of circles around the Battle Resort, I had Axiom“s Friendship back at maximum in less than half an hour. After making it as happy as possible, it evolved without anymore complications. So! This week“s Individual Values is just a friendly PSA for those who use Pokémon Bank regularly, like I do. Something is off about it and Friendship-based evolutions. After you transport your Pokémon from one game to the next, be sure to physically trade it back and forth to yourself with a friend“s help to actually reset its Friendship to what it should be, if you want to guarantee not getting stuck in evolution limbo like my Eevee was. Save yourself a headache or two by trading after transferring! Are you folks still playing Pokémon before “Z” and Super Mystery Dungeon come around? Share your stories!
  3. Welcome to the thirty-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 morning. NOTE: This week's Individual Values will slightly spoil some content for Pokémon X&Y and Pokémon ORAS. I'll be discussing plot details. You have been warned! -------------------------------- From Z to A The previous Individual Values was actually part of a massive piece that I split in two in order to prevent my feature from becoming a borderline research paper on the Sixth Generation Pokémon games. I spent last week detailing PROJECT AZOTH (Team Flare and Team Aqua/Magma“s efforts to make “everything as it was in the beginning”), the close relationship between the Hoenn and Kalos regions, and even the possibility of interdimensional travelling within the Pokémon games. Now it“s time to detail what Game Freak could actually do with this stuff, as well as impart some new information I didn“t get to last time: Are brand new Pokémon or Pokémon Formes coming? The movies have often been ideal opportunities to show off brand new Pokémon that have never been seen in the games thus far. Hoopa and the Clash of Ages is no exception. While #721 Volcanion hasn“t been officially announced yet, I don“t think what you“re seeing above is anything close to what hackers have uncovered. The image is a screen-cap from the Hoopa and the Clash of Ages preview courtesy of CoroCoro in Japan. In addition to what CoroCoro showed, there's a new Pokémon that was sketched from a friend of Serebii.net who attended the film. What we“re looking at could be two new Formes of existing Pokémon, or even two brand new species of Pokémon not yet released. I“m not about to speculate what they could be based on a tiny screen and a few sketches. I“m guessing the larger one may be a new Forme of Zygarde. But the other one has me a little perplexed. Rather than try to guess what it is — instead I“ll just ask this: Could it be possible that the 721-Kalos Pokédex is incomplete? Are there more Pokémon in the sixth generation that are lying in wait for the next game, instead of in a brand new region? There“s one specific pattern Game Freak follows that“s always bothered me about X&Y. Ever since Diamond & Pearl, there have been at least two sets of “Legendary Trios”. In that game“s case — the Legendary Pokémon Dialga, Palkia and Giratina were also accompanied by Mespirit, Uxie and Azelf — the three Emotion Pokémon. In the Kalos Pokédex, there is only one Legendary Trio to be found--Xerneas, Yveltal and Zygarde. There are no Legendary Birds, Beasts, Emotions, Weather Pokémon, or anything go alongside the “Mascot Legendaries” in XY. Are they going to be revealed in the next game? Or am I just thinking in patterns too much? Lysandre and Zygarde Looking at Zygarde“s Pokédex entries ties this Legendary Pokémon closely with Kalos“s ecosystem. It says it“s going to appear whenever the ecosystem of that specific region is threatened. Since Kalos was never really in danger outside of when Lysandre fired the Ultimate Weapon after his defeat — and only used a fraction of its power, mind you — Zygarde never appeared. The protagonist of X&Y merely came to it in its cave, instead. I think Zygarde“s Pokédex entry could yield a slight clue as to what the plot of a potential “Pokémon Z” could be. In order for Zygarde to appear, I think Lysandre — or any conceivable villain in the Kalos region, would have to succeed in actually threatening the balance of life within the region. If the game is a rehash of the story similar to Pokémon Platinum, perhaps the protagonist will fail to reach Xerneas/Yveltal in time, and Zygarde will appear to stop Lysandre instead. If the game is a sequel... I“m not really sure how the events leading to Zygarde“s appearance would play out. But it could lead to seeing way more destruction in the next Pokémon game than folks saw in X&Y. The mere prospect of a Lysandre that succeeds in his endeavors — however briefly — is exciting, to me. Would AZ try to stop him? Looker? Zinnia? Bringing up looker and Zinnia will actually be a fine way to wrap up this discussion. I think we“re going to see something besides Pokémon Z in the 6th Generation“s Story. Pokémon ORAS just leaves too much open to interpretation for me to believe that“s all Hoenn has to offer. Looker“s still sitting there with no memory. Zinnia just scooted off to pursue other endeavors. AZ“s Floette“s flower is sitting under that tree signaling he could be in Hoenn, possibly. I think it“s (slightly) possible that Game Freak could announce Pokémon Z for Winter 2016, but offer something unprecedented for those players lying in wait: downloadable content. A DLC episode similar to how the Delta Episode played out could do many things. First of all, Game Freak wouldn“t have to worry about confusing new players, since it“ll be downloadable content only available after beating the Elite 4. It gives them the chance to do crazy stuff like bring up PROJECT AZOTH again, and multiple dimensions. Instead of a brand new game, DLC that showcases new areas in the Hoenn region while revisiting key spots and developing plot, could offer enough to neatly wrap up Hoenn“s story… ...or leave players on a cliff-hanger that will be revisited in “Pokémon Z”. The third, final Generation 6 game could feature a separate story for the Kalos region that brings back Lysandre and welcomes new players/a new protagonist, but hides multiple allusions to the Hoenn DLC completed by returning players that are easily connected and understood — like Zinnia, for example. It wouldn“t be too hard to work in references and important people that seem new to some, but that returners know very well. It“ll be interesting to see what plays out. What do you think "Pokémon Z" will be? Next year marks the 20th Anniversary of Pokémon...so you know Game Freak is going to pull all the stops and show off plenty of surprises. I think DLC (I“ll dub it “Pokémon A”) preluding "Pokémon Z" (to make the full story “AZ” — beginning to end) is just one of those surprises. That“s enough of my conspiracy theories. Be sure to share yours (or even tell me how wrong or crazy I am)! Next week is another Region Spotlight. Stay tuned!
  4. Welcome to the thirtieth 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 morning. NOTE: This week and next week's Individual Values will spoil some content for Pokémon X&Y and Pokémon ORAS. I'll be discussing plot details. You have been warned! -------------------------------- From A to Z The Pokémon games all hide their fair share of secrets, allusions and lore tucked away where only the truly dedicated players can find them. I“ve spoken a bit about some of my favorite hidden stuff in some of the other Pokémon games in an earlier Individual Values. But... for the next two Individual Values pieces, I“m sitting down to closely examine a few specific games. I want to find out...what do the various hidden secrets and details in ORAS and XY tell us about the next main-line Pokémon game or games? Despite most conflicts being resolved in Hoenn by the end of the Delta episode, there“s a surprising stone left unturned. And what about XY? Lysandre just fired the Ultimate Weapon after being defeated, and...disappeared after that. Plenty of unresolved stuff, indeed. PROJECT AZOTH In the Team Aqua/Magma Hideout, there are numerous books containing details on PROJECT AZOTH. These books specifically mention Kalos, the war from 3,000 years ago, and analyzing the same weapon that players helped suppress in Pokémon X&Y. They wanted to use the same technology from that weapon to get to, and eventually awaken, Primal Reversion Kyogre/Groudon... and they succeeded, too. Regardless of both games ending on a happy note — all of the villains in both X&Y and ORAS ultimately achieve their goals in some form. A capable villain is a scary villain, right? The purpose of all the 6th Generation "Big Bads," Archie, Maxie, and Lysandre, all become so much more devious when you realize that the main goal of this PROJECT AZOTH is to “return the world — return everything — to the beginning.” If you talk to the Aqua/Magma Grunt standing by these particular books, he says the A in AZOTH stands for “the beginning”, and Z stands for “the end”. He doesn“t know what the O, T and H stand for. That“s... something. Remember this big, tall...3,000 year-old gent from Kalos? His name is AZ — also a symbol of beginning and end. AZOTH all by itself is a reference to the universal solvent in Alchemy. Game Freak don“t make allusions like this on accident. For being a kid“s game, this whole bit on turning back the clocks to the beginning of time using Legendary Pokémon — and the fact that Lysandre also wanted to achieve the same purpose by eradicating people and Pokémon — is super unsettling. I“m going to save what exactly my theories are on what PROJECT AZOTH could mean for the next games, and a possible return of Lysandre, until next week“s Individual Values. Just wanted to remind you all that it“s definitely a thing. And I don“t think Pokémon ORAS is the last time we“ll see it referenced in the series. AZ, Looker, Hoopa and...Multiple Dimensions?? First of all: See that tree in Sootopolis City? It“s a pretty remarkable visual piece all by itself. But if you look really closely, you“ll see the flower of the Floette that belonged to AZ in Pokémon X&Y just sitting there in plain sight. When Wallace finds out AZ donated that tree...that kind of makes sense, right? Given AZ“s... a little on the older side, I think we“re looking at a character that could have potentially wandered all the major regions in the Pokémon world. So it makes sense that he could reappear, if another game where to take place in the Hoenn region. Same goes for Kalos, or even Sinnoh if we see remakes of Pokémon Diamond & Pearl. The Draconid people, which debuted in Pokémon ORAS, are a bunch of Dragon-users that lived in Meteor Falls and have more than enough things to say about Rayquaza and meteors. But listen to when Zinnia“s grandmother is around (titled Azoth...hmm) and AZ“s big theme, . Yeah... I don“t think this is the last time we“ll see Zinnia, or even AZ. If you wander around the Battle Resort, you“ll eventually run into Looker. He has no memory of who or where he is — that“s interesting. Looker always seems to run around when Legendary Pokémon are involved...from his involvement with Team Galactic in Pokémon Platinum (Pokémon involved heavily with time and space — Dialga, Palkia and Giratina), to appearing in the Unova region to help track down the remaining leaders of Team Plasma — to his post-game content in X&Y. This is a guy who doesn“t just appear for no reason. He knows things. But...did Looker simply wind up in Hoenn by being lost at sea? Or could he be from...another dimension? ...I know, I know. I“ve probably lost most of you by now. But stick with me, because things are about to get complicated. When you“re at the Mossdeep Space Center in the Delta Episode, Professor Cozmo wants to send the meteorite that was threatening Hoenn to another dimension. Zinnia“s whole role as an antagonist in the Delta Episode was to stop Cozmo from doing this, because she believed this plan would doom the other dimension. This whole Delta Episode deal isn“t the only time other dimensions are brought up. When first arriving at the Battle Resort, Archie and Maxie both mention that another dimension could exist — where the opposite Team succeeded in achieving victory in the war for land vs. ocean. That“s crazy. And don“t forget about Hoopa. Here“s a Pokémon that can summon Legendary Pokémon from other dimensions on a whim. As I mentioned before, Hoopa is the reason players get to “stick their hand deep into the hole” to encounter Legendary Pokémon like Ho-Oh and Palkia where they definitely don“t belong. If Hoopa can just... make Legendary Pokémon appear... why can“t it also summon Looker from a different time and place? I have a feeling Looker and Hoopa are connected in some way. But I guess we“ll find out, in time. There“s a lot more to get to. But I didn“t want to overwhelm you all with a bunch of information presented all at once. So — for those of you keeping score so far: - The Kalos region and the Hoenn region are definitely intertwined with one another in terms of major characters, plots, Pokémon and set-pieces. - PROJECT AZOTH — returning the world to its most basic, “beginning” state by possibly causing massive destruction in one or both main regions from the Sixth Generation of Pokémon games will still be a thing for the next game, I predict. More on that later. And finally: - Pokémon, meteors, and heaven knows what else... people(?) ...are capable of interdimensional travel. Parallel universes have been brought up in the Pokémon games many times since Black & White, except that kind of talk was best reserved for books and characters that normal players would never see. But thanks to the Delta Episode... they say it point blank. Could all of this crazy stuff come to a head in a potential Pokémon Z? Guess we“ll have to find out! For those of you keeping tabs on the 6th Gen Pokémon games, I“d love to hear some of your thoughts and ideas about everything I“ve said. See you next week for bits on new Pokémon and to wrap this “crazy talk” up.