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  1. Welcome to the seventy-fifth 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 from August 1st through 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! -------------------------------- Going Beyond the Games It“s been quite some time since I last discussed Pokémon Sun & Moon at length. I may wait another week or two, as The Pokémon Company has promised more news on August 1st. It“s interesting how The Pokémon Company, much like the Smash. Bros team“s approach to reveals, has chosen to drip-feed information and brand new Pokémon in specifically tailored trailer bits, so there“s a reduced chance of the Internet ruining things. But I digress: Remember how I said I wasn“t going to download Pokémon GO? Oversaturation is why I caved. I was pretty strong during the first week or so of release, even going so far as to buy Pokémon HeartGold second-hand so I could distract myself with Johto to lessen my bitterness towards the Internet“s flood of memes and thinkpieces. My efforts proved for naught, though: The only way to stop myself from hating the app and everyone who [posts every three hours on Social Media] about it... was to download the Thing and participate, myself. I“m not going to add my thoughts about the Thing to the noise you“ve already heard/read/gotten tired of; rest assured. I just wanted to let the Meowth out of the bag (you might sigh at that line, but Super Mystery Dungeon“s dialogue is often worse!) so that when I do mention it, you“ll know I“m coming from a relatively informed place. Oh, and--if you or someone you love does decide to cave and play the Thing like me--don“t use a Pokémon Trainer Club account. Seriously. The Pokémon Company isn“t taking nearly as much advantage of GO“s success as I thought they would. When the numbers started pouring in--especially regarding how second-hand sales of the main games have increased considerably--I figured we“d see Pokémon Snap released on the Wii U Virtual Console in North America, as well as a push for all the DS side-games like Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs to come that way as well. [Yeah, I know Europe has them already...] I“m still not convinced we won“t see Pokémon Gold, Silver & Crystal released for the 3DS Virtual Console prior to the release of Sun & Moon, but...it“s looking less likely as the months draw on. Very interesting indeed. At least we can rest assured that Detective Pikachu is probably coming West before long. Now that I“ve sufficiently waffled on for 350 words or so, here“s what I really want to talk about: The biggest [positive] takeaway from GO is that it“s gotten people of all ages outside walking around and exercising. It“s an initiative Nintendo has tried with the Wii Fit games, but it wasn“t met with nearly as much success because it didn“t have Pikachu“s face all over it. Devices like Pokémon Pikachu & the PokéWalker from HG/SS attempt to tread that same ground, but they were ultimately held back because the devices themselves are limited in nature. What I want more than anything is for The Pokémon Company to develop an independent 3DS application, like Pokémon Dream Radar, that achieves the same objectives as both GO and the PokéWalker. Here“s my idea: What if I could send my Pikachu from Omega Ruby to a side-app that let me play minigames [not any more complex than what you“d find in the main game, or even Pikachu“s Beach] and interact with it while my 3DS was open, but let me travel with it while the system was closed? The 3DS already has a step-counter to help you earn Play Coins--if that Step Counter could be used in a 3DS application to earn “points” that could be redeemed for PokéMiles, BP [battle Points], or hard-to-obtain items (like Leftovers or Evolution Stones) in the main games--there“s your incentive to take your 3DS with you when you go places, and...yeah...to go places! TPC has also said they“re going to try to get Pokémon GO to work with the main games somehow. Since the first 150 Pokémon are already available in Pokémon RBY [which will work with Sun & Moon], I think transferring your critters to Sun & Moon from GO would be a little redundant, personally. I“d much rather they use this Magical Mystery App I“m making up to...let the egg(s) you“re incubating be temporarily transferred to your 3DS, so you can hatch them by steps taken instead of distance traveled--and maybe not leave the app on your phone open 24-7. Alas, I can dream! The PokéWalker was honestly one of my favorite things TPC has ever created. It“s ultimately simple in nature, but the objectives it helped achieve in-game were numerous, and got dedicated people moving. Whether it works with go or not--if they developed a 3DS application that used the system“s pedometer to unlock similar features in Sun & Moon--everything from otherwise unobtainable Pokémon, to rare items...really, the sky“s the limit--I would be the happiest Clamperl.
  2. Welcome to the forty-fifth 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. You can check out the previous Region Spotlight here. -------------------------------- Region Spotlight #5 Johto It“s the penultimate Region Spotlight! Just one more month to go until I“ve covered all six known regions in Pokémon! There“s just something about these last two that strike a particular chord. Maybe because Kanto and Johto are the only two regions physically linked to each other, and the ones most of us grew up with. Without further ado, let“s discuss the land with hearts of gold/souls of silver, shall we? Traversing the Land I think each particular Pokémon remake carries a message to Trainers experiencing the games for the first time, or coming back again with new eyes. Like we discussed last time, I think ORAS“s point was to make the Hoenn region seem limitless. As Brendan or May, players could traverse land, sea, sky and even space...fully and completely. While there is certainly plenty to do in those games, I think looking at Hoenn from the sky takes away a sense of magnitude that other games and regions have. HeartGold and SoulSilver, though, have two unique elements that emphasize travelling on foot more than anything else. The player is given not one, but two regions to explore--mostly on foot, with Fly only being used when necessary, and...with the Lead Pokémon in his or her party by their side for the entire game. Both this aspect and the Pokéwalker--which took travelling on foot to real life, too--just make everything about the Johto region seem that much bigger, in my opinion. Rather than spend my first spot on this Region Spotlight discussing a particular area of Johto, I“d rather emphasize the entire region“s approach to exploring things on foot. No Pokémon game has done what HG/SS did before or since, outside of Yellow letting Pikachu travel with you. And since the Pokémon Pikachu accessory was also a pedometer, I suppose that (in conjunction with Yellow or even the original Gold & Silver) could be seen as the precursor to what we experienced in the remakes. Ruins of Alph/Sinjoh Ruins The Ruins of Alph always fascinated me, right from the start. I thought they would be where the player inevitably encounters the boxed Legendaries of the games, Lugia and Ho-Oh, but...rather than turn these ancient ruins into a central location for a cataclysm like many other games did since (particularly in the case of Sinnoh with the Spear Pillar), it was just a place you visited from time to time with puzzles to solve and new Unown Pokémon to discover. Neither original nor remake really spend much time describing the ruins“ purpose. It was all up to the player to figure out the purpose of the Unown and the message they wanted to communicate. What really impressed me, though: the Sinjoh Ruins. This is a specific part of the Ruins of Alph that you can“t access without an Event Arceus. If you had it, you were treated to whose melody resembles , as well as works in the mysterious whirs of the Azure Flute I mentioned in the Sinnoh Region Spotlight, plus leitmotif from the Spear Pillar and Giratina's theme as well. Even though the Sinnoh region hasn“t been revisited since Platinum, there“s still...so much more mystery to Arceus than was ever described in the anime or games. Bringing Arceus to the ruins leads to him recreating Dialga or Palkia from an egg--a Lv1 Legendary Pokémon. That“s crazy talk! It certainly hasn“t been done since. I wonder...if we“ll ever see something like that again. Lake of Rage/Mahogany Town No, I“m not just going to bring up the Red Gyarados because of my obsession with Shiny Pokémon. Still: there has only been one other instance of a Shiny Pokémon being automatically found in the wild like that one, and said Haxorus didn“t really have anything to do with the main story in Black & White 2. What strikes me about the nature of that Gyarados“s story itself is that it links that Pokémon“s shiny color to its original Magikarp form, saying it evolved too quickly. That“s clearly not the case with any other discovered Shiny Pokémon“s colors, nor is it ever explained that way again in the games. I wonder why Game Freak chose to give that specific Gyarados the story it has. Teaming up with Lance--a face many Trainers who played the first game knew very well from their challenges of Kanto“s Elite 4--was really cool, though. Game Freak has dabbled in working Gym Leaders and the Elite 4 into their stories since then, but...they never really hit the mark as closely as they have with Lance vs. Team Rocket. I think the recent games are certainly onto something with intertwining Steven Stone and Looker into everything so much. But Lance remains one of the most memorable characters because he was closely worked into not one story, but two. After defeating Team Rocket, you don“t just see Lance again at the end. He“s brought up in Blackthorn City, too! Ecruteak City Suicune is awesome, isn“t it? Here“s a fun fact: the is actually . That was a weird thing I picked up on right away. I wonder why the pinball game“s level theme was used for this city (and Cianwood), which focuses less on arcades and more on...antiquity. I guess the composer must have just liked that music, at the time! Like the Ruins of Alph, Ecruteak“s lore is something revisited once or twice during a regular playthrough--not necessarily a huge focus. In Crystal, a Suicune encounter is forced in the city--while the remakes relegate Suicune to Cerulean City. Eusine is an interesting character to note as well. He“s after Suicune, but he doesn“t aggressively try to take over the world to obtain it like most Pokémon villains do. I hesitate to even refer to Eusine as a villain at all, so much as a fanatical trainer obsessed with a certain Pokémon. I love the way the remakes treat this city. The DS brings new life to the surroundings, making the area seem much more antiquated than the original games. The music picks up . The dancing girls are more intertwined in your journey to eventually awaken Ho-Oh. More emphasis is placed on Ecruteak being the epicenter of the game“s “heart” and “soul” symbolism. Ecruteak City is a place where humanity screwed up, but...in the modern era, where hope springs eternal. I like how the games don“t attempt to ruin that hopefulness by making Team Rocket meddle there, or something. It“s left as-is, a place where you visit from time to time...but never to dispose of evildoers. Mt. Silver Gold & Silver aren“t the only sequels Pokémon has done. Maybe one day, if I have an axe to grind, I“ll go into why I felt Black & White 2 were disappointing beyond what I“m about to discuss. But can you believe you go through that entire game without once seeing your past self? BAH! Mt. Silver isn“t just great all by itself--it“s great because of who“s waiting for you on top of it! No words are ever exchanged between the player and Red. They just fight, and that“s the end of it. I don“t understand why The Pokémon Company have never once taken advantage of the pure adrenaline that comes with...fighting yourself, you know? There“s no better marker of how far you“ve come as a Pokémon Trainer than facing what they feel is an ideal representation of your former self, then winning! It“s interesting. Now that this Region Spotlight is over, I realize I“ve spent just as much time discussing Johto“s influential people as I have its places. I hope the next game and region creates just as many memorable characters as it does memorable spots.
  3. Welcome to the twenty-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 morning. I should be feeling remarkably drained. Between the unexpected passing of my friend Sam at the beginning of this month, and the fact that Mr. Iwata left us so suddenly just a week later...well... things haven“t been stellar. But...I“m sure you“ve heard the stories about how Iwata is responsible for the Kanto region being able to fit into Pokémon Gold & Silver, plus more. And there“s always the Iwata Asks features on some of the more recent Pokémon games, for even more insights. Today isn“t about loss, though. Heck, I hope Mr. Iwata and Sam are playing Pokémon together, somewhere! Without further ado… -------------------------------- Origin Stories Some of the same Pokémon have been in my life since 2006. Over (almost) ten years, I“ve amassed 719 unique Pokémon from over seven different mainline games since the Game Boy Advance era. Some of them are just casual captures while trying to obtain every Pokémon inhabiting a certain area. Some are Legendary Pokémon that the various games have been centered around. Some are among my first ever Shiny Pokémon, captured completely by chance. And around sixty of them are fully trained, built to be competitive and hold their own in battles versus real people, instead of just the ones that advance the plot. There are so many stories! I caught Palkia in a PokéBall on the Spear Pillar. The fight against Team Galactic on Mt. Coronet, as well as capturing all the Pokémon available there, wore down my supplies to practically nothing. I was afraid I“d have to restart my journey up the mountain, or come back for Palkia later. But alas, my last PokéBall was thrown, and it caught Palkia handily... much to my surprise and amusement, of course. Then there“s my Shiny Ho-Oh...the definitive crown jewel of my Legendary lineup. I was actually playing through my girlfriend“s copy of SoulSilver, nostalgic for Johto as I“ve often been. I was in the middle of leaving her a voicemail telling her I“d been thinking about her as I approached the Phoenix Pokémon... and then abruptly went, “....holy crap--I“m gonna have to call you back--”. She thought something had happened! She certainly acknowledged my Pokémon Mastery, if not incredible luck, when she found out what. Most recently, in Pokémon Omega Ruby, I was trying to capture a good Natured Rayquaza during the plot of the Delta Episode, so I wouldn“t have to come back for it later. I“d succeeded, and then launched to space to fight Deoxys. Since Mega Rayquaza is automatically the first combatant out during that fight, but I wanted to leave him untouched so I could raise him fully later — I just started chucking my good supply of Premiere Balls at Deoxys so he could (slowly but surely) faint the giant beast, saving him from earning experience in battle. I thought he“d almost surely break out of them every single time, since the Legendary catch-rate is so remarkably low. As it turns out... I caught Deoxys... in a Premiere Ball...at full health. I would have been mad and restarted that particular plot arc — but man, I“ll always have that story now! I happened to be on Skype with my best friend at the time. She definitely had a fit of laughter seeing my reaction to that, live. Do you have any fun memories like that, of your favorite Pokémon? I“d absolutely love to hear them.