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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 fortieth 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 #4 Hoenn Today is the fourth region spotlight! On the first Friday of every month, I pick five things about each region from all six generations of Pokémon games and explain why I find them particularly unique or insightful. This one“s likely a favorite for some of you. Faraway Island I know longtime readers must have seen this one coming. Besides a glitch in the first generation games, this spot (exclusive to Pokémon Emerald) is the only place to catch Mew in the wild without a cheating device. Have y“all seen the showcasing how this guy got a legitimate Old Sea Chart and then found a Shiny Mew after soft-resetting a few thousand times? ...That“s gonna be me, if Faraway Island ever makes its way to the remakes. Mark. My. Words. I“ve mentioned unique ways to catch Mythical Pokémon in many previous entries. This place gets a special mention from me because I“ve never actually seen it for myself. Route 113 I remember thinking this place was really weird when I first discovered it over a decade ago. Snow physics are one thing, and I mentioned those when I talked about Sinnoh last time, but...ash-rain physics? Let“s be real; everyone who“s ever played the originals or the remakes have totally run around in the dirt just because. For the longest time, I didn“t even have a Soot Sack or know about the various flutes. Completionists know all about where to find the soot sack, and how...each bit of grass that contains soot contains a random amount of it. And all this can be exchanged for flutes that have various effects on Pokémon outside of battle, and they have unlimited uses. All your collecting can save you some money on healing items, if that“s your thing. This isn“t the first time Game Freak has attached something mildly useful to an otherwise distracting mechanic that can easily be passed over. Here“s to you, Route 113, for teaching players not all that glitters is gold. Mt. Chimney I always liked the way this area of the game is designed. As a kid, it impressed me that the area required the use of a cable car to even get to. When the developers and design team go out of their way to design a unique transition like that instead of making the player manually climb his or her way up, it kind of goes the extra mile to show how high something is. Without the proper bike, you can really only go down the neighboring Jagged Pass instead of back up. And, of course, there“s the fact that Team Aqua or Magma is here and up to no good. You hear all about their scheme to make the volcano active or dormant, you get to fight the leader, and so on. Returning here in the remakes makes for some cool scenery. Not only do you get the slow falling ash you see in Route 113, but also this giant crater with lava that“s given way more detail in terms of its size and scope than in the original games. This is one of those few instances where I actually wanted to see 3D effects in the remakes for Nintendo 3DS. Having that extra depth thanks to the slider would have made the lava (far) below seem that much more daunting. Sootopolis City And here we have it, y“all. If you“d only played through the Kanto and Johto regions before Pokémon Emerald, you“d never seen something quite like the battle that takes place in Sootopolis City between Kyogre and Groudon. Team Rocket was thwarted consistently in both the generations of games that came before Hoenn, but Archie and Maxie both achieved their respective goals--to their collective dismay, mind you. Pokémon Trainers got to see an actual cataclysm unfolding before their eyes with the Hoenn region. The developers took the time to program patterned weather effects between rain and intense sunlight for not just Sootopolis City, but the entire game world while the Legendary Pokémon were awakened. I was thoroughly blown away by that when I first experienced the game! I know it“s definitely easier to program something like that now, in a wildly huge 3DS remake. But seeing those kinds of effects in the Game Boy Advance days were definitely impressive, to me. The Sky Pokémon ORAS has given players something that no game in the series ever offered before--the ability to fly freely through the air. I“ll get to the Eon Flute and flying through the sky momentarily, but--man, it impressed me just being able to use Fly to go anywhere in the entire game--to any desired route or small niche spot you wanted to visit--is a new precedent these remakes will set for future games, even if actually flying around on your Pokémon is taken away from us. Encountering the handfuls of Legendary Pokémon by meeting special conditions and going off the beaten path to some sub-island somewhere is really cool. The Mirage Islands that change every time you go online and pass by folks playing the game kind of takes it above and beyond, in my opinion. Giving players the entire sky to roam around in is what makes the Ruby & Sapphire remakes among my favorite ever. I really hope giving us the sky is a new paradigm for the Pokémon formula, versus something they take away from us whenever Pokémon Z or the seventh generation of games come along. When you really think about it--ORAS gives us everything. You can freely explore land, sea, under the sea, the sky, and even space! It“s no wonder why the Hoenn region is so many folks“ favorite region, even if there is “too much water”. What are your favorite locations in the Hoenn region? I“d love to hear your thoughts!
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. Every Pokémon game seems to have a handful you can't capture by normal means. I've spoken at length about these Mythical Pokémon and how it's a shame you're not able to catch them yourself like it used to be. Most of these Events require you to visit a store like GameStop in the United States. I have good news, though! The Pokémon Company just announced that #719 Diancie, previously only available in the United States through a serial code obtained by visiting GameStop last year, will be distributed via the Nintendo Network this weekend, July 24th through 27th. This is only a short window of time, so be sure to mark your calendars or remember those dates! You can access the means to receive Diancie by selecting "MYSTERY GIFT" from the title menu. More information will be available when the Event goes live this weekend; I suspect it will be received via a Password like similar Wi-Fi distributions. I'll let you know as soon as we hear more! I'm sure they'll let folks know via Twitter and the official side-site for Diancie, too. Did you obtain Diancie at GameStop last year, or will this be the first time you're able to grab this Mythical Pokémon? Be sure to let us know!
  7. Welcome to the seventeenth 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. Also! I'm extending my Mew giveaway to give you guys more time to enter. -------------------------------- Cinematic Are those of you who registered both versions of Smash 4 on Club Nintendo enjoying Mewtwo? I originally wanted to write this to celebrate the news of Hoopa and the Clash of Ages coming to Cartoon Network later this year, but since Mewtwo "stuck back" this week as well, I guess my purpose kills two birds with one stone. As I“ve mentioned in Individual Values' past, I don“t often deviate from the games to discuss the anime. But here it goes: I am extremely familiar with the “Indigo League” chapter of the anime, because that“s from the time I was a kid and wildly into the series. My girlfriend and I recently rewatched all of it when it showed up on Netflix not too long ago; there“s that too. Still, because it“s gone on for so long...its characters haven“t really grown at all over its (extremely long) duration, so I fell off that wagon quite some time ago. That said...I make a point to watch all the movies whenever I come across them. I can typically handle Ash Ketchum“s world in short, two hour bursts...especially if it helps elaborate upon concepts from the game. See these? Everyone who“s played Pokémon ORAS probably knows what they are, because they“re the means to encounter the game“s outside-the-story Legendary Pokémon like Ho-Oh, Palkia and Reshiram. Now for the new movie starring Hoopa. As the film will no doubt elaborate upon in great detail, Hoopa actually seems to be the force responsible for you being able to encounter these Pokémon outside of their regions, and possibly outside of “the canon”. But...the game never talks about it, to my knowledge. Outside of the hacking scene, the world didn't know about Hoopa until Game Freak officially announced it. Will having Hoopa (who is no doubt going to be distributed via GameStop similar to past events) trigger some explanation of this phenomenon? Or is the film, as of yet, the only way to learn the true nature of these mysterious rings? Stuff like this fascinates me. I actually have a whole Individual Values relating to in-game reactions to special Pokémon written; I guess that tells you what to expect next week. Some of the movies have given real personalities to these legendary critters. Among my favorites are Mewtwo Strikes Back (of course), Giratina and the Sky Warrior (because Shaymin) and Celebi: Voice of the Forest. I won“t spend too long going into detail describing why each movie is my favorite. Let“s just say I can appreciate the Pokémon animation when it“s presented to me like a movie versus on an episode-by-episode basis. There“s less Team Rocket meddling or characterization of Ash and the people around him in favor of highlighting the titular Pokémon and its interactions. I“ll always get behind that. What movies are you all a fan of? Seen any besides the first two, which a lot of us probably remember fondly because we were all very young during their theatrical release? What do you think about this revelation regarding Hoopa and the strange rings found in Pokémon ORAS? Be sure to share your thoughts!
  8. Legendary Pokémon are certainly plentiful in Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, but obtaining some of them came with a catch. Depending on which version of the game you have, you obtain either Latios or Latias during regular story progression. The opposite Lati is then only available to you via the Eon Ticket Key Item, something locked behind a StreetPass component of the game. Up until now-ish, the only way to obtain an Eon Ticket for yourself was to pass by someone who had already gotten one via StreetPass. If you don't StreetPass very often, it makes obtaining your other Lati a pretty difficult process. On February 27th until March 2nd (that's only a single weekend, which is why I'm telling you about it now so you can act quickly), you'll be able to obtain the Eon Ticket in your game via Mystery Gift with a special code made available on Pokémon dot com, similar to how they handled the Hidden Ability Unova Starters a while back. If February 27th already sounds familiar to you Pokémon fans, it's because Pokémon Bank is distributing special Pokémon starting then as well! If you access Pokémon Bank between February 27th and November 30th, you'll nab all three Johto starters with their Hidden Abilities. I'll let everyone know what the code is and remind you all of February 27th's importance when this week's Individual Values goes live. You're going to want to tune into this week's piece; I've got something special planned. Source: Pokémon Official Site
  9. Welcome to the seventh 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. __________________________________________ What Comes Next? Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire have been out for a little over two months now. The hardcore Pokémaniacs out there have probably put a sizeable dent into their copies of the game, if not finished them completely. As we saw during the recent Nintendo Direct, there“s a new spin-off game coming called Pokémon Shuffle. And Nintendo surprised us all by revealing #720 Hoopa shortly after the Direct. It“s clear that the Pokémon Company isn“t resting on its laurels, by any means. But right now, months before any given E3 anticipation or what have you, I“ve decided to ask of you GP faithful: What do you think will be next for the mainline Pokémon series? Will they release downloadable content for Pokémon ORAS? Will Pokemon Z be a thing? Are we going to see something besides a Pokkén Tournament reveal in June? Will there be a whole batch of Pokémon series amiibos that take the world by storm? There are so many questions. Game Freak has always said that they want to surprise fans with each of their new reveals, and go beyond the expected outcome. That“s why, for the first time ever (especially given that so many Legendaries are available in ORAS), I“m honestly anticipating some sort of DLC for ORAS that gives players access to special Pokémon, like Mew. Does anyone remember the Old Sea Chart Event Item from Pokémon Emerald? Given the bite-sized nature of The Delta Episode (a first for the series), does a possible “Echo Episode” seem too unrealistic to expect? My “dream DLC” for ORAS would probably be a full revival of the Battle Frontier from Pokémon Emerald that includes the Old Sea Chart as a way to draw in people on the fence about DLC. Might people be able to live their dreams of exploring other regions outside of Hoenn by way of DLC? Next week, we“ll talk all about spin-off games (especially since I“m still playing Pokémon Pinball Ruby & Sapphire, and I know a million and one people want to see a return to Pokémon Snap). But for now, consider all the questions I“ve asked. What do you think is next for Pokémon, in terms of the mainline games? What would your dream DLC feature? Do you even think DLC for Pokémon games is a good idea? Be sure to let us know below!
  10. The Pokémon Company has begun a global distribution of unique starters from the Unova region as of late yesterday (Serperior). The other two (Emboar and Samurott, respectively) will be made available in the coming weeks. But what's so special about that? Can't you already obtain a Unova starter after beating the Elite 4 two or three times? Indeed you can. Besides Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle who are available in Pokémon X&Y, you have a chance to grab one of every region's starter Pokémon throughout your ORAS journey. What makes these distributed Pokémon unique is that they each have their Hidden Ability, which wasn't available prior to these Event Pokémon going out. Instead of Overgrow, this special Serperior has Contrary, an Ability that makes moves like Growl/Leer increase the affected stat instead of decrease it. To obtain these special Pokémon in North America or wherever you happen to reside, all you'll need is a reliable Internet connection and the "secret code(s)". These codes will be widely available as each Pokémon's distribution goes live across the globe. Serperior's code is POKEMON497. Select Mystery Gift on your copy of Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire from the title screen, then Receive Gift, then Get With Code and enter that one in. The code for Reckless Emboar will be available next week when that distribution begins, and Shell Armor Samurott's code can be found in next month's Pokémon Trainer Club newsletter. Be sure to sign up by January 31st, 2015 if you don't already have a Pokémon Trainer Club account! For more information on these rare Pokémon, be sure to check out the official site!
  11. Shortly after yesterday's Nintendo Direct, the Pokémon Company snuck in the official reveal of a brand new Pokémon, Hoopa! This Pokémon, like many others in the games, cannot be encountered through normal gameplay. The Pokémon ORAS official website has more information about Hoopa's characteristics, but here's the big reveal trailer! Nintendo hasn't announced the means of Hoopa's distribution yet, but I imagine (like Diancie before it) select retailers like GameStop in North America will eventually have codes to grab. Stay tuned for more information on that as it comes! I actually briefly mentioned Hoopa in my most recent Individual Values piece, a weekly Pokémon feature I write here on Game Podunk. Check it out!
  12. Welcome to the 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 morning. ---------------------------- Region Locked A question one of our members asked over Twitter got me thinking: ORAS players: When did the game grab you? I've never played the original, and I'm finding Hoenn a bit... boring. Just as we can contemplate the best and worst Pokémon designs (and why we feel that way about them), so too can we contemplate the best regions. What makes the environment of any given Pokémon game work for you, personally? Is what makes a particular region great determined by the variety of Pokémon you“re able to see and capture, by the major characters/antagonists you meet, or by the symbiotic relationship between the game“s music and visuals that bring the place (like Hoenn) to life? Does an audio/visual overhaul like the one presented in Pokémon ORAS change your opinion of Hoenn as a region? There are so many questions. I“d love to hear your thoughts! For the longest time, my answer to the region question would have been Johto, especially as it“s presented in the remakes HeartGold & SoulSilver. As many may know, Gold, Silver, and Crystal are direct sequels to the first Pokémon game. So Johto itself was kind of made from Kanto“s flesh, so to speak. New elements of the world (like the Ruins of Alph, the story of Ho-Oh and the Legendary Beasts and more) sought to bring new or further explained mythology to the Pokémon universe that was targeted towards those who played the first game. But the new stuff was separated enough so that brand new players could enjoy the story/environment just as much as returning ones. Johto featured many brand new Pokémon (as well as the revolutionary [for its time] day and night cycle), but many returning species as well. Everything about the Johto region, even prior to the remakes, focused on simple expansion on what most players already knew, versus exploring this brand new place. It let returners explore a new spot while still embracing original comforts. And it let newcomers know what they missed from the previous game, too—especially since Gold, Silver and Crystal eventually let you explore the first game“s Kanto region as well. The remakes only made the experience better, with lead Pokémon being able to follow behind you, and further story regarding Ho-Oh, Luigi, and even Celebi/Giovanni for those fortunate enough to grab the Event Pokémon when Gamestop distributed it. No region has done what Johto did (tell a new story and build a new world based completely on elements of the old one) since. But... the Kalos region (from Pokémon X & Y) has knocked Johto from its throne, in my eyes. Thanks to the Nintendo 3DS allowing for the best visual and audio experience the franchise had to offer, I truly felt this particular world come to life like no other. Everything was so colorful! Its citizens were all customizable, and were in love with fashion and style as a result of that. The soundtrack, whether we“re talking battle themes or the fanfare for the infamous Professor Sycamore, did everything it possibly could to compliment the world. And, of course (even right down to the return of Mewtwo), the Kalos region features a vast assortment of Pokémon both brand new and from all five previous regions. So, there are my answers. For the longest time, Johto...and currently, Kalos! What are some of yours? Why do you feel the way you do? Be sure to let me know!
  13. Developer: Game Freak Publisher: Nintendo Platforms: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: November 21st, 2014 ESRB Rating: E Official Website Note: This review is based on the Omega Ruby version of the game. While there are minor differences in each (such as exclusive Pokemon), most of the core game is the same. When Pokémon X&Y were released globally last October, over twelve million people experienced the franchise“s next big overhaul. An engine introduced in Pokémon Black & White that merely dabbled in three-dimensional environments was upgraded to give players a full range of motion, offer an entire new world to explore in full 3D, and more. Given the Game Boy Color remakes, HeartGold & SoulSilver, I wasn't entirely surprised when The Pokémon Company announced that fans would be returning to Hoenn after more than ten years. As many know, my roots with the series run deep. That doesn't mean Pokémon is beyond criticism for me, though. I thought Pokémon Black 2 & White 2 were a collective atrocity, and I“ve seen numerous flaws across all the games as I“ve played them...including Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald. But reviewing a remake isn“t about resurfacing the flaws of a game released in 2003. Without further ado, here“s everything that makes Pokémon Omega Ruby new and noteworthy. Much like Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver, the new take on Hoenn will give those who played the original games a good sense of how far the series has advanced, in terms of graphics and sound, in the past eleven years. Players returning to the series for the first time with Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire will come to appreciate the nuances that made Pokémon X&Y great (to many), including returning features like Pokémon Aime, Super Training and more that are available almost right from the start. Meanwhile, players fresh off the Kalos experience will note that not a whole lot“s changed in a year, and they“ll probably yearn to customize their trainer like they could in X&Y (but cannot in these new games). The graphics themselves haven“t changed much. But they do seem more polished, and little touches to in-game animations (whether we“re talking about the fact that Brendan can stand perfectly still if you stop mid-sneaking, the various Wingull or Swablu flying around as you enter various spots in the game) help me to praise the graphics versus calling them “more of the same”. Far more praiseworthy, in my opinion, is the soundtrack. Almost every single re-imagined track in the game is a vast improvement over the original version. But there are brand new tracks as well! And those are simply amazing... and mostly not heard until close to the end of the game, unfortunately. Gameplay is also very much what you remember. Catch Pokémon, trade Pokémon (online!), defeat the gym leaders, and save the world. No glorious leaps are made in terms of story. The original plot is simply embellished to suit the brand new world, not re-imagined in any way. Ah, but there is an original, brand new story that happens after you've completed the main game for the first time. The Delta Episode is certainly worth praising, but unfortunately I can“t talk about it much without spoiling. There“s a Legendary Pokémon, and you jump on its back and go into freaking space. That“s why I“m giving it its own mention. The Delta Episode isn“t the only thing (beyond presentation) that sets the remake apart from the originals. Numerous (brand new) features exist that are all praise-worthy and will add countless hours onto your Pokémon journey. There are contests (with Mega Evolutions and cosplaying Pikachus), Super Secret Bases (where you can effectively become a gym leader and challenge your friends and strangers to beat your team, seamlessly and effortlessly), and more. But the feature that I“m the most impressed by (and this is by a long shot) is the DexNav, something that epitomizes how Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire centralizes the focus on actually “catching them all” unlike ever before. Longtime fans of Pokémon are all-too-familiar with the concept of wandering around tall-grass for hours, initiating random battles and praying for that 5% encounter rate with the rarest Pokémon of any particular area of the game. What the DexNav does is nixes that process entirely in favor of sneaking up on that super-rare Pokémon when it pokes its head out of the grass. You hear its cry—so series veterans know that“s the one, and newcomers will know it“s a Pokémon they“ve not yet heard before. The obscene encounter-rate of Ruby & Sapphire has been lowered to accommodate sneaking up on Pokémon without being interrupted, whether in water or on land. The app itself, on the bottom screen, will even start to reveal Level, Ability, moves, and overall potential of these Wild Pokémon before you encounter them, if you've run into a ton of them throughout your journey. And most importantly, after you've caught the Pokémon you“re looking for—if you“re looking for another, you don“t have to wander around forever. Just hit “Search” on the DexNav app, and it prompts another critter just like it to poke its head out of the grass, for prime sneaking and seamless enjoyment. The DexNav isn“t the only way these remakes promote completing the entire Pokédex. Before you've even entered Victory Road to go about finishing the game for the very first time, you“re given the ability to fly freely throughout the entire Hoenn region, like navigating an airship in Final Fantasy games. You can“t land anywhere you want, but there are very few restrictions in place, and it makes for some interesting, brand new areas to explore. And these brand new areas, when certain conditions are met, feature Pokémon not native to the Hoenn region and over twenty-five legendaries from every single game in the series. Will you become the Pokémon League Champion after saving the world, or focus on completing your Pokédex? For the first time in series history, the choice is yours. That very high praise aside, Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire aren't without their flaws. The game itself remains remarkably easy. Even without the aid of various grind-relieving tools like the Experience Share, you“re still bound to be perpetually over-leveled. The game features an unprecedented level of exploration, but I think it comes at the cost of almost negating difficulty entirely. Most who complained about the (lack of) difficulty in the previous games will have the same exact complaints with this game, if not even more. And those returning to the series for the first time will wonder if the games were always this easy. Still, as a whole, the same old Hoenn features an all-new look, an absolutely amazing soundtrack that (mostly) improves upon the tunes of old, and most importantly... what seems to be a brand-new direction for the series. If Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are the stepping stones to the next brand new Pokémon experience, I couldn't be more excited for what comes next. Pros: + The exclusive DexNav app absolutely revolutionizes searching for Pokémon. + All your favorite online features from Pokémon X&Y are back, and the game's new features are all praiseworthy, too. + For those interested in life after the main story, there is a plethora of post-game content. + The game's presentation breathes new life into a world many already know, leaving veterans refreshed and newcomers captivated. Cons: - Still far too easy. Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic If Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are the stepping stones to the next brand new Pokémon experience, I couldn't be more excited for what comes next. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a retail copy purchased by the writer.