Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pokémon: Ultra Deluxe Addition

Once again, Game Freak found a way to sneak in a big announcement. What started as an announcement for a new Pokémon Direct escalated in some pretty big news. But rather than me just talk about it, go ahead and watch the trailer:
 


I've talked about this before, but I adore the more human-based trailers. In a sense, it makes the Pokémon journey feel more real. But putting all that sappiness aside, the trailer revealed two new titles: Pokkén Tournament Deluxe and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Later during the Direct, there was also the announcement that Pokémon Gold and Silver are coming to the 3DS Virtual Console. So yeah, pretty hefty stuff. But what's my take in all this?


Let's start off with Pokkén Tournament Deluxe! Not gonna lie, I am a bit salty I bought the first one a little over a year ago. This happened when I first got Marvel vs. Capcom 3, only for Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 to be released later that year! Granted, this is a bit further out so the sting's not as bad. This title brings in four Pokémon that were included in later iterations of the arcade version. That would have been cool enough, but they also bring in Decidueye to the fray! New Support Pokémon seem to also be confirmed -- Litten appears as a support in some screenshots. It is a shame that Greninja didn't make the cut, but it's understandable they want to focus on the latest Pokémon. Most likely, I'll check it out -- I did have fun with the original Pokkén. One thing to note is that this is the second "Deluxe" title after Mario Kart 8. It's possible that we might see more updated Wii U games make their way to the Switch. Smash Bros Deluxe announced for E3? If it is, you heard it here first.


Up next: Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon! Ignoring the clamoring for a Diamond and Pearl remake (which I'm all for, but am willing to wait for), I'm pretty hyped for these titles. As you can tell from the new legendary forms, they take a page from Black and White 2's book. It's unknown whether it's an enhanced version of Solgaleo and Lunala or Necrozma, but it appears to be some sort of fusion similar to how Kyurem fused with Zekrom and Reshiram. The Direct mentioned that this is "an alternate story in the world of Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon," so it's more of a "third version" rather than a direct sequel. It'll be interesting to see where the story goes, but one big question remains: Will there be new Alola-form Pokémon?! Honestly, it'd be cool to get some Alola-form creatures beyond Gen 1.


Finally, we have Gold and Silver announced for the 3DS Virtual Console. If you followed me on Snapchat, again I want to apologize for all the screaming. As Johto is my favorite region, you know I was all up on this! Pokémon Bank compatibility was also announced for these titles, so the transfer mechanics to Sun and Moon should be the same as Red and Blue. This means there's an opportunity to get more Hidden Ability Pokémon (can you say Regenerator Ho-oh?). These games also allowed you to glitch for items and Pokémon eggs, so that'll be fun to mess around with.

I can see why other fans wouldn't be. After all, these aren't new titles per say -- they're enhancements of previous games. Still, I am excited for these games and know that I'll at least have fun with them.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Challenging Return to Competitve Battling

A new generation, a new competition. As you can probably tell, things have been pretty busy. My last post was 16 days before Sun and Moon came out! But that's life. Between work, family, paying bills, and everything else in this overrated thing called "adulthood", I haven't had time to keep up with this blog. And likewise, I haven't been able to keep up with competitive battling. It's certainly been a while, and I was itching for a fight! Luckily, the announcement of the February International Challenge gave me an opportunity to use Scratch! The International Challenge also follows VGC 2017 rules, so this served as perfect practice for upcoming live events.


McGonagall, Ivan Ooze, Soos, Ariel, Bullseye, and Magneto are ready to battle!

The team originally was about allowing Pheremosa to sweep, but I decided to drop her and instead focused on defense. Besides, Tapu Lele provided more than enough offensive pressure! As Mudsdale, Alola Muk, and Gastrodon are tough to break through, I added Magnezone and Alola Persian for additional disruption. This proved a lot more successful than I anticipated, but there are a few kinks I'd like to address.

Remember how I had that thing called adulthood? Well, turns out it also gets in the way of training a proper team. Thanks to a few matches on Pokémon Showdown, I knew essentially what I wanted to use. But ... breeding takes time. Luckily, my coworkers didn't judge when I pulled out my 3DS during lunch. After finally wrapping up prep work on Saturday, my first few matches went great! I pretty much executed on every Parting Shot, Knock Off, and Scattered Psyche to earn commanding victories.

It was a roaring good time!

With strong wins, I was confident ... a bit too confident. Just as much as I swept opponents, I got swept back. It was clear both Garchomp and Kartana caused quite a bit of trouble. I had ways to deal with them individually, but it was difficult fighting them together. A single misplay usually cost me the game. There are always exceptions, however.



Besides defeating a Garchomp + Kartana combo, there were other things that made me proud of this team. Trick Room, for instance, wasn't too threatening since most of my team was slow. In fact, I often outsped some Trick Room threats, which surprised some opponents. At times, opponents would also miss the fact my Magnezone was carrying an Air Balloon, so they'd tirelessly spam Earthquake to no effect. Rain teams without a Grass-Type didn't pose much of a challenge either -- it was easy to bring in Gastrodon and disrupt an opponent's momentum. There's no greater feeling than Gastrodon coming in on a Hydro Vortex. Learning from my matches on Showdown certainly helped.

The face when you waste your Z-Move.

But there was still plenty of learning to follow! Extra coverage moves Pokémon had were the bane of my existence. For instance, Alola Ninetales will often carry Freeze Dry to hit Pelipper hard. This also means that Gastrodon can get hit hard. Furthermore, some Pokémon like Bewear would have interesting item choices like Choice Scarf which caught me completely off guard. And don't get me started on the Oricorio + Lilligant combos. The fact you can get off three attacks between two Pokémon in one turn makes zero sense! Not gonna lie, still a bit salty about that. But, now I know the full effects of Dancer and that it allows Oricorio to use BOTH Petal Dance and Air Slash in the same turn. Hopefully I can find a good way to discourage it.
Don't be fooled -- this thing's a jerk!

For the limited prep time I had, I gladly walked away with a 25-19 record (and that one disconnect). While I wish I could have gotten a stronger win record, I learned a lot about the meta game and am feeling much more confident about future competitions. Once I reaccess the team and modify it a bit, I know I can get a better record the next time around! Besides, anything's possible when you put your mind to it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Starting Off on the Right Foot

Sixteen. Only 16 days till Sun and Moon. We're almost there, guys. I've already decided my version (Sun, cause sun kitty), but there's still an important decision to make. I usually wait until the final evolutions have been revealed, and that happened officially last week. So, one question remains: Who will my starter be?

Decidueye, Incineroar, and Primarina say aloha! ... I mean "alola."


Let's start with Decidueye -- which is by far the hardest name to pronounce for a starter. Grass/Ghost isn't a unique type thanks to Trevenant and Gourgeist, but its design is a unique interpretation. Not gonna lie, I'm really digging the archer theme. Although, it's a bit weird that Rowlet and Dartrix didn't have much of this theme present. I guess they can throw their feathers like darts? Eh, missed the mark for me. Anyways, Decidueye's hoodie gives it a Robin Hood-esque feel, but I wasn't a fan of the drawstrings -- it looks like a middle school emo kid when it uses them.

Rowlet, Dartrix, and Decidueye.

Hands down, though, Spirit Shackle's the coolest  of the starter signature moves. An attack that works like Shadow Tag? Yes please! I hope Decidueye has the base stats to handle competitive play -- this move would be so helpful!


The spirit's shackle you!


Next up, we got Incineroar. Name sounds like a spicy cinnamon bun. I'd imagine an "Incineroar" would be a cinnamon roll from Cinnabon with jalapeños on top -- a true gimmick. And likewise, Incineroar's design feels like a gimmick. Sure, there are evolutions like Dragonair to Dragonite that don't make sense, but I feel Incineroar's way too far of a stretch from Litten and Torracat. It's a total shame -- Torracat's design looked so promising!

Litten, Torracat, and Incineroar.

And before you ask, it's not a Fire/Fighting-Type. Game Freak must have realized they accidentally created another Fire/Fighting starter and changed its type to appease people. It worked ... almost. But yeah, this Fire/Dark-Type even has a signature move that screams fighting! The transition from two normal-looking cats to a macho wrestling cat-man hybrid doesn't make me a fan of Incineroar. 
Twirling, twirling towards freedom!

Finally, we got Primarina. Primarina was the opposite of Incineroar for me. Unlike Torracat, I wasn't a fan of Brionne because of how gendered it was. Brionne seems to be based on a female Japanese pop star -- which is odd considering starter Pokémon have a 75:25 male-to-female gender ratio. Primarina's design carries this gendered look over as well. Pokémon like Machamp and Gardevoir haven't bothered me in the past, but it's weird a starter would look more like one gender over another. That being said, I applaud Primarina's line for being consistent throughout. Popplio was actually my first choice, and it's cool to see the theme of being a performer translated in its evolutions. Granted, the type of performer changes, but I could imagine a Primarina putting on a show with Popplios and Brionnes backing it up. Take note, Misty.

Popplio, Brionne, and Primarina.
Water/Fairy's an effective type, but Primarina's signature move is meh. Wouldn't healing your opponent's burn with an attack help them? Unless if it doubles the damage, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

This came up when I searched "Sparkling Aria." Will this heal burns?

So, for my decision. Drum roll please ...





Yep, two! (Sorry, Incineroar). This is the first time I decided to go with two starters in my playthrough. I feel both Decidueye and Primarina bring a unique flavor to the game, and I'm excited to try them out. Hopefully, 16 days will be enough to learn how to say Decidueye. Is there emphasis on the "I" or "eye"?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It's Go Time!

Right before I started typing, a Clefairy popped up on my radar. Good news, I caught it.

 
As you can tell, Pokémon Go has been pretty much been top of mind as of late. Not just in my life -- the whole world seems to be playing! I remember when it was first announced and knew Pokémon fans would be all over it. But never would I imagine Pokémon Go would have this much of an impact in little over a week.

Y'all have seen the news coverage, the promotions from small businesses and big corporations, and the Snapchat stories of people ranting and raving. But what really inspires me is how much appeal this game has for fans and non-fans alike. The day right after Go came out, I got in the office pretty early -- two of my coworkers walked over to show me their collection. One of them had never played a Pokémon game before, so it was really cool to relive the sheer joy of discovering Pokémon through a new player's perspective. Soon, the office started a chat group and organizing Pokémon hunts during our lunch break. Pretty much everyone got into it -- even my manager! Even if she didn't know its name, she was pretty pumped to catch a Weezing.

You hear that, Weezing? Someone likes you!

Pokémon Go honestly brought me back to my VGC days. Oftentimes, you'll start chatting up with random strangers on these Pokémon hunts. On our second visit to the Capital, we helped a couple of trainers find a Pikachu. A few days later, I talked to a gentleman about a Squirtle he caught, gave some tips to a lady about what to do with all her Zubat candy, and pointed a couple to a Bulbasaur at Walmart. These are people who, under any other circumstance, I might have not said hi to. There's something magical about how a simple game can bring so many people together.

You can talk about the cool AR features and how revolutionary this game is -- it's all good. But the appeal of Pokémon Go for me is the same appeal as any other Pokémon game. It's a shared experience -- something that breaks down barriers and can be understood in any language. Pokémon Go just breaks down that barrier even further. So whether repping Team Mystic (like your boy Smiles), Valor, or Instinct, go out there and make new friends! After all, that's what Pokémon's about.

Pokémon Go with the Pokémon Bros.


  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Setting Sails for Gen 7

Alright, so we all pretty much know the big news. Earlier this year, Pokémon announced Sun and Moon for the 3DS. New generation on the 20th anniversary -- it's going to be big. Now, we know who the starters are:

Who will you choose?
 It was a pretty fun day at the office talking about who we'd pick. Even non-Pokémon fans weighed in! I got texts from friends, Twitter was in a frenzy -- it was definitely a sunny day. But you know what I'm pumped for? Grab a box of tissues and watch this:


YES! Pokémon tugged at the heartstrings with their Super Bowl ad, but even that pales in comparison to this. If they were trying to make me bawl like a baby, mission accomplished. A story about connecting with new friends and strengthen relationships is one that truly resonates with me. Three years back, I ended up buying X and Y because I knew friends were going to play it. Yeah, I went on for months about how they were "ruining Pokémon", but you know what? That's ridiculous! At its core, Pokémon is about connecting with a community.

Since X and Y, I've met new Pokémon fans, and I know these two versions will introduce me to plenty more. Like the boy who moved to Hawaii, I hope to share this journey together. Can't wait to say aloha to Sun and Moon!

It's a whole new world we live in.
  

Saturday, April 2, 2016

King of the Poké Fist Tournament

Yeah, I know it's been two weeks since Pokkén's been out and I'm very late on this. What can you do when the real world beckons you? It's crazy -- I remember writing about this two years back when it was first announced. I never would have imagined it ending up like this. Pokkén in a sense is an attempt to create live-action Pokémon battles. Or, that's what I thought at first.

To put it simply, Pokkén's chaotic. The core gameplay switches between two phases: Field and Duel Phase. Field Phase has you fight in a 3rd-person view while Duel pits you in a more traditional fighter like Street Fighter. It's not time or rounds that switch you between the two phases -- it's by hitting your opponent with certain moves. Crazy right? This was the first time I had to sit through the tutorial before I could grasp the gameplay!
Changing between Field and Duel Phase becomes easier over time.
Once you get the hang of things though, the gameplay's pretty simple. Similar to Smash Bros, attacks are usually a button inputted with a direction, so there's no real complex combo system.

This simplicity translates to the overall gameplay. My girl Chandelure pretty much crushed the competition by just barraging the opponent with a flurry of attacks. Early on, you'll realize that the best strategy is to wail on the opponent until you win.

Of course, what's a game without customizable outfits! I look pretty spiffy if I do say so myself.
 
Back at it again with the white vest!

I enjoy that Pokkén doesn't take itself seriously. Like I mentioned, you mash buttons to win. But the battle animations -- they're absolutely ridiculous! Just witness all the anime flair!

Anime!
 
ANIME!!

ANIME x 1,000!!!!
Even the assists are crazy. Farfetch'd didn't make it in as I hoped, but he shares the same honor of being an assist like Reshiram and Yveltal. And a clever nod to Sejun Park -- Pachirisu knows Follow Me!

Pokémon legends.
When Pokkén was first announced, I thought of it as a serious game. Instead, we got a goofy, over-the-top fighter, and I couldn't be happier! Many games, especially fighting games, try to take themselves seriously. Pokkén Tournament is a breath of fresh air for those who want to, well, just have fun!

Monday, February 8, 2016

I Can Do That

Exhausted after a long week, I almost didn't make the three-hour trek home. I had everything packed and ready to go, but paused momentarily at the door. It would have been easy to take it easy and rest up for the weekend, but I quickly dismissed the thought -- I could do it. I could make the drive. Besides, it was the least I could do for my parents. As expected, my mom was thrilled to see me for her birthday (which coincidentally is the day Mewtwo was born).

My mom and Mewtwo aren't related.
The following day was also a big day -- the Super Bowl. The game was more background noise for me, but there was one commercial I wanted to watch. I've already seen it, but I wanted to see my folks' reaction. After all, they were the ones who allowed me to go on this crazy Pokémon journey in the first place.

The 20th anniversary commercial made its TV premiere, and it was everything I knew it would be. Inspiring, motivational, uplifting -- judging from my mom and dad's reaction, it seemed to have captured their imagination. Of course, my dad and brother made some small quips about our past VGC days, but it was all in good fun.

What resonated with us was the phrase "I can do that." I remember saying something similar to myself when I started the drive home. I remember saying something similar whenever I have a ton of assignments and try to squeeze one more in. Heck, I'm saying it right now as I type this up, trying to stop myself from falling asleep on the keyboard! Everyone in the commercial saw someone do the impossible and challenged themselves to accomplish greatness for themselves. That's how I felt at least, so I wanted to share that with my parents.

So, in the spirit of Pokémon's 20th anniversary, I'm going to train on. That means making new posts, as opposed to the one last year. That means getting out there to face new challenges. That means pushing my limits even further to achieve new goals. It's a huge commitment, but I'm ready to be the very best like no one ever was. Soon, I'll change "I can do that" to "I did do that."


Let's make this year one to remember, trainers!