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A Farewell to Pokemon October 15, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in DS, entertainment, Nintendo, Pokemon.
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We were out shopping on Sunday.  For some reason my wife asked me to come along and for equally inexplicable reasons I said yes.  I do not like wandering around the mall “shopping” and begin to behave like an 8 year old in making up games and distractions to pass the time.  This, in turn, annoys the crap out of my long-suffering wife, so clearly neither of us was thinking straight on this call.

But as we made our way through the electronics section of Target, my daughter went over to the Nintendo section and spotted the new Pokemon X and Y games.

Pokemon X and Y

Pokemon X and Y

She actually seemed both surprised and excited to see a new Pokemon game out.  I knew it had shipped.  I still get email updates from Nintendo and was aware that the new games were releasing world wide this past Saturday.  I just hadn’t said (or written) anything about it.  (Keen and Graev have some posts about the new games.)  But I have to admit I have been interested in the game.

Pokemon used to be one of our things.

My daughter was attracted to the game a long ways back, when we saw a Nintendo DS on display at a store with Pokemon loaded up.  It was colorful, the basic functions were immediately comprehensible to her, and the idea of capturing little pets and making them battle held an attraction for her.  She was into bugs and dinosaurs and animals when she was that age. (Now, however, she screams bloody murder if there is a moth in the shower with her.)

Of course to play Pokemon you had to buy the hardware, a Nintendo DS.  That was the stopping point, until we were about to go on a trip and my wife gave me the mandate to go buy one to keep our daughter entertained on the plane for five hours.  So I went out and bought a pink Nintendo DS Lite along with LEGO Star Wars, Mario Party DS, and Pokemon Diamond.

I could have skipped the first two.  We spent the whole trip playing Pokemon.  My daughter was in kindergarten at the time and needed help reading some of the text in the game… this was before she had been trained by World of Warcraft to skip all quest text… so I spent a chunk of that time reading the game text aloud to her.  That was a bit of a chore for me, but got her motivated to read.

The game was such a success that a couple of months later my wife bought me a cobalt blue Nintendo DS Lite and my own copy of Pokemon Diamond and we were off.

We played through that together, went on to Pokemon Platinum, and really hit our peak during Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver.  We were wearing out Pokewalkers everywhere (and cheating a bit using physics and LEGO).  There were mishaps and tragedies and meddling cats, but we were into it.  We went to the Pokemon regional championships, played with Pokemon Ranch, and in went to the Pokemon Black and White tour when it showed up at a local mall.  I even caught ‘em all, nabbing all 493 Pokemon that were available in the series up to that point.

But then Pokemon Black and White came along and we were not quite as interested.  In part that was because we had played so much Pokemon up to that point.  We might have been a bit burned out having burned through all the predecessors on the DS, plus a couple of the GameBoy Advance versions, which also ran on the DS Lite.

Then there is also the fact that all Pokemon games are very much alike at some basic level.  You start out in the world as a youth, you meet some Pokemon expert, you get your first Pokemon, and you head out into the world to catch Pokemon, battle gym leaders, and eventually take on the regional champions, all while battling a rival and some oddly dressed organization bent on evil.  And all of it takes place in a world completely obsessed with Pokemon and where all conflict is resolved by Pokemon battles.

After a few runs through that, you might get a little tired of it.

And then there are the special features each game brings to the table.  My daughter and I used to enjoy playing together in the underground in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum.  It was a shared environment you could link up in on WiFi.  We were also fond of the Pokewalker and the way your lead Pokemon would walk around with you in HeartGold and SoulSilver.  In Black and White the key features were the graphics, which were improved, 150 new Pokemon (groan), and a lot of online WiFi connectivity (like Global Link) that did not really click with us.  Neither of us finished Black or White and we never bothered with Black 2 and White 2. (Which I still think were dumb names.)

Finally, there were just other distractions.  Other games to play, other things to do.  My daughter was growing up and little things like Pokemon were no longer quite so important.  So we have not been playing Pokemon for quite a while.  I would say that we are at least two years past the last time either of us played with any read drive.

But the memory of those times, of playing together, of figuring out where to go next, of catching and trading Pokemon, that all remains.  And I think some of that came rushing back to her when we were standing there at the counter looking at the new Pokemon.  She was gushing a bit when she asked, “Can we get it?”

I had to tell her we could not.

While Pokemon X and Y have the usual range of features and even a slick way to transfer your old Pokemon over to the new games via the internet (assuming you have them all in Pokemon Black or White) using a feature called Pokemon Bank, there was a problem.

Pokemon Bank - $5.00 a year

Pokemon Bank – $5.00 a year

Pokemon X and Y are the first versions of the main line of Pokemon games that are exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS generation of handheld gaming devices.  Our Nintendo DS Lites are now pretty much obsolete.  When Nintendo stops shipping Pokemon on a platform, it is done.

There certainly seems to be some hunger for a version of Pokemon on the 3DS platform.  It is on track to be a big seller, moving 4 million units on its first two days.  The top Pokemon games of all time are Pokemon Diamond and Pearl which together move nearly 18 million units.

My daughter had an immediate solution to this problem, which was to buy new hardware!

I have clearly failed to instill any sort of sense as to the value of money in my daughter.

I had to tell her that wasn’t going to happen either.  At least not right then.  Something like a Nintendo 3DS is a Christmas/Birthday present (or maybe a going on long trip present) and not something we just buy on a whim while at the store on a Sunday afternoon.  Even the more moderately priced Nintendo 2DS, about which I am a bit dubious given what I have read (turns out it has just one big LED panel for both screens), falls outside of the impulse buy price range in my opinion.

My daughter’s response was in the “Oh well” range of emotions.  She didn’t seem all that put out by it and I somehow doubt that a Nintendo 3DS is going to make it to her Christmas list.  And if it did, I think she is more interested in Animal Crossing: New Leaf than Pokemon.

So I suspect that we have had our time with Pokemon.

Pokemon Video Game 2012 Regional Championships – April 15 April 8, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in DS, entertainment, Nintendo, Pokemon.
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Pokemon.com has the information up for the Spring 2012 Pokemon Regional Championships.


Unlike last year, where the regional matches were part of a big Pokemon road show and occurred on consecutive weekends throughout Spring, this year the matches are being run by regional partners and are all taking place on the same day, April 15.

Locations and Times

In California, the nearest regional event is still close by my home, just across the bay in Pleasanton.

The Pleasanton event is being run by Second City Gym, which has details about the event on their own web site.  You can also pre-register for the event there to secure yourself a spot.

Links to information about other regional matches are available at Pokemon.com.

The US National Championships will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 30th – July 1st, 2012, and the World Championships will happen in Waikaloa, just up the road from Kona, on the big island of Hawaii on August 10th-12th, 2012.

Reshiram and Zekrom Download Event for Pokemon Black and White March 13, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in DS, entertainment, Nintendo, Pokemon.
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Pokemon.com has announced that Nintendo is offering a chance for owners of Pokemon Black and White to get the legendary Pokemon that is not available on each given game as part of the regular adventure.

Zekrom and Reshiram

The text of the announcement reads:

Add the Legendary Pokémon Reshiram or Zekrom to your game with a special distribution event beginning on March 10th and ending April 8th via the Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection service*! The Pokémon that you’ll receive into your copy of Pokémon Black Version or Pokémon White Version will be the Pokémon that is not available in that version during normal gameplay. So, you’ll receive Reshiram into your Pokémon White Version game and Zekrom into your Pokémon Black Version game.

These Legendary Pokémon are Level 100, and have moves that make them extremely powerful in battle. Plus, you’ll know they are special Pokémon because they come in a Cherish Ball and are adorned with a Wish Ribbon.

The opportunity to get these Legendary Pokémon won’t be around long, so don’t miss your chance to get Reshiram or Zekrom for your game!

*Wireless broadband access required for online features. For more info, go to support.nintendo.com.

What is boils down to is that for a limited time, if you have Pokemon Black, you can download the legendary Zekrom.

And if you have Pokemon White, you will be able to download the legendary Reshiram.

The downloads are available now.  I have downloaded Reshiram to my copy of Pokemon White already.

The event is slated to last from March 10th through April 8th, though as we saw with the Mewtwo download event, Nintendo some times changes their mind, so download yours sooner rather than later.

These special Reshiram and Zekrom also unlock a special in the Pokemon Dream World.

This is not an in-store event.  This download is only available via Nintendo WiFi.  Instructions are available here at Pokemon.com.

Pokemon Black and White Version 2 – Nintendo’s Least Creative Names? March 5, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in DS, entertainment, Nintendo, Pokemon.
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Nintendo has announced the next versions of the ever popular Pokemon franchise on their handheld game system.  They are to be, giving them their official names, Pokemon Black Version 2 and Pokemon White Version 2.  These two titles will be out in Japan by the summer and in Europe and North America some time in the fall.

More black and white Pokemon

This sort of breaks the pattern of Pokemon game releases that have gone before it.

Over the years, a pattern has evolved that Nintedo will release a pair of games, like Diamond and Pearl, each of which has some Pokemon not available on the other.  This is to encourage, depending on your level of cynicism, playing and trading with friends, buying both damn versions of the game, or boosting the sales of those cheat add-ons which some no doubt believe Nintendo secretly funds.

Then, in a year or so, Nintendo will launch a single, slightly revised version of the the two games, Pokemon Platinum in this example, which has all of the Pokemon from both Diamond and Pearl, so you can feel like a schnook for playing through both of the original games AND the new one.  Pokemon Emerald and Crystal were also examples of this sort of update.

And then Nintendo goes back to remake an older version of the game.  HeartGold and SoulSilver were remakes of Gold and Silver.  Remakes always get that modifier in the name it seems.  FireRed and LeafGreen were further examples of that.

Then, finally, Nintendo gets around to knocking out a new version of the game, which is where new Pokemon get introduced (and I have to think this is the tough part, putting together a batch of 150 new Pokemon that are balanced and useful and don’t seriously offend any cultures that buy a lot of these games) in a new land.

So really, while there have been about 20 Pokemon games (not the spin-offs, the classic Pokemon role playing games), there are only really five settings in which they take place and, honestly, one damn story played out over and over again, a young boy/girl sets out to defeat some oddly dressed bad guys and become the reigning champion in a world obsessed by Pokemon.

And while I sound cynical, the system has worked.  I have the games on the shelf to prove it, and the sales numbers do not lie.  Any year a classic Pokemon RPG title gets released, it is on the top 20 list for game sales that year, and often the next year as well.

So it is always a bit surprising when a company like Nintendo, which has been living off Mario for 30 years and Pokemon for the last 15, deviates from their traditional path, especially when such deviations often fail. (Compare Mario Party 8 sales to Wii Party… Mario Party with Miis versus Mario… and well, they are not that far apart actually, but Nintendo is still going back to tradition and Mario Party 9 will be the next version.)

I was expecting that single wrap up title to come out, to combine all of the Pokemon in Black and White with a name like… well, Gray isn’t a great plan I guess… maybe Pokemon Checkerboard?

Instead, we are getting two rework games with the continuation of exclusivity of Pokemon between the two and what have to be the worst name choices ever in the main Pokemon game line.  Version 2?  Really?

And even the main Pokemon in the game, the legendaries that you play through the whole game to catch, are on the lame name bandwagon.  Rather that two distinct yet unpronounceable names, we have Black Kyurem and White Kyurem.  And they appear to be basically the same Pokemon with just a different color scheme and a slightly different accessory kit.

There is not much out there… at least not in English… about the Black and White Version 2 story or new features that might get introduced, but at a high level it feels like the Pokemon team is running out of ideas.

I know, complaining that the latest two games feel repetitive when the whole series is, quite frankly, the same game retold nearly 20 times is silly, but it is like they aren’t even giving us the fig leaf so that we can pretend that this is something new.

In the end Nintendo will have to do more than merely crank up the repetitive dial another notch in order to keep this from being a best seller.  There are a lot of people out there who are mad for Pokemon.

And a new release will mean launch events and special downloads and all sorts of thing that I will no doubt participate in over the spring and summer.

And when fall comes, I am sure we will buy a copy of each game.  Because that is the way it works.

Mewtwo Available for Download from Nintendo February 12, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in DS, entertainment, Pokemon.
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As mentioned previously, Mewtwo is now available for download from Nintendo via Nintendo WiFi, and will remain so through March 6, 2012.  I downloaded mine already.

The Mighty Mewtwo

While the event is really just to bring attention to updates to the Pokemon Trading Card Game, those of us who only play the video game benefit.

The full instructions for the event are available at Pokemon.com, along with this information:

You’ll have a new opportunity to get the Legendary Mewtwo once again! Between February 12th and March 6th, you can receive Mewtwo in your Pokémon Black Version or Pokémon White Version game. Don’t miss this limited-time distribution event to get this amazing Pokémon via the Nintendo® Wi-Fi Connection service (wireless broadband Internet access required. For more info, go to support.nintendo.com).

When you take this Level 70 Mewtwo into battle, know that you have one of the strongest Pokémon ever. Its moves are powerful and well suited to take advantage of Mewtwo’s strengths and cover its weaknesses. Psystrike is a new signature move for Mewtwo that does damage depending on its opponent’s Defense. Ordinarily Mewtwo doesn’t learn Psystrike until Level 100, but this Mewtwo already has the powerful attack! Mewtwo also has Shadow Ball, a Ghost-type move that is super effective against the Ghost-type Pokémon that can cause problems for Psychic types. Mewtwo is also weak against Dark-type Pokémon, so its third attack, the Fighting-type move Aura Sphere, is a good counter to their attacks. Lastly, this special Mewtwo knows Electro Ball, a stunning Electric-type move that Mewtwo cannot normally learn!

When you get Mewtwo, it will be holding a King’s Rock, an item which occasionally makes its opponent flinch in battle. You can also give it to certain Pokémon and then trade them to make them evolve. Plus, Mewtwo comes with a Premier Ribbon, a special Ribbon that you can’t get through normal game play!

Mewtwo will be available via a Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection distribution event that runs from February 12th through March 6th.

A reminded, this is not an in-store event, but a download available over your local wireless internet connection to Pokemon Black or White only.  For instructions on setting up that connection, go to the US Nintendo support site.

Victini Available for Download Again Through Dec. 31 December 3, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in DS, entertainment, Nintendo, Pokemon.
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In celebration of the release of the Pokemon movie… erm… movies… you see there is Pokémon the Movie: Black—Victini and Reshiram and Pokémon the Movie: White—Victini and Zekrom… because that is the sort of forward thinking that got Nintendo where it is today… now where was I?

Oh, yes.

Because of… the movie thing… Nintendo is making Victini available for download via Nintendo WiFi again.

Victini - Fire and Psychic Pokemon

This Victini download is different from the previous one.  This Victini is higher level, has a special ability, and is the star of the 14th Pokemon movie (and only the second or third not to go straight to video).  This Victini also goes straight into your party.  There is no need to get the Liberty pass and go catch him.

The instructions on how to download Victini are available at the Pokemon Black & White web site.

Remember that this is NOT an in-store event, but a download you can do from any WiFi internet access point.

Meanwhile, there is still no official work from Nintedo on the next Pokemon game.

Augmented Reality Pokemon for the Nintendo 3DS October 4, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in DS, entertainment, Nintendo, Pokemon.
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Pokemon.com announced a while ago the release of a 3D Pokedex for Pokemon Black and White in the Nintendo eShop for use with, and only with, the Nintendo 3Ds.

That seemed to me a bit of a gimmick, though at least it was a freebie.  And people who bought 3DS units right away probably need all the support they can get, what with the short battery life and such.

But there was a more recent announcement about the 3D Pokedex, regarding the addition of augmented reality to the app.

This allows you to print out what they call and “AR Card,” place it at some real, physical location, such as on your kitchen table, and then, when you view that through the 3DS, the Pokemon whose AR Card you have appears to be there, on the table.

A Pokemon and its AR Card

Again, something of a gimmick in my mind.  People have played with this sort of thing.  Apparently, the side of the card you print out dictates how big the item will be when viewed, so there was a story over at Kotaku about people printing out poster sized cards to insert life-size Marios into the world.

Nintendo even has a poster sized AR Card that will let you view your Mii (yes, the 3DS has Miis) in full, human scale height.

Not having a 3DS as yet (call me when they get to the second generation… and only if they improve battery life) I do not know exactly what you can do, other than view the images and take pictures of them.  Though that might be enough.  I’d put a giant Mario next to my car for a photo op if I could.

But the Pokemon AR Cards also give you something else.

Use the AR Viewer in Pokédex 3D to view Pokémon projected into the real world! When you point the camera at these special Pokémon AR Markers, you’ll be able to see and take pictures of Pokémon in 3D. In most cases, when you view one of these Pokémon AR Markers you will increase your chances of receiving the Pokémon that you’ve scanned. But if you scan certain Legendary or Mythical Pokémon’s AR Markers, you will receive those Pokémon instantly!

Okay, you can only see Pokemon you already have.  And using the AR Card for ones you do not have will increase your chance of getting that Pokemon as part of a SpotPass.

But if you view a legendary or mythical Pokemon, and you do not have it, you will receive it immediately?

I hate to cry “welfare epics,” but isn’t stalking and catching those rare and elusive Pokemon part of the reason to play the game?

Okay, I suppose when the obsession is upon you, you will do many things to fill that Pokedex.  I know how that mania feels, and the lengths to which you will go to catch them all.

I can even go along with the SpotPass option, as it is one of the ways of getting Pokemon that are not in your version of the game. (Black and White each have their own exclusives.)

But handing out legendary Pokemon for printing out an AR Card?

That seems… hollow.

At least to me.

Yes, I have gotten my share of legendary Pokemon from download events.  But at least those were out of the house, limited time, go somewhere and see other Pokemon players activities.

Ah well, gotta sell those 3DS units somehow I suppose.  I bet some Pokemon fan is even now planning to buy a 3DS just to get the legendary Pokemon.

Zoroark Download Event Coming to Toys R Us! September 15, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in DS, entertainment, Nintendo, Pokemon.
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It has been somewhat quiet on the Pokemon front, with Pokemon Black and White being limited to WiFi downloads since the launch back in March and only the 2011 Pokemon World Championship Series in the news since.

However, Nintendo has a Pokemon movie going to DVD, and that is just the thing to get them to cough up a download event with a special Pokemon.

The movie in question is Zoroark: Master of Illusions, and so naturally Zoroark is the Pokemon available at the download event.

From September 18th through September 25th you will be able to download a special level 50 version of Zoroark at Toys R Us.  Find the details here.

Previously, the only way to get Zoroark was to have downloaded and transferred the three shiny legendary Pokemon from the Pokemon Black and White pre-release events.  If you missed that, you now have another opportunity to get Zoroark.

In addition, Pokemon.com is running a number of additional promotions to go along with the release of the movie to DVD, including a Win With Zoroark Sweepstakes that runs through the end of September.  The prizes include copies of the movie, but the grand prize is a Nintendo 3DS and a full suite of Pokemon Black and White games and accessories.


The download event is for Pokemon Black and White only.  All of the details are available at Pokemon.com.

History Display at the Nintendo World Store September 4, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in DS, entertainment, Nintendo.
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My wife and daughter had an opportunity to go visit New York City last month.  Thanks to plenty of points available to redeem on our credit card and a friend who was doing professional services work for a company in Manhattan, this was a low cost opportunity.  Points took care of the plane fare and they got to stay with the friend at a rather awesome location.

View from the Room

They got to spend a week there and did quite the range of tourist things.

At my behest, they stopped at the Nintendo World Store at Rockefeller Center.  It is the only Nintendo store in the US.

While there, my wife took pictures of a display case that had a variety of old Nintendo systems, which I thought I would post here.

Display Case #1

Display Case #2

Display Case #3

Display Case #4

Display Case #5

Display Case #6

I will say that, while the more recent GameBoy DS units are undoubtedly an advance over the past generations of Nintendo hand held devices, they aren’t as interesting to look at as some of the older units.

2011 Pokemon World Championships August 11, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in DS, entertainment, Nintendo, Pokemon.
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The final event of the Pokemon Video Championship Series kicks off tomorrow, August 12th, in San Diego.

Official Artwork of the Championship

Players from Europe, Japan, South Korea, and the US will compete for the world champion title.

In addition, the Pokemon Trading Card Game world championship, which includes considerably more countries, will be going on in parallel at the same venue down in San Diego.

If you are interested, information, standings, and updates can be found at the Pokemon World Championship Official site.