Daily Archives: May 10, 2010

Pokewalker Twinking

The title of this post has two words.  The second is “twinking.”

The definition of “twinking” varies, usually landing somewhere between “cheater” and “opportunist. ”  Generally though, in gaming, it is a term used to describe the action of using every resource available to boost the strength, power, level, or wealth of a character or other in-game player manifestation.  The resources in question are not always available to other players, which is when descriptions tend towards the cheating end of the spectrum.

The first word is “Pokewalker.”


The Pokewalker is a pedometer device that comes with Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver.  You carry the Pokewalker with you and it counts the number of steps you have taken.

So what.

So, through an IR port on the back of your Pokemon HeartGold or SoulSilver cartridge, you can move one of your pokemon into the Pokewalker and “take it for a walk.”  This does a few things.

First, it increases how much your pokemon likes you.  Some pokemon will only evolve if they are really devoted to you.  Your pokemon will also go up one level every day you walk a certain number of steps.  One level a day seems trivial until you get into the 40s or so, then it starts to feel pretty useful.

Second, you can gain “watts” by walking.  Every 20 steps the Pokewalker records, you gain a watt.  Watts are the currency of the Pokewalker.  You can do things on the Pokewalker by spending watts.  You also need to collect watts to open new routes.

Third, you can play the dousing game, which costs 3 watts a try.  This is a guessing game where you try to find an item.  The more steps you have taken on a given route, the better the item is likely to be.

Fourth, and probably most important, you can catch pokemon.  Each Pokewalker route has a certain set of pokemon which you can try to catch.  Each catching attempt, which is a little game itself, costs 10 watts.  To get the more rare pokemon on a given route, you need to have taken a lot of steps before start trying to catch them.  As noted in the Winner’s Path post, to get the two rare pokemon on that route, you need to take 8,000 steps and only THEN do you have a small chance of catching either of those pokemon.

More steps are better.  And more steps also unlock more routes and more pokemon to catch, with the final route opening up to you after the 1 million watt mark, or 20 million steps.  Measuring my own stride, each step is about 2 feet, which gets us past 7,500 miles of walking to be done to get that last Pokewalker route.

I do applaud Nintendo for adding the incentive to get out and exercise to their game.  And it has gotten my daughter to go out and walk some just to get a few more steps on the Pokewalker.  But some days we forget to bring it along when we go out, or we have other things going on, and 20 million steps is a lot to rack up.  So my mind moved to cheating twinking.

One of the first things I noticed about the Pokewalker is how liberal it is in what it views as a step.

I’ve been carrying my Pokewalker in my pocket every day.  I opted not to put on the optional belt clip accessory, as my daughter wanted that on her Pokewalker and I thought that would make the two of them easy to distinguish.

Sitting in my pocket, it registers most movement as steps.  Being somewhat fidgety when I’m concentrating (I do that whole leg shaking thing, bouncing my leg up and down while seated at my desk) I noticed I was racking up a lot of steps while seated.

So this past weekend, as we were watching my daughter play soccer and I was trying to figure out how to safely attach two Pokewalkers to her to capture all that running, I started thinking along a different line.  Could I make something that would move or shake the Pokewalker enough to simulate steps?

My mind immediately went to our many LEGO parts.  We have the electric motor set and I have used it to make a number of silly contraptions.  Could I make a Pokewalker device?

My initial plan was to make something along the lines of a trip hammer that would jolt or shake the Pokewalker to simulate steps.  My mind was fixed on that up and down motion.

However, working in the medium of classic LEGO (we don’t have any of the Mind Storm sets) made this difficult.  Various teeter-totter and rotating cam prototypes would work initially, but would quickly (and sometimes violently) tear themselves apart dealing with the weight of the Pokewalker.

Then I had my moment of inspiration.  I found that by merely rotating the Pokewalker, I would get a step recorded.  Rotation seemed a much easier solution to implement.

Of course, the first impulse was to spin that sucker as fast as possible.  Too fast, however, and the Pokewalker won’t record steps.  Eventually, through the use of different sized gears, I slowed the rotation down to a more sedate pace, but one which steadily recorded steps with each turn.

Once the prototype was proven, we spiffed it up a bit and set to work racking up steps at the rate of about 120 per minute.

Music provided by YouTube, since otherwise all you heard was the whine of the electric motor.

That lasted through Saturday, although a problem became quickly apparent.  We have two Pokewalkers.  Only one could be on the device at a time.  Bickering about whose turn it was ensued.

Sunday, we turned our thoughts to upgrading the device to spin two Pokewalkers at once.  Simple enough was my thought.

But then I forgot about the cast iron law of LEGO projects: You can have a million LEGO pieces, but you’ll always run out of the ones you need for your current project.  We have quite a deficiency when it comes to gears.  I eventually had to take apart the X-Wing kit that has survived intact (mostly) for nearly 3 years to get the gears that move the wings.

With those gears and a little tinkering, I was able to achieve the double Pokewalker spin.

Again, music provided by YouTube.

You can also see my daughter’s DS Lite in its giant pink Nerf brand protective shell.  I highly recommend that case.  It has saved her DS from many falls.  And there is also one of the LEGO part storage units as the background.

And while posting that video, I found that I was not alone.  Searching on Pokewalker cheat on YouTube brings up a whole list of videos about getting steps without actually going out for a walk.  But I don’t think any of them look quite as cool as out own machine.

I don’t think this will stop my daughter and I from going for walks, the thing is rather annoyingly loud if nothing else.  But we’ll probably unlock all the Pokewalker routes a lot sooner.  And she is quite keen to show our contraption off to her friends.