Category Archives: Nintendo DS Hardware

Moving to the Nintendo 2DS XL

My big Christmas gift this year from my wife was a Nintendo 2DS XL.  I mentioned this unit previously as it seemed an attractive addition to the Nintendo handheld family.

The 2DS XL

The word “New” in the “New Nintendo 2DS XL” indicates, in one of those confusing naming schemes, that the unit is part of the current generation of Nintendo 3DS hardware that includes several upgrades, including new controls, Amiibo support, and an upgraded CPU, the last being a key selling point for me. (Also, it should not be confused with the slab-like Nintendo 2DS, a different beast entirely.)

This unit replaced my old, first generation Nintendo 3DS XL.

The buttons I was missing on my older unit

The first of the “New” generation of 3DS hardware showed up on our shores back in 2015 and I have been eyeing them since the latest generations of the Pokemon series… and all I ever really played on my Nintendo handhelds over the years is Pokemon… started to seem like too much for the older processor.  Load times, scene transitions, and points during the story when there was a lot going happening on screen were noticeably slowed down.

This has actually been the case since Pokemon X & Y, so I started to consider the new hardware once it was announced, but really stuck out with Pokemon Sun & Moon.  However, my Pokemon playing tends to be a seasonal thing… I play for a few months, finish up the Pokedex, then stop until the bug hits me again or a new release shows up.

However, the new New 2DS XL seemed liked a good point to finally make the upgrade.  The 2DS XL has all the stuff of the “new” generation, lacking only one thing, 3D support and, frankly, 3D is a very minor gimmick with Pokemon titles.  The 3D slider on my 3DS XL was set to “off” probably in excess of 99% of the time.  Meanwhile the price of the 2DS XL was a good $50 less than the same generation 3DS XL.  For $50 I was quite willing to give up 3D support.  So it was on my wish list and showed up for Christmas.

Of course, once I had it I had to move everything from my old 3DS XL to the new 2DS XL.  Nintendo has a few options for that, one involving simply moving the SD card from the old unit to the new.  However, my old 3DS uses a standard size SD card while the “New” generation uses micro SD cards, so that swap wasn’t an option.

Furthermore, as I quickly found out, I had upgraded the SD card on my old unit to a 32GB model, the largest officially supported by Nintendo, and have used up a chunk of the space by purchasing a few titles, including the new Pokemon UltraMoon, from the online Nintendo shop, so they are stored locally rather than being on a cartridge.

The 2DS XL however not only had a micro SD card (SD card in my DS?), but the factory default size was a meager-in-2017 4GB in size.  I remember seeing my first 1GB hard drive back in 1990 and it was the size of a cinder block, so sometimes I have to check myself when I complain that 4GB is “small.”  Anyway, I had to order a 32GB micro SD for the 2DS XL.

Once that arrived I set it up and started the big transfer.  I decided to do it over Wifi because that seemed to require the least intervention on my part which meant, I hoped, the least chance of me screwing anything up.

There is a built-in process that allows you to do the transfer, you just have to setup the sending and receiving systems, get them in sync, and kick off the process.

The two units warming up…

The first attempt failed… though not because the time was an hour off on the units.  Something timed out on the first attempt and it punted the process.  However, on the second attempt things seemed to get connected correctly.

Of course, because it is Nintendo, there has to be a cute progress graphic.  In this one little people “build” the progress milestones.

Building our way to the 25% mark

After that seemed to be going, I went off to watch a movie with my wife.  Of course, because it the transfer was happening over Wifi and involved gigabytes of data it took a while, running out to the three hour mark easily.

Working on the 75% milestone a couple hours later

It is definitely a process you don’t want to sit around and watch or set in motion when you have a time constraint.  And clearly it is something to do with the power supply plugged in on both units.

In the end however, the transfer was successful.  All of my applications and user information was moved over successfully.  The process then wipes the old devices, so you don’t have double versions of things, and then you are done.

After that was done I finally got to try out the unit and I have mostly good things to say about it.

It is fast, noticeably so compared to the old unit, and is physically much lighter as well.  The screens are good, the case is easier to grip than the slick surface or the original design.  I really only have two gripes after using it for a couple weeks now.

First, and the more minor of the two, is the cartridge slot.  That slot has traditionally been uncovered and on the back of DS units since at least the Nintendo DS Lite.  On the 2DS XL it is on the front left of the unit under a very cheap feeling cover.  I suspect that if I changed cartridges often that the cover would break sooner rather than later.  It is really a flimsy piece on an otherwise solid unit.  Fortunately, I don’t swap cartridges all that often.

The second gripe is about the new stylus that comes with the unit, which is smaller than the one on the 3DS XL.  I have big hands, so it took me a while to get used to the old stylus.  Swapping that out for an even stubbier little stylus is a bit of a pain.  And given that this comes up in every review of the unit I’ve seen, I suspect I am hardly alone in being unhappy with this change.

Also, because even the old stylus is a bit small, I’ve lost a couple over the years, so I bought a bag of 20 replacements a while back which work with the new unit, but which do not fit into the stylus slot.  I can use my grandfather’s bottle opener strategy out on the farm, where he made sure there was one within reach of any place he might want to open a beer.  I have enough left in my supply to put one or two near any location where I play.  I just have to worry about them getting swept up or stolen by the cats.

Other than that I have found the unit to be an excellent replacement for my old 3DS XL and would recommend it as a possible path forward for anybody on the older hardware who didn’t care about the 3D feature.  It certainly satisfies my Pokemon playing needs.

Pokemon UltraSun and UltraMoon Launch Today

The latest entries in the long-running core Pokemon RPG series, Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon, go live today!

UltraSun & UltraMoon

Nintendo and GameFreak are returning players to Alola, the Hawaii-esque islands that previously served as the location for Pokemon Sun & Moon.

But, unlike some past generations, this won’t be a simple rework of the original story in Alola.  While the location and the basic range of Pokemon will be the same, there are new things afoot in the region for you to explore as GameFreak throws in a mix of names from past titles.  You will have a shot at catching some special Pokemon as all past legendaries be making an appearance (some on UltraSun, some in UltraMoon, because you know how it goes), so you can scoop up any you’re missing, if you are skilled and patient enough.

Legendaries from Titles Past

In addition to that they are even pulling past villains into the mix.  You will be faces with Team Rainbow Rocket, made up of the bosses from old foes such as Team Magma, Team Aqua, and Team Galactic.

The desultory Team Skull looks to be left out

Pokemon games are pretty much the only reason I own a Nintendo handheld.

However, I have not ordered either title yet.  I played a lot of Pokemon Sun earlier this year, completing the main story and running down the post-game activities as well as completing the Alola Pokedex.  But I am not feeling the Pokemon urge at the moment.

I am also a little worried about how well it will run on my original model Nintedo 3DS XL.  Pokemon Sun bogged down quite a bit on the older, slower hardware and I doubt that the new titles are going to be better, so I am waiting to see if that comes up as an issue with the new titles.

Still, I cannot wait too long.  As usual, Nintendo has some “buy now!” incentives, including giving players a master ball if they register themselves on Pokemon Global Link between today and January 29, 2018.  A master ball is guaranteed to catch even the most reluctant Pokemon in the wild.  You usually get one per game to catch an elusive legendary, but now you may have two.

Anyway, you can read more about it at the official Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon site.

 

Pokemon UltraSun and UltraMoon Coming plus Pokemon Gold and Silver on Virtual Console

Nintendo had a brief series of announcements early this morning.  The expected Pokemon Stars, rumored to be the first Pokemon title for the Nintendo Switch was not on the list.  Instead, the Switch gets its own version of Pokken Tournament.

On the Nintendo 3DS front, Nintendo announced that the next titles in the core Pokemon RPG cycle would be Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon, which will be available on November 17, 2017.

UltraSun and UltraMoon

These titles will feature a new story line in the Alola region and will allow players to capture Pokemon not available in the original Pokemon Sun & Moon games.

This development hearkens back to the Pokemon Black & White and Pokemon Black & White Version 2, where the same landscape was used to tell a second Pokemon story.

There was also a Virtual Console announcement.  As I predicted back in January, Nintendo is carrying on with the old school Nostalgia by bringing Pokemon Gold & Silver to the 3DS via the Virtual Console.

For the GameBoy Color

The second generation Pokemon games will be available on September 22, 2017 and will, like the Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow versions of last year, be Pokemon Bank compatible.  No word on Pokemon Crystal however.

Pokemon Gold and Silver

My wish for a return to Sinnoh via a remake of Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, & Platinum will have to wait for another year it seems, though I hold out hope that we will get there eventually.

As for whether or not the Nintendo Switch will take over the core Pokemon RPG game line, that seems to have been refuted,  Nintendo seems committed to the 3DS/2DS handheld consoles.

The New Nintendo 2DS XL

Gamers of all ages can play in style with the New Nintendo 2DS XL system. It gives you the power of the New Nintendo 3DS XL system in a streamlined, affordable package—and plays a huge library of games in 2D.

-Nintendo, The New 2DS XL page

If I were planning to buy a new Nintendo handheld system today (in order to play Pokemon of course), I would be all over Nintendo’s newly announced 2DS XL.

The new 2DS XL

This new unit, revealed this past Friday, would give me everything I wanted… the updated processing power of the revised 3DS XL that made it to North America in 2015 along with the additional controls… at a price $50 less than its sister unit.

The buttons I am missing on my older unit

Now the question is, what does this mean for 3D?  Is this Nintendo’s admission that 3D is dead?  It certainly never seemed like more than a gimmick to me.  Does the 3DS XL have much of a future?

At least it does seem to make the statement that the Switch isn’t going to take over for both the home console and handheld line.  Pokemon will remain on a small portable screen.

Anyway, it is a sharp looking unit and should be coming our way some time in July,

The Next Pokemon Release Will Be…

My guess is that the next Pokemon title will be a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl.

Pokemon Diamond & Pearl is where I joined Pokemon

And when I say “next Pokemon title” I mean the next release of the core RPG game that runs on the Nintendo handheld platform and not some subsidiary title riding on the Pokemon fame like Pokemon Snap or Pokken Tournament.

So why remake Pokemon Diamond & Pearl?

The core Pokemon franchise has been one of patterns over the years.  They are not always consistent, but they seem reliable enough to give one insight into what might come next.

The pattern started off with a release of a pair of titles… Red & Blue, Gold & Silver, Ruby & Sapphire, followed by a third title that represented a revision of the initial pair, respectively Yellow, Crystal, and Emerald.

Once Nintendo moved from the GameBoy and GameBoy Color to the GameBoy Advance and then the DS hardware, GameFreak used that as an opportunity to remake titles.  So Pokemon FireRed & LeafGreen, HeartGold & SoulSilver, and Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire came to be, reviving old locations and old foes (and already existing Pokemon) on new hardware with new features.

Having recently released a pair of titles set in a new location with new Pokemon being added to the Pokedex, it seems logical that the next title they go with will either be a remake of a past title or a third title to go with Pokemon Sun & Moon.

There are actually rumors of a Pokemon Stars out there, rumors that even I have heard, and I don’t pay much attention to much outside the official press releases for Pokemon. But that name sure fits the theme.

However, the rumors seem to be about this title coming to the Nintendo Switch as opposed to the 3DS platform.  If that is the case, it doesn’t count in my book.  Meanwhile, the whole “third title” pattern seems to be in decline.  The last true “third title” was Pokemon PlatinumPokemon Black & White got a Black & White Version 2, which stayed in the same region but which was a different story line, so that was sort-of a third (and fourth) title, but not in the spirit of past releases in that mold.  And then Pokemon X & Y, the first 3DS-only title, got no follow on third title, even though they had a Pokemon setup already for feature in a possible Pokemon Z.

Because of this, I think third titles might be out for now, which leaves a remake as an option.  So when I went to look for the oldest Pokemon generation that had yet to be remade, Pokemon Diamond & Pearl was the result.

Pokemon Diamond & Pearl seems about prime for a remake.  It came out in Japan over ten years ago, and is coming up on its ten year release anniversary in other regions soon.  That makes it feel like it is about due, as previous remakes were of titles 8-10 years in the past.

One difference however is that you can still play Pokemon Diamond & Pearl on the current 3DS hardware.  The flip side of that though is Nintendo looks to have stopped shipping the DS only titles, likely because the infrastructure to support those games, the old Nintendo WiFi and such, has been dismantled. Nintendo is up there with EA in closing stuff down as soon as the next title comes out.  So while you can find copies at Amazon or eBay, but they aren’t on the shelves at Target, WalMart, or Toys R Us for a reason.

And when it comes to that Pokemon Bank integrated National Pokedex of which I wrote last week, there is no official way to buy Pokemon Diamond & Pearl (and Platinum as well) in order to obtain the full range of generation 4 Pokemon.  And, unlike the Pokemon Black & White games, even if you have a copy you can’t get your Pokemon straight into Pokemon Bank.

Of course, there is another alternative.  Since Pokemon Diamond & Pearl already runs on the current 3DS hardware, Nintendo and GameFreak might decide to simply spruce the titles up a bit and put them in the Nintendo online store as Virtual Console titles the way they did with Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow back at the 20 year anniversary of the franchise.  Then it would be back to the old school look.

Pokemon Diamond back in the day

That wouldn’t be horrible.  I might buy a copy if they included Pokemon Bank integration, which I am sure they would would.  But I would really rather have a remake title the way they have done in the past.

No matter what is coming next for the Pokemon franchise, I bet we won’t hear an announcement until autumn.  I will just have to wait to see if my guess is correct.

From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun

I did it.  I finished the Alola Pokedex in Pokemon Sun.

Alola Pokedex at 100%

It took a bit of work.   I ran the final series of missions that send the player off to catch the ultra beast Pokemon.   The missions send you out to catch five different ultra beasts, along with having to engage in three trainer battles to prove you are up to the task, before you are done and rewarded with 1,000,000 in the local currency for the effort.

I did the missions and caught the five ultra beasts.  The catch is that there are seven ultra beasts, two of which only appear in Pokemon Sun and two which only appear in Pokemon Moon.  So, in order to get all seven, which is required to complete the Pokedex, you have to trade… trade or own two copies of the game or, in my case, use your daughter’s copy of the game.

So I grabbed my daughter’s 3DS and looked into doing the missions on her copy of Pokemon Moon, since she had no interest in doing so herself.  She finished up the main story back in December, long enough ago that she couldn’t remember if she had defeated the Elite Four.  It turned out she had, though with a really odd team… odd to me anyway… so I ended up trading my team over to her game to run through the missions.

Once I completed them I traded my team back to my copy of Pokemon Sun, then swapped two of the Sun-only ultra beasts for two of the Moon-only ultra beasts (you end up catching multiple of both) and the Alola Pokedex was finally complete.  You only need 300 for that, but I hit 301 because of the Magearna download, which you get by using the QR scanner.

I then went to the GameFreak office in the game and got my trainer book stamped to mark the achievement.

Achievement notarized

After that I figured it was time to unlock the National Pokedex.  The ritual for that in past Pokemon titles generally involved going to speak to the local tree-named Pokemon Professor to get them to unlock the National setting on your Pokedex.  But when I spoke to the shirtless Professor Kukui, he was still giving me the same line he had last time I spoke to him.  There was no mention of a Pokedex upgrade.

After poking about a bit more, I headed to Google to search up the answer.

As it turns out, there is no National Pokedex within Pokemon Sun & Moon.  This was a bit of a let down.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to attempt it, but being denied the opportunity stung a bit.

I was instead directed to Pokemon Bank, Nintendo’s Pokemon cloud storage application.  It had been upgraded back in January to integrate with Pokemon Sun & Moon, something I mentioned in a Friday bullet point post.  The app has its own rather sparse site here.

How things line up now

One of the features I did not notice… and which really wasn’t called out all that well… was the integration of the National Pokedex option into Pokemon Bank.  That is all you get with Sun & Moon.

I have Pokemon Bank, because of course I do, so I went in to check it out.  If you launch it, choose Pokemon Sun or Moon, and go to the menu, there is now a Pokedex option.

Accessing the Pokedex

This went off and catalogued what I had collected in Pokemon Sun and gave me a total.

My total for Pokemon Sun

That gave me a total of 330 Pokemon, both caught and seen.  I had moved some of the legendary Pokemon from last year’s distributions last year over to the game along with a few of the starter Pokemon from past titles in anticipation of a National Pokedex hunt.  330 isn’t bad, but the total is over 800, so I was far from there.

Pokemon Bank also lets you view the Pokemon in a table view by generations if a simple number isn’t enough for you… it certainly isn’t enough for me.

First gen Pokemon, Bulbasaur through Mew

As you can see, I moved some over, but Pokemon Sun & Moon also included a lot of Pokemon from past generations as well, which was a good thing I think.

In all it was kind of neat… though after using the new box interface in Pokemon Sun & Moon, navigating felt very awkward… but was I really going to have to move everything to Sun & Moon to finish the National Pokedex?

But then I wondered… since it didn’t actually say this anywhere… if this was actually a cross-title National Pokedex.  If I had it scan other Pokemon Bank compatible titles, would those sum up into a single National Pokedex?  So I had it scan Pokemon Y and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, and the answer is yes, it is a single cross-title National Pokedex.

My totals across the three titles

So there it is.  Across the three titles I have caught 512 types of Pokemon and have seen 650.  That gets me a little closer to the past 800 number of the total National Pokedex.

Pokemon Bank also gives you some stats as well under Adventure Records.

Wild Pokemon Encounters

You can tell the game I worked on the Pokedex hardest.

This also means that if I want to work on the National Pokedex, my best option is probably to go back to Pokemon Y and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and finish up the regional Pokdexes in those games.

My Pokemon Y stats… and see, National Pokedex built-in

The problem there is that going back to earlier games means giving up whatever UI and control improvements the current generation has introduced, and Pokemon Sun & Moon really went far in improving controls, especially for simple things like handling Pokemon in your storage.

Still, that might be a thing to pursue.  I am pretty much done with Pokemon Sun since I don’t do battles and such.  Catching them all is generally the end of a title for me, and I haven’t caught them all yet in the past versions.  So it is play older titles or wait for the next new title to be announced.  The thing is, I think I already know what the next title will be.  But that is a topic for another post.

The Alola Pokemon Binge Continues

Enough about EVE Online this week, time for important topics, like Pokemon.

I have carried on in Pokemon Sun. with my pursuit of the Alola Pokedex largely because I have managed to make fairly steady progress towards finishing it off.  Since I last checked in on this, I have gone from the 57% marker to 83% of the way complete.

Once again, screen shots take of the 3DS with my iPhone

Once again, screen shots take of the 3DS with my iPhone

In actual numbers of Pokemon I went from 173 caught at that last post to 250 caught as of last night, and increase of 77 Pokemon over a 10 day period.  So I caught about 8 new Pokemon a day.  That is the sort of progress that keeps you hooked, keeps you going, keeps you opening up the 3DS every night for an hour or two.

Current Pokedex details

Current Pokedex details

As part of that, I managed to finish up the Melemele island Pokedex, having caught all 120 Pokemon that appear on that island, including the ones that don’t actually appear on that island or that only appear on the island in Pokemon Moon.

I “saw” all the Pokemon for the island first and was curious to see if that was enough to get credit.  In past versions of the game, the regional Pokedex could be considered complete if you simply encountered all the Pokemon on the list.  That doesn’t cut it for Pokemon Sun & Moon.  You get a little silver crown when you have encountered them all, but you only get the gold crown and the official stamp when you have caught them all.

My stamp for Melemele... be nice if it was dated

My stamp for Melemele… be nice if it was dated

That is one island Pokedex down and three to go.

All the Melemele Pokemon

All the Melemele Pokemon

And the other islands are pretty far along.  How I have been making that sort of progress has two branches.

First, I still had a pile of Pokemon that just needed to be leveled up or traded while holding a specific item.  Leveling up is fairly easy and I can do that while watching TV and not lose track of any dialog.  There are plenty of Pokemon that fall into that category.

The trading while holding an item required me to get my daughter to cooperate, which wasn’t easy.  Eventually, after days of “I don’t want to do it right now” and “I don’t know where it is, I’ll look for it later” I had to make her find her 3DS and hand it over so I could do the trades myself.  That was something of a bonanza day.  I took that oppotunity to pass Solgaleo and Lunala, the legendaries from Sun & Moon, back and forth between our games so we each have both covered.

I still have a number of Pokemon where I haven’t obtained the item yet, so couldn’t to the trade.  More work to do on that front, but that generally just involves some patience and a tolerance for a lot of wild Pokemon encounters.

But there are always some Pokemon that are difficult to obtain or where how to obtain them is not clear. (The Alola Pokedex site I have been using has been wrong, or at least at odds with the official guide, on some Pokemon such as Tirtouga.)  For those I have been relying on the Global Trade Station.

The GTS continues to be very good to me, and players in Japan especially so.  I would not be nearly as far along as I am had I not had access to it.  However, one of the long standing features of the GTS, something from the Pokemon Diamond & Pearl era, is that you cannot ask to trade for a Pokemon that you have not seen yet.  If you haven’t seen it, you don’t know about it, you can’t ask for it.  If it is just a generic blue Pokeball icon on your island Pokedex or question marks on the main list, you have to find a way to see it.

That icon, I don't know about THAT Pokemon

That icon, I don’t know about THAT Pokemon

Now, to be fair, the game is very good about showing you lots of Pokemon, generally via battles with all the trainers you pass by during your travels.  This is why it is important to not skip fights.  I got lazy for a bit and bypassed a couple of optional areas during the main story line, something I am paying for now.  It wouldn’t be hard to go back and do those fights now… my main party is all up past level 70 at this point, with my Snorlax at 80… it is more a matter of figuring out what I skipped.  There are even a few Pokemon that NPCs should have given me along the way that I somehow missed.  Sloppy.

However, Nintendo has something of a back door for dealing with Pokemon you haven’t seen yet.  If you have a friend that has seen the Pokemon in question, they can display a QR code on their screen, which you can use the camera on your 3DS to capture.  That gives you credit and you can now trade for that Pokemon.

Of course, if you are like me and have no real life friends playing Pokemon (or a child that won’t do that grunt work for you), the internet will provide.  Over on Reddit there is a post about QR codes for Pokemon.  This links out to several galleries on Imgur.com that have the QR codes.  So when I really wanted to setup a trade for a Pokemon, I went and used that.  See, you don’t need friends when you have the internet!

Of course, even with all of that you need to have something to trade.  I started out breeding Dratinis, the first evolution that leads to the ever popular Dragonite Pokemon.

Dratini to Dragonair to Dragonite

Dratini to Dragonair to Dragonite

That seemed to be a popular enough Pokemon to get me trades.  The evolution process just requires leveling it up and Dragonite is a strong Pokemon.  However, you can simply catch Dratinis in the game, so I wasn’t sure this was my strongest play.  But I used one to get my hands on a Sliggoo, the middle evolution of three that is more difficult to obtain.

The Sliggoo progression

The Sliggoo progression

Then I started breeding that, which is the only way to get its first evolution, Goomy, and then started trading those.  They seemed to be a hit and I seemed to be able to get any trade I asked for… though I am always conservative on that front… in no time at all.  Plus the Sliggoo was friendly with my breeing Ditto, and that relationship dictates how fast eggs are produced, so I was trading away.

Some trades

Some trades

That Gabite was a big trade for me, as it is another annoying one to get in the game.  Having a bit of backstock on Goomy, I switch the Gabite in to breed… also friendly with my Ditto… and started getting eggs for that.

Now the Isle Avue, the hot springs island in the Poke Pelago where you can leave eggs to hatch rather than dragging them around in your party for 5K to 20K steps, is filling up with eggs.

Eggs waiting to hatch... hope they don't hard boil...

Eggs waiting to hatch… hope they don’t hard boil…

Once those start hatching I am looking at a weekend of trading to further my cause.  So long as I keep making progress, I should be able to keep focused.

Of course, eventually I will get to the last hairy few, the difficult ones.  Back when I did the then 485 strong National Pokedex in Pokemon SoulSilver I spent quite a bit of time getting those last few, with the last one requiring an item to be held to evolve.  And then I went the full completionist and got the last two for the full 493 achievement which required me to play Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs to acquire a Manaphy to transfer over to SoulSilver so I could breed it to get a Phione.

I am not sure I have that much fortitude anymore.  I should be able to hang tough through the Alola Pokedex.  I haven’t given up yet.  The full National Pokedex though, which stands at 802 Pokemon as of now, that might be too much to ask.