Category Archives: Nintendo DS Hardware

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.

Alola Pokedex Binge Time

Sometimes I wonder how my brain works, why something is fun one day and not the next.

For stretches of December and January I couldn’t be bothered to pick up Pokemon Sun, or when I did I played just a little bit and then put it down again.

Coming in Q4 2016

Sun and Moon

I finally got in the mood to play and managed to get through the main story line, as I noted last week.  But I did that mostly just to get to the end and say I got there way, heading straight down the final path and not exploring anything off to the side until I was champion.  This past weekend however, I suddenly got in the mood to play… or at least do one specific thing, which was work on the Pokedex.

For those who do not play, the Pokedex is the list of Pokemon in the game.  There is the game specific Pokedex, the regional Pokedex, which in the case of Pokemon Sun & Moon contains 302 Pokemon.  You get credit for just seeing a Pokemon on that list.  And then there is the National Pokedex, which is all Pokemon ever and contains 802 Pokemon.

I am worked on the Alola regional Pokedex in Pokemon Sun, though I am trying to catch them all as I go just to be the completionist.  So far I have caught 57% of the Pokemon in the game, up from the 41% I reported last week.

Rotom say 57% caught!

Rotom say 57% caught!

That basically equates to going from 123 to 173 caught, or about 50 new Pokemon.

On the overall front of just seeing all the Pokemon I am going even better.

Alola Pokedex stats

Alola Pokedex stats

The first number is caught, the second number is seen, so I am at 259 of 302 seen, which is about 86% done.

In the Pokemon Sun & Moon version of the Pokedex it is also broken out by islands, which isn’t totally necessary… I suppose it narrows down where to hunt… and is kind of neat.  It even gives you a graphical representation of all the Pokemon from a given island.

All the Pokemon from Melemele island

All the Pokemon from Melemele island

Those that are in shadow I have yet to catch.  There is only one I have not seen, which I believe is Salamence.  Have to go find him.

You can actually “see” all of the Pokemon in the game if fight every trainer you pass and go through the story completely, without avoiding and side paths.  I failed on that at points, so that has been part of my replay action.  But catching them all, that requires you to do some trading.  Some of the Pokemon can only be caught on Pokemon Sun OR Pokemon Moon, but not both.

Fortunately there is the Global Trade Station.

The GTS came in with Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, as the DS series came with WiFi build-in.  It was pretty clunky back then, but it has gotten better with each generation of the game.  With Pokemon Sun & Moon it is pretty easy to get what you want… at least if you have the right mindset.

One of my gripes about GTS is that people often want things way out of proportion to what they are offering.  For example, I went onto the GTS to see if I could trade for a Persian, one of the Pokemon shaded in that picture above.  Not a tough Pokemon to get, but you have to raise up friendliness on a Meowth and then level it up before it will evolve into one.  Takes a little time, so I was hoping to skip that with a quick trade.  However, the trades that were up wanted legendaries in exchange for this rather run-of-the-mill Pokemon.  I saw somebody asking for a Dialga, the one-per-game final legendary from Pokemon Diamond.  Yeah, that is gonna happen.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to put up reasonable trades, they get filled pretty quickly.  There are a lot of like minded people out there looking to fill up their Pokedex.  So, for example, I put up a trade with a low level Drifloon, which is only in Pokemon Sun, asking for a Misdreavus of any level in trade, a Pokemon Moon exclusive that spawns in the same area.

Sun only for Moon only Pokemon

Sun only for Moon only Pokemon

That trade went through pretty quickly, as did a number of similar parallel offers. (If you register your copy of Pokemon Sun or Moon at the Pokemon Global Link site it will show you your trade history.)

Likewise, there are a number of Pokemon that only evolve into their final form if you trade them.  So I had a stack of those that I listed over the weekend.

A selection of trades to evolve

A selection of trades to evolve

Each of those evolved into a new form upon completion of the trade.

So the GTS was out there doing some of the lifting for me, but for the most part I was out running through tall grass to try and find wild Pokemon.  I played such a long stretch on Sunday that I got the low battery warning at one point.  The 3DS XL is good for quite a few hours of play, so that says something.

Of course, even knowing where to go takes some time.  The in-game help just puts a splotch on the map for you if you’ve seen the Pokemon already, but doesn’t provide you any details.  The official Pokemon Sun & Moon Guide book has some more info, but can be sparse on relevant details.  For a few I had to fall back on the internet to figure out if I was even close to doing the right thing to catch certain Pokemon.  (I found a good Sun & Moon Pokedex online here.)

For example, I wanted to catch a Happiny, a pink blob of a Pokemon that has two additional evolutions, so catching that one will eventually fill three slots in the Pokedex.  However, you can’t just go and find a Happiny.  It turns out it only shows up when another Pokemon calls for help, what I gather is called an “SOS battle.” (The guild uses this term, but doesn’t define it on the chart where it appears.)

So to get the Happiny I had to go down to Hau’oli City and troll through tall grass until I finally got a Pichu to appear.  The Pichu has a low chance of appearing, so it took a while.  That took a while, but eventually hit.

Then, once that fight was going, I used an Adrenaline Orb, which is an item that makes wild Pokemon more likely to call for help.  Since calling for help is often a more annoying than fun trait in a wild Pokemon, I was wondering why anybody would ever want to encourage that.  Now I know.

After using the orb, I then had to drag the fight out until the Pichu called for help AND a Happiny finally showed up. (I got another Pichu on the first couple of calls.)  Then it was time to defeat the initial Pichu, hit the Happiny with the move Hold Back, which my now level 71 Snorlax has just to catch Pokemon, and which will never reduce a Pokemon below 1 hit point (same as False Swipe), then throw Pokeballs at it until it was caught.

I got the Happiny then evolved it through to a Chansey and then a Blissey.  Three Pokemon down.

However, I still have a few on my list that require similar SOS battles.

And I also have a few Pokemon that only evolve to their final form on a trade, but which also require that the Pokemon in question is holding a specific item.  Since you can’t request a Pokemon and an item through the GTS I am going to have to get my daughter to trade with me at some point, since I don’t want to lose items.  I only trust the GTS when it requires both sides to do something.  I can see myself getting the same Pokemon in return, but without the item in question, so no evolution.

Ah well.  So that is what I spent a lot of the weekend doing, including most of Sunday, Pokemon hunting.

The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Finishes Up with a Meloetta Event and More

As the end of 2016 looms, the final download event for the Pokemon 20th Anniversary celebration is at hand.  The last mythical/legendary Pokemon on the list is Meloetta.

The last anniversary download

The last anniversary download

Meloetta was introduced as a special event Pokemon in the generation V games, Pokemon Black & White and Pokemon Black Version 2 & White Version 2.  Since then, the only way to get it into the generation VI games was via the Poke Transporter part of Pokemon Bank.  So if you missed it back then, now is your chance to get one.

This is another direct download event, so there is no need to visit GameStop for a card.  The instructions for downloading Meloetta are on the Pokemon site.  As usual, the event is for Pokemon X & Y or Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire on the Nintendo 3DS or 3DS XL.  I thought it *might* work on Pokemon Sun & Moon this month, but no such luck.

Still, there are things to get in Pokemon Sun & Moon.  There is a level 5 Munchlax still available for download until January 11, 2017 and the special Ash-Greninja that you get at the end of the demo version of the games that you can then transfer over to either Sun or Moon.  And just this past week they announced that the mythical Pokemon Magearna is available.

Magearna in Sun & Moon

Magearna in Sun & Moon

Magearna is not a download however.  Instead, once you finish the main storyline and defeat the usual champions at the end, you can scan a QA Code to get Magearna.  The details are available here.

I haven’t finished the story yet in Pokemon Sun & Moon yet.  I have been moving at a slow to moderate pace, trying to get to the next waypoint each evening.  But there are all sorts of side tasks to do as well, so I have been taking my time.

And then there is Pokemon Go, where the news has been leaked that the game will be teaming up with Starbucks for a promotional event starting today, with what sounds like a special Pokestop or Gym in every Starbucks location.  There is also a rumor that we may soon get an update that will add second generation Pokemon to those in the wild, giving people another 100 to catch.  I’ve only caught 100 out of the first batch of 150.

On the Run with Pokemon Sun (and Moon)

I’m not sure what that title really means, but there it is.

So, yes, there are a pair of new titles in the line of core Pokemon RPG games, Pokemon Sun & Moon.  They came out back on the 18th and my daughter and I got our copies from Amazon that day and immediately started playing.

Coming in Q4 2016

Now Playing at Our House

I let my daughter have first pick and she went with Moon, so I got Sun.  She was into the game right away, picking Litten as her starter.  As I sat down on the couch with her to start myself off, I announced that I, too, was going to choose Litten, the fire Pokemon always being the safest choice.

Which one will you choose?

The usual grass, fire, and water starter Pokemon

She objected strongly to this, pointing out that the house tradition was that we never, ever choose the same starter Pokemon.  I had to admit that this had been the case, which explains why I have never had the fire Pokemon as my starter, since that is always her choice.

Ah well.

Once again I was left with the choice of water or grass and, as I have generally done, I went with water.  Rowlet is cute and all, but grass always seems to be the weak option on the list as I recall from that time I chose Bulbasaur as my starter.  You choose grass and the Ponytas start coming out of the woodwork.

So I started off with Popplio, an escapee from an Italian circus act and the water starter.

As a starter he is cute enough, but the tradition for Pokemon starters is that they get strange as they evolve.  So he starts as a cute seal, then goes a bit further down the circus act.

Ongoing circus acts

Ongoing circus act

And the final evolutions for all three defy the cuteness they all started with.

An anime co-player, Thundercats, and Trump's anime wife

An anime co-player, Thundercats, and Trump’s anime wife

I think the final Litten evolution is the best looking of the group, though it still loses all the cuteness factor.  And so I have taken to hitting the B button every time Popplio, whom I named “The Popo,” starts to evolve.  I am far enough along with him in the game now that he should be in his final evolution, but I still have little Popplio with me.  I’ll have to evolve him at some point, you usually don’t get your best moves unless you evolve, but for now I’ll keep him cute.  I think I did the same thing with Piplup back in the day.

I was also quick to get a fire Pokemon into my party, having been denied one as a starter.  Fortunately Growlithes are easy enough to find early on.  And I also put the Munchlax, a download for those who purchase the game in the first couple months, into my party as well, starting off in the world with the following lineup:

  • Popplio – water
  • Growlithe – fire
  • Munchlax – normal
  • Drowzee – psychic
  • Ghastly – ghost
  • Magnemite – electric

So far that has given me a team that has somebody strong against whoever I am facing.

As for the game itself, I am enjoying it.  My daughter seems especially into it and actually finished the main story line last night. (There is still plenty of end-game content to go for her though.)

I saw a review of the game that described it as being very good for people new to the series, and I would have to agree.  The game guides you carefully to start off and does a good job of keeping you on track.  (Though, if you’re an old hand, the start can seem a bit slow.)

Your rival doesn’t even get the starter Pokemon yours is weak to anymore.  On choosing Popplio, I found that Hau, who fills the traditional rival role, though he isn’t as into the rivalry as some past players of that part, took Litten.  Water puts out fire.  It was actually planning for my rival that got me to add a Growlithe to my party as soon as I caught one.  I didn’t need him for that, though having a strong fire Pokemon in your party is never a bad thing.

And the game does its best to keep you supplied with various necessities as you start out and you get the experience share item early on, which favors lower level Pokemon, so keeps your party all around the same level.

There are also a whole host of quality of life improvements that showed up with Pokemon Sun & Moon.  Aywren has a post covering much of that.

If I had to pick one of the improvements, it would be the changes to storage management which, once I saw them, I wondered why they hadn’t done this already.  The whole storage system was still working about the same way it did back on the original GameBoy.  With Pokemon Sun & Moon it looks like Game Freak finally discovered drag and drop was an option with the 3DS touch screen.  I just hope this isn’t one of those features they do for one game and then don’t carry it forward to the next one.

Of course, there are some things that annoy me.  None of these are rage inducing game breakers, but rather little reminders that the world is not perfect.

Of course, there is the call for assistance that wild Pokemon get.  That seemed like a good idea when I first heard about it.  I even mentioned it as something I was looking forward to.  However, when you’re in a battle in the wild and you just want to capture that one Pokemon and they keep calling for help… and getting it… what was once an easy battle becomes this epic struggle to no great benefit.  I think it is probably good for the trial battles, where you fight one main opponent, but the battle is drawn out by the assistance, because those are supposed to be tough fights.  Fighting some wee Pokemon in the tall grass on your way somewhere shouldn’t be.

And speaking of things that I only expect in big fights, when did every trainer on the side of the road get handed a full restore?  Game Freak sought to extend those battles as well I guess, as if you knock their Pokemon down into the red, they’ll pop a potion and be full health again.

My daughter was a bit disappointed to find that the Pokemon Daycare of past games is now just for breeding.  It used to be a tradition to leave a couple Pokemon there while we moved on through the game, only to come back later and find them leveled up a bit.  Not a huge loss, but a change.

I’m also finding Team Skull to not be much of a force for evil in the world, acting more as comic relief.  Nice rhymes, but no threat.  But I am only about half way through the story, so maybe I haven’t gotten to their prime point yet.  Or maybe they are just a distraction from some other villains.

I’ve also found it awkward that the D-pad is no longer used for movement by default.  Yes, like the old Pokemon storage methods, the movement via the D-pad is something rooted in the ancient GameBoy history of the game  The analog Circle Pad, now your movement control, is just above the D-Pad has not only worked for movement over the 3DS era, but is arguably better for movement. (It is also quieter. My 3DS D-pad has an audible click to it.)  However, after getting out of a battle or a transaction, my thumb still falls naturally onto the D-pad and I spend a second or two wondering what is thwarting me from moving.  I’ll get used to it eventually, but for now my thumb just lands on the D-pad first almost every time.

But probably my biggest gripe and/or concern is about performance.  I have one of the original model 3DS XL units, as does my daughter, and the game gets noticeably laggy at points when there is a lot going on in the game or when it does a close up on a 3D rendered character. (Such a close up lags and lingers long enough for you too see how crude the texture over polygon looks up close.)  And load times seem to drag on much more so than they did with Pokemon X & Y or Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire.

The game is still playable.  In fact, most of the time there is no performance issue at all.  But when it happens, I see it.  It makes me wonder if this game, or future titles in the series, really need the updated version of the 3DS with the 804 MHz quad core processor that the new models have rather than the 268 MHz dual core processors of the original models.  Or maybe Game Freak just bit off more than they should have with some of the 3D stuff.

Anyway, we continue playing at our house.  While I haven’t been as diligent as my daughter… I have been moving at a slower pace, trying to fill up the Pokedex as much as possible as well as playing a lot of Minecraft… I am still going.  I finished the final challenge on the second island and just arrived on the Aether Foundation’s artificial island.

Alola Region Map

That white platform in the middle of the islands

I will carry on from there tonight.

Victory in the Hoenn Region

As I noted in my Friday post, my plans for the weekend’s gaming revolved around Pokemon Alpha Sapphire.  With Pokemon Sun & Moon just a week away I wanted to at least get a bit of closure and finish off the main story line of the game.  To cut to the chase, I made it.

Champion of the Hoenn League

Champion of the Hoenn League

I ran down the Team Aqua story line, got the last two gym badges, made my way up Victory Road, and defeated the elite four and the previous Pokemon League Champion, Steven.

He was happy enough to see me

He was happy enough to see me

I didn’t even cheese through with high levels… much.  I did go grab a couple of level 50s I had from past download events.  There was a Typhlosion (to give me some fire power) from the Pokemon Bank incentive way back and a Serperior (rounding the started types with a plant Pokemon) from another special code event that joined my party.  But otherwise it was mostly the same crew I started off with.  I had my starter Pokemon, once a Mudkip and now a Swampert, and the shiny Bedlum from the launch event which evolved into a Metagross.  The Latias you pick up along the way, and a Ninjask I was mostly using to hold HMs, rounded out my party.  They were all in the high 50s/low 60s for the final challenge and had just enough of a skill spread that I decided to give them a run before I loaded up a team with level 100s to just roll over the end.

And I made it.  I used a lot of potions between battles, and the final match against Steven was an awkward Metagross vs. Metagross standoff for a bit while I revived Kipper the Swampert where he finished things off with the move earthquake.

This could have gone on for a long time...

This could have gone on for a long time… they had both just healed up again

And then it was time to roll the credits.  I actually sat and watched them all the way through, which was good because they actually inject scenes of you and your Pokemon along the way.  Then, at the end of the credits you get to fight one more battle.

May just won't take "No" for an answer

May just won’t take “No” for an answer

After that there is a teaser for some of the additional content and a closing graphic.

Pokemon life

Pokemon life

Of course, while I became champion, I am nowhere near actually finishing the game.  I bypassed a lot of optional content in my final sprint, I accidentally defeated Kygore before catching him, there are other legendary Pokemon to catch, the usual Pokedex to finish, and a whole series of post-victory items, including the Delta Episode story line.

I may get back to that at some point.  But playing over the weekend set me up with a taste for more, so when Pokemon Sun & Moon arrives on Friday I will be ready to go.

Weekend Plans in the Hoenn Region

Despite the main thread of any given Pokemon game being a solitary endeavor, part of the fun of playing Pokemon for me has been playing with my daughter.  As with much of gaming, having somebody to talk with and share the experience with enhances the whole experience.

Which explains why Pokemon has tapered off for me.  Aside from a burst of time earlier this year playing Pokemon Blue, I haven’t really got out the 3DS for anything aside from the monthly distribution events.

My daughter also finds having people around her who play Pokemon stimulates her interest in the game, though for her that comes mostly from her peers at school.  In middle school her circle of friends had little or no interest in Pokemon, so she stopped playing and thus so did I.

So while we bought copies of the last major Pokemon release two years back, neither of us finished the game.

PokemonAlphaOmega_450

My daughter started the game, but then stopped just two gym badges in.  I kept going for a while, hoping to lure her back.  But she wasn’t interested, something that killed my interest, and so I left off after six gym badges.

Lately though my daughter, now in high school, has started hanging out with a happy group of friends who are into video games.  And while that has gotten her to play League of Legends (Lord help me) another game on the list is Pokemon.  One of her friends has been bugging her to finish up Pokemon Omega Ruby, to the point that she actually picked it up this week and has quickly caught up to me, with six gym badges and now just arriving in Lilycove City.

So, of course, I had to take up the 3DS as well to see if I could figure out where I left off.  The path though the Hoenn Region is a complicated.

Hoenn region revamped

Hoenn region

Fortunately, I bought the accompanying strategy guide available for the game, so I can follow that through and hopefully figure out where I should be headed after a long stay in Lilycove City.

And the goal for the weekend is to get through to the Elite Four and finish up the game.  The real question is how much do I want to cheese through the end?  Having downloaded all those legendary and mythical Pokemon this year, I have a small army of level 100 Pokemon that I can control once I get that 8th gym badge.  We shall see how I feel when I get there, but I would like to wrap the game up before next Friday when Pokemon Sun & Moon should arrive.

The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Continues with a Genesect Event and More

The celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pokemon continues.  This month’s legendary Pokemon is Genesect.

Genesect - Steel and Bug type Pokemon

Genesect – Steel and Bug type Pokemon

Genesect was introduced as a special event Pokemon in the generation V games, Pokemon Black & White and Pokemon Black Version 2 & White Version 2.  Since then, the only way to get it into the generation VI games was via the Poke Transporter part of Pokemon Bank.  So if you missed it back then, now is your chance to get one.

In the US Genesect is being distributed through GameStop.  You have to go into a store to get a code for one, though when I went in early this week they did not have the official cards yet, just receipts printed out with codes and instructions.

That code has been used

That code has been used

I am going to have to  go back and get the real cards at some point.  I have collected all of them so far this year.

As before, the code on the card is only good for Pokemon X & Y or Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire on the Nintendo 3DS or 3DS XL.

Now there is just one more special 20th anniversary download left this year:

  • December – Meloetta (Nintendo Network Event)

Meanwhile, we are just about a week away from the launch of Pokemon Sun & Moon, the latest entries in the core Pokemon RPG line of games.

Sun and Moon coming in November

Sun and Moon coming in November

Nintendo has been ramping up with some late reveals, such as the final evolved forms of the starter Pokemon.

An anime co-player, Thundercats, and Trump's anime wife

An anime co-player, Thundercats, and Trump’s anime wife

There is also information about rivals and opponents as well as legendary Pokemon over on the Pokemon Sun & Moon site now.

And on the Pokemon Go front, Niantic has rolled out their daily and weekly bonus feature for Pokestops.

Trainers,

We are excited to let you know that the new daily bonus feature is rolling out right now. The daily bonuses reward you with XP and Stardust for your first catch of the day, and XP and extra items for your first Photo Disc spin of the day at a PokéStop. You’ll get an even bigger bonus if you complete these actions seven days in a row!

To celebrate this feature, from November 7th to November 11th, you’ll find more Pokémon out in the world. Moreover, PokéStops will grant more items! Yes — this means more Great Balls, and for Trainers that are level 20 and above — more Ultra Balls!

Take advantage of it while you can and explore your neighborhoods with Pokémon GO!

The “more Pokemon out in the world” is really a thing currently.  I went out for a walk around our campus at work (we have six PokeStops on a half kilometer circuit) and it took me twice as long as usual because I was practically mugged by Pokemon.

I'm walking here!

I’m walking here!

There are lots out there, including some I had not seen in the wild before.  Also, I took that screen shot early, as three more Pokemon spawned about 15 seconds later.  And the item output from Pokestops has gone up quite a bit for me.

This must be the bonus room

This must be the bonus room

So that is what is going on in the world of Pokemon at the moment.

The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Continues with a Keldeo Download and More

The celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pokemon continues.  This month’s legendary Pokemon is Keldeo.

Keldea the water colt

Keldeo the water colt

Keldeo was introduced as a special event Pokemon in the generation V games, Pokemon Black & White and Pokemon Black Version 2 & White Version 2, and became obtainable via a trade mechanic in Pokemon X & Y.

Keldeo's GameStop event

Keldeo’s GameStop event

This is the first of the 20th anniversary download event Pokemon that I have not obtained through some past event.

Instructions on how to download Keldeo to your copy of Pokemon X and Y or Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby are available on the Pokemon site.  You have until October 24th to make it happen.

This leaves only two more 20th anniversary download events to go.  The remaining Pokemon are:

  • November – Genesect (GameStop Card Event)
  • December – Meloetta (Nintendo Network Event)

In addition, there is a special event to download Hoopa, another rare Pokemon.

Hoopa Event

Hoopa Event

This one requires a code to get, but do it quickly as the event only runs through October 9, 2016.  The code is “2016HOOPA” with further details available here.

November will also see the launch of the next titles in the core Pokemon RPG line, Pokemon Sun & Moon.

Sun and Moon coming in November

Sun and Moon coming in November

And as part of the ongoing slow reveal that Nintendo does every release, we have finally been shown the first evolution of the starter Pokemon for the new games.

The grass starter, the adorable Rowlet, will evolve into a the Dartix

Owlet to Owl

Owlet to Owl

The fire starter, Litten, evolves into Torracat.

Kitten to Cat

Kitten to Cat

And the water Pokemon starter, Popplio, evolves into Brionne.

Ongoing circus acts

Ongoing circus acts

I’ve always been a partisan of water Pokemon when it came to my starter since the days of Piplup in Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, but somebody always seems to have it in for water when it comes to their evolutions.  They start cute and evolve ugly. (Except for Squirtle I guess.)

This time around I am going to go with first.  Rowlet is cute, and the evolution isn’t bad, but I traditionally have no luck with grass Pokemon.  Nintendo has a video up so you can see the evolutions in motion.

And, finally, on the Pokemon Go front, Niantic has announced that their next update will make it a bit easier to catch them all.  As you earn medals for catching quantities of certain types of Pokemon, those types will become easier for you to catch and the likelihood of finding a rare version will increase.  There is no timeline for this update beyond “soon.”

The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Continues with a Victini Event and More

The celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pokemon continues.  This month’s legendary Pokemon is Victini.

Victini for Victory

Victini for Victory

Victini first showed up as a special download for Pokemon Black & White back in March of 2011.

Get Victini!

The original download event, March 2011

Instructions on how to download Victini to your copy of Pokemon X and Y or Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby are available on the Pokemon site.  You have until September 24th to make it happen.

And with Victini available, that leaves just three more 20th anniversary downloads this year.

 

  • October – Keldeo (Nintendo Network)
  • November – Genesect (GameStop)
  • December – Meloetta (Nintendo Network)

Of course, the focus on this year’s celebration has largely been on the upcoming Pokemon Sun & Moon.  Last week it was announced that those who purchase Pokemon Sun & Moon before January 11, 2017 will be able to download a special Munchlax.

Munchlax for you

Munchlax for you

Munchlax evolves into Snorlax who, after 20 years of laying about, will actually have its own special Z-move attack as part of the upcoming title.

Snorlax in his usual role as sleeping obsctruction

Snorlax in his usual role as sleeping obstruction

All of which is covered in this month’s preview video.

Finally, on the Pokemon Go front, Niantic has announced their next upcoming feature, a buddy system that allows you to choose a Pokemon to travel with that will earn bonuses and rewards.  Hopefully Niantic carries on building Pokemon Go into a full fledged Pokemon game.

What Happens to Pokemon in a World with Pokemon GO?

It has been a big year for the Pokemon Company, the entity founded by Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures back in 1998 to manage to suddenly successful Pokemon franchise.  Nintendo is the senior partner in that group, and is the one that owns the trademark on Pokemon, so people generally just refer to Nintendo, but there are actually multiple entities which I will mention in this paragraph and then go back to ignoring as usual.

Anyway, 2016 has been a big year.

To start with, the Pokemon franchise celebrated its 20th anniversary back in February.

Pokemon20

As part of that that celebration there have been legendary Pokemon download events every month, often accompanied by additional Pokemon download opportunities, mostly covered at the official Pokemon20 web site, which I have blogged about here.  They even released versions of the original Pokemon games for the Virtual Console on the Nintendo 3DS hardware.

The games that started it all 20 years ago

The games that started it all 20 years ago

In addition to that going on, there are the Pokemon World Championships, the culmination of events around the world, here in San Francisco this weekend.

Pokemon come to Baghdad by the Bay

Pokemon come to Baghdad by the Bay

On top of that, there is new Pokemon game coming out for the 3DS this November, the next in line in the venerable core Pokemon RPG line of games.  You would have a tough time convincing me that a good chunk of Nintendo 3DS sales are not related to the fact that it is the platform where the main line of Pokemon games, from which everything else in the franchise stems, is released.  Not when 1 in 4 3DS owners bought a copy of Pokemon X & Y.

So a new Pokemon game is always a boon.

Sun and Moon coming in November

Sun and Moon are coming!

Pokemon Sun & Moon coming out this November!  And that has meant the usual slow drip of news and updates about the title as the date approaches.

All of which adds up to a pretty big year for Pokemon.  Nintendo has even been pushing some of the other titles in the franchise on the Nintendo Store as party of the anniversary events.

not even close

not even close

There you can find the main RPG titles that are available on the 3DS (however, all the DS titles are no longer available despite the 3DS having support to play them) as well as spin offs like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, Pokemon Ranger, and… Pokemon Pinball… okay.

And in the midst of all of this Pokemon frenzy there dropped Pokemon GO.

PokemonGO_500px

And since it hit the App Store back on July 6th, you can barely hear any of the over the roar of Pokemon GO hype.

I follow six general gaming news sites in my RSS feed, and Pokemon GO has been a headline item on at least one of them… on occasionally all of them… every single day since it launched.  I think Massively OP, which is an MMO site, had a two week string of headlines about the game, though they got Raph Koster’s blessing when he declared it an MMO I guess.  I was writing about it being a phenomena after the first weekend, and nothing I have seen since would convince me it has been anything less than this summer’s runaway hit game.

Kick's Chicken in Naiperville

It is in our food even!

Just yesterday Guinness announced that Pokemon GO had broken five records:

  1. Most revenue grossed by a mobile game in its first month,
  2. Most downloaded mobile game in its first month,
  3. Most international charts topped simultaneously for a mobile game in its first month in terms of revenue
  4. Most international charts topped simultaneously for a mobile game in its first month in terms of downloads and revenue
  5. Fastest time to gross $100 million by a mobile game.

And, in that environment of Pokemon GO fever, I started wondering what this meant for the franchise.  With a Pokemon game available on iOS and Android, the potential audience is huge.  I like the 3DS hardware, and it has been a decent seller, moving nearly 60 million units as of June 30th of this year, but Apple has sold that many iPhones in a single quarter on a couple occasions, including the first quarter of 2016.  And that doesn’t even start to count Android sales.  So There are a lot of devices out there that can play Pokemon GO.

But the game people are getting when they download Pokemon GO is, at best, a shadow of the experience that is the mainline Pokemon RPG.  There is the “Gotta Catch ’em All!” aspect to it, and some form of gym battles present in the game.  But there is no trading… a key founding concept for the game… no head to head battles, no breeding, no story, and only some vague goals beyond collecting.

Add in server problems, bugs, security concerns, battery life issues, controversies over features and changes, the sporadic presence of Pokestops and Pokemon, cheating, and the inevitable backlash that shows up when anything becomes popular, and I started to wonder whether or not this would be a good thing for the franchise.

Would Pokemon GO serve as an introduction to the franchise or would people walk away from the whole thing after the somewhat shallow experience that Pokemon GO can provide?

We are finally getting some early indications of what effect Pokemon GO will have.  Several sites are reporting NPD’s July 2016 hardware sales results which indicate that Nintendo 3DS sales have gone up considerably, with the 3DS outselling the XBox One which added a new model to its lineup.  Additionally, Pokemon titles for the platform, specifically Pokemon X & Y and Pokemon Alpha Ruby and Omega Sapphire also saw a significant spike in sales in July.  (Sources: Game Informer, Perfectly Nintendo)

So the initial reaction to Pokemon GO, as far as the overall Pokemon franchise goes, seems to be good.  Pokemon GO seems to more than just a passing fancy and is actually raising awareness of the whole Pokemon game ecosystem.  We shall see if that holds until November and the launch of Pokemon Sun & Moon.  If it does, those two titles might themselves set a record for the franchise.