Category Archives: Nintendo

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

The celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pokemon continues.  This month’s legendary Pokemon is Darkrai, the nightmarish legendary Pokemon that first showed up as a special download during the Pokemon Diamond & Pearl era.

Darkrai brings nightmares

Darkrai brings nightmares

This month though the Pokemon 20th Anniversary event requires another visit to GameStop to pick up a card with a code to claim Darkrai.  I went by GameStop already with my daughter and a friend in tow to grab a couple cards.

Darkrai GameStop Card

Darkrai GameStop Card

While there were three of us standing there when I asked about the cards, the clerk only handed me two.  I suspect he thought I was asking for the kids rather than for myself primarily.

As before, the code is only good for Pokemon X & Y or Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire on the Nintendo 3DS or 3DS XL.  Other Darkrai related items are also available in May.

That is the main event for May, but it is not the only Pokemon available.

There will also be three, one week only direct download events this month featuring Pokemon from Pokemon X & Y.  The Pokemon available are:

  • May 2–8: Zygarde
May 2-8 level 100 download

May 2-8 Level 100 Download

  • May 11–17: Shiny Xerneas
May 11-17 Level 100 Download

May 11-17 Level 100 Download

  • May 20–26: Shiny Yveltal
May 20-26 Level 100 Download

May 20-26 Level 100 Download

Xerneas and Yveltal are the X and Y styled Pokemon from which the Pokemon X & Y entries in the franchise derive their name.  Zydarde is the Z, who might have gotten his own follow up title if Nintendo and GameFreak had been on their old plan of putting out an interim title between (e.g. Pokemon Emerald or Pokemon Platinum) major releases in the series.

And, to wrap up the month, if you signed up for the Pokemon Trainer Club newsletter, as I mentioned in last month’s update, you would have three codes in your email inbox by now to download the legendary trio of Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres.

May is for rare flying Pokemon

May is for “Many” Pokemon

So if you are on the ball and serious about this sort of thing, you could be adding up to seven legendary Pokemon to your collection this month.  And the events will carry on through the remainder of 2016:

  • June – Manaphy (Nintendo Network)
  • July – Shaymin (Nintendo Network)
  • August – Arceus (GameStop)
  • September – Victini (Nintendo Network)
  • October – Keldeo (Nintendo Network)
  • November – Genesect (GameStop)
  • December – Meloetta (Nintendo Network)

The events will culminate in the release of the next entry in the Pokemon RPG series, Pokemon Sun & Moon.

 

Friday Bullet Points from Beyond the Blog

Or just some tidbits I want to bring up which didn’t quite justify posts of their own.

Nintendo and More Nostalgia Validation

As part of the 20th anniversary of Pokemon, Nintendo released Virtual Console version of the original Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on February 27th of this year.

Old games come to the Virtual Console

Old games come to the Virtual Console

They just reported some sales numbers, which included more 1.5 million copies of those three titles.  Not bad for 20 year old games.  Of course, as I noted, vanilla Pokemon, if you will, plays pretty well.

EverQuest II hits Game Update 100

I can’t recall if EQII has gone through every number, 1-99, with updates, but still, hitting 100 is something of note.  And this update has a bit of a nostalgia twist to it.  While I’m not exactly thrilled about the owl mounts, the re-use of Zek, the orcish wastes zone for additional content has me happy.  It has always been one of my favorites among the original zones, probably for its consistent/coherent “orcs, orcs, orcs” theme.

I won’t be playing it however.  For openers, I think my highest level characters are still in Kunark… which is late 2007 content.  And then there is the fact that I am still pottering around on the Stormhold nostalgia server, where I am level 22.

Nostalgia on Wayne!

Nostalgia on Wayne!  Often the theme of this blog.

However, Stormhold still seems to be lively enough.  There aren’t five versions of The Commonlands running any more, but Freeport always has a couple versions running due to population.  Still, it is nostalgia one way or the other.  That seems to be a theme of late.

Blizzard Might Give You a Free Copy of Warlords of Draenor

Way back after Blizz announced the Warlords of Draenor expansion, I had a post about phishing attempt offering a free version of the expansion.  One of the key tells was Blizz giving you a free copy of… well… anything.

Of course, things change.  As Keen reports, Blizz now has an offer out to long lapsed subscribers offering them some free game time as well as a FREE copy of Warlords of Draenor.

Nostalgic old WoW logo, image swiped from Keen and cropped

Nostalgic old WoW logo, image swiped from Keen and cropped

Blizz must be staring at the reality of a long spring/summer until WoW Legion hits.  They stopped announcing subscription numbers last year, but it would be hard to imagine they have gone up from 5.5 million in the last six months.

Of course, this offer has only gone out to people who didn’t purchase Warlords of Draenor, which is making me think about my pre-order of WoW Legion.  Given that my post-Cataclysm experiences in WoW have generally been best when I am late to the expansion party… being a year late to Mists of Panderia was excellent timing… I am tempt to just cancel my pre-order and wait a year or so until Blizz is ready to give me a free copy of WoW Legion.  Or until they open a retro server.  One or the other.

DC Universe Online and on XBox One

Well, the first title for the company formerly known as SOE has made it to the XBox.  As promised earlier this year, the five year old DC Universe Online has gone live on the Microsoft console platform.

XBox One! Would you like to know more?

XBox One! Would you like to know more?

Back during the Daybreak transition, this was one of Smed’s selling points, the ability to get titles on to XBox.  We shall see if it was worth the effort.  But at least they made their “Spring 2016” target.  Making dates is generally a good sign.

Diablo III Season 6 Starts Tonight

Just a passing note on this.  I had a lot of fun with Diablo III and Season 5… right up until the moment I got that last achievement and stopped logging in.  Goal driven much?  Still, the Season thing seems to work well, especially for those of us who are goal drive.  And here comes Season 6.

It has a 6 on a leaf, because leaves are seasons or something

It has a 6 on a leaf, because leaves are seasons or something

However I am not sure at this point if Season 6 is in the cards for me.  I might need to skip a season to keep it fresh.  I would want to play a fresh character again, but not another crusader, so I would have to figure that out.  And I would have to see if the rewards appeal to me at all.

EVE Vegas is Coming

One of the final announcement at EVE Fanfest this past weekend was the date for EVE Vegas this year, which has sort of become the US EVE Fanfest.   The official EVE Vegas site has all the details.

The would be Halloween weekend

The would be Halloween weekend

Tickets went on sale while players were still in Iceland and the early bird discount tickets were gone in a flash.  I am tempted to go.  I had a good time last year.  However, Halloween weekend seems like an awkward time to plan such an event.  It will definitely not be an “off” weekend for the strip, which means prices for everything will be up and venues will be crowded.  Not a problem for the party animals I am sure, but for a grumpy old guy who prefers discussion groups with maybe four or five people, this might not be the ideal date.  Anyway, tickets are going fast so my decision to go or not might be made for me.

Anyway, those are all the items that I had on my list of notes.  Tomorrow there will be an end of month post and then we will be in May.

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

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

Jirachi time

Jirachi time

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

In addition to additional Jirachi related items, Nintendo is also prepping people for an extra giveaway next month, when you will be able to get Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres.

May is for rare flying Pokemon

May is for rare flying Pokemon

Codes for those three Pokemon will come via email in the May Pokemon Trainer Club newsletter.  Of course, to get the newsletter you have to sign up for the Pokemon Trainer Club, detail for which are available on the site.

That is this month’s anniversary news.  The upcoming download events for the remainder of the year as we count down to the launch of Pokemon Sun & Moon are:

  • May – Darkrai (GameStop)
  • June – Manaphy (Nintendo Network)
  • July – Shaymin (Nintendo Network)
  • August – Arceus (GameStop)
  • September – Victini (Nintendo Network)
  • October – Keldeo (Nintendo Network)
  • November – Genesect (GameStop)
  • December – Meloetta (Nintendo Network)

Still plenty of rare Pokemon to collect.  More information is available at the Pokemon 20th anniversary site.

Pokemon – Into the Blue

My relationship with with core Pokemon RPG games on Nintendo handheld systems began about eight years ago with Pokemon Diamond and the Nintendo DS Lite hardware.  That is my foundation point when it comes to the series, my intro and indoctrination into Pokemon.

Pokemon Diamond and the DS Lite

Pokemon Diamond and my DS Lite

I obviously enjoyed the game as I have come back for every new version of the game… eventually… since that time.

But starting when I did, the game had already been in play and evolving for twelve years, through three generations and a remix of the original games.  Or I assumed it was evolving.  So when the series hit its 20th anniversary back in February and released virtual console versions of Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow, I saw this as a chance to explore the origins of the series, to get the feel of how things were back in 1996 when the whole Pokemon thing was just starting.

Old games come to the Virtual Console

Old games come to the Virtual Console

When they came out my daughter said she wanted to play Pokemon Red… though I don’t think she has even launched the game yet… so I went with Pokemon Blue.  I thought about Pokemon Yellow for a bit, but decided against that because it was a revision that came later and might be different enough to matter.

So I downloaded it and off I went.

The first thing I want to say is that it runs very well and looks better than I expected.  Yes, my 3DS XL has more than enough horsepower to run an old GameBoy game, but the GameBoy also had a wee 160 × 144 pixel LCD display.  The upper screen on the 3DS series is 400 x 240 pixels, so I was a bit worried that Pokemon Blue might end up tiny to look at even on the bigger XL display.

However, they appear to have scaled it up well so it fills the screen vertically in emulation.  The game also looks good.  I was wondering how a 4 shade gray scale game might end up looking on a color screen.  The graphics are better than I expected and quite readable.  I don’t even have to put on my reading glasses to play, though first version Pikachu looks a bit more plump than the star of the series is rendered today.

Finding a Pikachu!

Finding a pudgy Pikachu!

It also plays very well.  It is zippy and responsive and aside from the fact that I keep reflexively pulling out the stylus when ever I want to name a captured Pokemon… no touch screen in the GameBoy era, so you have to move the cursor with the D-pad… I settled into the game very well.

The surprise, for me, is how fully formed the game came out back in 2006.  The story line is the same neglectful parent letting you wander the world at the whim of a Pokemon professor named after a tree.  There is an group bent on evil that you must defeat.  The progression through the world is the same, with all the usual way points in forests or underground passages.  You get a bicycle, there is a bicycle only road, there is a tower haunted by ghost Pokemon, there is your rival, there are Poke Marts and at the Poke Center Nurse Joy hopes to see you again even though this must mean that you have injured Pokemon.  There is the safari park, a ship, and the GameFreak offices.  Pokemon gyms have themes and you sometimes have to go find the leader, and you have to go find the Poke flute in order to wake up a sleeping Snorlax that is blocking your path.

I seriously went into the game thinking I would list out all the things that were the same as Pokemon Diamond and quickly found that listing out the difference was a much better plan.  I am 6 gym badges and about 20 hours into the game and items on my list include:

  • NPCs don’t have individual names
  • No running shoes
  • Very limited inventory space
  • Pokemon daycare center doesn’t do breeding
  • No personal base

That isn’t a lot. (There was more, but I can’t find the damn list I was making.)  I left out some specific things, like Nintendo WiFi, but the series seemed to have come out more fully formed than I thought it might have.  I am kind of impressed at how much stuff they got into a GameBoy game.

On the flip side of that, one of my repeated gripes about the series is that it can sometimes feel like you are playing the same damn game over and over with only minor variations.  I thought that might have just been for my eight years of the series, but it looks to be the way things have gone for 20 years now.  Talk about sticking to a formula!  There is an article on the standard aspects of Pokemon RGP game play that lays it all out.

Anyway, the lesson I have learned over my time with the series is that it usually pays to take a break between games, lest the sameness overwhelm the individual variations and nuances that each title brings to this very specific genre.  Because, while they do all feel like they start with the same basic pattern, each game does have its own flavor.  But sometimes your palate has to be clear to detect the subtle flavors.

And the initial game isn’t all that seemed to arrive on the scene fully formed.  The game took the world by storm such that before many months had passed there was an animated TV show, a collectible card game, comic books, and the image of Pikachu on just about anything you could plaster it on.  It all appeared over here in the states in such quick succession that back then I couldn’t have told you what the initial start point for Pokemon was off hand.

But it all goes back to the original GameBoy games, and it has built a pretty amazing legacy over the last 20 years.

Now I have to defeat Team Rocket, get the last two gym badges, and go face the Poke League.

The Pokemon 20th Anniversary Continues with a Legendary Celebi Download Event and More

The Pokemon 20th Anniversary hit late last month, but Nintendo has things lined up for most of the rest of the year to celebrate, culminating with the holiday launch of Pokemon Sun & Moon on the Nintendo 3Ds.

Last month fans on the 3DS got Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow as a purchase option for the Virtual Console as well as a GameStop download event that featured the legendary Pokemon Mew.

For March we get Legendary Celebi.

It is Celebi time

It is Celebi time

However, this time around you do not have to go to GameStop to collect a card, as with the Mew event.  I only figured this out when I told my daughter she had to pick up a card for me while she was at the mall and she came home empty handed.  I suppose if I had bothered to read the right page on the Pokemon site I would have known that. (Instructions for how to do the download are on that page as well.)

Not getting a card is a mild bummer, because I thought the Mew card was pretty neat, a nice little collectible to stick in a drawer and forget about for a few years.

On the flip side, since it is just an over-the-internet download, I can get a Celebi for both my copy of Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Pokemon Y.  Double Celebi!

Meanwhile, Nintendo has other special things planned for the month, as spelled out in this short video.

As for upcoming Legendary download events, I will update my list so I know which are direct Nintendo Network downloads and which require a run up to GameStop:

  • April – Jirachi (Nintendo Network)
  • May – Darkrai (GameStop)
  • June – Manaphy (Nintendo Network)
  • July – Shaymin (Nintendo Network)
  • August – Arceus (GameStop)
  • September – Victini (Nintendo Network)
  • October – Keldeo (Nintendo Network)
  • November – Genesect (GameStop)
  • December – Meloetta (Nintendo Network)

So that is the download plan out through to the release of Pokemon Sun & Moon.

And if that wasn’t enough, if you own and are up-to-date with Pokemon Bank, you can grab three additional rare Pokemon, Regirock, Regice, and Registeel.

Pokemon Bank Special

Pokemon Bank Special

You can find the details here, but the basic info is that you just need to log into Pokemon Bank between March 3 and October 31, 2016 to be able to download these three Pokemon.  They do require Pokemon X & Y or Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire to acquire.

So a plethora of Pokemon to collect this year.

Pokemon Turns 20 Today

The Pokemon franchise turns 20 years old today.  It was back in 1996 that the original Pokemon Red & Green launched in Japan for the Nintendo GameBoy.

Pokemon20

With all of the things that have come since that initial launch… an animated TV series that is nearly 19 years old at this point, 19 movies, 10 TV specials, a collectible card game that remains hugely popular, and a host of spin-off games… it is sometimes easy to forget the rather humble beginnings of it all.  I was actually aware of the collectible card game and the TV series before I ever saw the game on a Nintendo handheld.

I had a Pikachu on my desk at work back in 1999 or so, and a few Japanese Pokemon cards that a friend gave me. I had even seen the TV series a few times… hell, the seizure causing episode is a bit of cultural lore at this point.  But my own journey with the core Pokemon role playing game didn’t come until 2008.

In February of that year we were going on a trip and, in order to keep our then six year old daughter occupied on a long flight, I was sent out the obtain a pink Nintendo DS Lite and a few games.  I think I grabbed LEGO Star Wars and Mario Kart along with Pokemon Diamond as the game selection, though I could have just picked up the last one.  It was all she played on the flight both ways.

During the trip I was impressed by the Nintendo DS Lite hardware.  It was compact, solidly built, had a great screen, long battery life, and built-in WiFi support.  But more than the hardware, I was impressed with the game.  My daughter, being six, had me help read some of the dialog in the game during the flights.  That exposed me to the game sufficiently that I decided I wanted to play too.  So, for my birthday the following month, I ended up getting a cobalt blue Nintendo DS Lite and my own copy of Pokemon Diamond.

Since then I have played a lot of Pokemon.

I have binged and played through titles in focused sprints.  I have played some of the spin-off games, like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon (basically a Rogue-like with Pokemon).  I have gotten burned out and let titles sit half way played for months at a stretch.  I’ve gone to watch tournaments and to download events and even a special Pokemon celebration at our local mall. I even collected them all at one point.

There are currently 133 Pokemon related posts on the blog, all under the Pokemon category.

The hardware has changed.  The DS Lite screen seems so small now… I used to be able to read it without glasses… and I have a Nintendo 3DS XL to play on these days.  The graphics have been updated.  But the basics of the game haven’t changed all that much.  And I am still looking forward to the launch of the next games, Pokemon Sun & Moon, which were officially announced yesterday.

But this is where it all started for me.

Pokemon Diamond and the DS Lite

My Pokemon Diamond and old DS Lite this morning

Now to decide which one of the three originals I want to grab from the 3DS store.  The obvious choice is Pokemon Yellow, because Pikachu.  But that also seems like the safe choice.  Plus it is in color.

Pokemon Sun and Moon Coming for the Holidays

As we sit here on the day before the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Pokemon franchise, Nintendo has some new Pokemon related announcements.

The big one is, of course, the next new Pokemon games in the series, Pokemon Sun & Moon.  You can see the brief statement about the new games here.

Coming in Q4 2016

Coming in Q4 2016

While the setting and new features slated for Pokemon Sun & Moon are yet to be announced, we do know that they will link into the Pokemon Bank application available for the Nintendo 3DS series, which will allow players to move their Pokemon from Pokemon X & Y and Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire to the new title.

In addition, the revised versions of Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow, the original generation which started it all back in 1996, and which should be available in the 3DS store tomorrow, will also connect into Pokemon Bank.

A diagram from the presentation, so it must be true!

A diagram from the presentation, so it must be true!

This will allow you to catch the original 151 Pokemon… well, not Mew, but the other ones… in the initial setting and then bring them into the current generation of games.

Old games come to the Virtual Console

Coming to the Virtual Console February 27, 2016

It will be a one way trip from Pokemon Red, Blue, or Yellow, but you might as well catch them there, as we still have most of the year left to wait until Pokemon Sun & Moon come our way.

I have been waiting for this announcement for a while now, as we seemed due for a new Pokemon release announcement.  I guess waiting for the anniversary makes sense.

The questions that remain for me include, which of the original three should I grab, will I be able to endure a 20 year old version of Pokemon, and will I finally finish up Pokemon Alpha Sapphire before the holiday launch of the new titles?

And, if you’re dying for more Pokemon history, Polygon has a Pokemon timeline posted covering the last 20 years.