Category Archives: Nintendo

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.

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.

Pokemon Go Giving Out Extra Candy for Halloween

Nintendo and Niantic announced earlier this week that Pokemon Go would have something special for Halloween.  No doubt the record breaking run to $600 million in revenue made them feel generous… that and the tapering off of the game’s user base.  But I still play.

Not that many scary Pokemon in the first 150

Not that many scary Pokemon in the first 150

From October 26 until November 1 Pokemon Go will reward you with double the candy for Halloween.  When you catch a Pokemon you will get 6 candy instead of 3 and when you transfer a Pokemon you will get 2 candy instead of just the one.  You will also earn candy with your buddy Pokemon at four times the usual rate.

Meanwhile, the following Pokemon will be more common during the duration of the event.

  • Zubat
  • Golbat
  • Gastly
  • Haunter
  • Gengar
  • Drowzee
  • Hypno

If that is the level of “scary” in the first 150 Pokemon, I suppose I could make the case that Abra and his evolutions ought to be on the list as well.  Either way, the event is going.  There was a Drowzee on our driveway earlier and I got six candy for catching him.

In addition, if you are a Pokemon X & Y or Pokemon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby player in the US, there is still time to head over to GameStop to pick up a code that lets you download a level 70 Volcanion.

Behold his volcano-ish bearing

Behold his volcano-ish bearing

And if you are looking for something else Pokemon related to add to your Halloween, you can head over to their site for pumpkin stencils.

The Nintendo Switch Announced

Nintendo finally gave us a real peek at their new console, formerly referred to as “NX.”  Its official name is Switch and looks like this:

Nintendo Switch, for your TV and elsewhere

Nintendo Switch, for your TV and elsewhere

Nintendo has previously said that this unit is no meant to be a direct replacement for the 3DS and Wii U product lines.  Instead the Switch looks like it is meant to fill roles currently taken by both.  As shown it has a dock that lets you hook it up to your TV in the traditional living room console fashion.  But it can be removed from the dock, which reveals a small high definition display.

The controllers are… um… they seem to have many roles in the Switch universe… and a silly name… Joy-Con controllers.   From the press release:

Gaming springs into action by removing detachable Joy-Con controllers from either side of Nintendo Switch. One player can use a Joy-Con controller in each hand; two players can each take one; or multiple Joy-Con can be employed by numerous people for a variety of gameplay options. They can easily click back into place or be slipped into a Joy-Con Grip accessory, mirroring a more traditional controller. Or, if preferred, the gamer can select an optional Nintendo Switch Pro Controller to use instead of the Joy-Con controllers.

Given how small the controllers look… something that matters when you have giant mitts like mine… I am happy that other controllers will be available.

Another item that sticks out from the press release is the idea of Switch users being able to bring their units together to form up a local mulitplayer network.

Furthermore, it is possible for numerous people to bring their Nintendo Switch systems together to enjoy local multiplayer face-to-face competition.

The return of the LAN party?

Of course, Nintendo has many fanciful visions of people using the Switch, carrying it from place to place, and never being without it… ever… in the video that accompanied today’s announcement.

Friends calling you to come to their roof top party?  Now you can bring your video game obsession with you!

Of course, for me, the big question is, “What does this mean for Pokemon?!?!?!”

Console play isn’t really much of a thing at our house.  We got many hours on the Wii back when my daughter was in grade school, but now it just sits and collects dust, while the PlayStation 3 has been primarily a Blu-Ray playing and video streaming device over its five year life in our living room.  So I never gave a thought to buying an XBox One, PlayStation 4, or Wii U.

The only console I do play is the Nintendo 3DS, and that is pretty much just for Pokemon.  So if the Switch is going to get the main line Pokemon RPG games at some point, then I might have to look into the system.  In the video they show the Switch taking a cartridge, ever the delivery vehicle for Pokemon games.

53 seconds into the video, a cartridge is inserted

53 seconds into the video, a cartridge is inserted

Of course, that may never happen.  Despite Nintendo’s statement about the NX, now Switch, not being a direct replacement for either 3DS or Wii U, it sure feels more like a Wii U replacement than anything else.  It is a living room device for use on the TV, even when mobile the screen looks a bit big to be pocketable, and the video shows people playing Splatoon, one of the few hits on the Wii U.

Meanwhile, as the Wii U has languished, the 3DS line remains a good seller, seeing a significant boost in sales over the summer has Pokemon Go seemed to stir interest in the “real” Pokemon games, the core RPG titles available on the 3DS.  And, of course, the next installment in the core Pokemon RPG series is due out next month on the 3DS platform.  No need to hurry any transition for that line.

The flip side of that is Nintendo’s long standing tradition of supporting games from the previous console generation.  Without an optical drive, that isn’t going to happen for Wii U titles.  Of course, that might be the whole point of saying it is not a direct replacement.  It is a replacement for the Wii U, but it isn’t going to play any of your Wii U games.  Given how PlayStation and XBox backward compatibility has been handled… and the slow sales of the Wii U… this might not hurt Nintendo all that much.  Still, you can see how this might be a… heh… switch for them.  Ahem… anyway… no more motion controllers and no touch screen.  And no mention of VR.

And that is about all we know.  The press release has a list of developers who have signed up to support the Switch, but as we have seen in the past, studios saying they are going to support a platform fully and getting them to actually do it are two different things entirely.  You can watch the Zero Punctuation episode from a couple weeks back about the Capcom 5 to see how Nintendo has been screwed on that front before.  Other than that, we have the video, the press release, and the promised date of March 2017.

The date in block letters on a red background to emphasize it is a date

The date in block letters on a red background to emphasize it is a date

Meanwhile, the video game sites are jumping all over this and picking apart every nuance of what has been show (like the fact that Splatoon players have pants on the Switch version) so I expect the Wikipedia entry on the unit to get a lot of edits and updates over the next few days.

So the Switch is coming in a few months, so people can start building up a supply of headline puns playing on the unit’s name.

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.”

Pokemon Go Account Hacked and Recovered

I rolled over, waking as I shifted into a more comfortable position.  It was dark out and I was ready to fall back asleep until my eyes landed on the clock and saw that the alarm was going to go off in less than ten minutes.  I was done with sleep.

I reached over to the night stand and picked up the iPad, then rolled on to my back and propped myself up a bit on my pillow.  I unlocked it and first went to turn off the alarm.  That done, I went to browse email to see what might have come in over night.

Generally it is the same set of automated posts, spam, and press releases.  But there at the top of the pile was the following email:

From: Pokémon Customer Service
Date: Sep 20 at 5:11 AM
Subject:
A change has been made to your account.

Dear Pokémon Trainer Club Member,

This email is to inform you that your Pokémon Trainer Club password was recently changed. If this change was made in error or without your permission, please write us at support@pokemon.com or visit pokemon.com/support.

Sincerely,
The Pokémon Company International

I hadn’t changed anything on that account in quite a while.  Furthermore, the time stamp was just ten minutes past, strongly suggesting that the change had been done while I was asleep.

I got up, walked down the hall to start up my desktop computer, then wandered back to the bathroom to hop in the shower.

After getting showered and dressed, I kissed my still dozing wife good-bye and went back up the hall to check out my Pokemon Trainer Club account.  I tried logging in and got the following message:

Your username or password is incorrect. You have 4 attempts left before you will be locked out of your account for 15 minutes.

Well, I knew the username was correct, and I doubted that I had forgotten the password.  Back when I created the account I used one of my “this account doesn’t matter” passwords because, at the time, it didn’t seem like an account that I needed to worry about getting hacked.  There is almost nothing to “do” in the Pokemon Trainer Club, nothing to steal or wreck or anything so I chose an oft used password.

Of course, that was back when I made the account quite a while back.  Since then Pokemon Go showed up on the scene, and one of the login options was to use your Pokemon Trainer Club account, which I had done because people were freaking out about how Pokemon Go was reading your Google Mail or some such.

Anyway, somebody had clearly gotten into the account and changed the password, and now I could not get into the account.

So I clicked on the “Forgot Password” option and had them send a password reset link.  However, that was taking a while, so I went back to the login page and did four more bogus logins to lock the account for 15 minutes, then packed up and drove to the office.

By the time I got into work, the password reset email had finally arrived and the 15 minute lockout had just expired.  The joy of going to the office early is that traffic is light.  I hit the link and reset the password to something more secure and quickly received another email message from the Pokemon Trainer Club alerting me that the password on my account had been reset, with the elapsed time between the two alerts being just over an hour.

And then I had to text my wife to tell her that she would need a new password to login to Pokemon Go.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my wife took over my initial Pokemon Go account and has been playing it ever since.  She is up to level 22 and has been doing gym battles.

She was able to log back into the account with the new password and reported that while whoever took over the account had trashed a bunch of stuff out of her bag, including most of her carefully hoarded revives, so necessary for post-gym battle clean-up, the account seemed to be otherwise intact.  The in-game journal even showed that somebody was catching Pokemon while we were asleep.

Not our activity

Not our activity

So, account recovered.  However, we got lucky.  The person who took the account over didn’t have it for long and, aside from deleting those revives, didn’t do much with it.

They also didn’t bother to change the email address associated with the account.  Googling for tales of Pokemon Trainer Club accounts being hacked turned up some stories of that happening and people having to get in touch with the site support staff to try and recover their account.

I suppose the real questions here are how and why?

As noted, the password wasn’t very secure.  But given how many Pokemon Go characters are likely tied to Pokemon Trainer Club accounts, it seems unlikely to be hacked totally at random.  Was the account targeted and, if so, based on what?

And then there is why… or why bother… or why bother if you you’re going to do such a half-assed job?  The person who took it apparently just wanted to play on the account.  Did they think it was abandoned or unrecoverable?  So many questions.

I wish the journal told you which PokeStop they used… they are all associated with locations… so I could tell where they were.  My guess, given the time frame, is somewhere further east.

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.