Category Archives: Pokemon

Honest Game Trailers does Pokemon Violet and Scarlet

There is now a pretty long tradition of Honest Game Trailers doing videos about the latest Pokemon title, with a review of the game and then a listing out of all of the Pokemon available in the title with alternate names.  So here we are again, now featuring Pokemon Scarlet & Violet.

This video is also of interest to be because I was given a copy of Pokemon Scarlet for Christmas and I have been wondering whether I should start playing.

Pokemon Scarlet & Violet

On the one hand, I do have a long history with Pokemon titles by this point.  I may have started in the Nintendo DS era with Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, but I have played most everything since then and have even gone back and played some of the original titles in emulated mode from Nintendo.

On the other hand, I don’t like playing games on the Switch Lite.  There are a number of reasons for that, but I have never really enjoyed the controller with a screen in the middle concept.  I was much more at home with the old DS/3DS dual screen hardware format which is now history.

I could managed it for the remake of Diamond & Pearl, but never really got very far with Sword & Shield or Pokemon Legends: Arceus.

It is, of course, quite possible that the Switch Lite isn’t the problem, that the series evolving, which it needs to do to stay at least a bit fresh with every iteration, has left me behind.  I do have something of a fondness for titles of a certain era and it is always a bit strange when I play something new and it actually appeals to me.

Anyway, I enjoyed the video and it made me think again about playing, but I have not yet taken the plunge.

Questions as we Plunge into 2023

Welcome to the new year.  As 2023 dawns it is likely cold and wet out if it is Winter where you live and you either have the remains of a New Year’s Eve party to contend with or you’re old like me and went to bed before midnight, so probably still have holiday decorations to deal with.  I’ll be out taking the lights off of the house tomorrow.

My 2023 banner courtesy of our daughter

As long suffering readers will know, on the first of the year I do some sort of forward looking post about the coming 12 months.  Predictions.  Questions.  Demands.  Something like that.  There is a whole history you’re welcome to peruse if you have that much free time.

This year I am going to go with questions.  But, I am going to mix it up and put in my answer as to how I think the questions will turn out.  That means I need to commit and I can score myself when December rolls around again.  As such, my answers will be worth 10 points each, with partial credit possible.

So with that in mind, on to the questions.

1 – Will Microsoft be able to close its deal to acquire Activision Blizzard?

The FTC is suing, which Microsoft says is unconstitutional, though I am pretty sure a courtroom is where one ought to work that out.  Anyway, will the deal go through.  Yes, I believe it will.

2 – Will Diablo IV hit its mark?

June 6th is the day.  I am going to say it will be delayed.

3 – Will Dragonflight hold on to player or will is fall off like Shadowlands?

The initial outpouring of enthusiasm was quite plain when Dragonflight launched.  Some people seem especially effusive about there being no “borrowed power” while flying around on their dragons that aren’t usable in any other expansion.  But there are always people willing to go all in on supporting any new expansion. (Just as there are people who will find a way to crap all over one.

But there are some warning signs.  The fact that you can hit level cap pretty quickly and are then locked into the end-game treadmill seems like a huge red flag to me.  Add in that Blizz is trying to sweeten the deal by throwing in game time if you buy a copy for a friend, letting people who are subscribed but didn’t buy the expansion some limited access, and that there regular as clockwork for past expansions press release announcing how Dragonflight has outperformed all past expansions by some metric, and you might be going, “hrmmmm?”

So my first of the year answer is fall off.  I feel as though Blizzard has learned nothing, that the “answers” this expansion is trying to provide is to give people pretty dragons and flying from day one while holding onto the conviction that what everybody really wants is to sit at level cap for the next 23 months grinding rep and raiding to get that one drop they really want.

And there is an audience for that.  There always has been.  But WoW Classic seems to prove that there was also an audience for other things, a message that WoW retail team seems to be responding to by putting its fingers in its ears and saying loudly, “LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

4 – Will Cataclysm Classic be a thing?

I have opinions about the idea of Cataclysm Classic, how Blizz should frame it, and who might be interested.  But I think Blizz has bought in on the nostalgia train and it has paid dividends, so I think that team is locked in on continuing to work the theme.  Cataclysm Classic will be announce in 2023.

5 – Will we get anything concrete about Blizzard’s survival game?

Are you kidding?  Nothing but vague references in 2023.

6 – Will Daybreak announce something… anything… new?

Expansions don’t count.  I mean a new title.  They screwed the pooch last year on the best opportunity, a Marvel version of DC Universe Online.  So no, they won’t.

7 – Will Daybreak give up on its LOTRO on consoles fantasy?

I think they will.  But I also think they won’t come out and say it, that they’ll do their usual routine and just pretend it was never announced and was never a thing and Columbus Nova was never part of the deal with SOE.

8 – What About Ji Ham’s Acting Career?

Ji Ham will continue to be acting CEO even though EG7 won’t put in any effort into finding somebody to fill the spot.

9 – Will CCP be able to hold onto its current EVE Online player momentum?

It was a tough summer and fall for CCP, but once they got the Uprising expansion out, player counts jumped up.  But even though they have addressed some long neglected areas of the game, I feel the usual player attitude of, “what have you done for us lately?” will kick in.  Also, the 33% subscription price increase will continue to bite.  We’re in for some decline and another weak summer if they don’t have anything in the tank between now and Fanfest in the fall.

10 – How will CCP celebrate 20 years of EVE Online?

The ten year anniversary saw a special physical deluxe edition shipped, with a Rifter model (which I still have) and the mystery code (the neglect of which still annoys some people.

For twenty years I doubt we’ll get another physical box.  I suspect, instead, there will be a set of special virtual packs with special anniversary SKINs and, if you want to collect the full set it will cost you more than the $99 the ten year box did.  CCP will be whaling for the anniversary.

11 – Will CCP reveal either of their other projects?

There is the perennial FPS that they have been working on in London since they had to close DUST 514 and then the mobile strategy game a crew in Shanghai is making.  But for 2023 CCP will remain EVE Online only.

12 – More Biomes for Valheim?

There is still the Deep North and the Ashlands to finish up before we can finish Odin’s work.  But I bet we don’t get either in 2023.

13 – Are we done with crypto garbage in online games?

In the sense that no studio that isn’t looking to be highlighted as a fly-by-night scam will engage with crypto, blockchain, or whatever, yes, we are done.   That doesn’t mean that VentureBeat won’t still be out there shilling for the latest crypto scam or that Lord British will gain an ounce of self-respect or common sense.

14 – What will be the next Pokemon Games?

Remakes of Pokemon Black & White.

15 – Will Meta Horizon Worlds be a thing at the end of 2023?

Yes, but you, I, and the dev team working on it will still not find it worth playing.

16 – Will we see anything like a real metaverse title in 2023?

Lots of visionary talk, but nothing will be online to play.  I mean, it depends on how you define “metaverse” these days.  You might already consider we have it.  But all the current claimants pretending to be building such a thing… and milking investors with the vision… will carry on with empty promises.  Alas, even Playable Worlds, which is the most earnest and likely to deliver something in the long term, will just be some more “Riffs by Raph” this year and little else.

17 – Will any of the usual crowd funded MMO suspects go live with anything?

Camelot Unchained, Pantheon, Squadron 42… I’m probably missing a few…  they’ll all be no-shows again in 2023.

18 – Will Elon Musk still own Twitter at the end of 2023?

Yes.  For all of his mismanagement, the attention he gets feeds his ego in ways no electric car or rocket ship ever can.

Scoring

And that is where I am going to leave it.  That is 180 possible points if I answered my own questions correctly.  I’ll be back in December to run down what really happened.

Friday Bullet Points while Twitter Burns

It has been a good couple of weeks to drop bad news while Elon Musk’s gross mishandling of Twitter has been grabbing all the attention on the tech front.  You might not have noticed Facebook or Amazon or some other tech firms laying off thousands.

Going around the Twitterverse

And this week’s Twitter fiasco was Elon’s great loyalty oath campaign.  The remaining employees had to sign the oath or, if the refused, be laid off.  Some huge percentage of the survivors are said to have not signed, leaving critical systems unattended.  This caused Elon to panic about sabotage or something and he had the offices closed and the employees locked out like the unhinged oligarch he aspires to be.

Twitter isn’t down, and there is no plan to shut it down, but if some technical hiccup brings it offline, getting it back up and running might not be easy.

Last night on Twitter was like the end of high school, with everybody signing each other’s yearbooks and promising to keep in touch.    It is still up today, but the threat looms.

But there are other things going on in the world, and not even all of it is bad.  Most of these items I learned about on Twitter, but I am reluctant to link there now.  I don’t need any more dead links on the site.

  • Blizzard and NetEase Part Ways

This was telegraphed in the Activision Blizzard Q3 2022 financials, but it feels like there should have been more emphasis on it if the collapse of the relationship was going to be announced a week later.  But the other shoe dropped this week with a press release.

NetEase is Blizzard’s partner in China, which means more than you might think.  Doing business in China means working with a company there as a joint venture (a term which always reminds me of late Soviet perestroika) where the local partner holds a controlling interest.

NetEase controls the business that runs games like World of Warcraft and OverWatch in China.  If you fall out with your partner you have to find a new one, which can be a convoluted mess in any circumstances, but much more so if it needs the approval of a totalitarian government.

Blizzard has been through this before, so if they want to keep doing business in China they need to find somebody new to work with.  Meanwhile, the deal with NetEase expires on January 23, 2023, after which point most Blizzard games will be turned off in China.  Diablo Immortal, which was made under a different agreement is the exception in this.  The horrible cash grab Diablo mobile game will remain active.

As for why this has come about, NetEase, following the example of its governments diplomatic policy, is aggressively blaming Blizzard and one individual in particular for the parting.  I don’t doubt Bobby Kotick is a jerk, but I don’t see any evidence that NetEase is somehow the victim in all of this.

  • EVE Online FanFest 2023 Announced

CCP has staked out the dates for EVE FanFest 2023, which will celebrate the 20th anniversary of EVE Online.  And it is going to be… in September?

Yes, the dates are September 21-23 in Iceland, which will put Fanfest a good four months past the games 20th birthday, but when you’re booking an event big enough to show a blip on the countries MER I suppose you have to work with multiple factors in order to find a viable time slot.

Early bird tickets are already on sale and should be much easier to obtain that Taylor Swift tickets.

  • CCP Embraces a Bullshit Metric

When is a bullshit metric even more bullshit?  When you use only at its peak without giving any context.  I have criticized Blizzard for moving from subscriber numbers to MAUs as a transparent attempt to hide the actual state of WoW from investors, but at least they give us a number every quarter so you have some context.

So when CCP CEO Hilmar Petursson came out and said that EVE Online had hits its second highest DAU count since 2016, there were layers of BS to unpack.  To start with, CCP never tells us MAU or DAU numbers, so how do we know?  Was the day a lot better, a little better, not really better at all?

The game is clearly seeing more players.  The daily concurrent user graph over at EVE Offline shows that.  The expansion has sparked fresh interest.  But those graphs also show the peak concurrent for 2022 landed in January during the Doctor Who event.  So what is going on?

Well, as I noted, CCP had a login event with the expansion and gave away 7 days of Omega time to all players, which is a double incentive to login, because you need to do so in order to claim your prizes.  So last Sunday may have been a good day, but was it really a “best in the last six years” sort of day?  I suspect not.

Anyway, glad the game is doing good, but talking about numbers you won’t share in front of a crowd armed with spreadsheets is always a risky move.

  • Enad Global 7 Q3 2022 Financials

Things continue to look good for EG7.  Daybreak continues to dominate revenues on the video game side of the house.  Daybreak executives continue to run the show.  Things are going well.

However, the presentation itself was somewhat terse compared to previous ones.  Few insights and no future statements or handy graphs about upcoming titles.  Just the bare minimum to get by this time around.  Which is fine.  But that doesn’t give me much to build a post around.

  • Pokemon Violet and Scarlet Launch

Hey, it is also a Pokemon launch day, as Pokemon Violet and Pokemon Scarlet go on sale today!

New Pokemon to catch, a new land to explore, and a new adventure to complete!

Nintendo very much has a cycle nailed down for these launches, landing just before Thanksgiving in the US which heralds the start of the holiday shopping season here.  Plenty of time for parents and grandparents to buy copies for the kids that haven’t gone out and bought it on day one already.  And, of course, lots of holiday free time during which to play.

This time around I am not joining in.  My daughter and I played the Pokemon Diamond & Pearl remakes last year, and they were a lot of fun.  But I am not feeling it for another new title.

  • Valheim Mistlands Preview

Finally, the dev team working on Valheim have a game play preview video for the Mistlands biome that we have all been so (im)patiently waiting for.  But we’re going to have to wait for it too, because the video doesn’t unlock until November 22nd.  Dammit!

I hope there is a launch date in there, but I guess we won’t know until next week.

Anyway, that is what I had piled up for Friday.  Bring on the weekend.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are Launching on November 18th

Back in March we got the word about the next big entry in the core RPG thread of the Pokemon franchise, Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet.

Pokemon Scarlet & Violet

Nintendo has their marketing strategy pretty well dialed after so many years of selling what is essentially the same game over and over.  They know us well and we respond to their messaging.

This time around the next drip in the informational build up to the launch got us a date.  November 18th is when the game will arrive.

November 18th is the day

Not that November was a huge surprise.  Getting things tee’d up and into the retail channel before Thanksgiving is a pretty common strategy, and one they have played repeatedly in the past.  That ensures everybody will have time to grab a copy to play over the holidays, or time to put it on their list so parents and grandparents can have a copy for whichever present exchanging event the winter holds for them.

In addition to the date, we also got an introduction into what our characters will start out like and the professors we will run into, because each version has their own professor this time around.

Professors Sada and Turo

Pokemon Scarlet will have you working with Professor Sada, while Professor Turo will be guiding your journey in Pokemon Violet.  Let the cosplay and erotic fan fiction begin!

And then, of course, we got to see some more of the special Pokemon that the titles will introduce.  We got to see the two legendary Pokemon, Koriadon and Miriodon, but they didn’t seem to generate much excitement.  I mean, we all love the legendaries, but they do tend to be a bit overwrought at times.  They aren’t the kind of Pokemon who inspire devotion.  Instead, three of the Pokemon to be found in the new game seemed to be generating excitement.

Pawmi, Lechonk, and Smoliv

Pawmi had some immediate fans, and I have already seen some Smoliv memes, but Lechonk seemed to be the star of the show.  That name alone is a winner and some were declaring that Lechonk was the one Pokemon you were never allowed to rename.

There was also some news about the world of the Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet.  They are attempting to make the whole adventure more of an open world experience, rather than the strictly gated progression that has been a hallmark of the series for most of its life.  They want players to be able to run around and explore.  We shall see how that plays out.

What we know for sure so far is over on the official Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet site, but there is a lot of speculation and wishcasting going on in the community… as there always is when we know so little.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are Coming

The announcement of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet this past weekend made me immediately ask if there is such a thing as too much Pokemon in a year?

Pokemon Scarlet & Violet

I started in an era when getting a new Pokemon title every other year was seen as a bit of a luxury.  You used to get a new title, then a combo-remake title like Crystal, Emerald, or Platinum, and then a re-roll of an older version over a few years before getting something completely new.

But in November we got Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, in January we got Pokemon Legends: Arceus, and now Nintendo has announced Pokemon Scarlet and Violet for later this year.  Given past experience, that means some point in Q4 early enough to stuff the sales channel… consoles still depend a lot on physical sales… before Christmas, so early November seems likely.

Now, there is some nuance to this I suppose.  Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl weren’t even made by Game Freak, but by another studio using their framework, so it didn’t take away from Game Freak’s time.  (This was a first, by the way.)

And Pokemon Legends: Arceus, which was made by Game Freak, is something of a departure from the core RPG line of Pokemon games, so it could be argued that it isn’t really in the same mix as the other two.

Twitter, however, seems to disagree with that.

It still has until November…

And what does that say about Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl and its lifespan as the newest game in the lineup?  That was about two months.  I still have to get the nation pokedex.

But here we are in an age of shortages and inflation (and war) and we have a bounty of Pokemon game options.  So I guess we have that going for us.

Anyway, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are coming.

And, first, I want to say that I am not in love with that name.  Not that it is bad, but “Scarlet and Violet” just doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as “Diamond and Pearl” or “Sword and Shield.”  But it isn’t as awkward as “Black 2 and White 2” I guess, so there is that.  But it is what it is and we will live with it.

Nintendo is doing its usual routine of giving us a drip feed of information, something they will drag out through the summer to keep us all engaged.  But we did get that critical bit of initial information, the piece that we all crave, the tidbit that will start a thousand arguments online… we got the new starter Pokemon.   They are Sprigatito, Fuecoco, and Quaxly, and are apparently meant to reflect in some way the setting of the new title, which is based on Spain this time around.

The Pokemon Scarlet and Violet starting Pokemon

I got a text from my daughter, excited that there was going to be a grass type cat Pokemon.  Others dubbed him “Weed Cat” online.

I am not sure what to make of Fuecoco, aside from wondering why he has a Kraft single stuck to his chest.  Was he making a grilled cheese sandwich and lost track of it.

And then there is Quaxly.  I am good with a duck Pokemon I guess, though at first I thought he was wearing a policeman’s hat.  But on closer inspection, I guess that is his hair, a blue coif set to rival Donald Trump.  Sure, I guess.

Anyway, branding these new starters became an immediate obsession online.

How some see the choices

Fan art about the new starters is everywhere.  Again, we all love a new set of starting Pokemon, even if we are initially put off by any of them.  Fans tend to grow to love them.

And then we’ll see the horrible monster they will evolve into eventually and feel a bit betrayed.

Seriously, they do not have a good track record on that front.

There is also a trailer available, which people have been dissecting for clues.

While the announcement was a bit of a surprise to me at least, there is still plenty of time left to finish up Shining Pearl and maybe work my way through Pokemon Legends: Arceus before it arrives on the scene.

February in Review

The Site

Another month flies by and we are at the 186th month in review post.  Part of getting older is wondering how time goes by so fast.

I did, however, get another meaningless achievement this month.

700 Days in a Row

We’ll see if I keep going.  If I get to the end of March I will have gone two years straight.

February was also a light month for traffic.  It is already a short month and world events seemed to draw people away over the last week.  I get that.

The odd bit is that ad revenue was way down relative to the dip in traffic, barely cracking the $10 mark.  And it seems a different problem from last month, where ads served was way up but revenue was down, reflecting low quality ads being pushed.

This time around ads served was way down as well, much more so than the down turn in page views might suggest.  Either more core audience all has adblock loaded up… and I commend your good sense in that… or ads simply aren’t being served up.  Some checking showed that there was at least some of the latter going on.

Checking from my iPad with Safari, which is not set up to block ads, I was seeing nothing come up for a couple of days.  I don’t know if that is WordPress.com’s problem or the ad broker they are using, but the well of ads was running dry at times in February.  That never seems to happen with Words with Friends.

We’ll see how next month goes.  I’m still on track with my goals even at $10 a month from ad revenue.  That is enough to pay for the premium hosting package.

One Year Ago

It had been a year since the first documented death in the United States from Covid-19.

It was also the end of Silicon Valley retail staple Fry’s Electronics.

Nintendo announced that they were going to finally do a remake of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl.

Out of nowhere, so far as I could tell, Valheim showed up.  I took a look and very soon our group was playing together.  We went out hunting deer, along with the first boss, set sail to find the Black Forest, stormed ashore and setup a base, fought trolls and smelted bronze, then set sail to find the Elder, the second boss, fought an epic battle with that, and wandered into the plains and died to deathsquitoes.  It was quite a time.

Then there was BlizzConline (and Blizzard’s 30th anniversary), which was spoiled a bit by leaks, but which featured the Burning Crusade Classic announcement along with Diablo II Resurrected and other news items.

The Activision Blizzard Q4 2020 earnings call showed WoW was carrying the ball for Blizzard, while SuperData Research showed WoW up on the Shadowlands launch and ongoing WoW Classic momentum.

Actually in WoW Classic, I was working on my paladin, who was catching up to the group, we spent some time getting materials for enchanting, and we were still working on Blackrock Depths, though we got down to the final quest there.

In EVE Online, World War Bee carried on, with PAPI starting to come out of their post M2-XFE slump and CCP’s economic changes sending mineral prices climbing.

And I went on a bit about the difficulty of entering the MMORPG market.

Five Years Ago

Daybreak shut down Landmark less than a year after it officially went “live.”  That’s what extended early access will do to you.

In EVE Online applications to run for CSM12 opened up.  The CSM itself was reduced from 12 members to just 10.  That allowed CCP to potentially fly all members to summits, but also reduced the likelihood of more voices outside of null sec being elected.

Blog Banter #79 explored the benefits and pitfalls of being a long time veteran of New Eden, while CCP posted a nice graph tracking the 25 largest corporations over time.  The graph only had starting numbers, so I provided the ending numbers.

We also got an update that introduced insurance to citadels and kicked off the Guardian’s Gala event.

Actually in game I was blown up by battle Rorquals as well as spending time moving my stuff to a new home system, sitting on a titan, sitting on a Keepstar, survived my first capital op, and dipped my toe into the spectacle that was Burn Jita 2017.  I also had a new favorite EVE Online screen shot.

I wasn’t playing World of Warcraft, but that didn’t stop me from trying to find information about it in Activision Blizzard’s annual financial report.  Good luck there.  I didn’t even bother this year.  Meanwhile, in an unexplained turn, SuperData Research divided WoW into East and West on its monthly Top Ten chart.  I still suspect that was an attempt to make Overwatch look better.

Not only was I not playing WoW, I wasn’t playing any fantasy MMORPGs.  Standing Stone was trying to get me to log into Lord of the Rings Online with the promise of a new mount.

I was confronted by a metaphor for a MMO Kickstarter projects when somebody decided they wanted to make an Apocalypse Now based MMO.

I was still working on the mansion road in Minecraft.  I hit a setback along the way… fell into lava surrounded by creepers… but still made it past the half way point.

And finally, after taking a bit of a break, I was back into Pokemon Sun, working my way towards filling the Alola Pokedex.

Ten Years Ago

I made a video celebrating the first year of the instance group, which formed up back in 2006.  It was focused on what was essentially vanilla WoW and had a serious nostalgia vibe to it.  It got some views.

Then I made a video about Sunken Temple in the same vein that pretty much nobody watched.  That instance always got mixed reviews.  (And my video of the EVE battle at EWN-2U was more popular than both combined.)

Somebody stole our guild on Lightninghoof.

And Blizzard was making money, optimizing clients, and selling new mounts.

In EVE Online, the war in the north had gone kind of quiet.  There were some big battles over tower (e.g. EWN-2U, which was my first epic fleet battle, and 92D-OI), but the sov grind had not begun.  There was some fun around VFK.  I also noted that a “green” kill board seemed to be the norm for individuals.  Meanwhile, CCP was making money and giving us the occasional fun statistics about the game.

Trion gave us actual loot pinatas as well as a check box to turn off exp in Rift.

And, probably most importantly, we got standardized build templates for common rolesRift’s soul system is still deep and complex for those who want to theory craft, but for mere mortals it became possible to just get a workable build and go play.

As a group in Rift we made it to the Darkening Deeps.

I also figured that, due to the way Rift was progressing, it wouldn’t go free to play unless WoW did.  Wrong on that in the long term I guess, it went free to play ages ago now.

On Fippy Darkpaw, the Planes of Power expansion opened up.  For many the PoP expansion marks the dividing line between what counts as “classic” EverQuest and what is considered “the new crap.”

And EverQuest Mac was saved from the chopping block, going free for… as long as it stays up I guess.

Fifteen Years Ago

I wrote a lot of posts.  Not the 59 posts of the month before, but 41 is still a lot of posts.  Half of them seem to relate to stages of heritage quests in EverQuest II.

Back then Kendricke (remember him?) dropped by with the news that Sony Online Entertainment applied for a trademark for “EVERQUEST II RISE OF KUNARK,” thus confirming my guess from December that Kunark would be location of the EverQuest II expansion due near the end of 2007.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office site did not show anything for my guess for the 2008 expansion. (Return to the Planes of Power FTW!) The USPTO did show that SOE at one time had the trademark for, “EVERQUEST: THE DEMISE OF ARADUNE,” which was mildly ironic from a Vanguard point of view. I wonder what they had planned for that title?

Of course, SOE also announced a price increase for Station Access shortly thereafter, always a buzz killer. This was immediately blamed on Vanguard.

Meanwhile, SOE launched The Buried Sea expansion for EverQuest.

I also started off in the Lord of the Rings Online open beta which eventually lead to the instance group spending the spring and summer in Middle-earth before returning to Azeroth.

And speaking of Azeroth, a year ago we were just starting to get into the fun that is Uldaman. And somewhere along the line I swapped out my rogue Blintz for my paladin Vikund, who has remained with the instance group ever since.

I also compared how long it took me to level a swashbuckler up to level 40 in EverQuest II versus how long it took me to get a hunter to the same level in WoW. 

Also, Gaff got flight form in WoW and was really happy with it.  There is flying in WoW, and then there is druid flight form, which is in a league of its own.

I listed out five insane MMO things I wanted, which were not all that insane.  Includes the first time mentioning that I wanted EverQuest redone using WoW’s engine.  I was also on about people picking famous names for their characters, how WASD was messing with my typing, and something else about modelling stealth.

I was looking into the distance to see what Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising might offer.

Peggle launched.  Do you remember Peggle?  It was from PopCap.  Do you remember PopCap?  The game was all the rage on the GFW Radio podcast.  Do you remember the GFW Radio podcast?  Do you remember GFW?  How about Jeff Green?  You know I met him once, way back when he covered modems for MacWeek.  Anyway, it all ended up at EA, including Jeff.

And, finally, my wife got me a Wii for Valentine’s day that I couldn’t use until Easter!

Twenty-Five Years Ago

Mario Kart 64 launches, the second version and maybe the first truly great entry in the Mario Kart series of games.  This one is worth buying whenever Nintendo revives it on later platforms.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. Guardians Gala Returns to EVE Online for YC124
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  5. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  6. Embracing the Iron Age in Valheim
  7. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  8. Pearl Abyss Promises a Blockchain Economy while CCP Prepares for EVE Fanfest
  9. The CCP World War Bee Press Briefing
  10. Off to Another New World in New World
  11. Looking Into Lost Ark
  12. Opening Weekend with Lost Ark

Search Terms of the Month

john carmack create facebook horizon world
[I don’t think you can lay that all on him]

Разработчики установили в eve online стальной памятник девушке
[I’m not sure they were really a “girl” technically]

огромный дом в майнкрафте локация
[Where ever you want to build it]

everquest ruins of kunark back of box
[I don’t think I have that here]

Game Time from Manic Time

Well, there was a bit of a change up in the list this month.  Two weeks ago EQII was at the top and Lost Ark wouldn’t have made the list.  I did, at one point, think about playing Crusader Kings III.  There was an update, and I like the stories that come out of it for other people.  I even patched it up and got it ready, but didn’t end up playing.

  1. Lost Ark – 42.78%
  2. EverQuest II – 37.23%
  3. New World – 10.61%
  4. EVE Online – 5.92%
  5. Pokemon Pearl 1.80%
  6. EverQuest – 1.65%

EVE Online

The month started out with my account lapsing and me spending some time figuring out what I could do as an Alpha clone.  That developed into me mostly not logging on at all once the Guardian’s Gala login rewards were over.  I suspect there is a message in that.  Like many other aspects of the game, free to play hard mode is much harder in New Eden than it is in other MMOs.

EverQuest

The game turned 64-bit, which was a thing I guess.  It was enough to get me to update the client, create a new character, and play through some of the tutorial again.  I kind of enjoy that once in a while.  I had some mad vision of doing a year long event to run a character from creation to level cap, all in the 64-bit era… and then I wandered off and did something else.

EverQuest II

I came into February very strong on EQII, playing it more than anything else for the first half of the month.  I got several character up to the new level cap for both adventure and crafting and started working on the adventure signature quest line… and kind off fell off there.  Expect a post about that this coming week.

Lost Ark

This sort of came out of nowhere for me, and was a bit of a slow burn at that.  With EQII tapering off and not logging into EVE, I had a hole in my play time just when Lost Ark showed up.  I tried it on a lark, kind of liked it a bit, kept playing, and started getting into it.  Here, at the end of the month, it was my most played title.  I had to convert it from a tag to a category here on the blog because the instance group started playing it.

New World

Ah, New World… I don’t hate it, but it does manage to disappoint on such a regular basis.  Amazon games is working on it still, but their list of fixes for February was a bit underwhelming.  That, and being dropped into a new server where the bad things people have been talking about started affecting our game play… and it was time for a break.

Pokemon Go

The month ended with the Johto Tour, which was a good day’s fun.  My wife and I did the free part of the event, because $12.00 is kind of a big ask for a bit of content, and were happy enough with that as it took us nearly all afternoon to finish up.  The downside of the event was that it very much focused on past content, so was a good catch-up for newer players, but there were no new Pokemon out there for us.  I did get a shiny Raikou though.

Level: 42 ( 27.9% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 685 (+5) caught, 705 (+5) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 15 of 18
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Floette

Pokemon Shining Pearl

Playing this remake was a good time, but I have to admit that once I got through the Elite Four and Cynthia, I was kind of done playing.  That is the culmination of the story, the basic win scenario, and after that everything is somewhat self-directed.  I’ll do a final thoughts write up on the game at some point.  Overall though, I quite enjoyed it.

Zwift

Much to my surprise, I am still doing this regularly… three or four times a week… six month down the road.  It would be very easy to just stop, and there are times when I want to skip even my rather minimal routine.  But somehow I have carried on.  This must be what adulthood is like.

Meanwhile, my distance cycled puts me about from my driveway into the middle of Salt Lake City, Utah, which is where the Winter Olympics were held 20 years ago.  I didn’t watch them then, and I didn’t watch them this past month in China either.  Keep on peddling.

  • Level – 13 (+1)
  • Distanced cycled – 774.8 miles (+90.3 miles)
  • Time – 1d 16h 55m (+4h 45m)
  • Elevation climbed – 33,855 (+4,354 feet)
  • Calories burned – 25,924 (+3,113)

Coming Up

March is upon us and it is Mardi Gras tomorrow.  Most people won’t care, but a branch of my family is from New Orleans, so it will be jambalaya, red beans and rice, and king cake at our house tomorrow.  Laissez les bons temps rouler!

March also brings my birthday.  Pokemon Legends: Arceus is on my list, so I might be playing that later on this month.

Then there is Lost Ark.  No doubt this will come up a few more times on the blog.

There is a possibility that CCP will makes some changes that might loosen up the economy and make larger scale warfare viable again in null sec.  I’ll go back to Omega for something interesting.  The battleship changes look interesting to a lot of people.  But EVE Online is still in kind of a messy state.

I might try to figure out what Elden Ring is.  A lot of people are suddenly into that in my Twitter feed, but telling me it is like Lost Souls doesn’t help me, because I never played that.  Also, it is $60, has some issues, and I don’t get how the co-op works, so I can wait.

Summing Up my Nintendo 3DS Play Time

Nintendo is making it clear that the Wii U and 3DS gaming platforms are coming to the end of their supported life.  As with the Wii before them, they are turning down services and trying to make it clear that the future, as far as their platform exclusive titles are concerned, is on the Switch.

This past week it was announced that the Nintendo was set to turn off Virtual Console support as of March 2023, after which no new purchases or fresh downloads would be allowed.  This set off some wailing and gnashing of teeth, but if history is any sort of lesson, this was inevitable.  Even Sony, which supports their hardware long after it has been supplanted by newer models, eventually ends that support… though push back got them to extend support for the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita stores after they initially announced those were to be turned off last year.  But that is merely a stay of the inevitable execution.  The PlayStation 3 launched in 2006.

Anyway, in order to soften the blow or to turn the pending demise of the platform into a moment of nostalgia, Nintendo has put up a page that allows you to explore your Nintendo 3DS and Wii U memories.

Soon memories and some hardware will be all that is left

I saw that Aywren had posted about her memories, so I went to check out when the site had to say about my own play time.

Of course, I never had a Wii U, so that part of the report was not much use to me, but I did have a Nintendo 3DS XL.  In fact, I had… have… still have sitting on my desk, still charging… a pair of them, including the final revision of the line, the 2DS XL.

The final incarnation of the dual screen line

I’m still a tad bitter about that, having bought and moved onto the unit at just about the exact moment that Gamefreak declared that there would be no more core Pokemon RPG titles on the platform.

Why would that irk me?  Well, I think the play time report they provided illustrates that.

It is Pokemon all the way down…

The top three on the list are Pokemon Sun, Pokemon Y, and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire.

The prime games for me

Those three titles alone add up to 440 of the 518 hours of play time I recorded on the console.

Other titles that they show beyond the top three include:

  • Pokemon Omega Ruby
  • Pokemon Ultra Moon
  • Pokemon Blue
  • Pokemon Silver
  • Pokemon Bank
  • Pokemon Sun & Moon Special Demo
  • Poke Transporter

Given that it takes 30 or so hours to play through the main story of a Pokemon game, there is enough time left unaccounted for to have played a couple of those titles through.  I know I played through Pokemon Blue for the 20th anniversary of the series, there being a blog post about it.

Pretty much the only non-Pokemon apps on the list were YouTube, Netflix, StreetPass Mii Plaza, and Mario Kart 7.  I doubt I spent much time with any of them on the 3DS.  I certainly only tried Netflix and YouTube to see what watching video was like on the unit.  It was no substitute for an iPad… or even the average smart phone.

So that is my time spent on the Nintendo 3DS.  That might have been past my peak of Pokemon play times… I put 243 hours alone on Pokemon SoulSilver on the old cobalt blue Nintendo DS Lite… but it was still an era that saw a decent amount of play time.

The Switch Lite I now own hasn’t seen anywhere close to that much play time, but the platform is still young.

January in Review

The Site

Well, I got this achievement at least.

They said I had a satanic streak…

Otherwise is was mostly life as usual for the blog.  WordPress.com broke links, waffled about it for a couple of days, then fixed them again.  Pretty good for them, as they still sort of worked while they were broken.

And then there was the ad revenue.  This month the site served up more ads than ever, coming close to 125K ads displayed compared to 99K last month.  However, revenue was down.  December’s 99K ads were worth a little over $23, while the 125K ads this past month were worth just about $16.  Ad quality clearly plays into the revenue side of things, and I didn’t get high quality ads this time around.  Still, $16 keeps me on track to pay the annual hosting for the blog at the Premium service level, which runs $99 a year.

One Year Ago

For my new year’s post I chose to ask questions rather than make predictions.  I’ve always been told that there are no bad questions, though that statement usually precedes attempts to prove it wrong.

I also reviewed the games I played in 2020 and attempted to guess what I might play in 2021.

Twitch told me what I watched there in 2020 and I did that Quantic Foundry gamer profile thing again.

SuperData Research also did their review of 2020 which, along with its penultimate monthly chart, as their end was on the horizon.

There was that GameStop stock craziness.

I wrote a timeline of SOE/Daybreak Games.

The Steam Winter Sale ended with awards and stats.

I was wondering what LOTRO needed, since it clearly needed something.

People were wondering when we were going to get Burning Crusade Classic, with the current rumor being early May, which seemed too early to me.  But we ended up getting it in early June, so I guess it wasn’t that far off.

The instance group was still working on Blackrock Depths, this time for a love potion.  Then we went off to Dire Maul East for a change of scenery.  Dire Maul North proved too much for just the four of us.  We also hunted for recipes out in the Burning Steppes.  Meanwhile, my paladin was catching up to the group in levels.

And then there was World War Bee, which kicked off the new year with the another huge titan battle, though this time the results were much more one-sided.  The war bullet points:

Somewhere along the way I hit a year in KarmaFleet and the 230 million skill point mark.

There was also more binge watching and we had HBO max finally, so I took a look at it and its app.

And, finally, January 20th was a happy day.

Five Years Ago

As with most years here at the blog, it began with predictions.

Nintendo was telling us all about the Switch console, due in March.

I barely had predictions post before Daybreak announced they were closing Landmark, ticking one off the list for me.  That got people freaked out about other Daybreak titles, so I reviewed the list.

That also led me off onto a semi-sarcastic rant about an EverQuest successor.

It was also high noon for Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2.

With a new iPad I lost all my progress on Candy Crush Saga, so forswore the title forever.

I was also tallying up the results of my purchases from the Steam Winter Sale.  I don’t get why people like Stardew Valley so much.  Just not my thing I guess.  I did play a stretch of Train Valley however.

The long mansion road project was starting to hit home with me, but I kept on moving forward village by village.

In EVE Online I hit the 170 million skill point mark.  All those skill points and I still don’t use my capital ships.  After a false start we got the first update of YC119.  It had music.  It was also the kick off of the CSM election season.

In null sec there was a big battle at F4R2-Q that seemed to herald a new war.  However coordination problems with the local defenders saw us pulling back to Catch.

And in Diablo III we were waiting for the Darkening of Tristram event.  I ran through it quickly once, and then again to get some more achievements.  It was kind of neat, but it wasn’t the original Diablo.

Ten Years Ago

I asked 12 questions for 2012. Some of those questions are still pretty legit.  I also did what was for a while the annual LEGO minifigure round up.

I updated the About Page to its “Infrequently Asked Questions” format.  Has it really been like that for five years already?  It is probably due for an update.

There was that whole SOPA thing.  We still live in peril of its return.

I struck a couple of games from my watch list, as it seemed I would never go back to play them again.

I bought an iPad for our cats… judging by the pictures.

LEGO Universe joined the ever increasing list of departed MMOs when its free to play conversion failed to save it from extinction.

SOE gave us the subscription matrix for the EverQuest free to play transition.  As part of that conversion, EverQuest Mac was targeted for extinction as well. (Spoiler: It survived… for a while)  Meanwhile, somebody had an EverQuest cocktail shaker on eBay.

Prompted by comments from others, I asked why those who sought an old school MMO experience were not out playing Vanguard.

Blizzard said they were going to be too busy in 2012 for a BlizzCon.  Speaking of Blizzard, I hit level 85 at last in WoWAnd then there was a panic about Diablo III maybe launching in February. (It didn’t)

Turbine announced that their fall LOTRO expansion would be Riders of Rohan.

There was an odd divergent current about Star Wars: The Old Republic, with some declaring it dead already (one month in) while others were still in “best game ever” mode.  My favorite (now deleted, but still on the Internet Archive) angry post called it a hate crime.

I was starting to moan… more loudly… about how free to play makes an MMO focus heavily on cash shop content… to the detriment of the game in my opinion.  This was prompted, no doubt, by those wings.  Smed, on the other hand, was very happy about free to play.

In EVE Online the war against White Noise came to a close, leading to a quiet time in the north.  But a conflict with Raiden was looming.  during the lull, I recalled my first PvP death in EVE and celebrated that Garde drones now actually went *pew* *pew*.  Boring no more!

In Rift, the instance group was kicked off its server.  We regrouped on a new server.  We were also warming up and starting to work as a group again in the Iron Tombs and the Darkening Deeps.  That last was a struggle.

The Type 59 tank was pulled from the cash shop in World of Tanks.

And, finally, there was Pop Muzik.

Fifteen Years Ago

I wrote 59 blog posts, which remains a monthly record here at TAGN.  Of course, that was before Twitter, so I was more likely to do shorter posts.  If I had the patience I would track the average word count per post per month over the life of the blog to see how I changed from short posts to more of a long form/long winded approach.

I gave a brief recount of 2006 in what I find is my first high/low post on the blog.  I had forgotten that I had done that post.  I also uninstalled some games I was no longer playing.  I was also looking forward towards Lord of the Rings Online.

The MMO blogesphere starting talking about generations of MMOs, and I asked if we had even gotten past the first generation, then quoted Wikipedia’s take on the generation debate.

The instance group in World of Warcraft finished up the Scarlet Monestary and rolled through Razorfen Downs.

Blintz, my fae swashbuckler in EverQuest II was just digging into Zek, The Orcish Wastes, one of my favorite zones in post-cataclysm Norrath, as well as hunting for Blood Talon in order to get my dwarven work boots.

Scott Hartsman described some of the goals for the EverQuest II expansion that would eventually become The Rise of Kunark.  I also discovered that Sony slipped a promo for the Transformers movie in with the Echoes of Faydwer installation.  That was back when SOE was under Sony Pictures.

I played in some of the Vanguard open beta, once I got it downloaded.  The team was still working on a lot of polishing and features. The launch date was announced somewhat late, but when the game actually launched (on the same day as the much maligned Microsoft Vista), I declined to buy the box even though it was on Station Access.  I thought one of the game’s potential flaws might be the inability to make a “hot” character. A female half-elf was the best I could manage.  The character models were not pretty despite a profusion of sliders and options in the creation process.

Blizzard launched The Burning Crusade without the usual first day disasters that generally accompanied expansions back in the day, though I couldn’t figure out why I bothered to buy a copy.  I was wondering how long it would hold its $40 price tag.  It stayed at that price for quite a long time.  These days we sometimes get a discount before a game even goes live.

Given that expansions were on my mind, I was wondering what the best timing for expansions really was.  EverQuest was still doing two a year back then, while Blizzard took more than two years to get to its first one.

I gave a brief review of Massive Magazine issue #2.

And I found that SOE had provided the industry standard definition for the word “soon.”

Twenty Five Years Ago

The original Diablo shipped, stirring up a new genre in its wake, the ARPG.  You can still find a playable version of the original at GoG.com.

Thirty Years Ago

Atari Corporation, as it then existed, dropped production, sales, and support for the Atari 2600, the Atari 7800, and the Atari 8-bit computer family.  The 2600 series was supported for 15 years from launch, and has since been renewed in emulators in software and hardware form many times.

Forty Years Ago

Sega launches Zaxxon, with modeled a 3D environment with an isometric perspective and was, as I recall at the time, amazing looking.  I could just sit and watch the demo run in the arcade.

Most Viewed Posts in January

  1. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  2. Probing and Hacking for Fun and Profit in the EVE Online Doctor Who Interstellar Convergence Event
  3. Doctor Who and Daleks Invade EVE Online with the Interstellar Convergence
  4. CCP Takes Aim at Cloaky Campers in EVE Online
  5. 20 Games that Defined the Apple II
  6. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  7. Embracing the Iron Age in Valheim
  8. Microsoft Plans to Acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 Billion, Promises Joy and Community
  9. Daleks are Coming to EVE Online
  10. The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor
  11. Predictions in the Face of 2022
  12. The Army of Mango Alliance Attempts a Self Destruct to Flee Fraternity

Search Terms of the Month

goonswarm propaganda best
[I mean, it is pretty damn good at times]

eve fax
[Yes, though without the special paper]

eve minokawa
[See ‘eve fax’]

r-arkn aom keepstar
[Not anymore]

usnavy marauders
[Those are not like EVE Online marauders]

Game Time from ManicTime

The month saw New Eden back on top as I ran the Doctor Who event to see what it was all about.  I had a bit of a Stellaris binge and EverQuest II were not far behind.

  1. EVE Online – 26.29%
  2. Stellaris – 22.95%
  3. EverQuest II – 21.56%
  4. Pokemon Pearl – 19.10%
  5. New World – 9.11%
  6. Forza Horizon 4 – 0.66%
  7. World of Tanks – 0.34%

EVE Online

Things continue to churn in New Eden.  Even in peace there is always some destruction and drama going on.  I saw somebody complaining on /r/eve that null sec wasn’t warring hard enough to keep them entertained, but we blew up and looted a staging Keepstar that might have been the biggest loot pinata in video game history.  You just can’t please some people.

There was also the Doctor Who event, which I ran through.  I’ll have a write up on it as it ends at downtime tomorrow.  Safe to say, like the game itself, it had its ups and downs and was likely inscrutable to any outsider.

EverQuest II

I hit the level cap again playing through the Visions of Vetrovia expansion.  It actually wasn’t that hard, as I wrote late last week.  It was, however, very much an EQII experience, which is neither a good nor a bad thing necessarily, but it is a thing.  I also managed to touch very little of the actual expansion content, because the game is focused on instanced play.  However, they do tend to offer solo versions, so there is still more to explore.

Forza Horizon 4

Some driving was indeed done, but I have hit a point where I got the driving need out of my system for a bit and where I have done a lot of the easy things in the game and the map is such a mess of things to do now that when I do log in I spend too much time trying to figure out where I should even go next.  And then I drive around way too fast and crash through fences, hedges, trees, and whatever else gets in my way.  At least that never gets old.

New World

The holidays finally ended there last week.  Some people leave the tree up too long I think.  The groups spent a few play sessions trying to get to the next dungeon in the game, the one at level 35.  We’re not exactly speeding out way through the game, but we’re not in a big hurry either.

Pokemon Shining Pearl

I made it through to the Elite Four and defeated Champion Cynthia, thus pretty much completing the central story of the game.  But, in Pokemon, there is always more to be done.  I still have more to catch before I can even begin to claim I have caught them all.

Pokemon Go

Another month climbing the long, long road to level 50.  I didn’t really do much out of the ordinary, a few raids, spun a Pokestop daily, and managed to get in one of the local gyms to earn some coins regularly.  I also managed to miss a day and got my daily catch and daily spin cycles out of sync, which always annoys me.  But I have them aligned again now.

Level: 42 ( 19w.7% of the way to 43 in xp, 4 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 680 (+3) caught, 700 (+3) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 15 of 18
Pokemon I want: I need a Torkoal for my Hoenn Pokedex
Current buddy: Inkay

Stellaris

Having purchased some of the latest DLC for the game, I dove in and played.  As I noted, I would consider it a classic “one more turn” game that can keep you up past your bedtime, but technically it doesn’t have turns.  But it will keep you up late dealing with each new update or event that comes in.  And if they’re coming in too slowly, you can just speed the game up.

World of Tanks

I poked about in this for a bit at the beginning of the month, so I have some stats for 2022 I suppose.  But once I got on the Stellaris binge in the evenings, my tank time sort of dried up.

Zwift

I have been at making sure I get on the bike 3-4 times a week.  I think the fact that I post this here is a motivator because, even though I am sure I am the only one that pays attention to my numbers, that they’re out in the open makes me self-conscious about them.

As for distance, I have now essentially gone from our house, though Portland, Oregon, and just over the Columbia river into Washington state.

  • Level – 12 (+0)
  • Distanced cycled – 684.5 miles (+100,1 miles)
  • Time – 1d 12h 8m (+5h 12m)
  • Elevation climbed – 29,501 (+5,088 feet)
  • Calories burned – 22,811 (+3,385)

Coming Up

We’re already a month into 2022 and, while it is cliche to say so, what the hell?  Time goes by too fast.

February should bring us the Activision Blizzard Q4 2021 and 2021 overall financials.  We’re all eager to see that I am sure… though with Microsoft buying them, I am not sure how much they really matter anymore.  And once Microsoft swallows them I doubt they’ll be more than an obscure line item on the MSFT financials.  Enjoy it while it lasts I guess.

Daybreak has a few things going on, including an odd new Lore & Legend special server for EverQuest II and a 64-bit upgrade for EverQuest.   Also, they’ll no doubt be picking the EverQuest Community Resource Council, but that is all hush hush.

Guild Wars 2 has the End of Dragons expansion slated to launch last I checked, and it will include fishing.  So keep an eye open for that.

Facing the Pokemon League in Pokemon Shining Pearl

Having caught Palkia and dealt with the Team Galactic menace, it was time to challenge with the Sinnoh Pokemon League.  That was always the end game in what I guess might be the “classic” era of the core Pokemon RPG games.  That got changed a bit in Pokemon Black & White, but there is almost always a way to become the champion in the local region.

Shining Pearl – The Retro Remake we had been Waiting For

First things first though, I had to defeat the final gym in Sunnyshore City.  There Volkner runs the gym, which specialized in electric Pokemon.  While I had left behind a Graveler, which would have been an ideal Pokemon in my lineup, my current crew was enough to find the way through the maze of his gym and defeat him.  That got me the Beacon Badge for the gym and unlocked the final travel move for me.

Finished in Sunnyshore City

That gave me all eight moves, most of which you need to then make your way to the Pokemon League, which is a trip on its own.

All eight moves in my Poketech

The trip to the Pokemon League took a bit.  It is over water, then underground, then over water some more, and finally up a waterfall… that last move lets you ride up one… before I arrived at the league.

Having made the journey once, you are able to fly there directly going forward, though there are things hidden along the way that you might want to go back and pick up once you’ve made the trip once.

Of course, your rival is up there, so you have to battle with him once more.

Barry Again

He is the most good natured rival of the series I think.  He is just keen to get out and conquer the world.  But once you beat him you are left to face the Pokemon League, where you have to take on five successive battles against the Elite Four and then the Champion.  They are:

  • Aaron – Bug Type Pokemon
  • Bertha – Ground Type Pokemon
  • Flint – Fire Type Pokemon
  • Lucian – Psychic Type Pokemon
  • Cynthia the Champion – Mixed Set

The types are more of a suggestion than a rule.  As with some of the gym leaders, they slip in things that can use, say, fire type moves, but which are not fire type Pokemon.

While you cannot leave the challenge between battles, you can stop to apply potions and such. So I had spent some time at the resort outside Pastoria City where you can battle the rich patrons daily, doubling my take by making sure I had a Pokemon with the Amulet Coin in each fight.  I built up a war chest of coins to lay in a supply of heals and revives and other items I might need.

And then, once supplied, there was nothing for it but to go give it a try.  My lineup for the first run was:

Crew for the First Run

And, I did not do so badly.  Bertha’s ground Pokemon took me a while to get through, which was a bit of a surprise due to my having two water types in the mix, but that was what I said about the types they favor not making up their whole teams.

Honestly, I was a bit surprised I made it all the way through to Cynthia, having gone in without much of a plan.  I didn’t even have some of my Pokemon holding items.  I started in on what became almost an hour long battle.  I had a lot of trouble with her Gastrodon, a water/ground type that I did not have a good handle on.  But she didn’t have anything too strong that I couldn’t counter, so there were lots of swaps and I tossed out quite a few potions and not a few revives.

It seemed like I was finally getting the upper hand, though I had clearly not purchased enough potions, when Cynthia brought out her big gun, the Garchomp.  That proceeded to one-shot my team until it was all over.

Garchomp takes me down

At that point you lose 8K in coins and you’re sent back to the Pokecenter to revive your team.

Well, at least I knew what I was facing now.

There are essentially two ways to beat the Pokemon League.  You can assemble just the right team of the right types with the right moves that can handle every Pokemon that will get thrown at you, or you can just level you Pokemon up to the point where they can handle it.

Cythnia’s team was in the low 60s for levels, but that Garchomp was level 66, which put him a couple levels above my highest.

I didn’t think I necessarily had a bad lineup, so my first plan was to make sure I had the right moves for the fight.  Also, I went to earn some more coins so I could fill up my bag with more heals.

So back I went for a second run with the same lineup, just a little more prepared and with a couple more levels.

Back for the second run

And the story was about the same.  I struggled with Bertha a bit, but got past here, then, once I got to Cynthia things slowed down.

The battle wasn’t as long, but it ended the same way; once Garchomp was set loose on me, he proceeded to eat my party, sending me packing.

I decided that perhaps I needed to change my lineup a bit to take on Cynthia, as her Garchomp was killing me.  I needed something that would be able to stand up to it.

In searching the web I found a couple of recommendation, the easiest of which to obtain was a Weavile.  I had seen some level 50 Sneasels in the underground, which evolve into Weavile.  Catching one wasn’t too tough, but actually evolving it took another search.  To get it to evolve you need to give it the razor claw item to hold and have it level up at night local time, which starts at 8pm.

I actually missed the 8pm part of the description, so leveled him up twice before checking on the time requirement.  But the third time was a charm.

Sneasel evolving into Weavile

Having evolved him and gotten him the Ice Beam move that was supposed to be a Garchomp killer, I needed to level him up a bit as he was still in the low 50s.

I started by doing random encounters along the route to the final four, but that was kind of slow going.  So I went back to the Pokemon League, because one of the best ways to gain experience to level up your Pokemon is to battle them.

While I wasn’t aiming to beat the champion this time, I still loaded up on potions and revives, and went in to gain some levels.  I also gave my Weavile a lucky egg to hold, which would double the experience he received.  I was going there to level him up.

Of course, by this point my team had leveled up since my first try, so the Elite Four were somewhat easier and I soon found myself facing Cynthia again.

Once again I was locked in a long, drawn out battle.  Every one of her Pokemon I knocked out was a bit more experience for my team, so I kept on going until I found myself once again facing Garchomp.  Facing him was my starter Pokemon, Perry.

Perry versus Garchomp

This turned into a battle of attrition.  He hit me with an Earthquake, which had previously been enough to one-shot Perry.  Now though, he had leveled up enough to be able to ride it out, though just barely.

I hit Perry with a potion to heal him up again while Garchomp did sword dance, which boosted his attack.  The next round I countered with charm, which lowered his attack while he did another sword dance.  We went through a series of round of that, until he ran out of moves for that, so I got a charm off again before he hit me with another earthquake.  I used a potion and got hit with another earthquake, again, over and over, round after round, until he ran out of earthquake moves.

At that point Garchomp fell back on a lesser attack and I was able to get an ice beam off… I had also trained that on Perry just in case… and boom, Garchomp went down.  I had won.

Perry left standing

My goal was to level up my Weavile in order to face off against Garchomp, but I ended up not even needing him.  In assembling a better team I had leveled up enough to win.

From there Cynthia congratulates you on your victory.

Champion gracious in defeat

Then Professor Rowan shows up and they take you to the room where they record you team in the hall of fame.

Everybody healed up and in their Pokeballs

And then you get a show that displays each member of your team, then the final victory shot.

My winning team

After which, the credits for the game roll on by.  Then the game restarts and you’re back in your room, where the game all began.

Back where it all began

The game is not done though.  When you go down stairs your mother tells you that your rival was looking for you.  Then there is the Pokedex to finish up.  I went by and Professor Rowan said I had 145 found so far.  Just a few more to go.

And then there are the legendary Pokemon Uxie, Azlef, and Mesprit, still to catch, which I recall being a bit of a pain.  You have to find them on the map and then get to them before the move on.

So there are still things to be done.  But the main narrative, the story of the game, is complete.  40 hours is about par for the course for me.

Catching Palkia in Pokemon Shining Pearl

I had to delay my progress in the game for a few of days while my daughter was away so I wouldn’t get too far ahead of her.  But have been back on the trail in Pokemon Shining Pearl since the holidays.

Shining Pearl – The Retro Remake we had been Waiting For

First up was taking on the the seventh gym up in Snowpoint city.

Truth in naming, unlike Greenland

The Snowpoint city gym isn’t difficult when it comes to the fights.  There were more fights getting to Snowpoint City, as you have to run the usual gauntlet of NPC Pokemon trainers eager for battles as well as the usual random encounters.  But the maze in the Snowpoint City gym… well, it is probably the most difficult of the bunch and one where, if you mess up, you have leave the gym then come back to start over again.

After a few runs at it I had to look it up.  I seem to recall having to do that back with the original as well, though in 2008 I had to go through the book to find out that the key to the whole puzzle was breaking the grid of snowballs in the center of the gym in the right order.

I beat the gym leader which got me the seventh gym badge and unlocked the ability Rock Climb.

I just said that

Rock Climb unlocks new areas of the map, including the heights of Mt. Coronet.  But my first stop was the Team Galactic Headquarters, where I had to find a key, defeat all the grunts, fight one of the bosses, and then release Uxie, Azlef, and Mesprit, three mythical/legendary Pokemon that had been captured by Team Galactic.

After the battles it just meant pressing a button

That done, I was off to the top of Mt. Coronet to face the leader of Team Galactic.

They were waiting for me

Up there, in Pokemon Shining Pearl, the boss is holding the Legendary Pokemon Palkia.  That is the Pokemon on the cover art for the title, so this is a big part of the story.

The boss, like all Pokemon bad guys, is a bit over the top in his ambitions.

He has to monologue for a bit

The bad guys in the classic Pokemon titles all have the ambition and budget of a Bond villain… and sometimes even the same goals… well, aside from money, which is the most common Bond villain goal… and yet tend to get overthrown by 10 year olds with neglectful parent.  I mean, my mom in the game gave me the thumbs up for this adventure with a pat on the head and an admonition to “stay safe” or some such.  I forget at this point, it has been a lot of steps since I left Twinleaf Town.

Before you get to the boss though, you have to fight his two minions… again, because you fought them before.  But your rival, I chose the name Barry for him from the list, comes to assist you for a doubles battle.

Barry is there for me

That battle was pretty quick, as was the fight with the boss.  Barry doesn’t join in on the boss fight, but it went by fairly quickly, monologuing aside.

Yes, yes, yes, you keep telling me these things…

Once the boss has been dispatched… and he is done cataloguing his plans and whatever… it is time to face Palkia.  Professor Rowan and Dawn are both there to support you as you go to face the main Pokemon in the game.

Getting last minute advice on the battle

This is a tense moment in the game, because you don’t want to blow it.  You want to catch Palkia, not defeat it in combat or cause it to run away.  This is a point where a lot of people save the game, before they start that fight, in case they screw up.  If you do blow it, you power down your game and launch it again to start from the save point.

Unless, of course, you have the master ball that you picked up back at Team Galactic HQ, in which case you just throw that and catch Palkia on the first round.

We won’t be taking any chances here

I mention all the other stuff because there is a school of thought that says you should save the master ball for later catches, but I wasn’t going down that path.  I wanted Palkia and got them.

Having caught Palkia, the confrontation on Mt. Coronet is over.  Team Galactic has been defeated, their story line has been wrapped up, and you, Dawn, and Professor Rowan are able to head off to other tasks.

So, we just walk back now?

From there it is off to Sunyshore City and the eighth and final gym.  Getting there had been blocked by a power outage… a reference to the fact that the Sunyshore gym leader is into electric Pokemon… but once you have come down from Mt. Coronet, power has been restored and you can proceed.  Yet another content gate.

But I now had Palkia in my party and was planning to make them part of my group to face the Pokemon League.

Palkia and friends

The other three in that picture… catching them comes later.