Tag Archives: Nintendo Switch

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.

Diving into Pokemon Shining Pearl

As I mentioned previously, copies of Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl were underneath the tree for my daughter and I Christmas morning.  My daughter took Brilliant Diamond while I got Shining Pearl.  We were not able to jump right into the game on Christmas Day, it being a busy family day, including a 5 hour round trip drive up to my father’s place, but we got going soon enough.  I dove in first and had to prod my daughter a bit to follow suit, but once she got into the game, it was a return to a fun, old school experience.

Shining Pearl – The Retro Remake we had been Waiting For

And, as I noted in my month in review post… and will no doubt repeat… the old school aspect of it is kind of what makes the game so far.  There is the simple intro, the immediate send-off from your character’s mother who seems happy to send a 10 year old off into the world on their own, the hyperactive rival, and the pre-analog stick grid-like layout of a game designed for the DS series D-pad.  It was enough to put nostalgia in play.

Of course, the whole thing is very much on the same engine as Pokemon Sword & Shield… what choice did they have with it being on the Switch hardware… and with that there come some changes.  Yes, you can play in old-school DS mode and move with the D-pad while holding down the B button to run… or you can move with the left analog stick, always in run mode, to make your way around the world.

I honestly find the analog stick both a blessing and a curse.  You are not limited to the four cardinal directions and are always in run mode when you use it.  But that ability to run off at an angle means that lining yourself up for things like doors in the grid designed world can be a bit of a challenge at times… and all the more so when you get your bicycle and are moving much faster.  Sure, the bicycle’s speed always made overshooting your target an issue, but the analog stick seems to amplify it.

And you can’t just ignore the stick, because I’ve found a couple of places in the caves where you need that diagonal movement to hook a corner without dropping off a step and having to run back around to try it again.  So I mostly use the stick unless I am trying to thread a needle somewhere.

The new engine also renders everything in 3D, so while the game runs you around in a flat, 2D looking mode for much of the time, it cannot resist reminding you that this is not just old school sprites on a flat background.  You will have some 3D at various points.

Warm and kind and in three dimensions

I guess it is 3D all the time really, but out in the wild grass or in the caves it still really feels like the old 2D mapping.  But running around town you do have a sense of that third dimension, even if the camera is locked in place.

Running around town with my lead Pokemon in tow

There are other changes you get with the new hardware and engine.  As with some later titles in the series, experience share is on all the time for all Pokemon in your party, as opposed to it being keyed off of an item held by a single Pokemon.  I actually like that change as it does make keeping a party somewhat close in levels much easier.  Back in the day it was some work to not just have one all powerful, fight all the fights leader in your party who got all the exp and then five more Pokemon 15 to 20 levels behind.  I remember having to correct that imbalance, which you can bowl through most of the game with, once I got to the Pokemon League and the final battles in the game.

There is also the Poketech, the utility smart watch with a bunch of apps on it… the iPhone was launched after the original Diamond & Pearl, so smart phones show up later in the series… which on the old DS occupied the lower screen.  But the Switch only has one screen, so the Poketech UI became a window you can pull up with the R button (and dismiss by holding down the R button for a few seconds) if you need to use it.

Mostly you don’t need to use it.  A lot of the apps on it are just for show, like an analog clock.  But you do need it some of the time for things like hidden moves.

Which brings me to another change, which is that hidden moves, or HMs, are gone, at least as items in the game.  They went away in the series at some point way down the road, but in the Diamond & Pearl era they were still canon.  The core Pokemon RPG titles are essentially a series of gated content areas through which you need to advance.  Levels are a gate they use, as the Pokemon you face as you advance rise in level.  But there are also various puzzles and challenges, one of which is defeating the local gym leader.

On defeating a gym leader you are given the ability to use a hidden move which allows you to overcome a type of terrain obstacle, which is one of the content gates.  You can’t just skip the gyms because you can’t cut plants or break rocks or climb or fly without the hidden moves, and you’ll need them to get places.  In the old game you were given an HM, an item that was put in your bag, which let you train a Pokemon to have one of those moves.  Once trained, an HM was permanent for a Pokemon, unlike the technical machine, or TM, abilities.  You had to train the skills you needed to get about the world to a Pokemon in your party, which meant creating travel mules with those skills because they would be otherwise limited by those skills in battles.  Not that the HM skills were bad, but they were not always optimal for a given Pokemon.

Honestly, I didn’t even notice that HMs were well and truly gone until I got a few gyms in.  I did see that you no longer got HMs.  Instead a stack of a few TMs with the skill in question would be available to you, but I went and made a travel skill mule out of a trusty Bidoof, loading him up with cut and rock smash and surf.  I did this because this is the way it was done back in the day.

And then my daughter pointed out that you no longer needed to have a Pokemon in your party, that after defeating a gym leader the move would be added to an app on your Poketech which would allow you to use it without having trained it.

All the moves are right there dad…

The TMs we were being handed were just in case we happened to like a particular move.  Surf and fly, for example, are pretty good moves even without the travel element.

This is another case of me needed to wear my glasses when I play now, because I was kind of skipping past a lot of the dialog at the end of gym battles, including the bit about those moves.

The gym leader literally telling me about the move

There are a few other items that have changed or that are new.  I seem to think the game telling you where you ought to head next on the utility screen is new, though maybe I just forgot that after all these years.

Otherwise I have been quite enjoying the retro Pokemon experience in Pokemon Shining Pearl.  It is a bit easier than I remember it, though I am sure that is much more a function of having played most of the series since then than game itself.  The gyms and the puzzles to get through them are even better than I recalled.

I did get stumped for quite a bit at the Snowpoint City gym, which was just like the old days.  You have to do things in just the right order there.  On the other had, solving all the puzzles in the Hearthome City gym, which were math an memory related, left me feeling I had missed out on some fun.

The answer was 15

The problem is that if you get the answer right and go to the door indicated… and the problems are all simple math… you end up missing out on all of the build-up fights, and the xp and rewards that go with them, and just fight the gym leader Fantina.

Express ride to Fantina

And, once you defeat her, the rest of the gym won’t battle you.  Oh well.

And, of course, there is Team Galactic, the villains of the tale.  While not as iconic as Team Rocket, they are every bit as haughty and arrogant when you encounter them, and they have the usual Bond villain style plan to take over.

Never a nice word from them…

I am six gyms into the game, but am taking a break for a bit.  Well, sort of a break.  I could keep on blitzing through, but my daughter is off to visit my aunt and cousin for a couple of days and asked me to stop getting so far ahead of her.  She is a couple of gyms behind.  So I said I wouldn’t collect any more gym badges until she got back.

But that doesn’t mean I have stopped playing.  I have been going back to make sure I didn’t miss anything on my play through so far. (I did a just before bed run to a new town and was in such a hurry I am sure I missed a bunch of stuff.)

Need this to make some money…

And I am also training up a couple of new Pokemon as once I get to the Pokemon League and the final battles I am going to need a range of Pokemon up past level 50 to win.  I have been working on the Jirachi that the old couple gives you early on in Florama town as well as raising up a Magikarp in to a Gyrados, always a good Pokemon to have on your team.

No longer content to merely splash!

And once my daughter is home I’ll be off the leash and able to carry on.  Of course, finishing the main story and defeating the Pokemon League won’t mean the game is over.  There is always a lot of post-story activities.  I might have to dig out the original Pokemon Diamond & Pearl guide book that is on my shelf.  I wonder if the information in it is still an accurate guide as to where to go and what to do in this remake.

Return to Sinnoh with Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

As foretold by prophecy… and a month in review coming up segment… my daughter and I each found a Pokemon title for our Switch under the Christmas tree yesterday.  She got Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and I got Pokemon Shining Pearl, the remakes of the 2006 Pokemon titles that moved the series off of the single screen GameBoy hardware and onto the new Nintendo DS devices.

Diamond and Pearl remade

That is where we started our Pokemon journey when, in anticipation of another long airline flight to Hawaii, my wife sent me out to buy a DS and a few games to keep our daughter occupied on the trip.  I spent a lot of time with my then young daughter reading the things she could not yet manage and became enamoured with the title myself and ended up with a Nintendo DS Lite and a copy of Pokemon Diamond for myself.  That cobalt blue unit, which I still have on the bookshelf behind me, and which still runs just fine, might be the best piece of hardware I have ever gotten from Nintendo; compact, with a sharp screen and a long battery life, it was a nice design.

Of course the question is whether of not, after nearly 14 years, my daughter and I can find joy in a Pokemon title that is an echo from the past.

Pokemon Diamond and the DS Lite

The Switch Lite isn’t the DS Lite, or even my handy 2DS XL.  It is larger, a bit awkward to hold, only has a single (if much larger) screen, and has noticeably less battery life than any of the DS series units we have owned.  (And still own.  In addition to the DS Lite and 2DS XL I mentioned there are also a couple of 3DS XLs, a DSi, and DSi XL somewhere around here.  I just need an original model DS to have the foundations of a DS museum.)

Honest Game Trailers goes after the game pretty hard for being a remake without much in the way of change.

And there is the odd art style which tried to capture the charm of the original pixel-focused art style in a high resolution format.  Here is what it looked like back then.

Pokemon Diamond back in the day

And here is a glimpse of it in the remake.

Into a Switch rendered Sinnoh… also, you can do screen shots on the Switch

But you know what?  It is all working for me so far.  The charm, the light story where an ten year old child is allowed to wander the world with just a kiss on the cheek and a “stay safe!” from his mom about two minutes into the game… as compared to the ponderous, goes on forever intro to Pokemon Sword & Shield…  and the rather simple game play, that is all a bonus for me.  I am happy with it.

There are, of course, a few changes.  The mechanics of the switch demanded some, so your Poketech smart watch now grabs the corner of the screen as opposed to owning the second screen on its own.  Experience share is now party wide by default from the start, as in Sword & Shield, rather than depending on the experience share item being held by a single Pokemon.

We will see if that spirit lasts.  The pandemic times have also been the years of the remakes for me, with things like WoW Classic, Burning Crusade Classic and, Diablo II Resurrected, all of which I have enjoyed to some extent.  Why not some old school Pokemon?

I am already in possession of the first gym badge, so I will have to see how far my daughter and I get.

Friday Bullet Points in the Dog Days of Summer

It is hot out, the price of everything seems higher, Covid infection rates are rising, and here in California we’re in a drought and the state is once again starting to catch fire again in a major way.   At least Friday Bullet Points is a category on the blog now, so they’ll be easy for future generations to find.

  • New World, New Delays

I suppose we ought to be used to this by now.

Just how new and how worldly?

After their final round preview beta over the last few weeks, New World was slated to ship on August 30th.  That date has been moved out to September 28th in an update from the company.

We are humbled by the support New World received from players around the world throughout Closed Beta. During Beta, more than a million adventurers entered Aeternum. Thanks to your support, New World became one of the most watched games on Twitch, and one of the most played games on Steam. The passion and enthusiasm you’ve shown for New World validates the work we’ve put in over the past year, improving the game based on your feedback.

Along the way, you’ve also given us a ton of feedback that we’ll use to make New World even better. We want New World’s launch to be a smooth and fun experience for all players, and that means making some improvements based on what you encountered during Closed Beta. So we’re going to take a few extra weeks to smash bugs, improve stability, and polish the game. New World’s new global launch date is September 28, 2021.

This was not an easy decision to make. We know this isn’t the first time we’ve changed our launch date in pursuit of quality, and that it can be disappointing to wait a bit longer. But we want to be sure we deliver you the highest quality game possible at launch. Thank you for your support and feedback. We’re listening. We’ll see you in Aeternum

Given past delays, another month probably isn’t going to change the launch day pile on very much.  I hope they use the time well.  A month seems like a long time when you’re waiting for something, but it can feel like a vanishingly brief interval when you have code to ship.

  • Switch Sales Hit 89 Million

Nintendo announced that total Switch units sold had passed the 89 million mark as part of their Q2 2021 financial update.  That is a lot of Switch units out in the wild.

My Switch Lite

Looking at the list of best selling consoles of all time, that number puts the Switch within striking distance of the Wii, a huge seller for Nintendo that moved over 100 million units during its reign.  The Switch is still quite a was from the top spots, occupied by the PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo DS line, which solf 155 and 154 million units respectively.

Despite that big number, Nintendo said that sales were down some compared to last year, which was attributed to the fact that everybody and their brother bought a Switch and a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons during the pandemic.  Hot vax summer strikes again.

  • FFXIV Subscribers are Up

We have suspected for a while that Final Fantasy XIV has been benefiting from discontent in the WoW player base over the delay in the release of the first major Shadowlands content update.  Anecdotal evidence was mounting, with major WoW streamers jumping ship and word that FFXIV was having to limit new players.

But with the Square Enix Q2 2021 financials, the company confirmed that FFXIV subscriptions were in fact up.  They didn’t say how much they were up, but I bet we’ll hear that they are up even more when the Q3 financials are announced.

  • Chinese Government Frowns Once More on Video Games

You can always count on totalitarian governments to let you know what their leader’s pet peeves are, and video games appear to be on the list.  The Chinese state media lashed out video games, comparing them to opium and declaring that video game addiction was harming children’s growth and eyesight.

For the Chinese “opium” is an especially loaded word as it is associated with western imperialism and interference in Chinese affairs due to the opium wars fought with the European powers that led to a dismemberment of the country.  So using that word about something tends to signal that the government is serious.

This new government displeasure with video games caused Tencent’s stock price to drop as the company, sensing which way the wind was blowing, vowed to implement stronger restrictions on video game abuse, restricting the time minors are allowed to play.  China already has strict limits on video games, and this will no doubt expand those limits.

  • EQII Free Character Boost

A new Producer’s Letter came out for EverQuest II which included an outline for their summer plans including yet another free level 120 character boost for players subscribed via the all access pass.  I am not sure I would have enough character slots, were I to subscribe, to find space for another level 120 character.

  • EVE Echoes Anniversary

EVE Echoes, the mobile spin-off of EVE Online created by NetEase is celebrating its one year launch anniversary.   The game has some big new content in place for the anniversary.

EVE Echoes

The game launched to some acclaim last August, but has its share of issues.  The fact that they started publishing weekly ban stats is a reminder of the perils of free to play I suppose.

  • Amarr Foundation Day

Finally, it is time for another holiday in New Eden, as the Amarr Empire celebrates Foundation Day.  That means specials in the shop, daily challenges, a themed proving grounds event, new monuments, and of course login rewards.

Your Federation Day login rewards

No ISK this time around, but the usual SKINs, fireworks, and skill points are on the menu.  There are five days of rewards and you have seven days to log in daily to claim one, so you can miss two days and still get them all.

Friday Bullet Points about Things Old and New

Here it is, another Friday bullet points post that future me will curse as I try to write up a month in review.  But I live for the day, and there are some things I wanted to mention but couldn’t really work up into a stand alone post.  How have I not made this a blog category yet?

  • Crowfall Ships!

Holy crap!  Color me shocked!

Seriously, I was interested enough in Crowfall to have created a category for it… something generally reserved for regular features and titles I play a lot of here on the blog… back when the Kickstarter campaign launched… which was in February of 2015.  So, its been about six and a half years.

Is this even still their logo?

This was back when I had stopped backing MMO Kickstarter campaigns but still held out hope that something might come of them, before the great cynicism fell on me after every date offered by an MMO Kickstarter campaign winded up being as much a fantasy as their IP.  The ship date projected during the campaign was December of 2016, and it featured in a number of my annual prediction posts as an easy “this won’t ship” call.

But here it is.  Live.  That puts it well ahead of titles like Camelot Unchained, a title that has helped sink backer confidence almost as much as Star Citizen by this point.

Anyway, congrats to the team.  I have no idea what they ended up shipping or if it is anything close to the “Game of Thrones meets EVE Online” catch phrase they were bandying about, but at least I could find out if I had even an ounce of inclination left in me.

  • Burning Crusade Classic Beta Stats

Blizzard sent out an email to those who participated in the Burning Crusade Classic beta back in April and May.  I was invited a bit late to that party, and honestly wasn’t all that into it, but I logged in long enough to find a few issues and to feel concerned about whatever Blizz was up to.  The beta felt pretty wonky in a way that belies the stability now that it has shipped.  But I apparently reported seven bugs… mostly related to hunter issues.

What I did in the beta… not much

Overall the community reported quite a few things.

The stats for everybody

It seemed to do some good I guess, because Outland has been pretty stable, at least on our server, though I am still a bit annoyed at the whole draw distance thing, but that was in WoW Classic as well.

  • The Next 6 Month Mount From Blizzard

Those of us on the six month subscription plan for WoW got a new mount for being such dedicated customers.  This time around it is the Sapphire Skyblazer.

The latest in a series

Part of me isn’t all that impressed. I have a few hundred mounts now, so another blue bird… eh.   Then again, at least it isn’t some cosmetic pajamas this time.  I am pretty sure Blizz learned their lesson on that front.  I’ll take a mount every time, thank you.

Six month subscribers also got a special prize in Burning Crusade Classic, the Imp in a Ball.

Available at an Inn near you

The Imp in a Ball toy actually went into the game with the Burning Crusade Classic pre-patch, so I have had one on my characters for quite a while now.  They come from a quest that the city innkeepers have, and are basically an Azerothian Magic 8-Ball… ask it a question… say it out loud or whatever… then activate it for a comically indecisive answer.  Your mileage may vary.

  • New Switch Disappointment

Rumors have been floating around about Nintendo possibly launching a new Switch model with 4K or a faster processor or whatever.  So there was some disappointment apparent when Nintendo announced a new model with an OLED screen.  Yay higher quality screens of the same size?

The Switch line up

It does have double the RAM built in and some other improvements, but it was very much an incremental upgrade to the product line… which is a very Nintendo move, really.  But it does mean that demand has slowed down enough since the pandemic rush on units that they feel they can tinker with the new models.

  • RimWorld Ideology

It was announced earlier this week that the survival game RimWorld, number three on my list of Steam titles I have played the most, will be getting a new DLC package soon.

A new drama generator

Called RimWorld Ideology, it will allow your colony or clan to create a belief system, allowing the configuration of things such as rituals, veneration, dress, adornment, and social roles.  You can play as a tribe of tree worshiping cannibals if you want.  I am sure this will crank base drama up a few more notches.

  • Minmatar Liberation Day

It feels like we just finished up Gallente Federation Day and we’re already on to Minmatar Liberation Day.  They always have the cards and decorations out so early.

Have a Brutor Libre, the official drink of Minmatar Liberation Day!

As is the usual pattern these days, there are login rewards (12 days worth), in game events, SKINs in the New Eden Store, and some SKINs you get as an add on when you buy some PLEX.  There is a full run down of events and rewards over at The Nosy Gamer.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl Coming November 2021

We heard back in February that the next Pokemon title for the Switch would be remakes of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl, something my daughter and I had been waiting for.  As a follow on, we have now been given a date for the launch of the remake.

Sinnoh is returning

The launch date for Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl is November 19, 2021.

The Nintendo site has an updated descriptions of how they plan to recreate the original Nintendo DS experience and what to expect.

In addition, the other upcoming Pokemon title, Pokemon Legends: Arceus also got a launch date this past week.  We will be able to experience this “bold new direction” for the Pokemon series come January 28, 2022.

So we have some old and new Pokemon experiences coming up.  I am definitely up for Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl, though I hope the release doesn’t overlap too closely with Diablo II: Resurrected.  While we don’t have a firm date for the Diablo II remake, it was said that it would be available near the end of 2021, and no studio wants to launch after Christmas, so November seems a likely time for it as well.  We shall see.

A Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Remake At Last!

My daughter and I have been hanging on and waiting for a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl for several years now, so we were both pretty hyped up when the announcement finally came.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl will be a thing in 2021.

Diamond and Pearl remade

There are a few reasons that we’re feeling some hype for this.

The first is, of course, that Pokemon Diamond & Pearl is where we started playing Pokemon games back in early 2008.  It is the foundational experience for us with the series.

Then there is the fact that the Pokemon remakes tend to be pretty good.  HeartGold & SoulSilver might be the titles I spend the most time with in the series… the one time I caught them all… and OmgaRuby & AlphaSapphire were great remakes with a ton of depth.

And, as I said, we’ve been waiting for this remake for a while now.  There has been a pretty well established pattern of remakes over the years, and Diamond & Pearl now sit as the oldest titles in the series that have not had a remake.  They are due.

We expected them to be the next title on the Nintendo 3DS hardware after Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon back in 2017.  Then GameFreak announced that they were done with the 3DS hardware… just after I bought a brand new 2DS model… and it was off to the Switch platform, where they first had the Let’s Go, Pikachu! & Let’s Go, Eevee! titles in 2018, rather light fare compared to where the core RPG stood at the end of the 3DS era, before giving us a full blown entry in the series with Sword & Shield in 2019.

I now have a Switch Lite… my daughter and I both do… and we played through some of Sword & Shield.  It was a solid entry in the series, but didn’t really grab us and neither of us finished it out.

But now, with Diamond & Pearl coming back, we’re ready to give it another go.  The ship date is currently slated for “late” 2021, which I am hoping will put it before Thanksgiving, or at least before Christmas.  Then my daughter will be home on break from college and can perhaps find some time to play with the old man.  Watching the trailer, I am surprised at how much I remember from the old game.

Nintendo also announced Pokemon Legends: Arceus today as well.  Due in 2022, it is a new style of Pokemon adventure set in Sinnoh like Diamond & Pearl, but in an earlier era.  As Nintendo put it, first we get the re-make, then we get the pre-make.  Details on that were somewhat scanty in comparison, but in its trailer it looks to be an open world style game, akin to the Legend of Zelda titles, which is not a bad thing.

This all comes as the Pokemon franchise is celebrating its 25th anniversary.  That is covered, along with a more information about games and events, in the Pokemon Presents video from today.

So there is plenty to look forward to on the Pokemon front it seems.

Starting Off with Minecraft Dungeons

As I mentioned in the month in review post, I bought a copy of Minecraft Dungeons last month and actually found some time to play it this past week.

It is Minecraft and Dungeons

I am going to get my negative vibes out of the way first.

It is kind of a pain in the ass to buy the game on PC.  That you have a Mojang account cuts you no ice, you have to have a Microsoft account.  You probably have once if you have Windows 10, since they require it, but you may not remember that the login for that is probably in your password managed under a URL that doesn’t have the word “microsoft” in it. (Look for “live” on the list.)

Then there are three different versions, a Windows 7, 8, and 10 version, a Windows 10 version, and a Windows 10 Hero version, which will get you the next few DLC packs they push out.  But otherwise, I couldn’t really tell the difference between the first two… the descriptions were paltry in the extreme, so bought the first one because… more support is better?  I don’t know.  Maybe I made a mistake there.

And then there is the fact that the game has its own launcher, which may sound like a nit pick, but there is a button for it on the damn Minecraft launcher that, before you buy the game, gives you a link to the store page and, which after you buy it, comes up with a button to launch its launcher.  I mean, WTF?

That button is a lie

Minecraft Dungeons is also clearly a console game that they also brought over to Windows.  The opening page starts in with all the controller buttons you need to activate this or that.

My keyboard does not have most of those

That also probably explains why there is no built-in functionality to take screen shots.  I had to hit print screen and tab out to paste images into Paint.net to get what you see here.  I tried to use the nVidia GeForce experience to take screen shots, but the game is too new to be supported in that yet, and I didn’t want to go dig up my Fraps account just for this.

After 45 minutes of buying then trying to install it some place besides the default location… and being warned not to uninstall for heaven’s sake… I was perhaps not all that favorably disposed towards the game.

And, in the end, it isn’t actually Minecraft… you cannot punch trees or build or whatever and it is click to move as opposed to first person perspective.  But if you’re making an action RPG Diablo clone, being able to build a redstone sugar cane harvester probably isn’t a requirement.

That is what it is after all, an action RPG with a Minecraft skin on it.  And the game meets expectations there.  Zombies groan, skeletons rattle, creepers go “sssss… BOOM,” and so on, while you and your blocky avatar move through the game.

A skeleton and a baby zombie!

The UI will be familiar to anybody who has played a Diablo or Torchlight or most any action RPG, with perhaps the arrow count standing in for the mana bulb, as there isn’t any magic casting classes… as there are not really classes.  You’re just a Minecraft protagonist.

Once you play through an intro that sets the story, you end up in a base from which you will head off on your adventures.

The center of the base

The base is pretty sprawling, and I assume  you end up unlocking things as you go along to make some of that space meaningful, but as you start out there are mostly just a chest here and there you can open to collect some of the game currency, which are emeralds of course.

Unlike Diablo, Minecraft Dungeons is mission based.  You go to the mission table in your base, click on it, and choose from some of the missions currently available to you.

Some early missions

Each mission has its own story which ties it into the over arching story of the game, and each has its own set of discreet objectives, bosses, and what not you need to overcome in order to finish.

This is not a bad thing.  While you don’t get a sense of a world as you are teleported into each mission and return back to your base, it isn’t a giant leap away from something like Diablo and its waypoints and quests.  It works.

And there are, of course, chests and loot and upgrades to be found as you run through missions.

Some new stuff!

You can find better gear, and there is an system of enchantment points that let you improve the gear you have.

The thorns enchantment

That gives you the whole optimization element where you have to decide on gear, the benefits it provides, and the enchantments it offers, the latter of which can be different for items that are otherwise the same.

And you can salvage gear you do not want for emeralds and a refund of the enchantment points you have spent on a particular item.

Things start our light and charming, the game play is easy, and it was quite the delight.

Look, a gelatinous cubes!

The missions have a map that shows you where you are and what areas you have yet to poke your nose into (because chests are always a possibility in every side path) and little arrows point you towards every objective, so you are unlikely to ever feel lost  Even death has a light touch.  I did a jump roll into some water and died… no swimming here I guess.

It was bound to happen

You get a set number of lives per mission, but when you die you get dropped back at a safe spot and can just carry on.  But if you die to many times you get sent back to your base to start over again.

After a couple of missions I was pretty happy with the game.  I showed it to my daughter, who liked the idea, and considered getting a copy for my Switch Lite.  It seemed like it might be a good title to play on that.  There is no cross platform play… or even cross platform saves/accounts… but I wasn’t so dug into the PC version that I felt I couldn’t change over.  You can play with up to three of your friends, which on the PC side is controlled through a friends list, though how that really works I haven’t seen yet as I have nobody on my list.

And then I got to the content gating mechanism.

While you have levels… because levels will never die… and gain enchantment points with each level, you also have a power measurement based on your level, gear, and enchantments.

Each mission has a recommended level of power you ought to have to take it on.  After the first few missions I ran though I was at power level 6 and the next range of missions were suggesting 10.

It isn’t a hard barrier.  You can run the missions with a power suggestion higher than your actual, but they are tuned for that suggestion as a minimum.  Still, you might get a gear drop that will boost your power as you go through.

Or you can re-run past missions.  You can actually dial up their settings from their default to something more challenging, which gets you better drops.

Mission settings

I am less enthused with that option because, with all the charm and cuteness and Minecraft feel to the game, none of the levels were really interesting enough that I was thinking, “I want to do that again!” when I was done.  I was far more, “Okay, let’s get the next mission going!”

Still, it feels a bit thin so far, though I need to measure that against the $20 price.

And I am also not that far into the game yet, so perhaps I have not hit the more interesting missions.  It is light and easy to pick up though.  It just needs to clear the “compelling” hurdle for me.

LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga is Coming

Cyanbane first tipped me to this over on his new blog, the fact that there was a new LEGO Star Wars game coming in the form of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.  October 20, 2020 is the planned ship date.

All Nine Films Covered in One Game

Long time readers… diligent readers with very good long term memories… might remember the occasional post about LEGO Star Wars: The Original Trilogy or LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga from back in 2007 when my daughter was little and playing games on the Wii was our Saturday morning tradition.  I liked the game well enough to even get a copy for our now aging PlayStation 3.

But that was part of the console era at our house, and we haven’t played games on the PlayStation 3 or the Wii for a quite a while now.  We got the Wii out a couple of years back to play Just Dance at a party, but right now the PlayStation 3 isn’t even plugged in and the Wii has been packed away out of sight.  So Traveller’s Tales LEGO games have been pretty much off the menu because, frankly, the PC ports of them suck, even if you have a controller on your PC.  I could not recommend them in any way.

As such, the news of a new LEGO Star Wars title might spark some interest in me… I did a post about LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens when it was announced… but I was unlikely to play any new title, as our console days being behind us. (Though they did make a PlayStation 3 version of that!)

Now however, things have changed a bit.  My daughter and I both have Nintendo Switch Lite units and the new game is going to be released for the Switch, so a LEGO Star Wars title might be worth looking into for us once again.

Of course, we have a ways to wait.  October feels like a long way away right now and the future has been uncertain for a while now.  But for the moment I can watch the trailer.

The word is that Traveller’s Tales is making this a pretty big title in their line up, with all nine movies wrapped up into one game, the classic levels in with the new, some 500 unlockable characters reported to be available.  I just hope it plays well on the Switch Lite.

Honest Game Trailers does Animal Crossing New Horizons

All the rage on the Nintendo Switch these days… to the extent that I have been feeling the pressure to join in… is Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

All the rage

So naturally it was deemed a prime topic for Honest Game Trailers, who explore the game in their own special way.

Sold out in most stores… as is the Switch itself… and now soft-banned in China because people have been sharing their Hong Kong protest themed decor and apparel… I am tempted to join in.

My daughter has been way into this.  But she only asked for a Switch Lite for Christmas because she heard there was was going to be a new Animal Crossing title out for the platform.  Animal Crossing: New Leaf was her favorite non-Pokemon title on the DS series, so she was very keen the new game.

I am less certain.  I never played it on the DS and, while my Twitter time line was filled with talk about the game, I am not sure it would fit in with my gaming needs.  I used to play a lot of Pokemon on the DS at specific times, like when watching sports on TV. (Wife is a hockey fan.)  But now there are no sports and not a lot of quiet time with everybody stuck at home all the time and working from home where there is no longer the hard cut-off of getting up to go home.

And, of course, others have had mixed relationships with the title.

Business Insider is of several minds…

If it were not $60, I’d be more inclined.  Likewise if I had finished up Pokemon Sword already, but I am only at the 6th gym there.  Again, finding time/place/peace to play it can be a challenge.

But my daughter is all-in and enjoying it still.  I am trying to get her to throw together 500 words about it, but she is simultaneously too busy for that and chafing for something to do.