Tag Archives: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon

Return to Pokemon Platinum

Pokemon Diamond first showed up about two years ago.

It came with my daughter’s Nintendo DS Lite back on St. Valentine’s Day of 2008, all of which was part of the plan to keep her busy on the plane for our trip to Maui that year.

And it was a huge hit.  Big enough that I ended up with a DS Lite of my own for my birthday that year along with a copy of Pokemon Diamond.

That immersed us in the Pokemon subculture and we have been Pokemon fans ever since.  We formed our own little Pokemon gyms at home, finished the main storyline of the game, and kept on in the seeming eternal struggle to finish up the national pokedex along with all of the other end game achievements.  We go to all the download events and generally still play Diamond on a regular basis.

The popularity of Pokemon Diamond at home lead, of course, to other Pokemon games.  There was Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, which is sort of NetHack meets Pokemon.  It was a decent game, but the promised WiFi play proved to be so limited that it was a joke, which soured me on the game. (My daughter still plays it.)

My daughter also picked up Pokemon Ranger, which didn’t appeal to me so much, but which she seemed to quite enjoy.

We even picked up some of the GameBoy Advance games like Pokemon FireRed, LeafGreen, and Emerald because those need to be available to have a prayer of completing the national pokedex.

On the Wii there was Pokemon Battle Revolution, which got a lot a play time from us.  We spent more than a few weekends battling each other or strangers over the Nintendo WiFi connection.

And there was Pokemon Ranch, which was more of a video toy than a game, but which helped drive the national pokedex effort by setting goals and occasionally coughing up a needed Pokemon.

We even got Pokemon Snap from the WiiWare shop, which is a rail shooter of sorts, only you take pictures of Pokemon rather than shoot them… regardless of how much you would rather be shooting them some days.

But nothing ever really supplanted Pokemon Diamond.  Our travel gear always included our DS Lites, our Pokemon Diamond cartridges, and the Prima guide to the national pokedex to help us continue our hunt.

We had hope for Pokemon Platinum though.  Being a classic Pokemon game, we thought that when it came out, we’d give up on Diamond and start playing that instead.

But we never quite made that transition.

Pokemon Platinum is one of those odd games in the Pokemon niche.  The pattern of game release usually has a pair of games (Diamond/Pearl or Ruby/Sapphire) which each have Pokemon exclusive to one or other of the pair, followed up by a re-work of the game (Platinum or Emerald) which keeps the same basic storyline and only adds features and access to more Pokemon.

So when it arrived, Pokemon Platinum fell flat.

We got through the first couple of gym badges, then went back to Diamond where we were having fun battling and catching those remaining Pokemon.

So when we were packing for our recent trip to Maui, I was sorting through which DS games to bring along.  Our Diamond cartridges went into the case, naturally.  So did a few other games.  And, which a couple of slots left, I decided to throw in our Platinum cartridges as well.


It turned out to be a good idea.  On the plane my daughter and I, with five hours to kill, started getting back into the game.  We moved along, collecting up a gym badge each while getting our bearings.

And once on the ground in Maui, when we had some time to play, we began to work out our strategy to get through Platinum.

With each gym badge you are able to control Pokemon that are traded to you of a higher and higher levels.  This meant that, with our Pokemon Diamond cartridges along for the ride as well and two DSs on hand, we started upgrading our Pokemon with each new gym badge by trading back and forth from Diamond to Platinum.  This accelerated our progress considerably.

Sure, you can use ugly words like “cheating,” but the game allows it and you are limited to a given level cap with each gym badge.

We both now sit at 6 gym badges and our goal is to finish off the base game by defeating the Elite Four and the Sinnoh League champion before Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver come out.  However, we would really like to finish it before the special Pichu download event ends on February 14th.

So this weekend might see some serious Pokemon action at our house.  We’re stuck in the Distortion World area, which is something that wasn’t in Diamond.  Once we find our way through that though, we should be good.

Why Does Tetris Get Faster?

I was watching my daughter play Tetris on her Nintendo DS the other day. (I found a copy a while back.)  She picked it up out of our box of DS games and decided to give it a try as a break from various flavors of Pokemon. (Pokemon Mystery DungeonNetHack meets Pokemon… has been the favored flavor of late.)

I was interested to see what she thought of the game.  But I am always interested to see what she gets out of older games, classics or ones with which I have a history.

Those Famouse Tetrominoes

Those Famous Tetris Tetrominoes

She grasped the game pretty quickly and enjoyed it for a bit.  But Tetris on the DS advances levels at a rather swift pace if you’re any good at all, and soon she was at the frantic stage of blocks dropping out of the sky and the game was over.

After a couple of games she asked, “Why does it have to get faster?”

A deceptively easy question, that.

The obvious answer is that it gets harder because that is the challenge.  If a game always ran at the same speed you would lose only to boredom.  The history of video games is jam packed with games that get harder the further you progress.

But that is not entirely correct.  Challenge can go too far, at least for each individual.  There is a point for all of us just shy when we have essentially given up control of those falling blocks where the game is exactly as challenging as it needs to be, where we are immersed, tense, and on the edge of losing control.

In a perfect world games would be able to analyze our play and keep us at or near that threshold, advancing only when we had begun to master the current level of difficulty.

Now Tetris is an older game, so it is tough to fault it for not being perfect.  I first played it back on my Macintosh SE over 20 years ago.  It was a best seller on the original GameBoy, the esteemed ancestor of my daughter’s DS.  There were versions out for all sorts of systems including the Apple II.  I am surprised there wasn’t an Atari 2600 version of the game.  If ever there were a console system well adapted to dealing with things shaped like blocks.

So we can forgive Tetris its jumps in difficulty, but it does point to an interesting aspect of game design.  How quickly should difficulty ramp up in a game?

Which in turn makes you wonder about some MMORPGs.  Well, it made me wonder.

This week I ran some quests with my level 78 paladin and my level 44 druid (who is cat, so dont heel) in World of Warcraft, and playing one was not particularly more or less difficult than the other.  34 levels between the two but no noticeable change in skill required to play.  The effort expended doing quests was about the same.  Sure, the monsters being slain were higher level for my paladin, but his equipment and abilities canceled that out.

Would I put that much time into a game like Tetris if it never got harder?  Maybe if the level of challenge was right, but probably not.

Since I enjoyed playing both characters, it would seem that for me the level of achievement was in balance with the level of challenge.  WoW seems to work for me.

But you can see that if the level of challenge versus the achievement doesn’t work for somebody after the first 20 levels or so in a game like WoW, it isn’t going to get any better for them beyond that.

But does any MMORPG really get more challenging as you move through the main body of content?  Sure, there are dungeons, and even heroic versions thereof, as well as raiding, but I would argue that most players never go far in those directions.

And should they get more challenging?  Should getting from level 79 to 80, for example, require not just more experience points and some equipment upgrades, but additional skill?  Is character advancement enough?  Is there some happy medium between the two?

And my daughter?

She thinks WoW is great, Tetris is not, and that comparing the two is “totally ridiculous.”

The view from age 7 1/2.

First Weekend of Summer Vacation

This was the first weekend of summer vacation for my daughter. School is done until the middle of August.

My wife is happy to not have to get up early for the next couple of months, but she will now be on the hook for a social calendar to keep our daughter busy.

As a summer surprise, both for doing well in school and to keep her busy on the plane when we go on vacation, a new Nintendo DS game made its appearance. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon.

Those are the pre-order boxes. I have had them tucked away in a closet since mid-April. She chose the Explorers of Time version, leaving me the Explorers of Darkness set.

We have played a few hours so far. While I will no doubt write about it more later, right now I will say the game is like taking Pokemon and stirring in a big portion of Net Hack and a little bit of Diablo II. It is interesting so far, though I am disappointed by the very limited network play options.

And then for Father’s Day, my wife and daughter bought me two of the Speed Racer LEGO kits (8159 and 8161), which we spent the morning assembling.

You can see in the picture that I left the stickers off of the cars for the most part. I am always reluctant to put stickers on a part that I can envision using for other purposes later. I made an exception for Speed’s car though. Pops would have wanted it that way.

These kits would have been great for our LEGO Birthday Party earlier this year.

A pleasant weekend indeed.

A Pearl Shows Up

I have to watch what I write.

I have to remember that my wife reads this blog most days.

Last week I wrote about getting a Nintendo DS Lite and Pokemon Diamond for my birthday, a gift from my wife and daughter.

In the comments for that post, it was suggested that I should have asked for Pokemon Pearl rather than Diamond, as each has some pokemon that the other does not. You cannot catch them all if you do not have both versions.

A couple of days later I came home to find a late birthday present: Pokemon Pearl.

m3andpokemon.png

So now we have both, and potentially, access to all of the pokemon in this series.

I let my daughter take on the challenge of Pearl, as she was already way ahead of me in the game, having already defeated 7 of the 8 gym leaders.  (I have only defeated 2 so far.)

Of course, I have read that there are a pair of new pokemon games coming out in April, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Explorers of Darkness.

If we end up having to get these games (and no doubt we will), I will know to at least get one of each this time around.

And why, you may ask, do I feel I have to watch what I write? After all, I ended up with a new game from my wife.

Well, at the end of the month, I am the one who pays the bills, and it is tough to have to moral high ground about spending too much money when there are presents for me on the credit card bill!