Raptr sends me a report every Monday telling me how many hours of video games they tracked me playing the previous week. When yesterday’s report indicated I had played less than two hours in the last week of August, I should have been quite skeptical. It had me playing an hour and ten minutes with the Strategy Group on Friday night, with a bit of World of Warcraft, and about enough time in EVE Online to account for logging in to update skill training queues.
Last week was a bit problematic for Raptr. They pushed a new version that doesn’t seem keen to log into the system, and so never goes live and never tracks any game time. This sort of pushes my “Why am I using Raptr again?” doubts to the forefront. But even if Raptr had been working, it probably wouldn’t have caught much more play time on my PC because I was busy playing Pokemon.
I mentioned that I starting to prepare for a potential run at the National Pokedex when Pokemon Alpha Ruby and Omega Sapphire come out later this year. So I have been playing some Pokemon Y fairly regularly in order to catch Pokemon unique to it. I could stuff those in the Pokemon Bank and bring those in when needed in the new game.
However, I still had a large number of Pokemon stored away in older versions of the game. Rare Pokemon that I am unlikely to get in trades or be able to catch in the new versions. The only path t0 being able to bring those forward was to finish Pokemon Black, White, Black 2, or White 2. You can transfer from the Pokemon Diamond and Pearl forward into those four, and from those four there is a one-way ticket available into the Pokemon Bank, which will make them available to the Nintendo 3DS generation of Pokemon games.
Pokemon Bank – The Black and White route
So I got out my Pokemon White cartridge to see what could be done.
According to the tracking on my copy of the game, my character (always named Wilhelm) started his journey on March 6, 2011. That was launch day back in 2011.
Pokemon Black and White
My wife even incorporated the whole black and white theme into my birthday.
Black and White all over
The haul included the games, a black and white Wii remote, and the special edition, hard bound copy of the guide book for Pokemon Black and White.
My daughter and I went straight into the games, with her playing Black and I playing White. As usual, she got out in front of me quickly using her usual plan of just leveling up her lead Pokemon as much as possible and hoping like hell that it can take on all comers at each gym battle. I tagged along, always a gym badge behind, trying to balance out my party and level up a full set. So she usually goes into gym battles way over level and wins straight up… unless the gym is focused on her main Pokemon’s weakness, which means a water gym because she always picks fire… while I tend to go into gym battles with a full party that is somewhat under level for the attempt. But I mostly muddle through.
Somewhere along the way we lost interest though.
The game shows that I picked up the 5th gym badge on April 23, 2011. I know I played a little more after that, but I started to lose interest. I think it was in the ice caves. There are always ice caves in a Pokemon game. There are always a bunch of standard events or locations in a Pokemon game, and I think that was starting to wear on me. By this point I had played through Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, and SoulSilver in pretty quick succession and might have started to tire of the specific tropes of Pokemon games. Plus this was about the time that middle-age eye sight issues started to show up. I started needing reading glasses and the little screen on the Nintendo DS Lite is pretty small. So I doubt I continued to play past May of that year.
So here it was, more than three years later and I was going to try to carry on and finish the game. Hey, I had five of eight gym badges, so I just needed three more. Then it was the final four, the regional champion, with a side trip to finish off Team Plasma somewhere along the way, and I should be set.
Of course, first I had to shoot myself in the foot.
I didn’t have to look far to find my Pokemon White cartridge, because it was already in my 3DS XL. I had already decided to play with Pokemon Bank and had vacuumed up every Pokemon in my storage boxes in White. So when I went back to play I only had the six Pokemon in my party.
Not a bad set of Pokemon I suppose. That group could probably take down the final four without too much effort, carried by Reshiram and Mewtwo alone. But I was only just done with the 5th gym badge, and one of the things that gym badges bestow upon you is the ability to control Pokemon over a certain level. I was currently good to level 50, and would be good to level 70 with the next gym badge. But for the moment I had to deal with two of my team that would only do what I wanted maybe 20% of the time. That is what happens when you have a Pokemon over level. They won’t do what you ask during a battle. And while, certainly in the case of a level 100 Reshiram, they generally aren’t in any danger of dying, it can take some patience as the loaf about, fall asleep, or otherwise ignore you.
In no danger of dying
And I also had to be careful not to level up Zoroark, as if he hit level 51, he would join the uncontrollable contingent in my party. But I managed to muddle through. I dropped Blitzle at the earliest opportunity and picked up a Mienfoo in the Dragonspiral Tower, who hit 45 by the time we were headed into the final four.
Mienfoo – Fighting Pokemon
I named him Chow Fun and he turned out to be quite the asset to the party, though after the final four he hit the point where he evolved into a Meinshao, which does not look nearly as cool.
After the 8th gym badge I made my way up victory road, which is always a bit of a maze… yet another Pokemon trope… and was able to take down the final four. Then the game surprised me a bit by deviating from the normal resolution. First I had to capture Zekrom (which I managed on the third try without using my master ball), at which point I swapped him in for my Tranquill, which was an Unfezant by then, but which hadn’t kept up in levels. Then it was time for the final battle and victory.
While Reshiram was the ace in the hole, Mewtwo actually carried the day through most of the fight. Mewtwo didn’t have moves quite as powerful Reshiram, but all of his moves allowed 10-30 uses, unlike Reshiarm, whose key moves were set at 5 a piece. Actually, three big attacks at 5 runs each would probably have been enough, but I put in my other guys just to get them the exp. In the end I won. See the horrible picture of the screen taken with a digital camera because you still cannot take screen shots in Pokemon.
The winning team
So, step one was complete. I finished the main storyline. And one of my key worries was dispelled. I thought that, after growing used to the rendered look of the series in Pokemon X and Y, that I would find going back to the old, sprite based graphics difficult to look at. But, as with playing Diablo II on my big monitor, while it looks blocky at first, visual closure has you covered and you stop noticing it pretty quickly unless you are trying to see it. And the nice screen on my 3DS XL is big enough that I do not have to wear reading glasses to play. So all went well.
Now I just had to find the place where you could transfer Pokemon from other games without having to do a 1 for 1 trade.
Another trope of the Pokemon series is to have such a direct, one-way transfer method, but to require the player to jump through hoops in order to accomplish it. I remember back with Pokemon Diamond and wanting to transfer some Pokemon from Pokemon FireRed, where I was importing Meowths, as they were totally in demand at the Global Trade Station and I was able to trade them for a lot of Pokemon I needed to fill out my Pokedex. To do that you had to bring up FireRed on your system, having plugged it into the GBA slot, select 6 and only 6 Pokemon for transfer, put them in transfer limbo, and then exit the game. Then you had to bring up Pokemon Diamond, go to the Safari park, and then go find and catch all 6 with a limited number of Pokeballs in under a given time limit. And you could only do this once per 24 hour period.
Well, Pokemon Black and White are on board with that, having their own little twist.
You need two Nintendo DS units to do this.
First you get to the PokeTransfer Lab on Route 15 in Pokemon Black and White. There an NPC explains the process as well as possible, but it still left me going, “Huh?” until I actually did it. You start the process at the Lab, which then tells you to start up the second DS unit. When that comes up, you need your Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, or SoulSilver cartridge in the DS. It works for all of those games. But rather than launching the game, you choose the DS Download Play option at the main screen on your DS. This downloads a special app that lets you browse the Pokemon stored on your cartridge, showing which ones can or cannot be transferred. (As usual, Pokemon with HMs are verboten from transfer.) You select the six Pokemon you want to transfer and then you have to play a game.
This time around the six Pokemon appear on the upper screen of your DS, while a crossbow-like Pokeball launcher appears on the lower screen. As you move your stylus on the lower screen you can see a targeting reticule moving on the upper. With this setup you have to shoot Pokeballs at the Pokemon on the upper screen and hit them to catch them. Of course, it isn’t a slam dunk or anything, the Pokemon are jumping around the screen or hiding behind bushes. You have to time your shots to get them on the move, and when they are hiding you have to flush them out by shooting them before you can catch them. And there is a time limit for this.
While it wasn’t easy, it was manageable. I did get all six on my first try before the timer ran down, which wasn’t bad because the game doesn’t spend a lot of time explaining what to do. And, on the plus side, there is no limit to the number of times a day you can do this. You just have to expend the required effort catching Pokemon, six at a time, over and over again if you have a long list to move.
I did three batches then took a break. But at least now I have a way to move Pokemon from all the way back in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl… and even earlier, since I can get stuff off of the GBA Pokemon games I have sitting around if I really want… and into the Nintendo 3DS generation of the game.
And, banging out Pokemon White made me consider picking up Pokemon Black 2 or White 2. though looking at the pricing at Amazon, I think it might have to be White 2.
For some reason White 2 is about half the price of Black 2, and that isn’t just an Amazon oddity. It seems like stocks of Black 2 must have run low and now people are charging a premium for the game. But I think I have enough of a gift card left to cover a copy of White 2. Hrmm…
Anyway, Raptr did not track much for me last week because I was playing a game that it does not track, Pokemon!