Big topic discussion on the current deal between Hi-Rez and Microsoft. Bringing the growing MOBA to consoles provides un-matched market potential for Hi Rez and gives Microsoft a huge announcement in the form of an exclusive. But where is the money going to come from? Will Smite remain free to play on Xbox? What about the online community?
A retread of the region of Sinnoh, Pokémon Platinum is an enhanced remake of Diamond and Pearl – the fourth generation of Pokémon games and the ones that ushered in the era of the Nintendo DS. Released in the spring of 2009, two years after its predecessors, it’s a game that I never played until now. Nonetheless, the remake sticks so closely to its predecessors that little feels unfamiliar. Like everything before it, it’s a solid entry that refines the classic formula but does little to improve upon it.
As I did with Emerald, I started in an uncommon way. Thanks to owning multiple handhelds and games, I was able to start with all three starters. Not only that, since some were traded, they earned 1.5x experience and leveled faster than normal. Due to this, the difficulty ranged from pushover to frustrating. At points, my Pokémon would grow too strong and would only listen to me occasionally. This was very frustrating! About four gym leaders in (out of eight) this wasn’t much of a concern anymore. The only other time I had issues was facing the Elite Four. Conquering them required grinding – but it seemed like less compared to Emerald.
This generation introduced many new features, although for my purposes, there’s little that I wanted to, or could, interact with. Arguably the biggest feature was the introduction of online trading and battling. With the Nintendo WFC shutdown now, this is a nonstarter though. The next most important introduction would probably be the use of the touch screen via the Pokétech. Consisting of twentyish apps, the majority of them are useless novelties. This was the biggest lost opportunity. Naturally, there were more Pokémon introduced and many more gameplay additions and tweaks too.
If the poor use of the touch screen was the biggest lost opportunity, perhaps the second would be the lackluster visuals. The environments – routes, dungeons, and towns – are set on 2D backgrounds, but for the first time, use 3D accents. Buildings, trees, and other objects are displayed in such a way that they pop up and out visually. Battles however, still show off the battling Pokémon in flat 2D drawings that offer little animation. There’s probably more fidelity than in previous games, but it’s hard to tell.
Being three mainline games into my Grand Ambition at this point, it’s very easy for the games to run together and seem less distinct. With the major new addition to the series obsolete today, Pokémon Platinum had little to offer in newness. The most enticing new feature was the Pokémon themselves. Going back and capturing the Pokémon that I did back in high school was a comforting task. Sinnoh wasn’t as memorable a region for me as Hoenn was, but it was still nice to go back. This, despite the fact that most of the additions were either poor or unused by me, as I focused nearly solely on beating the game and capturing the legendaries.
I swear, I’m so bad about keeping the internet updated on my Pokémon goings-on! How does anyone manage to go on with their day-to-day life, not knowing what I’m doing in the Pokémon video games? Serious kudos’ are in order for all who’ve had to suffer these past three (!) months without a grand ambition update. It’d help me out if I update more frequently, I mean, look at that title! I’ve got a lot to discuss so I’ll get down to it.
Okay, the first major happening since I last wrote about my grand ambition was my completion of Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. I completed it to the moon and back! Nearly, that is. I was able to snag and extract every available shadow Pokémon, caught most of the limited wild Pokémon, and obtained every in-game trade Pokémon – which included a Shuckle! Honestly, the only thing that I didn’t do was complete the Orre Colosseum. It hosted a difficult series of trainers that wasn’t unavailable until after completing the game. I participated in the first round so I could obtain a Lucky Egg – an experience duplicating held item which is very valuable. Having extracted all of the Pokémon, I have shelved Gale of Darkness.
Before diving into Pokémon Platinum, as I had planned, I took a detour. One late night, partially at the heckling behest of a friend, I purchased the WiiWare title My Pokémon Ranch. What a greatmediocre poor way to spend ten dollars buy a Mew. Here’s how this software (not a game, folks!) works: players connect their Nintendo DS and either Diamond or Pearl and transfer Pokémon to the ranch. It stores up to 1,200 Pokémon and acts more like a gussied up utility. After depositing 999 Pokémon, players are awarded with a Mew. Believe me, this was no small task and was so gratifying. My friend can attest to that fact as well.
So, after spending hours catching low-level Bidoof and Starly in Diamond, I finally transitioned to Platinum. Side note: I didn’t spend any other time playing Diamond – this has all my creatures from back in the day and I didn’t want to sully this game, yet. At this point, I’ve completed Platinum. In the sense that I’ve beaten the Elite Four; I still haven’t seen all the post-game content that opened up afterwards, so I’m not satisfied with being done with it. In fact, I said to myself that I wasn’t going to catch all available Pokémon in it, and briskly move onto Battle Revolution, but I’m swaying the other way recently. So I may wind up catching all the Pokémon I can in the game. Mind you, I don’t mean obtain one of everyone – simply catch anything that’s out in the wild.
Once I’m satisfied with Platinum, I’ll begin Battle Revolution on the Wii. That should be a succinct adventure as there are only three extractable Pokémon – a Magmortar, Electrivire, and a Pikachu that knows Surf. Perhaps, I’ll play a Pokémon Ranger game or two? I need to do more research towards extracting legendary Pokémon from those games. Depending yay or nay, I should transition to HeartGold, which I’m excited to play again and hopefully complete all post-game content. Until next time!
Being an avid fan of Nintendo, especially during the GameCube years, I was turned on to cel-shaded games via The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Since then, I’ve had a fondness for the cartoony graphical style used in games as far-ranging as cartoon tie-ins and the uber-violent affairs of Suda51. Auto Modellista was an arcade-style racing game from the time period that I also had a fondness for, primarily because of its art style. Underneath however, was an informative racing game that enabled me to understand crucial racing concepts.
Auto Modellista originally appeared on the PlayStation 2 in 2002. Developed by Capcom Production Studio 1, the game was part of an initiative to support the PlayStation 2’s online capabilities. The other games from this group (Resident Evil: Outbreak and Monster Hunter) outperformed it, and is perhaps why this game was later ported to the GameCube and Xbox. The GameCube was the only version to lack online play, which it might as well now. Despite it including a split screen mode for two, I strictly played solo.
The Garage Life mode is the primary single player mode. Freely using up to thirty cars, I completed individual races and series’ to unlock further challenges, new cars, and customization parts – even for my garage! The customization was light – most every car’s exterior could be customized in areas (bonnet, side, rear, spoiler, etc.) and most had three options. Performance upgrades were unlocked and also very limited, although they were beneficial and necessary to winning. I made sure to focus on events that awarded these first and I breezed through the game in a few hours.
The courses were divided up amongst the familiar circuit design and more unique hill courses. These upward or downward winding courses were set against the backdrop of the Japanese hillside and featured ludicrous amounts of sharp turns. These sections might as well have been a scene from Initial D! They were one of my highlights from the game, particularly due to their uniqueness. With less than a dozen tracks, they didn’t have much competition. Speaking of, the opponent AI wasn’t much to deal with either. The difficulty stemmed more from the performance upgrades and whether I had them or not.
One element of the Garage Life mode that I appreciated the most back in the day was the extensive information the game passed on to me via emails. With every type of car I used, I’d be flooded with emails describing it and the best way to handle the car. The same held true when I received performance upgrades or competed on a new track for the first time. This was the first racing game I played that taught me how to corner and also how to corner in a specific car setup. It was helpful when I later graduated to Gran Turismo 4!
My recent replay of Auto Modellista wound up being a brief sojourn through my memories of not only the game but the video game industry when it was released. I feel it’s indicative of the then growing popularity of cel-shaded graphics and the move towards online play. Despite those elements of the game, at its core, it’s a typical arcade racer with an extra dose of customization and simulation style information. However, it’ll always be remembered for being that cel-shaded racing game.