Tag Archives: 2013

Pokemon Y and My Frustration with Roaming Pokemon

Pokemon Y

Roaming Pokémon are the worst. I’ve been nearing the end of my Pokémon Y playthrough and just gained access to one of the few available legendary Pokémon. Unlike the few others that are located in caves, this particular one roams the region. It’s such a pain in the ass to catch though I don’t know that I’ll even put in the time to obtain it. This isn’t a new concept for the series but it is one rarely utilized. I’m generally not one to play armchair quarterback but as my frustration grew Sunday morning, I thought about what I’d do to improve upon the concept. It’s one I theoretically like, especially applied to the Pokémon games, I just wish it was implemented differently in this instance.

Pokemon Y - Map
If actively pursuing a roaming Pokemon, this screen will be seen often. 

In the Pokémon games, beating the Elite Four and champion is one of the core goals; doing so signals that you’re the strongest trainer in the region. Afterwards, there’s additional content that becomes available. It’s generally not much but in Pokémon X and Y, it seems especially barren. Regarding X and Y, every player’s first encounter with a wild Pokémon in the post-game will always be with one of the legendary birds. It’s different based on which starter Pokémon was picked at the beginning of the game. Since I picked Froakie, the legendary Pokémon available to me was Moltres.

This first encounter is just a tease as the Pokémon immediately flees. Now however, the Pokémon’s entry has been somewhat completed in the Pokédex, at least enough to track it and see where it’s currently located. At this point, there’s primarily two ways to tackle this capture: passively try to catch it as the post-game content is naturally completed or while focusing on other objectives, or actively try to pursue it. Since there’s not a ton of post-game content and I’m merely “passing through” this game on my way to Omega Ruby, I actively tried catching it.

The method of actively pursuing a roaming Pokémon I’m most familiar with entails going back and forth between two routes or a route and a town in the hopes that it will appear in the desired route. This becomes a tedious task quickly as the player buttons through layers of menus to get to the Pokédex to locate if the Pokémon is nearby. If it isn’t, cross that border and back into the desired route and check again. Luck is a factor in the sense that it’s rarely on the player’s side when tracking roaming Pokémon. And, something as simple as flying to where the roaming Pokémon is won’t work as it will be somewhere else by the time the player touches down.

If that Pokémon is on the current route, the player can still mess up their opportunity to encounter it. For instance, if the first Pokémon of the player’s party is of a higher level, the roaming Pokémon won’t appear. In fact, if you encounter another Pokémon, say a wild Flabébé 70 levels the junior to the first Pokémon in the player’s party, that roaming Pokémon is now somewhere else. The so-called legendary is afraid to fight something a piddly wild Pokémon will gladly step up to. WHAT!? Even if a weak Pokémon is in the first spot of the party and the roaming Pokémon is in the current route, there’s still no guarantee that it’ll be encountered. And if a wild Pokémon is encountered instead, that roaming Pokémon is likely somewhere else.

It can be frustrating and at the very least, time consuming. The roaming Pokémon in X and Y eventually settles down in a cave after ten encounters. But still, that’s ten encounters when I’ve had trouble getting a second! So, what would I do differently? One implementation stuck out to me immediately and it’s primarily what I’ll posit. There’s plenty of ways to alter this concept too but it’s only now that I’m shifting gears towards constructive criticism that I realize I really just wanted to rant. Still, I’ll elaborate on a different method of including roaming Pokémon that may be less frustrating than the current one.

First off, instead of introducing the roaming Pokémon after the game’s been beaten, I’d instead introduce it during the lead up. I’m of two minds on how to: randomly or through a predetermined encounter. Introducing it through a random encounter would mean a different experience for every player. For some, it may be the first wild Pokémon they encounter; others may not see it at all during their playthrough. This randomness would make the encounter more impactful, like running across a shiny Pokémon, although I’d want the chance of seeing it much higher than seeing a shiny Pokémon (roughly 1/4096 for the current generation). Perhaps the best method would be through a predetermined encounter, with future appearances requiring the hunt; basically just changing the timing of the Pokémon’s initial availability.

The legendary Pokémon almost always appear at a preset level which could break the game’s difficulty if one was encountered early on and somehow caught. They could instead have a scalable level based on when they’re encountered. I’d scale it such that it can still wallop the player’s party but a skilled player may be able to inflict a status condition or throw a Poké Ball. That would entail allowing the player to get a move off whereas currently, the Pokémon flees before the menus on the touch screen even appear. I’ve caught legendary Pokémon by throwing a Poké Ball out as my first move and let me tell you, it’s pretty satisfying!

Pokemon Y - Moltres
How I longed to have this happen.

As I thought, I wound up wanting to rant more than to offer constructive advice. At least, offering detailed constructive advice because really, simply introducing the roaming Pokémon sooner would alleviate a lot of my grief. With my current chase, I feel like actively pursuing Moltres is the only option since there’s so little post-game content. If I was sticking with this game longer, this whole topic would be a moot point. I’ve already got Omega Ruby queued up and if I’m going to spend dozens of hours with a game to complete the Pokédex, it’ll likely be that one since it’s the most recent release. As it stands, tracking this Pokémon down and attempting to catch it is a pain in my ass and likely one I won’t continue to endure.

Advertisements

Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut [PlayStation 3] – Review

Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut

Touting itself as one of the most critically polarizing games of recent times, the Director’s Cut release of Deadly Premonition highlights a quirky game with many inspirations. When it was originally released stateside for the Xbox 360 on February 23, 2010, the game was met with critical reception that ran the gamut of the traditional 1-to-10 rating scale. Almost every aspect of the open-world horror game caused a rift that placed players in a love it or hate it camp. Released on April 30, 2013 for the PlayStation 3, the Director’s Cut rectifies nothing and instead doubles down on the cult following it created. Having played it myself, I can safely say I’m in the love it camp but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed every bit of it.

The characters were a mixed bag, and nothing was "odd" in this town. Even a man wearing a skull mask respirator.
The characters were a mixed bag, and nothing was “odd” in this town. Even a man wearing a skull mask respirator.

Set in the fictional town of Greenvale, Washington, the game follows FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan as he investigates the grisly murder of a young woman. The case deepens as more young women are murdered by the mysterious Raincoat Killer. At the crime scenes and around town, York encounters a recurring symbol and the presence of red seeds, both of which play an important role and portend an otherworldly quality to the plot. In regards to the general plot, setting, and characters, the developers at Access Games, and likely the game’s director Hidetaka “Swery” Suehiro, seemed to have drawn heavily on another instance of cult entertainment: Twin Peaks.

Besides the similarities listed above, many of the townsfolk that York deals with through his investigation are representative of characters from Twin Peaks. So much so there’s even a Log Lady equivalent! Most everyone has a ludicrous trait that keeps the experience from feeling like a representation of the real world; such as York’s tendency to monologue about famous movies and directors to Zach, another personality of his – the result of his dissociative identity disorder. Or the fact that York finds himself in otherworldly versions of the real world while profiling his suspect. On the other hand, Emily Wyatt, the deputy sheriff, came off surprisingly grounded, in part because of her girl next door portrayal. The relationship between her and York depicted a budding romance that culminated in a wrenching conclusion, one that really made me sympathetic for the two.

Driving was a tedious task initially thanks to speed limitations. Fast cars though had the tendency to wind up like this.
Driving was a tedious task initially thanks to speed limitations. Fast cars though had the tendency to wind up like this.

The significance of the ritualistic killings, symbology, and red seeds are eventually made apparent and everything relates back to a gruesome night in the town sixty-odd years prior. The pace really picks up around this point and I didn’t want to stop playing the game. I spent about fourteen hours playing in the weekend leading up to its completion; a feat that I haven’t done in a long time. It was also about this point that all semblance of reality began getting stripped away as the game’s true villains were revealed, leading me to find commonalities between the final third of the game and Inuyasha.

The final sections showed off an array of noteworthy boss fights (I had to call Jenny in to see some of them), although the rest of the combat was defiantly rote. Combat sequences took place in closed off areas, usually with the objective of finding clues to aid in York’s criminal profiling. While trying to push the narrative forward, York dealt with innumerable zombielike creatures that populated these otherworldly versions of existing locations. Combat was highly derivative of Resident Evil 4, down to York planting his feet while I aimed. A lock-on feature reduced the ire caused by the troublesome aiming but couldn’t help the combat from growing tiresome after a section or two. The few run-ins York had with the Raincoat Killer did result in tense and stylish escape sequences, with a fair amount of quick-time events for good measure.

The otherworldly aspects became more crucial to the plot as the climax drew near.
The otherworldly aspects became more crucial to the plot as the climax drew near.

When not in combat, York was free to explore the town of Greenvale and perform a wealth of favors for the townsfolk, totaling fifty sidequests in all. This fact didn’t dawn on me until about halfway through, coincidentally, about the time the plot was striking my fancy. Completing the sidequests not only broadened my understanding of the characters and their relationships, but also served as the open-world “collectible” to obsess over. It doesn’t take much to convince me to collect everything of something (thanks Pokémon!) but the fact that trophies were tied to these meant I was going to collect them all, and “platinum” the game in the process.

For the most part, the sidequests were very simple, although their variety and outcomes were immense. They ranged from block-pushing puzzles and collect-a-thons to the retrieval of specific items strewn about Greenvale. Starting them was simple, just talking to the quest giver but finding them at a given point wasn’t so simple. The town of Greenvale operated no different from ours, with individuals performing tasks and working based on the time of the day and the weather conditions. While I could solicit tasks from the owner of the Milk Barn grocery store during the day as he was working, I wouldn’t be able to at night when he was home resting. The criteria for these were openly displayed and I found the overall structure to be reminiscent of the Bomber’s Notebook from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.

The zombielike creatures had terribly annoying sound effects. I found them to grow funnier with time.
The zombielike creatures had terribly annoying sound effects. I found them to grow funnier with time.

It’s somewhat surprising to think about the quantity of influences that this game draws upon. I’ve made mention of so many at this point, I’d be remiss if I didn’t compare the open world qualities to be evocative of Grand Theft Auto, by way of Shenmue. Overwhelmingly, these influences come together with a surprising degree of competency. Despite this, it’s hard for me to walk away from my time without criticisms. I felt many of the combat sequences dragged on far too long considering how unrewarding the combat itself was. And, not to stigmatize too much but this was a budget game originally, and the quantity of “open-world jank” I encountered is a testament to that; not to mention the near-PS2 quality of the graphics. There are so many other grievances I have with the game, but I still spent forty largely enjoyable hours with it and if that’s a testament to anything, it’s to the redeeming and endearing qualities of Deadly Premonition.

The Room Two [Android] – Snapshot Review

The Room Two

The Room Two picks up right where its predecessor left off, at least, I think so. Both games present a story in the form of handwritten notes that I typically found to be incomprehensible. Still, the core gameplay was rock solid and tested my deductive skills rather than my patience. From the first-person perspective, I toyed around with all objects I could interact with in a set of rooms. Everything was a puzzle and when I solved them seamlessly, I felt much satisfaction. When I couldn’t, the hint system came into play and when I relied upon it, I found I simply failed in exploring my boundaries – there weren’t many illogical solutions. The Room Two is a meaningful timewaster that continues in the tradition of the original.

Random Game #26 – Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing [Android]

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing

When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

Now didn’t I just discuss a Sonic racing game? What’re the chances I’d get another one this quickly? Actually, it was a 2/1732 or 1/866 so it was quite rare. I acquired this through the Humble Sega Mobile Bundle and like the bulk of that lot, haven’t played this. I have played its sequel on the Wii U though, and it’s pretty good. I don’t find it as polished as a Mario Kart game, but it offers much more variety – specifically in the properties on display. Reading about this title, it appears to do the same, albeit, with a little less than its successor. I’m not too interested in giving this game a shot, especially on Android, but if I found a copy in the wild for a good price, I’d still snatch it up.

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing was originally developed by Sumo Digital and released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Nintendo DS on February 23, 2010, in North America. A PC port was released a couple of weeks later – March 3, 2010. There was also an arcade version (!?) and mobile ports for iOS (2011), Android (2013), and Blackberry (2013); these were ported by Gameloft. Lastly, a Mac OS X version is available courtesy of Feral Interactive (2013). One more interesting point – the Xbox 360 and Wii versions featured exclusive characters: the Xbox 360 had Banjo and Kazooie (in fact, that version goes under a slightly different name noting that) as well as the Avatar while the Wii version featured Miis.

Random Game #9 – Surgeon Simulator 2013 [PC]

Surgeon Simulator 2013 AlternateWhen you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

This is an article about Surgeon Simulator 2013. Here’s the deal though, I haven’t actually played it… yet. I’ll get around to it someday – trust me. I, no doubt, acquired it as a part of some Humble Bundle, and honestly didn’t think too much of it until now. I hadn’t heard of it prior to my acquisition and summarily forgot about it afterwards. Having just watched a few videos of the game on Steam though, I’m surprised! It’s not a serious take on surgery, but instead, a “darkly humorous” take on the practice. It appears to have a control scheme similar to Octodad, the goals of Trauma Center, and the parameters of Operation. It looks comical and it’s on my radar now.

Surgeon Simulator 2013 is actually the follow-up to a prototype of sorts that was developed in 48 hours, presumably during a game jam. This title was developed with a little more time – 48 days. The individuals responsible were Tom Jackson, Jack Good, Luke Williams, and James Broadley; otherwise known as Bossa Studios. This game was originally released for PC and Mac on April 19, 2013, and has since seen releases on PlayStation 4, iOS, and Android.

rymdkapsel [Android] – Review

Currently available for a variety of mobile platforms, rymdkapsel is a minimalist RTS.
Currently available for a variety of mobile platforms, rymdkapsel is a minimalist RTS.

The third game from the Humble Mobile Bundle 3 that really clicked with me was rymdkapsel. I enjoyed SpellTower and Ridiculous Fishing a great deal, but I was engrossed with this game – more so than those two. I found the minimalistic design philosophies behind each aspect of the game to be quite interesting and executed wonderfully. As was the case with Ridiculous Fishing, I have had my fill of the game currently, but I imagine I’ll return to rymdkapsel before I return to Ridiculous Fishing.

Confrontation was simple, but I had to plan my approach out before things got to serious.
Confrontation was simple, but I had to plan my approach out before things got to serious.

rymdkapsel is a real-time strategy game with few elements. Initially, I started off on a miniscule space station with two minions and a handful of the game’s three resource types. I commanded the minions and expanded the space station using an intuitive and simple user interface. I dragged and dropped the tetromino rooms and hallways, aiming to develop the space station as efficiently as possible. Enemies attacked in increasingly larger waves as I attempted to complete the game’s three distinct objectives. Success was defined as researching all four monoliths, doing so in less than 45 minutes, and surviving 28 waves.

The different colored rooms indicated their purpose. The green outline is a room being built.
The different colored rooms indicated their purpose. The green outline is a room being built.

My gameplay sessions lasted forty minutes to an hour and it took me a few to even accomplish one objective. Now, as I discussed earlier this year, I’m not the most strategically inclined, so others mileage with rymdkapsel may vary. That said, when I failed I wasn’t distraught. I took my experience into the next session and applied a concept that made itself apparent to me or increased my management efficiency. Of the three games I’ve discussed recently, this was my favorite. The accolades it’s earning from Apple and Google are well-deserved.

Ridiculous Fishing [Andoid] – Review

Vlambeer's most popular game?
Vlambeer’s most popular game?

So another game from the Humble Mobile Bundle 3 that gave me a lot of enjoyment was Ridiculous Fishing. I was aware of the positive press it received when it was released for iOS earlier this year, but I didn’t feel like playing it on my ancient iPod Touch. Luckily, this particular Humble Bundle marked its debut on Android; meaning I had a chance to play it on my tablet. Its gameplay was simple and the feedback loop implemented was rewarding enough to keep me playing until the end.

At first you want get as deep as possible.
At first you want get as deep as possible.

There is a story behind why the avatar, Billy, is fishing although it’s scant and really only consists of a slightly humorous intro and outro. It’s beside the point. The point of Ridiculous Fishing (and its Flash-based predecessor Radical Fishing) is a simple feedback loop. As discussed in this Gamasutra article, the entire premise of the game is based on a feedback loop that keeps the player in the game.

I didn’t think about it until I read the article, but performing well in one of the game’s three distinct sections, leads to better performance in the next. At first, Billy casts his line and attempts to get as deep as possible. Once his lure reaches the bottom or snags a fish, the goal switches to catching as many as possible. Finally, once he’s reeled them in, he thrusts them into the air and blows them into smithereens, getting money. This money can then be spent on various upgrades suited to increasing each cast’s payload. Then rinse and repeat until one finds satisfaction.

Then once once you've reeled a lot in, shoot them for money!
Then once once you’ve reeled a lot in, shoot them for money!

For me, I was satisfied with completing the four stages and reaching the ending. It took me a few hours split amongst multiple bedtime gameplay sessions. I still have a good amount of unlockables and a scant few fish to catch, but I’ve had my fill. The visual style and soundtrack were both unique enough to warrant interest and the faux-Twitter app, Brydr was worthy of a few retweets but above all, the feedback loop and simple gameplay kept me hooked.