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Pokemon: A Grand Ambition, Update 7 – The End?


I’ve done it! My original stated intention has been fulfilled! Continue reading Pokemon: A Grand Ambition, Update 7 – The End?

Pokemon Battle Revolution [Wii] – Review

Pokemon Battle RevolutionHaving done a little bit of reading on Pokémon Battle Revolution before playing it, I tempered my expectations. Its predecessors, specifically on the GameCube, featured drastic changes to the Pokémon formula, while still maintaining the foundations of what a Pokémon game was. And, Genius Sonority was successful in creating full-fledged console Pokémon games after many years of fans wanting them. This game had none of that ambition. Or at least, none of their ambition went towards a single-player component, which was all I was interested in. Because of this, and because I was such a latecomer, I found the game to be very disappointing.

The setting for this game was Poketopia, a theme park of sorts.
The setting for this game was Poketopia, a theme park of sorts.

Instead of a full-fledged story, this game features a set of colosseums. These pit the player against a barrage of opponents, battling in a style unique to the venue. Each colosseum featured a unique rule set, although many were very similar. The rule sets affected the progression structure and the battle style. Many new battle styles were introduced in this game too, or at least, introduced to me. As I felt with Colosseum and Gale of Darkness, the double battles were a high point for this game. In that case, the low point would undoubtedly be the Neon Colosseum which introduced Fortune Battles.

In Fortune Battles, both trainers’ parties were input onto a spinning wheel, and they chose by shooting Poké Balls at it, like darts. Until I got the timing down (I spent two of my twelve hours on this single colosseum) it was maddening. Getting stuck with my opponent’s shoddy Pokémon was difficult enough, but having to restart after making it all the way to the leader? Now that was infuriating! However, most of the colosseums were cakewalks – this was a very easy game with imported Pokémon. After overtaking the leaders of the eleven colosseums, I had my Surfing Pikachu and was content. Replaying yielded new costumes for my avatar, but that wasn’t my bag.

The visuals were noticeably better compared to the GameCube games.
The visuals were noticeably better compared to the GameCube games.

It may have been more of a draw when the online was still… well, online. With the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection now offline, that whole component is nonexistent. Of course, the game also features a robust local multiplayer mode, with support for all generation IV titles, but truthfully, I haven’t tried that yet. I’m looking forward to it though for two reasons. Being able to use the DS as a wireless controller is fantastic and it should allow for more cinematic battles (relegating all or most of the user interface to that system). Also, having the announcer return from his absence in the GameCube games is great! It reminds me of Pokémon Stadium on the N64; plus he’s helping learn the “correct” pronunciation of a few Pokémon!

Ultimately, I think I know why the single-player component of this game was so lackluster. Its release date tells the story. It was released in North America in June 2007 – two months after Diamond/Pearl released, and about six months after the Wii did. More telling though is its Japanese release date – a mere two weeks after the Wii. For all intents and purposes, this game was launch window. I expect Genius Sonority didn’t have the luxury of a lengthy development time. For Colosseum, they probably had a year-and-a-half development time, while Gale of Darkness may have had upwards of two years.

Perhaps for the first time, many of the physical moves actually saw Pokemon making contact.
Perhaps for the first time, many of the physical moves actually saw Pokemon making contact.

Also, in a potentially cramped development window, they had to develop for a new platform which featured improved visuals and fewer limitations on storage, implement compatibility with the Nintendo DS and the generation IV games, and perhaps the biggest hurdle for them was the integration of online play. This was only their fourth title, and their first to include any online functionality. Granted, they are closely affiliated with Nintendo and undoubtedly received much support, but Nintendo wasn’t so sharp in that regard at that time either (and many would say they still aren’t!). I imagine just getting the game out was an accomplishment in itself, but as it is, it’s an entirely skippable release, unless you’re like me and NEED THAT SURFING PIKACHU!!!

Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness [GameCube] – Review

The 2005 follow-up to Colosseum might be indistinguishable to the layman.
The 2005 follow-up to Colosseum might be indistinguishable to the layman.

Unsurprising to me, Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness is nigh-indistinguishable from its predecessor. The 2005 follow-up to Pokémon Colosseum takes place five years later and still features Orre as a backdrop. The morally bankrupt Cipher has made a return and they’ve begun foisting their Shadow Pokémon on the land again. Snagging Pokémon remains the major conceit of the game, although there are a scant few wild Pokémon. Double battles are also the primary method of battling, which, in itself is different from the mainline games. This is essentially the same game as Colosseum, which was solid, but not great, and will appeal only to those Pokémaniacs, like myself.

The game's ultimate Pokemon was the shadow Lugia, codenamed XD001.
The game’s ultimate Pokemon was the shadow Lugia, codenamed XD001.

As mentioned, Cipher is making a return in the land of Orre, albeit, under different leadership. They still intend to conquer the world through the use of Shadow Pokémon, but there are those willing to confront them. The nameless (in my case, Sherbet), silent protagonist is simply a shell for the player to experience the goings-on of Orre. His allies are diverse, and mostly new faces, but as was the case with Colosseum, the narrative is very light, and the characters, mostly forgettable. Except for Mirror B…

The player receives the snagging machine that Wes used five years ago and with that, the game takes on the form of its predecessor, verbatim. Double battles still make up 95% of the battles, and I was still a big fan. In conjunction with the great 3D renderings of the Pokémon, the battles were hands down my favorite part. Perhaps in an effort to differentiate itself, or, at the very least, build a common tie to the mainline games, there are wild Pokémon to catch. And, there are, literally, twelve to catch. To do so, bait is left at one of three designated areas and then, when one comes snacking, the player is alerted. I found it to be an insignificant, basically pointless, addition.

One positive facet of this game is the density of the snaggable Pokémon. This game and its predecessor are unique due to the limited palette of Pokémon to compose a party. Colosseum had a little over 40, while this title features more than 80. They’re mostly from the first generation, which may make this title more favorable if one began with the original Game Boy games. Even though it took me six more hours to complete the story, time flew by since my party and collection was consistently changing. Also, purifying the Shadow Pokémon was way easier/streamlined in comparison to Colosseum. You don’t even know!

Purifying Shadow Pokemon was much easier in this game.
Purifying Shadow Pokemon was much easier in this game.

As a whole Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness bears more than a similarity to Pokémon Coloseum – it’s barely anything more but that game! With the only major differentiating feature being a new roster of Pokémon, this game is definitely for the Pokémaniacs only. Both it and Colosseum are interesting takes on the tried-and-true formula on the mainline games, and truthfully, at least one of them would be worth giving a shot. Thanks to nothing more than the larger roster of snaggable Pokémon, I’d probably give this game the edge.

Pokemon: A Grand Ambition, Update 2 – Pokemon Emerald

It’s been a long time but I haven’t dropped this grand ambition of mine. As I mentioned at the end of my last check-in, after beating Pokémon Colosseum, I was due to begin Pokémon Emerald. It was a new experience for me as I skipped out on the game when it originally released back in 2005. My experience was somewhat of a mix between a trip down memory lane and dementia, as I recalled certain aspects and events, but couldn’t really tell what differentiated it from Ruby and Sapphire. Nonetheless, I’ve powered through the narrative, and am passively working on the Pokédex while I actively play Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness – my current challenge.

Currently, I’m close to crossing the 100 hour mark in Emerald. Honestly, I didn’t anticipate spending this much time with the game. I believe I was around 70 hours into it when I decided I’d completed all of the postgame content I was going to complete and thusly, moved onto Gale of Darkness. However, I’ve put another 30 hours into Emerald by playing it before bed here and there and taking it with me into public if I anticipate a long enough downtime to fire it up. In fact, on one such outing (a visit to the emergency room, care of my girlfriend) I caught a shiny Pokémon! It was a shiny Wailmer, which I’m pleased as punch with.

I anticipate completing Gale of Darkness in another dozen or so hours, so I’ll probably spend more time with Emerald before jumping into the next game on my list – Pokémon Platinum! In that time span, I’ll be working towards completing the Pokédex, although I don’t think I’ll be able to fill out the 200+2. That being said, I have many Pokémon to trade between LeafGreen, Colosseum, and Gale of Darkness, so we’ll see. As far as the next stops on this tour of mine, Platinum will follow Gale of Darkness; afterwards I’ll jump back to the console space with the Wii’s Pokémon Battle Revolution. After that, Pokémon Ranger is a possibility before jumping into HeartGold and then the Black/White series. Until next time, which, will be much sooner.

Pokemon Emerald [GBA] – Review

This wasn't the first, nor the last, of the Pokemon games to feature a reflective box.
This wasn’t the first, nor the last, of the Pokemon games to feature a reflective box.

Classically, the mainline Pokémon games come in threes. The first two launch together while the third, usually an enhanced amalgamation of the previous two, releases about a year later. Pokémon Emerald is the enhanced remake of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire – the first two Pokémon games on the Game Boy Advance. I adored Ruby when it released in my freshman year of high school. I clocked well over 200 hours with it before moving on. After retiring LeafGreen and Colosseum, I was interested in starting Emerald and returning to Hoenn as it had been ten years since I last saw it.

Double Battles were introduced with this generation.
Double Battles were introduced with this generation.

Returning to Hoenn brought back many memories. As I crisscrossed the expansive island, I remembered specific towns, routes, and completing specific objectives. Not everything was familiar though. I couldn’t remember some of the smaller story beats. The series is host to light and airy narratives though, so this wasn’t a surprise. Whereas players were confronted with Team Aqua or Team Magma in Ruby and Sapphire, players had to contend with both in Emerald. These groups aren’t necessarily evil like Team Rocket, but their goals of enacting massive changes to Hoenn’s ecosystem were potentially world ending.

The Battle Frontier was heavily marketed as the defining feature of Emerald when it released back in the middle of 2005. Personally, the battle facilities that have been introduced in the series haven’t appealed to me too much. This one hasn’t stolen too much of my time either. I appreciate being able to win harder to find evolutionary items and spotlighting the various battle styles is fantastic, but I’ve never put too much time into these. I’m more of a breeder than a fighter. The Battle Frontier is massive though and there is plenty there to entertain diehard fighters.

Really, those are the major differences between Ruby and Sapphire and Emerald. Perhaps the most notable of the minor alterations was Game Freak’s adjustments of wild Pokémon locations and the ability to capture both Groudon and Kyogre. Oh, and the Pokémon battles featured minor amounts of animation, like Crystal did prior. This generation was host to many new additions. Prime among them were double battles, contests, weather, the ability to dive, and many, many other novelties and mechanics.

This awesome building was one of the attractions at the Battle Frontier.

This awesome building was one of the attractions at the Battle Frontier.

Pokémon Emerald is the first enhanced remake in the series that I’ve completed (discounting LeafGreen and HeartGold, I guess). All in all, the additions and alterations make this the most feature packed between Ruby, Sapphire, and it, but it doesn’t make those games obsolete. I would find it grueling to play this immediately after playing one of those, so if you’re attempting a series playthrough as I am, pick one. The major changes may seem minor, but a comprehensive changelog of all changes would be immense. An older Pokémon game like this isn’t for everybody though, so only Pokémaniacs need apply. I fit the bill too! It’d been forever since I journeyed across Hoenn and it was a pleasant return.

Pokemon Colosseum – Game Notes

Taking notes of the games I play has become a routine of mine. This is especially helpful when I play an RPG. Now Pokemon Colosseum isn’t necessarily the most convoluted example of the genre, but there are some key points I needed to remember during my playthrough. Plus, since I’ve been nicknaming every Pokemon that I can, giving them a greater sense of uniqueness, it’s kind of fun to keep in-depth records of each.

So follow along if you will, with my session-to-session notes on my Pokemon Colosseum progress.

Continue reading Pokemon Colosseum – Game Notes

Pokemon: A Grand Ambition, Update 1 – Pokemon Colosseum

When I last did a write-up on my grand Pokémon ambition, I laid out the concept and discussed briefly my experience with the game I chose to play first, LeafGreen for the Game Boy Advance. In an effort to keep the experience fresh, I decided to play Colosseum next. This was an astute decision as Colosseum is different from the traditional handheld Pokémon games. In fact, that very reason was why I disliked the game when it played it 2004, but enjoyed it in 2013 – it was different.

Unlike the traditional handheld games, Colosseum featured a predetermined set of Pokémon to capture. Following along with a guide found on serebii.net, I made sure to snag each of the 48 Shadow Pokémon. After all, if I did so and purified them, and completed the 100-trainer Mt. Battle, I’d receive a Ho-oh. Well worth 50 or 60 hours, eh? Currently, I’ve snagged every available Pokémon and have purified all but 4. It’ll take me a few more hours to get that done. Then I can begin the Mt. Battle challenge, which I estimate will, again, take a few more hours, hopefully no more than 10. At that point, I’ll have clocked about 55 hours with game (definitely more when factoring in all the times I failed to snag tougher Pokémon).

I also have the preorder bonus disc for this game. This is notable as I’ll be able to transfer a Jirachi into my Game Boy Advance games. There was also a Japanese bonus disc that included Celebi and Pikachu. I’ve seen some of these discs on eBay and I would be able to get the disc to work despite the region coding, but they’re expensive. The cheapest I’ve found was $70, which is too much for only two Pokémon. At least, it’s too much at this point. Maybe I’ll change my mind once I’ve captured everyone else. The Japanese version also had three e-Reader exclusive Pokémon – Togepi, Mareep, and Scizor. Scizor would be cool, but then I’d have to import the actual game, as well as the set of e-Reader cards. I find that possibility more unlikely than me purchasing the Japanese bonus disc.

The ultimate goal for this idea of mine is to have a slew of Pokémon (perhaps all???) contained in a single game. They’ll have come from my many different avatars, as well as other trainers, of the NPC and IRL kind. Due to this fact, I’ll be able to level them much faster (Pokémon from other trainers earn bonus experience). Having them come from multiple trainers will also be a boon when breeding. Also, I’ll have quite the stable of legendary Pokémon; duplicates of many. Anyways, that’s where I’m at currently – just about finished with Colosseum. My next step is to return to the GBA to play Emerald for the first time.

Pokemon Colosseum [GameCube] – Review

Pokemon ColosseumReleased back in 2004, Pokémon Colosseum was Nintendo’s first attempt at making a full-scale console RPG out of their Pokémon series. Having been an avid fan at the time it was originally released, I remember being severely let down by the nontraditional take on the Pokémon formula. My teenage self couldn’t even bother to complete the game, despite the allure of trading some truly worthy Pokémon into Pokémon Ruby. Think of all the free time I had then! I’m revisiting the game now as a part of my grand Pokémon ambition, and I came away enjoying it more than I originally did for the exact reason I disliked it then – it’s different.

Double battles all the way in this game.
Double battles all the way in this game.

Wes, the player’s avatar, is a mute antihero attempting to foil the plans of the nefarious gang he recently betrayed. Alongside a spunky girl named Rui, who is the only known person able to detect Shadow Pokémon, the duo set about snagging and purifying all Pokémon that have had their hearts corrupted. I thought the storyline and characters were ridiculously simple, although some were just plain ridiculous. Of course, I didn’t begin this game with expectations of a riveting story. In fact, I don’t think anyone plays these games for their story; it’s the gameplay that draws people in.

The backdrop of the game is the Orre region, and as it is rather desolate, and a little more rough-and-tumble than other regions, there aren’t any wild Pokémon. The only method of building one’s collection in this game is snagging Shadow Pokémon from other trainers, which goes against everything that had been ingrained in the series up to this point. Once they’ve been snagged, they need to be rehabilitated through use in battle, among other procedures. While battling, Shadow Pokémon may enter Hyper Mode from time to time. While in this mode, their chances of striking a critical-hit increase, however, they may also ignore orders. Calling their name will calm them down.

A second distinguishing feature of this game is the battles themselves. For the duration of the storyline, every battle is a double battle. Each trainer plays with two active Pokémon. I really enjoyed the developer’s dedication to this feature. Most other games only feature double battles intermittently, which in a way, dilutes their appeal. Instead, the opportunity presented itself to build my party around combinations that made sense. I didn’t necessarily strategize in such a way, but the other trainers sure did; the combination of Earthquake and floating Pokémon did grow to be annoying.

Cities and dungeons weren't as much a part of this game.
Cities and dungeons weren’t as much a part of this game.

Due to the structure of the game, there is a set number of obtainable Pokémon. Following the storyline and having an inquisitive nature will generally result in catching snagging them all. Once the game has been completed, players can freely trade between Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. There is also Mt. Battle, a 100-trainer challenge, and a few multiplayer battling modes. Should one snag and purify every Pokémon and complete Mt. Battle, they’ll be awarded a Ho-oh – my current quest.

Mirror B. is one of the goofier antagonists.
Mirror B. is one of the goofier antagonists.

Back in the day, I couldn’t get beyond Colosseum’s differences from the Game Boy Advance games. I simply wanted one of those games with full-scale console graphics, nothing more and nothing less. Instead, Nintendo and developer Genius Sonority developed a different type of Pokémon game. Coming to it now, and with tempered expectations, I actually really enjoyed myself. The gameplay differences kept it fresh as I was coming to it having just completed LeafGreen – a very traditional game. Not only that, getting to see so many Pokémon visualized in respectable 3D was exciting for me. This isn’t your grandfather’s Pokémon game.