Tag Archives: pokemon

Pokemon: A Grand Ambition, Update 6 – Two Years, Too Many Games

Shuckle1

Has it really been two years since I last updated everyone on my Pokémon playing! Wow. I guess I’ll get on with it so y’all can get off the pins and needles. Continue reading Pokemon: A Grand Ambition, Update 6 – Two Years, Too Many Games

The Top 10 Games I Played in 2016

top-games-2016

Damn, what a year! In a lot of ways, it seemed to be one long downer, a year devoid of hope for many. I’m very fortunate in many ways and as this year winds down I’m going to look forward to 2017 and aim to devote more of my time to outlets that benefit others. As it stands now, much of my spare time in 2016 was devoted to video games and related interests. As I’ve done yearly, I’ll compile the ten favorite games I played this year, in alphabetical order. Per routine, this list is not limited to brand new releases but instead is based off what I actually played. When applicable, I’ll link to any articles I wrote during the year.

Continue reading The Top 10 Games I Played in 2016

Pokemon Dream Radar [3DS eShop] – Review

Pokemon Dream Radar

After spending three hours with Pokémon Dream Radar, I can thoroughly report that it more closely resembles a tech demo than a video game. And if spending that much time with a glorified tech demo doesn’t sound appealing, hopefully the prospect of receiving a handful of legendary Pokémon does, because that’s the true purpose of this product. It plays almost entirely with the Nintendo 3DS’ augmented reality functions, tasking players with collecting orbs and catching Pokémon using the forward-facing camera of the handheld. It’s a novel prospect for the first few rounds but it quickly becomes clear that’s all it is: a novelty. Regardless of my Pokémon fandom, the hours I spent playing this purchasable object resulted in little more than a dreadfully boring grind… and legendary Pokémon. Continue reading Pokemon Dream Radar [3DS eShop] – Review

Pokemon Picross [3DS eShop] – Review

Pokemon Picross

I’m disappointed with Pokémon Picross. Or rather, I’m disappointed in my expectations for the game. When it was announced in a recent Nintendo Direct, it was fully detailed as a “free-to-start” title: a game I’d be able to download and play for free. Presumably, there’d be some reason to coerce me to input money, but I didn’t ruminate on that or the potential pitfalls associated with the game’s payment model further. My lust for a new Picross game caused blinders to go up, especially considering this was a new one thematically designed around Pokémon. A peanut butter and jelly combination if I’d ever heard one! Having spent some time with the game, I’ve come back down and am firmly grounded in reality.

Nintendo’s Picross games are logic-based puzzlers that task players with filling in a gridded square using numerical hints on each row and column, ultimately revealing a picture. The numbers bordering each row and column indicate how many squares are to be filled in and if they’re connected or contain an unknown space of unmarked squares between them. Using deductive reasoning, one can determine that if a row of 10 squares has a hint of 8, a certain number of squares must be filled in, regardless of where the filled in section begins and ends. Extrapolating this thinking across the entire grid and utilizing squares that have already been filled in is an addictive process with a satisfying sense of completion when complete, especially on the larger puzzles.

Pokémon Picross takes that standard concept and applies some of the mechanics from the Pokémon series. The puzzles themselves are representative of individual Pokémon that when complete, result in catching said creature. They each have an ability that aids in the completion of puzzles by filling in squares, slowing time, etc. This mechanic ties into another new addition, rewards for completing specific objectives for each puzzle. Each puzzle has a set of unique objectives, such as set Pokémon X or use ability Y. Rewards for completing these were generally Picrites, the in-game currency.

Pokemon Picross - Pikachu
A Pikachu puzzle in progress, nearly there!

Mega Puzzles make a return after their debut in the digital only Picross e titles, although they’re completely foreign to me. I skipped out on those digital titles not thinking they contained much content (I was wrong, rectifying that mistake… now) but they make total sense in a Pokémon themed game, considering Mega Evolutions are the new “thing” for that series. Basically, they screw with the hints given and instead combine two rows/columns. Even after going through the tutorial a time or two, I had to wrack my brain to comprehend them. They add a nice change of pace, but are nowhere near as progressive as Picross 3D.

Progression is also portrayed differently, although is structurally similar to previous Picross games. Players navigate the game from puzzle to puzzle as if navigating the varying routes in a Pokémon game, complete with branching paths and different creatures. The difficulty pacing is all over the place, which for a veteran like me is appreciated. While it could be a hindrance for someone unfamiliar with the series (and I could see many newcomers coming for the Pokémon side of the equation), it also further replicates the progression of a standard Pokémon game, e.g. having to return to some cave with stronger Pokémon. Reaching new areas is no small feat and the barriers are twofold: energy and Picrites.

Pokemon Picross - Pikachu Capture
And the completed puzzle results in a new Pokemon added to the collection.

I originally wanted to start this section off discussing one of these mechanics as the lesser of two evils, but they’re both pretty mischievous, but ultimately boil down to one annoyance. Like many free-to-play games, this one utilizes an energy meter. As squares of puzzles are filled in, that meter depletes until it’s empty, halting progress until it’s refilled. The easiest way is to wait for it to refill; this can take a couple of hours and for the player in need of a fix, the quickest way is to refill it (or extend it altogether) with Picrites. As mentioned, Picrites are the in-game currency and are awarded for the completion of puzzles and the completion of objectives. They are doled out in laughable quantities in relation to the amount needed to unlock additional areas and upgrades, heck even an alternate set of puzzles are gated behind a hefty sum of Picrites. The only logical solution is to pony up real money.

This is a free-to-play game (and the core game is damn fine!) but convincing myself to plug in more than a couple of bucks is a tough sell. Admittedly, I’m still one of those luddites who prefer physical media and getting something I can hold in my hands in return. And I understand that many individuals worked on this game and there are plenty of stakeholders who deserve a cut. But, the portrayal of this game as free-to-play is somewhat devious. The amount of Picrites awarded in relation to the tally needed to unlock additional stages is prohibitively high and at some point, progression is gated behind a measly few puzzles that can be farmed each day.

Labels and payment models shouldn’t conjure this much ill will, and I’m perhaps going overboard here, but I would’ve rather seen Nintendo strip away the free-to-play elements and just market a full-price digital title. Obviously they didn’t go that route and I’m sure there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they’d reach more players, and ultimately yield more revenue by adopting the model they went with. And with that “realization” this article has devolved into a codgerly rant about the evolving sales pitch of video games. The kicker is that if you pump in about thirty bucks, all of these elements I’ve whined about go away. I don’t think I’m going to though because I’ve still got a chip on my shoulder on how they marketed this game! The more I write, the more I’m coming off as an entitled asshole, even to myself. So while I’d fit in great in an internet comments section, I’m going to wrap things up here! This is a great game, just go into it with better expectations than me.

Random Game #15 – Casino Slot Machine! [Odyssey 2]

Casino Slot Machine!

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.

With Ralph Baer’s recent passing, it’s fitting that one of the random games that gets pulled for me to discuss is an Odyssey2 game. As far as I know, there’s little connection between him and Casino Slot Machine!, outside of the fact that it appeared on the successor to the video game console he invented. As was typical with home video games during this era, the casino genre was prevalent on every platform. Personally, it’s hard to get invested in this style of game when there isn’t actual money on the line, and thus, no chance of a payoff. Especially when it’s a single player game! As far as I’m concerned, a slot machine’s best video game representation is as a distraction in the Pokémon games.

Apparently, a single person developed the majority of the Odyssey2’s library. Ed Averett is the name and from 1978 to 1983, he was the primary programmer at Magnavox. He developed Casino Slot Machine! and it was released in North America and 1980 and, like the bulk of the platform’s library, published by Magnavox.

Random Game #3 – Drill Dozer [Game Boy Advance]

Drill DozerWhen 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.

I don’t fully recall how I came to own Drill Dozer but I imagine I acquired it from Best Buy a year or so after its release. I remember reading about it in Nintendo Power at the time. It seemed interesting, especially because it was something different from Game Freak, and it was well received, but it wasn’t for me. This, more than likely, was because I didn’t have a job at the time. As best as I can remember, it played like a cross between Mr. Driller and a Treasure side-scroller akin to Gunstar Heroes. It looked fantastic, had a unique premise, and I don’t remember it being terrible, although I didn’t finish it. Thinking about it now, I ought to return to it.

Drill Dozer was developed by Game Freak (you know, the Pokémon studio) and published in North America by Nintendo on February 6, 2006. This was a Game Boy Advance game, and as the Nintendo DS had been released about a year-and-a-half earlier, I imagine this would’ve been one of Nintendo’s final GBA games. It, along with WarioWare: Twisted, were the only GBA games that utilized a rumble feature.

Pokemon Trozei! [Nintendo DS] – Review

Pokemon Trozei!Pokémon Trozei! is a game I’ve wanted to play for many years. This comes naturally as I’m a fan of the franchise and puzzle games, in general. Even more so with it being a Nintendo DS game, meaning it was well-suited for bedtime play. I finally encountered a copy of the game for a fair price not too long ago, and have recently completed the single player campaign. It was a brief playthrough, but I found it to be a solid matching puzzle game with a unique style, all its own.

Each gameplay field was limited to less than a dozen Pokémon.
Each gameplay field was limited to less than a dozen Pokemon.

The game followed the exploits of Lucy Fleetfoot – a secret agent intent on rescuing stolen Pokémon. Following the guidance of her commanding officer and equipped with the Trozei Beamer, Lucy was able to track down storage units containing stolen Pokémon, and transfer them to a safe place. Her Trozei Beamer allowed her to see what Pokémon were in the Poké Balls, and when four or more like Pokémon were lined up, safely export them. In gameplay terms, this translated to sliding rows and columns of Pokémon icons around on the touch screen.

Games like this are usually noted as match-three, but this one started off like a match-four, requiring me to match four like Pokémon. But, once a row or column (no diagonal matching) of four Pokémon was matched, a Trozei Chance would happen. When this occurred, the requirements were lessened so I could match three like Pokémon, and if I was successful again, I was able to match pairs. Almost always, this resulted in large chains, clearing most of the Pokémon from the play field. The columns would plummet quickly, and the half-second I still had to line up multiples was ample time to react.

The campaign was void of story beyond the initial setup, although Lucy would do battle with bosses of the rival organization. In these instances, they spouted quick diatribes regarding Lucy’s cause and promoted their nefarious intentions. These quick little segments highlighted the unique art style of the game, which didn’t truly shine in the gameplay. The Pokémon icons were cool too, and highly distinguishable (to a fan like me, at least) but the character designs were evocative of 1960s spy cartoons, circa Nickelodeon during the 1990s.

Lucy Fleetfoot herself.
Lucy Fleetfoot herself.

It took me roughly three hours to complete Pokémon Trozei! and of that time, nearly an hour was spent battling the final boss. I didn’t spend any time with the multiplayer, but it seems like it’d be fun and that there’s some variation in the available modes; plus, it’s has single-card play which is always awesome. There’s a Pokédex of sorts to complete in-game, but it’s nothing more than a listing of the Pokémon, which totaled about 380 when this game was released. I didn’t find it incentivizing, personally. Still, I did enjoy the basic gameplay the game offered. It provided a unique take on the match-three formula and the implantation of the touch screen was perfect.