I Choose You! (Pokemon Yellow)

I’ll be honest. I was going to get Blue. But at the last minute I read up on the benefits of Yellow and thought, “I guess I can stick Pikachu in a box somewhere. Yellow is far superior.”

Before you get mad at me, I’ll agree with you that yes, Pikachu is adorable. He is rather cute. But he is also not very strong, and Yellow takes away his ability to evolve into Raichu for… anime… reasons… But worry not. When I named him (for I’ve decided to nickname all 151 as I obtain them), he turned around and said, “Pikachu!” And goddamn it, that little yellow bastard is never leaving my party.

I’m currently six and a half hours into my playthrough, and I’m only just about to depart from Cerulean City. I know, that’s astonishingly slow progress, but I’ve decided to take things slowly, grind levels for my Pokemon when necessary, try to collect as many as I can on the way through the world, and perhaps destroy all the trainers while I’m at it.

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Hello there! (All images will be this level of quality. There is no alternative!)

Allow me to give you a rundown of my team, in order of when they were obtained:

Leading the party we have ZAGONAL, my level 15 PIKACHU. He currently knows THUNDERSHOCK, THUNDER WAVE, QUICK ATTACK and DOUBLE TEAM.

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I forgot to take a picture of this fated encounter, so uh… here’s the first obstacle I came across in the game.

 

Next up we have AERGUL, the obligatory PIDGEY, level 16. AERGUL knows GUST (which is, infuriatingly, a normal type move in gen 1), QUICK ATTACK, and SAND-ATTACK, which may be the only stat-affecting move I commonly use. That shit is overpowered.

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Level 5 and looking live. Many Pidgeys were fainted in the making of this image.

Following the mighty, erm, pigeon is REGIPIN, my level 16 NIDORINO. He knows HORN ATTACK, DOUBLE KICK, TACKLE and LEER. I look forward to the day he evolves into the frankly terrifying NIDOKING.

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I didn’t skip AGGRO. He just didn’t stay on the team.

Somewhere along my travels I picked up RAZCRAG, my level 16 SANDSHREW. For years now I’ve claimed to love Sandshrew / Sandslash, but I’ve never actually used one. He’s an absolute bastard to level due to his sparse moveset, but he’s starting to finally be worth his while. He currently still only knows SCRATCH and SAND-ATTACK, but I’ve just recently obtained TM28-DIG, which I’ll quite happily hand over to him.

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I was experimenting with playing the game in its native resolution when I caught Sandshrew. You can do this by holding SELECT as the game starts.

 

During my travels through Mt. Moon I encountered MELUNA, my level 16 CLEFAIRY. Quite amusingly, I found a MOON STONE right next to him and immediately went for the evolution, before stopping to check and see if I should wait for him to learn some moves first. It was with some horror that I learned Clefable won’t learn any moves by itself, and that one should most definitely wait a while. Luckily, I’d saved just beforehand. MELUNA still only knows POUND, GROWL, and the ever-useful SING, and so I shall hold off the evolution for a while longer. I’ve never actually used a Clefairy before – younger me thought it was too pink, and older me found it too annoying – but I finally stopped to consider that if Clefairy is an annoying Pokemon to fight, it must certainly be a prosperous one to train. Thus far, I have no regrets.

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I wonder what determines the colour the Pokeball turns when the Pokemon is caught on this screen? All balls thrown here have been regular.

 

Finally, BURGEON is a level 19 IVYSAUR, who gained many of his levels through the decimation of Misty’s gym. (Sorry ginge.) I typically go for Bulbasaur as a starter, so he’ll be accompanying me throughout the rest of the game. He currently knows TACKLE, VINE WHIP, LEECH SEED and GROWL, but hey, what do you want from him? He’s got a lot to learn.

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This special snowflake was encountered OUTSIDE of his Pokeball. We got a regular Pikachu over here.

I’m fairly certain that my team will remain as-is, for the most part, unless I find a good flying type to replace AERGUL, the obligatory Pidgey. I did originally have a Mankey named AGGRO, but sometime after Brock’s downfall he began to fall off in terms of usefulness, and I needed room for BURGEON, so… I boxed him. Sorry, bro.

As you can see, I’ve been having an intensely enjoyable time with the game so far, even if the going is slow. I’d actually been worrying that after all this hype, I may have been disappointed to find that the classics didn’t live up to expectation, as I’ve not really played them outside of their gen 3 remakes. These worries proved completely unfounded, however, with me enjoying most of the aspects which worried me. For instance, the lack of an XP bar was a quality-of-life addition in later games that I worried I couldn’t live without, when in actual fact I almost prefer it not being there to constantly remind me I have more grinding to do. The lack of a run feature has me slowing down to appreciate the, uh, scenery, and speaking of which the graphics have more charm to them than I’d originally anticipated; there’s something satisfying about that battle screen which reminds me of when you finish giving colour to a drawing on a previously blank piece of paper.

I plan on sinking many more hours into this game through completion of story and Pokedex, so expect a more journey-esque blog post within a few weeks, months, or years (for sometimes I take Pokemon games real slow). For now, though…

Ah, damnit. It’s official. I’ve become a genwunner.

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Personal Favourites

Whilst not the most original idea for a blog post, I decided it would still be interesting to write (and hopefully read) about my personal favourite videogames. I shall list them here and talk about why each choice is what it is. To make things less repetitive, I shall only allow one game from each franchise. Choice number one would otherwise take up most of the list with its sequels.

Number 10: Jak and Daxter

If you’ve never played Jak and Daxter I’d highly recommend the HD version on Playstation 3. Naughty Dog took everything they learned about platformers with their iconic Crash Bandicoot series and put it to work in a slightly more story-based environment. Its sequels, whilst great games in their own right, took the franchise in a different direction to mature alongside their target audience. The original Jak and Daxter remains as a decent, fun, fairly easy platformer which remains as one of the only games I’ve ever perfected. That’s right, I collected every damn precursor orb.

Number 9: Saints Row 3

Alright, sorry, it’s Saints Row the Third. It is, as its title suggests, the third installment in the series and was my entry into the franchise. Whilst previous iterations of the game were essentially clones of Grand Theft Auto, this entry took things in a more unique and comedic direction. The freedom of unlocking cheats, combined with additional perks such as having your car spawn near you satiated the thirst of those like me who enjoyed GTA, but really wanted something less serious and more arcade-style. This was, of course, before GTA V, where some of the “perks” I considered awesome in Saints Row were also integrated into GTA. Despite this, Saints Row 3 remains my favourite, with 4 coming in as a close second.

Number 8: Spore

Most people were disappointed with Spore. I, however, was 13, and was not that invested in the preview / showing off portion of the gaming industry, and therefore came to the game blind and with a fresh mind. I wasn’t even aware that it was a disappointment to many until some years later. Spore fascinated me for two main reasons: the creature / everything else creator, and the space stage. Never had I been so immersed in a game’s representation of space. I still haven’t been. The controls were simple, the weapons were fun, the options of what to do were clear. If you chose the economic path it became a grind. Never tried religious. Decide on being an evil overlord, however, and your empire would grow faster than any others, and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t delicious being despicable, too.

Number 7: Pokemon SoulSilver

I have never been as hooked on a Pokemon game as I was by SoulSilver. Previous to it, I’d played Ruby, Diamond and Leaf Green (in that order), and whilst I was thoroughly enjoying the series from Diamond onwards, SoulSilver is the one that grabbed me. I’m still working on beating Black (my least favourite) so that I can transfer my many awesome SoulSilver Pokemon to Omega Ruby (which is also a damn good game, though I’ve not finished it). I’d given Gold and Silver a try before, but much as I hate to admit it, I was somewhat deterred by the graphics. I know, it’s a classic, but sometimes if you don’t play a classic before it becomes a classic, you can never truly appreciate it. Unless it’s remade later. SoulSilver remains the most I’ve ever completed a Pokemon game, with almost all the obtainable legendaries obtained.

Number 6: Audiosurf

When I was surfing the net as a wee twelve year old I stumbled across a game called Audiosurf. Unbeknownst to me, it was not meant to be free. I was 12 and dumb. But yes, I played an illegal version of it for a while, and then forgot about it. My introduction to Steam some time later caused me to realise it was not free, and I promptly bought it and played the heck out of it. As of right now, I have 42 hours logged on Steam, and 12 hours spent on its equally-as-awesome-for-slightly-different-reasons sequel. Considering that the game is based around three to nine minute songs per track (you can have longer, I’m talking averages) I’d say that’s a fair amount of play time. I even used it to listen to an audio story once, Dalek Empire by Big Finish. It’s simple on the game mode I play; dodge greys, collect colours. On high tempo songs, the velocity can become insane, and that’s all the more fun.

Number 5: Diablo 3

“Diablo 2 was better!” Listen: stop. I never played Diablo 2. I have, however, played Diablo 3, and whilst I’ve heard horrifying stories about 1.0, the current version is an absolute joy to play. Adventure mode with its bounties and rifts and paragon levels add endless replayability, and as the first ARPG I’ve really played I can say it’s been a great introduction into the genre. The story was frankly superb, and the characterisation they give the heroes you can choose from really adds to the atmosphere of the game. When my Wizard gloats about how great he is (“If only they could see me now!”) I shake my head and smile, reflecting on the irony of his then immediate death. (I’m not the best at the game.) I’m currently a Paragon Level 52 Wizard going-on Paragon Level 50 Billion, and my Templar and I will hunt demons to the end of Sanctuary.

Number 4: Unreal Tournament 2004

This was a tough decision. I was introduced to the franchise with the PS2 version of Unreal Tournament, the original 1999 title. I have since purchased Steam’s PC version of 1999, and whilst I’m still very much in love with this original version, I have also bought 2004. And 2004 is glorious. It is fantastic. It looks good even eleven years later… or, at least it does in my opinion. I’ll often spoof a LAN connection over Hamachi to play with a friend. If I’m bored or bummed out, sometimes I’ll just load it up and go on a gibbing spree. It’s mindless satisfaction and it is glorious.

Number 3: World of Warcraft

So… WoW. Here it is. Sitting, rather confused and upset, at number 3. Why are you number 3, WoW? Yes, it is true that I’ve spent substantially more time playing WoW than any other game. I have over a thousand hours logged into WoW (that’s over a month), with two level 100 characters and a third closing in on that goal. I enjoy the game thoroughly, and regret none of the hours spent in Azeroth (and Outland, and Draenor). It is number three, however, because although I enjoy this game very much, I simply prefer the next two to it. Simple as that. I can quest and dungeon-run and raid for hours, but the initial magic of the first thirty or so hours has been lost to time. The fact that this game sits at number three even after over a thousand hours is what should speak volumes about it as a game. That’s definitely more impressive than its position alone.

Number 2: Terraria

This was one of those games which, upon seeing five seconds of gameplay, caused me to almost leap out of my seat and throw money at the screen. It came out of left field, and I watched the developers’ pre-release Let’s Play eagerly with anticipation. This game was what Minecraft (addressed below) was missing. This was a game. With adventure. And items. And monsters. And bosses. And by god I needed it.

I currently have over 70 hours logged into this game on Steam, and to be honest, I’ve only just unlocked hardmode. That is atrocious efficiency, sure, but Terraria isn’t a race to the finish. I’ve played alternate characters with friends, and built houses and castles and watchtowers. I’ve watched a friend say “Yeah, I’m pretty awesome” and die of fall damage the second after. I have loved this game from the second it was released, and I can’t thank the developers enough for creating it and then continuing to develop it due to high demand. And I cannot wait for Terraria: Otherworld.

Number 1: Ratchet and Clank 2

When I hear the word “game”, I think of Ratchet and Clank 2.

Over the years, I have tried to sum up my love for this game many times, and every time I’ve walked away dissatisfied with my review. It is, without a doubt, the greatest game I have ever played. I know the game word for word, level for level, gun upgrade for gun upgrade. There’s no doubt that later installments in the series improve upon the foundations of 1 and 2, but as far as personal preferences go, this is it. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve completed the game. I think it’s somewhere in the region of seven or eight. I played this before I went to school as a kid. I played it before exams as a teenager. I play it whilst weeping over coursework as what passes for an adult. And, given the availability, I plan on playing it later into life.

If you’re already acquainted with the game, I highly recommend this developer commentary let’s play series with Tony Garcia and Mike Stout. Being already familiar with the game myself, this taught me some interesting things about game design which made me love the game even more, even with the faults which they point out. It’s a great series by two great people. I’d recommend playing the game first, though they do a good job of playing the game normally anyway.

One last note: Sadly, the HD collection of the PS2 Ratchet and Clank games is absolutely riddled with bugs, some of them game breaking. For instance, one time Ratchet disappeared and I was controlling an impervious suit of armour. Another time, the corpses of the enemies didn’t despawn and the prompt to open the door to continue didn’t activate. (Yup, I still had a CRT TV). These bugs were not present in the PS2 version of the game and I doubt the HD collection went through any sort of Quality Assurance before release. It’s worth mentioning that Insomniac had no involvement with this.

And so that’s my top ten… wait a minute.

Where’s Minecraft?

I decided not to add Minecraft to my top ten favourite games despite playing much of it. This is because I don’t really consider Minecraft as a game so much as a creative platform for games. Sure, there’s the base survival gameplay, but I wouldn’t put that on my top ten due to lack of content. I feel that the real fun to be had in Minecraft is creating with friends, playing player-made maps and installing mods. I love Minecraft, but I don’t think it has a place on my top ten list for gameplay.

So, thank you for reading! That was longer than I expected, but it feels good to have something I can reference to people when they inevitably don’t ask. I’m aware that I’ve kind of ignored this blog up until now, and will work hard to counteract this. Hopefully this long post will somewhat make up for that.