Pokemon Sun and Moon Special Demo Version

Whilst I’m not exactly foaming at the mouth for the next Pokemon game as much as other people are (for I am still fully ensnared in the videogame crack den that is WoW: Legion), I decided to give the demo a go when it released today (see: 2 days ago, when this post was written). For those who are unaware, the modern Pokemon demos are typically standalone experiences that introduce the player to the setting and key game innovations for this iteration of the franchise. In this case, it document Sun’s (the main character who you’ll be able to rename in the main game) arrival to the first island in the game, and gives you some two main areas to explore: the town, and what would typically be called a route.

The first thing I noticed was the movement. In Pokemon X / Y, they allowed the player to move outside of grid-based movement for the first time in the franchise, although this was still restricted to roller-skates and bike riding. They expanded on this in Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire (ORAS), allowing grid-based movement only if you used the D-pad. In Sun and Moon, they graduate from this entirely, adding smoother running and walking animations and removing all remnants of the oppressive grid-based system.

But that’s only one minor improvement. From what I’ve gathered from the demo, one of SuMo (Sun and Moon)’s key selling points is its iteration. There are many quality-of-life improvements that are a great welcome from a game which has a tradition of following a set schematic, and the main game seems set to stray from tradition in more ways than the minor quality-of-life updates. But as far as they go, I was pleased to see they’ve added a way to check what stats have been buffed and debuffed during the battle. They’ve also added a system wherein you can see what moves are not effective, effective or super effective against an enemy if you’ve beaten them before. Part of me welcomes this change greatly, as the National Pokedex is getting too large to remember the types of every single Pokemon, though I do worry that this will devolve the game into less tactics and more mindless button-pressing.

I was never all that sold on the setting of Alola itself. I’m not a holiday island kind of a guy. But playing through the demo, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the cultural quirks which differed from the other regions. And that’s just as well, because they’re going all-out on this; the professor isn’t even a professor, because they want him to seem more laid-back. I’m a fan of what we’ve seen so far from Kukui and the, er, the rival dude who’s name escapes me. I even found myself enjoying Team Skull; there’s a big danger of them simply becoming edgelords, but they were actually somewhat amusing to me.

They give you a Greninja for the demo, and so far there’s been no indication as to whether you get to keep him or anything else from the demo to take to the main game (as was the case with the ORAS demo). At one point you get to use a Pikachu, and that was during the (frankly odd) trial where you had to go and sneak pictures of Pokemon, who would subsequently attack you. I have a feeling that that mechanic is going to be one of those features that Game Freak try to promote but ultimately ends up falling by the wayside. At the end of the trial, there’s a boss Pokemon, which is basically one of the earlier Pokemon but in a different form – which then assumes another, fiery form… it’s confusing. I’m not entirely sure I like that particular direction the game series is heading in.

Z-moves are cool, though. I’m not sure I was ever fully sold on mega-evolutions and having to mega-evolve your Pokemon in each fight to get the best out of them. Z-moves are SuMo’s mega evolution type game-changer. Whilst you only got a chance to use it once in a demo, I’m assuming that you can only use them once per battle, and that they do a hefty portion of damage. And the animation was awesome… though I can see it getting somewhat annoying once you’ve seen it a few dozen times, because it does take around 10 seconds to complete.

And then the demo ends but not really because New Demo Plus. You get to go back to the demo zones and ride a Taurus around, which is another feature coming in the main game that I absolutely love. It beats the bike by miles. Not only is it really fast – and has a charge move that goes even faster – but it also has utility, seemingly taking the place of Rock Smash as you barge past rocks and open up new areas. Speaking of which…

The area you can unlock with this charge is a kind of mini Safari-Zone. And I’m talking oldschool Safari Zone. There’s no time (well, step) limit, but they give you a certain amount of Pokeballs and chuck you into the long-grass, telling you to catch yourself some pocket monsters. However, demos being demos means there’s only three to catch – Pikipek, Yungoos, and Rockruff, so that gets stale pretty quickly.

And that about sums it up! I look forwards to playing the full game when it’s released. I should probably go and work on completing Pokemon Yellow so I can transfer those guys over…

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“Hey Slowpoke, can I leave the demo area?”
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Exercise in a Safely Pokemon-Themed Environment (Pokemon GO)

“I’m gonna take your gym,” says a cocky Youngster who would otherwise never approach me to speak.

“Try me,” I sneer back, before remembering that I’m still level 5 and my Pokemon have disastrous CP. And so I get schooled by somebody 6 years younger than me who swaggers off to join his mates.

My friend returns, and I get them to help me take the gym back before we continue walking for miles in search of Pokestops and wild Pokemon who aren’t Pidgey.

Thus is the phenomenon of Pokemon GO. This many young people haven’t taken to the streets and openly socialised since before the dark and wonderful ages of the internet. This is the kind of tech that you take back in time with you to astound the 90’s version of yourself, and in all honesty, you’d probably have a better chance of connecting to the servers there.

Pokemon has shunted its way back into the public spotlight through Nintendo’s ongoing Slowbro realisation that smartphones are actually a rather popular thing that most people use nowadays. There’s plenty of genwunner fogeys on the internet who are grumbling about ‘closet Pokemon players’ and people who have ‘no idea what Pokemon is’ simply playing it because it’s popular. Screw that. Nintendo and Niantic are getting new people to engage with a 20 year old franchise, and that’s wonderful. I just read that sales of old Pokemon games are spiking rapidly as new players flock to their handhelds, and as a late-term WoW player I feel the need to stress that you should never discourage more people discovering your favourite game series late into that series’ life.

Onto the actual game, though. After picking a Squirtle as my starter by accident (I swear I’d read that you could pick all 3, so just went with a random order) it has become my mission to find a Bulbasaur and catch it harder than the common cold. In my travels the other day, I did come across a very collectible looking Charmander, sitting at 132 CP and waiting for me on my bed after I’d just come home from a hard day’s Pokemon hunting. Reinvigorated by the little guy’s appearance, I sent wave after wave of Pokeballs at him until I finally caught the little bastard. I couldn’t be happier.

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Here’s the little guy. Isn’t he adorable? *pinches cheek*

One of my favourite parts about the game is playing it on a bus. Unfortunately, as most buses go over 20mph, you won’t be hatching many eggs as your little avatar sprints like hell down the road, but you will be pinging Pokestops and desperately swiping them before they go out of range. You’ll also be desperately trying to catch any cool Pokemon which pop up for much the same reason. I managed to snag a much-coveted Abra as my bus idled at a red light, but unfortunately the Fearow that popped up as we chugged along managed to get away from me.

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This might have been my happiest moment in the game so far. I’m talking punching the air levels of happiness here.

I’m personally a huge fan of the way evolution works in this game. One title I’ve always wanted (but never picked up because of typical 3DS pricing) is a game from the Pokemon Rumble series. Unless my memory escapes me, this is a game in which you evolve your Pokemon by collecting many of that same type, and Pokemon GO is almost no different, bar the candy system. And sure, it’s going to be a pain in the ass evolving rare Pokemon like good ol’ Charmander, but there’s just part of the… charm.

That pun was not intended but I’m going to pretend that it was.

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Hatched this guy from my first ever egg. But hey, no sweat, only…. 395 Magikarp candy to go…

So no matter how CharizHARD it is to evolve your collection (somebody please stop me), it’ll be great fun to try and collect all 151 again. And I’m excited for the day when they add further generations of Pokemon in there, too… though I’d prefer that they focused on implementing trading and battling anywhere, first. Much as I love Pokemon GO, it does feel like a somewhat unfinished game due to the lack of these features. And I don’t pass by enough gyms that I can actually compete into make use of my plethora of potions and revives and free up some bag space for even more Pokeballs.

So, update on the whole WoW prepatch situation. The good news is that it’s out! The bad news is that my laptop reaches 85 degrees centigrade after 15 minutes of running the game. I’m aware that cleaning my laptop is the answer to this (and the can of compressed air which I ordered a MONTH ago is still lost in the post), but even when idling and running nothing but Chrome, my laptop reaches 60 degrees easily. HP state that anything over 35 will damage the interior components of the laptop and cause further overheating issues. So my laptop is pretty much boned.

The good news? This time next week I should (hopefully) have the beast of a PC that I’ve always wanted. No more low settings or bad framerates, no more compromises. It’s gonna be pretty freakin’ great, and I can’t wait to take you all along with me as I experience it.

Bad news is I’m

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.

Pocket Monsters! (Pokemon)

People say (or used to say) that Pokemon is for kids. You like Pikachu? Estimates indicate you’re probably five. Know all the Pokemon off by heart? Well, that’s simply unfathomable, and in no way similar at all to the banks of information others have in their minds regarding footballers or whatever.

Pokemon games are, of course, far less childish than the stigma would have you assume. It’s about strategy, and when you get into the metagame, it’s about natures, effort values, and individual values. When you pick your Bulbasaur, for example, in Pokemon Fire Red or Leaf Green (for the first generation lacked many of these in-depth features), you’re not just choosing Bulbsaur. Your Bulbasaur may be naughty, and proud of its power; it may be jolly and somewhat of a clown; perhaps it is simply docile, and takes plenty of siestas. These three different Bulbasaurs excel in attack, speed, and nothing much other than HP, respectively.

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Littleroot Town; Pokemon Ruby

But enough about the metagame. When I first played Pokemon, I was most excited about Pokemon Ruby’s sparkly cartridge. It looked different to most other cartridges! That was cool. I was also highly confused as to why I wasn’t playing as Ash, and after playing a little with Torchic I immediately went on to focus on Zigzagoon, or as I called him, “Spikydog”. Spikydog the, uh, raccoon Pokemon was a loyal companion and a loving friend, though I’ve no recollection of how far through the game he carried me. I recall being stuck on one of the gym battles, and never playing the game again.

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Pallet Town; Pokemon Leaf Green

I didn’t come across Pokemon again until a few years later in life when I acquired Pokemon Leaf Green. I must have been about 13, and had watched a Let’s Play on the game before trying it for myself, so I was a little less directionless this time around. It’s also worth noting that Leaf Green is just a tad more linear in its geography. To this day, I’ve still not been able to get into Ruby and Sapphire (or their remakes) as I have been most other Pokemon games. But still, after beating the Elite Four in Leaf Green, I did little more with my Pokemon life. No scouting for legendaries, no catching ’em all. I’d beaten the game already. So what?

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Twinleaf Town; Pokemon Platinum (Diamond & Pearl)

A year or two later I played Pokemon Diamond, and I think that this was the Pokemon game that really got me into the series. I was engrossed in the story, I’d named my Dialga Rassilon like every other Doctor Who fan, and what’s more, I’d resolved to complete my Pokedex, though this only entailed seeing them all now. Nevertheless, it still took me a while, and after all that work, the disappointing endgame and excruciatingly slow battle animations eventually drew me away from the game. It still holds a special place in my heart, though.

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New Bark Town; Pokemon Soul Silver

Pokemon Soul Silver was my favourite. It still might be, though it’s been ages since I’ve played it. The reason I’ve not played it in so long is due to the amount of legendaries I caught and the impressive collection I built up during my playtime. I chose Totodile for my starter, and he crunched his way through several gym leaders in quick succession. I caught every legendary available in that game except for Rayquaza (due to my lack of a Hoenn-born Kyogre) and one of the roaming dogs. I still have plans to transfer them all forwards to my current save, except…

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Nuvema Town; Pokemon Black

The fifth generation Pokemon games are by far my least favourite in the franchise. I know people like them, but Pokemon Black is just not the game for me. The general aesthetic of Unova and the UI felt too much like it was trying to be futuristic, and Team Plasma just… bored me. I’ve tried time and time again to beat the game so that I can move my 4th generation Pokemon forwards, but the closest I’ve got is the fifth gym and I just can’t bring myself to continue. I maintain hope that one day I’ll begin enjoying it so I can move my Pokemon forwards (for Soul Silver also holds my Leaf Green Pokemon), but that day is yet to come.

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Vaniville Town; Pokemon X

By the time I’d gotten round to Pokemon X and Y, my interest in Pokemon had waned. Black had demotivated me and I didn’t own a 3DS for a long time. But as I grew, I’d met more and more people who had a larger interest for Pokemon than I ever did. Eventually, towards the end of either 2013 or 2014 (I don’t remember which), I caved and bought a 3DSXL with Pokemon X. And honestly, it’s tied for my favourite non-remake alongside Pokemon Diamond. It feels like the most Pokemon game since the 4th generation, with the general aesthetic and all that jazz. It may seem like an odd compliment but I love the UI. It’s so colourful and bubbly and just, Pokemon. Another thing to thank Pokemon X for is creating official 3D renders of all Pokemon and allowing you to go full on Nintendogs with them, tickling them and feeding them treats and watching your fierce legendaries gurgle with happiness.

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Littleroot Town; Pokemon Alpha Sapphire

I must confess, though… my Pokemon X character is still shivering outside of the entrance of the eighth gym. I have an atrocious attention span, and if I’m not surrounded by other people playing Pokemon, I’m unlikely to play it myself, despite my enjoyment for the game. Similar, my character in Alpha Sapphire is yet to challenge his 7th gym leader, though I’m no great lover of the Hoenn region. I have many event Pokemon in these 2 games and have dabbled with breeding, growing my collection through Wonder Trade. But I am still yet to finish them.

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Pallet Town; Pokemon Blue

I can’t wait for Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow to be released on virtual console. For the first time, I am going to attempt to catch all 151 Pokemon, with the help of some friends with alternate versions. Nintendo certainly didn’t miss a trick by implementing WiFi trading. I just can’t help but wonder if the Mew glitch will still be available…