Pokémon Sun and Moon

Earlier in November the newest Pokémon game came out.  Sun and Moon as I’m sure everyone in the world knows.  So Pretzel and I picked up a copy each respectively.  I got Sun.

Ready for the statement of the year?  I think Sun (and Moon) might be the worst Pokémon game they’ve made in the  core series.

The setting is Hawaiian which is pretty cool.  It takes place on four islands and you travel between them in a quest to defeat all of the island trials.  Standard Pokémon stuff.

My first issue with the game is it never stops holding your hand.  You know how in most Pokémon games the first town is a hand holding exercise.  Make sure you got the basics down and stuff.  You’re ten years old and or new in town and the local Pokémon professor takes notice.  Gives you your first Pokémon and tells you the game plan.

I got through what I’m guessing is 70% of the game and it had yet to let go of my hand.  There is a map and it calls out where the next location you have to go to.  You never have to walk that far.  It displays a little flag on the map that says “Go here!” but it never goes anywhere far.  You’d think the flag would move to the next town or at least somewhere far away.

But no, it usually just jumps up the street a ways.  Mere blocks away.  And each time you get to the location you need to go there is an event where people talk to you.  Pokémon is for young children but goodness- it never just lets go.  Exploring is a bitch because the routes you have to explore are very short and there is always like one or two events on the way to the next town.  After like one town I was already sick of people talking.

Also- there aren’t gyms.  Weird right?  Now there are trials!  What’s a trial?  That’s a good ass question since they are all different.  There are “Captains” on each island and they usually give you some contrived thing to do.  Childish shit.  One of them is find four ingredients for a meal.  Another is “swim where I tell you to swim.”

No fucking joke, one of them is a “spot the differences” game.  Those dumb ones where they like- try and hide Ronald McDonald in a historical photo.

When did Pokémon become about anything other than training and battling Pokémon? 

No though, they introduce all of these Captains who have to tell you how to play this videogame.  You don’t normally battle them.  They train special Totem Pokémon which are essentially just slightly stronger wild Pokémon, but not in a Trainer battle.  So why even have trials in the first place?  You could have it be fun little side quests that we the plays have to find and complete ourselves.  But the writers don’t believe we’ll have motivation unless new characters pop up all the time to talk about trials and captains and-

I don’t fucking care, this is Pokémon.  Let me fucking explore and catch Pokémon.  Stop dragging me along your weak story.

It gets even worse though because one of their big things was that there are new Alola-forms for Pokémon.  Its an old Pokémon, but now we’ve changed the colors and types!

 

Image result for Alolan forms

Into nightmares

Some of them are charming and fun, but they dare to say that since they recolored some old Pokémon designs that counts as brand new Pokémon!

Excuse me.

No.

You did a handful of changes.  I know a lot of people who love the new Alolan forms but you do not get to call a re-hash as a new idea.  This game did not seem like it added a bunch of new Pokémon.  I kept seeing the new stupid Alolan form Pokémon but that’s boring as shit.  Even if you change a Pokémons color and type it still evolves into the same thing.  Meowth evolves in Persian.  Diglett evolves into Dugtrio.  So on and so forth.  You made them look different.  Cool, but I want new Pokémon to catch and evolve.  Not the same Pokémon but a little different.  You might say that, “Hey Daniel, ExegguNightmare up there looks way different than just a recolor.”  And you are right, but they spoiled that one before the game came out.  Actually, they spoiled a lot of them.

What this does is remove the wonder from the game.  I am one of those people who will adamantly say that the original 151 Pokémon are the best.  Now I assure you its not because they are inherently better, but because the game had 151 Pokémon that were all completely new at the time.  Most new generations on Pokémon do not usually boast a gigantic number like that.  You know which generation did though?  Pokémon Black and White offered a similarly huge number of new Pokémon.  I played the shit out of Black and White.  I spent a lot of time scouring the corners of the world looking for Pokémon.

Sun and Moon definitely suffer a lack of inspiration.  There are a handful of cool new Pokémon but that number is way too small.  I’ve seen all the old Pokémon.  I want to see new Pokémon.  To all the Pokémon lovers who are reading this (if any), how fucking pumped would you be if the next generation boasts 100% new Pokémon.  No old ones.  No fucking Ratatas, no fucking Spearows.  Every single Pokémon you encounter is brand fucking new.

 

We’d all flip our shit.  We’d tear that game apart looking for everything.

My last qualm with Sun and Moon is that even if we had new Pokémon and less hand holding, it seems so small.  There are four islands and I got to the third one.  And it hadn’t felt like I’d gone anywhere.  I know their islands so it can’t be huge region spanning paths but the first island I could probably run around the entire island in like 5 minutes.  Same with the caves and forested areas.  I can sprint through them in like 20 seconds.  It all feels so small.  I don’t feel like I’m on an adventure.

With all of this said I actually sold the game back to GameStop today.  Didn’t beat it.  I was playing it and one day just didn’t turn back on.  The storyline is so pointless.  There aren’t enough new Pokémon, and there isn’t enough to want to explore.  This game feels like it doesn’t trust its players enough to play Pokémon correctly.

So I am already done with it.  It had ups and downs but overall it feels like the worst one I’ve ever played.  The previous champion for worst Pokémon for me used to be Diamond and Pearl but I at least had enough motivation to want to beat it.

-DTM

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Why Monster Hunter is Fucking Awesome

I fucking love Monster Hunter.  It’s probably one of my all time favorite franchises ever.  Its one of the most satisfying and challenging games I’ve ever played.

Today as this post goes up the next one comes out in America.  Monster Hunter Generations!  I can’t even play it for real real until like- next Tuesday.

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They are using the subtitle ‘Generations’ because they know how many hours I’ve played.

The games basic formula as mentioned in my last post is that you are a villages Hunter and its your job to protect them from monsters!  Some smaller ones, and some that could be qualified as ‘big.’

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Fairness sold separately.

In the event that its not obvious, the tiny running man in the bottom left corner of that graphic is you!  Run you little, bitch!

Or get good.

I mentioned in one of my earliest posts about why I like golf.  The idea is that the game isn’t about competing against one another as players, but to improve yourself every time.  Its not a match of brute force or physical ability against one another, but the ability to be better than yourself every time.

And that’s what this game is about: repetition.

Wait that ain’t- oh, never mind.  PLAY THIS GAME EMILY!  It starts you off with some basic equipment and some training, but after that you can go explore the immensely beautiful levels and fight some of the most badass monsters ever.  The game is hard for newcomers, I won’t deny that, but the satisfaction you get when you finally overcome these massive beasts.

If you look carefully at the above graphic (again) you will notice in the center that there are just two legs poking down into view.  IT’S REALLY THAT SIZE IN THE GAME.

When you beat them you carve their bodies to get monster parts to create awesome new armor and weapons.  Then you go face new monsters wearing the faces of their fallen kin.

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Or give commencement speeches.

It will always be hard to describe to people why the game is fun.  I mean if you watched Pretzel and I play this game for an evening we’d go fight the same monster ten or more times just to get the rare piece we need to finish some tiny upgrade.

The satisfaction isn’t necessarily that you can beat Monster X, but the fact that you used to be less good as a hunter but now you are a better one.  Monster Hunter isn’t really a JRPG where you level up and your stats all get boosts, this game is straight skill in the end.  You could pit me against a terrifying monster and I’d still hold my own.

I mean I’d lose because it would one shot me by waking up, but hunting monsters is something you learn- not attain.

The armor and weapons are about closing gaps with harder monsters, not getting enough +1’s to all my stats.  Any benefits I gain by equipping badass armor (which you, the player, worked really hard to get) is mostly moot by the fact that the next hardest monster is just that more badass.

Monster Hunter so far hasn’t been about flowery cutscenes and GRAFIX as much as its about giving you freedom of motion and the ability to attack monsters however you see fit.  When you do something badass in the game it isn’t the game giving you the “Press X to Badass” option- no, it was just you doing some crazy shit to defeat this monster.  Jumping off cliffs onto a monsters back?  You did that.  Knocked a monster off its feet?  You did that.  Cut the monsters fucking tail off?  You did that.

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Never ask Hunter if they got any tail this weekend.

Later in the game they do sort of give you event type quests with cut-scenes and the like- but its more to get the mood going.  One of my all time favorites is the Lao Shan Lung fight in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite.

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So fucking big it has atmospheric perspective.

Its fucking huge dude.  The entire hunt takes place in a long, winding canyon.  You and your fellow hunters must continually attack him or else he is going to destroy the village.  The hunters are so small and insignificant that he is just moving down the canyon; the Lao Shan Lung doesn’t even care about you insects.

Its not really all the difficult, to be honest.  He doesn’t really attack you so the most you have to worry about is him stepping on you.  But the stress and adrenaline you feel is from that fact that you have to do enough damage to kill him or repel him.  You have to be on your best game, because you need to whittle his health down.  And you have limited time to do it.

At the end you go back to the base and wait for him on top of the gate walls with arrows and cannonballs ready.  Its quiet, and you can’t see into the canyon where the Lao Shan Lung is because its foggy.  Then you see him slowly step out of the fog, and the Monster Hunter music starts to swell.  This is it.  Either you win or he will destroy the village.  Man versus beast.

You launch cannon balls and ballista arrows at him and you use the mighty Dragonator!  You jump to from the wall and fight him at the very gates of the people you are trying to protect.  THIS SHALL BE YOUR FINEST HOUR.

If you defeat him, you can learn that this might king among dragons wasn’t just cruising for a bruising.  He was fucking running from another dragon.

So you are sitting there, blood pumping, excitement is the very fiber of your being and the game asks you.

Do you want to fight that dragon?

-DTM

 

Xenoblade Chronicles: A Review

I really enjoyed your post about your ferrets.  It was shway Ze Frank.  I’d write some about my lizard but he doesn’t do much in the long term.  His would be weird like:

Dear Diary,

Today I noticed a perspective mate in my domain.  I went to mate with her but as luck would have it, it was simply my own reflection on the glass.  Now I must sit here bearing the embarrassment of my swollen, black beard.  I will flex it at the passing humans as a show of dominance, though inside I am deeply alone.  I will hold a court of crickets tonight to assuage my lizard dong.

This past weekend I finally fucking beat Xenoblade Chronicles with an ending playtime of 108 hours.  And it felt so good.  I will note that its a different game than Xenoblade Chronicles X.  Which is yet on the horizon.  I played the version on the New 3DS.  I was itching for a good RPG to get invested in and Xenoblade Chronicles beat out the other games I was trying out.

Xenoblade Chronicles starts you out in a small “Homs” city located on a celestial being known as the Bionis.  The city is modestly thriving in the wake of a grand war with the metal beings from Mechonis.  Things go south when the Mechonis strike again and force a young man by the name of Shulk to wield a legendary weapon known as the Monodo.  Seeking retribution against their assailants, Shulk and his friend Reyn leave to find the Mechonis and destroy them once and for all.  The story is grand in scope and takes you to many unique places; though its cliched in a few ways.  There were plenty of moments that caught me off guard and kept me wanting to play.  The characters motivations and development are awesome, all make sense, and you really begin to understand who they are through the game.

The games story feels really well written, but its clearly from a japanese writer.  It felt a lot like a Kingdom Hearts story was placed in a Phantasy Star realm.  It was a very cool, fresh setting.  The game world is fucking huge!  The people live on the Bionis’ body, which is literally a tremendous creature that all biological life spawned.  You can look into the sky and see pieces of it depending on where you are.  The areas feel unique and expansive and there is plenty of reward for exploring.  There is a day and night system and the weather can randomly change!  These also effect what types of creatures are free roaming the world as well so it all feels really interesting and new.

The combat system was functional if clunky, but in a good way.  Its a real time combat system and plays an awful lot like Final Fantasy 12 with some MMO elements.  You control your character and you can run around and they’ll auto attack, but you have a tray full of secondary abilities and attacks that all have a cool down after you use them.  It was a little daunting at first but it became really second nature pretty quick.  You engage enemies in very fluid way in the game.  They are just running around and you can see their level before engaging.  Its one of my favorite things about Xenoblade Chronicles: there isn’t a single place they won’t let you go (barring a few story driven areas).  If you aren’t supposed to be there all you’ll really know is that suddenly the goddamn ants are like LVL 900 and really fucking pissed that you walked across their field of view.

Even though the main character is Shulk, you can at any point switch out your party members- including the one you control when you run around the world.  As your party grows you have to adapt to the enemies and its really nice to be able to be like “Man Shulk sux0rs right meow time to play as a different character!”  The characters all play really differently and are well balanced.  It gives you the freedom to switch out skills and party members to really dial in a new strategy based on your enemies.

There is quite a bit of infrastructure elements that get really confusing really fast and I found myself learning about things I could do with my characters way too late in the game to really abuse it.

Your characters can have affinity with one another and affinity with cities in the game.  You get this by playing with them in your party and the higher their affinity the more things you can do.  Cool battle buffs, more trading in cities, and eventually you can start finding Heart-to-Heart moments where you can play out little conversations between characters.  They are charming and really flesh the characters out.  That’s not the part that was hard- I accidentally missed the part where they tell you can have characters give gifts to one another which fucking helps.  I missed the bit where you talk to this unmarked kid to work on upgrading certain elements in a city.  Certain elements of the game I mostly didn’t use, even though I knew how.

The game has a lot of polish to it.  The menus can be confusing, but the game tries to make up for it by helping you organize it.  It’ll let you know when an item might be useful in the future, it’ll prevent you from buying skill upgrades you’ve already upgraded.  The fast travel system is fucking dope.  Since you can go anywhere anyway they let you fast travel at a moments notice to any previous landmark that allows it.  You could be at the gates of the final dungeon and be like, “Whoops I need some muthafuckin’ steel yams” and just teleport back to the first city.  They allow you to change the time of day at a moments notice as well which is handy for side quests and finding certain people.  You can save at any time which is a fucking delight.

My 108 hour play time probably wasn’t typical.  The main story quests give you a cool little arrow on the screen that points you in the right direction, which is pretty handy but it does take a lot of the mystique of exploring out of certain areas.  I did a shitload of the side quests (of which there are hundreds) and many of them are tedious.  They are easy- you know the standard “I need 6 Vorpal Farts” and “Go kill 7 Lizard Boners” but the problem is that many of the missions require you to go back to the specific person who asked you to do it.  Those bastards move around during the day, which is cool because the world feels fleshed out and scheduled, but there isn’t a way to quickly locate them.  Much of my time would be going back to town and running around for an hour finding them all.  And that’s assuming that the stuff you were doing is easy.  Later on the missions get really esoteric.  It may sound easy to kill 7 Lizard Boners (mirrors do nicely) but did you know that Lizard Boners only spawn in the swamp, in a certain area, at night, and it has to be foggy, and only one spawns?

My advice to you if you decide to play this: just FAQ the side quests.  I’m sure you could do most of them without help, but you’ll save so much time just looking up item and person locations.  There wasn’t a single side quest that was relevant to the main story line so you shouldn’t FAQ a spoiler on accident.  Also- if you are in a city, and there is an NPC with a name instead of “Colony 9 Citizen,” talk to them, it boosts your affinity with that town which you need to abuse.

I absolutely recommend Xenoblade Chronicles to anyone looking for a pretty straightforward RPG.  I wouldn’t say it breaks any new ground but at the very least it has a huge world to explore and a very good story.  You can get it on the New 3DS which is stupid handy since you can just close it to pause it at any time and pick back up whenever you have a moment.  I’m excited that games of this size could potentially be normal for handhelds.

Final thoughts: Loved the world, enjoyed the story, use a FAQ for side quests, talk to everyone, Riki is best character.

8.5/10

-DTM