Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Zinn's New Years Special!

Welcome to Zinn's New Years Special!

I can't believe it's almost 2014 guys and girls! 2013 has been loads of fun, mostly, but it still feels like a weird year somehow. Just the other day I was thinking about how we're actually in the future now. When I mentioned it for the bf he didn't understand what I was talking about, but think about it - all those cool movies from before the millenia consider 2010 and beyond to be that far distant future where we have hover cars and humanity has gone to shit (maybe there is a link there?). We're there now, but without the hover cars. Instead we have memes. Also, I don't think humanity has gone to shit, it's about as bad/good as it's always been. Here are some more things to look forward to not happening;

  • 2015 - According to Back to the Future part 2 this is when we get hover skate boards. I can't wait! Although considering I can't skate on regular skate boards, a hovering one is a sure recipe for hurts in my case.
  • 2015 - Is also when Robocop takes place. The new Robocop movie is coming out next year, so is that also taking place in 2015? I doubt it.
  • 2017 - We can all join in on the fun that is The Running Man show. Love that movie btw.
  • 2018 - John Connor leads a resistance on Skynet, although in our timeline Skynet is called Steam and has also decided to neutralize humanity albeit with methods of super game sales, forcing people to stay by their computers forever.

And that's just the near future! I don't like how only one of those movies has a positive outlook on what's coming up, so I'm going to throw my thoughts in the mix. But first, let's take a look at the year that's been.

2013 in retrospect

The Baby (& The MMO)
2013 has turned out to be a pretty important year for me, not only is it the year my son is born, but also the year I decided to quit WoW. Both these events were pretty traumatizing to go through and in a way the one has replaced the other. Admittedly I did not quit WoW because I was having a kid, I decided to quit WoW because my work schedule changed and did so long before my son was born. It's not a decision I regret, and I still know I can return to WoW anytime I like, but oh do I miss playing it. I miss it so very much. Having a kid has been a good replacement however since it's basically also a game that takes up most of my day at the moment, and one that I am having a lot of fun with as I've mentioned before

Watching your child grow to learn how to grasp items and communicate with you (that's the level we're at now) is a lot more fun than one would think, and somehow I can relate a lot of my gaming experience to what my son probably is going through at the moment. I can recognize myself in both his frustration and curiosity as he struggles to learn motor coordination and understanding his surroundings - not unlike learning how to play a game. There are a lot of parallells to be drawn between him throwing out his tiny fist in yet another go, with the end result most often being him just punching himself in the face, and me giving that annoying, hard-ass boss in FFV another try. The difference is that my son goes at it with a patience and determination that is commendable, and I at least who get easily frustrated and give up, have a lot to learn from that. Most importantly, since he can't know that the end result and reward for all that hard work will be worth it, he does it because he sees enjoyment in the struggle (although hard wired to do so), and that in particular is something I should get a lot better at.

To me it is a lot like playing a game with him when we coo together and look at otherwise menial objects (pottery plants are apparently really interesting). It's fascinating how he can stare at something for half an hour trying to understand/grasp it, but how different is it from me grinding trolls in Stranglethorn Vale for that special drop? I imagine my son is "grinding" in a way, we both repeat something over and over until we succeed, I want a drop and he wants to be able to control his hands.

The Games List
Quitting WoW has allowed me to put more time into other games, and 2013 I've probably bought more games for myself than all other years in my life combined. One big reason for this is that before WoW I mostly played console games, and console games are still (or were at least pre-2005) quite expensive. I usually bought maybe three in a year, tops, this was a time when I hadn't started working yet so I didn't really have an income other than my allowance. Now that I've shifted to predominantly playing PC games, I do have an income, WoW isn't taking up all my time and PC games can be found so very, very cheaply (especially if you play oldies but goldies like me) I've gone pretty much bananas on any kind of sale just to build up a nice gaming library. In a way I've wanted to catch up on all the gaming I didn't do as a kid and check out games that everyone talks about but that I've never had the opportunity to play because the combination Mac + Poor = Very Little Gaming when I was younger. 

So far I've bought 37 games this year and obviously I am far from having had the opportunity to play them all yet. Then I have a massive list of games I want to play, that I don't own yet, but I'll get to that in a rainy future. Let's check out what I bought (and TLDR is just past this list);

Magic The Gathering 2014 - After having played the 2013 version and loved it I decided I wanted the 2014 version as well. I've played this throughout the year, it's one of those games I like just having around so that I can play a quick game every now and then, mostly because I love card games in general and MtG in particular and don't have anyone irl who plays it anymore.
Terraria - I played this intensely when I first bought it, probably a bit too intensely. I think I burned out on it and now it's been laying around, untouched, for quite some time. I really liked it and will probably get back into it eventually, which is why I still have it installed.
Faster Than Light - One of the most fun games I played this year and one of the reasons I've really come to love the roguelike genre (which seems to be making a massive come back this year). I am glad I decided to try it out although on the surface it looks quite dull. It's difficult, or I'm just really bad, because I have yet to complete it in normal mode. I've had a little break from it recently, but they're in the works of releasing a big, and free (!), DLC for it and I am sure to play loads more when that happens.

A good example of "looks can be deceiving" - ubuntuvibes.com

Dragon Age Origins - I haven't got around to playing this yet. It's one of those big games I want to make sure I have enough time for before I start it up. These games, just like Skyrim, require a certain amount of time to get the proper immersion ie fun out of them I think.
Alan Wake - Game I bought to play together with the bf. I am a huge fan of horror games but way too chicken to play them myself. Therefor I either watch Let's Plays of them or force my bf to play them for me for me to watch. We got started on it and it seemed promising, but now it's been lying around waiting for us to continue for ages. I'm not sure why we lost interest, but maybe the story wasn't that interesting (especially not after playing the RE games).
Skyrim - I was quite disappointed with this game, and after having spent some 70 hours in it, mostly randomly running around exploring the map, I decided that was enough and uninstalled it. I don't miss it one bit, and although I am sure some might think I was playing it wrong, I can't see myself finding enough enjoyment out of it by modding/whatever to make me want to play it again.
Pokemon Stadium - I used to own this game and was stupid enough to sell it, way back when. My plan was to use the money to buy Pokemon Stadium 2, which never happened. Ever since then I've wanted to get it back, and when I saw that they had a copy in Game that wasn't horribly overpriced I decided to take the opportunity. It's one of those games I don't necessarily want to play, I just want to own it.

I know what you think they look like, you dirty mind you - giantbomb.com

Pokemon Colosseum - When I couldn't find Pokemon Stadium anywhere that wasn't overly pricey or in german, I decided to comfort myself with Pokemon Colosseum instead. It's also a reasonably fun game actually, which I intend to finish at some point in a distant future.
Wipeout 64 - I'm a pretty big fan of the Wipeout games, and have one on the PS2 as well. I decided to get this to try it out, turns out you need a Memory Pak to be able to save, which I don't have (yet). Haven't been playing this much because of that, but if I get around to buying that Memory Pak I will love to play this game.
Planescape Torment - Part of a big bundle of games I bought from gog.com, all oldie goldie RPG that I've heard so many good things about but never played myself. I wanted to change that, Planescape Torment is the only one out of those I've gotten around to playing and finishing though. The main issue is obviously that these games require quite a lot of focus and time from you, because if you take any kind of break and try to get back into them you will be confused and lost for hours.
Neverwinter Night - Part of the abovementioned bundle, have not got around to play yet.
Icewind Dale 1 & 2 - Same as above.
Baldurs Gate 1 & 2 - Same as above.
Deus Ex - A long time ago, when I was but a wee lass... ahem. When we had just basically got our first PC I remember my dad coming home with a game he had borrowed from some work friend, telling us (me and my brother) that it "was great and we should definitely play it". Deus Ex was way too complicated for a newbie gamer like me and I doubt I got passed the first screen. In fact I'm not even sure I dared to install the game, considering I had no knowledge of how a PC worked at this time and was still heavy into console gaming. I probably will never play Deus Ex, but I know it's a good game and I think it's one of those games you need to have in your gaming collection. Who knows, maybe my son will find it eventually, many years from now, and try it out.
Heroes of Might and Magic 2 -  HoMM 3 is one of my all time favorite games and I've put more hours into it than I care to count. It's one of those games that you start up with the intent of "just playing it for a bit", you look up and five hours have gone by in a flash. Some people say that the second game in the series is in fact the best one so I decided I had to find out for myself. I agree that a lot of the elements that make the third one so good are already available in the second one, but I think the third one takes all those elements, adds a couple of new ones and refines them into a game of perfection. I had loads of fun with HoMM2 though, and I'm keeping both around for that "just one little game" whenever I feel like killing off a boring day.

Proves that you don't need pretty graphics to make a kick-ass game - redshirtcrew.com

Serious Sam 1 & 2 - I bought my little brother Serious Sam 2 as a birthday gift ages ago, in the end I ended up playing it about as much as he did, which wasn't all that much. I was quite young and although I really liked the game, it was both a bit too difficult and quite honestly a bit too scary for me. All those monsters running at me, and particularly the headless screaming guys with bombs in their hands, freaked me out. But I had a lot of fun with it and I love wonky shooters, so I felt like I needed to have these games.
System Shock 2 - I don't know why I bought this game because I am quite sure I will never gather the nerve to actually play it. I'll blame that I found out after I bought it that System Shock 2 is on many peoples "Top Scariest Games" list, whereas I just knew that it was a precursor of sorts to the Bioshock series. Since I wanted to play the Bioshock games I also wanted to give System Shock 2 a try. I still intend to play it of course, and since I managed to get through Half-Life without too much trouble maybe SS2 won't be so bad? Or am I fooling myself here...
Myst - I am so dreadfully bad at puzzle games, I wouldn't get out of the first room in Myst without a walkthrough for sure. I remember my mom playing this game (she loved puzzle games when I was younger), and when the bf said he was looking for a challenging puzzle game, having completed Safecracker without too much trouble, I suggested this and gave it to him as a gift. Seeing him play it also reminded me of another game, quite unrelated to Myst but that I played at the time called Myth. Also a game I didn't get very far in.
Fallout 1, 2, Tactics, 3 & New Vegas - I've always wanted to play the Fallout games ever since I watched a friend of mine burn through them when we were younger. As a Mac owner, the Fallout games were just one of many series I couldn't play on my computer, to my dismay. I decided to change that this year and got my hands on all the games, but have only got around to playing the first one recently. Definitely enjoying it so far.
Soul Calibur 2 - I was that kid who turned off the console when I lost in a competitive game, and fighting games were the worst for me. Every now and then I would get the false sense of hope of actually having some skill when I button mashed myself to victory against some of my friends, only to have those hopes crushed horribly the next round against someone who actually knew what they were doing. Soul Calibur 2 was one of the few games where my button mashing, in the incorporation of Voldo, actually took me a bit further, and thus it was a game I enjoyed a bit more. I actually do like fighting games in general nowadays, if only I wasn't so dang bad at them.

He would also make a good boss in RE - fuckyeahvoldo.tumblr.com

Guilty Gear x 2 Reload - Got to love fighting games and their long ass names. Street Fighter is normally among the worst perpetrators, but this one comes pretty close. I have never played GGX2R, but the bf said it was good, it looked good and so I decided to give it a go. I still haven't though, but I will.
Thief 2 & 3 - Watching my ex play the Thief games really made me want to try them, but I didn't get around to buying them until this year (for abovementioned reasons). I still haven't played any of them, simply because they're not top of my list and also I'm really not looking forward to that one really creepy stage that I know is in there somewhere.
Bioshock 1 & 2 - Another game series I watched other people play and finally thought I wanted to try myself, I've gotten around to playing Bioshock 1 some and so far I'm not overwhelmed by it. It's ok, but maybe a bit repetative. It might be because I already know most of the story and so the novelty of discovering Rapture and the crazy things that went on there is a bit lost on me. It's the drawback of playing games way late.

Having second thoughts on playing this now... - bioshock.wikia.com

Game Dev Tycoon - I like some Sim games, but it's far from my favorite genre. I never understood the fun in The Sims for instance, which bores me to tears. On the other hand I played Sim Tower for hours on end. I heard a lot of good things about Game Dev Tycoon, so when I found it for a cheap coin I decided I wanted to try it. Still haven't got around to doing that though.
Pokémon X - As I've said in a couple of other posts already, I had been looking forward to the most recent Pokemon game since I first heard of it early this year. Obviously I had to buy it and I have been playing and enjoying it loads since it was released. I am still playing it every now and then, entertaining my pet project of trying to complete the elite four with as many different pokemon as possible.
Resident Evil 5 - My most recent purchase, bought just before Christmas actually. The idea was for me and the bf to co-op it. First we weren't sure if you could play co-oo with just one game, turns out you can't (at least we don't think so) so we had to buy another copy. Then it turns out you need a Games For Windows Live account to be able to invite eachother to a game. I thought GfWL was dead already and setting up an account was a hassle I would've liked to be without. Once we finally managed to get everything in order and were about to play, it turns out the graphics card on the bfs computer isn't strong enough, so there won't be any playing done until we get around to update that piece of hardware, unfortunately. Boo...
Cthulhu Save The World - I read about this game quite a while back, it looks like a fun little RPG set in the old style that I like, and considering they were basically giving it away on Steam I thought I'd give it a go. I also bought this just a couple of days ago so I haven't gotten around to trying it yet.

Nope, no problem - missiongeek.com

Eldritch - Last but not least, Eldritch, a game I first heard about a couple of months ago. I was intrigued from the start with a game that promised to mix two of my favorite things - roguelikes and Lovecraft. At the time it was released I didn't think I had the time to play it so I waited with buying it, but of course the Steam sale finally convinced me to get it although my gaming schedule is way overpacked at the moment. On the other hand the game isn't going anywhere (I hope), so I'll get around to playing it eventually, and I am looking forward to it.
Steam Marines - It's a roguelike, it's in space, it was cheap, so obviously I had to buy it. It's still in early access so I haven't checked it out yet, also I suspect it's actually too difficult for me, but we'll see.
Torchlight 2 - I love dungeon crawlers and I quite liked the first Torchlight, although I didn't get around to playing it all that much because I was a bit burnt out on Diablo3. I've heard the sequel is supposed to be better though, so I definitely have to give that a go soon. 

Phew, that's it for my gaming acquisitions this year, and that's not even mentioning all the games on my long list of games I really want to play that I haven't got around to buying yet. Or all the games I played that I didn't buy, like Black Mesa, Pokémon: Mystery Dungeon and Card Hunter. Needless to say, I have a lot more games to play than I have time to play them, and it is both thrilling and stressful to have such a backlog of awesome games to play. I am worried that something will happen to the internet, or that either Steam or gog.com (or horror of all horrors, both) will pull the plug, effectively reducing my PC gaming library by 95%, but if that happens I guess I have to go back to my more trustworthy consoles and play Sonic until I finally manage to finish it properly.

TLDR - Welcome back from skipping that massive list, or congratulations on getting through it if you actually bothered to read it. You must have an exceptionally boring day at work.

2014 New Years Promises To Break

No, I won't make any promises for 2014, because I know I will break them, or at least stretch them to breaking point. Let's mention some hopes for 2014 instead!

I was really happy to personally re-discover the roguelike genre in 2013, which seemed to have somewhat of a comeback and boom during this year, and I can only hope that there will be plenty more games of this style released in 2014. My first encounter with a roguelike was with the splendid Azure Dreams for PS1 many years ago and I loved the concept, so I was much pleased to see it return to the gaming scene again. I am ridiculously fond of pretty much everything that signifies a good roguelike, from the randomization of levels, grinding to perma-death, which is why I have enjoyed games like FTL and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon so much. 

Another genre I really love that seemed to have something of a boom this year are the card games. We've got oldies like MtG hanging around since before, but this year we got betas for both Scrolls from Mojang and Hearthstone from Blizzard. I love card games ever since I started playing Pokemon TCG ages ago. That got me into MtG and further looking for most things cardy (except Yu-Gi-Oh). I've tried things like Munchkin and Spank the Monkey and loved it, I even created my own card game together with my brother when we were kids (it kicked ass tbh, but we didn't want to use our existing Pokemon cards to draw on). I really hope there will be more games like this in the upcoming year.

Not related to the picture but still fact: Pokémon owns Yu-Gi-Oh - pcgamer.com

Out of the games I've got lying around waiting for my attention, I am looking forward to playing the Fallout games the most, also System Shock 2 eventhough I know it will scare the crap out of me for sure. And the Thief games actually. I was looking forward to playing Dragon Age quite a lot, but that's taken a slight turn in my disappointment with Skyrim. I am hoping they're not too much alike, but rather that Dragon Age might retain the good parts and not have too much of the bad ones.

Just as everyone else, it seems, I'm quite fond of watching Let's Plays. There are many games I am interested in without wanting to play them myself, horror games most notably, but also other games. If you happen to have a Let's Play channel, give me a shout and I would love to check it out. It's always fun to find new people to follow. I'm also hoping I'll get started on my own personal Let's Plays eventually, as I've at least gotten started with the co-op ones with the bf (which I also intend to continue). Of course in my case it's very heavily reliant on what Mini-Me is up to, as it is now there can be days in a row where there simply is no good window of opportunity to do some recording. Here are a couple I recommend (shameless plugs inc!);

SegaVellik - The bfs Let's Play channel, does mostly old MegaDrive/Genesis games.
OldNGamer - Old friend of mines' channel, does any kind of old (and some newer) games, mostly blind.
Jaev - Someone who actually isn't related to me somehow, I just like his Let's Plays. Does some more obscure games.

And finally, we have the ever overshadowing of WoW. Yes, I did quit it this summer, but I have not gone one day without thinking about it and missing it. Every day I will come across something completely random that sparks an equally random memory - thinking of running a dungeon, questing in some area or doing one of the raids I did. After nearly 8 years of playing that game there are very, very many hours of memories to take from. Honestly I never thought I'd be gone for long, and as it is now I will almost certainly return to WoW in the upcoming year. I have to remember however that I quit WoW for a reason, and that I did go months with an active account without ever feeling the need to log on. Right now I need to have a talk with myself and figure out whether I really want to play again or if I'm just being sappily nostalgic. We'll see. 

Either way I know the upcoming year holds tons of fun gaming, and I am really looking forward to it. I hope you'll be with me for another year, so Happy New Years to you all!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Top 5 Features I Miss in Pokémon X & Y

Let's do one more top 5 Pokemon list to round off the year and make it a nice three, shall we? I've done the top 5 pkmn I think need an evolution and the top 5 I think didn't need one, so for this third list I am going in a slightly different direction. I think the first time I heard about Pokemon X & Y being released was spring this year, and I was pretty psyched about it ever since then. But eventhough lots of big promises were made and I was sure it was going to be "yet another awesome Pokemon game", I had played Pokemon Black & White not long before and was fairly impressed with that game already. Despite everything Nintendo said about how much better X & Y would be, I still didn't think it could be all that much more than Black & White. This is something I've written about in my "first impressions" already, and don't need to further bore you with here. What I will say again however, is that Pokemon X & Y pretty much managed to blow my mind, or at least far exceed my expectations. The graphics were a lot prettier, they had managed to up the gameplay yet another notch and perhaps most important of all, realized how important and fun trading is to the Pokemon world and made it work like a charm. They took old features like the Itemfinder and EXP-share and made them work a lot better too, so that leveling for instance isn't such a PITA as it was in the older games. But we can't just leave it at that can we? Instead of being happy about all the awesome features of Pokemon X & Y, let's make a top 5 list of all the features I miss in Pokemon X & Y - little things I expected to see in this game or otherwise miss, just to have made the game that tiny bit better.

5. Poison damaging outside of battle
This one is an ambivalent one for me. See, back in the day (we're talking Gen IV I and older, I think), whenever a pkmn got poisoned in battle, it would continue to take damage outside of battle. Just like in any good old rpg really. In Gen V (I think) they decided to change this so that poison would only affect pkmn inside of battles, I assume both as a quality of life change and to make it work more like the other status ailments, which also have no effect outside of battle. For instance you won't get the message "your pkmn is asleep and can't use Surf at the moment", although now that I think of it that would be pretty cool. And that takes me back to the poison issue. Although I was relieved when I first discovered this change, I have since changed my mind. Many have been the times when I have discovered too late that I didn't have any more antidotes, tried to hurry to a pkmn center, arrive too late and have my poor pkmn faint. It was annoying, yes, but was it really such an inconvenience?

Yet again, Pokémon turns out to be better than irl - pikarar.tumblr.com

In the older games it was more of an inconvenience in fact, because in the newer ones they've often thrown in random people in big areas that will allow you to heal up your pkmn, or even having escorts that will heal them up between battles making any status ailments even less of an issue even if they were to persist and affect you between battles. So eventhough I feel like it would be more of a hassle to make poison work like it did a couple of gens ago, I also feel like it would add a bit more difficulty to an otherwise very simple game. This one is something I don't want to want in the game, but I want it. If you know what I mean.

4. A team overview
In pkmn X & Y, the lower screen is used for three different apps - The PSS (Player Search System) for trading with other players, the Pokémon-Amie for playing games with your pkmn and the Super Training to increase your pkmns stats. In Pearl & Diamond however, the lower screen was used for a whole bunch more such as a step counter, a calculator and two different style of clocks just to mention a few. Admittedly not all of these were very useful and I'm not even entirely sure I knew what all of them did. But a few of them I miss in X & Y because they showed some convenient information that I liked having handy.

One of those was the team overwiew. It was far from unique to Pearl & Diamond, I am pretty sure Black & White also had this function. It's nothing more special than showing your current team setup on the lower screen, but it's still something I really miss that I don't have in X & Y. Having to go into the menu to check my team just feels like a hassle,  because for some reason I check my team quite often, be it to swap pkmn around or to check their stats it's just something I've gotten used to and come to expect to have close by at all times.

Not pictured, the team overview - joystiq.com

I'll throw in the legendary finder here as well, since we're talking about functions for the lower screen. Although not something that bothers me personally very much since I rarely go out of my way to find the roaming legendaries in the pkmn games, I know they made a small but annoying change to X & Y that made finding them not more difficult, just more time consuming. When trying to find the roaming pkmn, you have to check the map to see which area they are in. They constantly move around which requires a whole lot of map checking. In the older games this wasn't much of a problem since the map was fairly simple to reach. In X & Y however, you can only see the roaming pkmn by entering the pokedex and check that specific pkmns status screen. This is a procedure that gets tedious very, very quickly, and considering how often you have to do it, you'll soon find more enjoyment from forking yourself in the leg.

I feel like they tried to streamline the apps a bit too much in X & Y. I agree that the amount of variation of Pearl & Diamond was a bit overkill, and understand that they might've wanted lower screen functions with more use to them. But I really do miss just being able to either have my team or the map open and visible to me at all times without having to dabble around in menus. That is really what I think those two screens could best be used for. Since you can't really do anything in game while playing with your pkmn in Pokémon-Amie or doing the Super Training, having the lower screen used up on it seems wasteful.

3. Different HM users
Without spoiling this list too much, this entry and the nr 1 entry on this list follow a theme. When I first heard they were going to finally go 3D with this game, I pictured all the pkmn I loved running around in awesome 3D graphics. Then I got a hold of my drooling self and realized it would never end up that cool. As already mentioned, graphic wise X & Y actually managed to exceed my expectations. It turned out a lot prettier than I thought it would. On another matter however it greatly disappointed me. I had been direly hoping we would get to see more of the pkmn in the game, rather than being limited to the battle screen. And I don't mean the odd pkmn standing around. That's been in the game since Red/Blue. I was hoping X & Y would finally be the game where you would actually see the pkmn you were using when you used HMs like Surf and Fly. How cool wouldn't it be if you were actually sitting on your Talonflame/Pidgeot/Pelipper for that short animation in the air, or actually sitting on your Tentacruel/Lapras/Feraligatr when surfing around in the waters? Very cool, that's how cool. I don't think it would've been very much extra effort for them to go this extra mile for us, considering how much value we would've gotten out of that extra work.

EDIT: As commenter Talarian points out, the bigger Surf pkmn actually do show. It's a start at least but I wish they would've done the same with Fly.

It doesn't have to be this pretty though - e1n.deviantart.com

2. Secret Base
Your own housing is something I care very little for in most games. WoW, Skyrim, you name it - a lot of people often wish for or spend a lot of time taking care of their own little house, I don't think I ever have. Except for when it was implemented in pkmn Ruby/Sapphire. The Secret Base, as it was called, was simply a small area where you could store (ie furniture) various pkmn related goods such as carpets, chairs, posters and so on. Depending on where your secret base was, apparently there were 75 different locations throughout the game and you could choose any of them, your base would look differently.

For some reason this specific housing really hit home with me. If it was the possibility of cramming my little space with cute pkmn stuffs (like I wish to do irl) or just allowing me to further immerse myself into my fantasy that I actually lived in that world with all my pkmn, I don't know, I just know I want it.

It's like I'm not the only one who thinks these things - pokefess.tumblr.com

With how much better globalized and onlineified (totally a word) X & Y have become, a Secret Base could also be so much cooler. If I remember correctly, you could invinte friends into your SB in Ruby & Sapphire, via the link cable, but that is just exploring a fraction of the possibilities given by such a feature with the power of true onlineness (also a word). Game Freak/Nintendo are almost there what with the Friend Safari. The Friend Safari could just be an extension to your Secret Base, allowing your friends to not just have a fun time in your garder, but also in your indoors, checking out memorabilia and other fun things you might've gathered from your playthrough. The amount of fun things you could share with eachother, like I'm also thinking about a personal Hall of Fame for your friends to visit where they can see which pkmn you have completed Pkmn League with, is staggering. I was actually quite surprised to not see more along the lines of some sort of Secret Base in X & Y considering how much else they've put into sharing information and everything pkmn with strangers and friends I was expecting something like this as well.

1. Visible World Pokemon
Like I said, this one is similar to the third entry. I will still give it its own entry because this one is by far the one I wish for the most. This is also one feature that has been in the game series before and for some odd reason been removed. I am of course talking about having your first in line pkmn follow your around while you play the game. This is something they implemented in SoulSilver/HeartGold only, and I still find it completely adorable whenever I load up that game (which isn't often though) and see my little pkmn run after me. I don't even care which pkmn it is, they're all supercute in that tiny, sprity design.

The arrow points to the Pokémon, for your convenience. That other thing is a horse-dog - wikihow.com

Obviously in X & Y that would look so much cooler and be ten times more awesome, which is also the reason I want it so bad. One could maybe argue that doing all those 700+ 3d models would be too much work, but how so? All those models are aleady in the game since they need to be seen in combat. And there are plenty of 3d models for them to use from other games in the franchise, like the Colosseum games. I can't see how adapting them from that environment onto the world screen could be too much extra work. Again I feel like the added value would definitely be worth it and add that extra bit of bonding with your pokemon, which is why I assume they added it in the very first place where Pikachu (but only Pikachu unfortunately) followed you around in Pokemon Yellow. They must've acknowledged how special that would be.

We all have that favorite pokemon, and then we all have those couple of pokemon we love just because they're damn cool looking or fun to play with or any other of the  thousand reasons we play this game for the umpteenth time. I was certain they were going to implement this feature into this game, I even thought I had read about it somewhere and it was one of the things I was looking forward to the most about it. What better way to fully utilize and show off the new cool 3d graphics? Yeah the 3d combats are cool, but again - considering how much this game is about pkmn, I think they are shamefully lacking out of battle. Heck, even Pokémon Mystery Dungeon allows you to see more pkmn out of combat than the main pkmn games do. Maybe that is the way they want it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Co-Op Let's Play Projects

I've been wanting to do some co-op Let's Plays with the bf for some time now, and we finally got around to it. The only real challenge was to figure out how to get both of our audios working in one video. The way we solved it was to buy a table-top microphone which is a simple solution and unfortunately that means that the voice audio isn't as clear as it could be (but hopefully still good enough). If anyone has a good suggestion for another way to go about it I'd be very happy to hear some tips!

We started out with a classic - Streets of Rage - which I've never played. This becomes evident as I suck pretty hard, but maybe there is some comedical (tragical) value in watching that. My hopes is to go on to playing many other beat em ups, the only thing is we have to adapt our recording schedule to whenever Mini-me is safely asleep. We've been half way through a recording and have him scream right in it (he just likes making himself noticed every now and then), making us start over. I guess it's an option to just keep the baby shouts in there for bonus value, but we've opted out of that for now.

My real hopes are to make some Let's Plays on my own eventually, I just haven't figured out what kind of game to Let's Play yet. Most of the games I play are the kind of "endless" games that I at least wouldn't enjoy watching Let's Plays of, like Skyrim or MtG or otherwise games I don't think are suitable for Let's Plays (and this is entirely my own opinion) like RPGs.

At the moment they're probably more fun to make than they are to watch, as we try to figure out a good way of creating them. If you want a shot at seeing me playing badly, here you go. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Top 5 Pokémon That Didn't Need An Evolution

I did promise some Pokemon posts a while back, and I am going to stick to that (otherwise I am known for making big plans and kind of "forgetting" about them after a while). Eventhough my own Pokemon playing has been running low lately, the Pokemon fire has been kept alive by my boyfriends attempt at completing (yes, frakking completing) the National Pokedex, a progress of which he is keeping me painfully up to date. I say painfully not because it is boring to listen to, but because of the amount of work that is going into it and I am quite frankly both seriously impressed with his dedication, and worried about his mental health. I'm not going to mention the amount of hours he's put into it so far, but that might be a topic for another post, once he manages (or if he manages) to actually finish it. Right now we need to wait for the X&Y transfer system to come into existance before that will happen, so not for another month yet.

But that's on a side note, that was not what this post was going to be about anyway. Last Pokemon post was about top 5 pokemon I think need an evolution, so naturally this has to be my Top 5 Pokemon I think should've had at least one less. The reasons are many, but mostly I either think the Pokemon in question was perfect the way it was and an evolution only managed to steal its well deserved glory, or I feel like the evolution simply didn't add anything by being uninventive or otherwise pointless. Here we go.

5. Chancey - Blissey (and Happiny)
Personally I think Chancey itself is a pretty weird Pokemon. It is one of those Pokemon that shows that Game Freak didn't have the concept completely chiseled out when they released the first game, resulting in such weird abomination Pokemon as Mr Mime - Pkmn that just don't fit into the rest now 15 years later. This was back when the idea of pkmn probably revolved around a similar idea as Digimon, where the creatures actually can talk and look like people. Pkmn decided to take a different route with later games however, keeping pkmn mostly animalistic, leaving some of the early pkmn feeling very out of place. Chancey is such a pkmn to me, and eventhough I've come to terms with Chancey by now (unlike Mr Mime), the problem of him/her/it looking like something specifically bred for Kindergarten-work extends to its evolutions on so many levels.

Or maybe sneak advertisements for Kinder Eggs? - isatv.com

Happiny is admittedly very cute, and the name does go with the theme, but I think that is exactly the problem I have with it. Since I just don't get what kind of Pkmn Chancey is supposed to be, Happiny and Blissey make even less sense. I'm not sure if Game Freak wanted to give Chancey more validity by extending is family, or maybe Chancey was popular enough with fans for them to think we'd want more of the same, but personally I think Chancey should've stayed forever alone.

4. Scyther - Scizor
To me, and I dare guess many with me, Scyther was one of my favorite pkmn in Red/Blue. I remember thinking that if pkmn ever were to come true, I'd personally have a Scyther as my pet guard mantis - it just looks like it could deal some serious pain with those massive scythes it has for arms. Maybe many people thought that an evolution to Scyther could've been really cool, the perfect way to honor one of the coolest designed pkmn in the original games. But how would you go about improving something that is already so good? This seems to be exactly where Game Freak failed. To me, Scizor although quite bad ass looking itself, just doesn't feel like an improvement over Scyther. Just look at the names for one thing, when would you ever prefer a scissor as a weapon over a scythe? when the zombie apocalypse strikes I know what I'm going with. I would've liked Scizor better as a stand alone pkmn, he looks different enough to warrant that, than as an evolution to Scyther. Turns out I was right all along, Scyther is too cool to improve.

Now if this had been Scizor, I would've approved - visualstreak.com

3. Tangela - Tangrowth
Tangela is one of those sadly overlooked pkmn from the original series, and there are many. Unlike some of them that deserves to fade into obscurity (like Jynx), I think Tangela is a well designed and interesting pkmn that should've gotten more screen time. Maybe one reason was that the original game already had a lot of grass pkmn so some naturally had to go into the background, and Tangela wasn't as easy to find as most of the other ones. Because of this, I thought Tangela really deserved a nice evolution, instead it got Tangrowth. The issues I have with Tangrowth are similar to the issues I have with Scizor. In Scizors case I just thought that it failed to feel like a worthy evolution to Scyther because Scyther was already all it needed to be and more, in Tangrowths case I think it failed to adress the issues Tangela had and didn't add anything new. It looks basically the same, it is still just a Grass pkmn and it too barely got any screen time (at least none that I remember). These are all issues Tangela already had and Tangrowth did nothing to change it, making it a moot evolution that should've been so much more.

A possible third evolution? - sv.wikipedia.org

2. Rhydon - Rhyperior
Rhyperior is the one entry on this list that is an evolution to what already is an evolution - Rhydon (not counting baby pkmn). And that is exactly the issue I have with Rhyperior. Rhydon simply didn't need an evolution, it was good enough as it is. Not only didn't it need an evolution, I think they went way overboard with the design for Rhyperior showing that too much of everything does not a cool pkmn make. The changes from Rhyhorn to Rhydon are just enough, in fact perfect to show that the one is an improvement from the other. It looks smarter, stronger and better without alienating itself from the original design. Rhyperior on the other hand cranks up the gear ten more notches, looking more like the 8th evolution than the 2nd. The discrepancy is just too big and that's not even the only issue - Rhyperior is just too much for me. If Project Runway has taught me anything, it's that sometimes you need to know when to edit your designs and leave certain elements out. I wish the designer of Rhyperior had thought of this.

Not even perler beads can save him - deviantart.com

1. Lickitung - Lickylicky
Having what is possibly the worst conceived name for a pkmn to date (yes, even beating the Igglybuff, Jigglypuff, Wigglytuff combo), and that is saying a lot considering most pkmn are cursed with names barely worthy of a 5 year olds imagination, Lickylicky is at number one of my list. The name alone puts it on my list, but overall there is something about the design of Lickylicky (bwah, just having to type that name makes me want to stab something) that really grinds my gears. I think Lickylicky (yuck) kind of epitomizes what I think about bad pkmn design and in a way I find the entire character is mocking us pkmn fans, like something like that is good enough for us because clearly we gobble (lick?) up anything Game Freak will throw at us. I could've understood it better if it was part of the most recent batch of pkmn where you could expect imagination and inventiveness to start to wear thin. But it's not, it's part of the fourth gen Pearl & Diamond, where admittedly a lot of other questionable evolutions were released (Tangrowth to mention one on this list). Quite to the contrary I find that the latest gen actually had some really cool pkmn, but Diamond & Pearl is probably among the worst, hitting a rough patch like some of the Megaman games did with their boss ideas. Lickylicky is to me at the pinnacle of bad and uninspired pkmn design.

Still the least pornographic image you get from googling "Lickylicky" - funnymama.com

Saturday, November 16, 2013

1+1=3 - The Baby Mini-Game

With the arrival of mini-me just under three weeks ago, I thought I'd say that things have been hectic around here. Turns out, they're actually about the same, minus some sleep. Admittedly things can still, and probably will, change quite a lot in the upcoming months, but so far I'm surprised at not how much work a little person turned out to be, but how much less work than I expected it actually is. But again, that's probably going to change. Until then however I'm going to say "this isn't so bad".

I always imagined having a kid would be a lot like having a tamagotchi. Somewhere deep inside in my logical parts I realized that having a kid would be nothing like having a tamagotchi  (for one, a tamagotchi turd stays nice in one place whereas a baby turd can apparently shot gun all over the floor, or if you're unlucky - your leg). Interestingly enough I can report that having a kid, at least at this age, is totally like having a tamagotchi. Before you call child services, I obviously understand that a real kid needs a lot more love and attention than my tamagotchi got from me. But to my defense I did fish my tamagotchi out of a river I had accidentally dropped it in, so I was pretty invested already at that level (maybe mostly because that thing had cost me my entire allowance. And maybe dropping it in the first place also says something about my commitment level. At least it survived!). Seriously though, at this age it's not hard to convert the needs of your baby into a game, only difference being that it's a game that you can't stop playing just because you don't feel like it anymore, not much unlike World of Warcraft.

Mine was blue though - perrasmotornostalgi.blogspot.com

Assuming the little one isn't in pain (and I woe the day that happens), he only really needs sleep, food and attention when he's awake. When he does pull a sour face (and what a cute face that is) there are only so many things on your list to try out before matters should be solved. As such, a baby, or at least this baby, is a very simple game to "play" and so similar to a tamagotchi it's eerie. And just as with games it is loads of fun and gives a great sense of accomplishment when you've turned that frown upside down - mission accomplished, quest completed, whatever you want to call it it works just as well with a baby as it does in a game. Maybe even more so since you've made an actual little person happy and averting a baby from crying is probably one of the most pleasing things you can do (especially for your nerves).

If you feel like things are a bit too simple, you can break them down further and turn each aspect into a little mini-game. One of my favorites is the diaper-changing mini-game. It's a bit like space invaders, except you're the space ship. You need to avoid incoming bombardment by hiding behind cover which the little one is quickly burning through if you're not clever and agile. It makes you wish you had an extra set of arms and reflexes like a jedi knight. The game is on as soon as you've placed the baby on the nursing table, from there on it's anyones game and so far the little one is far outscoring me in wins. I've tried many tricks with varying success, from just pretending to remove the diaper to trying to change them lightning fast. So far I am being outwitted however, since the little one likes to just pretend he's done pooping and poop lightning fast (and his gunning puts Lucky Luke at shame). At the moment I am trying to incorporate my 28 year life experience and a psychology degree into being able to read the subtle cues that signal an attack. So far I am losing against someone not even three weeks of age. I blame beginners luck, just as how new poker players can win against poker veterans simply because they don't know the rules as well, making it impossible to accurately read their facial expressions. Or maybe the little man is just smarter than me - for now.

Calm before the storm

Then there is the time-management mini-game. First at home again with a baby, not knowing what to expect, it's easy to think that you won't have much time to do anything. The first couple of days that will also probably be true simply because you don't know when and how the little one is going to sleep, feed and want attention. The first couple of days you don't even really know the new person at all, making it a lot like having a stranger move into your home that you tip-toe around. It feels especially true in this case since mini-me looks nothing like me or my bf, which makes me suspect the mailman might have had something to do with this. This initially, and to some extent still, meant a lot of sitting around just waiting for the next task to pop up, wasting hours of good gaming (real gaming) time because I thought the baby would need me at any second. Seconds turned into hours and suddenly I had spent a day not doing anything, just sitting on stand-by.

Babies being completely different, some will need a lot of attention and some don't. Mini-me runs pretty much like clockwork, giving me about 3 periods of 3-4 hours of sleeping + feeding in a row with a period of 3-4 hours of awake time inbetween. This makes it fairly simple to time when to have food, game time, errand time and sleep time without it being too interrupted. It does require some planning, and it especially requires getting things done once you've decided on them. If you take too long you'll be closing in on the next breaking point in the little ones cycle and you might as well scrap them and wait for the next sleep-period, unless it's something that doesn't take very long. Getting stuck on memebase has never been more dangerous.

It's especially enjoyable and challenging during the evenings, when sleepyness hits me and I want to figure out the best time to go to sleep without having to interrupt it after a couple of hours because mini-me wakes up and wants to play (although play is probably not the right word at this age). I have to look back at the day that's passed, remember when his last waking-period was and put that into calculation to determine the best course of action. Do I go to sleep now although it's a bit early, or do I risk it and go for the next sleep-period although it might be followed by a waking-period? Sometimes the risk pays off, sometimes I have to get up after only a couple hours of sleep and know that my broken sleep will probably have me groggy most of the upcoming day. Fortunately I had already mastered the skill of power-napping long before I got a baby, so this is not a big issue (for me, my bf on the other hand is shit out of luck), but still avoidable with some good planning.

These are some of the challenges that I face every day, and so far they're actually really entertaining. The baby is just as fun when he is sleeping (because he is totally cute and then I can finally play some games, read or not think about anything) as when he is awake (because he is totally cute and makes the funniest faces). I can only hope the little one stays this good, because I know expansions to his program will come in the future with new challenges for me to overcome; such as the Teething-boss and introducing Crawling, which means I need to sharply raise the defense stats of my apartment since it's a virtual death trap for a baby as it is now. I'll keep you updated.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Top 5 Pokémon That Need an Evolution

In the light of everyone playing Pokemon the last 1,5 weeks (and by everyone I mean at least 0,0056% of the world population the first two days after release!) I thought it could be fun to do some more Pokemon themed posts around here. I love lists and I love Pokemon, so it's a match made in heaven. I have plans for a couple of lists, but we'll see how many I get around to actually doing before things get too hectic around here. The lists I have planned are pretty common, but the beautiful thing about Pokemon is that everyone has their own opinion about them. There are so many of them by now that eventhough there will always be the obvious favorites, such as mean ass looking Charizard and Mewtwo, most of us have that obscure Pokemon we love for our own personal reasons. Or not, there are plenty of Pokemon out there that truly annoy me or that I plain don't understand the point of (Vanillite, I am looking at you). So there is a lot to be said about Pokemon for sure and I thought I'd get started with my own Top 5 of Pokemon that need an evolution. I will point out though that I haven't included the most recent X&Y addition to the Pokedex in my lists, simply because I don't feel like I am familiar enough with those Pokemon to have made up my mind regarding most of them. Maybe some time in the far future I will do an updated lists where they are included. Until then, I've focused on the first five generations.

Whereas I agree that not all Pokemon need or should have an evolution and that think that there are several that work very well on their own (like Pinsir) without throwing in anything extra, I've chosen to add Pokemon on this list that simply feel a bit uncomplete the way they are.

5. Luvdisc

Almost Luvdisc - pldh.net

The funny thing about Luvdisc is that I thought it had an evolution all along in Gorebyss, it was only until recently I somehow figured out or was told that they're not in any way related (well, at least they're not in the same family). Gorebyss is another Pokemon entirely, with its own evolutionary tree, but it totally looks like an evolution to Luvdisc, you have to agree! They're both pink, fishy-faced Pokemon, and Gorebyss sort of has that heart thing going on with its head, it just looks like, you know, it evolved into something a bit more than what Luvdisc is. Instead, Gorebyss evolves from Clamperl, which just seems weird. Clamperl could go into some other family somewhere, maybe as a baby Pokemon to Shellder/Cloyster. Alomola is another Pokemon that looks a lot like it could have something to do with Luvdisc. It's almost like they sent out a PM to several designers with the same instructions, and these three Pokemon is what came out of it. They just decided to run with all three of them separately rather than combining them into one family, which just means us players can't tell them apart and give none of them the light of day. I think the reason I put Luvdisc on this list is mainly because it really feels like it fits together perfectly with Gorebyss and/or Alomola, and as soon as I found out it has nothing to do with that Pokemon, it felt so lost and lonely somehow.

How are they not related? - deviantart.com

4. Relicanth

I bet it has a great personality - bbc.co.uk

In a way it's silly of me to put Relicanth on this list, since the animal it is based on - the Coelacanth - hasn't evolved in millions of years. Logically then neither should Relicanth. As a Pokemon however, I've always felt like Relicanth would be the perfect first stage to something that turns into something completely else, like a synonym of the Magikarp evolution line if you like. Relicanth would be the humble, subtle Pokemon to do this, as a contrast to Magikarps goofy, derpiness, and of course whatever evolution Relicanth would end up with has to mirror this as well, turning the "personality" of the Pokemon completely around just like Gyarados does for Magikarp. As it is now, Relicanth just feels too awkward, like a social misfit that huddles in the corner of a party. He deserves an awesome evolution that would open peoples eyes to what a cool Pokemon Relicanth is himself.

Art imitates life - pokemondb.net

3. Shuckle

At least he's not a lamp - pokemondb.net

Shuckle is one of the weirdest looking Pokemon if you ask me, and it has some great contenders. I've always seen it as some sort of turtle, but if you look closely it looks more like a worm that lives inside a hollow stone. And Shuckle? That has to be a sarcastic name given considering that the only facial expression I've ever seen on Shuckles face is anything but happy. Shuckle is probably what you do when you first see it, nothing else. To me, Shuckle is actually a pretty cool Pokemon. He has a very original look and feels like he holds much potential. As a bug/rock Pokemon he also combines two types that I rarely end up using, and Shuckle could definitely make up for that if only he responded to me somehow. Right now I feel like he's just not interesting enough to play with, which might come down to personal taste, but I'd love it if they managed to up his game a bit by giving him a more elaborate style in an evolution. I think it's sad that he somehow feels like he's designed to be made fun of rather than to actually use seriously, maybe an evolution could remedy that.

Not my ideas, but it's getting there (maybe a bit too much like Octillery) - deviantart.com

2. Weezing
The only Pokemon on this list to be an evolution himself, Koffing and Weezing are among my favorite Pokemon-families (similar to Grimer and Muk). They are similar in many ways, both families having cool designs and awesome naming choices. But whereas Muk feels like a final evolution to me, I never thought so about Weezing, I always felt like he should continue on to something even cooler. Maybe it's that unfinished little head poking out at his side that gave me the unfinished feeling, maybe something completely else. How to go about it, I am not sure. Just adding yet another tiny head would just be silly (or would it?), so something else has to be done of course. Maybe it should be called something along the lines of Huffing or Gasping and have yet another hue of purple. I don't think there should be any limbs, that too would just look silly, but maybe something else protruding to signify that it is yet another stage in the evolution. It will never happen I am sure, and maybe the main reason I want Weezing to have another evolution is because I want to see more of him in the newer games (same with Muk and Grimer). Maybe what he really needs is in fact a Mega-Evolution? *mind blown*

Faces only a mother can love - pokemontradingpost.com

1. Dunsparce 

He is cute though - pokemondb.net

Good old Dunsparce, I'm not sure what the designer of this Pokemon thought when creating it, because to me there is no other Pokemon that looks more intentionally designed to have at least one evolution than this Pokemon. The name seems to be made up of combining the words Dunce and Sparce, hinting that this Pokemon isn't good for anything on its own. In all honesty, to me it doesn't even look like a stage 1 Pokemon, this could've easily been a baby Pokemon with its underdeveloped wings (?), unopened eyes and what look like little feeler-teeth. It's like the designer wasn't even sure what it was supposed to be or end up as, it's tagged as a land snake, but has wings (?) for some reason and doesn't have much of a snake shape if you ask me. And it's normal-type, the most insipid and boring type of all the types imo. I've always thought that the feeler-teeth were some sort of teeth, but in X&Y I discovered that the blue part is actually its chin so that the feeler-teeth must be more of some sort of feeler-beard. In any case, Dunsparce makes no sense whatsoever, and not because he is stupidly designed like so many Pokemon that just seem to be a Pokemon-form of some sort of piece of furniture or the like (Rotom for instance), but because he is so incomplete and confusing. Dunsparce needs to be explained, and the best way to do that is to give him an evolution (or two) that would show off what Dunsparce is all about anyway. Just Google "Dunsparce" for many great ideas.

Like this one - archive.foolz.us

I think the reason I care so much about Dunsparce is because he has a much bigger role in the most recent Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon, that I've played a lot. In it, they've given him the personality of a shy kind of nobody who constantly doubts his own skills and questions his worth. It made me really feel for the guy, because he always compares himself to the cooler looking Pokemon, and even the other lame looking Pokemon like Weedle know that they're going to turn into something cool eventually. Right now Dunsparce seems to be designed around being to turn into something cool, without actually being able to do so, and I definitely think he deserves more attention and love from the designers.

What Pokemon do you think need more attention or evolutions?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pokémon X & Y - First Impressions

The following post includes some spoilers, no story spoilers though.

It must've been around 1998 that I first got my hands on a Pokemon game. Because I was a bit late onto the scene, and thus had a general idea of what to expect, I wasn't blown away by it in the sense of discovering just how awesome the game was - I already knew how awesome the game was and all the fun I had lying in store for me. It did not let me down. It was only the beginning of a long love story to a game franchise that has managed to keep me entertained throughout the years, I don't think there is any Pokemon game (in the original series) that I dislike and I couldn't even say which one I like the most (although of course the first one has a special place in my and many other peoples heart for many good reasons). I bought, traded and played with the TCG for years (and only really stopped because I didn't have anyone else to play with). I bought the stickers, the plush animals, went to the cinema to see the first movie (and get my promo card) and bought many of the spin-off games as well. Naturally, when I first heard about Pokemon X & Y, the first real 3d pokemon game, somewhere this spring 2013, I was very, very excited. Partly because it was another pokemon game, and the news of that alone would have me jumping with glee, and partly because of the prospect of maybe getting to experience what pokemon fans over the world have been asking for ever since the first game was released (and games like Pokemon Stadium showed us the potential of) - pokemons fighting it off in actual 3d graphics.

Soooo pretty... - se.ign.com

During what felt like an endless wait, I had a lot of time to think about the new game. I intentionally and intently tried to avoid any and all information about it, eventhough my curiousity got the best of me a few times (I just had to check out what the Megavolutions to Venusaur, Charizard and Blastoise looked like). Still, in the world of global information it is almost impossible to not get at least small scraps of information forced onto you every now and then, and so screen shots and trailers soon found their way to me. I definitely liked what I saw, and had no doubt in my mind it was going to be yet another awesome Pokemon, but I didn't get the feeling it was going to blow my mind in the way some people were hoping for. In all honesty I didn't think what little I saw seemed all that different from Black & White, where they also played a bit with perspectives, and so I prepared myself to be swept away as always, but not enraptured.

Now that I've had a chance to actually try out the game that I've been waiting for most of the year - what do I think? Is it everything it promised? Is it "just" good or completely awesome? Was I wrong to doubt it, even a little?

Interestingly enough, after ~20 hours and three gyms of gaming (which would've been more had I not had a 24 hour work shift this weekend!), this experience so far is very similar to my first experience with the first game. Back then I too knew already roughly what to expect and how good the game was. I was still blown away by how much fun and how much cooler the game turned out to actually be when I started playing it. My short review of Pokemon X (which is the copy I have) would be to say about the same thing. After five generations I had a pretty good idea of what the game was going to be and how much fun I was going to have. And with previous games Pokemon has always delivered pretty much that. But this time around I was amazed and thrilled at how much better than my expectations the game turned out to actually be. Eventhough it is basically exactly the same as it has been since the first game 17 years ago, Pokemon still manages to surprise me. That's not to say it is perfect. Pokemon is delivering the same experience it always has, only prettier and a little bit better, but everything good that comes with that (why change a winning formula) means whatever annoyed you about the old games probably still is around to annoy you. I use the word "annoy" very lightly however, as even the things I dislike the most in the game (I'll get to that shortly) never get distracting enough to take away any of the fun of the game as a whole.

Not everything is better in 3d - tv.com

First of all, the game is pretty. I had my doubts about how cool and aesthetically pleasing the new 3d graphics could possibly be, but let me tell you that they are definitely a lot better and awesome than I at least had assumed. Everything from the crisp Pokemon 3d models, the pretty colors of the different skills the Pokemon use (which, of course, are almost entirely same old as previous games) to the fact that people in the world around you now have some moving animations, are pure eye candy. Just the fact that the battle screen now has some sort of background makes me care less about the fact that there still is practically as little interaction between the pkmn as in the first games. I thought the difference between Black & White and X & Y wouldn't be big, but going back to the previous generation now you see just how big the differences are - Black & White, which I when I first played it thought was beautiful, looks boring in comparison. I'm the last one to say that graphics is a particularly important part to the fun of a game, but with X & Y I can say it is definitely enhancing the experience. And I do feel, at least so far, that they've done a good job getting the most out of it, the areas you walk through feel varied and don't feel like "just another patch of grass or cave", waht could quickly be the case in older games. The 3d effect isn't in use everywhere in the game, and that doesn't bother me as I at the moment play with it off anyway to save on battery time. I can only imagine with Nintendo launching their 2ds almost at the same time, the idea isn't to play with much 3d effects in any case, but where it is active it does a good job further enhancing the beautiful graphics.

Random Snorlax to brighten your day - aliexpress.com

So let's talk a bit about what's probably the most important aspect to the game - the gameplay. Of course, even without having to go into any details regarding the story line, old players will know exactly what to expect. This to me doesn't have to be a bad thing at all, and in pkmn we know it to be a winning concept. I am sure more people would be outraged about any changes than there are whiners out there at the moment complaining about pkmn never changing. As usual, the differences and betterments lie in the details instead. One of the first thing I noticed, and am really happy about, is the sheer amount of different pkmn that seem to be present in the game. Something that used to annoy me in older games was that the starting areas always had the same two-three pkmn to encounter, and overall I always wanted more of the total amount to be easily available in the game (by easily I mean without having to trade and the like). X & Y seem to have taken this to heart, having me almost wish instead that there were less pkmn in this game (!). If you're a collector or completionist of any kind, which I'm fortunately not, you'll have your work cut out for you. It feels like every new grass patch I come to holds at least five pkmn I haven't even seen before and reaching the goal to "catch em all" has never felt as fun, at least to me. The best thing about it is that it allows you to start out with a varied group of pkmn right from the start, whereas older games only offered you so many - I feel like the replay value is possibly the highest in this game, a lot because of this.

Pkmn has never been as online as it is with this installment either, allowing easy access to other pkmn players all over the world, or just your neighborhood friends if you prefer, for trading, fighting and comparing of pkmn. Some features are truly fun to engage in, like Wonder Trade where you offer any pkmn for trade and get a random unknown from someone else in the world in return. Completely relying on the generosity of other people I've been unlucky enough to get Weedles and lucky enough to get Froakies, it's a lottery that's easy to get stuck in.

Pokémon have dabbled in 3d before - jogospokemon.wordpress.com

The new o-power system is another feature that I'm having a lot of fun with. O-powers can be anything from a temporary bonus to attack power to extra catch rate that you can either give to yourself or anyone else in the world. Each power takes some energy to give, of which you have a limited amount that slowly recharges over time, and giving to yourself costs a lot more than giving to someone else. It has made me and the bf shout out requests to eachother and allowing the other person to save you in a pinch - I'll ask for some healing when I am in a gym and close to death for instance. Every now and then you'll receive a power from some random stranger in the world, and I do occasionally throw out some powers, since using them is the only way to level them and thus increasing their bonuses. The cooldown on the powers makes them just the kind of fun bonus without being overpowered that I think the developers were after, and it is extra fun that the function promotes generosity towards others rather than hogging.

This game does of course, as the other games in the series, have a couple of mini games to engage in and throw time into. For the first time ever I can say that these are some that I am actually interested in and have fun with. In earlier games I would always try them out, be it beauty contests or poké blocks, but they were never anything for me. In this game we've got features that not only are more fun, they can actually affect your pkmn in game in a way that make them a lot more interesting, at least to me, than previous mini games. Through Pokemon-Amie you can pat, smack (yepp, you can be a cruel pkmn trainer too), feed or play mini games with any pkmn in your party in a sort of Tamagotchi style feature. Other peoples pkmn can come visit in your decorateable pkmn room and leave you more gifts to further decorate your room with. In the Super Training you can have your pkmn complete different training mini games that actually affect its stats in game. I am not sure how "game breaking" this could be, but I know there are already lengthy discussions on forums all over the internet on how to best do your training, where to put your points and other things that makes me think of Elitis Jerks. Just as with pvp in a game like World of Warcraft, this is entirely optional and nothing you have to put any time into if you don't feel like it to enjoy the game, but I feel like they make more sense and more worthwhile the way they have been implemented in this game than in previous games.

We're still waiting for this though - ign.com

You can now also change the way your character looks. So what, was my first thought, since I normally don't put much effort into what my avatar looks like in other RPG-like games. I'm one of those people who clicks "randomize" a couple of times to get it over with. Never would I have thought that it'd be this much fun to play dress up doll with your own character in X & Y however. At first I didn't think I'd ever want to spend money on the clothes and accessories that are available to you in different clothing stores, because they don't actually make any difference. Except it is so much fun to try out clothes, and I instantly turn into a 5 year old playing with Barbies again when I enter the stores. The new pretty 3d graphics definitely add to the fun of this and especially it will turn out to be a great thing to use your money on later in the game, since piling money usually turned out to be a "problem" in older games.

Before I say anything else, because now I'll be saying a word or two about a couple of things I like less about the game, I would like to emphasize just how awesome and fun X & Y has turned out to be to me. The following things I'm mentioning now are to considered minor issues, things I simply wish they would've done a bit differently. They're still not bad enough to actually ruin much of the actual gameplay.

Firstly, this game probably has the worst music out of all the games in the series. That's not to say that it is in any way bad, just not as good as it could've been or as some tunes in the older games. Of course I love just about every tune in Red & Blue for nostalgic reasons, but even Black & White (and all the other older games) had at least some tunes I really loved. Especially battle tunes need to be good, since you get to hear them so often. X & Y are not delivering the same great and fun tunes that older games did, unfortunately. One tune in a city I've just come to even made me nauseous (!) so that I felt like I had to mute the game for the duration of my stay. That's an extreme example and I could still come across something great since I have a lot left of the game. So far however they're mostly just bland and a bit boring. Sound effects are great however, and the differents sounds the pkmn make have never sounded better while still being true to the original.

And with the new "Live Competition" come the people who take it way too seriously - reddit.com

Secondly, the pkmn games have always suffered from being a bit too easy. I think most people can recognize themselves in being able to burn through most gyms with just one or two pkmn one shotting every competition. This is how things like the Nuzlocke challenge came to be, basically putting restrictions on yourself to up the challenge of the game. To me this has generally not been much of a problem. I usually play with and try to level six different pkmn already from the start, which has kept me fairly close to the levels of the people I am encountering. Pkmn has never been challenging to me until perhaps Pokémon League, but challenging enough. What I have a problem with however is the AI of the trainers, which I've always wished would've been at least somewhat better. When a trainer uses the same worthless skill twice or more it makes me sad, and I feel like it would've really upped the fun of the game if trainers actually seemed to have some sort of tactical thinking. I'm not sure why Game Freak has decided to let every trainer in the pkmn world remain a block head, but they still pretty much are. Why couldn't at least the gym trainers be a bit smarter?

Thirdly, I really wish they would've implemented more than one save by now. Or at least some way to allow you to save pkmn from an older playthrough. I don't know how many times I've picked up an old pkmn game, started it up and decided not to play it after all because I couldn't find it in my heart to delete the pkmn that were on it, and all the memories of the playthrough with them (or so it feels). Don't underestimate how much you emotionally invest yourself in those little pixels (now polygons), just erasing them is such a difficult choice that I rarely have the strength to take it. This, and only this, has removed a lot of the replay value of the games to me, and it feels like a simple thing to solve. With X & Y, Nintendo have promised a sort of cloud save feature which will allows us to upload our pkmn to their servers. This way I can store whatever pkmn I want to keep after I'm done with my current playthrough, keeping them safe while I erase the other data. The problem with this is that it comes with a fee, admittedly quite a low fee, but still nothing I might want to pay for years to come (and will the feature even be available for that long?). It can go five years before I decide to pick the game back up to play again, and I just wish Nintendo gave me a simpler way to store my pkmn in the long term. The solution they have now is great for the actively playing, but I don't think it's a good solution for the future. It's a minor issue, admittedly, but also one I think they could solve pretty easily, and it would really make a nostalgic sod like me incredibly happy if I could store the pkmn in my gameboy (NDS), or something along those lines.

I'm not sure much more needs to be said about this game, I am certain most of you are playing it already. If you aren't and have any interest in the pkmn series, this game will definitely give you many hours of fun and is definitely worth the money. So far I think it's great, it has been surprising me around every corner and the gameplay is every bit as familiar but improved to make it an awesome experience. Now if you excuse me, I need to get back to playing, I've been spending too much time writing this post already.