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Rain, Pokemon, and stuff

We’re finally settling back in after having our roof leak in the big rain storm Socal had this past weekend.  You see, we normally do not get rain here so when even a little bit lands on our roofs they seem to leak profusely.  Having to vacate our game room, we were left with no other recourse than to watch copious amounts of Netflix.

We finished up binge watching Eureka and started Warehouse 13, but the star of the weekend has to be Pokemon.  Netflix now has the original season (which has like 50 something episodes), a few of the movies, and some later seasons.  We used to watch Pokemon every morning before going to school.  We’ve played them all.  Sorta.

I have this really bad habit of playing all the Pokemon games with the best of intentions of beating them, but I always get lost somewhere around the halfway point.  I’ll eventually finish up Pokemon X/Y.

Anyway, the series is awesome.  Watch it.  The first episode always gives me goosebumps as Ash stands up and defends Pikachu from the Spearows.  Graev always says, “What valor…”

Okay so enough of Pokemon.  Tomorrow morning our review of South Park: The Stick of Truth will go up so look for that.  I’ll be playing Grim Dawn (sort of a Titan Quest spiritual successor) to give you my thoughts, and the rest of the week should pan out from there.

Graev’s Game of the Year 2013

Picking a game of the year is hard. I can barely remember what I even played the first half of this year. Usually all I can recall is the last third and stuff I thought was this year turned out to be from two years ago and so on. I did manage to look through a list of this year’s last year’s games and found one thing in common with most of my favorite games: They’re all on handheld devices.

It was a big year for portable gaming. At least for me, anyway. Also, when I say portable gaming I use the term very loosely since I don’t actually take my 3DS and Vita more than a few feet from an electrical socket. I should also mention that I’m not talking about games on devices like phones and tablets. Some people consider those to be in the same portable/handheld category but that’s usually something I avoid altogether if I can. Anywho… Let’s look back at some of my favorite handheld games of 2013.

fire-emblem-awakeningFire Emblem: Awakening

This was a really fun game from what I can remember. It actually held my interest for quite a while. I’m a fan of strategy games and RPGs that use turn-based mechanics. I used to enjoy playing real-time strategy games but I just don’t have the reflexes to play competitively.

Fire Emblem had a lot of replayability with so many characters and different ways you could match them up with the relationship system to create the most powerful offspring, etc.

Monster Hunter 3 UltimateMonster Hunter 3 Ultimate

Okay, this one is actually a little bit of a cheat since I didn’t actually play the 3DS version. It is, however, supposedly the exact same game except the Wii U version has multiplayer. I did try and convince Keen to pick up the 3DS version to play local co-op but that never panned out. He hasn’t touched a Monster Hunter game since he died on on of the first missions in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite and threw my PSP across the room. Actually, that’s not quite true. We were in a car so he technically throw it across that.

Anyway, I played this game a whole lot this year and especially online and once they added the off-TV mode. I’m not entirely sure but I think I spent over 200-300 hours fighting large monsters online with other players and grinding away to craft better stuff. I’m actually getting the itch to play just talking about it.

animal-crossing-new-leaf-fishingAnimal Crossing: New Leaf

Keen and I both love Animal Crossing and played the heck out of it for several weeks straight. Or at least I did. I think Keen might have drifted off a bit before me. Still, there usually comes a point when for one reason or another we just stop playing, which is actually kind of odd when the game features so many neat seasonal features. Some people may be able to enjoy it over the course of an entire year but I’m not sure I ever could. Maybe if I had picked up the digital version things would be different. I hate swapping carts.

Shin Megami Tensei IV ReviewShin Megami Tensei IV

My first SMT game from the main series. I had previously played Persona 4 Golden, which I loved. The two series are very different, though. Even so I enjoyed SMTIV very much. Recruiting, collecting, and fusing demons was a lot of fun and gave it somewhat of a Pokemon vibe. The story was interesting and thought-provoking and the visuals were fantastic. Maybe not a game for everybody but I loved it.

Pokemon X & Y

I’m sure we’ve stated at least a dozen times now that we’re huge Pokemon fans. We’ve loved the series since the original games and have played almost every pokemon game, and off-shoot, since. X & Y seem to have made some of the most significant advances in the series. The visuals are now all rendered with 3D models and there are several great new camera angles utilized throughout the game. Battling with your pokemon also shows rendered models rather than 2D sprites which gives more life to the little creatures. Not saying there was anything wrong with sprites, though.

Pokemon XY 3D RenderThe thing that I spent the most time on was breeding and training pokemon. This was the first time in the series where I actually felt like I was able to play the metagame. It was more approachable than ever and quite easy. EV training your pokemon could be done quite easily through little minigames and there was no way to screw it up since resets were possible. Breeding pokemon with perfect IVs was also much easier since player safari pokemon came with two already perfect IVs. I spent hundreds of hours breeding different kinds of pokemon.

Tearaway

I just wrote a post about this game and how much I love it. The fantastic visual style that recreates a paper crafted world just totally captures my imagination. I love creating new little character decorations and trying to make my little envelope dude look like Iron Man or A Ninja Turtle. The gameplay is fun and inventive and the way it incorporates the player into the game and narrative is unique. This was a real tough choice and it ALMOST was my game of the year. It was a really close call.

GAME OF THE YEAR 2013…

hyrule-and-lorule

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

a link between worlds 3dMaybe it’s a bit cliche or obvious but I don’t care. I’ve loved Zelda games since I first played Link’s Awakening back on my gameboy. I’m not sure if we’ve ever posted pictures of our game room but there are 2 framed posters: one depicting the evolution of Link through the years and another one from one of the games. One wall has a Link cling art on it and the other has a giant Phantom Hourglass 3D advertisement display that we liberated from a Gamestop. I’m a huge fan.

I love the classic top-view 2D Zeldas the most and I love how this was a throwback to those as well as being linked (lol puns) to A Link to the Past. Not only that but it introduced some fascinating new characters from the Lorule Kingdom, which I hope we get to see more of in the future. The game did so much right while getting very little wrong.  A Link Between Worlds is easily my game of the year for 2013.

Playing the Pokemon X/Y Metagame

I have played almost every main-series Pokemon game but I have never delved into the deeply confusing metagame. Breeding and training perfect pokemon has always seemed to be an incredibly daunting task. You have to somehow keep track of hidden numbers and variables and try not to completely **** up your ‘mon in the process. You see people throw around terms like EV and IV and it doesn’t take long before you just say “Screw it” before you go level up whatever Pokemon looks cool, regardless of how bad its base stat supposedly is.

Fortunately they seemed to make the system a whole lot less frustrating this time around, which is great for simple people like me. When I found that out I decided to give it a try and see if I could breed something halfway decent. It was a very interesting process and I can’t imagine having to do it in past generations. Anyway, here’s what I did…

HeracrossPokeugenics

So the first thing I had to do was pick something to breed. I ended up landing on a Heracross because he looks like a happy badass and has an interesting Mega Evolution and new ability. The first thing I did was to catch one in the wild and drop it off in the Pokemon daycare with a Ditto, your all-purpose breeding Pokemon. My goal was to breed a Pokemon that had a very specific nature. Natures give a bonus to one stat and a penalty to another. There are also neutral natures that don’t do anything. I was specifically looking for a Jolly nature (+Speed/-Sp.Attack) but with 25 or something different natures it would take quite a while. Especially since you have to run around until an egg shows up and then run around even longer until it hatches. There are ways to speed up the process but it can still take forever. Eventually I gave up on the RNG and just found a bug pokemon in my bank that already had a Jolly nature and belonged in the same egg group as my Heracross. In order to pass down a nature you can have the parent hold an everstone. Makes the process so much simpler. [Read more...]

My Pokemon X In-game Team

I’m about 12 hours into Pokemon X and I finally decided on a team.  I think.  For every hour I’ve put into the game, I’ve probably spent 2 thinking about what team I want to build.  I have weird tastes.  I require the pokemon on my team look cool but also perform extremely well.  I’m also all about trying to build a team that will be balanced.  Oh, and I also do not care at all about anything other than in-game normal play.  I’m not into tournaments or playing against other trainers.

Without further ado… here’s my team.  For now.

chesnaughtChesnaught

I picked Chespin as my starter for one reason: He is by far the cutest pokemon starter.  His final evolution, however, is… bizarre.  I ultimately decided I could keep him in my team because I imagine he’s a little cute guy inside of a suite that looks like it belongs in something like Dawn of War.  Figher/Grass has proven to be a great combo so far, and I hope it continues to perform.

 

charizard xCharizard

I’m slightly bothered by the overt favoritism Charizard has received.  Squirtle is my favorite original starter pokemon, and when Professor Sycamore offered to give me one of the original starters it was tough to have to choose Charizard… he just looks so dang cool.  To top it all off, in Pokemon X he becomes Dragon/Fire — gotta have that Dragon.

 

malamarMalamar

Two words: Psychic Dark.  Malamar is also physical and has an amazing ability called Contrary: All effects that lower stats increase them instead.  Using superpower I can attack with Malamar and instead of losing attack and defense I gain it instead.  How ridiculous is that?

 

AzumarillAzumarill

I was originally against the idea of taking on yet another older pokemon into my team.  I was desperate for a water pokemon, and was actually looking at that new barnacle guy when Graev told me that Azumarill is now a Fairy/Water now — that’s the only Fairy/Water pokemon, and I’m pretty sure he’s physical attack as well.  Stack that with his ability called Huge Power (double attack) and you have the recipe for yet another ability combo.

 

TyrantrumTyrantrum

He looks cool.  Really, that’s the reason I chose him.  Don’t get me wrong, Rock/Dragon is a cool combo too but just look at him!  I think he gets some nice physical abilities like crunch and dragon claw too.  Honestly, playing in-game only I think I can settle for taking a pokemon based on looks.

That’s my team!  I have one spot left that will probably be used for a slave who will carry all of my HMs.  If I end up wanting a 6th I will take Heliolisk to round it out with eletric.

One of the biggest things I’m excited about in Pokemon X and Y is how accessible the ‘meta game’ is for trainers.  ALl of this EV IV whatever its called is really transparent now with the super training.  I can run each pokemon through a series of minigames and make their stats exactly how I want them.  I’ve never been interested in min/maxing Pokemon — I would rather pretend they are my friends — but given the chance to make them super powerful AND my buddies how can I resist?

Have you decided on your team?

Pokemon X & Y Impressions

Keen and I are longtime Pokemanics and have been glued to our 3DS’ since yesterday morning. We make the vow to catch them all every time a new game comes out and mean it each time, even if we end up running out of steam along the way. We’re not terribly far yet but we’d love to talk about some of the more interesting aspects of the games, which seem to have taken the most significant steps in expanding upon the main Pokemon game series.

Froakie and Chespin

A few of our favorite things:

Pokemon XY 3D Render+ The 3D rendered visuals are fantastic and allow for some interesting new camera perspectives that we haven’t seen before in the main series. One in particular that comes to mind is when you enter Lumiose. The camera switches to  an over-the-shoulder perspective and presents the whole city in an exciting new way. Also, seeing your Pokemon battling in 3D for the first time in the main series is really exciting.+ Rollerskating is a neat way to switch things up from the usual bike transportation.

+ Fairy type Pokemon! I don’t have a lot of experience with them yet but new types are always fun. I don’t think we have had a new type since steel and dark, if I can remember correctly.

+ Mega-Evolutions?! Or at least the idea of them. In theory it sounds pretty awesome but neither of us are far enough yet to know.

+ New features! There’s a new strength-training type minigame system that so far is a bit confusing, the Pokemon-Amie feature that lets you interact with your Pokemon similar to Nintendogs, and probably a lot more stuff we haven’t even seen yet.

+ Character customization! You can choose between 3 different pre-set characters, either male or female, but later on you can change your outfit, buy new clothes and accessories, and even get a new haircut and color.

+ Bonus Kanto region starter! Shortly into the game you are given the choice of additional Pokemon: Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle. Why…? Just because, I guess.

You take the good with the bad:

– Character movement is pretty wonky and trying to get into specific areas or talk to people can prove more difficult than you’d imagine. As soon as you get your rollerskates you can activate them with the circlepad and zoom around with 360 degrees of movement but you cant run through grass. Pressing on the D-pad will make you walk around with the whole up, down, left, up-right, etc 8-directional movement system and you can run (through grass as well) by holding ‘B.’- There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of new Pokemon. Most of what we have encountered so far are familiar faces like Caterpie, Bidoof, Pikachu, etc. What is new, however, is pretty cool and interesting. I suppose it comes down to the whole quality versus quantity debate. Still, I would like to see more new Pokemon.

– The 3D depth effect isn’t so hot. The game is mostly presented with the two-dimensional effect but in certain instances and in battles it activates the depth effect. It’s not that it looks necessarily bad but it does make the jaggies stand out more and there is VERY noticeable slowdown during battles unless you turn it off. It’s probably best to just completely turn off the 3D depth effect, which seems to be a trend in 3DS games lately, as it makes the entire experience better.

The Verdict

Pokemon X and Y are worth buying.  Many of you have already asked us whether or not this game alone justifies buying a 3DS.  Our answer is yes.  However, if the full 3DS price seems a bit high, why not give the 2DS a look? It costs less ($70 cheaper) than the 3DS (especially the 3DS XL which is the better 3DS to buy) and gives you the best of the new Pokemon game.  If you’re thinking about playing any other 3DS games, and there are some great ones out already and coming out soon, then go for a full 3DS XL.

Follow our entire Pokemon adventure as we once again try and Catch ‘Em All!