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‘Pokémon: Let’s Go!’ Captures the Spirit of Pokemon

Pokémon: Let’s Go came out this weekend. Both Graev and I picked up the Let’s Go Pikachu edition because… Pikachu, duh! (We will still like you if you picked Eevee.)

As Pokémon fanatics, and Nintendo Switch aficionados, we couldn’t have been more excited for the two to finally come together. Does it live up to the hype and excitement for us?

First, let’s talk about some of the big questions we’ve seen out there. I had a lot of questions going in that I really couldn’t find the answers to in reviews from people who got advanced copies, so I had to wait and experience the game myself. Hopefully these help anyone out there curious about whether or not the game is fun or right for them.

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Pokemon Quest is a Phone Game on the Switch

The big Pokemon announcements this week included Pokemon Quest, which is basically a free-to-play (or at least free-to-start) Pokemon game currently on the Switch. PQ is coming to phones next month, and after reading my review I think you'll agree that's where it belongs.

I think most of my enjoyment comes from it being a Pokemon game, and for that I can be enthralled and forgive some of the more glaring 'issues'. 

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New Pokemon Game Coming to Switch: Let’s Go Pikachu (or Eevee)

Nintendo has done it again! They've managed to build massive hype for the Switch, and confuse the absolute heck out of me in the process.

I followed yesterday night's live tweeting and announcements from the presentation, and I have to say I was suuuuper confused at first. Now I think I'm a little less confused, but I'm still working out some of the details. 

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QuickCast Episode 6: What Are You Playing?

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We had some technical difficulties getting this one up for yesterday, but better late than never! I'm just glad we're sticking with podcasting. Over the past decade our biggest struggle has been consistency. This is the year we make progress.

​In this episode, we shoot the breeze about what we've been playing and what we're looking forward to in the next few weeks. 

I even dropped more not-so-subtle hints about getting Graev to play the upcoming EQ TLP with me.​

Games we mentioned this episode:

Subscribe on:  iTunes | Youtube | Soundcloud

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9 Pokemon Go Tips To Help You On Your Way To Greatness

While some of you are likely already well beyond me, I want to share some of the tips I’ve picked up and learned myself that might help some of you newer or struggling trainers. Feel free to share your experiences.

1. Tap and Hold Before You Throw a Pokeball

When you tap and hold a pokeball before throwing, the green circle around the target pokemon will shrink . This increases your chances of successfully catching the pokemon and reduce wasted pokeballs.

How to Find Pokemon Near You

How to Find Nearby Pokemon

2. Find Pokemon Close to You

In the bottom right hand corner of your screen you’ll see pictures or silhouettes of pokemon. If you click on that section it will bring up a list of pokemon near you and their distances. One footprint is close, 3 footprints is far. Choose one you want to catch and start walking in a direction. You’ll know you are getting close when the footprints decrease. This helps you avoid having to randomly stumble upon pokemon. I’ve found several less common Pokemon by roaming off the beaten path.

3. Don’t Transfer Those Lower CP Pokemon!

A big mistake most people make is thinking they should just Transfer of all those crummy 10cp Pidgeys back to Professor Oak. Nope! Hang onto them. When you hatch a lucky egg, evolve as many Pidgeys (or Caterpies or low candy-cost evolves) as you can. Each evolution is a HUGE boost of exp while under the effects of a lucky egg. You’ll easily power-level 4-6 levels at once.

Pokemon Go Lucky Egg

4. Put a Little Spin on that Pokeball Before You Throw

Simply draw a circle or do a spin motion around the pokeball before you throw it and you’ll increase your chances of catching a Pokemon. Pretty simple trick to improve those odds as much as you can when facing a higher CP catch.

Which PokemonGo Team should I join?

5. Pick A Team That Doesn’t Dominate

I know this sounds counter intuitive to most gamers. You see one team dominating and you think to yourself, “I need to be on that team.” Don’t! If your town is all Red, go Blue or Yellow! You get way more EXP taking a gym than you do training at one.

6. Learn Your Pokemon Types

Just like in the pokemon games, your pokemon type matters. Don’t use fire against water, or birds against electricity. Before fighting a Gym Battle be sure you pick the right type of Pokemon to guarantee your success.

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7. Hate Exercise? Put Your Phone in a Salad Spinner

A turn table works too! If you’re like me and can’t possibly imagine the torture of hatching eggs by walking 10 kilometers each, then simply place your phone in a (clean) salad spinner or on a turn table and give it a whirl! Congratulations, you have evolved into the ultimate form of lazy.

8. There’s a Time and Place for Everything

Certain pokemon can only be found at certain places or certain times. Need some ghosts? Go to a Graveyard! Yeah, that might be a little disrespectful so don’t make it worse by dancing on a grave when you catch that ghastly. Night time helps with nocturnal pokemon. You’ll find plenty of water pokemon near lakes. My bags are full of Krabby since my place is right on a lake.

lured-pokestops

9. Look For The Pink Flower Petal On PokeStops

This means someone has “lured” pokemon to this location. First, make so the real life Team Rocket aren’t there. It’s usually good to travel in groups in broad daylight. After that, sit back and collect items every 5 minutes + catch lots of Pokemon. Lures last 30 minutes.

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Real Life Team Rocket Using Pokemon Go

Team Rocket in Pokemon Go

When I heard about this on the radio this morning I just had to post about it. “Allegedly” four armed robbers used Lure Modules at PokeStops to attract unsuspecting Trainers. The lures act like beacons to attract Pokemon, and naturally trainers to catch them. When a Lure Module is used on a PokeStop, the PokeStop starts to glow pink with what looks like flower petals.

When the Trainers show up to the dark alley or parking lot, Team Rocket the robbers strike! They rob the trainers of their devices and whatever else is on them — yep, including their Pokemon! Interestingly enough, right near where I live there’s a walking path by a lake that had four PokeStops lit up with Lures. Yea, like I’m going to walk around the dark lake at night. I’m onto you.

Similar to Team Rocket’s antics, local businesses are also using these Lure Modules to attract trainers. Lure Modules cost coins, and that means these businesses are actually spending money in Pokemon Go to bring players in to their stores. That right there is the largest implication for this Pokemon Go ‘AR’ experience and a big reason Nintendo’s stocks are up. This ‘experience’ is bigger than just those of us playing to catch Pokemon.

Careful out there, Trainers!

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Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go is all the craze lately. People everyone are playing. People who would never have even thought to play a Pokemon game are walking the streets hunting for Pokemon. I was at work and looked out the window down to the street and sure enough this lady was catching Pokemon. How do you know if someone is playing? Just watch. They’ll act really odd, aiming their phone around, spinning in circle, then suddenly stopping for no apparent reason to interact with their phone.

I went Pokemon hunting yesterday. I was on my way to a wedding with a little time to kill so my wife and I stopped off at the mall (Irvine Spectrum for people who know the area) when suddenly a wild Zubat appeared! I chased it into a Target. Then I had to take a detour into a jewelry store to catch an Ekans. Pics or it didn’t happen? Sure.

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Throughout the mall I caught a dozen or so others. I went into a Sur la Table and found a Pidgey fluttering around some spatulas. Then wild Ratata appeared at the Starbucks, and a Crabby was just chillin on some lady’s purse. I had to stop and aim my phone at her — not awkward at all.

I saw several other people catching Pokemon around me. One guy in a Curse gaming shirt was having a grand ole time, and these two teenagers were running around clearly chasing Pokemon.

PokeStop Local Business

Brilliant marketing gimmicks.

An interesting feature are the PokeStops. Real world ‘places of interest’ are turned into PokeStops, or places that you can visit to get bonuses like PokeBalls. These have so far been everything from the water fountain at the mall to the tile art on the archway in my complex. The more populated the area, the more PokeStops — it’s like they want people to see you playing or something. ::Looks around nervously::

I’m more of a closet Poke Trainer… I get all shy and embarassed aiming my phone around. Bri gets excited and starts shouting “THERE’S ONE! CATCH IT!” and I’m like “SHHH” and I hide my phone and start examining the basting brushes like nothing is going on.

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Pokemon Go lacks the “game” element for me. It’s a neat gimmick to use your phone camera to see pokemon in the world, but just flicking pokeballs and having it be nothing more than ‘collect’em all’ gets old. I want to battle them. I want to level them up. I want to do more of the actual Pokemon game. I get it — that’s not what Pokemon Go is about. Pokemon go is about getting random people out catching Pokemon

By the end of the afternoon I had walked just over three miles finding Pokemon. I’m already a bit bored with the whole experience. Come to think of it, that’s what Pokemon Go is all about. It’s not a game. It’s an experience. It’s a fun social experiment to see how new ways of engaging people beyond the usual gamer can catch on. Give it a shot — it’s free. Just don’t let your kids walk into the middle of the street chasing after a Pikachu.

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Pokemon Shuffle Review & Pokemon Go Preview

The world of “mobile” gaming is surely evolving (accidental pun intended) as the gamer demographic expands. Mobile gaming used to be my brother and I playing our Gameboys in the backseat of the car during family vacations. Mobile gaming used to be restricted to the few who owned handheld systems. Now, mobile gaming is done on just about every device in our pockets or on our wrists.

The Pokemon Company has dabbled recently into how their namesake can be implemented onto other devices. Previously, Pokemon as a video game was a Nintendo handheld gaming franchise. Then, it lightly expanded into guest appearances in other games and occasionally a few standalone console titles. Now, Pokemon is being taken to the masses on mobile games.

You might recall that Nintendo partnered with DeNa back in March of this year to start bringing games to smartphones and other devices. So far we havent’ seen anything come from this partnership, at least not that I am aware of anyway, but we have seen Pokemon begin its journey into the mobile space much more aggressively in the past few weeks. I attribute most of this to how Pokemon is owned partially by three main companies: Nintendo (33%), Gamefreak (33%), The Pokemon Company (33%-2% or so to some anima people). I think I saw that Nintendo owns 54% of Gamefreak, therefore putting Nintendo technically in big control, but it just gets too complicated. Suffice it to say, Pokemon gets around.

Let’s first take a look at the just announced Pokemon Go.

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Sensationalized in every imaginable way. Obviously the city of New York will not band together to defeat Mewtwo, and Blastoise won’t be making waves in any major bodies of water. You won’t see these things in real life, and you won’t throw or even mimic throwing anything to catch a Pokemon. This will all take place on the phone, maybe utilize the camera, but at best still be a digital experience.

Pokemon Go Plus Watch

Wearing this bluetooth device will alert you when there’s action happening in your area.

The point they’re trying to get across in this video is that Pokemon can transcend a game you play on a device where you control a trainer. YOU can become the trainer. YOU can set out on the adventure. Just a few problems with that…

I don’t want to go out and adventure. I’m simply not going to bust out my phone and geolocate Pokemon. I’d rather sit at home in the air conditioning and explore a fantasy world.

Gamers — specifically Pokemon gamers — aren’t into traversing mountains, seeking out vistas, or exploring the world. They are definitely (especially in Asia) into the whole street pass thing where people carry their system around with them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a group of Japanese tourists at Disneyland all playing on their 3DS while waiting in line for rides. That’s a far cry from seeking out the experience of hunting pokemon by traveling to different locations. Continue reading

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.

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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.

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