Thursday, November 28, 2013

Over Rock and Under Tree

The road to Anistar City, and surely my next disappointingly easy gym battle, took me through an ice cave called the "Frost Cave" and over a snowy mountain that was most likely called "Snowy Mountain".
I do have to admit that I love exploring all the dungeons in this game--and ice caves are a kind of guilty pleasure of mine.  Of course they all end up having that one predictable sliding-on-the-ice minigame, but I actually like that one (see also: Conveyer Belt minigame.  But fuck you, teleporter game).

The reason I was rerouted into the Frost Cavern is because the only other way East is through a snowy path in the mountains that can only be crossed by riding on the back of a Mamoswine.  Very Cool.  Apparently the Mamoswine in question was feeling down in the dumps and the only way I could make him feel better was to go through the Frost Cavern.  Very Uncool.

Frost Cavern was full of interesting Ice pokemon, including a new pokemon called Bergmite whom I caught easily--and at the end, the big revelation was that Team Flare was behind the whole mess! >GASP<

Apparently Team Flare was picking on a resident Abomasnow (most likely for being a stupid Sesame Street muppet) and I had to fight them off to make the Abomasnow feel better--and therefore to make the Mamoswine feel better.

After I made the Abomasnow feel better, it gave me "Abomasnowite" (which I assume mega-evolves Abomasnow) and I made my way East on the back of a Mamoswine.  Along the way, "Scrappy" the Scraggy evolved into "Scrappy" the Scrafty.

Current Squad:

On Rotation: Gardevoir, Pikachu, Lucario, Skrelp

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Adding Phantump to the Creepy List...

Not much has occurred in my game since I stopped Team Flare from stealing the pokeballs and then stopped myself from making an obvious "balls joke" about it.  I think this is just because I have been screwing around again, this time with my new super rod (as well as spending several evenings trying to catch an Electrode before it self-destructs).  The route East took me through a busted-down building and a very vertical, very creepy grasslands full of weird grass/ghost pokemon. 

Along the way, Frogadier evolved into Greninja, who is absolutely awesome.  For the first time since pokemon Sapphire version, I haven't had to try to convince myself that I like a starter pokemon.  And yes, since I love pokemon Sapphire so much, I will go marry it...

The previously mentioned grass/ghost type in question is a new pokemon called Phantump.
Phantump continues the pokemon "tradition" of having at least one pokemon with a ridiculously creepy or macabre pokedex entry:
>Phantump - Stump Pokemon: According to old tales, these pokemon are stumps possessed by the spirits of children who died while lost in the forest.

This reminded me of a few other creepy pokedex entries:
>Gengar - Shadow Pokemon: To steal the life of its target, it slips into the prey’s shadow and silently waits for an opportunity. 
>Drifloon - Balloon Pokemon: It tugs on the hands of children to steal them away. It is whispered that any child who mistakes Drifloon for a balloon and holds on to it could wind up missing.
>Cubone - Lonely Pokemon: The stains on the skull it wears are from its tears. It wears its mother’s skull, never revealing its true face. 
>Banette - Puppet Pokemon: This Pokémon was originally a pitiful plush doll that was thrown away. It seeks the child that disowned it. 
>Yamask - Spirit Pokemon: These Pokémon arose from the spirits of people interred in graves in past ages. Each retains memories of its former life. Each of them carries a mask that used to be its face when it was human. Sometimes they look at it and cry.
>Kadabra - Psi Pokemon: It happened one morning - a boy with extrasensory powers awoke in bed transformed into Kadabra.
>Drowzee - Hypnosis Pokemon: If your nose becomes itchy while you are sleeping, it's a sure sign that a Drowzee is standing above your pillow and trying to eat your dream through your nostrils.
>Cacturne - Scarecrow Pokemon:  If a traveler is going through a desert in the thick of night, Cacturne will follow in a ragtag group. The Pokémon are biding their time, waiting for the traveler to tire and become incapable of moving.

And this just scratches the surface...

Current Squad:

On Rotation: Gardevoir, Pikachu, Lucario, Scraggy

Friday, November 22, 2013

Stealing all the Pokeballs!

The next stop on what has become less of a pokemon gym challenge and more of a pokemon gym sight-seeing tour (there should really be a "Hard" mode) was the Pokeball Factory to the north of town.  I had already scouted this area before my gym battle, so I knew that Team Flare would be there and since they were blocking access to route 15 I knew I had to take them out of town.
One of the things I really liked about Pokemon Red was that when Team Rocket takes-over Saffron City, you aren't forced to fight them right away.  As a matter of fact, you could go ahead and complete much of the rest of the game and come back to deal with them near the end.  Alternatively, you can fight them right after getting the Pokeflute and gather the sixth gym badge (Sabrina's badge) out of order--earlier than the fifth (Koga's) badge (something I only recently realized is atypical of first time Pokemon Red players).

Pokemon White and, to a lesser extent, Pokemon Y have a real problem with giving the player any control over their own journey.  They are like the overprotective parent who keeps a too-close watch over what their kid is doing, "No, no, no, you can't be going in the sandox now...You just ate, so no going near the pool...Wouldn't it be so much nicer to play ball here where I can see you?"  I think Pokemon Red is like a parent who tells you what you can't do and lets you go free and Pokemon WhYte is the one that tells you what you can do--and the difference is night-and-day.
Team Flare had taken-over the pokeball factory in order to steal all the pokeballs.  I actually think this is a pretty good move on their part--if they are the only ones with pokeballs then they can either control who gets pokemon or they could get rich while controlling who gets pokemon.  Either way, they control who gets pokemon.

I find it funny how they were the bad guys for stealing all the pokeballs, but that I was the good guy even though I picked up what is most likely an equal amount of pokeball loot from items on the factory floor.  It's not stealing if you found it, right?  Or perhaps it's the universal gaming law of "finders-keepers".

Scrappy is having some trouble these days, so I'm hoping that he will evolve soon.

Current Team:

On Rotation: Gardevoir, Pikachu, Lucario, Scrappy

The Fairy Gymleader Valerie

Laverre City is home to the Sixth Pokemon gym: A fairy-type gym led by Gymleader Valerie.  I have really been less than diligent about exploring this new fairy type, but I do know a few things: Poison type is super-effective against Fairies, and that Fairy attacks absolutely WRECK Scraggy.
I know that I could just look up the answers online, but I've come this far without looking crap up and I'm not going to ruin my streak.  Also I'm stubborn.  That means it's time to do some guesswork--just like I did before my battle with Jasmine in the Steel Gym of Olivine City way back in Pokemon Silver.  I had no clue what the steel type was weak against, so I lost plenty of times along the way, but afterwards, I definitely understood the steel type (fire and ground, got it).   Let's treat this as a learning experience...

Gymkiller Squad # 6: The Quick-Learning, Fairy-Eating Super-Squad

I chose my team such that I limited the amount of guesswork I would need--and I chose Pikachu specifically because I fear Azumarill (now water/fairy) more than I do clowns or dying alone.  The only Fairy Pokemon I'd seen up to this point had been Gardevoir, Mr. Mime, Dedenne, Azumarill, and Carbink, so I was a bit apprehensive about carrying too many water-types around with me out of fear of coming across that electric/fairy rat.  On the other hand, I wanted Venusaur with me so I could deal with the (later two) water and rock fairies.

Gymleader Valerie is every bit as weird as Gymleader Korrina, but her big thing is she wishes she was a pokemon, not a pokemon trainer.  I totally get what they're going for with this character, but I still think it's stupid.  Maybe if Valerie had put as much thought into her battling technique as she did into her wardrobe I wouldn't have destroyed her entire team with only Pikachu and Gardevoir.

Her squad consisted of Mawile, Mr. Mime, and Sylveon.  Sylveon is a new fairy-type evolution of Eevee.  There are about 30% too many ribbons and bows on that pokemon, if you ask me--and I really feel that this design is a missed opportunity to differentiate Fairy pokemon as magical beings rather than just cute ones.
The funny thing is that my low-level squad of misfits consistently defeats pokemon teams up to ten levels their greater.  I'm not sure if this is because I'm a genius or this game is too easy.  

Current Squad:

On Rotation: Lucario, Gardevoir, Pikachu, Scraggy

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Spooky Ghosties

Well, this honestly scared me a little bit.

As I was concluding my exploration of Lumiose City, I found myself in the Northern District at an inauspicious, unmarked building.  The first floor was populated by the typical fare: people who were all to eager to talk about their favorite pokemon Skitty or how using the item X Attack is a really good idea if you're in a pinch.

I took the elevator to the second floor and stepped into the room.  At this point, my 3DS screen went black and the formerly cheery music turned off.  When my 3DS turned back on, a Hex Maniac trainer (pictured above) appeared behind me in the elevator (I had no control over my character at this point) and floated around the room a bit before telling me that I "wasn't the one" and disappeared from the floor.  The regular music resumed and I couldn't find her anymore.

I think I pissed myself a bit.  (Link brings you to a youtube video of someone else going through the event--seriously click it, its pretty weird.)

Possibly related: I found another Hex Maniac in another Lumiose City building who told me to stop talking to her because she needed to be listening for the elevator...
I have been screwing around a lot more than usual for the past few days trying to catch and train up some interesting pokemon to fill up that pokedex.  Along the way, I was able to find a "Light Ball" for my Pikachu to hold (an item which doubles Pikachu's Special Attack and Attack stats), so I think egoraptor's Pikachu drawing applies to "PikaPi" at this point:
The Route North of Lumiose City leads through a bog full of interesting Water, Poison, and Water/Ground pokemon and I was able to catch Haunter, Quagsire, Skorupi, Carnivine, Poliwhirl, Barboach, as well as a weird new Dragon-type named Goomey.  While Haunter is in my list of top 10 pokemon, I am really quite content with the way my team looks right now.

Along the route, the Pokemon Thieves Gang met-up at a spooky Haunted House to listen to an old man tell a Ghost Story about some person being met by a horde of Slendermen (Slenderman's?), so Pokemon Y has now officially turned into a Survival Horror game.

As I made it into Laverre City, my Ivysaur evolved into Venusaur and Hippopotas evolved into Hippowdon.  The interesting thing, though, is that my Hippopotas evolved into a shiny Hippowdon, meaning that I am an idiot for not realizing that the Hippopotas that I caught just happened to be shiny this whole time.  This was the perfect end to a rather spooky gaming session.

Current Squad:

On Rotation: Pikachu, Gardevoir, Scraggy, Lucario

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dexter in the Eiffel Tower

I returned to Lumiose City via the Power Plant backdoor and was immediately led to the gym, which happened to be in the Eiffel Tower.  I kind of saw this coming due to all of the irony surrounding the city of lights losing its power, but it turns out that the Gymleader Clemont is an Electric User.  You may already be familiar with him, though, since he also played the part of Melvin from Sailor Moon.

His gym was a trivia gym--where you answer questions and battle trainers on the way up.  The problem is that after you start to climb you don't really have the option to leave--and since I have been screwing around with my team and raising eggs as I explore Lumiose City's Northern end, I found myself challenging the gym with a bunch of nothing and a Hippopotas.

Gymkiller Squad # 5: What the Hell is This Nonsense?
It turns out that there was really nothing to worry about since Hippopotas took me all the way to the gymleader and defeated all three of his pokemon: Emolga, Magneton, and Heliolisk.  While the former two were pokemon I expected him to carry, the new pokemon Heliolisk was a fun pokemon to battle.  Still didn't match-up to Hippopotas though.

The Electric Type is a strong attacking type with only one weakness--but the problem is that this weakness (ground type) completely walls it out.  With other types of pokemon, this is not a major issue because they can still use other moves to hit it for damage.  My Frogadier can still fight grass pokemon with "Thief", "Lick", or "Smack Down" (Dark, Ghost, Rock type, respectively) and my Aerodactyl has "Bite", "Aerial Ace", and "Ancient Power".  Most Electric pokemon, on the other hand, have very limited move-pools and really only get access to attacks that are either Electric or Normal-typed.  The result is that they take-on opponents like Hippopotas in the same way that a cabbage takes-on a sledgehammer.

In my exploration of Lumiose City, I found an Orange Julius and a restaurant that served food and triple pokemon battles  against their waiters and chefs.  The final course was a cheese course, "...our washed-rind cheese made using a female Arbok's Toxic poison" and a battle against a Simisage, Simisear, and Simpour.  Incidentally, my starting combination of Aerodactyl, Frogadier, and Pikachu seemed to be accidentally perfect for the entire gauntlet.

Current Squad:

On Rotation: Gardevoir, Pikachu, Hippopotas, Lucario

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Team Flare at the Power Plant

With my fourth badge in hand I decided to take a moment to analyze the motley crew I call a pokemon team.  I found that the only real weak link was Floette--who has failed me as a special wall and also as a special attacker/supporter--so I tossed her out.  Team down to 10!  Woo Woo!

At this point, I felt that I hadn't fulfilled my necessary time quota of fucking-around-while-between-gyms so I went fishing all over the world with my newly acquired Good Rod.  This is when I came across Skrelp, a new Poison/Water type pokemon, who I caught and added to the team.  Back to 11. Damn.

I may not have gone with this guy so quickly, but his pokedex entry says something about building power while waiting for his evolution.  This seemed fairly auspicious to me so I can't wait for the grand unveiling of his "true power".  I bet he evolves into Garchomp.

Aaaand speak of the devil, I just caught Gible


Route 13 is introduced as the "Badlands" and rightly so: it is a desert inhabited by Dugtrio, Gible, and Trapinch who actually burrow around underground towards you whenever you walk around in the sand.  After catching all of these ground types and trying to figure out if Dugtrio's pink mouth is actually a pink nose, I found a Team Flare member hanging-out near the Power-Plant.  He didn't outright TELL me where the Power Plant key was hidden, but be definitely sent me in the right direction if you know what I mean...
I expected the Power Plant to be a puzzle dungeon, possibly like the Mahogany Town Team Rocket base from Silver version--a maze-like structure with electrode traps running generators.  Instead, it was a gauntlet of 10 Team Flare members exclusively carrying Golbat and Houndoom (okay, maybe there was a scraggy in there somewhere too).  PikaPi keps getting itself knocked-out after causing massive damage on turn one, so my high-risk, high rewards strategy-thingie is safe, but he learned Thunderbolt recently so we'll see how much longer I wait to evolve him into Raichu.

The battle with the two Team Flare Admins went by without a problem and for my efforts, Kirlia evolved into Gardevoir.  After the match, Team Flare disappeared from the Plant, and somehow this magically turned the lights back on in Lumiose City, which is nice since it allows me to return to that mess of a city, but the implication is that the mere presence of Team Flare ruins technology.  An odd take on the villain dynamic: are they villains because they like to be the bad guys or are they villains because no one ever invites them to their birthday parties because they don't want the lights to turn off?

Current Squad:

On Rotation: Gardevoir, Pikachu, Hippopotas, Lucario

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ben Builds a Grass Gym

I got ready for my gym battle by depositing Ivysaur and bringing-in Kirlia again.  Ivysaur's current role in my squad is as a support/stall-er and he would be walled-out by a strong grass type.

Gymkiller Squad #4: The Lawnmowers
So, I entered the gym to challenge Ramos for my fourth badge...

And I came right back out about 5 minutes later after earning it...huh...that was WAY too easy...

I feel that this time around, the game-designers forgot how to make decent gym challenges, and the proof of this can be found in Ramos' pokemon selection.  His squad lacked focus and coherence--and failed to capitalize on any of the strengths of a Grass-Typed Pokemon.
Ramos' problems all stemmed from him using Grass types to try overpower me rather than outsmart me.  You see, the grass type is not a pure might type.  Ground, Rock, and Steel Types are the physical defensive types, the Psychic type is typically made up of strong special attackers, Fighting pokemon are generally strong physical attackers, but the Grass and Poison types are mostly meant to be tricky stalling or support pokemon.  For evidence, just look at all the grass pokemon out there--the only pokemon that are straight-up attackers that I can think of off the top of my head are Sceptile, Roserade, and Torterra.  Oh, and Breloom, but I am STILL trying to forget about Breloom...too many nightmares...

Even among these we see a lot of chicanery coming in--Breloom is only really threatening with leech seed and spore, which are moves meant to harass you, not beat you outright. 

Ramos was running a Jumpluff that kept attacking with Acrobatics, a Weepinbell who used Acid (heh, heh), and a Gogoat who kept trying to use Take-Down.  This made the fight easy since these grass types are known for neither their strength nor their resilience. 

On the other hand, I recall Erika from Pokemon Red--now that fight was DAMN annoying.  Case and Point: Victreebel with Sleep powder and Wrap ("Victreebel's attack continues...Victreebel's attack continues!"  I still have nightmares about this). 

You can't run a successful grass gym that ignores all the strengths of the grass type: status effects, Growth, health recovery, and other chicanery.

So, I will now adjust Ramos' team to be a REAL grass gym.

Have him lead with Jumpluff as before, but have that Jumpluff run Leech Seed, Poisonpowder, Sleep Powder, and Mega Drain.  This makes it a good harassing lead--status effects, health re-absorption, and all going off Jumpluff's admirable speed stat.  Plus, it is not overpowered since, well, since it's Jumpluff and the only thing Jumpluff fears more than fire is a soft breeze or a Ratatta's Tail Whip or really anything in the world at all.

Next, keep Weepinbell...actually, evolve it into Victreebel...Erika was the fourth gym too and if she
can have a Victreebel, so can Ramos.  Have Victreebel focus less on attacking and more on harassing--give it Stun Spore, Stockpile, Grass Knot, and Acid (if you're so damn attached to the Acid anyways).

Finally, Gogoat is dumb--I know we want to include one of the new guys, but I think someone like Roserade or Leafeon (if you're feeling spicy) would fit best here.  The last one on the Grass Team is the cleaner: while the previous two pokemon are meant to wear teams down, this guy is supposed to finish-off the job. 

A gymleader is meant to yield to a trainer of sufficient skill--but only if they possess the skills necessary to move on.  After battling Ramos I didn't really feel that I had learned anything new since Korrina, I just felt disappointed...and a little bit hungry.

Current Squad:

On Rotation: Kirlia, Hippopotas, Pikachu, Lucario

Surfin' Route 12

What a hugely powerful pokemon.  A bit over-designed though, what is the deal with adding ridiculous amounts of spikes to a pokemon and calling it a day these days?

 I am actually worried if I just beat the game already.  If the Mega-Evolution Guru is to be believed, I am the only Mega-Evolution user (the Mega-Evolution Descendent or something dumb like that) and as a result, Mega-Aerodactyl is going to go on a rampage throughout this game. 

What is more is that I have already found items called "Venusaurite" and "Ampharosite".  I think I should just be given the game-winning trophy now, as Mega-Aerodactyl is just a monster...and Mega-Venusaur?  I can't even...

The road to Courmaline City was long and hard (heh, heh), but started, as all difficult journeys do, with a ray of sunshine:  A trainer gave me his Lapras as a gift (happy days!).  After this, I was able to test out my brand new HM: Surf on a huge expanse of water and ended-up in an area called "Sea-Spirit's Den". 

Seems I got my hopes up too easily though because the Sea-Spirit's Den was a single-room cave with nothing at all in it--no pokemon, no hidden items, nothing.  This actually reminded me of a similar room I stumbled upon while I was lost in the Reflecting Cave--a big room where you would normally find something like a Lugia or an Articuno.  Needless to say this will be an important site...later...Probably going to be where some Water-legendary is going to be found (since we know Nintendo just loves throwing around the legendaries in their recent games).

After quite the journey, I found myself in Courmaline City, which, apparently, is right next door to a power-plant--a fact that every person in the town was quick to remind me of while musing about how someone should go and check it out since there is no power in Paris--erhm--Lumiose City.  I've been out of Lumiose City for at least two weeks--and no one's even checked to see if the lights are still on in the Power Plant?

My rival Serena told me to meet her in front of the gym for a battle (incidentally, it was a grass-type gym)--and since I was ready this time, I took my Flareon and burned her sorry Quilladin to the ground.  Revenge was so sweet.

Current Squad:

On Rotation: Kirlia, Pikachu, Hippopotas, Lucario

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Mega-Evolution Descendent

After I swept her team with Scarydactyl, Korrina told me she would like a true battle with me as two Mega-Evolution users and ran off to the Tower of Mastery.  I ignored the fact that I have already beaten her twice (I mean, how many times do I have to prove myself anyways?) and instead focused on something she called herself, "Mega-Evolution Descendent" or something like that.

I made my way to the Tower of Lucario to fight her for our re-rematch and the Mega-Evolution Guru--erhm, Steve--told me she was the Mega-Evolution Successor and that she was upstairs.  What the hell does that mean?  Mega-Evolution Successor?  Those words mean nothing together!

I found Korrina at the top and she gave me the special snap-on, bejeweled Mega bracelet which would allow me to evolve my pokemon.  There, one of the two Lucarios (which, to me, sounds like a delicious breakfast cereal) she had with her asked her if it could battle her on my side.  Mutiny! Hahaha!

So I entered-into a battle against Korrina with her Level 32 Lucario--and I got my first taste of Mega-Evolution.  The way it works is if you have the special Livestrong Mega Bracelet on and your pokemon is holding a special stone (in this case it was called Lucarionite), you can choose an option to Mega-Evolve before your attack from the battle screen.

Of course I chose to test this out, evolving Lucario into Mega-Lucario.  After transforming, Lucario's stats in Attack, Special Attack, and Speed increased by 1.5x.  His ability changed to "Adaptability" which changes the Same Type as Attack Bonus (STAB) from 1.5x to 2.0x (fighting and steel attacks increased in power).  Finally, he changed his appearance by changing the color of his paws.  It's these big changes that are the ones that count I guess.

After the battle (which ended in exactly two turns) I got to keep the Lucario, who I named "Knives" and stuck in the box until the rest of my team gained enough levels to use him.  Hopefully by then I will know what to do about the 11 pokemon in my team!

Wait a second!  FLASHBACK...
Two Weeks Earlier...
I've got to go try this out.

Current Squad:

On Rotation: Kirlia, Pikachu, Hippopotas, Lucario