Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Vs. Kahuna Hala

Prepared with the knowledge that I would be battling a Fighting Pokemon master, I assembled my most reliable squamates for the task.

Battle Team 2: The Fighting Frenzies
Vs. Kahuna Hala

...and apparently I also brought Slowpoke along for some reason.

I was unsure of whether or not the team I had selected would be over or under leveled.  I prefer to keep the game on the challenging side, so I didn’t want to take in, for example, my level 17 Oricorio with Air Cutter.  Or-chan is a little bit too strong for what I anticipated the Kahuna’s pokemon would be—somewhere in the 16-17 range.

I approached him back at Route 1 on the Melemele outskirts.  As a matter of fact, our battle arena was the very same stage where I had fought his grandson Hau and his Litten at the festival of our Lord and Savior the Kamen Rider Space blah blah Tapu Koko.  Indeed, it was the very stage where I had met and befriended Pako Pako.

With a weird sort of nostalgia coursing through my thoughts, I started the match.

Trumbeak vs. Mankey is the sort of battle that normally wouldn’t get even a footnote in any battling tactics analysis.  Even if Mankey is the same level as Trumbeak, level 14 in this case, it just plain can’t compete.  Trumbeak took one hard Karate Chop critical hit, but held on to defeat both Mankey and Hala’s second Pokemon Makuhita.

The Makuhita was able to weaken my lead, Pip Pip, to identically 1 HP, but Kahuna Hala now only had one pokemon left compared to my five remaining healthy switch-ins.  For the future, I need to remember to only bring in three pokemon per gym match to make it a fairer fight.

His third pokemon was a Crabrawler.  It knew the Fighting Z-Move “All Out Pummeling”.  Unfortunately for the Kahuna, Crabrawler wasted this move immediately against my 1 HP Trumbeak in the most spectacular sort of overkill that I have ever seen.  The animation for this move is insane and over the top and to see it strip off exactly one point of health made me make a ridiculous squeaking noise.

After I lost Trumbeak, I sent in Pokey for an admittedly boring exchange of Yawns and Confusions.  I won the match four turns later.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Red Card Trainer

I'm on my way towards my first Grand Trial.  This will be my first major certification.  With the Verdant Cave Challenge completed, I will be allowed to battle the Melemele Island Kahuna, Kahuna Hala.  This is the very same person who gave me my Popplio at the start of the adventure.  Apparently he uses Fighting Pokemon: I've already started considering the team that I will be bringing into battle with him.

I couldn't get very far down the Seaward Cave path (it was full of Zubat and Diglett anyways), so I resigned myself to recovering Nebby as I was originally asked to do about two thousand hours of playtime ago.  Along the way, I caught another new favorite pokemon of mine, Crabrawler.
I knew from the first time I saw him that this pokemon would make my short list of new "bests".  It's obviously based on the coconut crab--one of the largest currently extant terrestrial arthropods.

As a matter of fact, I just looked it up: it is the largest.

This is a creature known for its huge size and tough shell; it lives its entire life on land.  Indeed, it would be at risk of drowning if it were ever completely immersed in sea water.  While the creature varies in colour and size, it is often identified by its deep hues of blue and purple.  It's easily one of my favorite animals.  Well, one of my favorites that isn't a bird...because I have a weird thing for birds.

Crabrawler is a pure Fighting-type pokemon.  I'm glad that it isn't Fighting/Water.  I can already hear the legions of kids that are right now encountering this pokemon and thinking "Hey it's a crab, why isn't it a water pokemon?"

Hopefully (and this is a stretch) these same kids will look up this critter and learn a little something along the way.  And then they all become Biologists and grow up supporting the sciences.

Sorry, lost my train of thought.  At any rate, I let Rattata retire to that great dusty box slot in the sky in order to welcome my new friend.
On my way back to the Kahuna, I fought my rival, Hau.  This time he had Pikachu and Litten.  After the match, I allowed Rai Rai to evolve into Pikachu and Pip Pip into Trumbeak.  I really like Trumbeak.  Yes, the design is cute, but the real reason I like it is because it does this silly cartoon thing in one of its idle animations wherein it purses its lips and makes like it's blowing a raspberry.  Fucking hilarious.

In Pokemon Sun and Moon, there are Ace Trainers scattered around the Alola Region who specialize in using specific items from the competitive scene.  Once I had defeated all the trainers on Route 3, the Ace Trainer there agreed to battle me.  He used Rockruff and Slowpoke and they each held an item called Red Card.  I have battled competitively in the recent past, but I haven't actually ever come across this item, so this was a pretty good learning experience for me.  Red Card apparently forces your opponent to switch out their pokemon for a random replacement if they target you with a super-effective move.

And I fell for it every clit-rubbing time.

I did manage to defeat the Ace Trainer in the end (his Slowpoke actually made this a fairly tough match with all the yawn-ing it was doing) and got, as my reward, my own Red Card.

File that under "save for later".

Current Squad:
Popplio/Pako Pako/lvl 16
Crabrawler/Ppunches/lvl 13
Trumbeak/Pip Pip/lvl 14
Pikachu/Rai Rai/lvl 14
Misdreavus/Missy/lvl 14
Growlithe/Growlie/lvl 14

On Rotation:
Oricorio/Ori-Chan/lvl 17
Grimer/Sludj/lvl 13
Slowpoke/Pokey/lvl 14
Yungoos/Chompy/lvl 13

Pokedex: 40 caught

Friday, November 25, 2016

Ally Pokemon: An Assessment

Ever since my battle with Raticate, I have been encountering wild pokemon which call upon other pokemon of their kind for assistance in battle.  I'm still not exactly sure about how I feel about this.

The way it works is that if you sufficiently injure a wild pokemon, it may call for help.  This means that the pokemon could be joined in battle by another of that pokemon or by a similar pokemon.  Oricorio are joined by other Oricorio, Pichu are joined by other Pichu or Pikachu.  Whether or not that call is answered is based on probability (I still do not know the statistical likelihood of another pokemon appearing), but the result usually seems to be that my pokemon is now battling two opponents.

On the one hand, I like the extra challenge that wild battles now pose.  There really is no easy match because unless you can reliably remove an opponent from play, you're in for a surprise once its HP falls below 50%.  It makes the game more challenging (haven't I always said I wanted a "hard mode"?).  It also gives wild matches a perilous quality.  Remember how, waaaaaay back in Red version in Gen 1, Professor Oak said "it's dangerous to go into wild grass?"  Well here is the fulfillment of that promise.  It makes sense in the canon of the game series.

On the other hand, it makes it fucking impossible to catch a pokemon.

When there are multiple opponents on the field, you aren't allowed to toss pokeballs.  I'm sure you can see how clitting frustrating this makes captures.  When trying to catch Delibird--a pokemon I just wanted for my pokedex--I was accosted by several different pokemon all whilst failing my captures.  Weaken delibird, second delibird appears, KO delibird, delibird appears, KO delibird, toss pokeball, fail, delibird appears, KO delibird, toss pokeball, fail, delibird appears, KO FUCKING DELIBIRD, TOSS POKEBALL AND FAIL, FUCKING DELIBIRD APPEARS.


I really don't know what the solution would be other than to allow one to toss a pokeball when two pokemon are on the field.


Actually, that is perfect--it fixes the entire system.  Why couldn't they think of that?!

Ignoring the Mission

This same thing happened around this time in my last playthrough: Y version.  Because I'm trying to be a Pokemon Master and not just a Pokemon Trainer, it is important to me to seek out and find new pokemon.  As Blue says, "While I was out working on my Pokedex, I searched everywhere for strong pokemon.  I specifically looked for those teams that could beat any pokemon type--and now I'm standing right here at the top of the pokemon league."  I always did relate most to Blue.  Probably because I'm an incredible genius.  See also: arrogance.

I was able to get Machop by trading off one of my Spearow.  I was also able to grab an evolution of one of the pokemon favorites I used in my competitive days: Vullaby.  I caught an Alola Diglett (a Ground/Steel type in this form), as well as Mankey, Delibird, and the Bug/Fairy pokemon Cutiefly.

What I'm supposed to be doing is helping Ilima and the Professor Kukui find the Office Supplies Bandit.  Her Purple Puffball, "Nebby" has gone missing again.  I wonder how long this will serve as all-purpose filler material for this game.

I passed over a rocky mountainside and found the most magical meadow I have ever seen.  It was in this meadow that I made my next major capture.

The pokemon is called Oricorio and apparently its form changes depending on what flower nectar it has most recently eaten.  This one looked a lot like a cheerleader, so I named it Ori-Chan.  It's an electric/flying pokemon and I might alternate it with Pichu on my team.  Pichu has started having trouble and I want it to take a less involved role--at least until I can find a Thunderstone so that I could evolve it directly into Raichu.

I suppose I should get back to this task...right after I capture this Petilil.

Current Squad:
Popplio/Pako Pako/lvl 15
Yungoos/Chompy/lvl 13
Pikipek/Pip Pip/lvl 13
Pichu/Rai Rai/lvl 13
Misdreavus/Missy/lvl 13
Growlithe/Growlie/lvl 14
On Rotation:
Oricorio/Ori-Chan/lvl 17
Grimer/Sludj/lvl 12
Slowpoke/Pokey/lvl 14
Rattata/Snackers/lvl 14
Pokedex: 37 caught

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Z-Moves: An Assessment

The big thing for this generation is Z-Moves.  In continuity, these are explained as moves that come from the Island culture.  These are, at least superficially, derived from the Haka--traditional war dances of the native New Zealand peoples.  I may be drawing inappropriate comparisons since my knowledge of the culture of these admittedly separate cultures (Hawaii and New Zealand) is lacking (to say the least), but there is some precedent there.

In the game, it is explained that a trainer's challenge, when coupled with the power-boosting attributes of different Z-Crystals, unlocks a pokemon's inner strength and unleashes this ultra-powerful Z-move.  One Z-move allowed per match.

Mechanically, this means that a pokemon needs to be holding the Z-Crystal as an item (removing its ability to hold other items).  Furthermore, there is a different Z-crystal for each type and that the pokemon needs to know a corresponding move of that same type.  For example, a pokemon needs to know Quick Attack, Tackle, or Hyper Fang (etc) to use the normal-type Z-move "Breakneck Blitz".

Mega Evolutions are conspicuously absent in this game.  Since Mega Evolutions are a Kalos-specific phenomenon that draw their power from the crystal at Anistar City sundial, it makes sense that there would be little emphasis on Mega Evolution in this game.  I like that the games are at least consistent with the differing internal mechanics and I'm curious about both how the Z-moves will be used in upcoming trials in this game as well as how they will be used in the competitive scene.

Vs. Raticate

Previously on Ben's Spectacular Pokemon White Y Moon Playthrough:

Totem Pokemon are powerful guardians of Trial locations.  There is a Totem for each Trial.  The Raticate boss in charge of the Verdant Cave Shrine was trained and set there with one goal: stop the Trial Challengers.  But I have the advantage here: I'm not a Trial Challenger, I'm a veteran Pokemon Trainer.

Vs. Raticate: Young Balance
I started by sending out Growlithe as a scout.  Knowing that Raticate is a Dark/Normal type in this game, I wanted to save Pip Pip for later on in the engagement as my ace.  Pikipek has a fighting move in Rock Smash (something that makes me curious about what kind of pokemon it will eventually evolve into), which would do x4 damage against the opponent.  Raticate immediately powered-up by boosting its defense.  Totems apparently have this extra ability.

First turn: Raticate Bites Growlie, who flinches.  The end of the turn finds Growlithe injured and Raticate untouched.  And then Raticate summoned help: Rattata appeared on the battlefield to assist the Totem.  This two-against-one match was easily enough to overwhelm Growlithe, Pikipek, and Popplio; all of whom failed to move because of flinch.  Both of my opponents were fast--much faster than my more methodical teammates--and I was taking two attacks per turn.  I was outnumbered and outperformed. 

Trusting in my instincts and relying on the Pokemon knowledge I had accrued over a lifetime of battle experience, I reassessed the situation.  I only had three pokemon left; one of them, Misdreavus, would not be able to cause any damage at all to the Dark/Normal opponents with their Psychic and Ghost moves.  What do I do when it's time to call defeat?  I stall.

Knowing exactly what I had left--a long shot against the barely damaged duo--I sent out Grimer.  Grimer, with its superior defenses, would be able to tank the two pokemons' physical moves; Grimer would resist "Bite".  And finally, Grimer had one more trick up its goopy, goopy sleeves: I used Poison Gas--successfully poisoning both opponents.

Raticate must have anticipated exactly this possibility, because it was holding a Pecha Berry which immediately cured it of its poisoning.  One turn later, I re-applied the move and succeeded in poisoning the pokemon, but not without great cost to myself.  Grimer could be gone in two turns--turns I didn't have.

I used Harden.  I took damage.  I used Harden.  I took damage.  I was prolonging the inevitable, but each turn I could keep my pokemon alive was one more turn towards my opponents' defeat.  Poison damage had severely weakened the Rattata.  Knowing that Grimer had done its job, I spent the last turn aiming a futile "Pound" attack at the Raticate.  Rattata took out my Grimer before it could even move.  It was the last thing my foe did before it fell due to poison.

It was now Chompy vs. Raticate.  Raticate was wounded--but Raticate was faster.  Almost there!!!

Turn 1: "Bite" exchanged for "Tackle".  Turn 2: "Bite" exchanged for "Tackle".


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Verdant Cave Trial

I regrouped with Trial Captain Ilima at the mouth of the Verdant Cave.  Ilima warned me that I would not be able to quit my challenge once I began, so I made sure to choose a balanced and worthy team for the ordeal.
Battle Team 1

The Verdant Cave Trial was a challenge to defeat the three Rattata guardians of the cave and then retrieve the Z Crystal in the inner sanctum.  Normally an easy task, I could not have anticipated that each of my foes would have a powerful move that would exceed their level.  The first Rattata had Hyper Fang at level 11; the second had Super Fang at that same level; the third Rattata was actually a Raticate.  Since all of my pokemon were around level 11 and one was completely useless (Misdreavus only knows Psychic and Ghost moves--which the dark/normal type Alola Rattata are immune to), I had to rely on Sludj the Grimer to stall them out until they succumb to poison damage.
Team Skull showed up along the way and it's official: they're my favorite villainous gang ever.  They're funny.  I know when this game series tries to do humor, they tend to fall somewhere between "they mostly live in Minnesota" and "I'll use my frying pan as a drying pan", so for me to say this means something.

Having defeated all three guardians, I made my way into the inner Sanctum.

"Raticate, the totem pokemon of Verdant Cave, has appeared."

Paralyzed by Choice (and by Thundershock)

Room full of Delibirds...nothing suspicious here.
And now I have Growlithe and it's time to fix up my team.  My first instinct is to remove either Rattata or Yungoos because they each perform the same basic role: kinda quick normal-type attacker. Whenever I get close to deciding between one of them, I see how dang cute they both are and I can't help but second guess myself.

Let's see who I have right now.  Popplio, Pichu, Pikipek, Misdreavus--those have to stay because of how diverse they all are.  I also have Grimer, Slowpoke, Rattata, Yungoos, and Growlithe.  I need to get rid of one and I'm inclined to point to Rattata or Yungoos.  But then again, Slowpoke has never been anything but an annoyance for me.  The only thing that is stopping me from tossing the Dopey thing is that I fancy using a Slowking at some point...

Is it insane to use nine pokemon?  I may have to for the time being...
Pichu has recently learned Sweet Kiss, and if it were not for the move's unreliable accuracy, I would be abusing it a lot more.  Sweet Kiss has an accuracy of 75% and causes confusion.  One of my favorite maneuvers these days is to proc paralysis and then confusion.  This is a strategy called "Parafusion" and it has been around for quite a few generations of the game.  Paralyzed pokemon fail to attack 1/3 of the time and confused pokemon fail to move 1/2 of the time.  As a result of both of these, a pokemon that is both confused and paralyzed will only successfully attack once out-of-three turns.  This plus Pichu's "Charm" move (which harshly lowers an opponent's attack) makes Rai Rai a worthy, if a little weak, pokemon.  Chicanery and misdirection are my favorite strategies (part of the reason I fancy myself a "poison-type trainer"), and Pichu fits in juuuuust fine.

I made my way through Route 2 via a pokemon graveyard (spooky) and across a berry field.  There, I met Team Skull again.  It seems as though I'm just taking the Team Skull Alola sightseeing tour.

Another battle against Team Skull, another easy victory.  I hope things start to get difficult again at some point...

Current Squad:
Popplio/Pako Pako/lvl 11
Yungoos/Chompy/lvl 11
Pikipek/Pip Pip/lvl 11
Pichu/Rai Rai/lvl 11
Misdreavus/Missy/lvl 11
Growlithe/Growlie/lvl 10

On Rotation:
Grimer/Sludj/lvl 11
Slowpoke/Pokey/lvl 11
Rattata/Snackers/lvl 11
Pokedex: 23 caught

Captain Ilima: Dockside Rumble

I'm starting to really like this game.

The thing about X and Y that I liked the most was the abundance of different and interesting pokemon that were immediately available.  Whereas Black and White versions and Diamond and Pearl versions withheld these powerful, more interesting pokemon till late in the game (axew, gible, spiritomb, riolu, larvesta, deino, mienfoo, etc. etc.), X and Y kept a steady stream of new, great pokemon.  There was never a moment where I didn't want to shuffle around my team.  This same thing is happening now.

Since last time I posted, I have caught Makuhita, Drowzee, Smeargle, Gastly, and Misdreavus.  I almost caught an Abra, but it ran away.

I'm going to have to do some serious soul-searching to figure out what to do about my team...
After I beat Teacher Emily, Captain Ilima showed up and introduced him or herself to me.  I'm not exactly sure of this person's gender currently, so I think "him or her" will have to suffice for now.

Captain Ilima said I should train a little more before I take on the Island challenge.  This "captain" is apparently the first major leader in this game, and therefore my mortal enemy for the next eight hours of playtime.

Litten-Meistre and the Office Supplies Bandit escorted me to the next town over, Hau'oli City.  Hau'oli is apparently the largest city in Alola and the main reason why it has taken me so long to finally post something again.  It's no "Lumiose City", but it's no slouch either.  I spent much of the past two days exploring and buying new outfits for my character.

With my new blue polo shirt and a cool new haircut, I made my way to the docks.  There, I was beset-upon by Villian-of-the-Week "Team Skull".  Ilima was there and offered to me the explanation that Team Skull is a gang of idiots whose major convictions include "loitering" and "unpaid parking tickets".  As a matter of fact, when pressed, many of the residents of Hau'oli told me that they're something of a joke.  I like this turn of events--and to their credit, the makers of this game do a good job lamp shading them as plucky numskulls.  I'm curious about how this will all change in Act 2 when they reveal their diabolical plans to blahblahblah.

I helped Ilima defeat Team Skull and then challenged the captain himorherself.  Ilima used Yungoos and Smeargle.  Of course Smeargle knew the perfect moves to tear my team apart--and of course the captain had a healthy supply of potions and full heals on hand.

Ultimately, Pako-Pako came through with the big victory.  I'm trying not to rely too much on the adorable little pup, but that's where I am right now anyways.
I went back after the battle and managed to snag an Abra.

Current Squad:
Popplio/Pako Pako/lvl 11
Yungoos/Chompy/lvl 11
Pikipek/Pip Pip/lvl 11
Pichu/Rai Rai/lvl 11
Slowpoke/Pokey/lvl 11
Rattata/Snackers/lvl 11

On Rotation:
Grimer/Sludj/lvl 11
Misdreavus/Missy/lvl 11

Pokedex: 23 caught

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bottoms-Up Training

Next on my list of destinations was the Pokemon Trainer's School.  In my moments of level-headedness, I have found that I am becom

ing increasingly more worried that this is going to turn into the "Pokemon Sight-seeing Tour" given the density of unstoppable dialogues and cutscenes.  Hau (the  Litten trainer and grandson of the Melemele Kahuna) and Lillie haven't left my side for more than a few minutes so far this game and, while I admit that I'm still not exactly sure of what I should be doing on these Island challenges, I hope this game cuts out the handholding sooner rather than later.

And then, I catch something new and weird and I forget all about my doubts.

On my way to my first day of Pokemon school, I managed to bag Spinarak and Grubbin.  I like Grubbin (this little pinchers are precious) and its pokedex entry specifically discusses electric pokemon, but I opted to stick with my current lineup of six.  Slowpoke is currently the weak link considering its wide move pool of absolute garbage support moves (yawn, growl, and curse in addition to tackle), but I'm not quite ready to give it up.  It must learn headbutt soon...

At the Trainer's School, I was tasked with finding and battling four specially chosen trainers.  They used pokemon local to that specific area including Bonsly and Grimer (in its cool green and yellow Alola frome).  On the school grounds, I bagged my own Grimer and Magnemite.  I decided to give them my 7th and 8th team slots and put my rapidly growing Yungoos in the box for a spell.  I like using an eight-pokemon rotating squad, but I'm noticing an over-reliance on dark-type pokemon and moves.

Whilst I'm on the subject, the pokemon storage system has really been streamlined and improved.  I'm quite impressed with how it has been fixed up.  Moving pokemon, items, and selecting teams for battle is all done from the same menu now by toggling different options at the top of the screen, so rather than navigating into and out of different box modes from the PC startup screen, all you have to do is tap one button to switch from moving pokemon to moving held items.

It is the little things in this game that are really warming me up.  Like how trainers are visibly giving their pokemon orders in the background in battle. Or like how when you try to pet your Alola Grimer your hand gets stuck in its goopy goopiness.

"You mean"
After I took out the head student's Alola Grimer, a Poison/Dark type in this game, I was challenged by the teacher.  At this point, I realized what exactly I was up against.  Crew of underlings, boss battle at the end: I was basically up against my first gym leader.  Teacher Emily carried Magnemite and Alola Meowth, both of which were actually surprisingly tough.  At this point, I realized I really had no answer to steel/electric.  Joy.

Ultimately, I had to sacrifice two pokemon in order to debuff the magnetite enough that I could take it out with Grimer's STAB Bite.  Alola Meowth was a lot easier to defeat--after I realized it was Dark-type.
Newly graduated from Pokemon School, I was escorted to the next part of town by my two annoying friends: Hau the Litten trainer and Lillie the Office Supplies Bandit.  I immediately bactracked to the school when I realized I could snag my own Alola Meowth there.

Current Squad:
Popplio/Pako Pako/lvl 10
Yungoos/Chompy/lvl 9
Pikipek/Pip Pip/lvl 8
Pichu/Rai Rai/lvl 8
Slowpoke/Pokey/lvl 8
Rattata/Snackers/lvl 8

On Rotation:
Grimer/Sludj/lvl 8
Magnemite/Mags/lvl 8

Pokedex: 14 caught

Bye Bye Butterfree!

The next step was to make my way across Route 2 to meet the professor at his lab.  Professor Kukui likes to study pokemon moves, specifically.  I do like how each professor has their own specialty.  As I recall, Professor Sycamore (Pokemon X, Y) studied Mega Evolution and Professor Rowan (Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, Platinum) studied Pokemon Evolution.

On my way there, I managed to snag Wingull, Slowpoke, and the Alola from of Rattata.  I named them Gulliver, Pokey, and Snackers, respectively and added the later two to my party.  I waved "Alola" to Felix, my Butterfree-in-training in order to do this.  I'm always sad to see Butterfree go, but I've used Butterfree so much in my pokemon career, I don't feel too too bad about opening up that team slot for something weird and new.

For example, this cool, Dark-type Alola Rattata.

As an aside, I checked the pokedex entries of these pokemon and they revealed some cool information about the region.  Apparently, Alola Rattata work as mafia droogs for their Raticate boss and Slowpoketail is a popular dish in the Alola region, especially when dried and served in a salty stew.  I can't quite believe that the pokedex entry for my most recent pokemon catch is telling me how I should be cooking it.  I'm glad my Slowpoke's ability is "Oblivious" because those hungry looks I've been giving it might otherwise make training and taming it difficult...

Current Squad:

Popplio/Pako Pako/lvl 7
Yungoos/Chompy/lvl 7
Pikipek/Pip Pip/lvl 8
Pichu/Rai Rai/lvl 8
Slowpoke/Pokey/lvl 7
Rattata/Snackers/lvl 7

Pokedex: 9 caught

Friday, November 18, 2016

Because OBVIOUSLY Raichu

I'm actually kinda digging this pokemon care thing.  I know it's based on the Pokemon Amie thing from last game, but for some reason I have only just come on board with it.  Possibly this is because the pokemon animations have been improved.  Possibly it is because I have just caught Pichu and Yungoos and they're both so FUCKING cute that I can't stop petting them.

The next day (there are a lot of flash forwards in this game), I made my way through Route 1 to get to the "Feast of Our Lord and Savior: The Electric Space Warrior Kamen Rider" (I'm not sure how long this lame meme is going to last).  Along the way, I picked up the aforementioned Yungoos and Pichu.  I named Yungoos "Chompy" because of those adorable teeth and I named Pichu "Rai Rai" because FUCKING DUH, Raichu! I also managed to bag my other favorite pokemon Caterpie (well, it will get there anyways...) and my other other new favorite pokemon Pikipek.  I also caught Ledyba, but I'm not feeling that, sorrynotsorry.

At the festival, we decided to skip directly to the Liturgy of the Pokemon Battle and I fought my friendly rival Haku again.  I had fought him after I got Popplio.  I had defeated his Litten handily back then and I defeated his Pichu and Litten just as easily this time.

I was told that I should totally take on the Island Challenge.  Not like I have a choice or anything.  That's not why I bought the game or anything.  There are four islands and apparently 4 challenges to take on.  This honestly reminds me of the Orange Islands league from the Pokemon anime (season 2 in case you were wondering) and it's juuust fresh enough to bring me in.

I'm curious about what this actually means...

Current Squad:
Popplio/Pako Pako/lvl 7
Yungoos/Chompy/lvl 5
Pikipik/Pip Pip/lvl 6
Pichu/Rai Rai/lvl 6
Caterpie/Felix/lvl 5

Ledyba/Buckles/lvl 4

Pokedex: 6 caught

Choosing Pako Pako

Let me just say that this game has a LOT of cutscenes.  Professor Kukui met with me in my home and helped escort me to the next town over, Iki Town, to meet the Kahuna of the island Melemele there to get my first pokemon.  Whew, so many names of things!  Apparently, Kahuna are particularly strong trainers on each island, chosen by that island's totem guardian.  The totem of Melemele is apparently Electric Space Warrior Kamen Rider.

Naturally, the kahuna is suffering from "princess is in another castle syndrome" and I have to go off looking for him.  I stumbled across the "office supplies bandit" almost immediately, further proving my point that the introductory scene at Abstergo Industries was pointless.  Her pokemon is apparently purple puffball.

Purple puffball (probably a fairy type) is immediately attacked by a flock of spearows (and it's always spearow...the dicks...) and my character of course rushes to protect it.  I mean, that's kind of just what August does.  Anyways, bad goes to worse and I am eventually saved by the Electric Space Warrior Kamen Rider "Tapu Koko".  My total playtime right now is 30 minutes and it has all been cutscenes...

The Office Supplies Bandit is then revealed to be Professor Kukui's assistant Lillie and th Kahuna shows up because the plot called for it.

The pokemon choosing ceremony that followed was actually quite sweet.  You start the way one always does--by choosing the water type.  But after this, it involved your choice deciding whether or not to come to you.  The animators do a good job of showing the pokemon's initial indecision and eventual warm acceptance.  I used to volunteer at dog shelters and it's the same sort of look that the dogs would have when introduced to prospective new owners and it honestly made me tear up a little (I need a dog really badly).

I named my little Popplio "Pako Pako".  I can't believe I so quickly went from "grump" to "fangirl".

Current Squad:
Popplio/Pako Pako/lvl 5

The Beginning of "Pokemon Moon"

I've kind of always been of the opinion that if you're telling a story, you should start at the beginning.

Y'know...cause that's where the start is...

So here I am sitting with my pikachu coffee mug, my special Pokemon Blue Gamboy, Zappy the stuffed Minun, Rai Rai the stuffed Raichu, and all the Pikachus that I own (and I own many).
I light a candle and recline in my couch and boot up my game.  The way they cleverly mask the whole "what is your character's name" gag in this title is that they have it done vie filling out information for a passport.  Very clever, 'Moon.

Apparently your player character is moving to the Alola Region from Kanto (YAY!) and the Professor Kukui is "excited to welcome [you] and finally meet you in person".  If you were wondering, the Kukui tree is one name for the candlenut tree, the state tree of Hawaii.  Thanks, 'Moon, I learned something today!

Hard cut to somewhere I assume is in the upper levels of Abstergo Industries from Assassin's Creed (it's the harsh cleanliness and the white uniforms) where we see some lady with a big, dumb hat running away from a band of who are obviously the bad guys of this game (once again, it's the white uniforms).  The camera lingers a little too much on her tote bag, so that's obviously what they were chasing her about.  I mean, I would be quite cross too if one of my employees was stealing all our dry erase markers.

One of these dry erase markers (we couldn't quite see into the bag clearly) must have been a pokemon because it blinked at the camera.

So the Abstergo Illuminati-Rocket-Gang-of-the-week corners the "office-supplies (and maybe a pokemon) bandit", but little do they know that she's a magical girl and she teleports away in a flash of blue light.

"Three Months Later"
Fuck you, game, start the story at the start of the story, not three months ago.  Don't waste my clitting time showing me scenes of things that I wouldn't understand and then jump ahead to the start of the tale.  I seriously hate films like this.

Start me at the start.  You're not increasing the tension.  You're not going to get me to care by showing me some random-ass scene where I don't understand what's going on nor what the stakes are.  Here's a thing happening...some other things happen...and now the start.

Great, so a thing happened three months ago...can I play now?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Three vs. Two: Breaking the Psychic Deadlock


The first generation pokemon games, monumental pieces of video game history to be sure, are mired in gameplay issues and inconsistencies.  The calculation for critical hits, the absolute broken-ness of "wrap", the complete ineffectiveness of the ghost type in general (which couldn't hit normal, nor psychic types): the list goes on and on.  Of all of these issues, the Psychic Deadlock is the most widely known.

It is also the most substantial.

I like to describe Pokemon to those who don't play the games (nonbelievers, infidels, whatever you want to call them) as "extended rock, paper scissors".  It's a game of traits and how they interact with one another.  Choose any trait--it would be strong against some things and weak against other things.  For example, trees would be strong against rain, but weak against axes.  Humans are strong against dying alone, but weak against drain cleaner.  In Pokemon you have your standard fire/water/grass sort of thing going on: fire consumes grass, grass drinks water, water puts out fire, blahblahblah.  The way it worked was intuitive, for the most part.  Fire moves would deal double damage to grass pokemon and grass moves would deal halved damage to fire pokemon. There were many types that interacted in weird and sometimes silly ways.  As a matter of fact, in the first games there were 15 different types of Pokemon:

Grass, Poison, Ground, Flame, Electric, Water, Rock, Flying, Ice, Normal, Bug, Ghost, Fighting and Dragon.

Don't forget about Psychic.

While it was mentioned specifically and repeatedly in both the anime and the games that there was no "universally powerful" type, this was frankly untrue.  As it were, barring the existences of Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and Jesus, this is the first lie that I remember being told.  That type was "psychic".

Theoretically, the Psychic type had the same strengths and weaknesses as any other type.  It was listed as being strong against the fighting and poison types.  It was listed as being vulnerable to bug and ghost types.  On paper, it had the same shortcomings as any other type of pokemon.  The problem was in the execution.

There were 14 psychic pokemon in Generation 1 and even more that could learn psychic moves.  There were only 12 bug pokemon and 3 ghost pokemon in that same generation.  Furthermore, neither of these types had any resistance to psychic moves.  As a matter of fact, no pokemon in generation 1 would receive reduced damage from psychic moves except psychic pokemon themselves.
Sorry Ash, you can never win against a Psychic Pokemon

Here are a few facts.

1) There were 14 psychic pokemon in Gen 1.
2) There were 12 bug pokemon.
3) There were 3 ghost pokemon.
4) There were 33 poison pokemon.
5) There were 7 fighting pokemon.

This means that there were 39 pokemon that had a weakness to psychic moves and only 15 pokemon that had types that were listed as super-effective against the psychic type.

Also, there were only three moves that were introduced in total that dealt extra damage to these psychic pokemon.  These moves were "Twinneedle" (bug type), "Pin Missile" (bug type), and "Lick" (ghost type).  Only five pokemon in the game could learn these moves.  This means that of the 15 pokemon that, theoretically, would be strong against psychic pokemon, only 5 would actually be so effective.

Also Also, four of those pokemon were dual-type pokemon with the poison type.  This means that only one pokemon learned a move that would deal extra damage against a psychic pokemon without receiving extra damage from psychic attacks.  That pokemon was Jolteon and it was not even a bug, nor poison type.

Also Also Also, due to a glitch in the game, the only ghost type move in the game, "Lick", actually dealt zero damage to psychic pokemon.  Wow.


Clearly, there was a problem.  Gen 2 fixed this problem by adding two new pokemon types.  These were the "Dark" and "Steel" types.

Dark type pokemon are characterized by being sneaky or ruthless.  This type is called "evil" in Japan and for good reason: some of the first dark pokemon revealed were "witchy crow", and "devil hound". Psychic moves would be ineffective against the dark type.  Dark moves deal increased damage against psychic pokemon.

Steel Pokemon are pokemon that are made of iron or that have some affinity for iron.  Often these pokemon have high physical defenses.  Examples include "metal rock snake" and "magnet".  While steel pokemon do not deal increased damage to psychic types, they are resistant to psychic moves.

With the psychic deadlock finally broken, the pokemon franchise took huge steps towards rebalancing in such a way that made the game more playable.  There really wasn't any one type that was the best--and finally the gameplay reflected this.  I would stop short of saying that it was fixed.  There were some types that were still severely underpowered compared to others and many of these balance issues would persist well into the franchise history.  But by adding two new types, Gold and Silver fixed what was most broken and did so with style.

This and other small mechanics changes would cause major changes in the way the metagame was structured for Generation 2 games.  No one could have foreseen what would happen next...

Next: Breaking the Stall

Saturday, November 12, 2016


One thing has kept me from hurling myself off the Harvard Bridge this week.

I've been occupying myself these past few days by making Science sections for the ACT and by getting myself increasingly more hyped up about Pokemon 7.  I already have moon version preordered.  I have time budgeted into my schedule to devote exclusively to the game.  

I mean, fuck, I need a diversion.

I remember how excited I was when Pokemon 6 came out about this time years long ago.  I know I'll never feel it the way I did when Pokemon 2 and Pokemon 3 came out, but I would describe it as a different kind of excitement.  The excitement about meeting up with an old friend and learning about what crazy adventures they have been having.  I'm ready to be taken on another adventure.  I'm ready to explore this new world.

I've chosen the name "August" for this playthrough.  It's a summery and seasoned name that plays off the sunny Island theme of the game.  I originally considered playing as "Darien" again, but I wanted to differentiate him form my previous characters.  August also brings to mind "the veteran".  I have modeled my character image after exactly this visage.

And honestly, you know exactly who I'm going to choose as my partner pokemon (I have taken that Pledge of Water, after all), but the choices are Rowlet the Grass/Flying Owl, Litten the Fire Kitty, and Popplio the Water Circus Seel.

They are each so cute.  It will be a hard choice (who are we kidding? I chose my pokemon months ago!).  But if Litten turns out to be another Fire/Fighting pokemon, I'm going to stab someone.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Why I Love Pokemon

...gonna have to table the Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 discussion for the time being.  This is for many reasons.

First of all, given recent developments in my home country of America we have to address the elephant in the room, or rather, the "ambulatory hate-filled cheese puff with bad hair" in the white house.  Yes, this is going to be one of those posts.

Even if we ignore all of his bigotry and racism, his disregard of policy and politics, even if we ignore his rejection of the ideals outlined at the Geneva Convention and basic human decency, future president Donald Trump (still makes me vomit a little) is, without hyperbole,  an enemy to every person in the world.  This is because he has promised to destroy it.

Donald Trump has pledged to dissolve the EPA, to prioritize coal, and to ignore the statements outlined in the Paris Agreement.  If the United States backs out of the Paris Agreement, global climate change is going to be accelerated (and if you don't believe it's real, go back to school, motherfucker).  He has mentioned fracking tycoon (an arguably less fun game than Rollercoaster Tycoon) Harold Hamm (fuck that guy) as a likely Minister of Energy.  He has brought up Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani, Ben Carson (that creationist fuck) for his cabinet.  It's like he's actually assembling the Secret Society of Supervillians.

What does this have to do with my Pokemon blog?

It is my belief that you can't appreciate Pokemon without caring for the environment to some extent.  The reason I love to play Pokemon so much is to explore a world of such variety in terms of the lifeforms that exist.  When you hear about a new pokemon game, what gets you most excited?  For nine out of ten people, their answer is "all the interesting new pokemon".  There are countless hundreds of fan-made pokemon designs.  There are scores of fan-made pokemon hacks with their own world and creatures.

How could you not see the parallels to our own world, which is so wonderful and teeming with variety?

I love playing Pokemon because it helps me remember to appreciate real world animals and plants and fungi.  There are so many wonderfully weird and cute and vicious creatures and plants.  There is so much beauty to be found all around you.  Even plants as common as an oak tree are important to so many creatures.    Even creatures as creepy as a spider; I love them all.  There's something beautiful and ruthless to the creepy fuckers.

I try to impress upon my biology students that life is weird and a little gross, but always awesome.  The Horned Toad shoots blood out of its eyes to scare off predators.  Isn't that totally gross and kind of awesome?!  Male Platypus are venomous; it's so rare to have such a trait in a mammal!  Komodo Dragons exist!  Actual dragons, 9 foot long lizards.  How is that not the coolest god-damned thing?  There are gliding snakes, flying squirrels.  The Pangolin!  Do you like the pokemon "sandslash"?  Wish it was real?  Well it is...and it's almost extinct.

It's easy to forget that a world full of life and wonderful things exist, especially whilst we sit here in our comfortable rooms with a mug of coffee and a pumpkin-scented candle--or perhaps in some popular (but not too popular, amiright?) coffeehouse furiously blogging and tweeting glib sarcasms.  It's easy to forget how great the world is.

So when people tell me that this upcoming abortion of a presidency won't be that bad, I remember the ones that are really going to suffer: the animals and the plants and all the beauty of the world.

I hope you like your fucking tax breaks, you Philistines.