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By on Jan 8, 2015 at 1:25 am, in Console, Featured, Gaming, Point of View  |  Comments: No comments yet

So we skipped a preview of the latest Pokemon games, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (ORAS). We unfortunately didn’t get review codes until release, and due to some staffing issues, I’ve been responsible for reviews while things continue to cook in the background. That being said, I was able to pull in some help from past guest writer T. Striker. It’s been a busy holiday season, so progress was a bit slow. In that sense, I think we can give a long term, quality look at the games, without the pressure of making predictions for what will happen down the line. Here’s our thoughts on the game.

Nintendo provided us with two review copies of the game post launch, so Striker and I were able to play together a bit onlline. While I enjoyed the X/Y, it was also obvious the series simply hasn’t been able to mature with me as well I’d hoped. Striker, though, was quite excited about playing the new games:

I get random amounts of down time, like taking a train, between classes, late nights on the couch, and not having a laptop with me 24/7 leaves me either on my phone or my 2DS. I really liked the last Pokemon: great story, learning curve wasn’t steep for casual play, and it was semi nostalgic. I wanted to get the new one even though I never fully completed Y (missing the Dragon and Mewtwo still). After I spent hours trying to get one of the legendary birds, it kinda turned me off from legendary catching and the hour window of finding stones daily wasn’t what I am getting on a game for. I thought the Mega evolution was cool too.

I had similar feelings, though I had skipped the birds and went straight for the big, bad legendaries… and never trained them. The stones were inconvenient to get with my work schedule, but overall, I’d had a good dose of nostalgia, but was hesitant to try the new games. Just the same, I had prepared a bit for my review.

In X/Y, I finally had a perfectly bred Froakie, plus the event Gengar, so I stat trained them. I forgot how much I hate that part of the game. I also tried the demo, which wasn’t bad the first two or three times, but it was so short and repetitive that doing it 10 tens to get the most rewards out of it really felt like a chore. Maybe it was more interesting for people who played the original Ruby/Sapphire, but I’d skipped most of the third generation, so I probably missed some cool nods. Seeing the same town in the released version was a little neat, but not enough to make me appreciate the demo.


I have to say though, being able to prepare for Pokemon games is really nice, and with the ability to trade (what seems like) every generation now, I almost wonder if the series will keep pushing the “catch’em all!” goal. I’ll try to keep overall series comments to a minimum, but while preparing for the game, I had to question just how long Nintendo can push the formula. Perhaps this is why Nintendo’s had so many Pokemon side games, and why I’m looking forward to Pokken.

That being said, one thing that Striker and I both noticed as soon as the game started was the lack of clothing options from X/Y. Laugh if you will about two grown men playing virtual dress-up, but after several generations of essentially being a clone of your friends during battles, it was nice to see some variety. The fact that some features were cut and some added, in addition to a lot of resources being reused (not just art assets, but entire mini-games like the stat training), made it feel like the game could have been offered as DLC for X/Y as well. I would have preferred to just use my old character than the new one. Maybe this would have disrupted the story a little, but I’m sure Nintendo could have come up with something to fix that.


It’s not all bad though. You can now encounter specific pokemon in the wild. That is, you can see a tail or ears in tall grass, caves, water, etc, and sneak up on that pokemon to catch it.  Unlike previous games, I was slowly catching more of the same pokemon, which is more interesting than past games. Don’t get me wrong, breeding added depth to the game, but a lot of tediousness as well in my opinion, especially if you consider just how much modern games are simplifying their mechanics (yes, breeding has been simplified, but is still quite a learning process). The game is about catching them all, not breeding, and this new mechanic brings the catching back full force.

I almost wonder if Nintendo finally needs to drop the random encounters and focus on having pokemon just out in the world. As they add more and more pokemon to the physical game world, the game is starting to actually feel like an organic world, and now the random encounters are standing out to me. I mean, when you’ve got poke-gulls on the beach that run from you as you leave tracks in the sand, and some pokemon’s tail suddenly pops out of a bush, getting a random encounter suddenly feels… weird. It breaks the immersion of the game for me now, and honestly, immersion is a word I would have never used for past Pokemon games. They’ve generally felt artificial with a few exceptions.


There’s a bit of a problem though: Striker and I have caught a lot of pokemon before. We even stopped trading some version exclusives because we already had them in X/Y. While the new system is more interesting than past installments, doing it again is quite a daunting task. There is so much to do in any Pokemon “end game.” I use quotes here because, luckily, the game lets you see a lot of long term activities well in advanced: contests, berry farming, base guilding, breeding… you have all of that in addition to the normal catch and battle. As I mentioned before, it took me quite some time to make a single (relatively) perfect pokemon. Doing it for a whole team seems pretty hardcore for me, though I have to admit this year has been busy and I’ve had a lot of reviewing and guide creation to do. Just the same, catching pokemon again when I’ve done it before just felt tedious, especially since you then have to level them up all over.

Some of the new features are interesting, but… well, maybe not useful enough for most people to care about. For example, I live in Japan, so I get a lot of Street Pass updates. I love the idea of secret bases, but most people don’t really do anything with their bases. I know at the start of the game, before getting fly, I’d make secret bases and lay down a bed just so I could have a pokemon center wherever I wanted. Once I beat the Delta episode (the final story arc for legendary capturing after you beat the elite four), I decorated a bit and looked for other bases. Most people, though, did little to nothing with their bases. The online communities really do more with them, such as making a place for people to more easily grind levels. If you live in the states like Striker does… well, you can sometimes be starved for Street Passes in general, much less quality ones.

While I handled bases, Striker hit up the contests and decided to use the cosplay pikachu. He was able to get to the master level easily since he could just use TMs to teach pikachu the right variety of moves to win. Each run was about 4-6 minutes, but it was mostly just watching the game and not much interaction. I felt the same way, which was one reason I’d only done a few contests.

While there’s a lot to do in the game, at the end, I was kind of… done. No, I didn’t breed or catch any new perfect pokemon. My secret base team could be a higher level, I could catch more legendary pokemon (this game gives you access to so many!), farm berries, beat contests, level pokemon but… why? I’ve done this so many times before, even stream lining it doesn’t make it that much less daunting. While it’s cool to have daily and weekly activities, after having done them in previous games, I just feel overwhelmed, a word Striker used often whenever we discovered a new, full feature or sometimes town. Yes, you can keep importing pokemon from past generations slowly but surly, but that takes a lot of time. Preparing to play the game isn’t as much fun as just playing it. While having random battles with people on the trains using a level 50 level scaling system makes things a bit more fair and accessible, it’s a bit too familiar to me.

I’ve complained a lot, but both Striker and I did enjoy our Pokemon ORAS experience. In fact, if I hadn’t played X/Y, I think I would have enjoyed it more. While the last generation had a great nostalgia factor, the newest games’ additions really made the series feel more alive for me. If you’ve never plated a Pokemon game, this really is the best one to start with. There’s a lot, but I think it’ll feel fresh and exciting. For anyone else, you really do have to like the current game’s formula to enjoy doing it again and being happy with your purchase. For everyone else, the game’s good if you’re on a budget or find yourself with a lot of time but maybe little internet access.

By on Nov 20, 2014 at 2:06 am, in Buzz, Console, Featured, Featured Article, Preview  |  Comments: No comments yet

We tried the portable, but now it’s time for the console: Smash Bros Wii U. I’m not writing this as a review quite yet, but as a preview piece since I’ve only had about ten hours with the game, all solo since the servers won’t go live until launch day. While I was provided a preview copy, I do not have an Amiibo to test with. For this reason, I’m simply doing a preview until I can see all the game has to offer, and obviously that will take some time. The game is surprisingly large, and although we’ve had time to prepare for the console game, not everything is perfect.

By on Sep 4, 2014 at 9:41 pm, in Console, Featured, Point of View, Preview  |  Comments: No comments yet

Can’t wait to get your hands on the new Smash Bros coming out in the states October 4? Neither can I, so I’ll be grabbing a Japanese copy on launch day play till my eyes bleed (or my girlfriend pulls me away for a movie we’ve been dying to see). However, I’ll be nice. every 20 minutes or so, I’ll try to answer questions or make comments on how I feel about the game for several hours.

While I have played the game a little already and written about it, it was only a small taste. Those with questions about new games modes, fighters, or specific things they’d like me to check out should lead the live blogging by leaving comments in this post. For the record, I’m more of a hardcore-casual Smasher: all items, all stages. I know a few tricks (like last generation’s trick with Snake’s sliding mortars), but if there’s something really specific to the hardcore seen, leave me a bit of an explanation or link to what the feature/glitch was and I’ll do my best to test it!

For the record, my local electronics shop couldn’t give me a pick-up time for the game. I’ll have to check back with them during the week. Also keep in mind that September 12 for those of you in the states (and Europe) is September 13th in Japan, so this will be a launch day live blogging like last time time.

By on Sep 12, 2013 at 9:30 am, in Article, Cleric, Featured, Guides, RIFT  |  Comments: 19 comments

61 inquisitor guide header

Inquisitor is arguably one of the most solid, all-around souls in the game. It can be used in every aspect of the game and perform outstandingly. Whether you’re looking for a decent leveling build to quickly slice through mobs, mash out some serious numbers on the damage meters in endgame raids, dominate Warfronts with fast, hard-hitting bolts or go back and solo old content, Inquisitor has tools for every job! In this guide, I’m going to be showing you how to get the most out of Inquisitor in almost every scenario.

By on Mar 23, 2013 at 1:00 pm, in Article, Featured, TESO  |  Comments: No comments yet

information roundup title

Thanks to an awesome collection of recent media and press coverages, we now know a whole lot more about Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls Online (and let me just say– things are looking promising!). The trouble is that all of the news and interesting pieces of information are scattered across the ‘net and hidden in articles and videos. We’re here to help! Here is an organized list of bulletpoint-sized tidbits perfect for a quick read-through. We’ve even organized them based on subject.

With PAX this weekend, we may recieve more information as the weekend unfolds. Stay tuned! In the meantime, this list contains current pre-PAX info. If you notice anything we’ve missed, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below!

By on Nov 2, 2012 at 9:00 am, in Article, Featured, Guides, GW2  |  Comments: 3 comments

Hello, guys. What I wanted to do for the community today is to give you a realistic view of chasing a legendary. This is the view from a person actually chasing it himself. As usual, I’ll get to the point and give you the facts. This is the fastest way to achieve your goals. Let’s go right into it. Feel free to discuss everything listed, and add suggestions if you happen to have any.

By on May 17, 2012 at 9:15 am, in Featured, RIFT  |  Comments: 2 comments

Reopening the Rift

One of the problems with diving back into the world of Telara on an alt or completely new character is the fact that, well, RIFT’s quests aren’t always that exciting. Sure, some of the quest chains are awesome. Some entire maps are awesome. I’m a huge fan of Gloamwood and Iron Pine Peaks, for example. Other maps, for me, prove a little more difficult to muddle through the second or third time around (Scarwood Reach and Scarlet Gorge, I’m looking at you). I don’t know what it is about the 30-40 leveling hurdle, but for some reason, my alts always get stuck there.

I don’t think I’m the only one with similar leveling hurdles, either, because many new players that are trying out RIFT for the first time find themselves a little underwhelmed at around the same levels. Trion was pretty quick to notice one of the glaring issues at these levels and have since changed the entire look of Scarwood Reach. The lush, green surroundings are a huge improvement, believe me, but there’s still… something off about the 30-40 level range.

By on May 14, 2012 at 10:07 am, in Article, Featured, RIFT  |  Comments: 7 comments

Some cryptic Trion staff member posts have surfaced on the official RIFT forums this past week. A staff member by the forum name 3 3228466 787 is the main culprit, with posts that are intentionally cryptic, containing poetry, numerical codes, random pictures, and phrases. Fans of the game and forums have banded together in an attempt to muddle through the confusing posts, and figure out what the heck the folks at Trion are up to.

What do we know so far? Here is a summary of the posts, findings, possible theories, and reactions so far. I’ll try and keep this post updated with the latest information, so if you know of any new details, feel free to drop me a line. Special thanks to the awesome people on the official forums who helped come up with this information. It’s all interesting stuff!

By on May 4, 2012 at 9:13 am, in Featured, RIFT  |  Comments: 19 comments

RIFT has a decently-sized raiding crew, and there’s a good reason why– Trion’s raids are large, expansive, beautiful, and for the most part, contain some pretty awesome fights. The game’s raiding community is made up of all types of players– those who enjoy a more casual approach to raiding and scheduling raids, those who enjoy the competitive raiding scene, and all kinds of folks in between. With Infernal Dawn (ID) out, and a large portion of those raiders delving deep into the new fights, there’s one large, looming problem that multiple people from multiple groups have experienced– Infernal Dawn, so far, is just too easy.

This is a problem, and not just a problem for the “hardcore” community, that is, the players at the top of the food chain, with the maximum amount of planar attunement (PA) and all the best gear from Hammerknell (HK). Many guilds who don’t even consider themselves hardcore or serious are having the same experience. The fights in ID so far simply don’t have the same oomph, the same adrenaline-punched feeling of not knowing whether this attempt will be the one, the feeling of knowing those couple hours of wipes were worth it after downing a tough boss and listening to the guild explode over voice chat.

That feeling’s pretty damn amazing, and a large part of the reason most raiders enjoy raiding. Hammerknell had a ton of fights that produced those feelings, and many players were expecting to feel the same in ID. Guilds spent months upon months farming HK, farming PA, and building just the right raid force. And now they’re finding themselves a bit underwhelmed, a bit discouraged, and quite confused.

By on May 2, 2012 at 10:20 am, in Featured, Guides, RIFT  |  Comments: 5 comments

Ten years ago, a California economics professor calculated the real-world size of the economy of EverQuest. Based on the currency value of in-game items on eBay and the like, he found that

if the “EverQuest” universe of Norrath were a country, its per-capita gross national product would be [US]$2,266–comparable to the 77th richest country on Earth and ranking it between Russia and Bulgaria. Platinum pieces, the in-game currency known as pp, end up with an exchange rate of about a penny per pp, making “EverQuest” currency more valuable than the Japanese yen and the Spanish peseta.

Our beloved Rift isn’t competing with the Russian economy, but there are still plenty people out there banking (literally) on persuading you to give them the very real money in your pocket for virtual plat. The #Rift Twitter hashtag is full of tweets worded much the same as the title of this post. Report the spammer, another takes its place. And it seems like every few days the little charge you get seeing an unexpected mail icon in your UI leads to a letdown when it turns out to be a gold spam message. Report the spammer, another takes its place. Googling for ways to make plat isn’t much better. In the time it takes to sift through all the sites trying to get you to buy plat, you could just get rich the hard way.

So, this is not a ‘get rich quick’ guide, but I will tell you how to become Rift Rich in a relatively short amount of time with a bit of effort–and without resorting to enriching spammers.

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