Pokémon Sun (3DS): COMPLETED!

I am best at cockfighting

That was excellent! Quite a different game to Pokémon Y, although not in the way it is sold: No gyms! No gym leaders! No HMs! No, except trials are almost exact replacements for gyms, captains are virtually the same as gym leaders, and the Ride Pager replaces HMs. Net difference, almost zero.

What’s actually different is how the UI has been improved, with tweaks like being able to immediately put a caught Pokémon in your party. And the streamlined box management, simpler local trading, being able to see move effectiveness (against Pokémon you’ve already fought or have caught) – stuff like that.

Mega Evolutions are gone again, but Z-Moves are really pretty similar replacements. All of the PSS has sadly been stripped out and although the system that is here as an alternative (a mix of the Festival Plaza and Poképelego) is good, it lacks the always-on abilities, Streetpass, and the online web-based games you can play outside of the main game. Since the full announcement of the Nintendo Switch – which doesn’t have Streetpass, but does have a version of Pokémon Sun/Moon coming for it – it’s perhaps clear why this is the case. Anyway. The new features are great for levelling up a load of Pokémon at once so it gets a pass.

As for the game itself, 66 hours is a lot. Not far off twice how long it took to complete Y, in fact, and I’ve not even started the post-game content. I assume there is some (other than just filling the Pokédex), anyway.

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

I have reached Po Town! Which is a bit grim. Imagine Team Skull were secretly evil Inklings, and it rained all the time. That’s Po Town – dark, covered in paint splatters, and a bit wet.

You even have to pay a dodgy lady who definitely is not Nurse Joy $10 to heal your pokémon! Pff.

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

I’ve got eight Z-Crystals now, having just beaten Sophocles and the electricity totem. I thought Ground moves were super effective against Electricity type Pokémon? Mine certainly weren’t, rendering my sexy Dugtrio mostly useless. Fire seemed to be the way to go, for some reason!

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

Alola Pokédex 25% complete.

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

That’s the fire captain in the volcano beaten. Pretty bizarre that was, all the dancing and stuff. And the hiker photobombing.

And I’ve discovered Poké Pelego, which is weird and addictive. Combined with also being addicted now to the Festival Plaza which I previously rubbished, I’m concerned I may never complete the main game.

Pokémon Sun (3DS)

16 hours in already! I’m on the second island, and have just taken part in the four-way battle with Hau, Gladion and absolutely not the Professor in luchador gear.

I’ve also spent a lot of time in the Festival Plaza, which is a bit weird but oddly addictive.

Off to Route 7 now, to meet the captain who lives in a volcano. Uh huh.

Things I’ve been playing recently

All games. All the time. GAMES.

Well, where “recently” is “any time in the last couple of months” and “things” is “games I’ve not completed as I’ve already posted about those”. In no particular order:

Spec Ops: The Line (Mac)

This was free, but only if I played it enough to get £1 credit back from Green Man Gaming. At first, I really struggled as it misdetected my PS4 controller and everything literally spiralled out of control – see this video, in particular from the 7 minute point:

With that fixed (I used a mouse and keyboard instead), I then worked through the first level, or mission, or whatever. It’s OK, but nothing special. It’s also difficult to play with an Apple mouse, because you can’t click the left and right buttons at the same time. I don’t know if I’ll play it more.

Paper Mario Sticker Star (3DS)

A lot of people seemed to be quite negative about this, but I’m really enjoying it. It removes almost all of the RPG elements (perhaps this is why it has the reputation it does), but the story and the combat are great and it looks lovely. Also, that Wii U one is out now and I thought I’d do this while waiting for that to magically appear in my possession.

Letter Quest Remastered (PS4)

Incredible Boggle/RPG hybrid. You’re given a bank of 15 random letters, some worth more than others (sort of Scrabble-like) and you make words out of them. The more powerful your word, the harder your attack is on your foes. You can level up abilities, making 6 letter words worth more, or double letters more powerful, etc. and it’s very addictive.

Assault Android Cactus (PC)

I set my Steam Link up again and this is one of the titles I played, having heard good things and getting it for virtually free in a recent Humble Bundle. It’s not bad, but I don’t think – so far at least – it deserves all the praise. It’s just a quite bland twin stick shooter with average graphics but with some great characters. I’m enjoying it, but not as much as I expected to.

Lego Dimensions (PS4)

I actually bought this a while back, but still had Lego Marvel Avengers on the go. With that finished (although not 100%ed) my daughter and I broke it out and yes – it is excellent. Jumping from world to world (we’ve had The Simpsons, The Wizard of Oz, Ninjago and Doctor Who so far) is great, and the references to other Lego games (such as the Joker Titanbot rematch) are awesome too. Playing shuffle-the-characters on the portal is less fun, though, but we’ve negated that a little by moving the portal to the sofa between us.

Pokémon Y (3DS)

With over 70 hours on the clock now, and still about 30% of my Pokédex unfilled, there’s a lot of game here. Not least when you consider I “completed” it at around the 35 hour mark.

Pokémon Y (3DS): COMPLETED!

How do you get Pikachu on a bus? Threaten to knife him.

A brief history of my time playing “main” Pokémon games:

1997: Pocket Monsters Green, a badly translated ROM on a Game Boy emulator. I had returned to university early from a holiday in order to spend a few days revising. Instead, I spent a few days playing Pocket Monsters Green, non-stop, reaching the Elite Four and realising my chosen team were no match for them. I never beat them.

1999: Pokémon Blue, on a Game Boy. I obtained the first 4 gym badges, then stopped playing. I don’t know why.

2001: Pokémon Gold, on a Game Boy Advance. As with Blue, I obtained the first 4 gym badges. Then I stopped playing.

2003: Pokémon Sapphire, on a Game Boy Advance. Once more, after obtaining the first 4 gym badges, I stopped playing.

2016: Pokémon Y, on a New 3DS. Completed!

After the earlier false starts, I’d given up on playing any more in the series because I assumed they’d all go the same way. After 13 years, however, and my 7 year old daughter wanting to play Pokémon X, the time was right to get back into the main series Pokémon games.

pokémon

It was fun playing alongside her, mostly progressing through at a similar rate, with me occasionally helping out by sending her Pokémon or using O-Powers to augment her abilities temporarily.

Since the last game I played, things have improved greatly. The graphics, of course, but also there has been a lot of streamlining. Early on in Y, you obtain an item that allows you to share XP with all your party, meaning you no longer have to start with a Pokémon you want to level up and then swap them out immediately. Item management is easier, and trading your Pokémon is so much easier – and can be done over the internet. There’s even an online “swap shop” for them, where you can browse “wants” or offer your own Pokémon up. Or, you can do random trade matchups where you don’t know what you’ll get. I’ve used this a lot with duplicate creatures, and obtained some great stuff, like a high level Pikachu, a Shiny Oddish, and plenty of others I’d not seen myself at all.

pokémon

All that is great, but the core game is the same as it ever was. Travel the region, fight the gym leaders, Be The Best. No bad thing, especially to someone who hasn’t played Pokémon in such a long time, and there are so many ways to make it easier (the trading, the online “Pokémiles” shop, the XP sharing, O-Powers, Mega Evolutions) that the frustration of grinding – perhaps a reason I gave up on the earlier games – doesn’t happen. Indeed, I beat the Elite Four, the Champion, AND the *spoiler* with my team of mainly Legendary level 100 monsters (and level 90+ Greninja and Charizard) taking down every opponent Pokémon (bar one, who was Sturdy) in a single hit each without taking any damage in return.

Too easy? Possibly. Did that matter? Not at all. Did I complete it before my daughter finished X? Hell yes. And isn’t that all that is really important?

pokemon_y

Things I’ve been playing recently

Roundup!

Mega Man 7 (Wii U)

Precious_memoriesIt’s been a few months since I started Mega Man 7. I think, after ploughing through Mega Mans 1-6 I may have had a bit of Mega Man burnout, and I was a bit disappointed with 7 anyway as it didn’t feel right. Anyway, I’m back on it now and have taken down the first lot of four Robot Masters. I’m enjoying it, and it does feel more like the NES games than it did a few months ago. Perhaps I just needed to give it some time?

StreetPass Zombies (3DS)

Nintendo released two more StreetPass games! In this one, your passes equate to weapons that you use to see off the (cute, Nintendofied, egg-headed) zombie hordes. It’s a lot of fun, and actually quite difficult.

StreetPass Fishing (3DS)

And this is the other game. Passes translate as different bait types which you use to catch different fish. There’s a sort of RPG element as you can level up and improve your rod (and get other rods), and a lot of “gotta catch ’em all” with the fish. Really enjoyable.

Pokémon Rumble World (3DS)

tumblr_nmxy9tydoi1svmpf2o1_400Another Free-to-Play Pokeymuns game from Nintendo, this time based on (read: almost exactly the same as) the Pokémon Rumble series, which despite being repetitive, I’ve had fun with in the past. This one has a real money mechanic where you can only attempt so many levels before your hot air balloon mode of transport deflates, and you have to wait or use jewels to re-inflate it. And jewels cost money. I’m open minded though – Pokémon Shuffle had jewels too and gave away so many for free it was unnecessary to buy any.

Yakuza 4 (PS3)

I’ve progressed a little further, moving onto Kiryu’s part of the story. Another incredibly unlikely coincidence occurs (another character washes up on Kiryu’s doorstep) and then another (Kiryu goes to the police station and happens to bump into “Lily”), and then some fighting. I’ll just say this: that head prison officer bloke from Saejima’s prison is pretty much immortal, isn’t he? No mere man can be smashed to pieces that many times and not only survive, but actually come back stronger!

Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! (Wii U)

Food_is_where_the_hearts_are_A few more levels finished on this in co-op. It’s a bit shallow, but is essentially Gauntlet, so I’ll let it go. The only real annoyance that I have, is that you can only quit the dungeon and save the game every five levels, meaning you really don’t want to die in that time or you have to do it all again.

Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

WarioooooooooooooThe new tracks that were available this week are fantastic. Ribbon Road, in particular, goes way above a simple reimagining of the original GBA track by being probably the best looking part of any game ever made ever. Ever. I’ve not unlocked the new 200cc mode yet, so had to put in a bit of work to do that by improving my scores on some of single player mode. Never a chore, mind.

Bernband (Mac)

Screen_Shot_2015-04-12_at_14.51.37Technically, I’ve completed this. I’m not recording it as completed though, as there’s no real goal – you just explore a purposefully low-res alien city, see the sights and hear the sounds, and that’s it. There’s not even all that much to see, and I took the lot in in well under an hour. There’s no interaction, nothing to collect, no items to collect or anything like that. Still, it was funny and absolutely well worth a wander around. Download it for free here.

Things I’ve been playing recently

Roundup time!

Yakuza 4 (PS3)

It’s been a while since I played Yakuza 3. I did really enjoy it, but never got round to picking up Yakuza 4, probably because it was a PS3 game and I don’t really like playing PS3 games, however good they are. However, for reasons I won’t explain, I got a PS+ subscription and with it came Yakuza 4.

I’m a few hours in, and have spent most of the game so far watching cut scenes, playing with UFO Catchers, opening lockers, and buying clothes for girls. And a few fights, but not many. It’s good, but so far it seems to just be Yakuza 3 with a new story and no mobile phone camera. The asset reuse is high with this one.

tumblr_nl4ekp2aky1svmpf2o1_4003D Shinobi III (3DS)

When 3D Outrun was released this week, a few older 3D ports were reduced in price. I picked up Altered Beast (I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry) and Shinobi III. I was pretty sure I’d played Shinobi III before, but it appears not. I don’t recognise any of the levels so far, aside from seeing screenshots in magazines. It’s great, and not as hard as I was expecting (Revenge of Shinobi was virtually impossible, I seem to recall). The levels disjointedly follow on from each other with no obvious link, but that’s par for the course for games of this age, I suppose. I’m only a few levels in, but really enjoying it so far.

Pokémon Shuffle (3DS)

Still playing this off and on. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve completed the game, but I do return to have a few goes at the special stages or to try and capture a few missed pokeymens.

tumblr_nkwzzkxtr71svmpf2o1_1280The Swapper (Vita)

I’m not sure if I’m enjoying this. I sort of like the setting, but the way you generate clones and can transfer into them feels slightly too vague to control. Also, some of the puzzles are such that completing them feels like you’ve kludged it or brute forced it rather than actually found a solution. I also don’t like how you have to turn your man around by using the on-screen pointer rather than just pressing the opposite direction like in almost every other game ever. Still, it’s a free PS+ rental so I’m not too bothered if I don’t play it again, although I suspect I will.

How_do_I_get_up_to_the_chains__t_httpt.cobVSTh02HMeCastlevania: Spectral Interlude (Spectrum)

Someone made a Castlevania game for the Spectrum. Oh my. And not only that, but it’s polished to within an inch of its life, it plays flawlessly, looks fantastic, and even – somehow – fits into the normal Castlevania timeline. At least, until Konami rebooted it with Lords of Shadow, anyway. I’ve beaten two bosses, collected the double-jump artifact, and am generally loving it.

Various Crap Games (Spectrum)

Somehow I have become involved in the comp.sys.sinclair Crap Games Competition again. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, as I’m having to play some terrible, terrible games. Intentionally terrible games too. I think they’re driving me a little bit mad. Take a look here.

Pokémon Shuffle (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_nkdva7wmvn1svmpf2o1_400A few years ago, I stopped (with rare exceptions) playing games on my iPhone. The App Store had become swamped with F2P games with IAPs and other abbreviations, and even “traditional” games had been drugged with mechanisms designed to only allow play if you keep buying gold, or gems, or whatever for ridiculous prices. “Sonic had run out of jumps! Buy 10 jumps for £2.99?”. No.

And yet here is Nintendo, perhaps the last bastion of proper games, releasing a free to play match-three puzzle game, complete with all the evil in-app purchases you could ever wish for. All filled with Pokémon. Rubbish.

But, because it’s Pokémon, and Nintendo, I thought I’d give it a go. And what do you know? You can complete the game without spending a penny, without being restricted in any way (bar being unable to play for hours at a time), and it’s actually pretty good.

tumblr_nki1v9yv711svmpf2o1_400You know how these games work. You match three (or more) of each Pokémon, and they disappear. The Pokémon twist adds a little more depth. Each level is a fight with another Pokémon, and you get to choose which of your previously captured monsters to put up against it. Each has an affinity, so some are better at dealing damage to different types than others, and this damage is applied when you match them up. Some have Mega transformations which allow special moves that wipe out large areas of the board. You’ve a fixed number of turns for each stage, but if you defeat the monster before the counter hits zero, you get a chance at capturing it.

Sometimes the chance, measured as a percentage, is laughably low, but you can improve your chances by buying a Great Ball with coins. It’s here where the IAPs come in. To buy more moves, or Great Balls, require coins or jewels (the in game currencies). To obtain coins, you spend jewels (or win matches), and to get jewels, you spend Real Actual Money. You’re also limited to playing five stages (or attempts at stages) – you spend a third currency, hearts, each time you want to play. How do you get more hearts? IAPs. Yay.

tumblr_nkdvabcrni1svmpf2o1_400Here’s the thing though. Hearts replenish, up to 5 at a time, by just not playing the game. You get another heart every half an hour, so if you play the game in spurts here and there, you’ll never feel the need to buy more. Every so often, and more frequently if you get lots of streetpasses, the game bungs you a heart or two anyway. Coins can be won in the game, so you never need to buy those either, and jewels? I was given about 20 for free across the course of the game, and I finished the game with 4 left. Basically, the IAPs are totally unnecessary.

The game is pretty addictive, which is clearly required if you’re Nintendo and want to make some money out of this, but if you’re like me and can be patient, you can play the game as a fun diversion a few times a day, completely for free without ever feeling restricted.

The irony is, if Nintendo had ditched IAPs and charged maybe a fiver for Pokémon Shuffle, I’d have happily given them the money and they’d have made some cash out of me. Instead, they’ve tried (and failed) to extract IAP cash from my pocket and ended up with nothing. Here endeth the lesson.

Pokémon Rumble U (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Pokewon.With Mario 3D World completed in 2-player with my daughter (after completing it in single player), we moved back to this. It turns out there weren’t actually that many levels left, and with our ridiculously overpowered White Kyurem NFC character we didn’t exactly struggle.

I’m not going to sing the game’s praises too much. It’s a very simple button basher (even more so than the Wii and 3DS precursors), with very few differences between levels. Even having different Pokémon means very little, providing they actually have some decent HP and moves. Yes, there are “defend the fort” levels, and “beat the boss in under 120 seconds” levels, but ultimately, you play every level the same – point your ‘mon at the baddies and hammer A and sometimes B.

Having said all that, there’s not actually much to dislike. It’s fun, it’s colourful, and it’s multiplayer. Shallow and repetitive aren’t features many 5 year olds care about, and frankly, I didn’t really mind either.

My only real complaint is that you can’t upgrade your non-NFC Pokémon. It’s not important; As I said, there’s little reason to change character, but when your co-player wants to use “the little crabby one!” with “power” of 150 on a level that recommends 1500+, it would have been nice to be able to spend some of those coins you win bumping Little Crabby’s stats up a bit.

Things I’ve been playing recently

Roundup time!

Need For Speed: Most Wanted U (Wii U)

At less than £15, I couldn’t resist this. The best version of essentially the sequel to one of the best driving games ever (Burnout Paradise)? Sold! And, I’ve not been disappointed. Sure, it’s more realistic with the real cars and less arcadey handling, and yeah, the billboards and barriers you have to smash through aren’t all bright red and yellow, and OK, so there are police cars out to spoil your fun… but it’s still a fantastic game. It’s still just fun to drive very very very very fast for miles down the wrong side of the road for no reason.

I’ve shut down the Most Wanted cars 10 to 6, and have about 500,000 points (it seems you need to hit a million or so in total to unlock all the Most Wanted car events), so that, combined with my Single Player Progress of 49%, I’d say I’m almost halfway complete…

Luigi’s Mansion 2 (3DS)

I’ve had this for a while but as I acquired 7 top 3DS games all in the space of about a fortnight, it didn’t get played instantly. I made a start on it this week, and although I’ve only done the first four or five missions, I’m loving it already. It’s just so polished and Nintendo. And Luigi humming the theme tune never gets old.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

This is still getting played every single day. Literally. I haven’t missed a day since release. My main task for the last week or so, however, has been to try and increase the number of Public Works projects open to me. I’ve built a few, like the fence, a torch and a wind turbine, but the animals keep suggesting rubbish like signs when I actually want a big flower clock and a lighthouse.

Rayman Legends (Wii U)

I preordered this over a year ago. Then it was delayed. Then the credit card I ordered it with expired. Then it turned up on Tuesday. I’ve not been charged for it. Seemed a shame to send it back.

My daughter and I have been playing it all co-op so far. She’s been Murfy as much as possible, and we’ve been jumping all over the place with the levels, not working through them in order like my brain keeps screaming to, but she’s enjoying it too much to not play it this way. We had a good 45 minute session the other day where all we did way punch and kick each other. Marvellous.

Pokemon Rumble U (Wii U)

Another co-op game with my daughter. She gets to be the All Powerful Kyurem who can defeat everything in a single hit, where I have to keep upgrading my Mewtwo to remain alive for more than ten seconds. It’s button-mashy, but that’s OK because it’s fun anyway.

Super Pokémon Rumble (3DS): COMPLETED!

Blimey. This turned out to be a pretty tedious slog by the end. I didn’t really expect much depth from it, to be fair, but after 14 hours of pretty much just pressing A and sometimes B to slap other Pokémon about with no levelling system (you just swap to more powerful Pokémon), mostly useless money to collect (don’t think I ever spent any), and no real difficulty, the appeal did start to wane a bit.

Playing in relatively short bursts is the way to do it, but as I was so close to the end (I thought – turns out I wasn’t), I made a push for it and it probably outstayed its welcome.

Still, not a bad game, but just didn’t have the variety to the end.

Stuff wot I are bin playing recently

Another round-up post, I’m afraid!

Batman: Arkham City (PC)

Despite the hassle it is to set up (all those cables and adapters and begging Windows to let audio go out the HDMI port please), and the fact it’s a PC game, I’m still enjoying it. It feels like driving a car when you know one of the wheels is going to fall off at some point. You enjoy the ride, but are on edge that at some point you could well end up in a ditch on your roof.

I’m also finding that, even though the world is clearly much more open than in Arkham Asylum, and obviously massively bigger, the game feels much more linear and is apparently just a set of fetch quests. There’s no real Metroidvania-ness like in the original either. That said, it is still utterly compelling to play, and I’m really enjoying it. I just feel that if it was on the 360 I’d be enjoying it even more!

In terms of progress, I’ve just completed the terrible, terrible trials bit given to me by Ra’s al Ghul (the only bad bit of the game so far, really).

The Sims 3 (3DS)

Look. It was £8 in Sainsburys. We shall say no more.

Except that it’s still fun setting fire to your house, calling the fireman, waiting for him to enter the house, then getting rid of all the doors.

Super Pokémon Rumble (3DS)

Still shallow. Still fun. Getting a little bit hard now, too. Especially since I was defeated by a boss, and thought – no way can I beat him. Only to find that you’re not supposed to yet and it’s all part of the story.

Motorstorm RC (PS3)

Pretty much the only thing I play on my PS3. It’s awesome. Not done all the tracks yet, but every now and then I sit down and clear a few. It’s getting pretty difficult now though, with a good half an hour on one of the tracks spent not even clearing bronze, let alone anything better!

Zen Pinball (3DS)

I haven’t played this in a while, but have got back into it this week. I’ve purposefully avoided the Shamen table (which was my favourite) to try and improve my scores elsewhere, and have focussed mainly on Excalibur. I think I may have passed a point where I know how to actually play the table now, so I expect great things. Or not.

The Legend of Zelda (3DS)

DAH DAH DAH DAAAAAAH!!

I have no idea why I picked this up last night, but I did. And got as far as the first piece of triforce. It’s lovely.

Rhythm Thief (Demo) (3DS)

I think I may actually use up the number-of-plays limit on this demo. It’s utterly fantastic. It’s like a mix of Space Channel 5, Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! and Rhythm Heaven, with a sort of Moonwalker/Smooth Criminal vibe. Really, really want the full game. And it’s by Sega?! Hell has frozen over.