Category Archives: Video games

The PokeBall Plus: Is this thing worth buying?

Pokeball-Plus

When Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee! were released late last year, they came alongside a peripheral that was intended to act as a dedicated controller for the games. Not only that, it also functioned similarly to the Pokemon Go Plus accessory for smartphones.

Is this thing worth buying?

I ended up getting one a little while back, and after having played with it quite a bit, I think I can answer the question: it really depends on whether you play at least one of the two Let’s Go games, and whether you play Pokemon Go. And even if you play both, it’s still a “maybe”, because there still wouldn’t be a guarantee that it would appeal to you. Personally, I think I got my money’s worth, but not everyone would have the same tastes in game accessories as me.

The PokeBall Plus functions as a dedicated controller for the Pokemon: Let’s Go games. As far as I know, any attempt to use the controller with any other game would only result in failure.

When used with the Let’s Go games, the PokeBall Plus is a motion-sensitive controller. As a controller, it’s pretty simplistic. It has a main button, which would be the button of the pokeball that we’ve been seeing all these years. The main button basically acts as your “A” button: you use it to talk to people, make menu selections, interact with Pikachu, that basic A button stuff.

But here’s the catch: the main button is actually a “click” feature by pushing down on a control stick. So, the button that you use to make selections such as executing attacks? You also use it to move around, and to highlight different options and different attacks. I’m not a fan of it. It’s way too easy to attempt to select something accidentally because the stick is moved in a direction.

The spherical shape of the controller does make it disorienting when it comes to moving in a direction. There’s not really much in terms of tactile feedback to determine how the controller is oriented in one’s hand. That means that you have to look down at it to determine whether you’re holding it right. At the very least, the rubber coating of the controller does prevent it from slipping, so you don’t have to reposition it very often. Having said that, a spherical controller isn’t terribly ergonomic.

There’s also a “B” button on the controller, and it’s on the top of it. It’s simple, you use it to cancel selections. There’s not much to it, and it works just as you’d expect. But when outside of battle, it acts as a “pause”, which brings up the menu, and also closes it.

Shaking the controller acts as the “Y” button when prompted, but also provides a shortcut to interacting with Pikachu/Eevee. When in battle, and Pikachu/Eevee’s special is available, shaking also provides the shortcut to using it.

Now, here’s the big thing: when confronting wild pokemon, the PokeBall Plus provides that extra bit of simulation. The motion controls work similarly to the joy-con, but you get that added satisfaction of swinging a Pokeball at a pokemon with an accessory designed to expedite the experience. It’s accurate, too. In fact, it seems like the PokeBall Plus is more accurate when throwing Pokeballs than an ordinary joy-con.

Another nice touch is that the opening around the control stick of the main button is illuminated by what may be RGB LEDs, which can glow certain colors depending on what you’re doing in the game. It glows certain colors when attempting to catch pokemon, and when you catch one, it emits a color that corresponds to the pokemon that was just caught. Cooler still is the fact that the PokeBall Plus also makes sounds, such as cries of pokemon that were just caught. It’s little things like that that makes the PokeBall Plus a very thoughtfully-designed product.

Having said that, it’s still the case that the right way to catch pokemon in Let’s Go is to undock the Switch and play in handheld mode, especially if you intend to chain pokemon for large amounts of candy.

Another added function of the PokeBall Plus is that you can send one of your own pokemon to it, and take it around with you as you go about your day-to-day business. When you do this, the controller acts as a step counter. You’ll be able to “play” with the pokemon inside by making it active with the control stick, and it’ll respond to shaking, “petting” motions, and moving the control stick in circles. I’m still not entirely sure what the benefits of playing with the pokemon might be, but certain activities might increase the rewards obtained when sending the pokemon back to the game.

Players that wish to raise legendary pokemon or other pokemon that are very difficult to obtain candy for in Let’s Go would appreciate that the PokeBall Plus makes it possible to obtain candy for these pokemon in substantial quantity. Just put the pokemon in, take it for a long walk, perhaps use the device with Pokemon Go, and when you send your pokemon back to your game, you’ll likely get quite a few species-specific candies.

Aside from sometimes enjoying the novelty of a Pokeball-shaped controller, the main thing I use it for in Let’s Go Pikachu! is getting lots of species-specific candies. It’s not hard to get tons of Oddish Candies in-game, but getting lots of Mewtwo or Meltan candy? Obtaining lots of candy specific to legendary pokemon is a tall order in Let’s Go without the help of the Pokeball Plus.

Now for the main thing that I use the PokeBall Plus for: as an accessory for Pokemon Go. As a Pokemon Go accessory, the PokeBall Plus rules. It functions basically the same as the Pokemon Go Plus accessory: when you pair it with your game, it allows you to play Pokemon Go somewhat passively.

Here are the main perks:

  • It vibrates when a wild pokemon is nearby. Push B to consume a regular pokeball attempting to capture it. If it works, you catch the pokemon. If it fails, it flees.
  • It automatically spins PokeStops you’re near. Wild pokemon seem to take priority, so you might have to attempt to capture them, first.

That first point is great, because if you manage to accumulate regular pokeballs in massive quantity, you can just spend them out quickly, and if you catch something with one, great! You get the EXP, candy, and stardust that you normally would, but if you use the PokeBall Plus in this manner, you’re currently only able to use regular pokeballs this way, and it’s only ordinary throws. But hey, if you’d otherwise just chuck those pokeballs out to make room for great balls and ultra balls, what’s the harm in spending them like this?

Also, this provides a quick way of gaining experience: Just set a Lucky Egg, walk through a WalMart parking lot or some similar place, and use the PokeBall Plus to try catching lots of pokemon. Using the PokeBall Plus to attempt a capture may not be a sure thing, but it bypasses the long animations associated with using the app, so you could gain lots of EXP fast if there’s lots of pokemon around to capture.

I’m able to accrete pokemon to myself while walking down the street. What an age we live in!

And if you’re wearing a heavy coat and don’t have your phone out, how would anyone know whether you’re playing Pokemon Go? Of course, that would only be a selling point if you cared whether anyone found you out.

Overall, I’m pleased with the PokeBall Plus, but I know that it’s not going to appeal to everyone. If you have one of the Let’s Go games, it adds a novelty to the experience. But to be honest, I found myself using a joy-con while playing, instead. If you play Pokemon Go, and want to add to the experience what feels like a late-game power-up in a video game, then you might find yourself enjoying the PokeBall Plus. But it’s most likely to appeal to you if you fall into both categories.

However, if you don’t play Pokemon Go, and you’re starting to move on from Let’s Go to some other games, then the PokeBall Plus would likely start to spend a lot of time sitting in your entertainment center as a conversation piece.

Also, for the modders out there: the matte nature of the rubber may make it difficult for paint to stick to the thing. It’s a shame, I was looking forward to seeing what people would come up with.

But hey, while the promotion is still running, you can still get a Mew out of the deal. Supposedly, it’s a limited-time thing, but I don’t know how long it’s supposed to last. Also, if it’s the Mew that you’re in it for, it would be much safer buying the PokeBall Plus new. Only one Mew would be distributed for each individual device.

The very specific nature of this accessory makes it difficult to score. If you don’t have at least one of the games it’s specifically-designed for, the PokeBall Plus is likely to be an expensive piece of plastic. But for hardcore Pokemon fanatics that wanted more of an element of immersion, it might be a dream come true.

Based on my own feelings about it, I can give the PokeBall Plus a score of 8.4 out of 10.

I wonder whether this thing would be compatible with any future Pokemon games? There might be some potential for expansion, here.

The Right Way to Play Pokemon Red and Blue

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This is one guide that’s overdue. By something like two decades.

If you were alive in the late nineties, there’s a strong chance you’ve played Pokemon Red and Blue. You may have even been one of the few to have played the Green version, which was exclusively available in Japan.

You may have been playing it, but have you been playing it right?

This is a guide on how to make the most effective team for a speedy playthrough of Pokemon Red, Blue, and even Green. This guide also makes the assumption that you’ll be attempting to play through the game without exploiting glitches.

If you were to exploit glitches, you’d be able to beat the game pretty fast. In fact, it’s possible to exploit a glitch to beat the game in under a minute. But even if you weren’t to go that route, you could easily get a Mew early in the game. Also, it would be possible to exploit an experience underflow glitch to get a level 100 pokemon at the beginning of the game. Then there’s the obvious Missingno. glitch. The list goes on.

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But when it comes down to it, what’s a glitch? If a glitch is something that the developers didn’t intend, then exploiting a glitch is similar to using a pokemon that’s strong because the developers didn’t properly balance the game. But hold on, we’ve actually been using the word “glitch” wrong. A technical definition of a glitch is a brief voltage spike that can cause a program to operate in a manner that was unintended. Yet, it’s come to be the term used for unintended behavior due to improper coding.

In any case, when a game glitches out (however you may define a glitch), the game is still obeying the laws of physics, and the programming is still being executed by the hardware in a manner consistent with natural laws. And in the case of Pokemon Red, Blue, and Green, the programming is a relatively simple assembly language. It just so happens that players have found ways to manipulate the addresses through the course of gameplay that result in outcomes that the original programmers didn’t intend.

But, I digress. This guide is about the most practical teambuilding choices for Pokemon Red, Blue, and Green. Thankfully, version exclusive pokemon don’t break the game, making it easy to group the three games together into one guide.

Many teambuilding guides for playthroughs I’ve seen tend to focus on choosing a team of six pokemon. While the players do succeed in making diverse teams of effective pokemon, the main flaw with these guides is that in the earlier games the experience points aren’t distributed to all party members in the same way that some of the newer games do. By late in the game, there’d be a need to power-level to make up for the fact that experience points gained from the typical playthrough don’t spread very well among a bigger team. It’s better for there to be a team of just a few core battlers that are higher-leveled and can take on what the game throws at them. What’s more, this enables the player to free up space on their team for dedicated HM users to grant the player mobility, while leaving move slots available for offensive battlers.

Also, if you’re looking to have an efficient playthrough, it’s best to come to the realization that it may be better to box a pokemon that’s no longer pulling it’s weight in favor of a more effective one. You’re treating pokemon like data in a game, because in this case, that’s just what they are.

So then, on to the teambuilding choices:

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Bulbasaur is my favorite generation one starter. However, while it gains a strong move in Razor Leaf and has lots of HP recovery options, Bulbasaur doesn’t have a diverse set of offensive moves for much of the game, and the HP recovery moves don’t lend Bulbasaur to being ideal for an efficient playthrough. What’s more, Bulbasaur’s defensive typing is terrible.

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The playground wars over which Kanto starter reigns supreme continues to this day. But as far as this guide goes, Squirtle is the clear winner.

Squirtle retains its effectiveness throughout the whole game. Squirtle beats Brock, easily. It’ll likely evolve to Wartortle soon afterwards, and it’s capable of going blow-for-blow with Misty, if it comes to that. It doesn’t do well against the next two gyms, but you’ll have other choices to help you with them. For most in-game opponents, it does very well, especially against the many hikers you’ll see that use Rock/Ground pokemon, and because it’s strong against those, it’ll be easy to pick up a few levels with a few stray wild pokemon you’ll find in caves. The final form, Blastoise, is great against the last two gyms. If Squirtle is your starter, it easily maintains its usefulness throughout the entire game.

Because Surf is one of Blastoise’s best moves, it’s a natural candidate for it. Blastoise can also learn Ice Beam and Blizzard, which gives it a punch against the many Flying types you’ll encounter in this game, and the Grass types that would usually give it trouble. The catch is, it’s dependent on TMs for Ice Beam and Blizzard.

Don’t despair Charmander, because once mega evolution becomes a thing, you’re going to make a serious comeback.

Nidoran boyNidoran girl

Which Nidoran is easier to find depends on the version you’re playing, but the boy is easier to find in the US Red version, while the girl is easier to find in the US Blue version.┬áBoth are great for similar reasons, and neither one suffers much in terms of difference in stat totals. The male one becomes a Nidoking, which benefits from higher Attack and Speed stats, but the female one becomes Nidoqueen, which learns Body Slam by level, which is considered superior to Nidoking’s Thrash. If the one you prefer is harder to find and you have some spare time, then you can catch one at the outset on Route 22 just west of Viridian City.

It’s okay to start with, but here’s the selling point: they evolve to their next stage up at level 16, which is about the time that you reach Mt. Moon. They evolve to their final stage using a Moon Stone, which you can obtain in Mt. Moon. See what I’m saying? You can have a fully-evolved, super-strong pokemon shortly after having obtained your first badge. And at level 23, they learn strong moves.

One thing to keep in mind is that they’ll pick up the Ground type, so they won’t necessarily do well against Misty’s Water types. However, you’ll have other pokemon on your team by the time you face her.

So, Gary is coming at you with a Bulbasaur? Go at him with your massive, spiky super-mouse. Ekans may be a natural predator, but you’re going to be the terror of Nugget Bridge. If you struggle at this point in the game with a Nidoqueen or Nidoking on your team, you’re doing something wrong.

When it comes time to leave Cerulean City, you’ll have the TM to teach your Nido Dig, so it’ll have a strong move that matches its type. This will make it very useful in the next gym.

It’s kind of hard to say, but the Nido will be replaced with a different Ground type before long in the game. Another pokemon will prove to be a better long-term choice. Don’t allow that to discourage you from enjoying the power trip while it lasts. Besides, the Nido can learn Strength, so there would still be a use for it on the team.

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You find Abra on Routes 24 and 25, north of Cerulean City. It’s annoying to find because it’s kind-of rare, and really annoying to catch, because it only knows Teleport, which has it escape from battle. When you encounter one in the wild, your best bet for catching it might be to just throw a ball at it and hope it works with it at full HP. Which isn’t unrealistic.

But it’s very much worth the trouble. Abra Evolves to Kadabra in just a few levels. At level 16, it becomes a powerful Kadabra, and learns the move Confusion. At that point, it’ll be all set to sweep most trainers that you’ll meet. Poison types are very common opponents in this game, used by many of the Team Rocket grunts that you’ll meet, and many of the Grass types you meet that can give your other teammates trouble will also be Poison type, so Kadabra supports your team very well.

One thing to know about Kadabra is that its Defense isn’t great. But its Speed and Special stats are so high, that most opponents might not be able to get a hit in before they get straight-up KOed! If opponents are KOed before they can take a shot at Kadabra, then it’s low Defense don’t be that much of a liability.

You can evolve Kadabra into Alakazam by trading it, but that’s not even necessary, because even Kadabra is strong enough to be a mainstay on your team throughout the rest of the game. The only thing that would threaten it with obsolescence would be Mewtwo, but that guy is available in the postgame, so that would have no effect on a playthrough. But hey, Mewtwo in gen one makes everything else obsolete, anyway.

Kadabra usually has some room for non-offensive moves, and it can learn Flash, so it’s a great choice to teach it the move when you obtain it.

There are a couple gym leaders that might give Kadabra trouble. One is Misty, because her Starmie is also a Psychic type, so it would resist Kadabra’s own Psychic-type moves, while dishing out the Water type Bubblebeam. Sabrina also uses Psychic types, including Alakazam. Overcoming her Alakazam might be challenging, but you can cheese yourself a victory with a little strategy:

First, have Kadabra use Flash on Alakazam to lower its accuracy. Use healing items as necessary. Once you’ve used the move a few times, the odds that Alakazam’s attacks will connect will be very low. At that point, just switch to some attackers that can hit hard and let them have at it. The idea is that even though Alakazam’s Special attacks are very strong, with decreased Accuracy, it might not get a hit in, so it might not make a difference. Keep in mind that even if you lower its Accuracy by a lot, there is still a small chance that Alakazam’s attacks can still connect.

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You can catch a Spearow quickly just to the east of Vermilion City. Don’t get too attached to it, because you’ll be trading it away pretty quick. If you’re playing the Japanese version of Pokemon Blue, go north of Vermilion city to Route 6 and catch a Pidgey, instead.

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There’s a trainer in Vermilion City who is willing to trade his Farfetch’d away. The pokemon he wants for it? A Spearow. Or a Pidgey, if you’re playing the Japanese version of Pokemon Blue. Give him what he wants, and you’ll get a Farfetch’d in return.

Why Farfetch’d? For mobility. It can learn Cut, which you’ll soon have a use for, and Fly, which helps immensely with mobility later on.

It’s mainly on the team for those HMs, but there are some players that like it in spite of it’s somewhat sub-par stats for the fact that it gets an EXP boost by virtue of being a traded pokemon, and it learns Swords Dance. Sounds cool, and if you want to try that, go ahead. Just keep in mind that it might not obey you if you overlevel it before obtaining certain gym badges.

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Poor ol’ Lt. Surge. He started up an Electric gym, but the pokemon that can beat them with little problem can be obtained with ease just outside of town. Even better yet, there’s a chance you might find the evolved form, a high-level Dugtrio, instead.

Diglett (Dugtrio) will replace Nidoking/Nidoqueen as the Ground type for your team. You might be hesitant, but hear me out. Diglett and Dugtrio learn excellent moves on their own without the use of TMs, which the Nido would be heavily dependent on. Dugtrio has slightly lower Attack, but it more than makes up for it in Speed. Also, the Nido’s Poison typing will later prove to be a great liability, especially against Sabrina and Giovanni, when you’d likely want something really fast, anyway.

So yeah, Dugtrio is the better long-term choice than Nidoking/Nidoqueen. It’s really tough being a Poison type in this game, just ask Bulbasaur and many other gen one Grass types.

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There’s an Eevee for you to pick up in Celadon City, and it’s yours for the taking. Eevee is one of the rare pokemon that can still learn moves by level after you use a stone to evolve it. And it so happens that you can obtain all three of the stones that you could use on it right there in Celadon City. The choice that fits this team the best would be the Thunder Stone, which can get you a Jolteon.

Remember the TM for Thunderbolt that you got from Lt. Surge? Jolteon is a prime choice to teach it to. It’s really a shame that you only get one in a non-glitched game, since it’s a great move. With Thunderbolt, Jolteon can power through the many Bird Keepers and Swimmers that are easy to find, giving Jolteon opportunity for plenty of levels. What’s more, Jolteon beats Gary’s Gyarados, which can otherwise be pretty challenging. It takes a while for Jolteon to learn Pin Missile, but it’s one of the few decent offensive options that actually gets super-effective hits against Psychic types in gen one.

You might consider eventually replacing Jolteon with Zapdos later on, but a word of caution: Zapdos is weak to Lorelei’s Ice-type moves, while Jolteon is not.

So, there you go. With that, you should have an effective team of core battlers and HM users. Here is how the team should look by the end of the game, with HMs indicated:

  1. Blastoise (Surf)
  2. Kadabra (Flash)
  3. Diglett
  4. Jolteon
  5. Farfetch’d (Cut, Fly)
  6. Nidoking/Nidoqueen (Strength)

“But what about…”

There are a few other choices you may have preferred that didn’t make the team. They’re not bad pokemon, and if you want to use them instead, it’s up to you. Here’s a few that have been considered, but didn’t quite make this team:

Gyarados
Gyarados has high stats all around, especially its Attack stat. The catch is that it must be leveled up from Magikarp, which is really inconvenient to do in these games, even if you can get early on. But there’s actually another catch: it doesn’t learn any power moves of its own type except for Water moves, which come off it’s Special stat, rather than its phenomenal Attack stat.

Doduo
If you haven’t tried using a Doduo, you’re missing out. You can obtain one right by Celadon City, and it has an easy time against that town’s gym. It’s evolved form, Dodrio, is a pretty strong Normal/Flying type, and can take down the numerous Grass types you see, easily. However, because Kadabra can do a better job against many of those same opponents, it was difficult to justify including it. Especially if you want to try using Farfetch’d to battle.

Articuno
Articuno comes at a high level, and comes with the super-useful Ice Beam. A Blizzard coming from Articuno does catastrophic damage, and it learns the move just one level after catching it. But its catch rate is low, which may necessitate soft-resetting multiple times while attempting to catch it. What’s more, it’s located at a very inconvenient place, at the bottom of Seafoam Islands. Seafoam Islands is a pain to go through, but thankfully, it’s an optional area, as the player can access Cinnabar Island by Surfing south of Pallet Town.

Zapdos
Like Jolteon, it’s dependent on the Thunderbolt TM to be effective. But the nod goes to Jolteon because it’s available earlier on, and is safer to use against Lorelei because it’s not weak to her Ice-type moves. But if you want to give Zapdos a try, it’s not nearly as inconvenient to get to as Articuno, and there’s something appealing about having an Electric type that’s immune to the Ground-type attacks that usually give them trouble.

Dratini
Comes too late in the game and at a low level for that point. It’s difficult enough to level it up to the point that it catches up to your teammates, but even then, it has to evolve to Dragonite (at level 55!) to really be worthwhile. But worse yet, Dragonite in gen one is highly overrated, save for a slow, cheesy strategy that’s better in multiplayer matches than in a speedy playthrough.

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Pikachu
I know, I know. Pikachu has fans. And it’s great that it can be obtained early on. One could make the case that it would be strong against Misty, but it would largely depend on its Thundershock attack, because it can’t learn Thunderbolt by level in Red, Blue or Green. But if you can get it all the way to Celadon City, you can evolve it to Raichu, and that’s certainly appealing.

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Now you know the right way to play Pokemon Red and Blue, as well as the rare Japanese Green version. That’s how Pokemon was played, way back in the day, before they started coming along with lots of new stuff.

Like lots of new pokemon, some of which are pretty cool.

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And new human characters, some with surprisingly complex motivations.

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And new gameplay mechanics to shake things up.

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Some of which encourage community in ways that provide hours of fun outside the main game itself.

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Wow, Pokemon sure has come a long way. And when it comes down to it, that’s just how we wanted it. I know that many of us like to get all nostalgic and remember the times when Pokemon was simple. But the fact is, even then, we saw potential for the series to go much further. Back in the Red and Blue days, we wanted there to be new pokemon. Lots more.

We wanted it so badly, that we’d go to public libraries because that’s how most people in the nineties accessed the internet. Then, we’d scour some Geocities pages on the chance that some random guy with a web page somehow had insight into the future of Pokemon. That’s what the internet was like back then. I remember going to the school library with a couple friends and doing just that. It was a time of pagers and fax machines, which would soon give way to emails and text messages.

We have a tendency to look at the past through rose-colored glasses, and in so doing, we seem to forget that the struggles we faced are every bit as vivid as the ones we face now. This is enabled largely because, in hindsight, we know we lived through them to see today. Not only that, we remember with fondness the things that we enjoyed back then. For those of us who liked Pokemon, that was one of those things. When we’re honest about it, we wanted new Pokemon with new characters. That’s one of those things that worked out.

The Pokemon games have been around for decades. The first ones were enjoyable, and there have been many enjoyable games in the series, since. As great as this was, great times are still ahead. Pokemon taught us to be positive and enthusiastic about the future, not just because it comes about without our input, but because we can train for it. It’s not just about training our pokemon, it’s about training ourselves to be better than we were before. Think about the ways that you can become a better you.

You can think of life as a game if you want to, but if you do, think about the rules and how you can get better at playing it, and take the practical actions necessary to achieve conditions of victory. A college degree? A successful career? Or something else? Choose a goal, and think about what you need to do to attain it. Then maybe you can think of a few pointers for winning at the game of life.

Train on.

The Right Way to Play Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu

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The game has been out for over a month, so the timing seems right for a teambuilding guide for the theoretical few that are struggling to get very far in Pokemon: Use Pikachu and Win.

Let’s not dance around it: Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu is an easy game. It may very well be the easiest game in the series with the exception of Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee, its version counterpart. Yes, they actually are easier than Pokemon X and Y. I don’t know why, but GameFreak seems to be on this stint where they feel like they have to compete with cell phone games. Look, if I’m going to spend $60 on a JRPG, I want it to have more more to it than some vapid cell phone app with all the depth of a puddle of rainwater. Besides, cell phone games are free. It’s hard to compete with that.

This guide is about practical team-building choices for those who want to quickly and efficiently power their way through the game. It’s probably better to take one’s time and savor the experience, but some players are in a rush to get to the post-game so they can build a competitive team, even though the Let’s Go competitive scene is pretty much summed up as beat-Mewtwo-and-win. But hey, it’s the player’s choice how they play through a cutesy game about huggem-squeezems.

Pokemon-pikachu-hd-wallpaper-background.jpgGet ready to see a lot of this guy.

Obviously, Pikachu is going to be on your team. It’s going to be the strongest pokemon available to you for most of the game, and it’s given to you right from the start. Mewtwo isn’t available until the postgame, but Pikachu can get you to that point.

A pointer for those who insist on having their pokemon perfect: The gender of the partner Pikachu is determined right when you start your save file, and is obvious at that point. If it’s the one you want, go with it. Otherwise, just reset. For nature, that’s determined when you enter the grass and encounter it, and you see its nature when you receive it in Oak’s lab. This would be the only partner Pikachu you get in a save file, so if its nature or gender matters to you, take the opportunity to soft reset for it. Its IV will be flawless, so don’t worry about that.

You’ll also have the choice of which trainer to play the game as. If you’re wondering who the girl is this time, here she is:

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Her name would be Elaine (Ayumi, for the elites). I suspect that she’d be the highly-popular choice. But you can also choose to play as the boy if you want to. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The partner Pikachu can pretty much get you through the game. It’s over-the-top busted for most of the playthrough, and because EXP is distributed evenly among all team members, don’t be afraid to lean heavily on Pikachu while catching a few other pokemon for backup.

For one thing, the partner Pikachu has better stats than other Pikachu you can capture. It’s almost like starting the game with a Raichu. Better yet, you can start to chain Pikachu at Viridian Forest at the game’s outset. You start with piles of Pokeballs, so you can actually get a pretty decent chain going. If you do this, you’ll gain plenty of EXP, and as the chain continues, you’ll get Pikachu Candy. This candy will increase each of the partner Pikachu’s stats by 1, and as you give Pikachu more of them, this can really add up. You can also gain plenty of Quick Candy by chaining Pikachu, which is another perk.

You can increase Pikachu’s advantage by chaining various pokemon, such as Caterpie for Health Candy, and Oddish for Smart Candy, to name some early-game examples. It’s really not necessary to go for lots of these candies to breeze through the game, however. I mostly ignored candies as I played through, and didn’t really have any problems. This game won’t do much to challenge you, and if you exploit the games deeper mechanics, it will be easier still.

Playing with partner Pikachu seems like it’s just for fun, but increasing friendship with Pikachu makes it perform better in battle. For one thing, it can sometimes just shrug off status conditions, healing them on its own. It can also sometimes hang in there with 1 HP remaining when something would have knocked it out, giving you the opportunity to heal it up with a potion. Its critical hit rate increases, too. Not only that, if you play with Pikachu often, it can sometimes use a special move in battle that does more damage if it’s friendship level is higher, or can give a stat boost to a teammate if you (for some reason) have a different pokemon out.

One would think that Pikachu would have problems with Brock, but Pikachu can learn Double Kick at level 9, giving it a super-effective edge against the Rock types he uses. Double Kick remains a useful move for a while, but mind the fact that Rock types usually have high Defense stats which might offset the type advantage somewhat.

At Cerulean City, you’ll find a move tutor in the Pokemon Center that can teach the partner Pikachu Zippy Zap. Pikachu would already likely beat Misty as it is, but Zippy Zap is a useful priority move. What this means is that it goes first unless a faster opponent also uses a priority move. Also, this move has a 100% critical hit rate, so it does double damage, and it ignores defense stat buffs. That’s insane. And with a base speed of 120, Pikachu is likely to outspeed everything you come across (it helps that Electric types can’t be paralyzed).

Once your friendship level with Pikachu is high, you can get a Raichu outfit at the Pokemon Fan Club in Vermilion City. You might not be able to evolve the partner Pikachu into Raichu, but you can at least deck it out in its merchandise. And you get a Raichu outfit to wear, too.

The Celadon City Gym is Grass type, which resists Electric moves. This would normally be a problem for a Pikachu, but the partner Pikachu can learn a strong Flying move in the same town’s Pokemon Center. Floaty Fall is a better move than Fly because you don’t have to wait for the next turn for it to work, and it can make the opponent flinch. Two for flinching.

To get into Celadon Gym, you have to show the woman in front a cute pokemon. I tried it, and yes, Raichu can get you in. Because of course it can.

raichu heart.JPGAdorable.

What’s more, partner Pikachu can also learn a strong Water move, Splishy Splash, so it will have an option to sweep the gyms on Cinnabar Island and Viridian City.

Most of this guide is about how OP the partner Pikachu is, and how most in-game opponents don’t stand a chance against it. But what if the unthinkable happens and Pikachu gets hit with two critical hits from strong Ground moves in a row? When that happens, it helps to have some pokemon as backup. I’ve selected a couple suggestions that can help with some opponents that Pikachu might have to attack more than once to KO.

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While it might seem like a joke, Magikarp can evolve to a Gyarados at level 20. Gyarados can hit hard with strong Water moves, and with its secondary Flying typing, it will be immune to the Ground moves that Pikachu would be weak against. You can obtain a Magikarp early on if you buy one from the Magikarp salesman at the Pokemon Center at the base of Mt. Moon. The guy is supposed to come off as a conman, but obtaining a Magikarp that early on is actually a pretty sweet deal. Because party pokemon gain EXP from captures and from Pikachu’s battles, it wouldn’t take long to get a Gyarados just by having Magikarp hang around in your party.

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Pikachu can beat Lt. Surge. But if you want to be sure, you can catch a Diglett at Diglett’s Cave. I kinda feel bad for Lt. Surge. A pokemon that can beat his gym with ease can be obtained in mass quantities just outside of town. You might even be able to find and catch the evolved form, Dugtrio, instead. It’ll be able to carry it’s weight through most of the game, so it’s a nice catch. It’s mainly for getting you Lt. Surge’s gym badge with ease. You can also get his autograph, while you’re at it.

I like Surge’s taste in pokemon, by the way.

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The other three pokemon on your team is really a matter of personal preference. There are no HMs in this game to worry about, so you can add some favorites to your team or try a pokemon you might not have considered.

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The main reason to add Aerodactyl to your team is so you’ll have a pokemon to help you fly in the sky in the post-game. Charizard or Dragonite can also do the job, but Aerodactyl is the easiest to come by (just take the fossil from Pewter City to the research facility on Cinnabar Island).

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It’s hard to disagree with having a Raichu following you around, and this game really brings out its cuteness. If you’d like, you can trade a Kantonian Raichu for an Alolan Raichu in Saffron City and give that one a try. It might be hard to trade a Raichu away, but you’d be getting a Raichu in return.

I’m having a hard time thinking of a sixth pokemon for a playthrough of Let’s Go Pikachu. Pikachu can get you through the game. Arcanine looks awesome, and riding it around is fun, so give that one a try if you feel inclined.

One might ask whether there’s a pokemon that can be brought in from Pokemon Go to make the game easier. Mewtwo, maybe? Pokemon Go Park is available late in the game (Fushia City), and the pokemon you get from it aren’t very high leveled and wouldn’t really break the game in the same way that the partner Pikachu has been up until that point.

If you have the Pokeball Plus accessory, you’re in for a really easy game (more so than it was already). If you put a pokemon in it at the start of the game and take it for a long real-life walk, it’s likely to gain piles of levels when the pokemon returns from the stroll (it doesn’t actually leave the game). You can use this to make the partner Pikachu even stronger than it has to be. The partner pokemon is actually the default option. If the event Mew is still available to you and you go for that, you can have a level 1 Mew early on. But it won’t remain level 1 for very long if you return it to the ball and take it for a decent walk.

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Mew has high base stats across the board, and can learn any TM in the game. You’re free to ponder the implications of that.

So there you have it, now you know how to beat one of the easiest games on the market. If you somehow found a way to lose a battle against an in-game opponent, please let me know how you did it in the comments below.

I actually lost my first attempt against Raichu Master Charlotte. The master trainers don’t mess around.

Nintendo starts rolling out bans for Switch hackers

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As a prominent Switch hacker called “Shiny Quagsire” just found out, Nintendo has begun rolling out bans for those who hack the Nintendo Switch. What the bans come down to is removing the most significant online components of the affected consoles. While banned consoles can still update their games and access news channels, they may not access Nintendo’s eShop or access any online component in games or participate in social media through them.

Ouch.

Shiny Quagsire thought he could circumvent the ban by using a different Switch console, and entered his Nintendo Network account credentials. However, the ban was extended to his second console, as the Nintendo Network account associated with his hacking activity was banned, meaning he can no longer use the account to purchase any new games.

Wow, it’s almost as though Nintendo doesn’t want anyone hacking their consoles or using them to play pirated software.

Here is what the ban message looks like, as shared by Shiny Quagsire himself:

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The notice contained an invitation to contact Nintendo’s customer support, which Shiny Quagsire did. This was the reply that he got back:

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TL;DR: “You’re the kind of person we don’t want using the online component of our system, so we don’t regret banning you at all. Please refer to the EULA where you agreed that if you hack your system or put pirated games on it, you’d be aware that we could totally wreck your system (though, this time, we merely settled for disabling the funnest online components).”

It’s kind of amusing how resigned to the outcome that Shiny Quagsire turned out to be, as though this wasn’t the worst of all possible outcomes, especially if pirated software were involved.

Personally, I think that the prospect of hacking Switches seems pretty awesome, provided that a person isn’t doing anything illegal. If a person can hack a Switch to get Linux running on it, that’s pretty awesome.

What grinds my gears is hacking software to give one’s self an unfair advantage in online multiplayer games. As I see it, if a person spent $60 on a game to participate in the online experience, hacking to give one’s self an advantage in online play takes something of value from the other players. A prime example of this would be the Global Trade Station (GTS) in the more recent Pokemon games. In the Diamond and Pearl days, the GTS was flooded with pokemon with request criteria that was impossible to fulfill, and players were doing this to take advantage of an exploit that could duplicate their pokemon. Because players would often leave their pokemon up for trade, the GTS came to be filled with pokemon that remained until they were automatically removed.

Things are even worse in online FPS games where a person could activate a hack that could make their character invincible so that no one else can do anything about them. There are many other exploits as well, and they each have the effect of ruining the online experience of the game in question, and game companies should care about this because it damages the reputation of the game franchise as well as the game company itself.

Considering this, it’s great that Nintendo is doing something about cheaters and hackers, because it means a better experience for the rest of us. When I see people getting banned that actually deserve it, it makes me not regret buying a Nintendo Switch at all.

I know that some in the hacking community may take issue with my assessment. What I’d have to say would depend on what you’ve been doing with your game system:

  • If you use your system to play pirated games, you have no reason to be upset. If you steal your games to begin with, why do you want to access the eShop? Besides, just be glad Nintendo didn’t notify the FBI (though, if they did, you might end up getting a visit).
  • If you cheat at games and want to play them online, Nintendo was right to ban you. If that’s how it happened, then I find the outcome refreshing. If you upload an entitled tantrum to YouTube, I might find it and get a laugh out of it.
  • If you hack your Switch just for fun, it’s unfortunate that you got banned. But, if you were smart enough to hack your Switch, you should have been aware of a banning as a possible outcome.

Have you ever tried to convince a cheater in Pokemon that cheating was wrong and that they shouldn’t do it? I have, and you’d be impressed at their capacity to avoid acknowledging the obvious. After a while, I just stopped attempting to reason with them and left it to Nintendo to deal with them appropriately.

For those who are planning on hacking the upcoming Pokemon games for Nintendo Switch, this latest round of bans is your warning shot. Even if you avoided getting sniped this time around, the latest bannings are like that bullet that whizzes right by your head, perhaps taking out a few hairs as it goes, as if to say, “Rethink taking another step forward.” And if Nintendo is going to start charging to use their online services, it’s only expected of them to clear out anyone that’s going to subtract from the experience.

I know that there might be some cheaters reading this that would be triggered by it. If you’re one of them, just get over yourself. You’re not the only person who plays games online, and the rest of us want you off. When you get banned, we get what we want. End of story.

A Kanto reboot might actually be a great idea.

There have been rumors of a Kanto reboot for the upcoming Pokemon game on Nintendo Switch. At first, I wasn’t very fond of the idea, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like it might actually be a great idea.

It’s true that there would be a nostalgic element to it, which is pretty obvious. While Kanto may have been done pretty heavily in Pokemon, it’s been a long while since the Kanto region appeared in a Pokemon game. It last appeared in a 4th gen game as a post game area, and it hasn’t been a central focus since 3rd gen, and right now, we’re moving on to the 8th gen. Therefore, while Kanto may be heavily represented, it hasn’t been overplayed in recent times. There might be some merit to returning to the region if there were some way to represent it that hasn’t been done in a long time.

A recent interview revealed that there was a pokemon that was scrapped before the release of Pokemon Red and Green, which was intended as an evolution to Raichu. It would have been called Gorochu, and it would have had fangs and horns. Not only that, it got into the original design concept for Pikachu, which was originally intended to be a squirrel pokemon that resembled a daifuku bun with ears.

Sometimes, game developers share their thought processes for character designs after a game is released. But this information comes so far after the release of the original games and is so specific to their iconic mascot, there might just be something to their decision to share it, especially considering just how tight-lipped they’ve been about characters that didn’t make it into the game.

If GameFreak were to make a new Pokemon game rebooting the Kanto region, what’s an obvious way to make it interesting? By using ideas that were considered for the original game, but might not have made it. There are quite a few elements that were considered for the original games that didn’t make it to the final version, and here are just a few we know about:

  • There were originally intended to be as many as 190 pokemon in the original games. When Red and Green were released, they had only 151 of those pokemon, with some of those pokemon included in the Gold and Silver versions, and we know of Gorochu as a pokemon that hasn’t been included in a game, yet.
  • There was originally intended to be a plotline putting trainers that were kind to their pokemon against the ones that were harsh. The harsh trainers carried whips on them. While the plotline wasn’t included, the sprite art for some characters in the final games still depicted them with whips, including Tamers, Team Rocket, and even the gym leader Sabrina.
  • Early art revealed a slightly different roster of gym leaders, with a young boy being pictured before Brock, and Giovanni being excluded from the roster. This boy may have been the original gym leader of Viridian City.
  • Data for Pokemon Red and Green contained trainer data for Professor Oak that wasn’t used in the final version of the game. His pokemon were top-tier, and their levels were high, suggesting that he may have been available to battle right after the champion. In the final games, he does appear in the champion room, but not as a trainer you can battle.

On top of this, there are new regions and game mechanics that can be used to make the game more interesting. In terms of gameplay mechanics, mega evolutions and Z moves are already a part of the more recent games. For new areas to explore, the last Kanto remakes included new areas called the Sevii Islands. Not only that, there’s the fact that Johto is located right next to Kanto that can make it a convenient inclusion.

Considering all this, there is certainly plenty that GameFreak can do with a Kanto reboot that would keep it interesting. The nostalgic elements would appeal to those who remember the original games, and might even draw some old players back in. The inclusion of elements that weren’t a part of the original games would guarantee that everyone playing the game would have something new to do.

Of course, it’s possible that the upcoming Pokemon game for Switch won’t be a reboot. It seems sensible for a new Pokemon game on new hardware to offer a new region with new pokemon, as has always been the case until now. One way or the other, it might not be a bad idea to avoid getting one’s hopes up for a certain outcome. Whatever it is that GameFreak ends up doing, they’d likely do it after carefully considering how they could give us the most interesting experience.

Having said that, Gorochu sounds like an interesting concept.

Hackers arrested and fined millions for PUBG hack

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Fifteen hackers have been arrested in China for a PUBG hack. News titles for this story are clickbaity, and would lead you to believe that the arrests occurred over cheating, which probably is illegal anyway, since it involves defrauding other players in an online gaming community of an experience that they pay money for and involves tampering with software programs that are protected by federal laws and international treaties, but I digress.

The arrests occurred over a Trojan horse in the cheat codes distributed, which then proceeded to mine that person’s computer for information. Most of us probably know someone who thinks that they are some kind of genius just because they can use the internet to download movies, video games, music, and lots of other stuff without paying for it, not knowing that those who provide these files illegally take what they can from them, as well.

Let’s get real here: hackers don’t do what they do out of the goodness of their hearts. What they are doing is highly illegal, and if caught, they can face some heavy penalties (millions of dollars in fines and years in federal pound-me-in-the-stinkhole prison). They’re taking an extraordinary risk in distributing something illegally, which they wouldn’t likely do unless they got something in return that could make it worth the risk of spending years in jail, where there are no video games, or much fun to be had at all, for that matter. We’ve already established that they have no problem with stealing from multi-million-dollar companies, which have legal teams that could retaliate against them big-time. Why wouldn’t they also steal from you, someone who can pretty much do nothing about it, if they can get away with it? If someone is taking the risk of going to jail for years, they’d likely take anything that they can to justify the risk.

Of course, your kid brother probably thinks that they’re safe because they also downloaded free anti-virus programs from the internet, which are just about the digital equivalent of placebos when it comes to locating, removing, and preventing Trojan horses. Then, after having illegally downloaded some files, connections for everyone else on the network slows down the moment that they open their cheap laptops as they unwittingly send piles of information to people who benefit financially from their illegal activity.

People who cheat in video games ruin the online experience for the rest of us, and people who download stuff illegally ruin the bandwidth for everyone else on the network, so I feel like laughing a little when they get what’s coming to them. They really can’t expect much in the way of sympathy if they get caught.

Is Pokemon trying too hard to relive its past?

Capsule_Monsters_mapThis place is so old.

There’s something that’s been on my mind for a while, and with recent speculation that the upcoming Pokemon game on Nintendo Switch may be a reboot of the 1st gen games, it gets a new sense of urgency. That concern is that Pokemon has been doing a bit too much to attempt to relive its past.

I do understand the strong attachment to the Kanto region, its pokemon, and the characters associated with it. After all, that’s the place where the Pokemon franchise got its start. My concern is that, if 1st gen elements are over-represented, they can wear old, especially for faithful players that have been playing Pokemon for a long time.

One of the main concerns that Pokemon’s development team has had over the years is that Pokemon can be perceived as a game that one can “graduate” from, and move on to other games. This is an understandable concern, as Pokemon’s more complex strategic elements may not be immediately evident. This being the case, I question the effectiveness of continually returning to Kanto as a means of appealing to players that were involved in the early stages of the franchise but moved on to something else, or as an appeal to nostalgia.

For one thing, a continual return to Kanto and repeated nostalgic appeals can create the impression that Pokemon hasn’t been doing much since its early days. A person who hasn’t played Pokemon in a long time might see continual returns to Kanto and over-representation of 1st gen pokemon, and think the franchise isn’t really doing anything new. And if it doesn’t give us an experience we haven’t already had, that makes it easier to skip it.

We’re still hoofing through Viridian Forest, on the way to Pewter City to get a Boulderbadge. We’re still taking on Team Rocket at Silph Co. and having repeated battles against Giovanni. We’re still going through several consecutive routes packed with trainers that have either Normal/Flying or Grass/Poison pokemon, with little variation. We’re still battling a rival for the championship.

Is it really necessary to buy a new game for the same experience we’ve already had in several games we already own?

That question is not hyperbole. Consider for a moment just how many core Pokemon titles have included the Kanto setting:

First Generation: The Red, Green and Yellow versions all take place in Kanto. I’m not including Blue in this tally, since it’s pretty much the same game as Green.
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Second Generation: Gold, Silver and Crystal each include the Kanto region.
6/6

Third Generation: Ruby and Sapphire take place in an entirely new setting, but we see the first Kanto remakes in FireRed and LeafGreen before we see the Emerald version.
8/11

Fourth Generation: Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum all take place in a new region, but Kanto is included in HeartGold and SoulSilver.
10/16

Fifth Generation: Four new games, all taking place in the new Unova setting.
10/20

Sixth Generation: Two games taking place in the new Kalos region, and two rebooting the Hoenn region.
10/24

Seventh Generation: Four new games in the new Alola region.
10/28

Considering this information, there are a couple noticeable trends. For one thing, it’s that we’ve gone three generations without treading in the Kanto region. While this can be viewed as a sign that Pokemon has been moving forward and not leaning too heavily on nostalgia, this could be used as an argument that we’re somehow overdue for a Kanto reboot.

The second noticeable trend is that nine-fourteenths of the core games have included Kanto, which comes to nearly one-third! This wouldn’t be that much of a big deal if the franchise were still young, but considering that it’s at over two dozen core games, that’s a massive over-representation of an old setting!

Even during more recent times, we’ve been noticing a certain favoritism towards more nostalgic concepts. In the Kalos games, we got a choice between the three Kanto starters before long into the game, and they received mega evolutions. One of the early areas is a very close recreation of Viridian Forest, and one of the Gyms even reused the layout for the Saffron gym in Kanto! That’s a pretty obvious use of throwbacks.

What’s more, in the seventh generation, we were treated to special variants of Kanto pokemon. While this was a breath of fresh air in its own sense and gave us some great designs (such as Alolan Raichu), it’s notable that only Kanto pokemon got this special treatment.

And while speaking of the Alola region, the recent games (Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon), featured a team called Rainbow Rocket, which was a new Team Rocket. This team had Giovanni as it’s head, and saw the leaders of the other teams serving under the Team Rocket banner. That all these leaders with their conflicting visions could be united under Giovanni and Team Rocket are a clear expression of favoritism to the franchise’s more nostalgic concepts!

Another point to bring up is the release of the virtual console games during the 6th and 7th generations. These re-releases gave us access to the old first and second generation games. And, as noted above, this is a handful of games that each featured the Kanto region. This means that the 6th and 7th generation actually did see games with Kanto in them! What’s more, this recent over-representation of a single region would blunt any nostalgic feeling one would get from yet another Kanto game, such as the theoretical Kanto remakes for Switch.

This retreading of the 1st gen isn’t something that’s limited to the video games, either. We see it in the trading card game, as well. Within a few years of the debut of the initial Base Set expansion, we saw the release of Base Set 2, which mainly contained reprints of cards from the Base Set, and was widely regarded as a rip-off. More recently, we saw the release of the Generations expansion. While the cards were mostly redone with the game’s power creep in mind, that it was intended to be a throwback to the original Base Set is obvious.

As far as the anime goes, one needs only look to the more recent movies to see the nostalgic appeal. Last year’s movie was a retelling of Ash’s first departure from Pallet Town with Pikachu. This year’s movie will have a story featuring Lugia, who was a staple character of the second movie. Even the main anime recently had a story arc with Ash making a short visit to Kanto to visit Brock and Misty.

Pokemon is a great franchise, but it spends way too much time living in the past. And if GameFreak is going to be leaning on the same feelings of nostalgia that they have been for the upcoming installment on Switch, I might not be feeling very strongly about it. Considering that Pokemon was one of the most innovative and creative games of all time when it made its debut, I think it appropriate that the game’s maker, GameFreak, continue to demonstrate that they’re capable of innovation and forward-thinking. After all, we saw a watch with a touch screen in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl about a decade before they became commercially available!

Naked Statues Censored in Assassin’s Creed Origins

egypt now with seashellsStill hot for those with a seashell fetish.

Naked statues were censored in Assassin’s Creed Origins. It’s not as big a deal as it sounds, considering that what’s censored is a special educational mode that could likely be used in schools.

Just that in itself is mind-blowing: that Assassin’s Creed could be used to teach students about history. Not that Assassin’s Creed was the first game to try.

mario is missingRemember this one?

While it’s true that the act of censoring the statues seems unnecessary, there are people who are in so big a hurry to decry anything that they see as censorship that they don’t take a little time to look into the story to know what’s really going on. There are some who are making this out to be about Ubisoft caving in to pressure to avoid an AO (adults only) rating, even though the original game received no such rating.

The decision did have to do with ratings, but the ratings would have been for the stand-alone educational mode. The ratings issue had no bearing on the original version of the game, for which the educational mode would just be an optional extension that the player doesn’t even need to download or use. Ubisoft was merely acting to ensure that the mode, when sold as a stand-alone, would be accessible for a wider audience, considering that it may be used in schools.

It’s kind of ironic that a game about ancient Egypt is being praised for its historical accuracy when the game makers insist on removing the nudity, even from the statues. For one thing, the statues in ancient Egypt were likely painted. We know that this was the case in Greece, but the paint peeled off, which is why they look the way they do today. Also, public nudity was very common in ancient Egypt. In fact, persons were not even permitted to wear clothing until the age of 15. Even Pharaoh’s own children were not exempt from this rule. Imagine how well it would have gone over if Ubisoft had gone for historical accuracy in this regard. Also, imagine the money Egyptians saved on back-to-school shopping.

In spite of this, ancient Egypt was actually among the most moral societies in the ancient world. They get a bad rap today because, at one point, the Pharaoh refused to free some slaves that he should have.

Also, contrary to popular belief, ancient Egypt wasn’t the sandy wasteland that it is today. Egypt was actually fertile, particularly closer to the Nile. In spite of this, the Egypt of Assassin’s Creed Origins was sandy and gritty pretty much all over the place, which would lead one to question just how a civilization thousands of years old could thrive so long with such limited potential for agriculture.

So while you might get a nice history lesson from Assassin’s Creed Origins’ guided tour mode, don’t count on it to be entirely historically accurate. Even putting aside the gratuitous seashells.

The Right Way to Play Pokemon Crystal

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Pokemon Crystal is now on 3DS Virtual Console, with a special bonus: the game has been modified so that the Celebi event is now a part of normal gameplay! Not only that, the event can be accessed earlier than the original Japanese event would have allowed, so players can obtain one after beating the Elite Four!

This being the case, many players will make it their mission to breeze through the game as efficiently as possible in a mission to obtain Celebi. That’s where this guide comes in. This is a team building guide for Pokemon Crystal with the aim to choose the most proven and effective pokemon to get you through the game.

There are a few things I would like to point out about this guide. This guide is different from most teambuilding guides that you’ll find on the internet in several respects.

For one thing, this guide does not recommend for you a team of six battling pokemon, and there are a couple good reasons for this. First, most teambuilding guides out there don’t include dedicated HM users that can keep your team clean for you. The other reason is that leveling a team of six pokemon is cumbersome, and can take up a lot of time. Later in the game, the trainers that you see will not provide nearly enough experience to keep a full team of six decently leveled. All that experience spreads easier among only three or four pokemon, and it’s generally better to have a few stronger pokemon that can get the job done than a full team that can’t quite cut it.

Next, you’re going to want to get comfortable with boxing pokemon that are no longer pulling their weight. That’s especially true in this game, where there are several water types to choose from that can serve the team decently well, some for HMs.

What’s more, this guide assumes that you’re not exploiting glitches to get through the game fast. It’s also not a speed run guide, and the assumption is that you won’t be using external tools to get through the game. If you have a code-altering device and don’t care about playing fair, just hack yourself a Celebi and be done with it.

Okay, now for the pokemon. First up is your choice of starter:

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Out of the starters, the best choice is Cyndaquil. This is something you should have seen coming. Cyndaquil is useful against the most major in-game opponents, such as Bugsy, Jasmine, Pryce, Koga, Karen, and so on. Fire is a great type to have in this game, but there aren’t many that are available early on, and of the ones available through most of the game, Cyndaquil is the best. Not only that, it’s evolved form Typhlosion can learn Thunderpunch to hit the Water types that usually give it trouble. Also, it’s a pokemon that’s also an explosion. It’s not just strong, Typhlosion wins on principle.

Why not Totodile? There are many, many superb Water pokemon to choose from in Crystal, and they are abundant. Totodile’s evolved form Feraligatr would simply be outclassed by many pokemon of the same type. And why not Chikorita? Because it’s a punching bag. It has too many weaknesses and too few useful offensive moves.

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You’ll want to catch a Sentret. Sentret can learn Cut, but so can Cyndaquil. Sentret’s main selling point is that it can learn Surf, and it’s the earliest available pokemon (besides Totodile) that can learn it and is available in grass rather than on water. Sentret can be found on Route 29 during the morning or day. But if it’s night and you don’t want to wait, you can instead catch Poliwag on Routes 30 and 31 during the night. Poliwag doesn’t learn Cut, but can learn Surf. Whichever one you catch, it will be quickly replaced once you can catch a better pokemon that can use Surf.

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Next, catch a Hoothoot. You can catch it on Route 29 at night. Don’t bother leveling it up, its purpose on your team is to later learn Fly and Flash. It also helps to have a different pokemon to switch into to end status effects in battles. This is helpful against Falkner, because he likes to lower accuracy.

After this, you’re only going to have a few pokemon on your team. You’ll be relying on Cyndaquil a lot, so don’t be afraid to level it up. You’ll also want to save your money for later on, so being higher leveled means relying less on items. The ones you find lying around usually suffice. Early on, saving up money is important, and I’ll get into why shortly.

With this single-battler approach, the most troublesome opponent you’ll face along the way is your rival, who will have a level 16 Croconaw with Water Gun when you encounter him at the entrance to Ilex Forest. If you’re leveled sufficiently, you should be able to overcome it.

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It’s Casey! Most of you likely saw this coming. Abra is just too good to pass up. You can obtain one from the Game Corner, but it’s only level 5 in Crystal, so you may as well try getting a level 10 one from Route 34. Abra teleports at first chance, so your best bet is to try catching it as soon as it appears.

Abra is the reason you’ve been saving your money up. In the Goldenrod Dept. Store, you can buy the TMs for Thunderpunch, Fire Punch, and Ice Punch for 3000 yen each. You’ll want to teach your Abra all three. Once it evolves to Kadabra at level 16, it will learn a Special attack to match it’s type, and will have phenomenal Speed and Sp.Atk stats! With it’s awesome selection of moves and great stats for using them, you might find yourself relying on Kadabra a little too much!

And it gets better: Kadabra can evolve into the unnecessarily-strong Alakazam by trading! If you have the option to do this, the rest of the game might not be much of a challenge. But that’s the idea; you’re trying to win.

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The next pokemon you’ll want to catch is another Abra on Route 34. This Abra won’t be for battling, but trading to a guy at Goldenrod Dept. Store for a…

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Machop. This Machop serves just one purpose on your team: to take on Goldenrod Gym. It can just about solo it, depending on its level. It can level up fast due to being a traded pokemon, which also helps. You might have a better time of Goldenrod Gym if you level Machop a bit first, but that’s only a minor inconvenience.

Whitney herself takes a bit of strategy. One approach that works for me is sending Quilava (Cyndaquil) against Miltank first, then have it use Smokescreen as long as it can get away with it, or until it has lowered its accuracy as far as it can go. Miltank’s Rollout might seem like a problem, but it starts weak and gains in strength with successive hits. But if its accuracy is lowered, it’s really hard for it to get those successive hits in. After that, Machop shouldn’t have much trouble cleaning up.

After Whitney is beat, you can just box Machop. It’s served its main purpose for this team. However, if you want to keep it in your team, that’s not a bad choice. It evolves into Machoke at level 28, and performs decently well against Jasmine and Pryce, and if you have a friend to trade with, you can get a superstrong Machamp. It’s your call.

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Gyarados is basically a glorified HM slave as far as this team goes, but it can hold it’s own until you get Suicune if you choose to use it in battle. After beating Morty, your pokemon can use Surf out of battle, so use that to get to the shiny Gyarados in the middle of the Lake of Rage. It’s a one-off encounter, so be sure to save the game beforehand just in case you mess it up. Once you catch it, your Poliwag can be boxed if you caught one, as its purpose was to get you to Gyarados. Sentret can remain if you didn’t teach your Cyndaquil Cut.

Gyarados can learn Surf, Strength, Whirlpool and Waterfall, so it can grant you some serious mobility. Not only that, its stats are great, so using it as a battling pokemon isn’t a bad idea. Thrash is a recommended move if you choose to have it battle. Just know that there are no Water physical moves in Gen II, and Gyarados gets no offensive Flying moves, so much of its Attack potential goes to waste.

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The phenom. Suicune has excellent stats all around, you can teach it Surf, and it’s only one level away from learning an Ice type move once captured. And it has a majestic appearance on top of all that.

At this point, your team should look like:

typhlosion.pngkadabra.pngsuicunehoothootgyaradossentret

Typhlosion (battler)
Kadabra (battler)
Suicune (battler)
Hoothoot (Flash, Fly)
Gyarados (Surf, Strength, Waterfall, Whirlpool)
Sentret (in case you’d rather not teach Typhlosion Cut)

With that, you should be set for the rest of the game. One thing I recommend is making sure that Kadabra and Suicune are leveled well, because strong Ice users will come in handy against Lance. It’s possible to solo him with Kadabra, but it would take either a high level or careful play.

But what about…

There are a few options that are left out, so I’ll go over them.

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Lapras is an excellent Water type for your team. It can learn Surf, Ice Beam, and Thunder, and you can obtain it right after you get to use Surf. The catch is, you can only catch one on Fridays. You’re not likely to be playing through the game pretty quickly if you’re waiting for a certain day of the week to catch a certain pokemon. Therefore, you’re likely much better off not concerning yourself with getting a Lapras for your playthrough.

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Dratini is available too late in the game at too low a level, and even once fully-evolved, there are still better choices against your late-game opponents. The Extremespeed Dratini gift in Blackthorn City is more of a trophy pokemon than one that you’d use in a serious playthrough.

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You might think that that Unown there is a joke, but you’d be surprised how many people get distracted during what is supposed to be a focused playthrough. You’re trying to get through Crystal quickly, getting distracted by ridiculous side-quests isn’t helping. Especially that Ruins of Alph side-quest. If you can find all the different forms of Unown, so what?

So, for your playthrough of this 17-year-old game, what’s your prize? Here it is:

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A Celebi! Once you beat the champion, go to the Goldenrod Pokemon Center, take a step up, and try to leave. Someone will give you the GS Ball. Take it to Kurt. After that, you’ll have to wait a day for the event to continue, but then you can visit Kurt again, and he’ll give the ball back to you. Take it to the shrine in Ilex Forest to make a Celebi appear there! It’s a good idea to save the game before interacting with the shrine, in case you mess up catching Celebi.

The Celebi is at level 30. Sadly, its level will be high enough that it will have replaced its more competitively viable moves with different moves on its learnset, and there is no move relearner in Gen II. However, you can transfer it up to a Gen 7 game, and have it learn its moves in those games.

Also, you have the opportunity to get a shiny Celebi this way, though the odds of any encounter with one being shiny is 1 in 8192. Have fun soft-resetting, shiny hunters.

The right way to play Pokemon Platinum

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Note: this post is largely just a joke. If you don’t have a sense of humor (due to some unfortunate accident or whatever), you’d be happier reading something else. But if you do take this advice seriously and play through Pokemon in this manner, let me know with a comment below.

With the release of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the real fans are disappointed because we wanted to see a Sinnoh remake instead of a remake of a game that’s hardly a year old. However, there’s already a Sinnoh remake that we can play on 3DS, and that game is called Pokemon Platinum.

You might have heard that there’s no wrong way to play a Pokemon game. This is a vacuous platitude that’s enjoyed by those who are satisfied with mediocrity. Every game has an objective, and that objective is to win. Winning is what this guide is about.

Another thing you might have seen around the intertubes would be guides on how to make the best teams for Pokemon games. Most of these guides are flawed because they suggest making full teams of six pokemon that are viable for battles. The problem with teams like this is that they tend to flounder in the late-game, when the levels of opponents are really high, but the team is under-leveled because the experience yield doesn’t spread as well among a larger team.

A better approach would be to focus on a battling core of two to four pokemon, with the rest of your team being open for utility pokemon and HM users. This way, you’ll have some higher-level pokemon that are better suited to take on late-game challenges while keeping grinding to a minimum. This is great, because in Sinnoh games, there’s often a need for late-game grinding.

The first major choice you’ll make in this game is to play as the girl, so when the prompt comes up to do so, you select this character:

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Then you name her Dawn. Everyone likes Dawn, and this game lets you play as her.

Next, you get to name your rival. The character limit is too short for Flapjack, so we’ll just go with Barry, because that’s what they call him in the show.

barry v flapjack

Your next significant choice is to choose Piplup as your starter.

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I know that most guides will give you plentiful technical reasons why Chimchar is the better choice. But Piplup is the better choice because it’s much cuter, and GameFreak finally made a penguin pokemon that isn’t total garbage. When it evolves all the way to Empoleon, it gains a secondary Steel typing, which gives it plenty of useful resistances, and it can be taught Surf, which could potentially free up room in your party that would otherwise be taken up by an HM slave. Also, Dawn chose Piplup as her starter, so there’s that.

Next, you’re going to want to catch a Starly.

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Starly is great on so many levels. For one thing, it and its evolved forms learn Defog and Fly, which takes care of those HM moves. Not only that, its final form Staraptor has excellent speed and attack stats, and uses them well with moves like Aerial Ace and Close Combat. Because it gains the Intimidate ability later on, it can lower the Attack stat of your opponents just by being sent into battle. This is one of the few early-game bird pokemon that remains good throughout the game.

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You’re also going to want to catch a Bidoof. Bidoof isn’t in this team for battling, it’s there for HMs. Bidoof can learn the Cut and Rock Smash HM. Its evolved form can additionally be taught Surf, Strength, Waterfall, and Rock Climb, so it can grant you some serious mobility. You’ll even be able to find Bibarel before you’ll need those moves, so there’s no need to level up your Bidoof. The only real catch is that it can only know four of those moves at a time, but you can have both in your team.

I know what some of you might be thinking: this team is too weak to electric moves. That’s why Gible was chosen to round out this team.

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Gible doesn’t take long to evolve to Gabite, and late in the game, it becomes a superstrong Garchomp. What to do in the meantime? Teach it Earthquake, which is available in the very same cave you catch Gible in. You’ll have a seriously strong Ground type that also happens to be a Dragon. Why wouldn’t you? Also, it’s a land shark that can fly. Pokemon doesn’t mess around.

I know that some of you might be squeamish about going that far in the game with such a weakness to Electric moves, but it’s really not a big deal. Pachirisu could present a challenge, but it doesn’t learn an offensive Electric move until level 13, and you don’t encounter one that strong until Eterna Forest. Some trainers use Electric types on Route 206, but you’ll find the cave with Gible in it on the same route.

Note: Gible can only be found by using the cave’s hidden entrance, not the obvious one. The hidden entrance is under the bike path, not to the side of it.

And that’s pretty much your team. What, that’s not much? Of course not. This team works so well, that one or two slots don’t need to be used. You’re bucking the materialistic zeitgeist by playing like a Spartan! You won’t need as many pokeballs, because you’ll have just a few pokemon that can do the job. You won’t need as many healing items because you’ll have just a few higher-level pokemon that are better at taking attacks and dishing them out.

Some players either turn up their nose when it comes to legendaries, or prefer to put off catching them until it’s easier to soft-reset for an ideal nature. If you’re not one of these guys, then there are two pokemon that stand out as being excellent choices:

  • Giratina – Has excellent typing and defensive stats, and can be taught a variety of offensive moves. You have to encounter this guy as part of the story, but if you KO it, you can get another chance after becoming champion, so don’t feel like you have to catch this guy right away.
  • Azelf – Its typing isn’t that great, but it’s Speed and Special Attack stats are very high. Think “glass cannon”.

The question might come up: What do I do about such-and-such-opponent? Wouldn’t they be kind of challenging with this team setup? A valid question. The surest way to overcome any in-game opponent is with a tried and true strategy that I like to call, “assail with overwhelming force”. By maintaining a massive statistical advantage over your opponent, you increase your chance of victory.

If at any point you come across an opponent that’s too strong for you, here is what you do:

  1. Go into some grass or into a cave
  2. Walk around until a wild pokemon shows up
  3. KO that wild pokemon to collect EXP
  4. Repeat the process until your pokemon gains a level

Each time you do this, you increase your statistical advantage, making your pokemon much better at “assail with overwhelming force”.

Then keep going until you’re crowned the champion, and you’ll have beaten this game about friendship by demolishing everything in sight.