Sunday, May 25, 2014

Four Job Fiesta

There are a few websites that do group playthroughs of games that are well known in the gaming community, for example, classic Final Fantasy games, perhaps on the PS1, might be chosen, and played through as a group, with thoughts on the game, current progress and other things being shared depending on the community's choice. Quite a few of the websites I frequent have had playthroughs like this, and I like these ideas.

One example is the Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta. This is done every year, often streamed on twitch and played for charities.
I've never actually taken part in it yet, but I have always liked the idea of trying it out. This year's Fiesta is coming up in about 5 or 6 days at the start of June.

There is also the Summer of Old JRPGs over at Kotaku. I haven't taken part in any of these playthroughs at Kotaku, but I have been itching to play some classic (turn-based) JRPGs recently, and this might be pretty cool, depending on how it ends up working.
I think if I was to play along with this and could choose my own list of games to play through, mine would look like this (I would probably have to narrow this down):
Phantasy Star (I own this on the GBA collection)
Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions (I own the PSP version, not the original. One of the best)
Dragon Warrior (don't own this, but I would track down the Game Boy collection)
Final Fantasy (I own this on GBA, but have been wanting to play the PSP version)
Shin Megami Tensei (don't own, but I would try the IOS version)
Chrono Trigger (DS version, in here as it is one of the best RPGs)
Breath of Fire (I own it on GBA)
Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age (these are pretty nostalgic for me, I like these games)
Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon (I don't know anything about this series unfortunately, I still need to get into it, and this is the only one I own)

Some other cool links:
JRPGs for beginners/newcomers to the genre - Its a community list in the comments
IGN's top 100 RPGs
Shiness - a kickstarter coming to the end of its time period and looks very polished. However, it still has a bit to go before it is funded. So go check that out. For me, I'm done with kickstarter after one of them just took people's money and scammed everyone. The other one I've funded keeps getting pushed back.

Pokemon Black 2: The Chronicles of Izalith #8

Since last time, I made it through the scenes following the last gym with Team Plasma and some story about the Unova Dragons, Reshiram and Zekrom, and onwards through the Marine Tube to the town with the final gym, Humilau City. Its actually quite a small amount of content in between these gyms, well perhaps compared to last time (as I did a lot of grinding and spent time catching 2 out of 3 of those 'lion' pokemon: Cobalion, Virizion and the one I've not found yet - Terrakion?)

Anyway, I had also looked through the nearby cave, Seaside Cave, as the gym leader in Humilau wasn't in. Confused as to where to go, I mess around for a while finding hidden items and trainers for some battles. Eventually, I find the gym leader. He was off swimming like an idiot somewhere.

Before I take on the gym, I thought I'd talk about some more recent news, which came out a while back. People in the pokemon community have long been requesting remakes of Ruby and Sapphire, and I thought they would eventually come out, after all, we have seen remakes of Red (as Fire Red, GBA), Green (as Leaf Green, GBA), Gold and Silver (as Heart Gold and Soul Silver respectively, on the DS).The remakes of Ruby and Sapphire will be coming out in November 2014 apparently. People are on the whole happy about this, but some people are saying it is a bit of a lazy, perhaps even desperate move for a quick cash in... I don't really care about the details to be honest, as long as I can play one of these games again.
They will be called Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby - Link to some cool reminders of what makes the Hoenn region an awesome world to set these games in. I do kind of hope that it adds something new to the formula and doesn't just faithfully rehash Ruby and Sapphire, however saying that, I really liked Sapphire and Emerald and played a lot of these games, so any opportunity to go back to the third generation will be really fun I reckon. There isn't a lot of info out there yet - but there is plenty of speculation so far about mega evolutions and stuff. Check out youtube and keep an eye out on sites like Serebii if you want to keep up with any announcements.

My team is now fairly strong, but not complete in terms of evolution just yet. Before taking on the gym, my team looks like this: Krookodile "Terra" lv49, Lucario "Genji" lv49, Sigilyph "Horus" lv49, Lampent "Vorpal" lv51, Magnezone "Iron Giant" lv53, Samurott "Barioth" lv51. I need to learn a few more moves with Lampent before I evolve it to the final evolution, Chandelure.

Gym #8 - Water

This is a cool gym in terms of theme and layout. Then again, I'm a fan of water pokemon and environments. The first lily pad on the left brings me over to a platform where I fight the first trainer. They have a Floatzel lv47, which hits my Magnezone pretty hard with Aqua Tail and outspeeds him a lot, but once I switch in and get Discharge off its not too much of a problem. I'll need to remember how fast and strong Floatzel can be if the boss turns out to have one.
The next trainer has an Alomomola lv48 as a lone pokemon. I managed to find one of these as a wild pokemon on a dark shimmery bit of water, so I remember they are fairly bulky. For this reason I put up Light Screen with Horus, and expected to potentially need two attacks with Iron Giant to KO it. But once I switch in, Discharge takes it out in one thankfully.
The next trainer has a Walrein lv48, which I switch from Horus into Iron Giant again. He uses Swagger on me, which is slightly annoying and always makes me reconsider, and switching again just to avoid damage from hitting myself. Not this time though, I decide I might as well stay in, and I hit myself and then take damage from Ice Fang. Next turn is the same, hitting myself and another Ice Fang, bringing Magnezone down to 38 HP smh...I go for a Hyper Potion, and next turn I finally get a Discharge away, getting rid of another trainer.
Next up is an Ace Trainer (one of the stronger types of trainer in certain games, so perhaps this will be challenging) with a Pelipper lv47. I start off with Lucario "Genji" and go for two Swords Dances back to back to start off with, whereas the Pelipper goes for Stockpile and then Spit Up, so boosted his defense and then damaging me slightly with Spit Up. Pelipper is another cool pokemon that reminds me of third gen, like Walrein previously. Pretty nostalgic...I remember playing Sapphire on holiday one time ages ago. I think we were in this area in the South of France with these amazing lakes that look like this, yeah playing vidya gaems on holiday lol...probably one reason I am as pale as some subterranean troglodyte.
Aaannyway, I go for Force Palm now that I've got a few boosts of my attack with Genji. This does about 70% and paralyses the Pelipper. Even though the Pelipper went for another Stockpile, Force Palm finishes him off. The damage output wasn't as good as I'd hoped, perhaps due to the water/flying typing. But I think I'll stay in against the next poke, Wailord lv47. I go straight for the Force Palm to see how it goes, and maybe it was the Flying typing keeping the damage down, because Force Palm oneshots the Wailord this time around. Much better! On to the next trainer now, and hopefully I'm getting near the end of the gym, as it doesn't look like the lilypad rafts allow  me to backtrack (to heal T_T) Even though my HP across my team is looking good at the moment, I think I'll need to heal before the leader.
Next pokemon trainer up is in the middle of the gym, and starts off with a Basculin lv46. I start off with Horus and go straight for Psychic, screw setting up the shields as normal hehehe... This takes the Basculin down to around 20 or so percent. He gets away a Scary Face attack against me, and if I remember rightly, this drastically reduces the speed of your pokemon. I try to go for Psychic, and I get outsped by Double-Edge and this does almost half my health. After making a series of mistakes, I get past this next Basculin. His last pokemon is an Azumarill (yay! something I like, and in fact, I've bred a 5IV egg move, hidden ability Marill for XY battling if I ever get around to that stuff) The Azumarill goes and sets up Rain Dance, and a previous Soak attack from Basculin means my Discharge with Iron Giant doesn't quite oneshot it. Maybe due to the lack of STAB now. Need to remember that these Marill family pokemon always seem to carry Superpower, that can hit Iron Giant fairly hard.
The next trainer has a Golduck lv47 and a Starmie lv47 I think. I set up Light Screen and then switch in to Magnezone, and Discharge makes short work of this team. Onwards! When is this gym gonna end...
Ok, so that was actually the trainer before the gym leader, so this is the end apparantely! Once we get this badge, on to the Elite 4 and the end of the game.
The gym leader starts off with a Carracosta lv49. (Makes me wonder if we actually get a Fossil pokemon given to us in this game, I can't remember how it works) I start off with Horus lv49, and I'm not liking this matchup at the moment...considering the benefits of the screen though.. Yeah, I go for Reflect, however the Carracosta goes for Shell Smash, an attack I really like. It puts down the Def and Sp.Def stats by one stage but sharply ups the Attack, Special Attack and Speed of the Carracosta. From here, I go into Genji, however that switch doesn't go took my health down to 30 and burned me with Scald. So I won't be able to set up Calm Minds/Swords Dances with Lucario it looks like...I will probably also be outsped unfortunately. I go for Force Palm anyway, hoping he'll do something dumb. Hmm, I actually outsped the Carracosta and did less than half its health...even with defense down? I might have to revive Lucario and see if I can do some damage to Carracosta...I blame the burn for nuking my attack stat. I managed to get in a Revive and then survive a Scald with Magnezone to finish Carracosta off. Next pokemon is a Wailord lv49, which I think I'll stay in against with Iron Giant. Discharge manages to oneshot this beastly HP pokemon (it has terrible defense stats to make up for it, and I think this makes it a fairly weak pokemon overall.) His next pokemon is a Jellicent lv51, a Pokemon I quite like. Its a Ghost/Water pokemon, and has two different forms, one for male and one for female. I decide to switch in Terra and hope that I can outrun it, going for Crunch. Terra does manage to go first, and thankfully oneshots the Jellicent. And that is it! Once I got past that Carracosta which I thought was going to sweep my entire team the last gym battle wasn't too bad.

Play Time - 107:00
Pokedex - Obtained: 104, Seen: 202
Gym Badges - 8

Up next:
Elite 4???
I'll just do one post for the rest of the game, as this has gone on too long, taking up way too much time and space on the blog, even though I have enjoyed this wee project so far.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pokemon Black 2: The Chronicles of Izalith #7

Time for another one of these posts in which I blog about my playthrough of Pokemon Black 2.

So I thought I'd address a few of the stories that are circulating at the moment.
Nintendo announced a few months ago that they would be shutting down the wifi capabilities for the Nintendo Wii and DS games on May 20th. (today T_T) A sad day...(sort of)
I wasn't too upset when I heard this, despite collecting a lot of DS games that I never played when they first came out. Although I might miss out on some features, it is a move that makes sense business wise for Nintendo. In a time when many gaming companies are in quite difficult financial positions, they need to focus heavily on their new systems. The Wii U, Xbox One, Vita and PS4 are all struggling in different ways (in my opinion) and really haven't taken off the way the companies had hoped. Hopefully the new consoles can really take off soon. At the moment, I'm quite happy with my 3DS but I am looking to add a Wii U or Vita to my collection soon. PS4 probably eventually when FFXV releases.

There is a lot of confusion as to what will actually change today when the servers shut down. In terms of pokemon games, relevant to me at the moment, here is a good link, with a link inside to a nice image guide summarising the changes - Link
This brings me on to one of my criticisms of the 5th generation pokemon games. I think they just got too complicated in terms of gameplay mechanics. They were adding little things here and there, some good and some bad. But when you have to look up guides for how to use certain things, I think something has gone wrong. And thats for me, someone with hundreds, maybe even thousands of hours across the pokemon series. What will kids or newcomers think when they have options for Unova Link, Game Sync, Dream World, Mystery Gifts, PWT, Xtransceiver...and much more. Seriously, I actually don't know what a lot of those do. But perhaps its good that they decided to start things over a little bit with the 6th generation games, X and Y. I think things should remain as simplified as possible. You should be able to access stuff in game without connecting to the internet, linking previous games or using obscure gameplay mechanics. Think about RPGs, and you think sidequests where you just go somewhere in game, or talk to someone to start the quest. I reckon things should be more like that in Pokemon games.

So we shouldn't be prevented from transferring any existing pokemon by the shutdown, thankfully. I actually bought a pass to Pokemon Bank for a year yesterday. Its only £4.50 roughly, and it should be useful for moving my pokemon from the DS games to Pokemon X, which I should have done back when I got a free month's worth of Pokemon Bank and Poke Transporter...

So back to my playthrough of Black 2, and I headed across to Lentimas Town, and Reversal Mountain, where I found a Drifblim (yay ^_^) and consider adding this to my team. Although I remember using one of these in my previous games as an ingame team member. I do really like the pokemon, but remember the movepool it has is a bit weak. It only learns a few Ghost moves, and I think I need more as my final team member. The ghost/flying typing is a good fit for my last tearm member, so if I need something similar, I consider the Drifblim (named Eschalot a la Bravely Default first airship) against a Sigilyph (something I missed when I first went through the Desert Resort.) Looking at their stats and moves, I decide to go find a Sigilyph and try that out. Its fairly rare (5 or 10%) but I get one eventually, and call it Horus. It definitely looks like an evolved Unown.

Working through the Strange House, I'm kind of intrigued by this place...the rooms change as you go through, and different places appear to become accessible. I kind of wonder how they are triggered...going between rooms I'm guessing. Either way, theres some cool pokemon and battles to beef up my team, especially Horus the Sigilyph, which needs grinding up from lv19 or whatever I caught it at -_- good old exp share!

The reason I've not posted this sooner is partially down to the amount of space between gyms, but also you get access to the first few legendaries, Cobalion and Virizion. The first one, Cobalion only took me 1 Ultra Ball on the first try to catch. The Virizion took a lot longer to get...anyway, now I have them, I can move on to the gym. I also changed my Growlithe "Ghost" over to a Litwick "Vorpal." I was liking the Growlithe, but it had limited typing of moves, and it was falling a little bit behind the team. I really like dual type pokemon to cover more types across the team.

My team before going into the gym: Samurott "Barioth" lv44, Krookodile "Terra" lv45, Sigilyph "Horus" lv45, Lucario "Genji lv44, Magnezone "Iron Giant" lv45, Litwick "Vorpal" lv38

Gym #7 - Dragon

This gym...I'm kind of scared about, as I don't have any Ice or Dragon type pokemon or attacks, so I won't be able to hit the opposing pokemon for any decent super effective damage, it'll come down to attacks that I think will hit strong anyway. I expect to make a lot of mistakes....
I really like the design of this place, it involves dragon statues that can be moved and rotated to eventually get to the top of the gym to challenge the leader.
The first trainer I find is straight ahead on the level that you enter the gym on. He has a Fraxure lv46..which is actually stronger than my team in terms of level. I start off with Barioth and go for Slash but it doesn't really do as much damage as I had hoped, so I go in to Iron Giant for Thunder Wave and Metronomed Electro Ball attacks. Two of these and it is finished off. Metronome is an item that boosts attacks if they are used consecutively, pretty nifty, and I thought I'd try it out as a held item on Magnezone.
The second trainer on the next level (on the west) apparently focuses on defense. He has a Fraxure lv45 and a Druddigon lv45. The first one, the Fraxure gave me some problems with Swagger, Substitute and Dual Chop, which almost took out Terra. Going up against the Druddigon, its more simple, but I took a lot of damage in return. The Druddigon has a Rough Skin ability, and a Rocky Helmet, both of which damage your pokemon as a kind of recoil from physical attacks. I stayed in against Druddigon to make use of the boost from Moxie and I nearly took it out, but the recoil and his attack finished Terra off. To test if I was right about the special attacks not activating either of the recoil abilities, I use surf with Barioth, and that finishes the Druddigon off. I was correct about it only being physical attacks that activate the recoil from Rough Skin and the Rocky Helmet.
After healing up, I head back to the gym and take on the next trainer on the 2nd level. This guy focuses on offense, and leads with a lv45 Fraxure. I start off with Horus and aim to set up Reflect before attempting to fight his pokemon. He goes with Dragon Dance, which is not too nice to have to consider...I decide to go to Vorpal next, and try something new, Will o Wisp. He went for a second Dragon Dance as I switched in, and then something called Shadow Claw oneshotted Vorpal =( Iron Giant can try next.. I go for Flash Cannon and he went for a third Dragon Dance and then Spark to finish him off, while he used X-Scissor for fairly weak damage. His next pokemon is Druddigon lv45. Flash Cannon takes him down to around 25%, but the opponent hits back with Flamethrower, damaging Iron Giant quite heavily, down to 53/128. Knowing I can outspeed him, I go for a second Flash Cannon to beat the Druddigon.
I'm told that the next level involves a Triple Battle on the right and a Rotation Battle on the left. This should be fun (but difficult.) I go heal up and then tackle the next level of the gym. [I kind of haven't had time to sit with the computer and battle through the rest of the gym, so instead I did a bit of grinding instead]
The next battle is on the left, and its a rotation battle with a Druddigon lv44, Fraxure lv44 and Axew lv44. I've got a good plan for this one, and I aimed to start off with my Sigilyph, Horus. I figured Reflect would reduce damage from most of the opponent's teams, who have all seemed to be physical attackers so far. The opponent starts off with his Axew (rotating in) to use Taunt, and Horus outspeeds it to set up the Reflect. I go in to Iron Giant next, and Discharge, which does about 75% of the Axew's health. He uses Dragon Dance, but this doesn't worry me too much, as I can probably take a hit, but more than likely still outspeed Axew. Actually, I was wrong, but the Axew goes for another Dragon Dance, and my Electro Ball takes it out. 1 down in this battle, and no damage so far. The enemy rotates in Fraxure, Dragon Dances, and Discharge takes it down to 30% or so. Then he changes over to the Druddigon, which damages me a bit, and Discharge doesn't really do much against...I go in to Horus, and Psychic takes out the rest of his Fraxure's HP. I don't think I can do 75-80% of Druddigon's HP with Psychic or Fly, so I have the option to set up Reflect again. But I go for Psychic anyway, and we'll see...yep, it went down to around 20% Night Slash did almost half my health, and then my next attack, Psychic, finished off the Rotation Battle nicely.
I had a think about the triple battle before starting, and I think this strat should work quite nicely. The opponent has a team of 3, again, a Fraxure lv44, Druddigon lv44 and Axew lv44.
So it looks like this will work out like I had intended. I put Horus (Sigilyph) as the first in my team, then Terra (Krookodile) next, and the third is Iron Giant (Magnezone). I start off with Reflect as my choice from Horus, and Swagger on the Druddigon (it seemed bulkiest out of the previous battle) and Discharge from Iron Giant. I knew this attack hit all adjacent/opponent pokemon, and thats why I put Terra in the middle, as he would be hit normally, but his ground typing means he is immune from the friendly fire, whereas I'll be hitting 2 opponents, setting up status and a shield on my first turn, and then I can focus on finishing things up in the next few turns. Swagger confuses Druddigon, then the Reflect is set up, and finally from my three, Discharge. I get a paralyse on Druddigon, but the damage wasn't as heavy as I'd hoped. At the end of the rurn, I've got Fraxure and Druddigon down to around half, and Axew is untouched so far (Discharge only hit the nearest 2 opponents.) On the bad side, Axew and Fraxure both Dragon Danced on the first turn, upping speed and attack by one stage. Foul Play is an excellent move in this battle, as it can hit the Druddigon for high damage (due to the status) and wipe him out. Psychic from Horus takes out the Axew, and I get outspeeded by Fraxure, taking a Dragon Claw. Flash Cannon finishes this battle off.

The leader Drayden is up next, and he has three pokemon, starting off with Druddigon lv46. I put Horus in first to attempt to set up shields. Reflect sets up first, and Druddigon uses Revenge...if he is gonna use weak moves like this, I could stay in for a few turns. I stay in and use Psychic, taking off about 30% of his HP, but he uses Crunch and puts me down to 84/135 HP. At this point, I don't think I want to stay in, and change over to Terra and go for Crunch, almost finishing him off. But next turn he uses a Hyper Potion to heal Druddigon back to full. I thought I would go for an interesting combo of items on Krookodile (Terra), with the Metronome hoping to boost consecutive attacks that are the same, and hopefully Moxie activating if I can defeat pokemon. So I keep going with Crunch, and two-shot the Druddigon after the Hyper Potion. At this point, the Reflect has worn off, but I want to keep going with the boosts that Terra has, and I stay in against his next pokemon, a Flygon lv46. Crunch actually oneshots the Flygon, and this is way better than I thought the battle would go so far. His next pokemon is a nasty sounding Haxorus lv48. I go for crunch again though, and with the +2 attack from Moxie and whatever the Metronome gives, this manages to oneshot the Haxorus!

So thats the Legend Badge obtained, and there is just one remaining before the Elite 4.

Play Time - 101:47
Pokedex - Obtained: 99, Seen: 185
Gym Badges - 7

Up next:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pokemon Black 2: The Chronicles of Izalith #6

Right after getting the badge from Driftveil City, we get told about the Pokemon World Tournament (or PWT as they seem to always abbreviate it to. I'm not a fan of abbreviations, especially when they are not explained. Breath of Fire series, I'm looking at you...)

So I heal up and head over to the PWT, and I get told about a new tournament they are hosting; the Driftveil Tournament of 8 players and if you win 3 single battles, you win the tournament. It looks like this is part of the story, so I enter the tournament along with a few of the other characters in the story, including Cheren, Colress and the rival (who I named Gwyn, I don't think I mentioned that before.) I love tournaments in games, I don't know why. There is something really cool about taking part in them.
Like in some other similar battle tournaments, you have to choose a subset of 3 pokemon from your team, so I go with Genji, Iron Giant and Barioth.
Gwyn is my first battle, and he sends out a lv25 Servine against my Lucario. I thought they were going to automatically level all the pokemon up to lv30 or 50 or something, but apparantely not. I try to get Thunder Wave off from Magnezone, and then Metal Sound as I don't really have a good matchup against a pure grass type which hits pretty hard. After this setup, I manage to oneshot it with Mirror Shot. His next pokemon is a Simisear lv25. I decide to stay in and go for Thunder Wave again, but not really expecting to survive. I actually take a hit from its fire move, and then get the paralysis off on him. Leech Seed (probably my favourite grass move) is still in effect, and that takes Magnezone down to 5 HP. At this point, I might actually switch in to Barioth, who takes a hit from Flame Burst easily. Water Pulse finishes the Simisear off, and I see the next pokemon, a lv25 Tranquil, which I decide to go for Aqua Jet against. This only did about 25% of its HP. I go with Water Pulse next, which finishes him off. Battle 1 done!

The next battle is against Cheren. This should be interesting to see what pokemon he has.
His first pokemon is the fully evolved Stoutland lv25. Still, its a normal type, and I have two steel types on my team, and my water type has a fighting move, so I'm not massively scared, even though its stats might be fairly good. Going with my lead of Genji, and Force Palm, this actually oneshots it. I'm starting to think the level difference is pokemon are at this stage: Genji lv33, Iron Giant lv31 and Barioth lv34. His next pokemon is a Cinccino lv25 (another normal type if I remember rightly) Force Palm again, and this crits and oneshots him as well. His last pokemon is Watchog lv25, and now I remember why all of his pokemon are normal. This is the guy I fought in the first gym! Isn't it? Expecting Force Palm to OHKO, I go for it again. Yep, smooth sailing to the third and final battle!

The final match is against Colress, a researcher we have heard of so far, but not really met in depth. He starts off with a lv25 Magneton, and my Lucario, Genji is a good starter again. Force Palm was about to take it out in one hit, but Sturdy kicked in, making him survive with 1HP. Thunder Wave was a good choice for his first move, and this kind of cripples my speed. I manage to finish him off with Bone Rush after we both missed with our moves for one turn. He then sends in an Elgyem lv25..and I can't remember what this one is type wise...should be interesting (as I'm not going to check as I go along) Psybeam brings me down to 55/97HP, and I hit him with Bone Rush for 75% of his HP with only two hits. I'll try this again, and after he gets Heal Block off on me (preventing Lucario from healing) I take out the Elgyem. His last pokemon is another steel pokemon Klink lv25. Gear Grind is a pretty nasty multi hit attack, and hits twice. Force Palm takes out the Klink after surviving the Gear Grind attack.
So thats it! I won the tournament fairly easily, and was a bit disappointed they hadn't made it more difficult, even lv30 pokemon would have still been fairly easy and a fair bit more challenging.

Looking at my team weaknesses though, I think I need a special attacker that can hit with psychic moves or a physical flyer with a second type. Fire/Flying or Psychic/Flying would be a fairly good fit as a last member on my team. The Ghost/Fire Chandelure line could also be a good switch for Growlithe, but he has come in useful sometimes. He gets some great moves. I'm also slightly weak against Levitating physical tank poison types like Koffing and Weezing.

So after the tournament and some scenes on some kind of Pirate Ship/Team Plasma base (with dual battles and ninja trios!) I find that we can look into the nearby cave, the Relic Passage which I think we had access to earlier (I forget) from a different entrance. Its rather confusing how it all ties together though, so I'm going to do some exploring with a bunch of Repels. I think I got most of the items and pokemon available in this place, and from what I can tell, I need the Strength HM to continue any further (except going into the lower level bit associated with the Castelia Sewers), so I leave and head towards the next story destination. *Edit* Shortly after this, I found that I do have the Strength HM...

And now Surf as well, so we can finally get some more water pokemon (seriously, this game does a good job of preventing that. They only give you a rod after finishing the elite 4) and progress to new areas.

I eventually got through the Chargestone Cave to the next town... there were seriously a lot of trainers in there, and I saw a lot of the weaknesses in my team. Barioth and Terra never seem to take any hits, and I do have quite a lot of shared weaknesses across my team. But hey, towards the end of the cave, Dewott/Barioth evolved into his final form, Samurott. I'm never sure what this is supposed to be based on (if at all), looks like some kind of walrus/narwhal/bearded thing. The flavour text says it has Seamitars on its front legs. I'm not even kidding. Seamitars. Like scimitars. Yeah....

Gym #6 - Flying

I quite like the quirk of this gym, it involves high powered wind that will prevent you from moving and kind of blow you towards the back of the gym if you don't use the walls to block it. Sort of timing style puzzle from what I can tell. The first battle on the right side is a trainer who just has one pokemon, a lv37 Swoobat, no match for my Magnezone which oneshots it!

I realised I'm kind of getting ahead of myself. I was meaning to have a look into the nearby Mistralton Cave. So perhaps the gym will come later on.

After checking out Mistralton Cave and Celestial Tower, I'm pretty confident about my team and this gym. Here is my team as I go back into the gym. Magnezone "Iron Giant" lv41, Samurott "Barioth" lv39, Lucario "Genji" lv39, Krookodile "Terra" lv40, Growlithe "Ghost" lv40.

Swag as fuck.

The first guy I fight after coming back here has a Sigilyph lv37. And if I remember rightly, this thing is quite bulky, but it is easy enough to take out in one hit with Magnezone's electric attacks. The second trainer/third trainer has an Archen lv36 and Unfezant lv36, the latter of which takes a hit from Iron Giant's Spark attack, something that could be important later in the gym if other people have this pokemon. The next guy has an Unfezant at lv37, and this time I try out Electro Ball to see if I can do more damage. This attack very nearly oneshots it, I think due to the speed difference. Electro Ball is an interesting attack which does more damage if the opponent's pokemon is faster.
The next guy takes me a while to get to, navigating and timing my way through the puzzle this gym has to offer. He is apparantely the trianer before the gym leader, so this place already seems a bit shorter than the last gym, strangely. They have a Ducklett lv36, something Iron Giant will definitely oneshot, hitting it for 4x damage. (Ducklett is a Water/Flying type)They also have a Swoobat lv36, which is a bit more difficult, and it outspeeds me, but thankfully I still take it out in one hit. This takes the last trainer out, onto the gym leader!

Skyla has three pokemon, and starts off with a Swoobat lv37, which I decide to go for Electro Ball against, hoping it is quick and will die to this in one hit. It uses Heart Stamp against me, a move I'm not entirely sure of the effects it has. This takes the Swoobat down to around 5% or so, and me down to 106/119. I kind of expect her to use a Potion of some kind, so I go for a weak attack, Flash Cannon. She does heal it with a hyper potion, and after my Flash Cannon, the Swoobat is back down to around the same HP as before. I go for Spark again, and this finishes it off. Her next pokemon is a Swanna lv39 (this is the evolved Ducklett) which I decided not to switch in against. I decide to go for Spark this time, as I'm guessing 4x damage is enough to oneshot anything. She goes for Featherdance which greatly lowers my attack and outspeeds my Iron Giant. After that, Spark (a physical move) only hits for about 60% or so damage. With nuked attack stats, I think its best to go for Electro Ball next, which is a special move, and gets its damage mainly from the speed difference. I take a Bubblebeam from the Swanna with not too much damage, and then KO the Swanna with Electro Ball. Next up is one of my favourite pokemon, a Skarmory. At this stage, I have the option to switch to one of my other pokemon. Growlithe would be good against the Steel/Flying typing with it's special type Fire move, and Samurott could also be good, as Revenge or Surf could hit it quite hard. I decide to go for Genji, the Lucario, which is a bit lower level, but I am quite confident about the matchup. Skarmory turns out to be lv37, and I go for Swords Dance off the bat. The Skarmory goes for Agility. So I've boosted my attack, and he has boosted his speed stat. I know Skarmory is strong defensively, so at this point I consider going for another Swords Dance. But I kind of want to gauge how much damage a +2 atk Force Palm with STAB will do. I go for Force Palm, and it does about 50%, whereas the Skarmory's Air Cutter crits and takes me down to about 75% health. Incase she does any other potion shenanigans, I go for a Swords Dance, and the next attack should hopefully win it. Air Cutter takes me down to 51HP, and then Force Palm finishes the battle for me. The Jet badge is mine.

Play Time - 75:12
Pokedex - Obtained: 67, Seen: 122
Gym Badges - 6

Protip #6 - At this point in the game, HMs haven't been as required as other games, but HM pokemon are still important to consider. Surf, Strength, Cut (seriously, I've not found any use for this so far) and to a lesser extent Flash (its not a HM, but it functions the same way), giving effects in the field or dungeons which let you progress (more easily.) So far, I've not had one of these HM dedicated pokemon on my team permanently, so I've been able to switch between the ones I need as required. For example, I can switch out Joltik, which knows Cut and Flash with my flying type with Fly if I need to get further afield. But I have Strength and Surf on my team members, which makes things a lot easier and might even negate the need for a 'HM slave.' If you are going to put HMs on them, make sure it is a good fit eg Strength should be someone physically strong, perhaps lacking a move like Slash in their movepool. Not so much a protip, but carefully consider the use of HMs. They can be avoided on your main team members, but they can also be good additions. I have Surf on my Barioth, and Strength on Ghost. They've actually worked quite well, in and out of battle.

Up Next:

Quite the badass. (Although how does he eat?)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pokemon Black 2: The Chronicles of Izalith #5

I had actually managed to stick to one of these posts per day, something I didn't think I'd be able to do. But this game is pretty damn addictive, as with many Pokemon games. Valkyria Chronicles II has been neglected for a few days, but I will get back to it at some point.

Last time, I took on Nimbasa City and it's electric gym leader, Elesa.

Moving on, you get an introduction to triple battles or rotation battles, in the route to the west of Nimbasa depending on the version you are playing, and they are quite interesting, with a lot of strategy and options coming into them. I liked the rotation battle, as you can rotate the pokemon to the left or right in before making a move. So a good team and moves as well as prediction as to the moves the opponent is going to make become very important. I wonder if these were ever done in competitive battles, I may have to look on youtube and see. Anyway, this guy's team just so happened to have shared weaknesses to electric, and Magnemite was very effective against his whole team, so he did most of the work. Still fun though.

This time, its a short trip across Driftveil Drawbridge to get to Driftveil City, where the next gym battle awaits. I don't really feel ready to take it on though, so I'm going to do some messing around on the routes near Driftveil, perhaps Chargestone Cave and evolving my Magneton. That depends though...Magneton vs Magnezone. Well, at this stage, the moves from level up in BW2 look the same, so I don't really miss out on anything by evolving at this level.

I don;t remember if I talked about this last time, but there are trainers that you can battle more than once in this game. Each time you enter the route and come across them, you can battle them. Their pokemon stay the same level, but it can be really useful for fast battles against pokemon that you know are going to be there. There are possible uses for getting lots of money, or EV training pokemon. These, from what I've seen so far, are Pokemon Breeders. There is one in Lostlorn Forest,
Pokemon Breeder Yuri, and one, Pokemon Breeder Koharu on route 6. Theres another in the entrance to the desert area where the houses are, but I couldn't find the route or name of them.

I spent quite a while, most of a morning grinding in Chargestone Cave and the dark grass outside it. Theres a house with someone who fully heals your pokemon, so you can stay there for as long as you like without having to backtrack too much to heal.
There are some really cool pokemon to be found in Chargestone Cave, Ferroseed, Voltik, Klink, Tynamo are the ones that I found. I really want to try out a Ferroseed at some point, but resisted this time, as my team doesn't have a space for him, it would be my third steel pokemon, and I would have way too many weaknesses to ground pokemon.

My team is perhaps still a bit underlevelled, but at the moment looks like:
Growlithe "Ghost" lv31, Lucario "Genji" lv31, Magnezone "Iron Giant" lv31, Dewott "Barioth" lv32, Krokorok "Terra" lv32. I'm aiming to get my Barioth evolved at 36 before I take on the gym leader, but we shall see.

Gym # 5 - Ground

The first battle sees me fighting against a trainer with one pokemon, which is a lv31 Baltoy. So far so good. Trainers with one pokemon usually have higher than average pokemon compared to other trainers, so if this guy is lv31, Barioth shouldn't have too many problems. I start off with Water Pulse, and OHKO (onehit KO) it :) I went with Water Pulse over Razor Shell as Water Pulse is a special move, whereas Razor Shell is physical. And if I remember rightly, Baltoy is stronger against physical moves. I may well be wrong though, its a long time since I was into the competitive side of things.
Next trainer in the gym is a guy with a few different pokemon. Drilbur lv29, which only takes one hit to finish, another Baltoy, this time lv29, and a Sandile lv29. None of them take more than one water attack from Barioth, thankfully. Sandile is an interesting one. I thought I'd take one along on my team, and it seems to have really strong attack, but can't take hits at all. Bit of a glass cannon, it looks like. So I'll need to keep him nicely levelled so he can outspeed things and finish them off before they can retaliate. I do want to keep him on my team until the end though, if I can.
This place looks confusing, with lots of walkways, elevators and its all shrouded in darkness...the next battle involves a Sandile lv30, Drilbur lv 30. After these, Barioth levels up to lv33 and wants to learn Aqua Jet. I really like this move, its like a physical water move that strikes first like quick attack. If I remember rightly, this came in really useful against the Elite 4 battles.
After a bit of backtracking, looking around the gym, I find another trainer, a worker with a lv30 Drilbur and lv30 Baltoy. Both of which don't really pose much of a risk. I think from now, I'll put the exp share on another pokemon to try and benefit something on my team other than Dewott, even though I want it to evolve (I don't think evolution is possible in the gym at this point)
Another worker has a Drilbur lv31, and this guy outspeeds me, going for Dig, which takes a good 40 or 45% off my HP...Gadz, if the gym leader is anything like this, I may struggle. On the next turn, I decide to go for the newly acquired Aqua Jet, which oneshots it thankfully. This could be useful....
This place is a maze, like I said, and its probably a good idea following a video or an ASCII chart/map so you can find all of the battles. In the top right corner of the gym, there is another battle with a guy who has Sandile lv31, and I'm confident about oneshotting these guys. Just Drilburs I've got to watch out for.
After lots of confused wandering, I find the boss's platform, but I'm sure there are a few platforms I've not been to yet, so I eventually find the last(?) guy, who has a lv30 Baltoy (I kind of messed up. Aqua Jet didn't oneshot it, so it selfdestructed on me, and nearly finished me off) and a Sandile lv30.

The Gym leader starts off with a Krokorok lv31. Based on what I know about this thing, I know it is weak defensively. I wanted to check the stats of mine, and accidentally swapped my own Krokorok in. Urgh...It hits me with Torment, and I switch back in Barioth and go for Water Pulse to oneshot it and move on to the next pokemon, a Sandslash lv31. I'll go Water, I forgot that I got Torment used on Barioth. So Razor Shell is my next choice, and I get outrun by the Sandslash, that does Fury Cutter for some fairly minimal damage. My Razor Shell does about 75% of the Sandslash's HP. Aqua Jet gets priority, and finishes it off easily. The leader's next and final pokemon is fairly scary. It is an Excadrill lv33 (the evolved Drilbur.) At this stage, I'm not underlevelled, my Barioth is lv34, but I know this thing will hit him like a truck. I would normally go for Aqua Jet and get the first strike, but Torment is still in play, meaning I can't use the same move twice in a row...I go for Water Pulse and hope I can survive..he chooses Rock Slide, taking me down to 31/102 HP. I wasn't fully healed before this, so this isn't too bad damage wise. But he gets the flinch on me, meaning I don't get to use a move this turn. Rock Slide has a chance of inflicting flinch with each hit...I think I have to heal up at this stage, and use a hyper potion. He hits me with a Rock Slide, and then next turn another Rock Slide, and another flinch... Troll..I have to heal again, as 25HP wasn't enough to survive another hit. Finally after this heal, I get to hit him with Water Pulse, and this opens up Aqua Jet as available. His HP went to within a few left, and a healing berry triggered, healing him to orange (around 15 or 20%) Mine is at 28/102 (around 20 or 25%) The thing is, I know I can't take another Rock Slide. But if I get off Aqua Jet without him using a potion, I will finish him off. If he gets off a potion and I 'waste' my Aqua Jet, he will probably outrun me and kill me off. I feel pretty confident he'll heal up, so I go for Razor Shell. I guessed wrong, and he Slashes me to kill off Barioth. I send in Iron Giant, knowing it is a terrible matchup, but I want to try and get a Thunder Wave...wait. after realising that Excadrill is a part ground type, I'm not going to get any kind of paralysis from Magnezone (Ground are unaffected by Electric) so I go for Mirror Shot, and my Quick Claw activates, meaning he goes first. I thought that would be it, badge won. But the attack missed, and he uses an attack I've not seen yet, Bulldoze, which was super effective and brought me down to 1HP (Sturdy activated, meaning I survived the hit) I decide that Iron Giant can't really do much in this battle, but I might get lucky with Quick Claw again, I certainly have had a shitload of bad luck so far against Excadrill. So I go for Mirror Shot again, and quickly get Rock Slided to death. I'm sort of running out of options now, so I decide to go into Genji, the Lucario and hope that I outrun him or at least survive a hit. I have a few options, Counter, which if he hit me with a physical move, would probably win me the battle. Bone Rush, which wouldn't have STAB (a boost from the same type pokemon i.e. ground for Bone Rush) but would give me a neutral attack or super effective against his steel typing, I'm not sure. Force Palm is a stronger attack, and would be super effective against his Steel type, but might be cancelled out against his ground type. Quick Attack would mean I go first, but wouldnt do much damage against his steel type. I think I'll do best with Force Palm, so go with that....he chooses Rock Slide, and this only does about 8 damage. Force Palm takes out the rest of it's HP and wins me the badge. Jeez, that was intense! A really interesting battle, and one that I perhaps overthought. But my no-lose streak continues on, so perhaps it is worth taking your time and analysing :)

Protip #5 - I suppose considering the moves you have, what they do in terms of damage, accuracy and secondary effects of moves is important eg. the chance of a flinch on that move Rock Slide. Also important and coming into that, are the stats you have compared to the opponent. For example, I saw my Dewott getting outrun by Excadrill, so I looked through my squad afterwards to see if I had any pokemon with higher speed than Dewott in the hope I could outrun Excadrill to finish him off. Also if you have a pokemon on your team that is similar or the same as the opponent, check the stats of your one. They will be similar (not the same due to IVs and EVs that will be different.) Looking at my Krokorok, I saw that it was very weak to special moves, and used that information to oneshot it with Water Pulse as opposed to Razor Shell or Aqua Jet. There is a surprising amount of depth to the pokemon games, and its never a bad thing to take a few minutes to consider the best option, especially in the more difficult battles.

Play Time - 51:39
Pokedex - Obtained: 50, Seen: 90
Gym Badges - 5

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pokemon Black 2: The Chronicles of Izalith #4

I'm getting into this game a lot more than when I previously played it, it seems. 
Since last time I found myself moving towards Nimbasa City, and the desert from Pokemon Black and White seems to have turned into some half built up area, with new houses and buildings. If I remember rightly, in the previous games, it was a building site in places, and it is pretty cool that they kept going with that idea, and made it almost finished in these games. Still, the level design is a bit weird, and there are different small routes that are connected, and you have to pass through some of these to get where you are going, for example, just before Nimbasa City, you have to go through some optional sidequest area called Join Avenue. The level design is one thing I think is slightly flawed in these games. Lots of small areas that don't really seem connected or to have any purpose (or theme linking them.) Its interesting to see how they started from scratch, in some ways, with Pokemon X and Y.

So I spent a good while exploring the different routes around the desert and the Desert Ruins. I think I caught most of the wild pokemon available; Maractus, Dwebble, Sandshrew, Yamask, Darumaka, (missed out on Scraggy apparently) and Sandile, the latter of which I decided to take in my team. The Ground/Dark typing seemed a bit more useful than the Purrloin I was taking along in my group and hadn't really used for ages anyway. So I named the Sandile Terra. Which on reflection, could be seen as the second Final Fantasy reference in my team...
After a good while, I decided to have a look around Nimbasa and the surrounding area, and I get an introduction to Hidden Grottoes from Bianca, as well as the HM for Fly, which (I'm sure you all know this) lets me teleport to cities and towns with Pokemon Centres that I've been to. Fast travel, yay!
I managed to get a few cool items in Nimbasa, including the Soothe Bell, which I was looking for. It should make evolving any pokemon that need maxed happiness a lot easier. I reckon the Eevee I've been keeping in my team is near the max, because I had it at the top of my team when I spoke to the NPC and she mentioned something about the Eevee liking me.

Gym# 4 - Electric

The gym pokemon seem to be a lot higher level than me on average, with Flaafy at lv27, Blitzle and other stuff. My highest pokemon was around lv27, so I'd probably have to do some grinding before I can comfortably take them on. Then again, Sandile is a pretty strong Ground type. I quite like the design of the gyms so far, with the Bug one involving cocoons and silk that teleport you from level to level, and this one is pretty simple, but cool for building up before the leader. Its a long stage that becomes illuminated as you beat the trainers on it, and you work your way along to the gym leader.

The gym leader Elesa uses Electric type pokemon, and has a lv28 Emolga, Flaafy lv28 and Zebstrika lv30. I actually kind of got a bit screwed up fighting her. I managed to do some damage to the Emolga, and then it Volt Switched after I went into Magnemite. This move switched in her Zebstrika, and my Thunder Wave activated his Motor Drive ability, boosting his speed....I chipped away at the Zebstrika with Terra, and then even with Moxie activating once, Flaafy took the hit and killed him off. So I had to go in with Lucario, who was strong enough to take out the Flaafy and Emolga afterwards. Bit of a mess, but I got the badge!

My team after the gym: Growlithe "Ghost" lv27, Krokorok "Terra" lv29, Lucario "Genji" lv27, Magnemite "Iron Giant" lv27, Dewott "Barioth" lv27. I think I better level up a bit play time is already so bloated though!

Protip #4 - Don't be afraid to check websites and videos as you go along. I don't normally like to get spoilers, but I don't really see it as that. Checking what pokemon are available in certain areas can be really useful and make all the difference to a well rounded team if you take the time to find them. Also, there are plenty of videos telling you where to get rare pokemon or items if videos are your preferred source of info. Some links I've been using: Serebii BW Pokedex - Bulbagarden BW Habitat List - Kanto University Youtube Channel - SuperDuperTutorials Youtube Channel

Play Time - 36:43
Pokedex - Obtained: 37, Seen: 72
Gym Badges - 4

Up next:

Pretty boring character design for a gym leader, and there is very little fan art. But still, what the hell is wrong with people who are into Pokemon fan art? I see weird things every time I search for these images...Urgh...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pokemon Black 2: The Chronicles of Izalith #3

Previously I forgot to talk about my team at the end of the post, so I suppose I'll do it here. I actually got my first evolution. My starter pokemon, Oshawatt [Barioth] evolved at the randomly odd level of 17. Bit of a stat boost and a nice physical water move to boot.
So now, just after Gym 2, the team is Growlithe [Ghost] lv13, Magnemite [Iron Giant] lv16, Riolu [Genji] lv13, Purrloin [Dusk] lv14, Dewott [Barioth] lv17. I have a few that are a bit lower because they suck in battle they are recent additions and in the case of the Riolu, I'm trying to put levelling off as much as I can so it gains happiness and can evolve quicker, thus missing out on less moves when it evolves to Lucario early.

After the second badge, you get kind of roped into doing some weird story scenes at the Pokestar Studio where they make movies. I never really understood this bit, it just seems a bit random and out of place. They've never done anything like this before in Pokemon games (as far as I can remember), and I don't see the point in it here. I did some reading and it is a sort of side quest/puzzle thing to the game and there are guides on it and everything. But at this point in the story, you need to make a movie and put up with these dialogue scenes to get familiarised with the whole thing.

Cool cutscenes bring us to Castelia City, and if I remember rightly, theres a lot to do here/lots of places to get lost. There are some pretty cool battles against NPCs in the various buildings in this city, and it took me a while to track them down follow a guide and finish them off.

I actually hated the Castelia City sewers the first time I attempted to play through the games. Nothing but dual encounters with your rival against wild pokemon like Zubats, Rattatas, Grimers. Pretty boring stuff, and I think its all first gen stuff. *Checks* Yeah, more or less: Link
But this time around I decide to use some of the Repels I found on my Pick Up Lillipup to map out this rather confusing area, and then take some time to grind using the Exp Share and the fact that your rival heals you fully after each battle, its a really good opportunity to gain some levels at this stage.

I managed to get an Eevee in the Castelia Garden thing that you can access after the Castelia Sewers events, and named it Sylph, but I'm not sure if it will stay in my team long term, but I'm taking it along to try and max out it's happiness. So before the gym leader battle, my team is Magnemite [Iron Giant] lv20, Growlithe [Ghost lv20], Purrloin [Dusk] lv19, Dewott [Barioth lv20], Lucario [Genji] lv20 and Eevee [Sylph] lv19. Dat Lucario evolution at lv15, yeah!

Gym #3 - Bug

This guy's sprite really creeps me out...but anyway, his first pokemon is Swadloon lv22. Underlevelled for this gym then, great...I lead off with Magnemite and Thunder Wave to cut his speed like a boss. I switched in Growlithe to go for Intimidate and then hit it with super effective moves, but because he was weakened, Razor Leaf critted and killed him -_- Thankfully I have a Revive and some healing items. I manage to take it out with a few attacks from a couple of my Pokemon. Then his next pokemon is a Dwebble lv22, I water gun him and it looks like it is about to oneshot but Sturdy activates, leaving it on 1HP...This is a problem, as Dewott lost a bit too much health from the Dwebble's rock type attack. This thing has really intriguing typing actually, I might have to consider getting a Dwebble for my team, or that Crocodile thing. Lucario worked quite well it turned out, Force Palm and Counter taking it out over a few turns. The next pokemon is a Leavanny lv24, something I remember can be really annoying, strong and fast for a grass pokemon, so I decided to go with the Magnemite, Iron Giant, Thunder Waving it to cut its speed and then Sonic Booming. I wanted to chip away at its HP so that if he wanted to use a healing item, he'd waste it against this, and if I decided to switch in Ghost, he'd be safe to one or two shot it with a Fire move, but Sonic Boom constantly+parahax(lol)+Leavanny deciding to use String shot meant Iron Giant could take him out pretty easily. So thats badge 3 obtained!

So there is a poison and then a bug gym? Unusual choices, but I suppose they work quite well. At this point, fire types and flying types have been fairly readily available, so the game does give you options against these gyms. And I may be wrong, but it looks like they wanted to try different types out for the gyms that they haven't used much previously.

Protip #3 - Its simple, but recognise the (strengths and) weaknesses of your team members. If one isn't pulling its weight, consider grinding it up some more levels. It may be about to learn a move that will help a lot, it may be about to evolve eg. Gyarados will become exponentially more useful on evolution. Check the stats of the pokemon, if a pokemon is low on physical attack, special moves will perhaps be better choices (assuming the special attack is higher.) If you come across something that looks better stats wise/movepool wise, consider changing team members.

Play Time - 27:48
Pokedex - Obtained: 24, Seen: 45
Gym Badges - 3

Up next:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pokemon Black 2: The Chronicles of Izalith #2

So I thought it'd be a bit longer before I brought another one of these posts, but the distance between the first and second badge is really quite short. I still believe the pacing is a bit off. Excessive grinding against low level enemies in the Ranch that I talked about last time. Then backtracking (something I don't usually mind, but it just seems a bit out of place in Pokemon games.) to get to the first gym. The enemies seem quite difficult around the first and second badge area as well. Perhaps I'm doing something wrong, I don't know. For example, the Magnemite I talked about last time...but I'll get to that later.
After seeing that the first gym battle represented a bit of a ramp up in difficulty, I started to remember the patch of grass that they tell you about after you pass the Hiker on the first or second route. Its a different kind of grass, long grass or dark grass or something. Anyway, apparantely stronger enemies appear there often. Yeah they weren't kidding, Sewaddle and some other bug and grass types, with what seemed like really high capture rates. I struggled at this point quite a bit, and had to take a few runs of capturing and running back to heal in order to get most of the new pokemon in this long grass. I didn't bother adding any of these Pokemon to my team, however. I'm not a huge fan of Sunkern or Sewaddle. I do like Venipede/Whirlipede/Scolipede though. It is one of my favourite designs from this generation. But poison types never seem to offer much later on in the game in my opinion. Although I think I have used a Toxicroak recently, in my X playthrough (super effective damage against the new Fairy types.)

So on getting to Virbank City, I tried grinding a bit and doing the events at the Virbank Complex. If I remember rightly, there are some good pokemon to be found here. I added some potential pokemon to my group actually. Initially a Magby which I named Vulcanis (I thought it would come in useful against any Magnemites in the area...seriously, they scare me with their Sonicboom attack. Guiles theme and all that shit)). I wasn't entirely sure if I'd keep this in my team for long, I don't particularly like the design of Magby and Magmar...ugly buttface. So I see a few other pretty cool pokemon, a Magnemite which I name Iron Giant, and a Koffing (which was completely walled by the steel typing of Magnemite. Interesting for later perhaps.) I saw a pretty cool addition that I hadn't really payed much attention to previously, the Habitat system in the Pokedex. It sorts, or splits the Pokedex up by area, so you can keep track of what Pokemon you are missing from an area. When you have got all of them, you get a Pokeball stamp in that habitat screen showing that you have all of the Pokemon available from that area. Here is some more info, as I am probably not explaining it well. So when I checked the Virbank Complex habitat, thinking I had all of them (and hoping I did. There is a reward from one of the NPCs in the area for finishing it), it turned out I didn't have everything. So a few more encounters revealed one of the ones I was missing, a Growlithe, which I named Ghost. I will name anything that I might end up using, for the record.

My levels are around 13-16 now; Oshawatt [Barioth] lv16, Magnemite [Iron Giant] lv14, Riolu [Genji] lv13, Purrloin [Dusk] lv13, Growlithe [Ghost] lv13, and I'm thinking my fairly well rounded team should be able to take on the second gym. Do I go for it or go and do some more grinding? I wanna take on the gym, screw it lol.

Gym #2 - Poison

I love the style of this place. Some dingy rock club type of thing. The first guy I face has a Grimer lv14 and a Koffing lv14. Their levels are quite high compared to my team, but I use the Iron Giant Magnemite to negate the poison attacks Koffing had, and Barioth's water gun attacks to beat the Koffing without issues so far.
The second trainer has a Venipede lv14, which I go with a combination of Dusk and Ghost to tackle. I want to see if I can use his fire type moves to do some damage. Ember actually oneshotted it...wasn't expecting that considering I was a level lower. Their second pokemon is a Koffing lv14. I decide to try walling it with Iron Giant again. Steel element is one of my favourites alongside Water. Two Sonicbooms and that battle is done. I seriously think that attack is overpowered to have access to this early. It will only hit for 20HP, but when that is irrespective of defenses and typing, and turns out to be about 75% of a pokemon's HP at this point, that is pretty good.

I realised I like to procrastinate, grind, and search for new pokemon in these games, just from looking at my game time. In fact, I went and grinded a bit before taking on the gym leader, Roxie.

Her first pokemon is a Koffing lv16 (oh dear lol) and I lead off with my lower level Ghost (Growlithe lv13) which has Intimidate. I don't really have a good move that can threaten Koffing, so I switch in Iron Giant (Magnemite lv16) and go for Thunder Wave (gotta set this victory up.) A few Sonic Boom attacks seem to work well. I think Koffing is a physically strong defensive pokemon, so I two-shot him with the Sonic Boom attacks. Whirlipede (lv18) is up next, and it is actually higher level than any of mine. I leave Iron Giant in and go for Thunder Wave. I take a mental note that he has Pursuit, but switch in to Ghost anyway. Leer gets blocked by Protect...and then I realise whats the point in Leering, I can be doing Ember instead. I get in two of them before getting critted to death by Venoshock. I go into Dusk (to share exp) and then switch in Iron Giant (those poison attacks hit quite hard, and this thing is more offensive than I thought.) Sonic Boom finishes it off, and the Toxic Badge is mine.

Protip #2 - I'd really recommend hunting areas for the rarer pokemon that are available. In the Floccesy Ranch you can find Riolus, and with a bit of effort, you can get a pretty strong Pokemon out of it later on. Magnemite isn't terribly rare in the Virbank Complex, and it is very good at this stage. They are actually really good matchups against the first two badges respectively, Riolu less so, as it doesn't really learn any offensive Fighting moves unless you grind it up to lv15 (or lv11 in Black and White) where it learns Force Palm. Magnemite makes the Poison gym really easy though.
tldr: Keep checking your typing across your team, this makes the gym battles a lot easier. i.e. If you have a starter and 2 Normal pokemon, stop playing Pokemon reconsider your choice and hunt through some of the grass for different type Pokes.

Play Time - 17:35
Pokedex - Obtained: 17, Seen: 26
Gym Badges -2

Up next:

Seriously, I'm a bit disturbed after the amount of (yaoi) fan art I had to endure looking for a suitable picture of this gym -_-

Monday, May 12, 2014

First Hour Impressions #3

I've not posted one of these first hour impressions posts in a while now. I meant to do quite a few of them and keep this 'column' going. I actually played through a couple games and took the notes that would allow to write some more of these, but for a good few months now, they have just been sitting in my notebook awaiting animation into written internet-word-chunks.

This one was from 31/12/13, so actually just before we headed out for my brother's birthday meal and some drinks to celebrate the New Year Bells. So the story behind this one. I have only a little experience with the Fire Emblem series, and this is a game I have both in cart form on the GBA and on the 3DS as a downloadable title (Ambassador for the 3DS, woohoo!) I have only played FE7 and Awakening but really enjoyed both of them. I think this is a series I really enjoy. Fairly deep strategy, the nailbiting nature of permadeath, political intrigue, war on a continent or even world-spanning scale. Very solid RPG series from what I can see. The games are quite hard to find though. I never see them in shops here, and online you have to pay a quite high price for these games.

Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones (GBA)

Started 5:22pm, 31/12/13

  • I started this game up on Normal mode, not too concerned about the long term difficulty, as this will more or less just be the first hour. If I pick this game up again, I'd probably start a new game anyway. But the level of challenge would probably be ok on Normal I thought.
  • I'm immediately thrown into a story about the Kingdom or continent of Magvel, with five seperate countries or factions. I predict some conflict and invasions...
  • Graphically and musically the game seems really good. For a GBA game, the colours, sprites and character designs are really smooth and well done.
  • There is approximately 10 minutes of story-building and dialogue until we find ourselves in the first "tutorial" battle. But because I chose Normal difficulty, apparantely they don't tell me anything about the game actually works. Good thing I've played FE7 and Awakening so know the ins and outs of the gameplay.
  • Eirika and Seth carve their way through the first stage of the game fairly easily.
  • The second battle has some more units that join us, and the simple mechanics shine, with more weapons and enemies adding just a bit more depth and different match ups. The weapon tree is present as always, and these rock-paper-scissors mechanics in trpgs and strategy games.
  • The battles look really good, with the animations and nicely coloured sprites on the battle field really bringing the tactical battlefield view to life in a nice way.
  • Into the next chapter after 31 minutes of total gameplay time, and things are getting quite engrossing so far. The story is really picking up, and without spoiling in any way, some major happenings occur due to the war between the two kingdoms. (How is that for vague!) I should say, one chapter is usually equivalent to one battle and some exposition either side of the battle. The battles can be quite lengthy from what I remember from the other games I've played in the series.
  • We get more characters and a look at the different objectives and gameplay mechanics that we might be experiencing further into the game. 
  • It is slightly odd with the lack of tutorials or hints, but I can actually find them in the Guide menu. Thankfully I remember enough of the gameplay mechanics and tricks from when I played Fire Emblem 7 on the GBA only a few months previously.
  • TRPGs are really going to enjoy the gameplay of this one. The game is challenging on Normal, and in fact, I fell foul of something that has always bugged me in the other games. I got all the way to the end of the first battle in chapter 2, had beat the boss and thought I was done. I just needed to finish off the last enemy with one of my characters critically low on HP, and I didn't move them far enough away, so when my other character's attack on the enemy missed, the enemy had it's turn, moved in and killed off my wounded Pegasus Knight. There you have it, permadeath-Fire Emblem's greatest and at times worst aspect

And there my notes end, rather climactically. From what I remember, that was around the hour mark, so that was about an hour of Fire Emblem Sacred Stones on the GBA. It is a fun strategy RPG, and I really want to get back into this and play some more. Even doing this blog post was really fun. On the topic of permadeath, it is one of Fire Emblem's main characteristics, and it can lead to some really frustrating situations if you are like me, and REALLY don't want to permanently lose characters. It adds a whole different level of strategy to the game, and an interesting risk/reward mechanic. Is it worth sending that character in to attack if they only have a 60% chance to hit and kill the opponent? Perhaps if they can kill that opponent if they hit, or perhaps if they are safe from the opponent's counterattack, but if they are vulnerable (weak to the opponent's weapon type) or low on HP and will not survive a counterattack. These are just some of the typical situations that will come up often in Fire Emblem games.
I'd definitely recommend this game, or the other GBA title that we got as a starting point for newcomers to the series. Or even better still, Fire Emblem Awakening is very accessible to newcomers, as there are different options for difficulty and even the choice to turn off permadeath if it doesn't sound like your thing...I won't judge you....
Much... :p

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pokemon Black 2: The Chronicles of Izalith

I thought I'd do a series of blog posts which are a bit different to what I normally do, and record my playthrough of Pokemon Black 2, a game I've still not got around to finishing yet. My story behind this game is quite a lot of putting it off really. I didn't pick this one up because if I remember rightly, there were quite a few games that were coming out, and I just didn't get around to getting the game (add into the equation the fact that Pokemon games never seem to drop in price.) So eventually, Pokemon X is imminently releasing, and I still haven't got around to playing Pokemon Black 2, so I got it as a gift from my girlfriend and was originally planning on playing through X and Black 2 simultaneously. That didn't really work, I like to focus on one game at a time usually, so X ended up getting finished whereas Black 2 progress didn't really go further than the 2nd badge or so. Anyway, I don't normally have more than one Pokemon game to play through at a time, so it was a bit weird that I ended up playing the newer game out of the two, and I found X a lot easier in terms of difficulty and pacing.
So I restarted Pokemon Black 2 a few times before getting to this stage. First time round, I chose Snivy and ended up hating it's middle evolution. It has stupid little feet that really don't look like they fit. prepared for more hate-filled rants about the newer generation of Pokemon designs while I play through this game.
See? Stupid little legs!

I'll be posting updates as I go along, either when I get to something interesting, or just milestones like gym battles.

Starting off, I named my character Izalith. I always liked the area Lost Izalith in Dark Souls and for some reason, this name came into my head when I was creating my character. Expect to see more dumb awesome names from games, novels, anime and other general geeky stuff when my inspiration runs out.

I chose the water starter Oshawatt this time round, and named him Barioth (Monster Hunter reference). Out of the three, water is my favourite type by far, and previously, when I was a lot more into the Pokemon games, I did some mono-water type challenges as my first playthroughs for some extra difficulty and interesting battles. I'll see if I can look through the blog for previous entries about those. I'm sure I talked about my progress in some of the DS games with mono-water challenges on the blog.
I actually chose Oshawatt as I played through Pokemon Black, but whatever, I don't mind. I don't especially like the starters from this generation, and I think I took the lesser of three evils here. I think I have the other starters on X as I restarted a couple times before this point, tranferring pokemon via Poke Transporter and the Pokemon Bank into Pokemon X.

Moving through the first few areas, my inner completionist made me take the time to catch all the available pokemon I could find. I usually do a fair bit of grinding in Floccesy Ranch at this stage, gotta get exp and dat Riolu...(Lucario is one of my favourite recent Pokemon)...the first time I played through this game it took me a long time to get this wee rare guy, but he appeared as the first Pokemon when I got to the ranch this time!
So Genji the Riolu ended up joining Dusk the Purrloin and Barioth the Oshawatt on my team. There are quite a lot of available Pokemon in this area, but based on my previous playthrough attempt, I refrained from adding Pidove (straight up terribad, I mistook it with the Staraptor line...which, if I remember rightly, that was actually good) or Mareep to my team. I have a Magnemite planned as my electric member if I can find one. They are very sturdy, solid early choices. I think I actually got whited out by one last time through...

After clearing up the ranch events, I went back to that guy with the Super Saiyan 3 hair (whose name I don't know) and he told me to beat up some kids with monkey pokemon to learn about type matchups.

My team of awesomeness:

Gym #1 - Normal

 First trainer here has some pretty high level normal type pokemon; Patrat lv 9 and Lillipup lv 9. I spammed Dusk's Sand Attack to reduce the accuracy of the Patrat, and then went in with Riolu who was lower level and finished him off for some experience. I userd a mix of all three pokemon on my team for the Lillipup, chipping away at it's HP. It made me think that I should go and grind some more, as after this battle, my highest level Pokemon is Barioth at lv 12. Based on how the next battle and the gym leader will ramp up slightly, I thought I should be higher level, so I went and grinded some more at Floccesy Ranch (That is spelled weird, I think it should be Flocessy..its like occasional. It always gives me problems...aaaanyway)

Taking on the gym leader, they appear to have Normal type pokemon; a Patrat lv 11 and Lillipup lv13. Not so intimidating, or is it?

The Patrat starts out buffing it's attack stats with Work Up twice. I made some mistakes with Dusk because I was only half paying attention/half writing in my notes. So now it had +1 Attack/+1 Special Attack (see? I used to be into the competitive side!? lol) I was a bit scared, so sent in Barioth to Water Gun it away quickly. Man, that was tough so far for a Normal type pokemon.

Lillipup hits pretty hard while I try and heal up by chucking Potions at Barioth. I then get in an X-Defend (yeah, I really used one of these things that normally just sit in the bag, or get sold) and start using Water Gun. I think I'm past the difficult part now, the end is in sight, then he starts using Work Up...Geez. And he just so happens to outspeed my Barioth, my strongest guy. So I get him to within a few HP left, Barioth ends up dying, and my best chance is to go with Genji's quick attack. He's already used his HP Recover item, so I manage to Quick Attack with my greatly underlevelled Genji for the win. Why do I always struggle against this gym? They are terrible normal pokemon on paper...but something happens and they become pretty strong. Maybe I'm doing something wrong.

Protip #1 - If you have empty spots on your team early on. Fill them with Lillipups with the Pickup ability. They will net you some items from time to time. I have 3 picking me up Antidotes, Great Balls, Paralyze Heals and all useful stuff I don't necessarily have money for yet.

Play Time - 5:08
Pokedex - Obtained: 9, Seen: 13
Gym Badges - 1

The Basic Badge from Cheren is mine! I'll update more soon, so stay tuned.
Next up....

Monday, May 5, 2014

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Weapon Contest

 So I've talked on the blog before about how obsessed I get with the Monster Hunter games. There is something incredibly simple yet satisfying about them. They are essentially a loot grinding type of action/action RPG subgenre which is immensely popular in Japan and the East. The games have been getting more popular in English speaking countries in Europe and USA since the release of the original games, and then Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on the PSP, and more recently Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii and Monster Hunter Tri(3) Ultimate on the Wii U and 3DS.
They have kind of found themselves at the top of this subgenre, and many games have tried to replicate the idea. With games like Gods Eater Burst, Soul Sacrifice, Lord of Arcana, Ragnarok Odyssey Ace and Toukiden: The Age of Demons attempting a similar idea. Probably the Gods Eater series succeeded the most out of them, however I am getting sidetracked.

 I am really into the Monster Hunter games as I said before, with hundreds of hours over the span of the series (in fact, I've only played a few from the series, MHFU, MHP3rd, MHTri and MH3U.)
So I was really pleased when the news came out that Monster Hunter 4 would be localised in the form of a new game, the "G" or updated version of Monster Hunter 4. They are going with the terminology they used for MH3U, calling it Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, and we will see this game in 2015 at some point.
To commemorate this, they are holding a competition where fans of the series can enter a weapon of their design to potentially be in the game when it releases in English. Quite a few games have done this recently, with a lot of kickstarter projects and even big budget games like Dark Souls II holding something similar.
I had known about this contest for a while, but being busy with university, I only managed to put something together in the last day or two before the contest ended. Nonetheless, I am fairly happy with how it turned out.

Pasted from my email entry:
"Please find attached my entry for the MH4U Weapon Design contest. The name of the weapon is Sandhya and it is a Sword and Shield class weapon.
The idea behind the weapon is the balance between the sun and moon and the day and night cycle. Originally I had planned to make either the Sword or shield with the theme of solely the sun, and the other piece of the equipment would have the moon as its theme. I ended up making the balance between the two prevalent in both the sword and shield design.

How I arrived at the name, and what it means: I wanted a name that brought together the sun and the moon, i.e. a general term for the two.
Some ideas I had and weren't my final choices: "Sunrise, Sunset", "Luna and Sol", "Twilight", "Sunrise Sword", "Sunburst Sword"
I like the idea of the duality of the sun and the moon, and tried to make them equal in the design. Sandhya is a term in Sanskrit for either twilight or the transition between day and night. I don't have a set idea for the element or different sharpness levels of this weapon, but I believe Fire element, or even a dual element would a good choice.
Thanks for bringing MH4U to the west!"
The Sword and Shield is my favourite weapon class as that is what I learned with in my first game in the series (MHFU). It is a great weapon type for newcomers but it can also offer some really good support, status and elemental damage in the endgame weapons as well. Really diverse, fast, and it has the block function that I really like as well. Its a good overall weapon. So this design I had here definitely could have been better and more refined if I had more time, but I quite like the concept. Hopefully they like it. It would be really cool to have my design in the game. Although the chances of that are very slim. Only 2 weapons are chosen, 1 from Europe and 1 from the Americas.

Anyway, I thought I'd write a blog post about this now that I've sent my entry in. Unfortunately, as of writing this post, the contest is now closed. Mine was a bit of a last minute entry, but hopefully I can inspire you to do something similar, or check out the Monster Hunter games if you haven't already. They are excellent games and need some more fans around the world!

Here's a trailer for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate showing the amazing cinematics and action that can be found in these games.