Month: October 2013

Pokémon X and Y – childhood that never leaves

“Bulbasaur” by nicholaskole

For the first time since my childhood, I’ve become a Pokémon Champion. Though I’ve dabbled in many other Pokémon games, Pokémon Y is the first title of the franchise since Blue where I have smacked the Elite Four and the Champion. When I succeeded just a few hours ago, I had the urge to leap out of my seat, run towards my mom and shout “Look, ma, I’m the Champion! I did it!”

Except that I don’t live with my parents anymore. But I leapt out of my seat anyway.

This childish rush, born from the victory over a bunch of pixels, was just one of many nostalgic moments on my journey through Kalos. In fact, Pokémon X and Y feel like both the next step in the evolution of the franchise and an ode to its roots. Being able to pick a Kanto starter already tingles my childhood memories, but when I notice that Santalune Forest has the exact same layout as Viridian Forest (and the exact low appearance rate of Pikachu), I have to look in the mirror to make sure I have a bearded face which is not covered in chocolate. Now, when I first saw my Bulbasaur in 3D…words can’t describe my feelings.

A myriad reviews on the Internet have pointed out the flaws and strong sides of the game, but I am here to remind you of how Game Freak has succeeded in bringing everything you love about Pokémon to the third dimension. Sure, the story sucks, the characters are cut-outs and you technically play the same game you played ten years ago, but who cares? It’s Pokémon, a formula that has worked since you were beaten up in elementary school for your foil Charizard trading card!

I might have moved out and left my mom behind, but Pokémon X and Y reminded me that I’ll take some parts of my childhood with me wherever I go.

Go catch ’em all,

Chin

P.S.: Yeah, this is the last post about Pokémon. For now.

 

Pokémon X and Y: first impressions

pokemon y yveltal

When I received the text message from my LGS that a copy of Pokémon Y was waiting for me, finishing my work got really hard. Knowing that I was just two-and-a-half hours separated from my future career as Pokémon Master didn’t make waiting any easier, so when the clock struck five, I jumped on my bike, peddled like a madman and picked up my copy. About an hour later, I was knee-deep in the Kalos Region, kicking all kinds of asses with my Froakie and other living weapons known as Pokémon.

So, what’s my opinion so far? Visually, I’m still stunned by how great the game looks. Walking through caves with the camera over the shoulder of your character makes the experience more intense, and racing through the streets of Lumiose City looks far more impressive know that the beautiful buildings really tower over you. Also, seeing your Pokémon as actual three-dimensional entities in battle, with facial expressions and what have you, is a real treat. The moment I had to fight my first Pidgey, I pointed at the screen and shouted: “It looks just like the one in the anime, including that arrogant face!” My inner kid was satisfied, especially once that cocky pidgeon was in my Pokéball.

The gameplay is what you expect from a Pokémon game, but with a few major and minor additions. The big new features include Super Training, allowing you to train your Pokémon’s EV’s through mini-games. Next to that, you can cuddle with your critters in Pokémon-Amie, hand out O-Powers to people all over the world or dress up your character in new clothes. These big new features are all nice, but to me, the small adjustments really make the difference.

pokemon x y lumiose city

Two of those little tweaks are the changes to the Exp. Share item and earning Exp. when capturing a Pokémon. In the past, your Pokémon would not get experience from a battle in which you caught the opposing Pokémon. Now, your Pokémon still get experience, even when you put that cute little thing into a tiny, confined space. Also, Exp. Share is now an item that can simply be turned on. When activated, all Pokémon who did not participate in battle get half of the experience the fighting Pokémon received. It’s a small change, but it eliminates some of the grind from previous games, making the training of your fire-breathing, bubble-blowing minions easier.

So far, I think Pokémon X and Y take the familiar formula of the previous generations and put them into a revolutionary visual presentation. The new features and changes to old ones improve the game, making it more accessible and fun. At least, that’s what I can say being six hours into the game, on my way to earn my second badge (what, I’m a Slowpoke, okay). Seeing how I like to spit my opinion at random people from the Internet, you’ll hear from me again once I’ve seen more of Kalos.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Gym leader who needs a whoopin’.

NaNo Prep: what is a “digital dragon slayer”?

What did I get myself in to?

First, I decide to participate in NaNoWriMo. That’s no biggy. I mean, I’ve done it before, so what could happen right? Right?

Well, ambition happened. Planning to write an informative discourse about the lives of MMO gamers turns out to be more work than I expected. Researching the history of the genre and trying to get some gamers to share their stories with me is taking more time than I had estimated, and so I guess I’ll be going into November (and thus into writing the damn thing) ill-informed.

Oh well, NaNoWriMo is meant to create drafts, not finished books. Right?

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Your avatar and you: where does one begin and the other end?

Let’s be honest, folks: James Cameron’s Avatar was a disappointing waste of time. If I wanted to see Pocahontas, I would have just dug through my parent’s VHS collection. Of course, the visuals were stunning and we can blame it on Cameron that nowadays every movie requires you to put on silly glasses, but the movie had an interesting element: transferring to one’s avatar, becoming an entirely different physical being with new capabilities and looks. It’s a thought many gamers can relate to, since it’s what we do every time we pick up our controllers or log-in to our game of choice. But just like the protagonist in this mostly boring piece of visual ecstasy, some of us don’t simply put on our avatars: they become their alter ego, and the more time they spend in that skin, the hard it becomes to shed off.

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NaNo Prep: of rebels & dragonslayers

Sometimes, you just gotta give in and start a revolution. It worked for the French (kinda), the Americans (sorta) and, more recently, the Egyptians (well…), so why shouldn’t it work for me and this year’s NaNoWriMo? Eff yeah, I’ll be what they call a “NaNo Rebel”!

So, how does one rebel during NaNoWriMo? Well, while all the other abiding participants write some fictional story about dragons and the people who slay them, I’ll be busy writing a non-fiction tribute to the real dragonslayers: MMORPG players. That’s right, this year’s project will be a written look at the history of these games and the people who play them.

Working title? Digital Dragonslayers – when office clerks become fantasy heroes.

Why am I not going for a novel like many other participants? Simple: this fascinates me. I’ve been a part of this hobby for years now, and I would love to mix my practical experience with more knowledge about the evolution of social games and the thoughts and motivations of fellow gamers. It’s gonna be an exciting experiment in many ways!

There’s research to be done and people to be spoken to. If you have some fascinating insight into the history of MMORPG’s to share, or if you would like to share your story, hit me up in the comments below or send me a mail at the.chindividual@gmail.com

Go now. Those dragons won’t slay themselves!

Final Fantasy XIV – a meal I regret

Copyright by VG CATS

I’m a really easy eater. Due to my parent’s way of introducing my siblings and me to new foods and a natural curiosity for the culinary, I eat practically everything. Furthermore, I think this open-minded approach towards food is the source of my general tolerant stance towards new things. It has inspired me to try things before judging them, especially when it comes to video games.

The past few weeks, my digital diet had grown somewhat boring. I was mostly living off of multiple servings of Guild Wars 2 a day, while consuming some snacks of FTL and Trine 2 in between. I was lacking some vitamine N for “new” in my daily life, and thus I felt like last Sunday was a good day to add some flavor. A nice plate of Final Fantasy XIV would treat my stomach to something nice. Or so I thought.

Long story short: I forgot about my allergy to bad game design and had to throw up…metaphorically speaking.

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