review

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.

 

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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’.

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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It’s never boring in Neverwinter

It seems that it was very sunny last Saturday, at least in the part of the world that my physical manifestation calls home. Honestly, I didn’t notice it that much. To my great surprise, Cryptic’s newest title Neverwinter was able to captivate me for most of my free Saturday, to a point where my girl had to text one of my housemates to check if I was still alive, since I hadn’t replied to any of her messages. Yeah, Neverwinter is that distracting!

Being distracting is one thing, but is it also good? Well, you’re about to find out in this short review!

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First impressions of Neverwinter

I’m gonna keep this short and simple. I had a few hours today to play Neverwinter, and here are some of my observations:

  • Character creation was more detailed than I expected it to be. Race choice is decent (everything you know from the D&D canon), but the customization is surprisingly detailed. Well, I should have expected that from the guys that made Champions Online.
  • Gameplay is smooth and fun. The combat feels a bit more dynamic than your usual MMO stuff, but still not as dynamic as, say, Guild Wars 2. The button layout reminds me of a mix between Diablo and several MOBAs, which is actually a compliment.
  • However, as far as I am now (level 7), it’s your typical fantasy MMO quest-grind, with no big surprises. Curious to see how it gets on higher levels…
  • The music and sound effects are just grandiose! Smashing bandits in the face feels really epic with such background music.

Well, that’s all I can say after playing it for two hours. You can get it for free, so as soon as the servers are back up, why don’t dive right into it? I’m playing a half-orc cleric on Beholder, and I would love me some company! Also, expect a more detailed review once I had more than two hours to explore the Pearl of the North.

Chin out!

Iron Man 3 – an opinion

iron man 3 stark movie trailer

“Iron Man” by doppingqnk

Even though I think most of you know this, I still feel legally obliged to say that the following post will be filled with spoilers of Iron Man 3. If you still have to see the movie and don’t want to be…well, spoiled, keep on scrolling and read one of my other articles.

With that out of the way, let’s dive right into my opinion on the newest Marvel cinematic universe flick, starring our man in a can and his entourage. I’ve been waiting for this movie for quite a while now, and my excitement reached its peak when I sat down in my local cinema to see it with my girl. After more than two-and-a-half hours, I felt like I had been both rewarded and punished for my patience, and here’s why.

Before I say anything else, let me say that I think that Iron Man 3 is a really good movie. It’s great to see the comic book movies grow, seeing how lame the first heroes-gone-cinema were. The third movie, still with the ever brilliant Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, is a really entertaining and action-packed piece. The special effects are really neat, and even the dialogues are fun to hear (kudos to the writers here). When Tony talks with that kid he meets while being stuck in some backwater town, you will laugh your pants off. When Tony and Rhodes work together to escape from the bad guy’s mansion and save the president, you get a genuine buddy cop movie-feeling. Indeed, it’s impressive how many things Iron Man 3 is at one time: a continuation of the cinematic universe, the next step in Tony Stark’s personal development, a movie about friends and love and, to my big surprise, a damn fine Christmas movie.

And there lies the problem with this film: it might try to be too many things at once. While I did enjoy all the different storylines, I feel that the movie could have used a bit more focus on the more important plot lines. Killian, the bad guy of this movie, could have used somewhat more development (though his motivation to be evil is legit), and I would have loved some more interaction between Stark and Potts. Also, what the flying frakk was up with that Mandarin twist? I’m still shocked by what they did to this badass, and I won’t forgive Marvel for it. Ever.

Bottom line, Iron Man 3 is a strong foundation for Phase Two of the cinematic universe. We have to wait and see how the next Thor movie builds upon it, and what more lies in store for us. Nevertheless, if you enjoy an action-packed comedy with a dash of drama and a great surprise after the credits, you should see Iron Man 3 when you have the chance.

4 out of 5 Chins!