A Little Perspective From Tom Church

Posts tagged ‘information’

A Pokemon Post

Only a few days ago, Pokemon X and Y version were released in America. And even under all of the college schoolwork and studying, even while I sleep and exercise and eat and try keeping up with my TV shows (which are all back in season), I still haven’t been able to escape the ripples it’s made in the gaming community. If I think too long about how I don’t have X or Y, I get a little anxious.

I’m curious as hell, and I’ve decided to look more into it recently; I’ll detail my finds in this post, and hopefully inform some of you guys on why this is so exciting for me. I started by watching “Pokemon: The Origin” which was a miniseries aired on Tokyo TV on October 2nd. It was a back-to-back broadcast of four episodes of never-before-seen Pokemon adventures. Except this time it wasn’t Ash and Pikachu, it was Red and Charmander.


For those of you familiar with the Pokemon TV show that played in the 90s (and apparently the 2000s but I didn’t keep up with it), you’ll know about Ash, Pikachu, Misty, and Brock. And as cool as they were, “Pokemon: The Origin” instead chooses to focus the story on the exact events of the very first video games ever released in the Pokemon series: Red and Blue Version. Therefore, the characters are Red (the main character, the Ash equivalent), and Green (his rival, the Gary equivalent). Ash chooses Charmander, and Green chooses Squirtle.

This series was released to commemorate the beginnings of the Pokemon video game franchise and was aired only in Japan, and therefore you’ll only find it online with subtitles. However, it was absolutely worth the watch, and made me nostalgic as hell. Its notable aspects include a detailed account of the Cubone story in which its mother died and became a ghost; a look into snippets of Giovanni’s past; and even a surprise ending to the series tying it into the new X and Y series developments, a surprise which I will not spoil for any of you readers.

Okay, so getting back to X and Y: what makes them special? I’m sure that’s what everyone’s asking, and it’s certainly what I’ve been wondering. Trust me, I’ve passed up recent Pokemon DS installments without much of a second thought: Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum Versions all looked strange to me, and I did not ever bother completing them. I never purchased my own copy of any. I bought Heartgold Version and thoroughly enjoyed it, but have not played it much since beating it. And I did not play any of Pokemon Black, White, or Black 2 / White 2. I’ve tried articulating my reasoning before, but haven’t been successful; mostly, I just thought they were slower-paced, had strange Pokemon I was not willing to take to heart, and were not familiar to me.

Pokemon X and Y developers have spent a lot of time and money trying to induce nostalgia and draw its old audience back in with the new. “Pokemon: The Origin” brought everyone back to the 90s, when they’d first started playing Pokemon. In X and Y, it was revealed before the game was even released that the player would receive a new starter Pokemon, and then shortly after, have a choice of Squirtle, Bulbusaur, or Charmander as a “second starter” option. I see it as a direct appeal to people who’ve been playing for a long time, and honestly that’s pretty badass.

(quick sidenote: if you need to get caught up or have your memory jogged on how to actually play the games, I’ve done my best to describe the gameplay involved in Pokemon here, and subsequently here)

All the Pokemon hype has had me playing Platinum religiously. I’ve got a copy now and I’m trying like hell to create a balanced team of Pokemon I’ve never used before, and to beat the game so I can move on to White version. Once I’ve caught up, maybe I’ll be in a position to play X and Y. That’s a bit aside from the point I’m trying to make.

Here’s what makes X and Y special:

1) X and Y have received the highest Metacritic score for any handheld Pokemon game in recent years. Metacritic has kept tabs on the handheld Pokemon game franchise since 2003, or since the release of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire Versions; they both scored an overall critique of 82. Since then, the highest score given to a handheld Pokemon game has been an 87, which was given to Heartgold and Soulsilver; Pokemon X and Y officially received an 88 and an 89, respectively, with user scores slightly higher, making them the best-critiqued handheld Pokemon games to date, according to Metacritic. Gamespot’s user reviews are funneling in, and Y’s average score of 8.8 is lagging behind X’s, which has so far teetered at 9.3.

2) In the past, Pokemon games have differed mostly cosmetically. After the new types (dark and steel) were introduced in Generation II of Pokemon (Gold, Silver, Crystal), there haven’t been many additions to the Pokemon formula. Berries can be grown, the Vs. Seeker allows trainer rematches, the bicycle has two gears instead of one, etc. Ultimately, aside from the addition of one hundred plus Pokemon every generation, the games aren’t too different all the time, if you think about it. They’re still fun, but they tend to bank on success with minimal addition.

X and Y are the most major upset to this trend I think I’ve seen so far. First off, there’s the fact that this game truly belongs on the 3DS because it allows free, 3D overworld movement. You don’t walk on a 2D grid anymore, you can move in any direction the joystick can command. You get roller skates as well, a small and rather basic change, but with some neat uses. This is the first Generation to introduce a new Pokemon type since Generation II: the Fairy type is now in play, some of its more notable members being Mawile, Sylveon (new Eevee evolution), and lots of those “pink” dudes we think are cute. Fairy is super-effective against Dragon. Think about that.

The option to receive a second starter (Squirtle, Bulbusaur, Charmander) eliminates some of that ever-present fear that your rival will kick your ass. The 3D battle animations are much more enthralling and thrilling. The new Pokemon are abundant and presumably fun to raise. And there is an entirely new territory to explore, the Kalos region, which I don’t know much about and don’t want to until I experience it for myself.

A last paragraph about some other innovative features introduce for X and Y: there’s Pokemon Amie, which is a function of the game allowing you to play with, pet, and feed your Pokemon in order to get more accustomed to them. The benefits range from increased experience in battle to a better chance they’ll survive a normally-lethal hit. Also, the Pokemon Bank is a paid service (price not yet revealed) that allows you to maintain virtual boxes full of Pokemon. It allows for the transfer of Pokemon from previous games to the boxes via Wi-Fi, so that the awesome teams you end up getting at the ends of playthroughs are more tangible and not so forgettable. The Internet compatibility of Pokemon games seems to only be expanding nowadays, and some people argue that this is “as close as Pokemon will ever be to a massively multiplayer online game.”


3) These last two additions are significant enough to mention on their own. The first of which, Super Training, is a new way to level up Pokemon statistics. This seems like more of a competitive-edge type function, for people who tend to level-grind their Pokemon to battle gym leaders or friends. Personally, I appreciate that the option is there, because there were definitely games in the past where your only training options became wild Pokemon or the Elite Four. This function allows you to basically take on the role of a personal exercise trainer, and raise your team’s stats individually (not their levels). It functions like Protein, Iron, and the rest of the Pokemon “vitamin” items that were utilized in the past.

The other new thing is Mega Evolution. This means that many Pokemon in their final form will be able to surpass their final stage of evolution temporarily to look badass and deal some major damage. Mega Charizard, Mega Alakazam, Mega Gengar, and others have been officially released. This adds a brand new battling dynamic and aesthetic to the game. Pretty damn cool. Not only that, but their forms differ between versions X and Y. That means that stats and appearance are completely divergent depending on what game you got.

List of Mega Evolutions documented thus far

So there you have it. That’s about a complete a list of things I can tell you guys without spoiling the hell out of the best parts of the game. I’m sure fans of the series will love it, and from what I’ve heard, even newcomers will find it fun and welcoming (and perhaps a little overwhelming). Happy playing!

aestheism, not atheism.


Trusting The Internets (Thom’s Thoughts)

According to my estimates, a shitload of people use the Internets on a daily basis, and I say that’s freaking spectacular. Sorry if that was a bit of a shocking first sentence, but I went to the dentist today and they had free coffee, and damn if I didn’t dump all their CoffeeMate creamer in my cup and down it in ten seconds. It was phenomenal.

The Internets (also called Intranets, Nets, Webs, or Internet) have fostered infinity-times the creativity of a Chinese sweatshop, and have conceived more cat-related thought processes than the combined efforts of all the world’s cat ladies, the Hello Kitty corporation, and the creators of Catdog combined (in layman’s terms).

The Internets are impressive because they connect so much with so little effort. And I’ve found it hard to trust something so huge because huge things are hard to contain. The Internets are like six elephants in a bamboo cage smack-dab in the center of Ethiopia. It’s not gonna to be properly contained long.

I frequent pages like Wikipedia and stuff, big wealths of knowledge that are practically invaluable if you want to learn anything about anything. A few decades ago, these were encyclopedias. A few decades before that, they were just really, really old people.

These pages are so convenient, and so elaborately defined that it stuns me into stupor. Who knew Gumby’s parents’ names are Gumbo and Gumba? Who knew that in “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic,” the teevee series, the first season ended with the ponies’ competition in the Grand Galloping Gala (okay, I did, but still)?

But can you trust this shit?

Well, yes. Because I’m sure if you were to go out and freaking watch the shows, you’d freaking see that the freaking things you learned on the freaking Internets are completely freaking true.

Teachers worldwide may complain, groan, and bitch about Wikipedia and stuff, but I’ve never gotten an answer from that particular website that wasn’t completely and entirely true. Yahoo! Answers? Maybe I’ve gotten one wrong answer (Q: What’s the special ingredient in Hamburgers Diane? A: Rat testes).

Those hamburgers tasted like shit. But for the most part, I know when I’m reading the wrong answer, and I never read the wrong answer when it’s on a Wiki page.

I trust the Internets in that respect.

Here’s where you can’t trust the Internets: Ever seen the movie “Big Fat Liar?” It’s about Paul Giammatti committing plagiarism at its worst (plagiaristic adultery, I call it): plagiarism of a poor, defenseless little kid’s work.

This poor, defenseless little kid was obviously Frankie Muniz. Anyways, Giammatti steals his school paper, makes it into a movie, and then is publicly exposed by Frankie Muniz. And then, on top of the public nudity, Frankie tells everyone he stole his essay and made it into a movie.

Just kidding, no public exposure. That’s how I feel on the Internets; if I share any of my good ideas that I feel will someday help me to be successful, the Paul Giammattis of the word will snatch them up and make them into terrible movies and books and I will be full of shame.

I have a story written that’s about forty-five pages right now, and damn, I like it- I would just never post it on here, never even e-mail it to myself or another. Never even… anything. I just hoard it.

If it reaches the Internets, people will snatch it up, slap a copyright on it, and then sue me for being affiliated with it. I think that’s how it works. I don’t really know. But it’s happened before, probably. To other people.

I also think that maybe I have Paranoid Personality Disorder. I also think I sometimes go into caffeine-induced manic states.

Here is the last of my strength (or the last of my concentration): the Internets are reliable. They may be full to the brim of nasty disgusting filth if you look hard enough, but they’re contained by firm enough bamboo (meaning search refinements and such) to lead you in the right directions. The Internets we see are the creams of their crops, the tops of their lines. We get reliable information from various sources, gain insight on things we’ve viewed narrowly or have never considered before, and have ourselves plenty of laughs out loud. Therefore, the Internets are this generation’s best and most valuable friends, and should be treated as such.

I’m off to google cats, ta-ta for now.

aestheism, not atheism.

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