Monday, April 2, 2012

A Journey into Darkness: 8: Why Am I Doing This Again?

Alright, so, this game is starting to actually wear on my nerves at this point. But I made this commitment (to absolutely no one but myself) and therefore I must finish what I started even though there are zero consequences to me just moving the hell on. Yep, you guessed it (or read it on my last post) I got caught up in another cave!

I'm gonna be... (gasp) the very best... (cough)

After being told that I need to retrieve the light stone I headed to the Relic Castle which I was kind of excited about. However the folks over at Game Freak apparently have never seen a castle because this was just another damn cave. In this “castle” there are these Sarlacc-less sand traps that drop you to next floor down. However, said anuses  sure do know how to find a new definition of pain and suffering, as you are slowly digested over a thousand years.

What drove me the most insane is that the castle is a maze and the random encounters happen CONSTANTLY. Now, I want you to imagine trying to do a Sudoku and every 5 seconds someone snatches it away from you and forces you to do a Scramble or a Word Search or a goddamn Kakuro, but the only one you NEED to finish is the damn Sudoku!

It’s infuriating.

Oh, yeah and lets talk about counter-intuitive approaches. Take a look at the image above. Do you think you could walk between that pit and the wall? No you wouldn’t because it looks like the pit goes to the edge of the wall. But guess what? YOU CAN!!! It took me way more time that I’d like to admit to figure that out. And when I found out I may or may not have angrily crossed out the eyes on images of all Game Freak employees.

"Now Mr. Masuda you see everything, EVERYTHING! HAHAHHAHAHA!!!"

Anyway, I get to the bottom of the castle/cave/oh, go jump off a cliff and I found the guy who had set up the Team Plasma HQ in Castelia City to look like a Pokémon Gym. And there was this other guy there who was a Gym Leader who had an old beef with the guy and blah, blah, cut to the end.

The Light Stone wasn't down there. But you know who did have the stone? The people who sent me in the first place. Hey, guys I have a transceiver, you could have rung me up and said something. I see how this game appeals to kids - I can't help but feel like I'm being perpetually lied to by every adult in this game.

...and then I told that little dumb ass to go look for it in the cave!

Next up: Something to do with surfing... I dunno I got nothing.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Journey into Darkness: 7: The Two Towers

Pokémon is a game for kids, right? You know all the colorful, chirpy Poke-friends are never going to leave your side because you treated them well and kept them in good health and didn’t chop them into bits and serve them as dinner to entitled white people.  Well, that is until they go to that great pokéball in the sky.

I was instructed by Skyla the Mistralton city gym leader to climb to the top of Celestial Tower because she saw a sick pokémon on top of the tower while she flew by (no, she’s not demilich (she’s a pilot (you dummy))). As I traveled to the tower I envisioned a majestic tower, standing tall like the Minas Tirith I assumed it would be.

Instead I got a healthy reminder of my paralyzing fear of death...

The Celestial Tower consisted of floor after floor of graves, ghost-type pokémon and weirdoes who were just standing around. You know, lookin’ at graves. When I got the top of the tower the gym leader was waiting for me (why did I need to to this again?). When I inquired about the sick pokémon, she quickly explained that she fixed it up and sent it on its way.

Yeah, I’ve read Where the Red Fern Grows.

I know what happened.
Pictured: Pokémon Mass Grave

Later I learned that N was searching for Zekrom (I hope he got my tweet) in Dragon Spiral Tower. At this point in the game I have a power team of pokemon so getting through the tower ends up being a little tedious. Not because it's hard but because I get interrupted with a random encounter of which I have to wait through opening animation, battle and closing animation. This wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to do this every 2 seconds.

Finally, after thumping a bunch of Team Plasma grunts like the veritable Hot Topic patrons that they are, I finally find N. In typical N fashion, he as a lot to say in the most I-was-home-schooled way possible, wrapping it all up with the summoning of Zekrom. N hops on the obviously NOT tech-savvy dragon-type pokémon and flies out of the tower to wreak pokéterror all across the land of Unova.

It's kind of like a reverse 9/11.

Next up: who knows, haven't been playing lately because I got stuck in another cave...

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Journey into Darkness: 6: Naming Conventions

Throughout Pokémon Black, a theme of “live and let live” is constantly being hinted at. Everything from people want to be the most powerful trainers, others want to simply have fun with their Poké-friends and then there are some who want to disguise their Gym as a honeycomb and hire mimes to attack you with once-feral animals. 

I choose you, Distemper Ocelot!

The central theme was highlighted by the last conversation with N where he explained: 

"Many different values mix together, and the world becomes gray... That is unforgivable! I will separate Pokémon and people, and black and white will be clearly distinct! Only then will Pokémon become perfect beings!”

It’s no secret why Pokémon Black/White were given that specific name. The title implies the inherent conflict of the main antagonist. And if you want to get down to brass tacks the game isn’t really about the underaged mute you control – the game is about N.

So, why in the hell would you call the sequel to this game Pokémon Grey?

Nintendo has recently announced the release of Pokémon Black/White 2 but in the time before that every nerd game site in the world was talking about what “Pokémon Grey” would be like. I know that this may seem like a moot point but Jesus-pizzas how dumb do you have to be to have not picked up on how asinine that is.

It would be like claiming that "The Dark Knight Begins" or "A New Striking Back of Hope" or "The Girl with the Dragon Ta-2" or "2 Fast 2 Furious" are really great names for sequels. What it does is reaffirm that everything I assume about how dumb people are, I should stop assuming. Wait, what?! That last one actually happened?

ANYWAYS, as I continue on my path to be the best Michael Vick impersonator I am once again approached by N. He decides to give me a break from all the having-to-point-at-the-dolly-were-he-touched-me business and decided to mind meld with my Pokémon and grill him on my parenting abilities, which seemed a little unfair.

...and sometimes he converts me into energy
and puts me into a physics-defying "poke ball".

Next stop: the harrowing beauty of The Celestial Tower: the Pokémon cemetery.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Journey into Darkness: 5: That ****** Cave

You know what I hate in Pokémon games?


You know that scene in Xmen: The Last Stand where the Juggernaut says the whole, “I’m the Juggernaut, Bitch!” thing and every dumbass in the universe cheered? Then they went home to watch that video of He-Man singing whatever the hell song it was and laughed their asses off because he was SOoOoOo gay? And you remember when I finally snapped and murdered all those people because they are ruiners of all things ruinable.  

Just wait for the last one.

Caves in Pokémon White are for those people, people who don’t understand how to enjoy anything. For people who STILL insist that Pearl Jam was not the catalyst for all the crap that came after it. Or people who wouldn’t dare do anything different because if they did little gremlins would come out of the walls and turn all the quarters to pennies and all the pennies into copies of the Carpenters album Passage. In short, people who are crazy.

The lesser-known Gremlin of Neophobia
As I’ve explained before, I hate grinding. If you don’t know what grinding is let me explain. First you walk around and fight an enemy, then you do it a million more times. Why would you do this thing that sounds suspiciously like work? Because if you don’t your little Pokermans won’t get stronger.

In Pokémon White random encounters only happen in tall grass. The purpose of doing this is so that if your Pokémon are weak you can avoid random encounters by not walking on tall grass. But OH NO, not in caves where random encounters can happen anywhere. At the end of the day you end up being forced to grind which isn't good for me because I have authority issues. Caves in Pokémon games are typically mandatory, arbitrarily long and a huge pain in my ass.

There is also a problem with the random encounter coding.  You see, when your character walks around a piece of code runs to determine if there is going to be a random encounter from tile to tile. Apparently the people at GameFreak can’t set a range for how often this happens because sometimes you’ll walk forever and you’ll be encounter-free. Other times you can literally change the way your character is facing and that will register as movement and therefore the code must run, sometimes causing an encounter which causes me to lose my fist in my own skull.

It’s re-goddamn-diculous. 

At the end of the cave I found N waiting to share his most recent Winston Churchill/Hunter S. Thompson/John Wayne Gacy inspired speech. As usual, I politely listened and made note of height, weight and distinguishing marks for my report to the police. But then something really unexpected happened.

Enter Professor Aurea Juniper.

Professor Juniper is the Pokémon scientist who gave me the mission of “gather information about all Pokémon in your Pokédex, child of which I am not a guardian of”. However, N isn’t having any of that Biological Classification shit. He explained (in an uncharacteristically catty manner) that Juniper is putting Pokémon into categories that they did not choose and therefore denying Pokémon freewill.

fig 1: Shit, N will have none of.

As myself, it sure did sound like sexual tension to me.

As my character, it was just another reminder of the broken home from whence I came.

Next up: More Philosophy Lessons

Friday, March 9, 2012

Colored Blocks are Falling Down

What do I like?

I like puzzle games that feature boxes! Whether it be boxes falling from the sky to save Mother Russia or boxes hell bent on rating your IQ, I've always had a very special place in my heart for deviations from the Rubik's Cube.

I've been wanting to write this for a long time and Pokemon Black is starting to get on my nerves. I want to talk about something I love. So, today I'd like to give you a top 7 best games that have involve both boxes and puzzles.

This one is kind of long so, hit dat jump!

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Journey into Darkness: 4: Captain N

This is N.

I've been kind of holding off on talking about this guy because, Frank Quitely, he is weird. It's kind of hard to explain why a video game character is just so unsettling to me. But here's an excerpt of dialogue:

As they are now, my Pokémon cannot save all Pokémon...
The formula that can change the world is yet to be solved...
I require power... Power that will let everyone understand...
(He starts walking away.)
...I know what power it is I need.
...That of the legendary Pokémon that, together with a great hero, made this land of Unova... Zekrom!
I shall be your hero, Zekrom... and I shall befriend you!

I can't really make heads or tails of this guy because, on one hand, his intentions seem pure but he's also the leader Unova's Malevolent Agency of Destruction, Team Plasma. It's kind of nice to have a member of Team Plasma whose IQ ranges in the triple digits. However, whatever relief gained is immediately lost when N shows up soliloquizing like Orson Wells on the most epic of heroin binges.

There is one conversation in particular that just blew my mind...

In what I assume constitutes an AMBER alert, N made me ride a Ferris Wheel with him. After I asked him if he ever coached at Penn State, two Team Plasma grunts showed up ready to battle. N (with utmost contempt for clarity, using as many pronouns as humanly possible) explained that "they" were recruited to help "us" protect Pokemon and that "he" will battle "them" to facilitate "their" escape.

Then as though he sensed the extremity of my furrowed brow, N had the audacity to ask, "Do you follow my logic? [yes/no]"

No, I do not! And yes, I will be spending the next week getting my fourth Prestige in Modern Warfare 3!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Journey into Darkness: 3: Thus far...

Pokemon Black has taken a bit of a turn for the uninteresting...

So, I feel it may be worth actually chronicling my journey THUS FAR (hence the title). You know, actually letting you know what I've done up to this point. Hopefully, this will help to put a lot of what I'm doing into context.

I left my home town which consisted of about four houses (more of a hovel if you ask me). I traveled to the next town hoping to defeat the Gym Leader of that town. (Clarification) Each town has a Gym Leader who serves as a sort of symbolic leader of the town. Think of a Gym Leader as a sort of Cyrus from Warriors type - more spiritual than functional. When you defeat a Gym Leader you receive a badge that gives you different perks e.g. stronger Pokemon being more obedient, various abilities, and a SHINY PONYTA*.

I may have made that last one up... this is also where my Warriors analogy breaks down.

After beating the Striaton City Gym Leader I traveled to Nacrene city. This town was the self-proclaimed hipster nexus in the Unova region. There were coffee shops, seamstresses and guys playing music (specifically an accordion and a guitar). Nacrene City kind of read like an episode of Portlandia.

Beyond that I traveled across a long suspension bridge that lead into Castelia City, a bustling metropolis filled with highrises and business folk. It was then that I realized that I hadn't been in Portland but I'd simply walked from Williamsburg to Manhattan (later confirmed when I read that Castelia City was designed like Manhattan).

While in Castelia City I came across Team Plasma who had disguised their HQ as a Gym. This would be similar to drug dealers using a building that looked and was named after the town hall as a front. Not really playing with a full deck...

Team Plasma, once again, displayed their poor understanding of logic by telling me that they only fought me because I was using Pokemon (kind of preachy). But they fought against me with Pokemon (kind of contradictory). Then they told me that I can believe what I want (kind of existentialist). Then they just went away (kind of nihilist).

It's like a psychological rope-a-dope that they may win.

*Seriously if you have time sit and watch this kid nerd out like nobodies business. To this day one of my favorite Pokemon related videos... There is also this one.