TOP 9 Pokemon Games

With only one month until Pokemon Sun & Moon are released, the hype is pretty strong among Pokemon fans! Trailers have been showing so several new mechanics and hinting at interesting story lines, and many fans have already formed strong opinions on the game and its new Pokemon. As difficult as it may be, I’d like to break away from the latest news, just for a moment, and look back at all the great (and maybe not so great) elements of the previous Pokemon games, and see how far we’ve come in the past two decades. If you have time to cram in a game you haven’t played yet, here is my personal list of worst-to-best, that hopefully can provide some aid or strike up an interesting debate!

*This list contains only the main games for Pokemon. N64, Gamecube, Mystery Dungeon Series, etc. are not included.

9. Black/White/Black 2/White 2 (DS)

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I’ll be honest, I really didn’t like Black/White. Everything about it really didn’t jive with me. I wasn’t a fan of the new Pokemon designs, the graphics looked clunky, your friends in the game are kind of annoying, the story wasn’t that great, and it honestly just wasn’t that great as a whole. The seasons thing could have been cool, but it wasn’t. It happened way too quickly for me to really enjoy. I have yet to personally meet someone who actually liked Black/White, but I guess they were liked enough to actually receive direct sequels.

8. Diamond/Pearl/Platinum (DS)

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Honestly, I found these to be a little too similar vibe-wise to R/S/E, if that makes sense. Wireless/wifi trading – and having internet connection in general – was groundbreaking, I’ll give them that, because struggling to keep connection with the gamelink was troublesome, but I found the games to be a little. . .boring. It really just felt like another Pokemon game. Catching Pokemon, battling through gyms, defeating some sort of enemy team – you can only do it so many times. D/P/P weren’t horrible, but there really wasn’t anything there to make them better than the earlier games.

7. Leaf Green/Fire Red (GBA)

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I think it might have been a little too early to remake the original games. Yeah, having updated graphics was nice, but they didn’t feel necessary to me, and the addition of the Sevii Islands wasn’t really enough to make a whole new experience, compared to ORAS’s Delta Episode. LG/FR weren’t bad games, they’re definitely worth checking out, but other than being able to trade with R/S/E, there really wasn’t much of a point for me. Now, if the original games could be remade for 3DS, I’d be stoked.

 

6. Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (GBA)

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So. Much. Surfing. It’s really no wonder how I found a shiny Tentacool. I think the coolest thing about R/S/E were the graphics. Yeah, it’s a given that they should improve over the Game Boy ones, but it was still neat to actually have full scenery and color in a Pokemon game. More cool new stuff was added, like contests, but we lost the day/night feature. With the addition of new teams, the game you got changed the story line a bit more drastically. That being said, some kind of story beyond “Hey, Team Rocket sucks, can you get rid of them for us?” was added, though I can’t stay the plot was really the game’s strong point. Having a new Pokemon game on a new system was cool, but it really did not match the excitement that G/S/C gave me. Also, after the additions Yellow and Crystal brought, Emerald didn’t really meet my “special edition” standards. On a side note, I knew braille for about a month from trying to catch the Regis, so I guess I learned something new from playing.

5. X/Y (3DS)

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After Black/White, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to attempt X/Y. Luckily, the 3DS Pokemon games were a huge step up. Though the 3D could have been neater and utilized more, the anime-ish graphics were aesthetically pleasing, as well as the game’s French-styled scenery as a whole. I’m also a sucker for Pokemon-amie. Though it was the most recent and high-tech game, it somehow had a back-to-basics feel. Plenty of beloved Kanto Pokemon appeared in the wild, plus the inclusion of the original starters and legendaries was a great way of bringing the past into the present. I’m still a little bummed that we never got a Z version. . .

4. Heart Gold/Soul Silver (DS)

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Fantastic remake of G/S! Everything I loved was there.  .  . So keep reading to find out why I thought G/S/C was so fantastic! I have HG/SS ranked a little lower though since it didn’t have the same excitement around it for me, and wasn’t as big of an advancement for the series as the original was. However, the first Pokemon in your party would follow you around and it was super cute! WHY did they take that feature out??

3. Red/Blue/Green(JP only)/Yellow (GBP/GBC)

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The games that started it all! When the Nintendo eShop released them for digital download, it was hilarious to hear the new reactions of people who were playing them for the first time. “Where is the Daycare to lay eggs? Why can’t my Eevee evolve into Sylveon? Why is Magnemite only electric? I WALK SO SLOW!” Sure, R/B/Y are pretty dated, but they are still excellent games that should be played by all Pokemon fans. Very basic game play, simple story line, but still pretty fun compared to some older games in different series. Even if the game is too simple for you, there are hundreds of crazy hacks and glitches you can do to entertain yourself, like catching Mew, multiplying your items, visiting Glitch City, and encountering Missingno. Yellow especially was neat since it loosely incorporated the anime’s story, so you had a Pikachu as your starter and it followed you around, eventually are given all 3 original starters, and you occasionally encountered Jessie and James. Plus, it was for Game Boy Color, while the originals were for Pocket, so every town had its own unique color scheme.

2. Gold/Silver/Crystal (GBC)

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If the game battery didn’t die so freaking fast, it would be perfect, especially for its time. Having a new region and group of Pokemon was super exciting for those who played or watched through the first region. At the time, we had no idea there would be more than 151 Pokemon, so having a sequel game was a really big deal. G/S/C really set the pace for every game after it. Pokemon were gendered, they could hold items, lay eggs, more types and evolutions were added, you had some sort of gadget with neat apps. As annoying as some of the phone calls were, it was still a cool feature that I wish stayed in the later games, along with the radio. Crystal was also the first game to give you the option to play as a female, which was especially appreciated among little girls like me. Though the graphics were still subpar (as they seem to always be), it was the first in the series to be in more than one color, and the Pokemon battle sprites in Crystal could move, so it was definitely a step up. Being able to play through the Kanto region was awesome, and it would be cool to be able to play through old regions more, but I suppose cramming now 7 other regions into one game may be a bit of a hassle. More than anything, the day/night feature was stellar, despite the toll it took on the battery (and the amount of times my mom yelled at me for playing past my bed time). I really hope to see Sun and Moon bring this back, given the game titles.

1. Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire (3DS) 

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It almost feels taboo to put the latest game as my number 1, but I was blown away by the 3DS remakes of Ruby and Sapphire. Tech-wise, it had the same features as X/Y, plus the Pokemon radar system, which made finding Pokemon SO much easier! The story was presented so well, I wish the actual anime was like this – maybe I would have kept watching it! Lots of the cut scenes were really cute, exciting, and even a little emotional, and the delta episode provided plenty of post-game fun. Flying with Latias and Latios was an incredible new experience. My only complaint is that if you don’t look at an online guide, finding all the legendaries may be a struggle, but in this day and age, that isn’t too hard to do. Even if you weren’t a fan of the original Ruby/Sapphire, ORAS is definitely worth checking out.

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So, how does your personal list match up with mine? Are there any games that you loved or disliked? How are you feeling about Sun and Moon so far? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

Pokemon 20th Anniversary!

Happy 20th anniversary, Pokemon!

I remember like it was yesterday where I was when I first learned about Pokemon. I was 3 years old when it first came to the US. My neighbor was showing me his new game he got for his GameBoy called Pokemon Blue. He was showing me how to look for Pokemon by walking through grass and surfing in water. It just blew my mind. I honestly don’t know why because I didn’t understand how to play really, but I knew I NEEDED that game.

Shortly after, my mom bought me Red version. I couldn’t read, so I didn’t really know what to do. I knew you could catch pokemon and battle (I knew numbers, so I knew about leveling up), but I didn’t know what the names of the pokemon were or how to save. I would play for hours on end, just so I could make it past Veridian City. The farthest I ever got was to Rock Tunnel in one sitting. I had the game guide – which is now a torn-up mess than not even tape can save, but it didn’t help since I COULDN’T READ. But I liked the pictures and it came with stickers, which I made a pretty picture with. It wasn’t until one of my 4 yr old friends (who could read) taught me how to save that my love for pokemon exploded into something uncontrollable and amazing.

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Soon, everyone I knew was obsessed with Pokemon. It seemed like the entire world had fallen in love with its charm. I had a plush Pikachu that I carried around with me. I even shared my Happy Meals with him. I watched the TV show all the time, and when my mom gave me and my sister the first tape, we watched it every day until she got us more. I continued to get more games, cards, toys, clothing, comics, even bed sheets – I was a walking embodiment of Pokemania. From cereal to underwear, Pokemon was everywhere, and I had to own it all.

I never stopped loving Pokemon. I still play the games religiously. I don’t watch the new episodes, but I still rewatch my tapes. I hardcore fangirled when I met Veronica Taylor, the voice of Ash Ketchum, last year at Emerald City Comicon. I don’t think it’s possible for me to ever stop loving Pokemon. With Pokemon Sun and Moon soon to be released, I look forward to many more years filled with my favorite series of all time.

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Also, for old-time’s sake. . .who remembers this classic ad?

How long have you been playing Pokemon? Do you have any Pokemon memories you’d like to share? Are you doing anything special to celebrate the 20th anniversary? Comment below! Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

 

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Eternal Sonata

Hello, everyone! Once again, I apologize for my absence, but school is still keeping me busy. . .and I’ve also been trying to finish up this really cool video game in my free time! But now that I completed it, I will rant about it!

Eternal Sonata is a j-rpg for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 developed by tri-Crescendo and published by Namco Bandai Games. I played the Xbox version and, according to online forums, there are some slight differences between the two games. This review will therefore only cover the Xbox 360 version.

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About the Game 

I originally learned about this game through an anime magazine a while back (I think Newtype?) and thought it sounded really cool, but I kinda forgot it existed until earlier this year when I found a used copy of it at GameStop. Basically, the game is about the pianist/composer Frederic Chopin, who is dying of tuberculosis on his deathbed. In his final slumber before his inevitable death, he finds himself in what he believes to be a dream world called Forte. There, he meets a young girl named Polka, who has magical powers – which means she will soon die of illness. Wanting to do something with the limited time she has left in her life, she wishes to speak to the king of Forte, Count Waltz, about mineral powder, as it has fatal side effect and its mining damages the forest. The story takes a twist when Polka and Chopin are mistaken as rebels and are imprisoned. Joined by a duo of thieves, the guardians of the forest, a shepherd, and a trio of rebels, Polka and Chopin find themselves on a magical journey to stop Count Waltz from using the mineral powder to aid his insurrection against Forte’s enemy, Baroque.

With all my level grinding, hunting for items, and getting lost, it took me a little over 35 hours to complete, which isn’t too bad for an rpg. That being said, I missed my opportunity to play through the secret dungeon before the final boss. From what I heard, it can be quite time consuming yet rewarding (more character development, cool boss fights, spiffy items). Since it’s a secret dungeon, it is not on the obvious path in the game, so if you choose to complete it, I would check a walkthrough when you make it to the last part of the game to make sure you don’t miss it like I did.

Review

As a pianist who’s favorite composer is Chopin, this game is perfect for me. The game is divided into 7 chapters (8 if you count the final scene), and you unlock a Chopin piece in each one, along with facts about the song and Chopin’s life. The game incorporates musical elements throughout, such as collecting score pieces (little phrases of music) that you can play with NPCs to receive cool items.

I also really liked the battle system. While you often have several members in your party, you play with three at a time, though the other members gain a reduced amount of experience points from every battle. It’s turn-based and you generally get a few seconds of tactical time before springing into action.

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Of course, you have your items, ability to block, physical attacks, and special attacks. The game also makes use of light and dark attacks, so depending on where you are standing on the battlefield will change your special attack moves, and can also transform the enemies, for better or for worse.

The plot is quite intriguing. It starts off with political drama with the whole mineral powder deal, the impending war between Baroque and Forte, rebellion, and political espionage. The characters are all unique, have their own little lovable quirks, and are honestly just tons of fun.

If the game was able to keep all this up in the last third or quarter of the game, it’d probably be the best game ever. [MODERATE SPOILERS AHEAD]

While the characters are cool, they could be developed so much more. There are so many hints of characters being romantically interested in each other, but it stays at that. It’ll be brought up in a cut scene or two, only to never be brought up again. We never really get much closure to the relationships between characters, and after 35 hours of gameplay, I’d kind of like to know if character A ever gets to be with character B, let alone confesses his/her feelings. Even the bad guys working for Count Waltz are really cool, but we hardly get to see them, except for maybe in an abrupt boss battle (and by abrupt I mean they will literally jump out of the bushes and be all like, “LET’S FIGHT!!”)

The plot gets lost. First, the mineral powder is important. Then it’s whatever the Baroque rebels are up to and we kind of just ignore Count Waltz and his cronies for a while. Then everything is just put on hold because a monster is made with the mineral powder and we gotta stop the monster. I honestly just seems like the characters are being dragged along with whatever is the current issue for the kings and princes of whatever land they’re on – and the issues are interesting, yeah, and if you are just paying attention to whatever is going on in the game at that particular moment, it all seems great. . .but then you can help remember but the incident that happened 10 hours ago and wonder if it’ll ever be revisited. There’s also this whole thing with these little glowing puff balls called agogos and they’re weirdly attracted to Polka, and for some reason Count Waltz seems to care about them, but we never really find out what the whole deal is with these agogo things…? I feel like adding a few more hours to explain it all and make it all connect wouldn’t make the game feel extremely long and would be totally doable. After all, most people are ready to make the time commitment when they play an rpg. I would rather have another 5 hours of gameplay than feel confused. Or they really could have cut or shortened some of the stages for more plot/character development. While most were relevant, a few felt a bit random, like they were trying to add more stages to make the story feel longer.

And most of this gets lost in Chopin’s existential rants about “Is this all a dream or is this reality?”

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I think the creators accidentally made a game about Edgar Allan Poe, not Chopin. The rants only increase throughout the story and you’ll end up feeling just as confused as poor Chopin, maybe even more. It’s extremely melodramatic, which is not unique to Eternal Sonata (don’t get me started on the Final Fantasy games), but I can’t be awed by flowery dialogue and existentialism if I don’t understand what’s going on. By the end of the game, everything just drowns in existential rants. I can’t even spoil the ending for you because I don’t know what happened. I was waiting for this big reveal where we find out if this world is just a dream or if it’s some other dimension between life and death, and how this ties into the war and agogo things. . .but that reveal never happened. Chopin just explodes into a huge rant at the end of the game and you are rewarded with a 45 minute cut scene of I don’t even know what. I could try to explain it, but I don’t want to totally spoil the ending. After playing such a magnificent game for so long, I felt robbed by the ending. I felt like there was a huge chunk of the plot missing.

At first I thought, “Maybe I’m just not smart enough to understand this game.” But then I googled “Eternal Sonata ending” and found tons of forums filled with people all like, “WTF did I just watch?!”

Also, when you finally think it’s over, you are rewarded with an even weirder short of a snail contemplating the shape of life.

From what I’ve heard, the PS3 ending makes a little more sense and adds more backstory throughout the game to tie loose ends together, but it isn’t THAT much clearer. But if you have the option of playing either the Xbox or PS3 versions, it sounds like the PS3 is a better choice.

Overall, the game is amazing and I totally recommend it! Just don’t think too hard when you’re playing it, or you might feel cheated by the lack of plot and character development.

Have you played Eternal Sonata? What did you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Thanks for reading~

Video Game Review: Catherine

Don’t judge a book by its cover – in this case, video game. I remember when I first saw the video game Catherine. I was in my local GameStop with my boyfriend when he spotted the game and told me, “I own this game. It’s really cool!”

So when my boyfriend showed me the game cover, I was a bit turned off by the cover art…

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I totally thought it was a sex game. Who could blame me?

Well, I trusted my boyfriend’s taste in video games, so I played through Catherine. I am happy to say that it is NOT a sex game. Yes, it is definitely an adult themed game, but still not a sex game.

Created and published by Atlus, the masterminds behind the Persona series, Catherine is a puzzle-platformer adventure game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Not a sex game.

You play as a 32 year old man named Vincent, who is honestly kind of a deadbeat and spends his evenings drinking the night away in a bar with his equally-deadbeat friends. He is carefree, enjoys living alocne, and has no ambitions as far as romance goes. This frustrates his girlfriend Katherine, who is his polar opposite. Stern, business oriented, and always planning for the future, Katherine is eager to marry Vincent and start a family.

I guess opposites attract, right?

Anyways, one night at the bar, Vincent meets a hot little blonde number named Catherine, gets really drunk, wakes up with her in his bed the next morning. After meeting her, Vincent can’t go a night without disturbing nightmares where he must climb a tower of crumbling blocks in a hellish dimension inhabited by sheep. These sheep are actually other people sharing Vincent’s nightmares, sentenced to climb to the top of the tower to atone for their sins.

That’s where the puzzle portion of the game kicks in. You must push and pull the blocks to reach the top of the tower. Your goal is to ultimately keep climbing so you can reach the cathedral and be saved from your sins – and all the climbing.

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The puzzles get progressively harder by adding in trick blocks that crumble, shoot spikes, explode, etc. Sheep will occasionally try to push you off the blocks. The boss fights become more terrifying, in which a disturbing  monster will chase you up the tower. Overall, just finding the right path becomes harder. Luckily, between stages, you are able to share climbing techniques with other sheep.

You get to choose your difficulty for the stages. I am honestly not that great at puzzles, so I set it to easy, but it was still actually really hard. Prepare to be frustrated.

And if you bought the game because you thought it’d be a sex game, you’ll be really, really, really frustrated.

If this game sounds really annoying to you, don’t worry – I haven’t even explained the best parts yet.

When you’re NOT having a disturbing nightmare, you are balancing between Katherine and Catherine. I’m generally not a huge romance fan, but the tension between Vincent and the two girls in the cut scenes is extremely engaging. As Vincent continues to cheat, things only become more intense. His relationship with Katherine progresses, yet Catherine continues to show up in his room.

My favorite thing about Catherine is it’s one of those games where your actions determine the outcome of the game. Will you choose the sexy, carefree Catherine? Will you start a family with Katherine? Maybe choose neither?

The interactive portion of the game mainly takes place in the bar. You are able to chat with your friends and the other customers, who will give you hints about the plot and pass time. Don’t forget to drink a ton – getting drunk increases your climbing speed in your nightmares.

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While at the bar, Catherine and Katherine will text you, generally about how you are doing or about something that happened earlier in the cut scenes. The game offers a selection of preset texts for you to choose from. However you respond will affect the outcome of the game. To see where you’re at in case you have a preferred option, a meter will appear at the bottom of the screen. If the arrow is pointing in the red, you are leaning towards Catherine. If it’s blue, you’re leaning towards Katherine.

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Before each stage, you are asked a moral question (ex: “Is it okay to lie?”) and are given two answers to pick from. Your choice will also affect the meter.

As annoying as the puzzles are, the nerve-wracking interactions between Vincent and the girls make it all worth it. It forces you to face some uncomfortable, tempting, and sadly realistic situations for those experiencing dishonesty in a relationship. The game brings a fresh outlook on relationship drama with a horror spin – if you cheat on your girlfriend, prepare to pay the consequences.

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Have you ever played Catherine? What did you think? Comment below!