Pokemon Gotta Catch-Em-All

Yeah, they're unusual in terms of rhythm and pacing.

We got more info on the Diamond/Pearl remakes and Legends: Arceus:

This Legends trailer is much better than the first one a few months ago. The world looks a bit empty, but I like that they're actually going for the open world thing. And the sort of active time battle system they are using seems like it could be cool. Anyway, I'm now cautiously optimistic about that one.

I think Diamond/Pearl remakes look amazing. As many seem to be I'm still not a huge fan of the chibi look, but the rest of it looks a step up from Sw/Sh's overall look (technically). Underground thing looks a bit like Mystery Dungeon lite.

Arceus continues to show promise, but I can't help but hedge my expectations due to it being GF.

I'm down with the Diamond/Pearl look, but that's largely because that whole chibi-style was programmed into me as the look of a JRPG. The only thing missing is perhaps more contrast in the lighting so all the bright colors didn't blend together so much.

Arceus looks very much like Pokemon of the Wild, but I'm also hedging expectations. I honestly dunno if I want to get either one. It just seems so rare for me to play a Pokemon through to completion. Only the original Red/Blue and Black/White have seen completion. And X/Y I guess? But it says something that I completely forgot I even played through it.

I'm eager for both, but that new look at Arceus moved me from "interested" to "excited". It's starting to look like they may be building upon the Wild Area designs from SwSh in ways I hoped they might!

I thought the last trailer was a big improvement over the reveal... This one isn't doing much for me.

I'm still glad Game Freak is trying something new, but this world just looks so bland and empty, especially compared to games like BotW or Xenoblade 2 which both released 4 years ago.

New trailer for the Diamond/Pearl remakes too:

I get what you mean, but it has an odd appeal to me as a more relaxing open-world game. The sort where you basically just wander around and see what's up without many distractions. More of a hike than a mountain climb, if that makes sense? "What there is to see" looks sparse, in a sense, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing if it also means "focus".

I guess it depends on how it all turns out, since it looks like the appeal is catching Pokemon in an all new way. It's an experiment away from the traditional formula while trying to maintain the core appeal of "this is a game about catching Pokemon". I don't mind minimizing distractions away from that so long as what is there works, but it's too early to tell.

Also: that you can play games that look like Monster Hunter Rise or Monster Hunter Stories on Switch and that looks like... what it looks like, that's probably doing it no favors as well. Not to say it looks bad, but even the aesthetic they're going for is done better elsewhere on their own platform.

Those hoping for Pokemon Arceus to be fully open-world may need to temper their expectations. It's looking like it may be open-hub areas.

For me, that's fine. I've decided I'll be skipping on the Pearl/Diamond remake and will be looking forward to this one instead.

That's kind of where I'm at with the two games as well. I'll probably be getting Arceus around launch unless the reviews are really bad (although it comes out just a week after Elden Ring). I'll still be keeping an eye on the D/P remakes if the reviews are good and when they go on sale eventually.

I would still like to check out the Gen 4 games updated with some modern quality of life improvements (like unlimited TMs), just not at full price.

And Nintendo confirms that it's not fully open-world, and the nature of completing tasks before returning to a hub village sounds more like Monster Hunter.

Monster Hunter Pokemon.

Yeah I'm down for that formula. It actually has just increased my hype for the game significantly.

So I grabbed New Pokemon Snap on sale, and have sunk a bit of time into it. If I could describe it in a single word, it's pleasant. It has the same theme park feel as the first game did, but it's much, much prettier, and it's fun to see all the Pokemon in their "natural" environments.

One thing that's a bit noticeable is that it is a bit grindy. You have to do each zone several times, to level it up by taking better photos. The way it works is that you go in and take photos (obviously), and there 4 different level photos of each Pokemon, and each is worth their own points amount of point. So for instance, a picture of Pikachu standing still is 1-star, eating an apple is 2-stars, and doing something cute like dancing or whatever is 3 or 4-stars. And each star ranking is worth it's own set of points, so if you want to level up a zone to get more Pokemon to show up or get the ones there to behave differently, you need to improve your score for the 1 star photos, the 2 star photos, and so on for every Pokemon.

So to level up zone, or unlock new zones, you have to do a couple of runs through and get a variety of photos for each Pokemon. I think you probably have to go through most zones twice to get the points you need to move on, and I often find myself doing it a third time or more as I'm trying to get better photos of each star ranking or trying to level up the zone. So it's certainly doing the same route over and over, just with pictures getting better each time as you experiment with your tools or get better at timing. Fortunately, each trip through a zone is fairly brisk (maybe like 5 minutes), and it still seems like it has a lot more content than the original. I could probably skip some of the grind and move on sooner than I am, but I don't mind it.

I'm having fun with it since it's very charming and polished, but I'm also kind of glad I didn't buy it at full price, either.

Absolutely. I rented it from my library and we loved it at first and less so each time we had to grind a level. I'm hoping they do a sequel and remove some of the archaic gamified parts and make them an optional mode or something. Alternatively, a basic "explore" mode would be cool in addition to the regular mode.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is due out in a few days, but apparently the whole game leaked last week, and now everything is out there; the new pokedex, all regional variants, gameplay, etc. Some spoilers are in the link, if you care about that.


I've looked at some of the leaked gameplay and reviews. Early returns seem to be mixed; it's a fun shake up for the Pokemon franchise, but I'm not sure how much depth it has compared to other games in the genres it is expanding into. There are a lot of Monster Hunter-lite comparisons, for example. I'm still waiting for more reviews to come out before jumping, though. I am interested enough that I'll grab it at some (price) point.

So unrelated to the Arceus release, I’ve been doing a Nuzlocke run of Fire Red, which is the first time I’ve gotten the old cartridge out in a long, long time. Was feeling nostalgic, I suppose. I'm doing a fairly standard run, where I can only catch the first Pokemon I see in each route barring duplicates, anyone who faints is "dead" and can't be used again, and no legendaries. I've only attempted one Nuzlocke run before, so I'm still fairly new to this.

Anyway, the game started normally enough. I often go with Squirtle as a starter since he’s tanky, and is useful mid to late game (need someone to surf and use Ice Beam against Lance, after all). I also rolled with Pidgey for awhile, lucked out and caught an Abra north of Cerulean, and got a Diglett to beat Lt. Surge. This would look very similar to many runs I did back in the day, except that I usually don’t get Abra that early. I wound up dropping Pidgeotto, since Alakazam could do what I needed her to do (take out fighting types and poison/grass types) even more effectively. And since I was fighting every trainer, I was over leveled for all of my fights.

But the I got to Celadon yesterday and things started getting mixed up. First, was getting Eevee who I quickly turned Jolteon, since I had a huge gap in taking out water and flying types. Plus I leveled up Eevee until it learned Bite before evolving it, so I have a great anti-psychic and ghost attacker as well (reminder that Dark is always a special attack before Gen 4). I don’t think I’ve ever used Jolteon in a run before, so this is kind of a fun experiment. But the real kicker is I lost Wartortle to a critical Mega Punch from Giovanni’s Kanghaskhan in the Rocket Hideout. Totally unexpected, and kind of a record scratch moment, since the starters are usually the crux of my team.

And so that leaves me with two problems. One, I need a water type who can surf and be useful against Lance (and Blaine and Giovanni, too). And the second problem is now my team is Alakazam / Dugtio / Jolteon. All fast, and all hit hard, but all have huge defensive weaknesses. Wartortle was going to be the defensive pivot and the one I could switch to to take a hit or two when I had a bad matchup. But now that’s gone.

I spent a little time looking at what would be available to me that could be a suitable replacement, and seem to have surprisingly decent options, with a bit of creativity. Tentacruel is fast and has good special defense, plus learns Barrier to shore up the physical defense; Poliwrath is a little slow but has reasonably good defenses and a good movepool; and Omastar is an option way down the line with some very good physical defense and great special attack, but that will be a 50/50 if I get Swift Swim which it will need. So next stop will be getting through the Pokemon Tower as fast as possible so I can get to Fushia City asap to get the Great Rod, so I can start catching water types in all the towns that I've visited before so that I can see what my options are, so I have time to grind the lucky winner to catch up with the rest of my team. And to add to the shake up, I don’t think I’ve ever used any of these water types in the Kanto playthroughs before, either.

Anyway, I’ve now entered the part of the game where the Nuzlocke run gets real. The theorycrafting after things go sideways is actually pretty fun.

Wow, reviews are quite good, I'm positively shocked. More so because it sounds like this is THE Pokemon game so many of us have been hoping for over the past decade.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus Nintendo Switch Review - Is It Worth It?

Arceus is the first Pokemon game I've enjoyed in a while. It feels more fresh - to me - though YMMV cause I haven't played a Pokemon game completely through since the original Ruby. I'm excited to sit and play through this one.

Played for 3.5 hours tonight which got me to the first "Alpha". At least, the "tutorial" Alpha since I had found another just wandering around. I think this game sits in a similar spot as Breath of the Wild after all, but not precise because it's not relying on the same sort of exploration for engagement. It's a big open world, but one where every five seconds you're running into either a Pokemon or something to throw a Pokemon at to shove in your satchel.

And given that the Pokedex heavily incentivizes catching and battling Pokemon, you're basically trying to toss a Pokeball or another Pokemon at any Pokemon you encounter. It's surprisingly effective, and given that it's more effective to try and sneak behind a Pokemon and toss a ball at the back of their head, it even encourages some careful thinking and moving around just to catch one. Plus, there's additional items like the spoiled apricorns that can stun them and make them easier to catch or give you an advantage in battle.

When the world opened up and just allowed me to wander around doing this stuff, I was having a blast. Oddly enough, I'm also feeling either like I'm surprisingly under-leveled or my Pokemon aren't particularly strong, which is kind of new for me. Perhaps I'm not fighting enough, or perhaps I'm not grasping the replacement stat modifiers since I'm pretty sure this game doesn't have IV's and all that junk.

What I really don't get is that I spent money "learning moves" for some Pokemon, and they don't have those moves. So I think I'm gonna look up an explanation for that since that irritated me a bit.

Still, it's nice to be playing a Pokemon where I'm actually trying to figure out what my best decision is to avoid my Pokemon getting knocked out. I'm not sure I'm sold on this Strong/Agile style, but I like the ability to mess around with turn order.

I don't expect the changes here to be rolled into the mainline series since this feels built for a single-player experience and removes too much of what makes the franchise interesting competitively (at least, that's how it seems this early on), but I feel like there's definitely a lot here that Game Freak and Nintendo should be learning from. Also: they friggin' sped combat up even with all the text still there. That alone makes this a major improvement!

So, yeah, if you liked Pokemon in the past but it has grown stale, I highly recommend giving Legends Arceus a try.

Didn't expect it to be an Isekai, though.

How approachable is this for younger kids in the 5-6 range? The open world exploration looks like something my kids would really enjoy, but only if they can freely roam without getting into many battles. If you largely get to choose when to battle (over being forced into battle) that would be ideal.

In the new game is there much to do other than finding and catching Pokemon? Side quests, trading, crafting, puzzles, that sort of thing?

Dreaded Gazebo wrote:

How approachable is this for younger kids in the 5-6 range? The open world exploration looks like something my kids would really enjoy, but only if they can freely roam without getting into many battles. If you largely get to choose when to battle (over being forced into battle) that would be ideal.

I can't say for certain because my reference point for young kids that age are gaming prodigies. Or come off like it. My friend has three boys and the youngest was figuring out how to play Pokemon Sword on his own without knowing how to read based on visual and audio feedback. It was actually really impressive to watch.

I'd say Arceus might be intended for a somewhat older audience since there are some aggressive Pokemon that will try to attack and force you into conflict, sometimes demanding you perform a dodge move to evade damage. So while there's large portions of the map they can wander freely, they could easily stumble upon an aggressive Geodude that insists on fighting them.

troubleshot wrote:

In the new game is there much to do other than finding and catching Pokemon? Side quests, trading, crafting, puzzles, that sort of thing?

Don't know about puzzles or trading at this point. It seems like a completely single-player game at the moment. There are side quests, but they primarily consist of going out and catching Pokemon. Crafting exists and some of the recipes can be found through quests and other tasks, but for the most part, everything revolves around combat and catching.

It’s frustrating to me that this game has such small fonts and no cloud saves. I know I’m in the minority on this, but I play most of my games on a Lite and then cloud save to an OG Switch that stays plugged into the TV. So with this game I can’t read the fonts in the game without readers and I can’t use cloud saves with my other Switch because my mid-40s self might duplicate my Pokémons and ruin the economy or some such nonsense.

Oof, you aren't kidding about that font size. I only played docked on the weekend and the fonts were perfect on the tv. Just tried a little portable time this morning and was startled at how different it felt.

New game same goal. Get all the eevees.

I'm enjoying this game ALOT!

Who's up for some trading soon?

I'm actually still hanging out in the first area despite being able to access the next. Decided I want to try leveling up some of the Pokemon I found while also exploring for Wisps at night. Discovered there's far more Alpha Pokemon and other species in that first zone than I had expected.

It's actually kind of impressive how big that first biome is, especially when you consider how little of it you're required to explore before moving on. Curious if they'll have story reasons for you to go back to prior zones in order to make the most out of 'em.

Either way, if you were hoping for more out of Sword and Shield's open world, Arceus is most likely the experience you were hoping for.

First time I ever caught a shiney. What do I do with it? I don't think it will end up on my final team (it's not an Eevee).

Also, one Eeveelution away from the full crew. I think this is the fastest I have ever done this.

Keep it? Shinies tend to have better stats I believe.

I’ll go ahead and give an update on my Fire Red Nuzlocke run. I’ve made it to the end of the big mushy middle of the game, where you can do the events in Celadon/Lavender/Fuschia/Saffron with some degree of flexibility. I’ve beaten Sabrina, and am now moving on to Cinnabar Island.

I mostly stuck to the plan I had: rushed through the Pokemon Tower to get the Poke Flute, woke up a Snorlax and got down to Fuchsia fighting as few trainers as possible; got the Good and Great rods, and caught a bunch of water Pokemon from the towns I visited. Then I ran through the Celadon gym, Fighting Dojo, and Fuchsia gym all with Alakazam, who rolled entire playing field. Not being able to take a hit doesn’t matter if you never get hit, after all. From there, I could finally use Surf and went and caught a Tentacool (Even got one with a Timid nature), and went about grinding it up to a useful level on the roads leading to Fuchsia. Thank you VS Seeker for letting me refight a bunch of trainers to make this as painless as possible. From there I cleaned up a bunch of trainers on all the routes, got through Silph Co pretty easily, and then had Jolteon mop the floor in the Saffron gym (since Bite is still a special attack in Gen 3).

For the most part I am just sticking with the core three of Alakazam, Jolteon, and Tentacruel, so I don’t spend time grinding anyone else up. Dugtrio is sort of kept up level wise, but it doesn’t quite hit hard enough to offset its defenses, and it doesn't have any specific battles I need it for that someone else isn't better for, as far as I remember. I also have a Snorlax and a Jynx as interesting backups just in case I need them. So since I’m just rotating through a core of three now, they’re all pretty over leveled, and are tearing through the midgame.

I’m kind of playing with the end in mind in this game, and lining up certain Pokemon to take on their easiest counterparts in the Elite 4 down the road. Jolteon for Loreli, Alakazam for Bruno and Agatha, and now Tentacruel for Lance and Gary. I have some plans for Tentacruel that involve spamming Barrier to make him neigh indestructible against something that can’t kill him, getting some buffs with X Special, and then sweeping. If I can keep him alive until then, that seems like my safest bet for the end game. Really though, I’m relying on all 3 to carry me through the end, since they each cover most of what I need to take down at the Gyms and Elite 4. The flip side is that also means if someone dies prematurely, I could be in trouble. I suppose having Tentacruel Barrier up and tank his way through battles is my backup plan if it comes to that.

The thing that I am being reminded of in this game is kind of how sparse the Pokemon mix is. The variety and types are much lower than later games, plus the movepools are a lot more limited (and the one use TM’s discourages experimentation). It makes playing the game actually fairly simple even in a challenge run like this, since there’s not too much to account for.

I successfully finished my nuzlocke run of Fire Red!

I got through the last two gyms uneventfully. The fight against Gary before Victory Road was a good primer, since I tested out the idea of having Tentacruel tank his way through large parts of the endgame. I almost had a serious problem, though, since Tentacruel was just Surfing against Alakazam, and it didn’t do near enough, plus Alakazam used Calm Mind twice, and I just barely able to kill it before it actually attacked. If it had, I don’t think I had anyone who could have killed it at that point, so that could have been game over for a dumb mistake. So, lesson learned – I have those X Specials for a reason, and use them earlier in the fight against something not a threat to make the sweep easier. Something I had already thought of, but I didn’t do it in this battle, and it was only because the AI chose not to attack that I didn’t get a total party wipe. And I've seen the stat boosters used in speedruns, which is why I thought they would be a good tactic.

Joleon died to a random critical hit fully powered Revenge from a wild Machoke in Victory Road when I was grinding before the Elite 4, which leaves me with just Alakazam and Tentacruel of my team who were leveled appropriately, and I wasn’t about to go and try to grind someone else up to usefulness. This mad things a lot trickier, and more stall intensive, but it still seems doable. I finished grinding everyone up, and went ahead to the Elite 4.

So to start with Loreli, I had to get creative since Jolteon was now gone. I brought in Tentacruel since they ice and water attacks weren’t going to do anything. I had Tentacruel mainline X Specials to boost his offense, then eventually used Giga Drain, which wasn’t enough to kill even Dewgong at just +4 as I found out, so I bumped it up to +5 just to be safe. It was enough to kill everything else in one or two hits, although I then had to use an Ether to restore uses of Giga Drain against Lapras, who paralyzed me 4 times in a row with Body Slam. I kept healing, and she kept hitting that 1/3 dice roll. I was never too worried here since I had plenty of heals, but it was annoying.

Bruno and Agatha were nothing. Sent out Alakazam, and mowed everything down with Psychic. Nothing of interest in these battles, other than sort of wondering if a standard damage Psychic would be enough vs. Onix. It was.

Against Lance, I basically set up on Gyrados; lead with Tentacruel, Barrier’d a couple of times, then used X Special a bunch of times to boost my offense, and healed periodically when the Dragon Rages started adding up. He never tried any other attacks, since between Barrier and Tentacruel’s naturally high Special Defense, nothing else would have done damage. This then lead to a quick sweep of Lance, once I was comfortable I could one shot all the dragons with Ice Beam.

Against Gary, I led with Tentacruel against Pidgeot; used X special 4 times but got greedy and got whirlwinded out for not attacking sooner. This brought out Dugtrio, who I let die and then brought Tentacruel back in. This time I Barrier’d once since I was taking some decent incoming damage, then X special’d only three times, then hit with an Ice Beam before I could get tossed again. From there, it was another clean sweep, since +3 Surf and Ice Beam could make short work of everything except the Gyrados, but this one has the same problem as Lance’s that it simply couldn’t do any damage outside of Dragon Rage, which makes it fodder for healing and setup. The only part where I was really worried was if +3 Tentacruel was enough to kill Alakazam, since if not, death was coming back on me. If Tentacruel had gotten knocked out there, my plan there was to bring in my own Alakazam and basically set up Calm Mind’s until I was invulnerable and could one shot everything again (with Gyrados the only one I was worried about since they have a really high special defense as well). It never came to that, but I had the backup plan at least.

The overall lessons from this run was 1) I think the later games are more mechanically interesting, since there are a lot more options and things to consider, 2) when you have to be sure you can get the kill with mediocre offense, stat boosters are good, and 3) in Gen 3, Tentacruel can absolutely wall out quite a few Pokemon, and the fact that certain Pokemon like Gyrados are absolutely nerfed before the physical/special split in Gen 4.

MVP goes to Alakazam, for being a tactical nuke against everything (which really isn’t a surprise for the Kanto games), but the surprise this game was definitely the Tentacruel. I've typically thought of them as the annoying things you run into while surfing, but high special defense and speed, plus access to a very fast barrier makes for one sturdy Pokemon, and in a challenge mode where fragility can equal a quick trip to the graveyard, being study is valuable. Reminds me of Furfrou in the nuzlocke run of Y a few years ago, who had insane physical defense with the right ability that got me out of more than a few scrapes when I had no good options.

The planning is actually a big part of the fun in these runs, and I’ll probably do a few more eventually.