What’cha Been Playin’? July 2016

WBP July 2016.png

You’d think that with as much Pokémon I played this month, I’d burn out long before now, but I have only recently felt a repellent tiredness. Maybe it’s that the turn-based combat is made less demanding because it’s easier to keep my party at roughly the same level, or because I’m strong enough that I’m able to easily win battles while watching television. Or maybe the newer games are easier.

Regardless, July has been the month of Pokémon, which I started buy purchasing White 2 (the only mainline Pokémon game I didn’t own). Later on, I began stalking eBay and local used game stores for the Pokémon RPGs on GameCube, which go for a surprising sum considering they’re Pokémon games on a Nintendo home console.

Why am I looking at these Cube RPGs anyway? What’s happening to me?

Pokémon Go // iOS

Hey, we’re starting with everyone’s current favorite topic of discussion. Actually, I don’t want to spend a lot of text blabbering about Pokémon Go since the entire world already has.

I downloaded the game and deleted it shortly after since I have little patience for technical issues, and boy did Pokémon Go have some issues out of the gate. I mean, it’s kind of a miracle I didn’t broke my phone out of irrational anger and frustration. Server issues improved, so I re-downloaded the application and spent a time collecting the lil’ bastards around town. (By the way, Grand Rapids has way too many Drowzies.)

The end came when I accidentally traded in Beedrill (nicknamed Waspinator since I loved Beast Wars Transformers cartoon growing up), which I raised to fight gyms, and then installed the update that removed the footstep tracker. At that point I concluded that the developers barely know what they’re doing (a sentiment that’s undoubtedly incorrect) and deleted the app for a second time. I haven’t gone back.

Pokémon Omega Ruby // Nintendo 3DS

I’m kind of surprised that I’ve enjoyed Omega Ruby as much as I have since I found the GBA releases that this new game remakes, well, lacking. Many of my favorite creatures didn’t reappear, and I wasn’t thrilled with the newer Pokémon. Worse, Game Freak removed features introduced in the previous games, like the passage of time, resulting in a sequel that’s inferior to its predecessor in almost every way.

Emerald, along with Ruby and Sapphire, released over a decade ago, and plenty changed with both Nintendo’s handhelds and the Pokémon franchise, allowing Omega Ruby to thrive. The increased power of the 3DS allowed Game Freak to create a brighter, more colorful world, and most of the features dropped from the GBA versions are available (and have since DS’ Diamond and Pearl). The selection of Pokémon is still the worse of the series, but I’m now able to wirelessly trade with myself and my copy of Pokémon Y, allowing me to create a team of lil’ bastards that I want instead of bringing in ones that I don’t.

Omega Ruby runs on the same engine used with X and Y, so Game Freak didn’t introduce anything new. Well, I’m now able to call upon Latios, at which point I’m able to fly around a miniature version of the region, but I don’t understand why I’m unable to do this with my Crobat or any other Flying-type creature. The feature is a gimmick anyway, but maybe with the upcoming Sun and Moon.

Pokémon Red // Nintendo 3DS

Mt. Moon sucks. You’d think that Game Freak would’ve given the player a little more direction seeing as this is the first cave encountered in the original Pokémon games, but there’s none. It’s composed of several sizable spaces (for a Game Boy game) separated by walls that often can’t be seen because the screen size is too small. Stairs are seemingly placed onto a tile at random, and the character walks at the same frustratingly slow pace, just inviting countless random encounters with rock-type Pokémon that my Charmander, Pikachu, and Beedrill are unsuitable to defeating quickly.

The only other example of this type of cave design in a Pokémon game is Rock Tunnel, but that’s also in Red/Blue, which leads me to believe that Game Freak just didn’t know how to create a decent cave. To their credit, this improved with later games, trading the larger spaces for corridors. That might not be as exciting, but given the screen sizes of Nintendo’s handhelds, I’ll gladly take obvious paths funneling me to the exit instead of searching for the closest wall.

Pokémon Y // Nintendo 3DS

Regions in Pokémon games are usually devoid of a central city. Players travel through around half-dozen locations, but there’s rarely a reason to return beyond rooting out an evil-but-inept criminal organization. Pokémon X and Y changed that with Lumoise City, a Paris-inspired metropolis, complete with Prism Tower standing in for the Eiffel Tower. Lumoise City is split into segments with numerous buildings to enter, but more interesting is the city’s five external entryways. Two entries go west, two head easy, and one goes north before moving southeast and connecting with the route from the northeastern entryway.

Lumoise City is planted in the middle of the region, and the map is designed so the player is forced to revisit the city to cross from east to west or back (at least until a Pokémon learns Fly), granting the metropolis a greater sense of importance unshared by other cities explored in previous Pokémon games.

As often as Game Freak is criticized with every new Pokémon game for not reinventing the wheel, they do play around with the series. (And that doesn’t include the insanity of literally catching God, who is a Pokémon.) It appears that the upcoming Sun and Moon games will continue to play around, perhaps more than ever if the rumors are true, so I’m happy that spirit remains in Game Freak.

Rhythm Heaven Megamix // Nintendo 3DS

Frankly, I don’t have a lot to say about Rhythm Heaven Megamix. I’m not terribly far, and as this blog post undoubtedly shown, my 3DS spent the month as a Pokémon player. I have enjoyed what I played — I love the odd, often nonsensical rhythm minigames that comprise the game since, well, what other game has me grabbing fruit bouncing down stairs? Or fueling a humanoid robot that literally launched by its feet? I hope to spend more time with Megamix in August.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE // Wii U

Did you know…? Despite being a crossover between Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem, Tokyo Mirage Sessions seems to lean more heavily towards the former. Really, what Atlus developed didn’t exactly move them from their comfort zone, and while Fire Emblem doesn’t play a major role, Shibuya is home to at least three FE characters. I’m betting that most people miss two of these girls.

The obvious cameo is the red-haired girl running the Hee Ho Mart, who happens to be Anna. She’s made appearances in almost every Fire Emblem character, often in minimal roles, but she became playable in Fire Emblem Awakening and Fates. Her usual character art features Anna with her finger on her cheek or chin, and the Anna in the Hee Ho Mart makes the same gesture. She’s not named in Tokyo Mirage Sessions (nor are the other girls), but her appearance and gesture makes it obvious.

The others less so. The jeweler at Carabia Jewelry wears a cloth over her head and shoulders, a ponytail, and a jewel on her forehead. She’s appeared as a vendor in a handful of Fire Emblem games, but fans are more likely to remember her as Aimee from Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, where she played a lightly larger role. And speaking of those games, the waitress at Cafe Seiren is strikingly similar to Ilyana, a glutton mage from the two aforementioned games.

Interestingly, Aimee and Ilyana traveled together in Radiant Dawn. Meanwhile, Carabia Jewelry and Cafe Seiren are seconds away from one another.

I can’t yet say if Tokyo Mirage Sessions features any other Fire Emblem cameos (excluding enemy and ally Mirages), but I hope so. Tossing a few familiar faces into otherwise forgettable roles does a bit to endear me to this spin-off.

Valkyria Chronicles Remastered // PlayStation 4

Valkyria Chronicles took a bit of a backseat to Tokyo Mirage Sessions and Pokémon this month, but I’m still making progress. If I have any problem, it’s the pathetic problem of being too familiar with the story and maps. This is probably my fifth playthrough (if not more), so even the tactics I use are engraved in my memory.

Which isn’t a horrible problem, of course.

Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3 // Wii U

I never finished the Wii U Virtual Console version of the GBA port of the SNES classic, so I returned to rectify that. After all, I can’t call Yoshi’s Island my favorite game ever if I don’t complete every version in my possession. It’s also that asinine reasoning that caused me to buy the Japanese version of the Super Nintendo version earlier this year.

Not that I regret that purchase.

One thought on “What’cha Been Playin’? July 2016

  1. Pingback: 11 Favorite Games of 2014 (2016 Edition) | namevah

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