Fresh outta college, one of those stereotypical, bumbling jobless "journalists" wanting to become a "vidya gaems jarnalist". And so the hunt for a job he likes begins! And no, he's not going back to school to become a pharmacist technician, like his mom nags him to be.
I also have a YouTube channel (above image). Self-taught video editing! I'm still unemployed you know, potential hirers!
~ Favorite games
- Red Dead Redemption
- Shadow of the Colossus
- Mass Effect 2
- Yoshi's Island
- Monday Night Combat
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
- Super Mario World
What happens when you take the principle foundation of Sword Art Online and lessen the examination on humanity in a digital to increase the game fluff that was on top of it? Log Horizon is what happens when you have someone who decides that he isn't good at writing compelling human psychological thrillers but decides instead to crank up his personal experiences of playing video games and RPGs as far as he can. Basically, Sword Art Online crossed with World of Warcaft.
In Log Horizon, Elder Tale is a long running MMO of 20 years that has a global community of players. One day though, everyone suddenly wakes up inside the game as their game avatar with no memory of what happened and just like Sword Art Online, they can't log out. This even is coined as The Apocalypse but unlike SAO however, no one is distressing over player death since everything that makes Elder Tale a game is still largely intact. Player death is largely inconsequential since all it does is penalize you experience and you respawn at the last cathedral you visited. Even though the lack of death separates its stakes from SAO, that doesn't mean everyone kicks back and relaxes. The biggest problem The Apocalypse concerns in Log Horizon is that the playerbase, known as adventurers, is either in anarchistic chaos or resigned apathy: war parties roam the land PKing everyone or enslaving NPCs known as People of the Land or players simply loaf around trapped in a game that acts essentially like purgatory.
In fact, this is largely the biggest difference between Log Horizon and SAO. SAO puts a big emphasis on the reality of death ironically being in the game, and how its a constant thought in everyone's minds. In Log Horizon however, the very fact that players are essentially immortal is the biggest concern for most people. Imagine receiving immortality yourself but being trapped within your room for what could be forever. Your games and Internet connection can only sustain you for so long. How long could you go before you'd just give up?
"It feels like my life has been poisoned! Oh, cause I'm actually poisoned ok."
Log Horizon centers around a player character known as Shiroe who primarily resides within Akihabara of the Japanese servers. Shiroe is the intellectual type who is one of the few enchanters in the world of Elder Tale, which is a support-based mage class. Being an enchanter also defines his quirks well as he has trouble with social interaction and has a past of naively helping everyone regardless of their honest intentions. The series follows Shiroe and his friends as he they try to make sense of their problem, first dealing with the domestic problems of an un-unified Akihabara, slowly expanding outward and dealing with problems throughout the land with various outside communities and People of the Land. Being a thinker rather than a fighter, Shiroe will also explore the mysteries of Elder Tale along with how and why the players of the game are seemingly trapped in this new world.
I've always loved imagining my own idea and design documents for my own complex RPG and Log Horizon seems to have that same dream. For better or worse, Log Horizon has a large system of game mechanics that fleshes out a whole RPG game that I feel is genuinely interesting to learn how it'd function as an actual game. Of course, this is also a very obvious problem with the show too. Every little thing must be explained for the sake of mainstream viewers. Sure, people like me can understand that a whistle that summons rare griffon mounts would be from a high level raid, but for the sake of people who don't play video games, the show takes the time to have a character have an internal monologue explaining how such a rare item could only be owned by high level players who participated in a specific raid.
These status boxes are recurring, fleeting visual effects but it keeps you rooted in the game's reality.
This can happen a lot for many of nitty gritty RPG mechanics and tropes such as a tank character using a skill that draws aggro or what place an NPC has in the overall quest structure. This can really hinder the pace and pad out episodes but at same time I think its a charming point for the show just so you can gush about how certain things are accurate to any RPG you've played. It's crazy to think in Western media and entertainment, we still get things like the Resident Evil movies, Doom, and Gamer (starring the blockbuster movie star Ludacris) where producers and writers are wracking their brains on converting the narrative of the source games to be both faithful and mainstream. Meanwhile, Log Horizon started life as light novel where it was undoubtedly authored by a person who has played games and most likely had input in how their creative work would translate to the animated medium. The end result is an enjoyable show that is very much well informed of what its portraying while attempting to an outside audience.
Log Horizon's main draw is the world crafting which somehow hits the satisfaction of seeing a world from a series you're watching and seeing a world as it would be as a video game. Its intriguing to see characters who play as guardians and how they behave in the world of Elder Tale as both apart of the story and as a hypothetical game. We meet one samurai character, Tohya, early in the series and we see how he acts as the tank of the group using skills that involve attacking enemies and provoking them for aggro. But I'm also interested in learning more on how other samurai characters act like Soujiro, leader of the West Wind Brigade guild. Plus within Elder Tale's class structure, samurai are one of three tank based classes, others being the guardian which specializes in shields and the monk which specializes in combos and evasion. A viewer like myself who's interested in the game world wants to see more of how the monk acts in a group scenario or what other skills a guardian like Naogotsu, one of the main characters, has. There are other gamey elements such as the functions of guilds, roaming monsters, and even instances and events!
Holy crap he actually said PUG! The author and producers know what they're talking about!
Another big part of the series is sticking through to see what the mystery of The Apocalypse is. While the consequences of The Apocalypse are only lightly explored at first, later on the depth of the mysteries behind The Apocalypse truly hooks you in. I shouldn't really spoil it but despite that particular arc not having very much action, the revelations about The Apocalypse alone kept me in on the commitment to watching Log Horizon.
Politics is also strangely a big part of the anime. In between stretches of combat is political tension and intrigue. At first this is from the inter-guild dynamic of the existing players of Akiba. But soon we deal with the unknown element of outside kingdoms who fear the mysterious origins and immortality of the adventurers. One long arc feels like a dangerous game of poker, with the two factions trying to glean as much information about the other without revealing too much about themselves. Information is as powerful as brute force after all in high powered peace talks.
And of course, character development and growth has a special place. After all, great series develop their character so that they aren't the same person they were when the series started. But that's doubly important since we're talking about an RPG. We all know that a defining trait of an RPG is growing your character to be different then when you began. Usually that means they're stronger but it can also mean a change in alignment or a change in beliefs.
There are promises of character growth beyond what can be found from researching its past as a light novel. Two characters are comparatively newer to the game then game veteran Shiro. The previously mentioned Tohya has a twin sister, Minori, and both are about level 25 compared to Shiroe and friends being at the level cap of 90. As far as the series has progressed, the twins have shown growth in combat and understanding of the game. A more tangible example is one dungeon the party completes and the treasure at the end is a pair of bracers that strengthen magic attacks. With only one mage in their party, Rundelhaus Code takes them with pride and the very next episode, we see him polishing them with reverence. If it stays somewhat on track with the source light novels, the characters will indeed receive new equipment and skills to reflect their growth as warriors and indubitably, they'll be wiser as people too.
If you've watched Sword Art Online, will you like Log Horizon? Its hard to say since SAO can hit several notes on your taste. SAO has some great action scenes in it, plus the usually serious tone was a good change of pace from your usual bubbly anime. Log Horizon has much less action per episode and has typical anime tropes and exaggeration. But then again, Log Horizon has a consistent mystery vibe going about it, a very fleshed out game world to latch onto. Plus its built on a premise that should last longer then SAO's premise, which should have ended at episode 13. If you're in the market for a new anime to watch, give Log Horizon a try as a potential wedge in the Venn Diagram between anime and games.
I've saved a lot of Pokemon in my days of playing the series. I've held onto Pokemon I've caught in Emerald version way back with the GBA cartridges. But PokeBank has been delayed indefinitely, and with it Poke Transporter, leaving a lot of my favorites still sitting around in my Pokemon Black card. It's just salt in the wound that Japanese trainers got their hands while they could on Pokebank. Some people are swimming in Chimchars and Piplups.
Collecting Pokemon is a very personal story. No two trainers can raise the same Pokemon. At first I thought I wanted to write about the most interesting Pokemon you can transfer and introduce to the Kalos region. But when I get down to it, all I want to do is talk about my unique Pokemon that I want to bring into my Pokemon X game.
1. Shiny Rhyperior - HAKUSHO from Emerald's Hoenn region
I've told this story a lot before but HAKUSHO has always been one of my favorite success stories. One day while looking for a Chansey in Hoenn, and as tradition goes, Chansey has almost always been a rare Pokemon that's only found in the Safari Zone. If you've seen the Pokemon Origins anime, the fleeting scene of the Safari Zone is spot on, as its one of the most challenging, rage inducing areas in the game when it comes to catching them all.
You have to blindly decide between throwing rocks at your quarry, potentially pissing them off and making them bolt, or throwing food at them, potentially giving them a free meal which they will then dine and dash on you for. Both have their uses in luring your catch and making them lower their guard. Unfortunately, information regarding their catchability is completely hidden unlike normal battles with health bars. Its usually a nerve wracking experience when you finally find what you're looking for only to have them run away. Dratinis are another big perpatrator to being found in Safari Zones.
So imagine my shock and despair when I encountered a shiny Rhyhorn in the first Safari patch of grass. Great! This rare find is going to get away from me because I found it in the Safari Zone.
Then I caught it after throwing one rock and one piece of bait. Not only that, it was a Rhyhorn with the right ability that after transferring to Diamond, it got Solid Rock as its ability after evolving into Rhyperior. It may be slightly softer in terms of defense, but he'll hit harder than your average Rhyperior.
2. Shiny Roserade - Black Rose from Diamond's Sinnoh region
Roserade is chronologically the second shiny I'd ever caught and yet the celebration was comparatively more tepid. I caught Black Rose as a shiny Roselia but she didn't have anything amazing. She had a bad nature and an inadequate ability to boot. I figured Black Rose wasn't going to be the best Roserade she could be so I decided to build her a different way.
Believing her to have trouble trying a traditional spikes or support build, I trained Roserade to be a niche weather fighter. Since Roserade could learn Weather Ball, a special attack that changes properties based on the current weather, I thought to surprise opponents by slapper her onto a sun or hail team for the element of surprise with a sudden fire or ice attack Roserade normally can't have.
Bringing Black Rose into Gen VI though introduces the possibility of giving her an Ability Capsule, allowing her to have her coveted Natural Cure ability.
3. Gengar - MICHIE from Soulsilver's Johto region
Gengar is a Kalos dex native, so Michie doesn't appear to have much going for it besides a personal story. Gengar has always been a powerful Pokemon, ever since the first generation. The difference with Michie is that she's a success story of EV training and IVs.
I've trained two Gengars since putting down Soulsilver. None of them ever came close to Michie's ridiculous special attack of 190. The only explaination is that in addition to relentless EV training, when I caught Michie as a quiet, unassuming Ghastly, she actually had a perfect IV in special attack. I'm pretty excited to bring her into Kalos and try her hand at some annoying choice attacking sets or even a Gengarite set (even though that's uber now).
4. Nidoking - Kaijuu from Unova's Entree Forest
When's the last time you've seen Nidoking? He's universally panned most of the time but he's actually a potent force in the UU tier. That's because Nidoking has an expansive offensive movepool that allows it to super effective nearly anything it meets.
Nidoking's claim to fame is its hidden ability, formerly only available in the now defunct Dream World. Sheer Force removes an attack's secondary effect in exchange for 33% more power. It also removes Life Orb's only drawback, an item that drains health in exchange for 33% more power. My particular Nidoking uses Earth Power and Sludge Bomb for STAB plus Ice Beam and Thunderbolt for the infamous boltbeam combo: a combo with nearly perfect super effective coverage across the spectrum. Sure super effective hits combined with 66% extra punching power from a modest special attack focus are all benefits to Nidoking's useful defensive typing for ground/poison. As long as big threats to Kaijuu are removed, he'll tear holes in a team that can't take the hits well.
5. Kyogre - the sea basin Pokemon from Emerald's Hoenn region
Kyogre is by far my favorite legendary. A leviathan that creates a flood by simply appearing is quite the mythos for a whale-sized Pokemon. Kyogre is a great design and he also has the power behind it to really walk the walk along with the talk. Kyogre tends to make better use of its rain inducing ability too, with extremely powerful Hydro Pumps and Water Spouts going far beyond Groudon's Drought and Earthquake or Eruption.
Kyogre also has the honor of being one of the only Pokemon I've legitimately raised to level 100 through countless grinds against the Elite 4. My box of ubers has swelled over the years, so I definitely have enough Pokemon to construct a team for an uber's tier fight and I definitely want to focus on building around a Kyogre.
6. Duskinoir - TASHA from Diamond's Sinnoh region
Duskinoir has always been in an awkward position it received its new evolution. On one hand, Duskinoir has incredible mixed bulk and greatly upgraded attack compared to it's previous evolution. On the other hand, giving Dusclops eviolite makes it nigh unkillable with the exception to a lack of reliable health recovery.
Tasha to me has always been a great, flexible defensive pivot since its mono ghost-typing allows it decent switch ins. The thing to really be interested in the Duskinoir this generation is its new attack from TM, Infestation. Binding moves got a buff by inflicting 1/8 damage every turn and Duskinoir's epically low HP allows it to take a lot through Pain Split. Anything unprepared to stay through Infestation's trapping may be likely to die a slow, painful death if it can't punch through Duskinoir quickly enough.
7. Ursaring - YOGI from Diamond's Sinnoh region
I've always had a soft spot for normal-type Pokemon actually. They're often underrated due to the lack of interceding between powerful STAB attacks and super effective attacks. But normal-types often compensate by having strong stats in one area even at the risk of overspecialization and Ursaring is an example of one such.
I don't believe the Teddiursa line is available in Kalos but if you don't know what Ursaring is capable of, know that it has a ton of attack at its disposal without a whole lot of speed or even bulk to work with. It also has access to Guts, which can lead to frightening levels of overkill. Since Ursaring has no speed to speak of, mine has Guts and a Rest/Talk set. Sleep counts as a status ailment, even if self-inflicted so with some HP EVs, Yogi can refresh its health and hit super hard with a STAB, Guts boosted, status boosted Facade. Rest/Talk is of course a prolific but unpredictable set, so Yogi benefits from having possible counters removed, mostly ghosts and Pokemon who soar over Earthquake. But if there isn't a Pokemon that can ignore these two attacks, nothing is going to want to take either one with the amount of power Ursaring can draw on.
8. Whimsicott - Fluffee from White's Unova region
Back in the previous generation, Prankster was revered as a powerful ability but was limited to very few useful Pokemon. While Whimsicott got it, which elevates priority of non-attacking moves by +1, it lacked the bulk or typing to really make good use.
Whimsicott received one notable buff in gen VI though: a retcon to be dual grass/fairy typing. Fairy is an amazing defensive typing that allows Whimsicott to do a lot more shenanigans with its support movepool and Prankster. In fact, his movepool is so diverse that I actually have two Whimsicott with two different movesets. One is a defensive stall set while another is a Memento set to support setup sweepers.
Whimsicott is unobtainable in the Kalos dex, so I look forward to bringing my own little fluffy bastard into gen VI.
9. Omastar - Brorush from White Unova's region
Omastar was one of the original fossil Pokemon but it wasn't until the previous generation that I trained one in earnest. Its because Black/White was dominated by a weather metagame and Omastar was one of the more niche but destructive stars of rain gameplay.
My friend actually knows of Brorush quite well as I've sweeped his teams before in the past. With rain up thanks to a teammate and Shell Smash, Swift Swim and Shell Smash work together to allow Brorush to outspeed even certain Choice Scarfed revengers. Rain and Shell Smash allow synergize together to create extremely devastating Surfs. Anything that cannot resist water gets washed away easily.
Brorush needs a bit of setup but with the right support, you'll see that I named him that for a reason.
2013 was a goddamn great year for games if you ask me. And none of my reasons pertain to the new generations of consoles either! In fact, this year has been the year of the 3DS for me. Regardless of how much fun I was having on my 360 thanks to great, visionary games or the Games for Gold program really kicking in for me (Dead Rising 2 since Fall, Sleeping Dogs in January), the 3DS was what really brought a smile to my face this year.
So no more bibble babble! There's nothing more to talk about. Let's get on with the games of 2013 picked by Strider!
I remember early in the year the tension of waiting for Animal Crossing: New Leaf to be given a release date (spoilers!). Knowing ACNL wasn't coming late 2012 and only vaguely that it was planned for early 2013 was agonizing. Imagine my surprise when Fire Emblem: Awakening releases to very modest fanfare. Fire Emblem has always been a dark horse title with a cult following so that placed a great deal of expectations on Awakening when it became a high profile 3DS release to mark the beginning of its year.
And what a beginning it was because Awakening started off 2013 for me and it started a long, involving, month long obsession in min-maxing everyone in my party. If it's not the deep, tactical depth and strategy its the obsessive pairing and matchmaking between some of my favorite characters. I knew right away that I wanted my avatar character to pursue the bubbly Anna as a love interest and wanted Chrom to return Sumia's unrequited love. The relationships even pay off for more tactical choice! Waiting until the last minute to max Sumia's skills before entering her child's acquisition mission meant her and Chrom's child will have inherited both of their best skills like the epic Galeforce skill.
2013 was a busy year so I never got another chance to replay it but I know I wanted to start a new file with my avatar either pursuing Tharja because I love her or Aversa in DLC so my kid, Morgana, will inherit her Shadowgift skill.
I don't put a lot of value on developer names and pedigree. I know Ubisoft is very ubiquitous (huh?) and Activision is evil but asides from that, I don't have emotional attachment. The Behemoth is the exception and despite not understanding Battleblock Theater's concept at first, I patiently awaited what they could do to come back from Castle Crashers.
Mainly a grueling puzzle platformer, BBT has two hidden gems that make it a great experience: the hilarious narrator/announcer who provides constance ambiance and the co-op multiplayer stories you can tell. Death is a constant reality and Will Stamper's charming voice encourages you to keep going despite not actually being encouraging ("Try not dying next time!"). But when it comes to actual gameplay, some of the best puzzles do the best things to get the most fun cooperation/betrayal out of two players stuck in a theatric death room together!
If there's one comparison to make to Luigi's Mansion 2, it's that it's a modern point and click adventure game. Yes, that's right, Luigi is your cursor and you're clicking on everything with you vacuum cleaner in an effort to explore a variety of incredibly interesting mansions filled with hidden mechanisms, ghosts, and treasure.
But Dark Moon is more than the sum of its parts. It's more than a deep exploratory adventure with an extremely charming little bro who can't help but hum along with the music while he nervously romps through atmospheric halls. It was the beginning of the year of Luigi and began a year long look to re-examine what makes Luigi a cool character who's been long ignored in Nintendo's pantheon of Mario.
I've long been on the hunt for a fighting game that makes me feel at ease with the skill ceiling and my own skill. Marvel is crazy, nobody cares about Blazblue, and Persona 4 has really frustrating things to get used to (Narukami vortexes all day!) but in comes Injustice from Netherrealms Studios to show us their vision for the next iteration in fighting games.
At first, everyone could only complain about what Injustice brought to the table. Zoning was king and level interactables were difficult to work around. But given enough time, players who were dedicated to understanding Injustice's flavor gave rise to a new, stable metagame. Zoning was powerful but certain matchups and options allowed players to mindgame it to an extent. But best of all, interactive items became a new mindgame option not unlike learning wake up dragon punches and jump in attacks. One can easily avoid or break item usage with smart play or create inescapable damage opportunities on okizeme (wake up game).
The DLC plan was also well realized if not a little broken when it came to power creep. But there's still nothing quite like shooting someone out of the sky with Green Arrow's sky shot as they try to grab a TV screen to chuck at you.
Why did I care about Tomb Raider? I've never been a Tomb Raider gamer. Tank controls and weird puzzle platforming or whatever. But I heard a slow drip feed of buzz over the weeks after Tomb Raider released and when it showed up at my Redbox, I decided to jump in.
And I literally jumped in. To borrow another Dtoider's words about TR's impact, the trauma Lara goes through is so tangible that you can't help but get caught up in TR's flow for cinematic action and bodily injury. For every awesome set piece I burned through with Lara's survival skill and gunplay, there is a horrifying way for Lara Croft's fragile life to be snuffed out. Whether its sniping thugs with a bow, getting a tracheotomy with a tree branch, bashing heads in with your climbing ax, or getting graphically crushed by falling boulders, I felt for every moment of Lara's growth into a Croft. Every wall I climbed, every irredeemable criminal I blew apart, every wound I received and subsequently sealed closed was something that was brutally and viscerally displayed for full affect.
Games these days want to layer on more and more skills to progressively earn through a sense of growth in gritty worlds with gritty colors and gruff people. Blood Dragon recognizes that these things exist outside its world and decides to just make you an 80s cyber commando armed to the teeth with lever-action shotguns and a glowing Tron machetes and ninja stars. Where you have to be careful of minor falls in the main game, Rex Power Colt can fall from towering fort walls, driving his machete into the back of a nameless Cobra Commando reject before blasting two other red shirts with a laser rifle straight out of GI Joe, all in a world covered in a Tron layer effect on the mixing board.
Rather then appearing deep and thoughtful, Blood Dragon takes the shortest possible path to fun, even if that means getting rid of things like fall damage, running stamina, and realistic gunplay. Core Far Cry 3 might be just as ridiculous in how you dismantle your fellow man, Blood Dragon is an 80s homage made in the year 2013. Who knew $15 could get you so far?
Tell me if you've heard this before. While riding you bike down the Vinewood sign hills, you spot an exotic high end car. After stealing it and taking it for a high speed police chase down the Great Ocean Freeway, you notice you're passing a military base and use your superior horsepower to break in and dodge tank fire in order to steal a military grade fighter jet. You then take it for a destructive crime spree where you proceed to wreak havoc on San Andreas' highway system before crashing in burning from one too many stray bullets from ground police.
This was singleplayer. Asides from the bombastic crime drama that unfolds for the up-and-coming Franklin, the burned out Micheal, and the ever psychopathic Trevor, there's also the emergent stories that come out of playing online with random douchebags with the same idea as you: how do I fuck over my fellow man for shits and giggles using an automobile and copious amounts of explosives?
Better yet, grab a helicopter with a winch and see if you can snatch someone off the roads for an unexpected trip into the sky followed promptly by a swim in the sea.
I don't need to go too far to describe my love of Animal Crossing. I've had the fortunate history of playing each one save City Folk. I loved setting up shop in my town in being pleasantly surprised to see Hopper from my DS game, Wild World, in my New Leaf town. What's to explain about that inexplicable trigger to collect every pointless thing for your museum and catalog?
Should I describe how Dtoider AlphaDeus was a regular philanthropist on the forums, offering to visit your town with a variety of goods? Or how every day brought a new joy like a traveling art merchant, a washed up sailor, or a high fashion giraffe. How you can construct your own stories and headcanon like designing your own clothes, how two neighbors are secret best friends, or how the frog down the street has a house packed with blue things because he's color blind.
Or maybe I should mention how I bought my girlfriend her own 3DS with New Leaf pre-installed so that we could enjoy its tiny, magical moments together and make our long distance relationship that much more bearable. Sharing tiny moments like dancing in a club with DJ KK or introducing each other to our town's neighbors.
New Lead was a magical break from the usual blood soaked shooters or gritty stories of death, redemption, and emotional trauma. A place where you can go to break away from the mundane doldrums of life and talk to a perky bunny rabbit wearing an adorable peacoat who wants to eat a fresh orange together.
There's nothing particularly new worth mentioning to an outsider about Pokemon. The new fairy-type is interesting to the metagame, mega evolutions are a tremendous shake up to battle flow, and new moves create a new ecosystem for battles but the same turn-based battles remain and the fundamental remain.
What's interesting about Pokemon X/Y is that it is the perfect storm of features on the 3DS. Probably the most important change to the feature set and UI is the constant connection to the social features on your main screen. Rather than going to the Pokecenter to connect socially, the PSS screen allows you to seamlessly remain connected to the friends who are online and the people who are online with you so that you can quickly request trades, battles, and power ups without ever breaking the flow.
The new Super Training screen makes it more transparent to how well trained your Pokemon are so that you can have more competitive battles with friends and strangers alike.
Pokebank and Transporter aren't even out yet to help us see our favorite legacy Pokemon in glorious 3D.
Coming in last on my list for 2013 is a last minute entry. After receiving money for Christmas, I promptly decided to spend it on eShop currency to download the newest addition of Zelda onto my 3DS.
Everyone at some point knows what to expect from a Zelda game. You progress through a series of dungeons, collect relevant equipment to gain more diversity and strength, occasionally go on a sub-quest, and fight a great evil. And yet as I've found in LBW, the entire package is altogether more cohesive and efficient. You're fighting stuff in 5 minutes flat, everyone you meet has a point where you connect with them, and the dungeon design is amazing. The 3D is used well without being detrimental on something like the 2DS and the world is just fun and easy to move around in. 10 minutes in you receive your fast travel method.
Story has never exactly been something you praise in Zelda and yet LBW has subtle flashes of charm and interest. And most of all, it's also probably the most enjoyably challenging Zelda ever with its approach in item management. You can undertake the main quest in any order you want by renting important equipment from Ravio the rabbitman. And if you get a game over, alll rented equipment gets returned and you have to re-rent what you've lost. And believe me, the game ups the challenge in order to make the stakes matter. At the same time, this makes money actually matter for the first time in a longtime and creates a Zelda economy that's fun to engage.
Link Between Worlds is fun. It isn't simply fun because it's a Zelda. It's fun without the flash or fluff. It's a Zelda game that respects your time and legitimately fun while still being an epic quest tale. Every little thing, every mechanic, every layer of level design is made to be accessibly fun without any overbearing design flaws.
Have you raised yourself quite the little team? Well prove it you little shit! Brightside has gathered all of the forums best and brightest who want to be the very best, like no one ever was into the first ever (to our knowledge) Destructoid forums Pokémon tournament. Using the magic of wi-fi and space aged voodoo, we'll connect online after much planning and assumed cheating to battle each other in a game of wits, strategy, and Blaziken. Don't lie to yourself! You're gonna use the flaming chicken bastard!
So far, these eight people have signed up directly from the forums:
The rules will be simple. They'll be idiot-proof really. We'll be using the standard 6v6 singles rule set that even the most hardcore genwunner knows about. Thus far the only restrictions are no ubers, which is a fancy way of saying no legendaries. Still, not all legendaries are uber so the list on smogon is worth a look even if its outdated. That seems to be it really. No sleep clause, no item clause, no Pokédex clause. Just a good old fashion, bare knuckle brawl between trainers and their Pokémon.
Brightside is aiming for a late December start, so sign up now! Don't just comment here! Head for the actual tournament page and leave a post that you wanna join. You have a forums account, don't you? You can even log in with Facebook. I do that. And don't forget to join the discussion on the official Pokémon thread and [s]dis Hector's Hitmonchan[/s] talk about the game.
I'll see you at the tournament trainer hopefuls! And don't forget! When you see my Accelgor, shits about to go down!
Previously, on parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, Pokémon's metagame was slowly gaining speed as it sped towards a hyper offensive strategy. No time for defense or stall! just set up a boosting move like Swords Dance and attempt a sweep! But we move into what was quite possibly the most broken generation of Pokémon with Black and White with the dominance of weather effects.
We are now in the 5th generation of Pokémon with Black and White, shortened as the BW generation. Discussion on the metagame started much earlier then the U.S. release in March as hardcore fans imported the Japanese copy and got an early look at what new things Gamefreak had introduced in the BW generation.
The 5th generation: A Whole New Dream World Just about the only thing we can take for face value is the introduction of triple battles. But like double battles before it, only a small minority of trainers will take to it, even if it's the official set up for Nintendo's tournaments now. Three-on-three battles can be very hectic and difficult to predict but it can be fun for those who are less inclined to complete strategy as throwing out three Pokémon at once makes battles more about luck than prediction.
If there's one word that can aptly describe the BW generation, it's broken and in every sense of the word. Commonly held norms are broken by radically new choices. Certain Pokémon break out of their current status and become something else entirely. And certain strategies are even deemed broken and banned from organized, competitive play. The BW generation is probably the edgy rebel of the Pokémon family. Everything the previous four have done to create an invisible sense of balance has been completely blown out of the water by BW's approach to throwing caution to the wind and just doing it.
First there are new abilities that challenge the status quo. Prankster challenges the old knowledge of priority such as Quick Attack going first and Roar going last. Any attack that doesn't directly damage the target, like Thunder Wave or Sleep Powder, gains a +1 on priority. This ability lets annoying moves like Leech Seed and Substitute go first unless the opponent has their own priority moves. And Whimsicott not only had Prankster but also a plethora of support moves including Leech Seed and even Encore! Not only are there other ground breaking abilities like Prankster (Regenerator is a personal favorite of mine, recovering 33% health upon switching out), old abilities that were deemed useless also gained new functions in BW.
In previous generations, Sturdy protected the user from 1-hit kill moves like Horn Drill or Sheer Cold. It was fairly useless because most trainers don't rely on gimmicky, inaccurate moves. In BW however, Sturdy gained the property similar to the hold item Focus Sash. Both Sturdy and Focus Sash allow the Pokémon to survive an attack by one HP if the attack would've KO'ed in one move. Even better, if the Pokémon can recover to full health, Sturdy is reusable. Now many rock/ground-types with a quad weakness to water and grass were guaranteed to survive at least one round! Sturdy gives them the best chance to guarantee Stealth Rocks.
Secondly there are new attacks, especially boosting moves. Most trainers know about using Swords Dance to double attack on the first turn then doing as much damage as possible. Normally, Pokémon that use Swords Dance have naturally high speed to compliment the boost in attack. But how about a move that doubles attack, special attack, and speed and cuts both defenses in half in return? Shell Break is a blessing every Pokémon would give their left Pokéball to have, but the move is limited to very few Pokémon with a shell design. Shell Break is the reason to have an Omastar from RBY again. Just imagine using Rain Dance, together with Omastar's Swift Swim ability, then using Shell Break. Everything in front of Omastar gets washed away by its Surf or Hydro Pump.
Other moves like Quiver Dance and Coil work in the same way, boosting more then one stat in one turn but being limited to a select few Pokémon. Even straight forward damaging attacks challenged some common sense. Psyshock is a new psychic attack which uses the attacker's special attack but calculates damage with the defenders physical defense rather than special defense. An incredible boon to special attackers who absolutely hate the existence of everyone's favorite special wall, Blissey.
But of course the biggest thing many long time trainers were excited about was the Dream World. Many trainers like myself were salivating at the potential the Dream World would give to some of our favorite Pokémon. Probably the first Pokémon that was announced with unique abilities from Dream World were the Eevee evolutions. Forms like Vaporeon would have access to an ability like Hydration, which heals all status ailments so long as it's raining. Not only is it a great defensive ability but it's also a very exclusive ability, only belonging to Manaphy in the previous generation (which was a great legendary) and Dewgong (which is pretty bad by competitive standards). And Vaporeon has been a great Pokémon since the first generation. But the Dream World also gave older, outclassed Pokémon a new chance to shine.
Even God dreams about farming sometimes
Charizard had always been outclassed by other fire-types, especially since Infernape was introduced in the DP generation. But it gained Solar Power from the Dream World, which multiplies special attack by 1.5 in strong sunlight in return for sacrificing health every turn (let it hold a Choice Scarf and that's 1.5x speed and 1.5x special attack with no need to set up). Sharpedo for a long time had great offensive prowess and decent speed but terrible defense. It was problematic for it to spend a turn setting up with Agility or something similar when it could easily be KO'd very early. But it gained the ability Speed Boost from Dream World and this ability was exclusive to Ninjask up until now. After every turn, its speed increases, allowing it to attack immediately without risking a turn setting up.
Probably the two biggest stars of the Dream World were Vulpix and Politoed, as each got Drought and Drizzle respectively. In essence, the weather changing power of Kyogre and Groudon from the RSE generation in the ubers tier had come down to the standard overused tier. These two are the reason weather teams have become much more prevalent in the OU tiers, which was normally confined to the underused tiers. Some people even consider banning teams that use Politoed's Drizzle ability together with Pokémon with the Swift Swim ability. That's how much of an impact Drizzle Politoed has had.
There are many, many different powerful new moves and abilities that only become more powerful when you find ways to mix and match them. One small subtle change that many don't consider the effect it has is the inclusion of team preview in the majority of battle rule sets.
Traditionally, Pokémon batting was done in a blind fashion. Pick your six Pokémon, wait for your opponent to pick his six, then throw out your leads and start from there. Now in the BW generation, you get a preview of the enemy's team, removing the element of surprise though at the same time, taking the pressure of countering powerful strategies off of trainers. On one hand, team preview ruins many surprise tactics such as employing Zoroark, which can disguise itself as another Pokémon on your team. The surprise still remains as to which Pokémon he's disguised as but now your opponent will be expecting him. On the other hand, you now know that your opponent has both a Politoed (which can only be carrying Drizzle as an ability) and an Omastar. If it weren't for team preview, it would have probably taken too long to figure this out and stop a sweep. While team preview ruins surprise tactics, it reduces the difficulty of trying to counter the hundreds of possible strategies you can't forsee.
And now for the threat list, which has now swelled with over 600 possible choices! A lot of old Pokémon return unexpectedly thanks to Dream World so let's start off with some classics.
Alakazam, who had been on a downward spiral since the GSC generation, finally got good news thanks to Dream World with the ability Magic Guard, which prevents all forms of damage unless it was a direct result of an enemy attack. In other words, it won't receive residual damage from sources like poison, sandstorm, entry hazards, and most importantly, Life Orb recoil while still reaping the damage boost from holding it. As Gyrados has always been a potent threat, it gained Moxie to truly scare off balance opponents. With Moxie raising its attack every time it can score a KO, Gyrados can become a snowballing threat that becomes impossible to stop unless shut down early. Another notable classic is Espeon, which has long fought for a suitable position with Alakazam, which was essentially a better version of it. Espeon gained Magic Bounce, which reflects all indirect attacks back at the attacker. The easiest example to demonstrate this power is as an anti-lead, reflecting your opponent's attempts to hit your team with Spikes or Stealth Rock. It's a nasty ability that can throw off any trainer's rhythm as they can't throw down effective entry hazards.
The new generation has introduced a a plethora of incredible Pokémon that are easy to recall due to their immediate displays of power. Haxorus and Chandelure have the highest offensive stats in the game outside of legendaries. A STAB Outage from Haxorus or Fire Blast from Chandelure is something not even the most powerful walls want to switch into. Excadrill made a splash as being an immediate threat many Pokémon had to measure up to as either a team mate or an effective counter. Excadrill's claim to fame was access to the new sandstorm equivalent of Swift Swim, Sand Rush. With Tyranitar as a team mate setting up sandstorm, Excadrill only needs to use Swords Dance as it arrives and will be able to smash through teams helpless to its sweep with an extremely powerful STAB Earthquake boosted by Swords Dance and outspeeding many threats thanks to Sand Rush. Last but certainly not least, a Pokémon I myself have grown to love, Ferrothorn, the game's newest mixed wall. Not only does it have incredible mixed defenses, but its grass/steel typing gives it a load of resistances. Not only does it resist common types like water and electric and remain neutral to ground and ice, but it has access to Leech Seed, Stealth Rocks, and Spikes, plus has an ability that inflicts residual damage back at physical attackers! Did I mention it has very usable attack as well? And while it's extremely slow, it learns Gyro Ball, which inflicts more damage the slower it is. Ferrothorn is an annoyingly powerful wall that you definitely want to protect from fire and fighting attacks, because once those threats are gone, nothing else has a chance to do any significant damage to Ferrothorn.
While the upgrades to the previous Pokémon are easier to spot than what has fallen in this metagame, there are are a few notable exceptions to point out, though it's still somewhat unclear if anything has fallen.
Pokémon that used Explode took a bad hit as Explode was weakened this generation. Its base power of 250 remains but it no longer calculates damage by halving the defender's defense. This means Explode no longer KO's reliably as it once did, so Pokémon like Electrode and Forretress have less of an impact after doing their job doing things like setting down Spikes or setting up with Rain Dance. The various Rotom forms also lost some strength as they're no longer part ghost. For example, Rotom-H is now fire/electric as opposed to staying ghost/electric before. While the Rotom forms gain STAB with their signature moves, they lose the ability to spin block Rapid Spin users, which means they can no longer block their opponent from spinning away the entry hazards you've laid down. Also, while not weakened, Pokémon like Scizor or Duskinoir gained absolutely nothing from the new BW generation, making it tougher for them to compete with newcomers and old champs with upgrades.
So there you have it. For those of you just now coming in on Pokémon in the BW generation, I hope you've learned a thing or two. Perhaps you've never even heard of the move Shell Break, but hopefully you know how utterly powerful that move is (my friend still cringes at me sending out Omastar with rain). Maybe you've completely ignored Dream World up until now but will now give it a try when you realize you can catch a Magikarp that will evolve into a Moxie Gyrados. At any rate, in it's 5th generation, there are just so many variables to consider in a battle, it's impossible to construct a team that can definitively answer every possible strategy. This is perhaps why team preview is forced upon the majority of battle rule sets. To allow trainers a chance to adapt their team what they think the enemy team may be doing out of the hundreds of different strategies they have chosen with their own team. Do they have a Scizor? Do they have Tyranitar to set up sandstorm? Do they have Snorlax last? Do they have the Skarmbliss combo? What kind of lead do they have? Do any of their Pokémon look like they can Baton Pass boosts? At this point, it's impossible to counter every thing, even if you decide to fight someone within established tiers. There are just too many possibilities!
Hopefully you've enjoyed this small series I've run. Hopefully I can think up of more stories that probe the competitive underbelly of Pokémon you may not know, such as the unknown metagame of the unreleased Dream World Pokémon or the little known bastard strategies you may never come across, like FEAR. But until then, thanks for reading!
Since part 1, 2 and 3 of the history of Pokémon's metagame, there have been a lot of recurring themes and ideas. Every generation had at least one powerful and memorable change that easily makes it the reason why everyone remembers that generation. Also, the metagame at this point has been ancient history to many trainers.
But now we're in our 4th generation with the Diamond/Pearl generation, or DP generation. DP was the first Pokémon game on the DS and it’s still fresh in many trainers' minds. But in my opinion, the changes brought forth in DP were some of the biggest changes ever. Old contenders flailed about in the wake of these changes. Old ideas had to be reworked as long held mechanics were turned on their head. And much like SkarmBliss and Curselax before it, one thing so defined the generation that it would be forever remembered no matter how much the metagame may change in the future. Many readers are probably familiar enough with the DP generation to know many of the things I'll be talking about.
The 4th Generation: The Second Great Split and Getting Rocks Up
Up until now, one of the strongest special attackers in the game, Gengar, would never be caught dead actually using a ghost-type attack. That's because ghost-type attacks were calculated with the Pokémon's attack stat. So even if Gengar were to use a ghost-type attack for Same Type Advantage Bonus (STAB, which is a 50% increase in damage) it would be vastly inferior to something like Thunderbolt, as even without STAB, its special attack was much better.
Since the RBY generation, typed attacks which gave off an impression of having a physical presence used the attack stat while types with a vaguely magic-like impression used special attack. But this mechanic was changed in the DP generation. Many people call it the physical/special split.
Now, individual attacks, regardless of type, would use attack or special attack because it was deemed physical or special. Now Gengar could use a STAB ghost attack, which used its superior special attack, like Shadow Ball. A much more physically inclined ghost-type like Dusknoir could use Shadow Punch, which is obviously physically based. Now every Pokémon could have a reliable STAB move and not have to worry about whether or not it had the power to back it up.
Old walls like the classic SkarmBliss combo would now have to rethink what kind of hits they will be taking. In the past, Skarmory would take a fighting attack no problem with its powerful defense. But despite being a fighting attack, Aura Sphere would hit Skarmory's much weaker special defense and it would take quite a bit of damage. Likewise, Blissey used to take special attacks like water-type moves all day. But now Waterfall is a physical water attack, which would simply blow holes in Blissey's health pool.
As foreshadowed in the previous installments, the metagame has slowly been picking up speed since the stall and defensive teams of GSC. But it's now come to a head in DP as trainers began favoring effective damage output over minimizing oncoming damage.
Look over the overused tiers of many websites and you'll see a recurring attribute in many Pokémon in the OU: speed. While defensive Pokémon are certainly not hard to find at all, many of the most threatening Pokémon are either naturally fast or have access to Agility. Adding more to the offensive theme of DP was the introduction of two new Choice hold items. While held, one of the user's stats is instantly boosted by 50% at the cost of locking them into a move for as long as they remain on the field. Choice Band, which has been around since RSE, boosted attack. Choice Specs on the other hand, boosted special attack while Choice Scarf boosted speed. These Choice items meant that in return for becoming predictable, a Pokémon could attack right away without spending a turn to set up with a boosting move like Swords Dance or Agility.
But believe it or not, the faster pace of DP is not the main thing to take away from DP. One move alone transformed the metagame to the same degree as Alakazam in RBY, Curselax in GSC, and Sand Stream Tyranitar in RSE. And we're not talking about a Pokémon here! That move was Stealth Rocks.
Stealth Rocks is an entry hazard like Spikes. Every time a Pokémon arrives on the field, it receives damage immeditely due to the presence of entry hazards. However, unlike Spikes, which does a percent of damage based on the number of layers of Spikes in play, Stealth Rocks did a percent of damage based type resistance to rock-type attacks. Stealth Rocks only needs to be used once, but if you sent out a flying-type Pokémon while Stealth Rocks were on your playing field, it would instantly lose 25% of its health. God forbid you send out something like Ninjask, which was part bug and part flying. That's 50% of its health gone just from arriving on the field!
The metagame was shaped like clay with the existence of Stealth Rocks. When Pokémon were analyzed for competitive power in DP, the first thing that was examined was its resistance to Stealth Rock. You could expect Stealth Rock to be present in many matches because many Pokémon in the lead position are put on the front just because they were fast and could immediately use get rocks up. Though Spikes has existed for a while before Stealth Rocks, the convenience of only needing one turn to set it up and the return in potentially crippling some Pokémon while getting residual damage on most other Pokémon made Stealth Rocks so prevalent that many positions were either designated for Stealth Rocks or became more wide spread because of it.
Leads would get rocks up, anti-leads would attempt to use Taunt and prevent rocks from being set up, Spinners would use the move Rapid Spin to remove entry hazards, and Spin Blockers were defensive ghost-types who would block the use of Rapid Spin and keep entry hazards on the field. To put it simply, get used to Stealth Rocks because you'll see it a lot in competitive battling.
And now for the threats: I've already mentioned Gengar. It was blessed by the physical/special split and could now begin using STAB special attacks like Shadow Ball. Starmie also continued to be important in OU but was now in as high demand as ever since it was one of the few Pokémon that learned Rapid Spin to get rid of those pesky rocks. Aerodactyl actually gets a mention here now as it discovered a niche as a suicide lead. Despite its low defenses and predictable move pool, trainers used Aerodactyl's speed to guarantee Stealth Rocks while it also had access to Taunt, which prevents all moves that didn't directly attack. That means you could prevent enemy Stealth Rocks then get your own rocks up. But probably the biggest threat, much in the same way as Curselax and Alakazam before it, was Scizor. With its new ability, Technician, which multiplies the base power of attacks that are 60 or less by 1.5, Scizor also gained a new attack which gelled perfectly with Technician: Bullet Punch. With a base power of 40, STAB, Technician, and first move priority all working together with a Choice Band, nothing really wants to take one of these bad boys. Scizor is the reason why Magnezone rose in popularity with its natural resistance to anything Scizor could throw plus its Magnet Pull ability to trap Scizor!
Many of the Pokémon who fell from grace during this generation fell because of the introduction of the Choice items. While Snorlax is still powerful, Pokémon using Choice Band could immediately hurt it before Snorlax would set up with Curse. Alakazam finally fell from the borderline tier to underused since Choice Scarf allowed many threatening Pokémon to outspeed it. Rhyperior, the evolution to Rhydon, simply fell to UU because of the new competition it is facing from things like the faster attacking Agility-Metagross and the new Gliscor, which could recover health with Roost.
Many new threats are only pseudo-new, as many new powerful Pokémon were new evolutions of older Pokémon. Weavile is another textbook example of high speed, high attack but uniquely as an ice-type, which is in high demand to combat dragons. Togekiss became notorious for the paraflinch strategy, paralyzing with Thunder Wave then flinching endlessly with Air Slash boosted by Serene Grace. With paralysis and Serene Grace flinching together, the opponent statistically only has a 30% of actually doing anything. Infernape gained fame for being an extremely fast, mixed, glass cannon. Walls have a tough time against Infernape because chances are, Infernape is carrying both physical and special attacks to break through any wall unless it was also mixed in terms of defense.
With the expanding size of choices in Pokémon in its fourth iteration and the increasing strength of sweepers, the pool of questionable Pokémon was growing. Do not mistaken Pokémon regulated to the neverused tier as being bad though. Creative and persistent trainers can certainly design teams to support the shortcomings of certain Pokémon like Gardevoire, Luxray, or Ninetails. Typhlosion is deemed an NU Pokémon but I certainly liked using it on my Sunny Day teams, spraying powerful Flamethrowers and Solarbeams. But trainers must remember that with Stealth Rocks and many powerful Pokémon being popular, tiers in Pokémon's metagame simply exist as a guide for you. No one's saying you can't be successful with Charizard. Just remember that it faces stiff competition from things like Infernape or even Arcanine. And unlike the previous two, Charizard will lose a lot of health from Stealth Rocks.
Next time on the history of Pokémon’s metagame, we tackle Black and White, the previous generation! More new abilities define incredibly powerful threats and old champions return with some of their former glory! But all is not well as some people suspect that the metagame in the 5th generation may be somewhat broken and overpowered!