Tag Archives: collection

Day is night, and night is day for Pokémon Moon

pokemon_moon_3ds_screenshots_2

I skipped out on Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, which, like my first experience with Pokémon HeartGold, are remakes of older generation games. That’s fine, really. I’m not against remakes, considering I loved Spyro the Dragon: Reignited Trilogy and have heard many good things about Capcom’s revisit to Resident Evil 2. However, after Pokémon Y, I wasn’t interested in going backwards, but rather forwards, with the mechanics and list of pocket monsters evolving greatly and equally alongside the somewhat limited handheld graphics. Enter Pokémon Moon. Yes, moon, not Pokémon Sun. I’m Irish, and I burn easily.

Alas, I picked up Pokémon Moon around the same time that I got Disney Magical World 2. As you know by now, I ended up putting way more hours into running around Castleton than I did the Alola region, and I have a hard time pulling carts in and out of my Nintendo 3DS, preferring to leave a solid one in until I’m mostly done with it. I mean, I did start Pokémon Moon the night I got it, picked Rowlet as my starter (sorry, Litten and Popplio), handled a few other tasks, and saw enough of the opening area to confirm that, yes, this is another pretty good Pokémon entry, and I’ll get to it eventually–and when I do it’ll be a fun time.

On that note, if you’ve played one Pokémon game, you’ll probably not be knocked over by the general story in this one. Pokémon Moon has you journeying across the beautiful islands of the Alola region, encountering newly discovered Pokémon, as well as Pokémon that have taken on a new Alolan style. Your job is to keep track of all the Pokémon you’ve seen and caught with your Rotom Pokédex, which is a living, breathing record-keeper. Around every corner, your battling skills will be tested by tough Trainers, and epic battles are in store for you against Team Skull, a nefarious group of ruffians attempting to steal Pokémon. You’ll also face off against the kahunas, the tough leaders of each island. If you’re strong enough, you may reach the Battle Tree, a place where the most accomplished Trainers go to battle each other.

Sounds about the usual affair, so then…what’s different this time around in Pokémon Moon? Well, some of the Pokémon you’ll train and battle with can learn powerful new Z-Moves—moves so strong they can be used only once in battle. There are Z-Moves for every different type, as well as exclusive Z-Moves for certain Pokémon, including Eevee and Pikachu. There’s also a new Pokémon Refresh feature that can keep your Pokémon in top shape after all that battling. Here, you’ll take care of your Pokémon by curing any status conditions like poisoning and paralysis, and the more affectionate your Pokémon become toward you, the better they’ll perform in battle. Lastly, Pokémon can also enjoy a new experience known as Poké Pelago, a place for them to visit when they’ve been placed in PC Boxes. This is a group of islands where your Pokémon can explore, play, and do other fun activities, growing stronger and obtaining items for you.

Actually, the biggest difference for Pokémon Moon and Pokémon Sun is the clock. Yup, time, time, time. In addition, the two games’ clocks are set 12 hours apart from each other, with Sun operating on the standard 3DS time, and Moon 12 hours ahead. This means, when I usually play the game at night, it is actually daylight in-game…and vice versa. This does affect some of the Pokémon you’ll encounter, and I find it rather neat nonetheless.

Perhaps my favorite new feature in Pokémon Moon is that after facing off against a Pokémon once, the game automatically charts whether a move will be effective or not. No longer do I need to look up what works against what online or keep tables labeled effective or super effective in my memory. This is fantastic both for newcomers and series loyalists. I don’t care if some see it as dumbing the game down; there’s still plenty of things to dig deep into, if that’s what people like about their Pokémon games, such as breeding or finding shiny versions.

I’m playing Pokémon Moon super slowly–I mean, it’s been a few years now–and that’s perfectly fine. Every now and then I get the itch to go in, wander around, catch some new pocket monsters, and level up my team. I also enjoy dressing up my avatar in new clothes. Maybe I’ll advance the story, and maybe I won’t, content to just noodle around with all the side content and extracurricular activities. I figure this will still hold me over until I get a Nintendo Switch and have to make the difficult decision between Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. Hmm. Really, it’s whatever one has Garbodor in it.

2019 Game Review Haiku, #10 – Dear Cousin

Find eggs for below
Ten total, some hidden high
I fell through the world

And we’re back with these little haikus  of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

Suikoden IV has joined its brothers and sisters in my Suikoden collection

suik 4 now mine 6-s4-42-208

So yeah, the big news was that I bought a PlayStation 3 over the weekend, but there was another purchase that really, for me, hit it big, and I’ve been saving the reveal for its own post. Like this one. Uh yeah, onwards…

My local GameStop in Pennsylvania is probably one of the last to still sell PlayStation 2 games, and because of this, I’m constantly sifting through their standalone shelves for goodies before the store simply stops selling them, and then that’s that. In the past, I’ve found a number of gems, such as Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters and Suikoden III, as well as some real duds, like Monster Rancher EVO, but regardless, it’s helped me fill out my collection nonetheless. Over the weekend, before I asked the dude behind the counter for the “Classic White” PlayStation 3 bundle, I made my way over to the PS2 section and noticed that they were “buy-two-get-one-free” for the time being, a type of sale that I just can’t ignore. And I hadn’t even scanned more then five covers before I saw it, just sitting there all nonchalant, waiting for me to pick it up: Suikoden IV. I found Wild Arms 4 and Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny, thus snagging Suikoden IV for free. Whoop whoop!

I understand that, for many, it’s considered the worst in the series–or is that Suikoden Tierkries?–but this isn’t actually about the gameplay, but rather finding the game. A physical copy of it. See, Suikoden II is one of my favorite RPGs, with both the saddest scene and best story, and I find the series as a whole really enjoyable, especially once you get to your castle headquarters and can begin recruiting locals 108 Stars of Destiny to see how they affect everything. It’s a series that I’ve wanted to have as a whole, and once I got Suikoden V I was determined to eventually find the III and IV to round out the numbered entries in the series. That task…is now complete.

And here they all are, one happy family:

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Mmm. Love it. Now to figure out if I’m determined enough to pick up the non-numbered spinoffs in the Suikoden franchise and really call myself a diehard fan. Currently, there are three:

  • Suikoden Tactics (PS2)
  • Suikoden Tierkries (DS)
  • Suikoden: The Woven Web of a Century (PSP)

Well, the chances of me getting a PSP are 0.000002%, so there goes that, and I feel like Suikoden Tactics is the rarest of the PS2 bunch. Chances are high I can find a used copy of Suikoden Tierkries though it sounds like a far cry from a traditional experience. Still curious about it though.

Either way, this is exciting. I’m still working my way through Suikoden III and amazing myself over the hilarious dialogue, but I will test out IV some day soon. I wonder if my PlayStation 3 is backwards-compatible. Probably not…

One does not simply complete LEGO Lord of the Rings in a timely manner

lego-lord-of-the-rings heavy burden

I can’t speak with authority when it comes to LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes or the various LEGO Star Wars adventures that have come out since I surprisingly fell in love with the first one for PlayStation 2, but LEGO Lord of the Rings feels like the slowest grind to date. That’s both good and bad, in my mind, but as the days go on and I continue to wander LEGO Middle-earth accomplishing tasks in teeny, tiny increments, it’s beginning to lean more bad than good. I mean, Tara and I finished up the main quests midway through December, and I’ve since been attempting to clean up all the collectibles that feed into getting a 100.0% rating. It’s taking some time.

For those that don’t know, here’s everything to collect in LEGO Lord of the Rings: minikits, treasures, blacksmith designs, red bricks, mithril bricks, characters, and True Adventure rankings in levels. That’s seven categories to keep in check, and the problem is that you often need specific treasure items to get certain bricks and so on. LEGO logjam has been with me for awhile, but I refuse to let this one stick and collect dust. Again, there are a few levels built around the “one chance” logic, where you get to a certain part–often the one where you are running towards or away from something and have to collect what you can as the game moves your character with haste–and have one shot at grabbing a minikit or treasure item; blow past it, and you’ll have to replay the whole level again just to get back to that spot. This has happened to me on a few occasions, and I’m not looking forward to forthcoming multiple attempts.

Traveller’s Tales has also gotten more sneaky with the way they hide items and secret areas within the environment. At times, I’d call them too well hidden, and even though you might have the minikit locater red brick turned on, if that minikit is in a secret spot, you won’t see an arrow guiding you towards it. This has required me to, much to my dismay, constantly hop on and off YouTube walkthrough videos to ensure I find everything I can, as well as prevent me from having to replay large level chunks over and over. Following guides is not how I like to game, but the completionist in me demands it be.

And so while the replaying of levels again and again and the aimless wandering and constant fast travel (with loading screens as a bonus) can become frustrating, almost to the point of stirring anger, I can’t help but have a smile on my face as I romp around Hobbiton as “Concerning Hobbits” plays in the background. Or feel like part of the actual Rohirrim when hanging out around the hill fort of Edoras. Or sense that I am truly out of my elements when sneaking into Mordor. Exploring Middle-earth freely is a delight, and the fact that all the wonderfully iconic and emotional music from the films carry over only add to the effect. It’s exhilarating, and gets me every time, even when I’m raging over missing a minikit or having a character get glitched into the environment somehow. Also, the inclusion of spoke Elvish is a nice touch, even if it is just some of the basics.

To round out this out love/hate post, here are some Achievements I’ve gotten during my time grinding:

lego lotr the lord of the ring ach
The Lord of the Ring. (30G): Complete the Bonus Level.

lego lotr always been taller ach
I’ve always been taller! (10G): Use the Ent Draught on Pippin.

lego lotr a link to the elements ach
A link to the elements. (5G): Craft the Fire and Ice Bows. (Single Player Only)

As a way to encourage myself and speed up the completion process, I’m telling myself that I can play The Walking Dead‘s Episodes 4 and 5 once I clear LEGO Lord of the Rings to perfection and see it sail off to the Undying Lands to live out its days in peace and tranquility. Not before. After. Hopefully that will happen sooner than later. Like, this weekend. Might have to have a guide ready, but whatever. Life goes on.

Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, a fantastic distortion of the senses

The demo for Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for the Nintendo 3DS has its ups and downs, but it has nonetheless confirmed for me that I’ll be purchasing the cutesy side-scroller on Day One. As well as reading all of Scrooge McDuck’s lines out loud in my amazing Scottish accent.

It opens with gorgeous, hand-drawn art and text-based story blocks, and stays that way for some time. Maybe too long to be reading text, but whatever. There has to be setup somewhere. Power of Illusion takes place some time after the events of Epic Mickeywhich I never even came close to beating. A part of me wants to go back and try again, but then another part remembers how there were houses you went into that had absolutely nothing inside of them, and they made me furious because what’s the point of going in it then, why not just leave the door locked, ugggggh. Anyways, the evil witch Mizrabel and her Castle of Illusion have been accidentally transported to the Wasteland by the wizard Yen Sid. That’s Disney backwards for those not in the know. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit contacts Mickey Mouse to tell him about the castle and that Minnie Mouse has been spotted inside of it, which is not true at all. Ever the hero, Mickey then sets off to save Minnie and the “Illusions” of other Disney characters trapped in the castle.

Right. It’s a side-scroller of yesteryears, and it’s coming from Dreamrift. Y’know, the folks responsible for the charming Monster Tale. Some company alum also worked on the highly praised Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure. So, we’re definitely in good hands here. Plus, several interviews with Peter Ong, co-founder and creative director, have remarked on his love for Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse for the Sega Genesis. And that love shows. Oh does it show. But thankfully there’s more to Power of Illusion than just nostalgia and one fan’s dream to bring it back.

After all the story intro stuff, the demo drops you into control of the one and only Mickey Mouse, with little to no abilities to his name. Hmm. Basically, you can jump, and his jumps are unfortunately very floaty, something I’m not digging. Later on, after acquiring the Pixie Dust sketch which allows you to float down when falling, it was nearly impossible to tell the difference. You go through a tutorial level, which shows you how to bounce off enemies, throw paint/thinner at them, draw in items or erase them completely, and rescue familiar Disney characters, like Beast and Rapunzel. The artwork is gorgeous and looks great in 3D, presenting depth of field over launching things at your face.

As for the paint/thinner aspect which carries over from Epic Mickey, it’s fairly perfunctory. When you need to create an item, you trace its outline, and depending how steady your work is, you’ll create a stronger item. Alas, this is no Theatrhythm, and it’s not exactly clear where you are being judged in terms of lineart. For thinner, you basically just smudge away the item with all you got. That’s all this demo showed, so I’m not sure if there’s more to this gimmick or not. When running around, you can throw paint or thinner at enemies, and depending on which type you use, they’ll drop health or money. Yeah, Disney Dollars.

Once you are done learning the ropes, you head back to your Fortress. And this is where Power of Illusion really won me over. Because the Fortress is the castle from Suikoden. Well…sort of. The Disney characters you rescue in levels will take up refuge in your Fortress, getting their own room and serving their own purpose. You can upgrade the room too, though I’m not clear on how that is accomplished. Some characters become shops–like Scrooge McDuck–who sell upgrades to Mickey’s health meter, how much paint/thinner he uses, and upping his ability to find hidden treasures, and other characters will dish out side quests. This, I like. Very, very much. And I spent most of the demo playing around here before going back into one more level, which was set on Captain Hook’s pirate ship. That then ends with a boss fight teaser, definitely leaving me wanting more.

My Nintendo 3DS is in for some hurting over the next few weeks. I’m still trying to finish up a single playthrough of Pokemon White 2–seven badges collected so far!–but this Sunday I’ll be picking up Paper Mario: Sticker Star. And then comes Power of Illusion, followed by the downloadable Crashmo. I also still mean to pick up the new Layton game too. Gah. And maybe Scribblenauts Unlimited. Triple gah. At least now that the weather is getting horribly frigid, I have something to do underneath the heated blanket: collect pocket monsters, collect stickers, collect Disney characters. My system might not be ready for it, but I definitely am.

Harry Potter and the LEGO videogame logjam

Let’s start with a quote from one wise and mysterious Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore:

Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.

We’re there, evidently. The dark and difficult times in particular. That not-so-sweet spot in every LEGO videogame where one must grin and bear it to collect everything that remains because OCD demands it, as well as the fact that a straightforward playthrough unlocks a minimal amount of the game’s actual content. For LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7, we’re talking about red bricks, gold bricks, unlocked characters, Hogwarts house crest pieces, and students in peril.

Since completing the main part of the game earlier this month, Tara and I have been diving back into the world of magic and magical mayhem to chip away at the tower that is a 100% completion rank. It’s a slow process. Unimaginably slow. Like Dumbledore falling off the Astronomy Tower slow. Thankfully, we finally unlocked enough red bricks to turn on numerous stud multipliers and rack up the LEGO-based cash, quickly earning this zinger:


Knuts and Vaults (50G): Collect 1 billion studs (Single Player only)

So, we’re rich. Just like Harry Potter was in the beginning of his school career. Which is great, as now purchasing all the characters we’ve unlocked isn’t even a concern. But the problem is mainly finding the characters to unlock. Let me tell you this–there is nothing more tiring and/or disappointing than replaying a level via the free play format and then complete it without finding all the hidden secrets in it. Your mind immediately brings the hard truth to the front: you will have to play this level again. Possibly a fourth time if you are not diligent enough or paying attention to the level design, because sometimes building a specific LEGO piece completes the level, and you might not have been ready to do that yet. Whoops.

But we’ll keep on keeping on. Two more red bricks to go, about 35 gold bricks, and maybe 60ish more characters/character variants left to find. Oh boy.

The LEGO logjam has also been heavily present in LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean. For a long, long time. I only have three Achievements left to unlock for that game, but they also require me finding everything. Which I’ve tried time and time again. But like I previously wrote, there is nothing more fun-sucking than replaying a level to not find everything and then knowing you’ll have to do all that again. Ugh.

At some point, I’m going to have to play these levels with a step-by-step guide open next to me on my laptop. And really, that isn’t how it should be done. But it’s the best guarantee at breaking down this dam.

Rock of Ages is weird and not the latest add-on from AC/DC for Rock Band

Little did you know, dear Grinding Down readers, but I used to collect rocks as a young lad. Mostly from my own driveway. Laugh all you want, but I had a bucket kept deep in the garage of the most special, most weirdly shaped, most coolest of cool solid minerals. No collection was greater than mine, and I was constantly adding to it, picking up “rarer” items like feldspar, milky quartz, and tiger’s eye from road-side travel shops when out vacationing with the family. Can’t recall what ultimately happened to it, but I suspect the rocks were dumped back into the driveway, from whence they came, like the One Ring, and are now no longer part of my collection, but that of the driveway’s, at the house I grew up in, but no longer see. It’s all kinds of sad.

Anyways, I’m thinking about rocks and my once beloved rock collection because I just watched a Quick Look of Rock of Ages, a game I saw mentioned from time to time online and completely assumed it had something to do with the Rock Band franchise. Um, nope. Evidently, it’s a…um…a tower defense title where the player rolls a boulder across a map and tries to knock down an opposing team’s castle’s doors. The majority of the action takes place from the boulder’s perspective, and you roll this rock through such ages as Ancient Greek, Medieval, Renaissance, Rococo, and Romanticism. Such a serious game requires such serious undertones, with a Monty Python-like humor, quirky music, and fart noises when you lose a match. Toot!

Yeah, it’s weird, but it actually makes more sense when you realize this creation is coming from the makers of Monkey Ball and Zeno Clash. I’m not a huge fan of the tower defense genre, as it always feels like a lot of waiting and planning, little action and doing. However, putting you in the role of the boulder tumbling down the hill is genius, and worrying about things like momentum while watching out for angry cows or sneaky catapults helps to keep things tense despite all the goofiness. If anything, I’d definitely give the demo a shot–if there is one–as this could be a fun time for Tara and I.

Maybe this is the start of my new (videogame only) rock collection?