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Pahrak Model ZX

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Blog Entries posted by Pahrak Model ZX

  1. Pahrak Model ZX
    So, I bought Pokemon Sword.  Due to having some open time in my schedule and the game ultimately being a bit short, I’ve already beaten the main story and the postgame episode.  I actually had a lot of fun.  The game may be riddled with problems, not the least of which being the cut of National Dex, but what it gets right it gets so right—heck, some of what it gets wrong manages to feel right, which appeals to my shounen battle anime heart.  I’m not here to spoil, just want to say I’d recommend giving SwSh a try if you’re on the fence.  Also, while I may not have Switch Online or an SD card to transfer screen shots, I fell in love with League Card customization and desperately wanted to share mine in some capacity, so:


    Pupil of Gym Leader Bea and new Champion of the Galar Region, Liam! (You can’t see it but I’m wearing the Champion shirt, plus my hair looks much cooler in-game I dunno why it looks weird here.)
    Team:
    -Spike the Coalossal
    -Steg the Rillaboom
    -Murun the Runerigus
    -Beat the Corviknight
    -The Smogington Brothers the Galarian Weezing (character limit made it Smogingtons but)
    -Zacian (in the post-game…)
    Between this and my recent replays I think I want to revise my old region ranking.  Stay tuned for that!
  2. Pahrak Model ZX
    Alright, now that my most recent playthrough of X is done, I wanted to try to compile some of my thoughts about the game.  XY gets a lot of flak so I wanted to evaluate just how much of it felt earned.  Oddly enough, this is my fourth playthrough of X; adding Y that means I’ve gone through Kalos five times now, which might make me look like a hypocrite when I say I’m disappointed in it.  In short, XY is a fine pair of games—as I would argue most if not all Pokemon games really are—but in comparison to other entries in the series it falls flat.
    It’s been said before that all Pokemon games are essentially the same.  If you like the core gameplay loop, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself no matter which one you pick up.  XY nail that aspect.  I like Pokemon games, so I can have fun playing XY.  But when multiple options are placed in front of me, when I want to play Pokemon and have to pick which Pokemon game I want to actually sit down and play, what is it that might lead me to choose XY over any others?  This is a question to be asked of every Pokemon game, and I would argue the only time a game can objectively fail in this regard is if the answer is only down to wanting to use a specific Pokemon who appears in a specific place in this specific game.  I replayed X because I wanted to use another Aegislash and a Tyrantrum, which I could only really do in XY.  This was helped by realizing I could finally train a Toxicroak early on, you can get a Steelix through an in-game trade, and by jumping through a few hoops I could get Leafon along for the ride, plus knowing I’d get Crawdaunt with a little patience.  I wouldn’t even be considering it if my sister hadn’t happened to find her copy and given me a good deal.  For me at least, that’s really all it came down to: happenstance and Pokemon distribution.  Because really, what else does Kalos and only Kalos have to offer?  Mega Evolution is in ORAS, so…I’m hard-pressed to think of anything.
    I don’t mean to sound like I hate Kalos.  As I’ve said before, it has a lot of potential: it’s a sprawling, wide-open region structured to mitigate backtracking by looping back in on itself at key points, has a Dex that includes numerous favorites from all past regions and one of the nicest-looking batches of newcomers (while also introducing the interesting concept of Mega Evolution), and the locations you visit all feel very distinct from each other.  But playing XY feels like using a Pokemon you know Mega Evolves but can’t find the Mega Stone for: while it might have all that potential, not being able to tap into it just leaves you feeling underwhelmed and somewhat frustrated when you have to move on.
    No matter what anyone says about Pokemon only needing a barebones story, I feel like the root of this problem lies in the lack of effort put into XY’s narrative and characters.  Following Gen V was certainly an unenviable task, but XY took such a huge step backwards here that the experience ultimately feels hollow, like just another typical Pokemon journey with nothing truly special or unique about it.  Things just kind of happen, with no real sense of continuity or build-up as you drift from one place to another.  There are scant few characters you’re actually given reason to care about: Korrina and maybe Wulfric are the only Gym Leaders who feel like they had the slightest amount of effort put into them.  The Elite Four in any game tend to be somewhat unremarkable so I’ll give them a pass, but Champion Diantha also doesn’t feel particularly fleshed out, having only two brief appearances outside the League that frankly don’t amount to much.  I’m sure there’s nothing new I can say about Lysandre; Sycamore is fun enough that he’s maintained a following; the player’s friends…well, that’s a whole thing in and of itself.
    First off: friendly rivals are not bad.  XY seems to be where people started to really rage about this, but their amicability is not what makes them fail as rivals.  Honestly, I don’t even view Shauna, Trevor, or Tierno as rivals—you only fight them twice each, and they’re not tough because they don’t care about battling.  Which is fine!  I recall seeing a claim that XY was about how everyone enjoys Pokemon differently, and now that I’ve taken another look, it’s clear to me that the friend group was indeed designed with that in mind.  Trevor is the player who wants to fill the Dex, Shauna is the player who just wants to spend time with their Pokemon, Tierno is the player who thinks up unique and oddly specific goals/challenges/themes for their playthrough, and Calem/Serena is the player who only cares about the battles.  That’s genuinely interesting!  However, the game doesn’t quite explore this idea or these varying approaches, they’re all just sort of dumped in front of you sporadically.  Your friends could all use a bit of work, especially Calem/Serena who’s entire personality seems to be “I’m your neighbor and I like Pokemon battles.”  They’re present enough that they’re certainly a rival, but they’re the flattest we’ve had since Gen I.  I’d say if the other three were given a bit more time to shine, showing why they appreciate Pokemon in the way they do and emphasizing the strengths of those approaches, they’d all have been much better received.  For Calem/Serena, I think the most interesting approach would be to take it all the way and have them be a strict and serious competitive battler, doing lots of catching and breeding and EV training without thinking of their Pokemon as anything more than tools; this wouldn’t even necessarily lead to them being antagonistic, in fact the disconnect between them being nice and polite to people but heartless and mechanical towards their Pokemon could be quite fascinating.  But, at this point, I think we’ve ventured off into extremely unlikely territory…
    Ultimately, I think it’s that hollow feeling that lends XY so well to being replayed.  You can get through it by caring remarkably little about what’s going on around you, because, well, there isn’t much there to care about in the first place.  But there’s just enough to let you know that there could be so much more—and maybe chasing that is another factor of wanting to replay it.  While I absolutely adore Sun and Moon, Kalos undoubtedly got the short end of the stick: it needed an updated rerelease perhaps more than any preceding paired versions in series history, yet it was dropped unceremoniously so that SuMo would be released during the same year as the 20th anniversary (despite being much closer to the 21st…).  XY feels unpolished, and Game Freak chose to move on rather than try to give Kalos the polish it needed.  Unfortunately, that’s still the way I feel.
  3. Pahrak Model ZX
    I've been replaying Pokemon White 2 lately, wonderful game.  After beating it I lost a day or so at Pokestar Studios.  I’ve always loved this diversion, and now it’s easier to pick apart why: at the best of times, each movie tests you on/teaches you a specific combo of moves, items, or abilities that show off how deep Pokemon’s battle system can be, and success is rewarded with these charming shorts showing Pokemon in relatively unique settings and situations for the franchise.  It has a very unique appeal not replicated before or since, and honestly may provide a solid blueprint for helping more players bridge the gap from casual to competitive play.
    Unfortunately…it can also be frustrating at times.  While there’s a certain logic of act and react to the scripts, they’re not completely without randomness.  It took me four attempts to film the second time travel movie because my foe kept landing critical hits—it took six attempts to luck my way through the second Giant Woman movie.  If I choose the wrong move or dialogue option, that’s one thing, but when I make all the “correct” selections and still can’t earn the intended ending, it feels awful.  Imagine if you were playing Sudoku and there was a chance one number could suddenly change and make the puzzle unwinnable.  I also felt some of the scripts were a bit too vague to anticipate what I was meant to do, but it’s possible that’s also on me or a more expected level of trial and error; the randomness is the only design flaw I think is in serious need of being ironed out.
    You could maybe argue that the issue is lessened considering you can still screen a movie with a bad or “strange” ending, and doing the latter can even give you special benefits. (Not to mention these minigames are completely optional, save the very easy first Brycen Man movie.) However, if you want to access every movie available, you need to get the intended endings from following the script—if you want to get the most out of this system, you’re going to need to overcome the randomness where it intrudes.  Personally, I just find this a bit annoying.
    Some other miscellaneous thoughts:
    -I absolutely want this feature to return in some way, unlikely as it may be.  I really do think these sorts of missions could be scattered throughout a game (which would make them easier to do along the way, unlike forgetting about it until you’ve beaten the game like I’m prone to doing) to teach the player advanced mechanics.  And it’s just so much fun!
    -It’s odd that they bring in Sabrina and only use her for one trilogy, and that she and Brycen are the only characters from outside the studio who get to join in.  I’d like to see this expanded upon if the feature returns.
    -Should it return, I would love if they integrated it with trainer customization and let us keep costumes after completing a series.  I really want to be able to run around as the Sneasel Ninja.
    -Love and Battles 2 is loathsome.
    -The Ghost Eraser and Full Metal Cop series are tied for my favorite.  The former is very well connected and, though it falters a bit, actually encourages understanding over violence throughout in a way I didn’t expect (and involves a Ghost/Dark type with Wonder Guard before Fairy was a thing); the latter is hilarious, changes things up by giving you a villain role, and Mecha Cop gets some actual character development by the end of it.  Obviously none of these feature award-winning writing, but these series provide some neat ideas to work with.
    -I still need to do Brycen Man Strikes Back Harder, but it’s late so I wanted to wait.  Couldn’t stop myself from typing up this monstrosity, though…
  4. Pahrak Model ZX
    After taking a few months trying to focus on Red Joker, I’ve finally completed it!  There’s one more step in the Shooting Star Sonia project, but I’m putting that on hold for the time being, due in no small part to the fact that I really, really want to get Right of Law moving.  And on that note!
    Section XVI is live!  It’s a little short, mainly because it picks up a couple of loose ends and puts us in position for the next major event, but I’ll do my best to keep the ball rolling and get XVII out soon!  There are a couple projects I’ll be working on simultaneously, but Law is my top priority for the near future—the more I think about the things I want to do in this story, the more excited I get, and I want to put that energy to good use!
  5. Pahrak Model ZX
    Pokemon Sword and Shield will not let you transfer in Pokemon not found in the games themselves. There are no plans to patch the rest in at any point in the future.
     
    So the time I spent catching 800 of the little buggers really was just a complete waste, even in the eyes of the company that made the darn game. Swell.
     
    Currently accepting recommendations of other monster series.
  6. Pahrak Model ZX
    Now that the English dub of Dragon Ball Super is getting into the Tournament of Power arc I can’t help but feel it’s only a matter of time before people renew their complaints about new characters Caulifla and Kale. These two are new Saiyans introduced to serve as opponents in said tournament, and are the first female Super Saiyans shown in the series main canon. (Prior there were a handful of games that offered female Saiyan player avatars who could achieve the form, but that’s it.) They quickly became somewhat divisive additions, and of course, many of those who despise them go around calling them Mary Sues. This is something that annoys me.
     
    Dragon Ball has never and will never be a literary masterpiece—there’s plenty of bad writing and I won’t try to tell you otherwise. And though I like these characters, I can see (and in some cases maybe even agree with) some of the issues people have with them. Criticism is healthy. But calling a character a Mary Sue isn’t criticism, it’s just dismissive, and always inconsistent. What one person considers a Mary Sue is different from what the next person considers a Mary Sue, and more than that, the same person can point out a “Mary Sue trait” in one character and totally ignore its presence in another. People rattling off reasons why Caulifla’s a Sue don’t seem to realize she actually has a lot in common with the main character, Goku, and saying that Kale is only ever written poorly when she has one of the most realistic character arcs in the franchise (unlike her predecessor Broly, who is now infamous for his stupidly petty motivations) just isn’t true. But okay, if we’re going to use reasons x, y, and z to define a character as a Mary Sue, do you know what Dragon Ball character fits the ever-changing mold surprisingly well?
     
    Future Trunks.
     
    Easily one of the most popular characters in the franchise, yes, but let’s review:
    -Showed up literally out of nowhere after the Frieza Saga
    -Immediately and effortlessly transforms into a Super Saiyan, mere chapters after the form had been introduced, and that was after immense build-up, thinking there could only be one (and that it was main character Goku), and seeing Goku go through a lot of anguish to achieve it
    -Kills Frieza, the biggest, baddest villain in the series at that point, who main character Goku took forever to beat, by either one-shotting him (in the manga) or toying with him in a curb-stomp battle (in the anime)
    -Then proceeds to effortlessly kill Frieza’s father, who was stated to be somewhere near Frieza’s level
    -Gets to spar with main character Goku for a bit
    -Reveals he is the son of Vegeta, another exceptionally popular character, and Bulma, a long-time staple who at this point has little interaction with and no visible interest in Vegeta
    -He came from the future, because only time travel makes that parentage work
    -In the future he was trained by the son of main character Goku
    -Said future is basically an apocalyptic wasteland
    -Later on he gets a unique transformation that makes him exceptionally more powerful (even if it does turn out to be functionally useless)
    -Gets temporarily killed in the final battle with Cell to spark very sudden character development in popular character Vegeta, and then is immediately revived
    -Gets an entire episode at the end of the Cell Saga dedicated to going back to the future and effortlessly defeating his timeline’s incarnation of the saga’s three major villains
    -Also he carries a sword he rarely uses in a series that typically doesn’t use weapons (swords are cool)
     
    Now if you were reading a fanfic and saw a character like that, what would you think? And that’s all just in Z: Trunks is made a main character in GT and Future Trunks is brought back in Super solely because of this character’s popularity, and that’s not even scratching the surface of how central he is to dedicated fanservice games like Xenoverse and Heroes. He’s so popular he can be shoehorned into anything and people rarely complain. He ticks so many boxes common on Mary Sue trait lists, and…nobody notices? How weird is that?
     
    And just to be a complete hypocrite: I also like Future Trunks. It’s almost like even a character with tons of “Mary Sue traits” can still be entertaining depending on how they’re handled, and that calling a character a Mary Sue means nothing other than “I don’t like this character and choose to blame the writer and insult anyone who thinks differently.” Imagine that.
     
    I still can’t really figure out why people are perfectly fine with Future Trunks but have such huge problems with Caulifla and Kale. Huh, though now that I think about, out of those three Trunks is the only one that’s a guy…nah, that couldn’t possibly be it, right?
  7. Pahrak Model ZX
    As the end of the year approached I felt that dreadful question of "What have I accomplished in 2018?" hanging over my head. Not exactly unusual, but unexpectedly, when I thought a bit more about it I discovered that I've actually done a bit.
     
    When it comes to writing:
    -Right of Law was started in March and already has 59k words
    -Red Joker has surpassed the length of its predecessor to reach 118k, with only roughly a third of that being knocked out in late 2017
    -I took a Mega Man ZX fic from one chapter to 29k words
    -I scribbled down two DBZ oneshots of 1-2k
    -I even attempted to start a novel, even if I only got 3-4k into it
     
    And while I wish I had more significant milestones and complete products to look at, I did the math and it turns out I wrote about 169,819 words this year. You know, give or take. Looking at that number, it seems kind of incredible that I was able to do that much.
     
    There are other things to consider, too: I tried a few new things, even though they didn't all work out, and I feel like I've been able to make some personal progress over the course of the last year. Sure I wish it could be more, but it is some. I also bought a Switch and a bunch of great games for it, meaning I enjoyed myself a bit more and making that word count look even more impressive knowing how much distraction was available to me.
     
    I've been pessimistic about holidays for a few years now, and when it comes to New Year's that means pointing out that it's an entirely arbitrary "endpoint" and that just buying a new calendar isn't really worth celebrating. I still think there's no reason to despair about not getting a certain amount done during a year or what have you. But I guess when you don't think about it in terms of quotas, and just reflect on what you've done and what you've learned and take what accomplishments you see for what they are...yeah. It isn't so hard to find something worth celebrating.
     
    Happy New Year.
  8. Pahrak Model ZX

    My thoughts:
    -As someone who's still salty about how long it took to get anything more than names with Sun and Moon, I'm glad they showed actual footage, the starters, and the region
    -Graphics/areas look real good
    -The full direct mentions something about people and Pokemon working together to shape the industries of the region, and that sounds like it could be real interesting
    -Looking at the Galar region map...this is probably based on a real place, but at a glance it just feels artificially linear. I'm guessing you start at the south and just keep going north until you beat the game? Not a deal breaker, but I'm hoping there's more to the region that when they showed here.
    -The starters all look kinda the same. And bad.
    -I don't see Pokemon following the trainers...
     
    At this point, I'm not impressed. I really, really hope those starter designs aren't indicative of the overall design aesthetic of Gen 8 Pokemon. There seem to be a lot of returning Pokemon in the trailer, so I'm optimistic for a smaller amount of new Pokemon with a lot of returning favorites in the regional Dex, and that's how I like my Dexes. Ideally I would like more Mega Evolutions, but I won't riot if we don't. I might riot if we don't get new regional variants, though.
     
    Happy Pokemon Day, I guess?
  9. Pahrak Model ZX
    The Lego Movie 2 made me cry and reexamine my life and is easily on par with the original (and The Lego Batman Movie), but
     
    While I completely understand it wouldn’t be all that practical to put focus on a long-dead theme and the scale would be a huge issue, the fact that it's partially driven by a teenager making his Lego sets/stories as edgy as he possibly can
     
    And they didn't make a single joke about Bionicle??
     
    Missed opportunity
  10. Pahrak Model ZX
    nice
     
    After a recent leak of the release date (October 2nd), Capcom has gone ahead and provided a huge new update on the upcoming game, with a new trailer, cover art, several gaming news outlets getting a hands-on demo, and man I am PUMPED.
     
    The
    shows off some new footage and explains the Double Gear system we previously caught glimpses of: you can either activate a Power Gear to enhance the strength of the Mega Buster, or a Speed Gear to slow down time around you. Using these abilities too much results in the system overheating for a short time, and apparently when your health is low you can activate them both to achieve incredible power for a short time before suffering an even stronger backlash. Sounds like a lot of fun! 
    We also get the official name for the Robot Master previously teased, Block Man, and get to see footage of Mega Man battling him and new reveal Fuse Man! Both of their weapons are also seen in action, and seem quite useful in different ways.
     
    There was also information released on collector's editions for both Japan and the states, including a brand new Mega Man amiibo featuring his MM11 design! Hopefully that won't be required for anything too cool...
     
    This was nice, I needed something to lift my spirits and this definitely did the trick. Now if only they'd tell us what's going on with that Star Force costume seem in an early screenshot...
  11. Pahrak Model ZX
    Gathered friends, listen again to the tale of the Bionicle.

    In the time before time, Spherus Magna was without leaders. All were lost, drowning in strife and confusion, fixated on selfishness and separateness. Yet out of this chaos rose those who would bring order: the Great Beings. They took control of the lawless word, and guided it into a new age of enlightenment. Under their rule, Spherus Magna prospered, and the land was at peace.

    To better organize the masses, the Great Beings selected a warrior from each Tribe to serve as their leaders. Upon these six, the Great Beings bestowed a great power…the power of the Elements. For a time, the Tribes were ruled over by these Element-Lords. But this was not to last. It was discovered that a precious, mysterious resource known as protodermis laid beneath our feet. The Element-Lords wished to control this substance, and entered into competition with one another. Their greed overtook them. Their lust for power drove the entire planet into war.

    Displeased by the Element-Lords’ shameful display, the Great Beings ordered them to relinquish their commands. The arrogant Lords saw fit to challenge the beings who made them…and were struck down. The brutal Skrall even sided with the Rock-Lord, thinking they could overthrow the Great Beings and seize power. They shared in his punishment. Only the Sand-Lord had the wisdom to surrender to her betters. She was allowed to live, and would rededicate her life in service of the Great Beings.

    The Great Beings knew they could not trust just anyone to solve this crisis, and so they created the perfect servants to accomplish it. Matoran were born to loyally bear the burdens that lay ahead, while Toa were made to enter the depths of the planet and wield its own Elements to repair the damage done to it. It took several years, but in the end, the Great Beings’ plan was successful. The Melding was complete.

    With the safety of all assured, the Great Beings wished to turn again to their work. However, they had learned that not just any being could be trusted to lead in their stead, and decided it was time for new leaders to be forged. And so the Great Beings crafted the perfect servants: the noble Makuta, second only to their makers in power and wisdom. With these valiant champions carrying out their will, the Great Beings led the world to peace once more…and this time, peace has remained.

    For a thousand centuries, we have been at peace, watched over by the Great Beings and the Makuta. May it last a thousand more, and may none ever again be foolish enough to challenge the Great Beings.

  12. Pahrak Model ZX
    So Vegeta got a new form. Not unusual, in and of itself, but I’m kind of taken with the way it happened this time.
     
    Last week, Vegeta stepped up to take on Jiren the Bland and got his butt kicked. He gave it his all and managed to look pretty cool doing it, but in the end he got knocked flat. Still, near the end of this week’s episode (after Goku doing only marginally better against the same guy), he got back up, screamed his lungs out, and vowed to defeat Jiren, win the Super Dragon Balls, and use them to fulfill his promise of wishing back the Saiyans of Universe 6. And then, new form. No name has been given yet and the explanation was incredibly vague, so I’m just gonna go with New Blue Vegeta as a placeholder.
     
    And I mean, it was kind of a surprise. This arc’s been hyping the heck out of Goku’s new Ultra Instinct form, and Vegeta’s been trying his hardest to attain the same power so he can show him up, but in these two episodes he’s declared that he doesn’t need Ultra Instinct and will surpass his limits in his own way. You could probably still have a debate over how these two forms compare, but the bottom line is that Goku and Vegeta attained different new transformations at roughly the same time. For starters I think this is a great step in the direction of variety—rather than everyone rushing to climb the same tier list of forms, we might actually see the major characters each pursuing and attaining their own unique types of power, and that sounds a lot fresher. Gohan said something similar way back near the start of the arc, so I’m really hoping.
     
    More than that, though, it feels like we’re seeing a subtle yet significant shift in Vegeta. He’s been spending so much time recently so fixated on one-upping Goku that many people felt his character was regressing, but now he’s saying he doesn’t need to do that. He doesn’t need to chase Goku, he can find his own way. And what helped him find that way was his determination to save someone close to him, and a few (maybe more?) others he hasn’t even met. That’s a selflessness he hasn’t shown since he fought Buu. Combine this with the early part of this arc, where he refused to train or even enter the tournament because he needed to be there for his wife when she gives birth, and we’ve got a huge shift in the guy’s priorities.
     
    I mean, this is Dragon Ball we’re talking about, it’s never been a work of fantastic writing and it’s not meant to be, but the way Vegeta leveled up this time around just felt kind of…poignant, I guess. It was a nice surprise and it leaves me optimistic for where the series may go from here. So that’s cool.
  13. Pahrak Model ZX
    ...It's a Wonderful World...
     
    I am actually crying right now, you have no idea
     
    TWEWY on the Switch, with new content that will include Hype-chan after all these years
     
    It was unwise of me to spend my Christmas money on a Switch but I am now extremely glad that I did
     
    Thank you God, I'll do better in 2018
  14. Pahrak Model ZX
    It’s been a rocky few years, but things are actually looking really freaking bright right now.
     
    For those unaware, earlier this month Capcom did a special livestream to celebrate the anniversary, and showcased a neat little retrospective of the franchise’s releases over the past three decades. It got pretty hilarious past Mega Man 10, with year upon year of absolutely nothing (barring Xover)…but then to the shock of everyone, this turned into a trailer for an honest-to-God new game. Mega Man 11 is going to be a thing!
     
    You can watch the retrospective and trailer
    if you missed it. 11 is trying to retain the essence of the Classic series while updating it for the modern age, as opposed to 9 and 10’s throwback to 8-bit, and it looks pretty darn nice. It’s tough to change my tune so completely, but honestly, everything the team has been saying sounds like they really, actually care about making this game good, and I think I’m actually starting to be optimistic about it. Mega Man might survive after all! Who knew! Of course, the game won’t be released until late 2018, and it sounds like we won’t be hearing much if anything more until summer. These things both strike me as odd, but, y’know…I want to believe. 
    (Plus there’s a screenshot where Mega Man’s armor has shifted to look a lot like Geo’s, no one has said a single word about this but it’s gone a long way towards getting me excited.)
     
    My experience with Mega Man isn’t exactly what might be considered typical. See my first exposure to Mega Man was the NT Warrior anime, which was airing on Saturday mornings when I was a kid. That naturally led me to the Battle Network games, and while I was vaguely aware of Classic and X and maybe Zero (probably not Legends though), I realized they were their own separate things and didn’t really bother for a while. As I came to play more video games, Battle Network concluded and we got Star Force, which naturally I was all over, plus Mega Man ZX came out around the same time and I saw that as the perfect opportunity to try out the robotics timeline. Since I’ve never actually been good at video games, most of my attempts to enter that timeline have gone…pretty poorly. But I’ve always held the three series I experienced as a kid very close to my heart, and I’ve always had a respect for the franchise at large. This has deepened somewhat in recent years, where I’ve been making more attempts to escape reality familiarize myself with the other series. I’m still not good, but with how Let’s Plays have taken off that isn’t as much of an issue anymore! I feel a good deal more knowledgeable about the franchise now than I did at the beginning of this drought, so you know what, if I somehow have the money I bet I actually will try my hand at Mega Man 11! (Helping this decision is the fact that it has two easy modes.)
     
    I didn’t expect to ever say it again, but I am looking forward to seeing Mega Man’s future. Admittedly I’m still not entirely sure what to feel about the upcoming cartoon, mostly because we’ve been given so very little, is that even still happening? But 11 exists, it seems promising, and it might even include the subseries in some form! I’m also quietly hoping this could somehow lead to the revival of the Archie comic, like I said before it was great and I really want it back. We’ll see.
     
    If nothing else, we can now actually celebrate Mega Man’s anniversary, as opposed to just trying fruitlessly to console each other, so that’s neat! Plus this reunited me with
    . Things are looking up.
  15. Pahrak Model ZX
    I swear I didn’t mean to take nine months.
     
    The plan was to take a short break to detach from Tribe and switch mindsets, then get a small headstart before I began posting. Then Life happened. And Hobbies happened. And Writer’s Block happened. And then I realized it would be really cool to post it on Mega Man’s 30th anniversary, but just recently I remembered today is Star Force’s 11th anniversary so I moved it up…a little…
     
    Anyway, partly to celebrate both these anniversaries, and partly to apologize for the extra wait, I’m kicking off Shooting Star Sonia 3: Red Joker by posting a chapter a day for a whole week! After I hit chapter 7 on Wednesday I’m going to shoot for biweekly like I did with Tribe, and we’ll see how that goes. For now, happy anniversary Star Force! Happy anniversary Mega Man! (I’ll have another blog post on the 17th about that, MEGA MAN 11!) And again, sorry for the wait, and thanks for your support! I wouldn’t have gotten this far without it!
     
    So, I should probably address the title—you may be wondering why I went with Red Joker. I was initially considering Noise as the title, to better fit with Tribe, but that felt a bit too unspecific and I wanted to go with something that felt more direct. And, though you’ve probably guessed, this does mean Sonia will be getting the Joker Program, and we won’t be seeing a Black Ace Harp Note. Let me explain! I originally wanted to use both Finalized Noise Changes, but trying to balance their usage seemed like it would be challenging, plus I would’ve needed to come up with a name for a program that could use both…Jokace? Acer? Meteor G Program? I don’t like any of those names. This is easier. Also, ah, coming up with an idea for Red Joker Harp Note was going smoother than designing a Black Ace Harp Note, so…I guess I wanted to save myself a little work. (What I was thinking of seemed too close to Black Ace Mega Man, and I wasn’t sure how to properly contrast it with my ideas for RJ, it just wasn’t really coming together.) There’s also another very good reason why Sonia’s only getting one program, but I won’t spoil that just yet. Trust me, though: you’re going to love it. There are a few other reasons why RJ got picked over BA (admittedly some bias was involved…don’t get me wrong, Black Ace is awesome, but I’ve always been a power over speed guy so Red Joker was what I grabbed first), but they’re plot relevant so I’ll discuss them as they come up.
     
    That’s all I’ll say here. I hope you enjoy the story!
  16. Pahrak Model ZX
    Hm.
     
    Well I finished Ultra Sun’s story and post-game episode. My feelings are mixed.
     
    There are a lot of things added to the game that I like, but there are two big things that irritate me. One is that it felt a good deal harder than SuMo, which I already didn’t think was particularly easy, but I know, git gud and all that, whatever. The second is that I…guess I had my hopes for the story too high.
     
     
     
     
    Well, either way, here’s my team:
    -Fistleo the Incineroar
    -Tempo the Dusk Form Lycanroc
    -Flipjack the Alolan Raichu
    -Kaitafish the Wishiwashi
    -Eggman the Alolan Exeggutor
    -Dusk Buster the Dusk Mane Necrozma
     
    I know this is mostly complaining but there really are some strong points to these games, I just don’t want to make this even longer and I’m sure you can find plenty of people talking about those. I do have Ultra Moon, but I’m not sure when I’m going to tackle that; I’m liking the team I’m planning but I am dreading that Necrozma fight…
  17. Pahrak Model ZX
    You thought RoboRiders Mafia was a bad idea, get a load of this.
     
    Glinch Festival
     
    Every player gets assigned one of four species from Galidor, and then each round they target another player and say which of their limbs they want to swap. So Player A can target Player B’s Left Arm, and boom, they switch Left Arms. The goal is to end up with one limb from every species.
     
    Plus maybe one or two Royals inserted who are wild cards, one of their limbs can be counted as any other species you need.
     
    Not sure if the game would end when one player does this or each player “wins” when they do or if we have a deadline and see how many players can achieve this by the end of the game (or how many times/how long it lasts).
     
    Probably no point in doing this. Though if what I glimpse in the BZP Tweets sidebar is any indication, ironically liking Galidor might be cool right now.
  18. Pahrak Model ZX
    Because why not. Subject to change as time goes on, surely, but as of right now, here’s how I feel about the seven main series regions.
     
    1. Sinnoh, to the surprise of no one. You’re probably saying this is solely based on nostalgic bias, and that is a huge part of it, I’ll admit that. Pokémon Diamond was what brought me back into Pokémon, and it and Platinum were the first times I started to really consume all the data I could about the games, which set the trend going forward. Sinnoh’s the reason I’m playing Pokémon today, so it will always have a very special place in my heart. Of course, there is more to love about Sinnoh: personally I very much like the general design aesthetic of Gen IV Pokémon, I adore that the region is steeped in legend and myth, Cynthia, you can play your badges like a xylophone, and how could you not enjoy the Underground? I know Sinnoh has faults, but it’s very special to me, and I dearly hope the eventual remake is on a system I own.
     
    2. Alola. Probably not surprising either. It’s a beautiful and extremely unique region, and it introduces many new twists on the Pokémon formula without rendering it unrecognizable. Many things I liked about other games/generations/regions were present in Alola, and while they weren’t all handled perfectly, I do think they were handled well, and it helps give the region a more “complete” feel. The plot and mythology are both engaging, though I do wish they’d intertwined a bit more. The Pokédex features favorites from every generation, and as for the new Pokémon…well, I’m a bit 50/50 when it comes to Gen VII’s design aesthetic, but that doesn’t weigh it down too much. And Alola forms are inspired (even if I can’t seem to get behind any that end up Dark-type). There are a few miscellaneous things from ORAS that I wish had stuck around, but Sun and Moon are improvements over X and Y in every conceivable way, and that helps me just really love this region. And judging from what we’ve seen of USUM, I’m beginning to wonder if it could even give Sinnoh a run for its money.
     
    3. Johto. Kind of bumpy getting here, but…nostalgia played a big part again. Gold version was the first Pokémon game that was really mine and I didn’t have to share, so it’s the focal point of nostalgia as far as I’m concerned. Yeah, some of my memories of Gold are hazy, I don’t feel like I excelled when I played HeartGold, and now that I’ve got VC Gold I’m just baffled by some of the Pokémon distribution choices, but the feel of the region is something that just works. Difficult to explain, but this is all subjectivity anyway. And there’s something interesting about this graphical style, something notably old but still in vibrant color, that helps it retain this feeling of being a refreshing update to Gen I. There are some great Pokémon here too, though it can be difficult to find some of them—Typhlosion will always be a favorite, and darn it, I love Unown, I know they’re utterly useless in a battle but I’m too fascinated by their concept to feel anything but love towards these letters with eyes.
     
    4. Hoenn. Before ORAS, if you heard me mentioning Hoenn, it was only to disparage it. I lost interest in Pokémon during Gen III, a large part of which I still blame on not being able to send Pokémon from Gen II up to the new Generation, and even now a large number of the Pokémon designs introduced here just feel a bit odd to me. Again, this hatred was all before ORAS. ORAS, when they came out, were the utmost pinnacle of Pokémon games on a mechanical level, and are still pretty darn close. They took a great deal of the good things in X and Y and really drove them home, capitalized on everything people already liked about the region (except for trumpets), and introduced plenty of new things that all worked very well. I utterly adore soaring, I can’t speak too highly about that feature. Hoenn’s personality also shone really well in those games, and it’s helped me find a much greater respect for the region. Though, since nearly all I like about it is strictly from ORAS, Hoenn itself falls smack dab in the middle.
     
    5. Unova. Really, I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Unova, largely stemming from the fact that during Gen V I was unfortunately going through a bit of a genwunner phase. (Thank God that’s over.) Make no mistake, I still stand by some of my criticism: Black and White try far too hard to distance themselves from the other games, worst of all by expressly forbidding us from catching any Pokémon from the first four Generations until we beat their main story, and that issue is exacerbated tremendously by the general design aesthetic of Gen V Pokémon, which I find to be, well…pretty terrible. (With notable exceptions—Chandelure, Gigalith, and Zekrom are some of my all-time favorites.) But there’s also a lot that Gen V does right. It was an enormous step forward in story and characterization—the Gym Leaders never felt more like an actual ensemble of people, to say nothing of Team Plasma, and it’s always impressed me that the plot actually interrupts your initial League challenge. There’s also a wealth of post-game areas to explore, and we’ve still only covered Black and White. Black 2 and White 2 (as opposed to the expected Pokémon Gray) were a unique choice in and of themselves, and retained the best of their predecessors while strengthening the mechanics, adding loads more content, and no longer restricting you to Unovan-original Pokémon, thank God. (Though now that I think about it, I did only use Gen V mons when I played B2 and W2…huh…) Taking a fairer look at Unova, it really is a wonderful place, and as that teenage inclination towards arbitrary bad decisions abates it might actually move up this list. Still…Gen V Pokémon designs…I haven’t gotten over most of you.
     
    6. Kanto. Kanto is just, well…basic. And I mean, it’s the first Gen, it kind of has to be since it’s the template. But still, I just kind of…I don’t know, I guess I’ve used up all the nostalgia I had for it and feel like there isn’t really much else going for it? I’ve trekked through this region probably more than any other, but I don’t know that I really have anything in particular to say about it. The last two slots on this list were hard to decide between, and part of why Kanto’s here and not the bottom might just be extra slack for having the burden of getting the franchise off the ground. Again, I don’t know that I really have anything to say.
     
    7. Kalos. And like, I like Kalos. I do. But X and Y left me wanting more from it in the worst possible way, and while I was focusing on the positives and giving it the benefit of the doubt when I was expecting them to do a third version or a second pair to fix that, they dropped this region like it was hot and moved right along to Gen VII. So ultimately, Kalos feels like a half-baked trial run for the rest of the 3DS titles and even GameFreak doesn’t really care about it all that much. And that sucks. Because there are a lot of things I like about Kalos: the Gen VI Pokémon design aesthetic is marvelous, its Pokédex being a collection of favorites across all Gens was a wonderful decision that thankfully seems to be the new norm, and I love Mega Evolution and have honestly docked points from Sun and Moon for being so quick to discard it. It’s controversial, but I’m very glad for the changes made to experience—I’m in my 20s, I don’t have the time or patience to grind and now I don’t have to. But for everything Kalos did well, there’s a lot that is just so sloppy. Characterization is a huge step back from Gen V. Plot is about as bare as Gen I. Can’t say there’s much of a post-game. X and Y, in hindsight, just feel like they could have been so much more, and while we can forgive that at the start of a generation, not following up with a correction just makes it look so much worse. Because now X and Y are all we have to judge Kalos with, and it doesn’t compare well. Again, there’s a lot that I like about X and Y and Kalos—I enjoyed playing these games. I just wish I could have had an even better Kalos game after that. Sun and Moon feel like far more complete games, and remembering how abrupt the transition from Gen VI to Gen VII felt at the time, that’s somewhat strange to me. So I guess my relationship with Kalos now is a bit like what I once had with Unova, and maybe as time goes on I’ll be less bitter about the lack of a third game and I’ll feel better about this region. Chances are there will in the distant future come a day when X and Y are remade, and I dearly hope those take better advantage of Kalos.
     
    So, there you have it. Who’s offended?
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    You’ve played Pokémon Sun and Moon, you know who Lillie is, she doesn’t need much introduction. It surely comes as little to no surprise that I love Lillie, and while it is due to the main reasons anyone loves her (she’s Totally Adorable and a Well-Developed Character), I’ve recently come to feel that she’s actually rather fascinating when you look at her as a writing technique.
     
    So: player characters in Pokémon. They aren’t characters, really. They’re consistently left totally and completely blank so that whoever’s playing the game can project themselves onto this avatar with as little friction as possible, taken to unnecessarily hilarious ends with Red’s silent reappearances in later games. Naturally, this approach has its fair share of pros and cons. On one hand, this aids immersion tremendously—you’re free to name this character whatever you want, command them to do whatever you want, interpret their behavior and thought processes however you want, and more recently even dress them however you want. Players turn that character into themselves, and are able to see themselves in the Pokémon world, albeit from a top-down perspective. It’s the ultimate extreme of role-playing, giving you a place in this world but then allowing you complete freedom to adjust to it however you like. But on the other hand, this might have some connection to the fact that Pokémon has never really been known for its story. It’s difficult to write a plot centered around an empty shell. The player does things to continue the story, but they’re very much watching it unfold before them, and only stepping in when given the opportunity as opposed to doing much to actively push it forward. Again, Pokémon’s pretty much always done it this way, and it seems to be working for them, so it may not be something you see a lot of people clambering for. But since there’s a boatload of Pokémon media that does feature main characters who are actually characters, I don’t know that we can say people are totally averse to the thought.
     
    It seems to me that Lillie is GameFreak’s attempt to have it both ways. The player character of Sun and Moon remains a void who can be anyone the person holding the 3DS wants them to be, but they have a very close friend who has her own desires and faults, is heavily-entwined in the overarching plot, and develops greatly as a character. Granted, she doesn’t do very much herself in terms of actively driving the plot forward—she spends a lot of time reacting, and not as much time decision-making—but her character is written in a way that that’s actually part of her development. Which is…kind of ingenious, really. Is she meant to be a metaphor for the Pokémon main series games learning to be more active in their storytelling, as opposed to just being an observer? Well, maybe at that point I’m reading a bit too much into it.
     
    For the sake of argument, let’s accept my premise as true: Lillie is an attempt to have a “main character” the plot centers on while still having a totally blank “player character” for absolute immersion. Then the only question becomes: Does it work?
     
    I’d say yes.
     
    People love Lillie. If you looked at a discussion of Sun and Moon prior to their release, you’d see people saying “This Lillie girl is off, we all agree she’s a Nihilego in disguise right?” Check them after its release, and you’ll see dozens of fans shouting about how wonderful she is. Like, I’m sure there are some people who don’t like her, no character can be universally-loved, but…I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone bashing her, and Sun and Moon have been out for close to a year now. When you have to go out of your way to find people who hate a character but get bombarded by people who like them without trying, it’s safe to say they’re pretty darn popular. Has the series had a breakout character like this before? Maybe with N? Certain Hoenn characters certainly had a resurgence when ORAS came out, but even then it seemed to typically be antagonists, plus Steven who just sort of pops in and out on occasion. Even when N does become an ally in B2W2, he’s only in, what…one scene that’s actually plot-relevant?
     
    What I’m getting at is that there’s a novelty to Lillie’s role in Sun and Moon’s story. How big a factor that novelty is in her appeal is something we can only know if this becomes more regular. I do hope to see this technique or something similar employed in future Pokémon games, because while I do like feeling like I’m my own trainer, I enjoy stories as well, and Lillie’s story is one I really enjoyed. I’ve gone on record as saying there are aspects of Alola and its cast I wish we’d seen more of, and perhaps the focus on Lillie has a hand in that, but still: she’s very unique in this franchise, and very interesting. Hopefully, she’s a good sign of what’s to come.
  20. Pahrak Model ZX
    It still feels like Gen VII just stared, but we’re already getting the last Pokémon in the current National Dex order!
     
    Stop by GameStop between now and the 23rd to get a code to download Marshadow, the very first Fighting/Ghost type! It’ll also come with Marshadium Z, letting Marshadow use its unique Z Move, Soul-Stealing Seven Star Strike. How cool does that sound?
     
    Just about a month until Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon! With the reveal of new Ultra Beasts, I can’t help but wonder if more Mythicals are programmed in as well, meaning we could get another few years of Gen VII. I hope we do, I can’t afford a new console.
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