Pocket Players Podcast #79: Reuse it or Lose It

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Adell’s back and more optimistic about every game he sees than ever! We know there was a big 3DS Nintendo Direct this morning with so much awesomeness, so expect another podcast early next week as we digest all the new info. In the meantime, you can discuss it in the forums!

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

[Image:Marvelous AQL]

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Pocket Players Podcast #78: Worlds is Not Enough

Rin and JV have plenty of stories to tell of their trip to the 2014 Pokemon World Championship in Washington DC, so they’ve both dropped by to share them all.

WHAT WE’RE PLAYING

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

NEW RELEASES

Vita
CounterSpy
Crimsonland

Gravity Badgers
Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment

3DS:
XtremeSports
Blazblue Clone Phantasma
Demon King Box
Amida’s Path

Gothic Masquerade

iOS:
Go to Bed
Swing Copters

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Pocket Player’s Podcast #77: Over the Shoulder Boulder Holders (Part A)

This episode, KC has a couple of oversized complaints about the visual novel Xblaze Code:Embryo, and we spend a surprising amount of time discussing Star Wars.

My apologies for splitting the episode into two separate posts, but with JV in DC, I had to handle some technical hurtles in his absence.

WHAT WE’RE PLAYING

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

NEW RELEASES

Vita:
Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited
Gravity Crash Ultra
Hohokum
Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds

iOS:
Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies

Back to Bed
Goat Simulator
Corpse Party
Flick Knights

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Pocket Players Podcast #76: A Fish and a Controller

Competitive Battling is the Antithesis of Pokémon (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Luvdisc)

“Strong Pokémon. Weak Pokémon. That is only the selfish perception of people. Truly skilled trainers should try to win with their favorites.” – Johto Elite 4 Karen

Before you ready your Flamethrowers, allow me to Skill Swap a Flash Fire. I’ve had my fair taste of competitive battling in Pokémon, and while I never got into it like some, I read the Nugget Bridge, I keep abreast of Smogon, I follow all sorts of skilled battlers on YouTube, and I enjoy watching the annual VGCs, if usually only from afar. I certainly understand the appeal of competitive battling. I am not saying it should be done away with, or that there’s anything wrong with the people who participate. However, the thought has been growing in my mind for a long while now, that competitive battling just seems to run totally counter to the spirit of Pokémon.

For clarity, I’m speaking almost entirely about the video games. The TCG is and always has been designed to be competitive, but the early video games were not. There’s a very good reason that for the first five years, the official Pokémon World Championships were for the TCG only; the first two generations of the game were not balanced for a competitive setting, as that was not what they were intended for. This is evidenced in the obscurity of factors like IVs and EVs, and the large effect the random number generator has on everything in battle (not just visible/known numbers like accuracy and status ailments, but even the fact that attacks do variable damage which you have no influence over).

PokemonRedBlueEndThere are other signs that the games were not designed for competitive play in the dialogue of the games and anime alike. Pokémon Red and Blue ended with Professor Oak admonishing his grandson for failing to treat his Pokémon with love and respect, and reminding the player that the victory belonged as much to their Pokémon as to themselves. Pokémon Silver and Gold featured a rival named Silver who treated his Pokémon as mere tools, and the story used that to frame him as a more detestable character. Similar sentiments are expressed throughout every game in the series, to the point of cliché, and that’s nothing compared to how hard the anime tries to bludgeon you with it. Clearly, the series’ creators did not want players to see their Pokémon as mere pixels and computer code to be played like a deck of cards for personal gain.

The competitive battling scene began to ramp up between generations 2 and 3 with the help of fan-made online applications like Pokémon NetBattle, and then leapt to new heights with the advent of WiFi connectivity in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, but the first official VGC would not happen until 2009 with Pokémon Platinum. The creative folks at The Pokémon Company no doubt used this time to gauge how players were battling and what could be done to further balance a game that had not originally been built for serious competitive play. They also used it for inspiration.

PokemonPaulEnter, arguably the Pokémon anime’s most polarizing rival: Paul.

Loosely based on generation 2’s rival, Silver, Paul was a ruthless trainer who treated his Pokémon as tools to further his own agenda. Some found him a refreshingly competent character compared to Ash’s eternal noobishness. Others vehemently hated him for being haughty and cruel. He would capture multiple Pokémon and compare them, then release those he found to be “inferior,” keeping only the strongest. His goal was always – and only – winning, often subjecting his Pokémon to harsh abuse to strengthen them in a “trial by fire.” His utter lack of empathy resulted in at least one of his Pokémon developing symptoms of PTSD before being unceremoniously booted off his team. But while his methods got results fast, the anime’s creators declared that such cruelty would falter in the long run, and Paul was defeated in the end.

Picking out the strongest Pokémon from batches and discarding the rest? Treating Pokémon as tools, not bothering to form any bond with them? Battling with the sole purpose of winning at any cost? While Silver may have been mostly inspired by real-life exploiters of animals, Paul was clearly a sharp jab at the burgeoning competitive community.

So, since the creators of Pokémon so clearly dislike the methods a competitive system, by its very nature, requires, why have they then made such intense efforts to facilitate said play style? IV breeding and EV training became consistently easier with each generation, and then shot up to unprecedented levels of ease with Pokémon X and Y. In addition, game balance was greatly enhanced, which would only matter to competitive players. Why do this if such a play style is so obviously antithetical to the message of love and comradery pushed so emphatically in the games and anime? And while some would argue that it’s silly or impossible to have an emotional bond with a fictional character made of pixels and computer code, all I can say is, they haven’t played very many good games.

Well, let’s be honest: The competitive crew are a very sizable, and deafeningly vocal, minority of Pokémon players. They are largely, but not exclusively, comprised of Pokémon’s oldest, longest, and most ardent fans. On top of this, the annual VGCs give Super Trainingveterans more reasons to keep coming back and purchasing the latest games, and give The Pokémon Company no small amount of publicity and income. It would not be good business for Pokémon to ignore them, especially when such adjustments to game mechanics can be implemented with little or no cost to the more “casual” player.

So while I will watch with interest as The Pokémon Company continues to nurture the competitive scene in future games, I think I will prefer to be more of a Karen and less of a Paul.

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Handheld Deals of the Week

If you like Square Enix’s rhythm game series, you might as well reserve Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call from Amazon. That’s because anyone who does so now will get upgraded to the limited edition version of the game for free. This includes an alternate packaging for the game, and a five track remix CD of music from the game.

Groupon has been dipping into the Monster Hunter well quite a bit lately, as it has yet another deal running for the 3DS and Wii U versions of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. The 3DS version is $27 while the Wii U version is $17. While it’s never too late to get into the Monster Hunter universe, I think this is more suited to owners of one version who want to move their characters into the other, rather than those who have never played the game before.

Android owners are getting a big helping of free Essential Appsfrom Amazon this weekend. In fact, they’re offering $100 worth of them, including Carcassonne and Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing.

TOP 3DS DEALS

Animal Crossing: New Leaf – $25
Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds - $34
Mario Party: Island Tour- $23
Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D- $22
Pokémon Y- $32
Pokémon X- $34
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy- $31
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers- $20
Super Mario 3D Land – $25
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call – Limited Edition (Pre-Order) – $40
Yoshi’s New Island - $33

TOP VITA DEALS

16GB Vita Memory Card- $30

Deception IV: Blood Ties- $30
Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention$30

Dragon’s Crown
- $20
Gravity Rush- $15
Hyperdimension Neptunia PP - $30
Persona 4 Golden- $20
Rayman Legends- $24
Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God Limited Edition- $35
Soul Sacrifice- $18
Tearaway
- $34

[Image: Square-Enix]

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Pocket Players Podcasts #75: Back with New Features

Cards Against Pokémonity – A Pocket Players Subcast

With KC away, his minions will play. Adell and PokeLord take advantage of the situation to furiously discuss new Pokémon TCG cards from the latest expansion… USING THEIR FISTS!

Don’t worry, we promise to have a real podcast back up here tomorrow…

[Image: TPCI]

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Pocket Players Podcast #74: Not a Good Idea