Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pokemon X and Y: The Last Hurrah

Well, here we are. For the first, and hopefully last, time, I will be writing a no-holds-barred, full-speed-ahead, other-hyphenated-phrase review of a game. It should come as little surprise that the game in question is Pokemon X. If you've come here for a review of Pokemon Y, then I'm afraid you'll have to go elsewhere. I'm not part of that mess.

I suppose I might as well focus on the good things. Good thing number 1: I don't have to play it anymore. Witty jabs aside, It really wasn't that bad of a game. It was a Pokemon game, and it had all the good things that come with the territory: pockets, monsters, attempted xenocide, mass graves, you know, the usual. The music was pretty-top notch, as is to be expected from Gamefreak. The biking song was particularly memorable. Speaking of bikes, in this game, you can bike and skate around smoothly, uninhibited by the opressive squares that constrained us in the past. It's pretty nice. There's also a really neat sidequest at the end where Detective Looker learns you what it means to be a hardboiled man. He's a pretty cool guy. Easily my second favorite fictional character that looks like David Tennant.

The first being Barty Crouch, naturally.

Moving on from the good things, let us now speak of the actual Pokemon, and the battles between them, and the real substance of the game. There is no doubt in my mind that 6th gen introduced the least change to Pokemon of any Generation. Of primary concern is the number of new Pokemon. Up until 6th gen, each new generation added at least 100 new Pokemon to the mix. The number of new Pokemon introduced in Pokemon X and Y is 69, which is alarming for a number of reasons. First and foremost, hahaha 69 is a funny number. Second and fivemost, that is not enough Pokemon. Granted, even number generations have historically introduced fewer Pokemon than odd numbered generations, but the amount of new Pokemon with each new generation has generally been increasing. So why did Gamefreak reverse this trend? Well, because there are too damn many Pokemon. People have said it before, and I agree with them. We don't need 800 Pokemon. So, in a way, I get where Gamefreak is coming from when they decided to only make a few Pokemon, and then just make the game a smorgasbord of mostly Pokemon from previous generations. I guess my main problem isn't that there are so few new Pokemon, it's that there are so few new Pokemon that I don't actively hate.

I am the 99%.

This is Diggersby. His prehensile ear-arms (earms?) are well suited for digging, allowing him to burrow into the anger glands of your brain and play them like a fiddle. He is just one of many new Pokemon that I could accurately describe as "revolting". Another such pokemon is Slurpuff, who impossibly manages to live up to his disgusting name. When I first heard that there was a cotton candy Pokemon, I thought it was a fun joke on people who wouldn't shut up about how stupid an ice cream cone Pokemon was. But when I heard the name, and saw its form, I immediately knew that it was no joke.

Serious Business

Keeping these fellas company at the bottom of the barrel are Quilladin, which just looks like a fatter Chespin, Dedenne, which is Pikachu except it's a Fairy-type this time, and Klefki, who is a key ring. Now that I'm out of Pokemon to complain about, and I'm realizing that there actually aren't that many Pokemon that I hate, I guess I should talk about the good Pokemon. That instance of the word "Pokemon" might as well have been singular, because Aegislash is THE good Pokemon of 6th gen.

Aegislash is the first Ghost/Steel type Pokemon, a great type that would be even greater if Gamefreak hadn't nerfed the steel type, removing its resistance to dark and ghost, with the explicit intent of keeping Aegislash from being overpowered. As you can clearly see, it is cool as hell. When Aegislash first takes the field in battle, he keeps his sword sheathed, giving him incredible defense stats. Then, as soon as he attacks, he draws his blade, giving him incredible attacking stats. Then, if he uses a defensive move, like King's Shield, (a new, overpowered-seeming move that, as far as I can tell, is like Protect, but it also sharply decreases the Attack of anyone who hits him with a contact move.) he goes back to shield mode. Unfortunately, he's pretty slow either way, but this is mitigated by his potential to play mind games with his opponent. He can also use boosting moves to beef up his attack and/or speed stats while tanking hits in shield mode, then switch to blade mode and put his enemies to the sword when he's in blade mode. In addition to the possible competitive implications, it cannot be stressed enough that this Pokemon is cool as hell. And speaking of Pokemon who are cool as hell...

Exhibit A

Hawlucha is a hawk that is also a luchador. And that's it. The prosecution rests. Case closed. In the trial of Hawlucha for the crime of "Being the most baller Pokemon ever", we find the defendant guilty. Hawlucha also receives the dubious honor of being the only Pokemon to learn the only dual-type attack, Flying Press, which is simultaneously a Flying type move, a Fighting type move, and a not very good move, since you can't hit Rock or Steel types super effectively with it. Or Bugs, I guess.

If you look closely enough at Hawlucha's face, you'll notice that he has regular mouth under his beak. This seems to imply that his beak isn't a real beak, and is just for show, like part of a mask. Notice also that it has a physique similar to a humans, and that its wings don't really look like wings, but more like arms with feathery things coming out of them, like Charizard X. Hawlucha is also very small, only 2'07'' tall. Now, I'm not saying for sure that Hawlucha is actually a 3-fingered little person who dresses up like a Pokemon to beat the crap out of other Pokemon, but it gave me the idea that that could happen, and for that I am extremely thankful.

In terms of actual new things added to the game, there isn't too much to talk about. Shiny Pokemon were made considerably more common. This news put quite a damper on the lavish party that I had thrown in celebration of the shiny Tentacool that I caught on my second day of playing. There's now a Fairy-type, whose arbitrary-seeming type-effectiveness match-ups were the cause of much confusion and frustration. Riding Pokemon is a thing that people apparently wanted, because they didn't realize that it would be clunky and unenjoyable. The fact that they are stupid may also have been a contributing factor. Competitive worries aside, Mega Evolution is pretty useful if you want to use one of a small handful of Pokemon to wreck absolutely everything. Not that you'll necessarily need a mega Pokemon to do that. Just about everything has been made easier in this game. I don't think there was a single time in the story where I was in any kind of danger of losing a battle. The new and improved Exp. Share allows all of the Pokemon in your party to get experience, without any being taken from the active Pokemon. Breeding changes and Friend Safaris have made it much easier to get Pokemon with good IVs. Super Training let's even the most plebeian Casualry EV train their Pokemon. The aforementioned increase in the odds of getting a shiny Pokemon is another example of something made easier. There is, however, one thing that stands in stark defiance of the trend towards everything being easier: Hordes.

A horde is when you fight 5 wild Pokemon at the same time. Remember how annoying Zubats were? Now multiply that by 5. That's what a horde is. Because, make no mistake, there are no "normal" hordes. Every single horde will have something about it to make killing it even more annoying than it has any right being. Like paralysis. You better pray to the RNG gods that you aren't fully paralyzed. That goes double for confusion. You may be able to OHKO pokemon that are half your level, but what if they keep lowering your attack? Or, God forbid, your accuracy? And if they have Sturdy, then I hope you brought some reading material, because it's going to take you at least 10 turns to take down those assholes. And to top it all off, since the Pokemon are half your level, they barely even give any experience. Rideable Pokemon was another failed attempt to introduce something cool and new, which ended up just being clunky and unenjoyable.

Not bothering with any kind of transitions, I will now talk about gym leaders. Specifically: I don't really remember them. I think there was an electric gym leader named Clemont? He was a dorky kid who made gadgets and lived in the Eiffel Tower. His name has nothing to do with electricity, so I have no idea how he passed the Gym Leader test. The terrifying thing is that they're all like that. To the best of my knowledge, none of the gym leaders really had pun names, so I guess I'll have to wait another day for Ace Attorney to get my fix. In general, I found most of the characters to be rather forgettable, other than Looker, and one of the Elite Four members that made a particularly strong impression on me. Rather than a singular rival, you're given a whole posse of children that I really couldn't care less about. Though I did get them to call me "H Bomb" as my nickname, and they had some pretty great music, so I guess that's a plus. I also found the main villain to be rather compelling, though I seem to be the only one who thinks so. He wasn't as sympathetic as N, or as deplorable as Ghetsis, but I think he managed to make the story with Team Flare a bit more interesting than some in the past have been.

I feel that I would be remiss if I were to talk about this game and fail to mention how unbelievably French it is. It is no secret that the Kalos region is based on the Fantasy Kingdom of France, similar to how Unova was based on our very own United States. But while the US's influence on Unova was mostly restricted to the existence of a huge, NYC-esque city replete with towering skyscrapers, every bit of Kalos is inundated with French culture. The capital, Lumiose City, is literally Paris. They have a freaking Eiffel Tower, the place is littered with cafes, there's a fancy art museum, everyone has poodles, and people even ride goats as their primary method of getting around. Routes, plazas, and towns are commonly given French names. They even have Stonehenge, complete with an ominous Underhenge.

All in all, if you were considering buying this game, you've probably bought it already. If you were hesitant enough about buying it to wait a week, then perhaps you're better off not playing it. Pokemon is often panned for its inability to keep things fresh and new, and it's especially noticeable in this generation, where there really isn't much to keep the games fresh. At the end of the day, though, it was still a Pokemon game, and I still had fun, even if it wasn't as much as I had hoped. I refuse to give it any kind of quantitative score or grade, such is the extent of my rugged individuality.

Now that that's out of the way, I thought that I might as well share some of the best nicknames that I gave some of my Pokemon. I nicknamed all of them, but I won't share all of them, because I caught more than 100 Pokemon over the course of this game, and so many of them were not given good nicknames. I will also include a small blurb about why I chose the name, or what it means, or something. So, over the course of Pokemon X, I had:

A Greninja named "Slippy Toad". It is a frog, you see.

A Honedge named "Edgeworth". This one was actually my sister's idea. I've never been more proud.

A Talonflame named "Guillotine". I'm actually rather proud of this one. It's a reference to my assertion, earlier on this blog, that execution by Talonflame is the most humane form of execution. Also, it's French.

A Litleo named "Burnin' Leo". I'm sure this is hilarious to those of you familiar with archaic Kirby Mini-bosses.

A Zigzagoon named "Class". Originally, it was supposed to be named "class C0", an esoteric math joke referring to how his stripes are not differentiable. But C0 was censored for some reason, and this is what I ended up with.

A Weedle named "420 hes bi". Rather than try to explain this myself, I'll just leave this here.

A Kecleon named "TheGreatLeon". Sadly, he never dogfought with my Greninja.

An Oddish named "Evenish". I am a weak man.

A Skiddo NOT named "Gogoatse". Evidently, Gamefreak is wise to my tricks. Instead, its name is "Gogrohst", because I don't even know how to spell made up words.

A Spoink named "CaptainHooke". Because jokes about Hooke's Law and springs never go out of fashion.

A Hariyama named "E. Honda". 'nuff said

A Hawlucha named "El Fuerte". I traded this one to my friend. Unfortunately, I did not name any other Pokemon after Street Fighters.

A Streetcar named "Desire". Hahaha jokes.

A Mime Jr. named "Grady Jr.", and a Mr. Mime named "Grady Sr." This is really funny if you remember the names of all the people in Bastion.

A Miltank named "Teatmeat". One of the less pleasant combinations of words I've ever come up with.

An Electrode named "Elecchode". Easily the dirtiest thing I got past the censor.

A Magneton named "Bohr", because there is a real life physical constant called "Bohr's Magneton". This is because Physics is radical.

A Durant named "DurantDurant". Like those music guys

An Aipom named "Raipom". Jesus, whose idea was this?

A Minccino named "Crimson Chin". Because he's a Chinchilla

A Psyduck named "Diesuck". I'm actually surprised I was able to get away with this.

A Plusle named "Anode". I actually got this from a Wonder Trade, and I give the guy an A for effort, but the Anode is actually the negative one.

A Solosis named "Felix Walken", because I'd love to see you figure out why.

I hope that you enjoyed that as much as I loathed not being able to proceed until I gave the 4th new Pokemon on this route some stupid name that I'd just be ashamed of later. Seriously, there are a lot of damn Pokemon in this game.

Friday, October 11, 2013

X, Y, and Everything in Between

I've been giving a lot of consideration to X and Y recently, as I'm sure many of you have. And, I don't mean to brag, but I am something of an expert on these matters, and I totally do mean to brag. Since I'm such a respected authority of the field, I'm sure that many have been waiting to hear what I have to say. Well, fear not, my flock, for it is now by my immeasurable grace that you shall find yourself unnerved by how much I sound like some kind of creepy cultist. And so, without further ado, I will now start talking about math. Because, you know, variables.

Really? Sorry, doesn't ring any bells

But before that, I'd like to talk about arithmetic. Now, you may be wondering why I just slyly implied that arithmetic isn't math. It's because I don't believe that arithmetic is math. Well, not Real math, anyway. Saying that arithmetic is real math is like saying that singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees,  and Toes" is practicing medicine, or getting in a playground argument is practicing law, or that I ever practice the clarinet: Hilarious. And yet, despite how trivial and elementary arithmetic is, people still manage to mess it up, and the only proper response is to get really angry and tell everyone how wrong they are. Like so:

It's about to get pretty mad in here. Viewer discretion is advised.

 Yes, of course, I'm talking about one of these stupid goddamn PEMDAS things that you always see on Facebook. When I saw this, my first instinct as a math major was find some clever math way to turn this into something it clearly wasn't meant to be. (Well, 3x3 is clearly 0, because any vector crossed with itself is 0, HAHAHAHAHA I know things you don't) My second instinct, as an internet man, was to look at the comments, and feast on the bountiful harvest of rage laid out before me. Naturally, there were plenty of people getting 18, because the American education system has failed them, Big Government, Idiocracy, ect. Some even had the audacity strain the bonds of their shackles of ignorance, and accuse us, the Knights of the Twelve, of incorrectness. And while the foolishness of a fool too foolish to realize his own foolishness is sad indeed, it is no cause for mourning. Neither grief nor rage can bring them to the light, so steeped their souls are in darkness. They reside in a place from which there can be no return. The Lost Zone, I guess.

But it is not these, who have forgotten that which has been taught to them, who have me dismayed. It is those who remember the vile lies they have been taught, striking out against the light of truth, and thinking themselves agents of justice for it. It is The Cult of Six who are a truly pitiable lot. They are the fundamentalists of the Church of PEMDAS, taking its word for how it is stated, rather than for how it is meant.

PEMDAS, for those of you who have probably been very confused for a while now, is a mnemonic for remembering the order in which mathematical operations occur in a mathematical expression. It stands for Parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction. So if you have some mathematical expresion, operations in parentheses are evaluated first, then exponents, then instances of multiplication and division, then instances of addition and subtraction. Some common mnemonics for PEMDAS are “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” (The boring one that everyone knows), “People Expect More Drugs And Sex” (Randall Munroe, of XKCD fame), and “Passing Egregiously Makes Dunking Awesomely Satisfying” (A Havoc Mantis Original).

So if, for example, you have the expression 2*(9+1)-3^2+20/5, you would first do the addition in the parentheses to get 2*10-3^2+20/5. Then, square the 3 to get 2*10-9+20/5. Perform multiplication and division to get 20-9+4. And from there, the answer is clear as day, right? Of course! The answer, as can be clearly seen, is 7. Because in PEMDAS, subtraction comes after addition, so you add to get 20-13, which is 7.

Remember this? This is what you should look like right now.

If you are nodding your head in agreement, or thinking to yourself, "Well, gee-wiz, that Havoc sure is correct. Only a devastatingly witty and powerfully sexy person would be able to type something so correct at 3:30 in the morning." then I am terribly sorry to inform you that you are wrong. Well, not about the part where you lavished me with compliments, but the part where I was right. You see, I was actually pretending to be wrong. The real answer is 15. Also, the cameras that you use to keep constant surveillance on me must never have sprung forward, because it's actually 4:30. It's no big deal, since Daylight Savings Time changes back pretty soon, but I just thought I'd let you know.

I guess the point that I'm trying to get at is that in PEMDAS, addition and subtraction happen at the same time. There are those who have been deceived, and would let you be deceived, given the chance. They say that subtraction happens afterwards, and I have taken it upon myself to tell them that they are wrong, and endeavor to guide them to the path of righteousness. It's over there, guys.

The path of righteousness is your weapon in the zombie apocalypse. How screwed are you?

If it helps, just remember that subtracting a number is the same as adding that number times -1. The multiplication goes before the addition, and then you add the negative number the same way as you add any other number, going left to right. Division can be thought of the same way, as multiplying a number that is taken to the power of -1. Are we all on the same page here? Can I stop bitching about this? Awesome.

Well, remember when I said that I was going to talk about math, but first I'd talk about arithmetic? Well I only said that so I could make those jokes, because I don't think there's any actual math I can talk about without talking over everyone's heads, while simultaneously being funny or enjoyable in any way. Unless you want to play cross-product tic-tac-toe? (You do not want to play cross-product tic-tac-toe)

Having exhausted math, I suppose I'll see if I can undash your hopes and talk about Pokemon, as I kind of promised in the beginning. I don't really want to spoil too many things, for my readers or myself, so I'll avoid talking about too many Pokemon, but there are some issues that need to be addressed.

"Issue" may be a bit of an understatement

Now, for those of you who aren't already in the know, would you care to guess what this thing is? Well, yes, I agree that it is an "abomination", but I was hoping for something a little more specific. An alien? Not quite. The shattered fragment of an orphan's forgotten childhood? Almost. I'll give you its name: Espurr. That's right, this thing is supposed to be a cat. The real problem with this Pokemon is its waste of one of the greatest names in Pokemon, made only better by how much it sounds like something out of Virtue's Last Reward, what with its abundance of cat puns, but no other reason, because of spoilers. I cannot identify a single trait of its appearance that indicates that it is a cat. I'm told that apparently its ears have something to do with it? What about the fact that it clearly seems to have 6 legs? Or its eyes, which are more unbalanced than psychic type in 1st gen? Or its rippling chest hair, reminiscent of a friend I've decided to refer to as "Baja Blast"? Perhaps I should just move on to the next Pokemon.
When I said that I was typing at 4:30 in the morning, this was the reason I couldn't sleep.
This Pokemon is the dusk that draws the sanity of mortal men to its end. It is beautiful in Its terror, and It is terrible in Its beauty. It makes Its home outside the scope of humanity, far removed from that which has been crafted by human hands, and far removed from that which has been imagined by human minds. It is removed from the trappings of human description. It labors not for good or evil, for order or chaos, for hope or despair. Its song is sung in languages that cannot be understood. That must not be understood. To gaze upon It is to feel that a piece of you has gone missing, yet know that it was not taken. This void within you has existed since the beginning. It has only made you Aware. It is a perfect contradiction, embodying that which It is not, giving form to what could never be. It is the weight that must exist to counterbalance the laws of an ordered universe. It is the knower of all that cannot be known. It is that which existed Before, and that which will exist After. It is too fearsome to be feared, too lovely to be loved, and too powerful to be stopped. It hates not, it loves not, it feels not, it does not. It is. 

Gal Bursten it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I Guess This is a Gaming Blog Now

What's something you can say about your homework, but not your girlfriend?

"Is this due tomorrow?"

Well, that sure was a thing that I said during improv. Some rejected ideas were "I have no idea what the hell this all about" and "This thing exists in three dimensions." It was the idea of my secondary content manager to open up with that. She also wanted me to talk about dragons, so there you go. It's good stuff. On a totally unrelated note, I have ensnared a new content manager. Hopefully she'll give me something to talk about soon, because I'm just about out of material. Also, just in case you're wondering why all of my content managers are female, It's because my content managers are actually just all the females I know. And all the females I know, I met by telling them empty promises of how I'd make them an internet star. Like, you know those really shady people who lure young girls with promises of making it big in Hollywood? That's what I'm like.

Well, as it turns out, you can't just give someone a job without them knowing it, and make them do it. Something about a tall guy in a stovepipe hat. So disregard all those things I just said. Except for the Havoc Mantis Approved Method for Picking Up Chicks®. That's canon. It might also be cannon, but don't tell them that.

60% of the time, it works every time

Usually, when I blog a post, I write it about whatever I've been doing recently. The problem with this is that all I've been doing recently is video games and college stuff, and I don't particularly care to write about either of those. Instead, I guess I am opting to talk about why I will not talk about those things. The games I've been playing recently are Shin Megami Tensei IV and Fire Emblem Awakening. Trying to describe Shin Megami Tensei IV without spoiling anything would be akin to trying to navigate a minefield while wearing clown shoes. Except in this analogy, the mines are spoilers, and the clown shoes are a metaphor for my painful ineptitude at clearly expressing ideas (e.g. this analogy). Wikipedia beautifully demonstrates this with its use of the word "seemingly". Protip: If you say that something is "seemingly" something else, that means that it is actually not something else. For example: "Wikipedia is seemingly a trustworthy source of information where you can learn about things without spoilers, as long as you don't look too close at the plot summary." As far as Fire Emblem goes, I've done that before, and it wasn't pretty. Then again, someone who may or may not have been Albert Einstein said that "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Maybe if I try again, things will be different. And that's why I keep asking people to tell me things to write about.

Actually, screw it. Spoilers be damned. I'm going to say a few things about SMT IV. First of all, it's pretty damn good. If you're a fan of JRPGs, I recommend that you check it out. Playing the first three is not necessary, (or, indeed, even legal in the US, as no official English translation has been released for the first two) but I think that playing the first one before playing IV enhanced my experience in a number of ways. If you've read this far, and you're still wondering what the hell Shin Megami Tensei even is, allow me to back up and explain. Basically, it is an RPG series with a billion spin-off series, (including, most notably, Persona) and the most prevalent thing they all have in common is demons. In Shin Megami Tensei, you fight, summon, converse with, fuse, and ogle demons. In SMT IV, for example, there are over 400 demons, and almost every one is based on some monster, god, hero, or other being from real world mythology. It is, in essence, Mythology porn.

Perhaps in more ways than one

You know Grendel, the monster that Beowulf slays? He's in there. Kicked the shit out of me when I first met him. Remember The Lady of the Lake, the "watery tart" who gave Excalibur to King Arthur, formally abolishing democracy in England? What about the three fates of Greek Mythology, who can be fused together into the Norse Goddess of Mythology, because why the hell not? And if you've ever wanted to memorize the 9 orders of angels of Judeo-Christian Lore, then I think this game could certainly help you with that. What's that, you ask? Christian elements are included as well? Well, I don't want to get into too many spoilers, but I'll just say that I'd really like to know what would happen if you got one of those religious types who decry Harry Potter for promoting witchcraft, and got them to play this game. And, as an aside, playing this game while taking a class in Theology is not advised. Unless you are literally playing in the middle of lecture. That is a USDA choice idea.

 The United States Department of Agriculture is in no way affiliated with this asshole.

Well, now I've exhausted everything to say about that, but I'm not quite confident in how long this post is, so I'll talk about what it's like to be in college. Now, while it is true that I was in college last year, Jesus Christ this year is so much more college than last year. It probably has something to do with the fact that I'm taking real classes this year. Everyone always rolled their eyes at me when I implied that Calc I, Calc II, and Engineering Physics I aren't "real classes", but they're actually pretty easy when you've learned all the stuff before, even if you aren't a prodigy. But things ain't the same this year. It probably doesn't help that both my Calculus III and Principles of Math classes are taught by the same professor, whom I'll call “Dr. Marx” for the sake of anonymity, because he's the final boss of Math. (Everyone here's played Kirby Super Star, right?) He's a great teacher, but when he does math, he does it hardcore, and not many can keep up. Whenever he asks the class a question, it results in more awkward silences than a Doctor Who convention for the socially disadvantaged. Though I doubt Dr. Marx would approve of such a redundant statement. I also have a Physics professor who is not very good at explaining things, and I'm not very good at learning things from books, and everyone in my class has even less of an idea of what's going on than I do. The professor is also a woman, which I am mentioning despite the fact that it is in no way humorous or relevant. Which, looking back, could probably describe a lot of this post.