Author Topic: Pokemon Moon: Thoughts from someone in FAR too deep.  (Read 46417 times)

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Offline ClexYoshi

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Pokemon Moon: Thoughts from someone in FAR too deep.
« on: December 01, 2016, 10:40:09 PM »
So, I've been simultaneously giddy and dreading writing this piece. Without getting into the nitty gritty of things, Pokemon Sun and Moon are awesome. All the Gamefreak developed main line Pokemon games are awesome. If I throw any shade around in the following rambling essay on the merits of Sun and Moon, think of it in the same way as someone might come at say... Mega Man 7 or Rocky 5 or something. my analogy is bad, but... basically this is something i'd rather spend my time playing than a vast majority of what is on the Nintendo 3DS, and at the moment, I feel this game is leaps and bounds better than X, Y, Omega Ruby, and Alpha Sapphire.

If you are here expecting me to go over surface things like the overall style switch to proper proportioned models at all times or surface level changes like the nature of the island challenge or the alolan forme pokemon, you've come to the wrong place. (the place that hosts this fine little forum review) has not one but TWO reviews for the flagship titles in the seventh generation of pokemon, and both are fine for the avid consumer.

The purpose of this review is to lay out my in-depth thoughts on the ways that fledgling director Shigeru Ohmori took the franchise and to help those who have already bought the game better quantify their experience through the lens of an individual who is so deeply immersed in the mechanics of these games that they can give you an educated look into what is really going on under the hood. That being said, I feel that's about enough preamble to prepare you for the long and meandering ride ahead of you lot.

The push towards a world lived in.

I would be remiss if I didn't touch on the bit of the presentation that struck the strongest chord with me. It wasn't the machinations of evil teams or the drastic evolution of several of the cast members that resonate much stronger than the group of jobbers that followed you around in X and Y... what struck me the most is that this game finally gets over that bad uncanny valley hump that Pokemon has struggled with for years and years. Pokemon has always felt like an artifice because of the way everyone seems to ramble on about the critters. There's plenty of that here, don't get me wrong. This game though has something that normally isn't a part of this franchise at all besides one specific example in celadon city...

This is a world built for humans. there are clothes stores and salons and restaurants and tourism bureaus and golf courses that don't immediately cater to "Hey, aren't you an animal nut?!? you can totally stay here with your animals and bring your dog in for a haircut too and share food with your pet cat and blah blah blah!" Little things like the Pokemon centers having a spot where you can sit and have a brew for yourself while a creepy old man makes suggestive hand gestures at you  while you wait for the nurse to check out your pets adds to this (bonus points if you read the cafe guy's dialogue in the voice of Team Four Star's Mr. Popo or some other silly voice like that). Houses aren't cookie cutter any more. your character has strange commentary on other individual's beds as they try to lay in them... the only copy and pasted rooms in the game are rooms in a hotel chain and the uniform marina terminals at each island. I dunno, I'm just happy to finally see folks give a **** about something in the world of pokemon that isn't pokemon. also, seeing an actual super market in a pokemon game with pokemon branded food items struck this amazing cord with me too.

To understand the meat of what was added in, we must first understand what was cut out.

This is the part of this whole thing where I dig in on the steps backwards that have been taken so i can quantify what exactly is progressive about this game. not since Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald to Diamond/Pearl/Platinum has most of the feature set survived in the generational transition. Some of this is understandable to avoid feature bloat in a bad way, but there's quite a few times where the baby has went right out the window with the bath water.

Player Search System is gone. The replacement for PSS is not adequate nor acceptable. there were a few vestigial parts of PSS I could have lived without, but the easy organization of individuals to interact with at any time right there on the touch screen was Gen 6's greatest accomplishment. connecting with folks to battle or trade was such an incredibly easy thing to do. finding friends online was simple, The O-powers after enough use were potent and effective, and it kept track of folks you interacted with online in case you wanted to interact with them again. this could have been iterated on in a big way, and in stead we got by far Sun and Moon's worst feature to replace such a pivotal advancement in quality of life for Pokemon players.

Super training is gone. This is the second biggest sin. although there is... somewhat okay replacements on this front, Super Training did something very important for my play style. The Mini-game itself was a tad rubbish, what with the inexplicable premise of your pokemon getting mounted to a flying goal and trying to take their sweet revenge on the pokefloats stage from Super Smash Bros. Melee with weaponized footballs. The function of this mini game with being able to distribute Effort values to your pokemon in a way that would actually give the players numbers and with a graph was the first big step in making the gears that make pokemon tick transparent for the player to see, and thus making the mechanics that people bemoan are too complex accessable to the layman. Also, a couple of the bags that the mini-game would reward for your pokemon to cookie clicker to death had some really good effects, like EV reset. There really isn't universally accessible EV reset in Generation 7.

Triple Battle, Rotation Battle, and Hoarde Battle are gone. Granted, these were modes the games did a poor job of implementing into the main game in a meaningful manner, but both were actually fun, and in Triple Battle's case, the most efficient way to gather EXP thanks to the tweaks to the EXP formula in generation 6. These battle types were not removed because of some sort of fear of feature creep. A combination of poor optimization, listening to the criticisms leveraged against the poor performance of the X and Y engine, and the future-proofing of models that they weren't going to downgrade for the purpose of optimizing the hardware are our main culprits. see, The pokemon Models used by Pokedex 3D, X, Y, OR, AS, Sun, Moon, and Pokemon Go are all high polygon models that were rendered with use in HD in mind. this is so they wouldn't have to make new models when it came time to ditch the 3DS. that being said, the 3DS chugs MIGHTILY under the weight of these things. combined with rendering full environments AND trainers? they simply couldn't figure out a way to make it work wtihout the game devolving into single digit frame rates. Thankfully, they did have the insight to put in something almost as potent as Hoarde battle as far as training your pokemon goes.

Friend Safai, DexNav, Soaring, Mirage Spots are gone. These are all lumped together as ways to get obscure pokemon or get pokemon with hidden abilities and guaranteed perfect individual values. this all got lumped into one mechanic. Friend Safari is the one I was the biggest fan of, as I liked the sheer volume of pokemon that became available through it, and it made me eager for the first time to add 3DS friend codes in since they had a chance to generate Friend Safaris with rare pokemon. REALLY cool feature, but it's well and truly dead for now.

Sky battle, Inverse Battle, destructable environments, panoramic areas, grid based movement are out. These I've lumped together because little to nothing of true value is lost here. Panoramic areas seems like a dumb thing to include, but being able to go to lumiose city and holding right on the D-pad with a party full of eggs while looking away was a good way to hatch eggs. in spite of the more than ever dynamic approach, there's no such area where you can just hold one direction and circle around. all of these do take something from the game, but as I said, nothing of value was lost.

HMs, Flat EXP gain, used key items, Fish Chaining, Poke Radar, National Dex are all gone. These are things for the better. I know, arguing that methods of shiny hunting are gone is something I bemoaned at first, but... all these are things that got flat-out improved upon. fishing in general is better. not having to fill an 800+ pokedex for a shiny charm and just having the national dex as an update coming to Pokemon Bank is fine by me. The liberation of HMs is something EVERYONE is happy for, and heck... not even having to worry about itemfinder, Bike, Vs. Recorder, or the bloody awful Poke Radar is just amazing.

Hoo, that was a lot. The next bit is important though.

SOS; the single most defining game mechanic of Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon.

For something the PR material for this game didn't talk about and reviews don't go into depth, this is the thing that I've spent the most time dealing with. SOS battle is an essential part of this game, and it is the key ingredient to a lot of how Sun and Moon rewards it's most persistent players who look for reward far after the main campaign is over.

So, what is SOS battle? after the first trial on Melemele isle concludes and you've defeated your first totem pokemon who called for help, Ilima will off-handedly make a comment about the pokemon of alola being more inclined to help one another. This is the signal that SOS battle is now possible.

SOS Battle Occurs whenever a wild pokemon feels like they are in great peril. in between turns, they have a chance to make a desperate cry for help! depending on their remaining HP primarily, another pokemon may show up! This could be another member of the species or something in the evolutionary line, something that that species lives a symbiotic relationship with, or a predator, come to take advantage of already cornered prey. As per usual, you can only throw a pokeball if it's a one-on one affair... but allow me to explain deeper what exactly this does other than get you some rare pokemon or annoys the **** out of you because you just can't seem to get out of a battle!

A pokemon who is asleep or frozen will not call for help. if an Adrenaline orb is used out of your bag, it will double the call rate of the pokemon involved. if you faint the original pokemon, the partner can call in help, but only if they were of the same species as the original caller. these are about the only rules to your chances of keeping an SOS battle going or ending it. Oh, and you get none of the experience or Effort points if you run before you faint all enemy pokemon or perform a capture.

So, what are the benefits of SOS? well, I'm glad you asked, Hypothetical reader! for starters, any pokemon that isn't the original caller from the start of the battle will yield double Effort points. this is a multiplier on top of any hold item and pokerus bonus your pokemon give. along with a buff to the individual Power EVing hold items, it makes it possible to max invest in one stat by fainting a mere 7 enemy pokemon! since you're doing it all in one battle as well, you don't exactly need to rely on old methods of going to a specific route where pokemon that give out the EV of choice are the most common encounter.

In addition, the game keeps count of how many pokemon has come in as part of a single battle. as you continue to do this, you will start seeing such benefits as perfect IVs, Hidden abilities, and increased Shiny rate. these were features the friend safari and Dexnav provided, and before that Fish Chaining and the Pokefinder provided. you can now shiny hunt for almost anything you find in the wild now as long as it's willing to call for help and you have smartly prepared your team and your medicine for the long haul without any pause.

SOS battle is now the key to... really, everything you need for competitive battling. Does your pokemon have a way more rad hidden ability then it's normal ones? SOS chain! need to EV a new pokemon? SOS Chain! trying to amass an army of ditto with good IVs? SOS chain! looking for a rare pokemon? SOS Chain! want a shiny without having to rely on the uncanny luck it normally takes to naturally bump into one? SOS chain! Just have the leppa berries ready and be ready to switch off in case your opponent is out of PP and starts to struggle!

The barrier of entry is lower than ever, yet still stands as a nigh impregnable wall.

So many of the game's features SCREAM quality of life improvements meant to get folks playing more than just the main RPG. Many of the new Pokemon seem to be far more carefully crafted to be amazing doubles pokemon than ever before. Nerfs were made specifically to respond to the problems that plagued the Gen 6 Meta (RIP Talonflame, Mega Kangaskahn, Mega Pinsir, Mega Salamence, Mega Gardevior, Mega Altaria, Sylveon...) and more than ever before, it's possible to make your pokemon battle ready beasts.

Poke Pelago lets you idly give your pokemon EVs, make sure you have plenty of berries, and get items like the new bottlecaps passively even when you're not playing. the methods for getting effort values have been made much stronger. hitting Y in your pokemon's summary tells you it's Effort Value spread, and PC boxes give you full, proper summary of your pokemon just by hovering your cursor over them. the Stat Judge NPC has been turned into a function for the PC that gives you nice graphs to understand your pokemon's build. the NPC that tells you your pokemon's Hidden Power type is right there where you breed pokemon. Hyper Training now lets you correct imperfect stats on your pokemon and makes it powerful to have pokemon with perfect stats and with a hidden power type that compliments their movepool.

Yet with all this crazy advancement, they don't do the two most important parts of bridging this gap; Explain in game how all this stuff works and how to exploit it, and give raw numbers for all this! notice for EVs and IVs I said they give you graphs? great, that's a visual indicator of where my pokemon is, but it tells me NOTHING about exactly where they are so I can understand what I need to do to conitnue on. I have to learn about all this sort of stuff from the internet.

Pokemon is the series that conditioned me to look at the internet to learn about a game. over-complex crafting survival sim with obtuse mechanics? look at a wiki! suggested dark Souls builds? there's tons of Youtubers talking about that kind of stuff! Pokemon? goodness, go to the community because Gamefreak aren't going to help you with ****. they'll throw some sort of bullshit RNG at you instead that you either have to brute force or just plain cheat to get to the real meat and potatoes of the game, which is bettering yourself at utilizing your pokemon rather than simply getting builds together that work! So much of Sun and Moon still requires you to put in a ton of time and get lucky. the game gives out bottle caps a woefully slim number of times. for all the things SOS battle increases the chances of, it doesn't set **** in stone and doesn't give you the info to know if you're wasting your time or not with what you're about to throw your ball at... it's why people will continue to cheat.

To be continued...

I realize this hasn't been the best organized, and that's because I'm woefully tired at the moment. I'll be making a second post tomorrow. Perhaps I'll even use less profanity. anyhow, thank you if you struck through and read up to this point.

Offline Evan_B

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Re: Pokemon Moon: Thoughts from someone in FAR too deep.
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2016, 12:05:12 AM »
I'm going to be honest: Pokemon Sun was a rather straightforward, uninteresting, and bland experience for me, and I believe the character models can agree. Their lifeless smile really made me notice not only how ineffectual and inconsequential my character was in the storyline of the game, but also how boring the series has become, as well. This did not make me want to play the game further after having beaten the Elite Four, and it certainly did not get me excited about trying to IV/EV train in this latest installment.

I think the main issue with this is how Game Freak managed to pair an absolutely fascinating way of getting superior Pokemon with one of the most aggravating first playthrough mechanics. Yes, I'm talking about the SOS system. As someone who could not be bothered to fight Pokemon I didn't want on my team during the first run through Alola, this mechanic was annoying and unwelcome, and best saved for Trials. I also think Fishing is much less rewarding because of its segmented application.

Most of all, though, the continuous removal of good ideas and the complete alteration of old mechanics for the sake of pushing new gimmicks just leaves me exhausted and not all that interested in attempting to create new, competitive teams. I am a monotype team builder with a focus on Fighting, Dark, and Grass, and while Grass did receive some interesting additions and new mechanics, Fighting and Dark have suffered even more with the introduction of better Ghost, Fairy, and Psychic types. This is upsetting, and it doesn't want to make me play further.

I'll admit, I was initially quite excited for this game, but it has left me questioning my faith in the series, as well as my ability to continuously get engaged in it. I recently played through Tokyo Mirage Sessions and Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, and while the former isn't much of a monster-catching title, the latter is, and it's sure as hell better than Pokemon Sun by a long shot. I don't like the SOS mechanic and its needless amount of preparation for a long, arduous slog of a Pokemon battle, I don't like how EVs are mapped, forcing me to go from records kept on my 3DS back to spreadsheets, and I don't like how nonsensical and non-protagonist-centered the narrative structure of the game is.
I am a toxic person engaging in toxic behavior.

Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: Pokemon Moon: Thoughts from someone in FAR too deep.
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2016, 11:02:56 AM »
Before getting into the nitty gritty of today's segment of the review, I'd like to first point out that I understand and partially agree with Evan_B's assessment. The protagonist might as well not have a face given they have the emotional range of the Animal Crossing villager... at the same time, Mario, Link, and many other Nintendo protagonists might as well be the same way. Nintendo takes this stance on having avatars for the player rather than characters that are complex and deep.

As for Dark Types, they just got a HUGE buff in the form of immunity to Prankster. Yes, Fighting got the short end of the stick, but it's not like fighting types are bad, and two of the best pokemon introduced this generation in the form of Buzzwole and Pheramosa do plenty to elevate their respective typings.

otherwise, Yeah, SOS is simultaneously a huge hastle and a boon.

Now that that response is out of the way though... let's get into today's thoughts on some other things the game gets right and wrong.

The Festival Plaza, or as I like to call it, UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!!!!

What's the most important aspect of these pokemon games for their longevity as a game? Trading and Battling. it's what kept folks playing on the playground, it's how they get away selling multiple skews of the same game... it's everything, and while the local method of the quick link is fine, all the online connectivity (you know, the way a vast majority of us tend to play pokemon with others these days?) is buried under an awful feature that requires you stop whatever you were doing to enter, take an NPC dialogue driven tutorial that tells you jack **** of how the festival plaza works, and then FINALLY lets you leave or use the basic functions that the PSS provided, along with all the endless bloated garbage attached to this mechanic.

So, what all do you do in the festival plaza? Well, you have the big trade and battle buttons, but those only work Locally. y'know, the very functions that the Quick Connect provides? the only time you would use festival plaza over quick connect for local play is if you're at a convention or trying to conduct a Pokemon trade at the train platform for Shinjuku station. there's a separate button in the corner for turning on Wifi, which seems to take longer than turning on WiFi did in the games with PSS because of the lengthy attempt to communicate with the Global Link service to perform game sync. (by the way, the Global Link got gutted too. I may get into that in a part three to this review)

So, say for example... you went through the process of getting a pokemon for an online friend of yours and you want to trade it to them. You'd think just registering them to your 3DS friends list would set them aside so the game would let you easily access friends when they're online, right?

Why you gotta be such a spoil sport, Dean?!?

While havin someone on your friend list does tag them as such, they're just mixed in with the riff raff; a list of trainer names that needs to be manually refreshed like a moron jamming on the F5 on their keyboard at trying to get themselves an NES Classic Mini this holiday season (heh, topical humor!) until you see your friend's trainer pop up among the riff raff! then you can trade or battle them.

Now, at this point, the PSS system of old would have set aside trainers you've interacted with online or off and allowed you to easily access them again via the acquaintances list. Surely this makes a return, right?!?

... apparently I ran out of budget and couldn't afford Mr. Ambrose to say "Nope!" in the form of a youtube video again. le sigh.

There is a system where you can mark players as VIPs in the festival plaza, but you do this by manually finding them among the crowd of folks, or if you've interacted with them, they might be inside the magical empty Disney castle in the center of the plaza. at that point, you may mark them as a VIP and have them on a separate list where you can see if they're online without having to refresh the list of trainers, which can't possibly be everyone connected to the server at once.

The festival plaza would be bad enough as a worse version of the PSS, but it's SOOOO much more...

WTF does this low rent Wally World actually do for me?!?

The real crime is how much stuff is hidden behind this sectioned off part of the game and it's grindy, repetitive tasks. see, several stalls are set up around your disney castle in the festival plaza, and the quality of these stalls  and what they do is randomized for every single player. generally, they come in the following catagories.

Lotto shop: These will spit out a random item every day. Bar none the best stall to have if you don't want to grind for festival coins beyond what it takes to fill your festival plaza with these. These also tend to be the best source for rare items like the elusive golden bottle cap! obviously, the more you have around, the more chances you have at winning something that isn't a berry juice or an ultra ball.

Ghost House: a lesser version of the Lotto shop. you actually have to pay coins for this, and you send your pokemon into the haunted mansion and they come out with a random item! the prize pool is slimmer than the lotto shop, and I suppose what pokemon you send in might influence it, but there's no real way to know and as far as I know, no guide has properly documented the best way to game these things.

Bounce Houses: these re a game you can make your pokemon play to get a small sum of effort values in exchange for festival coins. by the way, a lot of these stalls are once every 24 hour dealies, but i think Bounce Houses might not be. haven't done enough testing here to really tell, honestly.

Dye Shoppes: this is an almost useless stall. if you've bought any clothes in white, you can use berries or a large sum of Festival coins to dye your clothes shades that aren't avialable via the main campaign of your pokemon sun or moon versions. usually, dyes made from berries will take about 20 to 40 berries of rare berry types, so uh.... best be using the poke pelago to grow those!

Item Shoppes: spend sums of festival coins (did I mention festival coins are tedious to grind for?) on packs of mundane items you can just get for a wad of Pokeyen at any mart.

Fortune Tellers: They tell you which one of your other stalls in the plaza will give you good RNG on this day. they also will sometimes give you new things you can have your trainer say when they're sent to other festival plazas if you pay enough FC.

Restaurants: these are probably the most important stalls one could have, as the high level stalls have a chance of providing food that will max the effort values of a single stat or have the ever important effect of EV reset! you can only have one pokemon dine per 24 hours, it costs FC, and your pokemon is not allowed to dine if it has maxed out happiness, so better take your pokemon to get the **** kicked out of it or feed it energy roots before using this stall!

What stalls you get is random every time you level up the festival plaza. you level up the festival plaza by grinding for FC. you grind for FC by talking to passers by with red speech bubbles. talking to folks with blue ones just lets you see their battle spot records, pester them to buy the clothes off their back, or buy a random stall in their festival plaza for waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much FC.

You can also grind FC by partaking in missions that allow you to talk to more NPCs within a time limit to grind for FC. a lot of the Festival plaza is just pushing past inane NPC dialogue. not even good NPC dialogue like a trainer or a team skull member might have, no. NPC dialogue that feels like it was put together by a speak n' spell. the tens of thousands of FC it takes to grind your Festival plaza up to the point of having good stalls and all the features is just... amazing. I will take SOS battle ANY day of the week over Festival plaza.

oh, and the NPC that trades stone shard items for Bottlecaps is in the festival plaza. I suppose that's worth noting.

A vacation at the PokePelago. which is pronounced like "Archipelago" but with "Po-ke" in front of it.

If the Festival Plaza is a skinner box designed to make you go insane far before you can reap any real benefits from it, then Pokepelago is the skeleton of a mobile game shoved forcibly into Pokemon. while it is entirely a timer based feature that doesn't have a "pay to make the timer go away!" button, it does have immediate, tangible results.

The beans you feed your pokemon for Pokemon refresh and get from Cafes are your main currency here en masse, beans can be exchanged for motivating your pokemon in whatever of the 5 islands you chose to leave them. they can also be used to upgrade the islands themselves. it took me a little under a week and a half to get all the island upgrades in place to maximize their production of resources for the main game. it should also be noted that your island upgrades are also gated by how many pokemon are in your box, so uh... do yourself a favor and catch 'em all or at least perform mass breeding to make these requirements a non-issue.

Isle Abeans is the default island for the pelago. it produces more pokebeans, and beans of higher quality that can be split into smaller beans, or fed to your pokemon via pokemon refresh to make them fall in love with you forever for sharing with them the nectar and ambrosia of the gods. Wild pokemon sometimes show up here as well to come and blatantly mooch off of you.

Isle Aplenny replaces the old berry farms of previous games. having access to this at all times and not having to tend to the berries to ensure good harvest is a godsend, and makes it easy to stock up on helpful berries at the very least.

Isle Aphun basically spits out items every day. these can be the stone shards you randomly get for trading in for bottle caps, or it can be bottle caps, evolutionary stones, or any item you can think of that'd be based on a mineral in a pokemon games. probably the most boring of these islands.

Isle Evelup is VERY important. you assign pokemon in your boxes to stays there, and depending on how much you've leveled the island up, you can have those boxed pokemon gain levels daycare style, or more importantly, passively gain EVs. you can EV train up to 18 pokemon  while your 3DS is off, and that alone I feel makes the pelago a worthwhile addition to the game, even if it's a very slow process. 63 play sessions on a fully upgraded Isle Evelup is the magic number you need to maximize investment in a single stat for a pokemon.

Isle Avue is a hot spring for your pokemon to relax in. this will passively raise happiness, and also auto-hatches eggs you cna't be bothered to run around in circles to hatch yourself. cheers. <3

The pelago is a lot less involved, and yet I feel you get so much more out of it.

The garbage that can be ignored.

There's so many features that are awesome in each pokemon game that get pulled away, but there are those that people simply forget; fun distractions at best and bloated and useless additions at worst. these are your surfing pikachu mini games, your Pokemon Contests, your poffin making, Pokeathelon, Pokestar studios... Sun and moon is no different. heck, probably every last thing I talk about in this post will be victims of getting cut out from your next games in the series. a vocal minority will miss what I am about to list off. I will not.

The pokefinder is a by and large useless thing put in the game to satiate the appetite of nostalgic millennials that thirst for one of the first pokemon spinoff titles. it however, does little to capture the spirit of Pokemon Snap. there's plenty of grinding for likes like you're some sort of instagram junkie, but there is no true point. the most you get out of this mini-game is some photos on your SD card, a begrudging implimentation of 3D into this 3DS game (by the way, no street pass in this game!), and if you snapped a photo of something you haven't caught yet, you get a seen marker in your pokedex so you can see where this pokemon tends to appear. I also really don't appreciate the game Memeing all over me while using the Pokefinder.

Yeah... that's a thing that happened... MOVING ON!

The QR scanner and Island Scan. The QR scanner lets you get seen credits in your pokedex and build up a meter. charges for scanning QR codes are on a timer, and when you've scanned 10, you may activate Island Scan! For an hour after island scan is activated, and depending on the island activated on and day of the week, you'll get a wild pokemon that isn't in the Alola Dex! it is nice to be able to get legal Johto and Unova starters inside luxury balls and beast balls, but... otherwise, it's mostly throw away. I'm pretty sure that because the island scan pokemon aren't in the alola dex that they're illegal for use in VGC, and Smogon has already banned Aegislash again because it too stronk.

The Zygarde cell mess. HOLY WOW, the Zygarde Cell mess. on one hand, I'm glad they decided to make you work for your free legendary pokemon, but Zygarde and it's various formes are kinda overcomplex. it's interesting havingg a pokemon you can essentially break apart and reform at your leisure to get different natures and IVs each tiime you reassemble it, but having to go around and get all the individual legos for this monstrosity all over the world is a bit much. Zygarde 100% is at least ridiculously good when you give it rest, Sleep talk, Thousand Arrows, and Coil/Dragon Dance. it's basically like if Blissey had good offensive and physical defensive stats. Pokemon formes tend to stick around, although usually they find ways to abridge them in future titles, so... expect the hunt for the Zygarde cells to go away, but for a full Zygarde cube that can construct and deconstruct Zygarde to be a regular feature.

Pokemon Refresh: The new EXP Share to destroy game balance.

The Sequel to pokemon-amie recieved just enough tweaks to make it a mass-exploitable feature that players will ban in their challenge runs. although it goes a great way to showing off pokemon's personalities through cute animations and a hand icon that gets brutalized in various ways for touching pokemon it really shouldn't, the 4 big changes to Refresh from Amie have gone leaps and bounds to make this feature broken.

For starters, the simple prompt for care after battles. it's a small thing, but having a reminder to use the feature after battle goes a long way in making the player use it more often. it reminds you that you can care for your pokemon after every scuffle, and goes a long way to building that affection.

Care removing status ailments is a HUGE part of game balance. this all but eliminates the need for status healing outside of battle considering that dabbing your pokemon for 15 seconds not only saves on those items, but also ups affection. (by the way, affection and happiness are two different things. a lot of players don't realize that.) Considering outside of the early parts of the game, I always had a pokemon with aeromatherapy in the party, I pretty much was able to turn all my status healing items into more money to fuel my bid to buy a ton of clothes I will never wear.

the removal of fun related mini-games and face recognition. the two parts of amie that drove me away from the feature are gone now, so that makes me more willing to use it, especially given the fact that the features that replace it are much quicker to take advantage of.

and finally, the potency of Beans vs. the cupcake things from X and Y. Particularly, the Rainbow beans that Poke Pelago produces. they will instantly bring your pokemon from affection level 0 to level 3. at level 3, your pokemon can get extra critical hits, dodge attacks that they normally shouldn't be able to, have a higher critical hit ratio, and get an EXP boost. this single feeding of a rainbow bean will pretty much make your pokemon far more potent for the rest of the main game. far more of my pokemon have maxed affection than in X and Y because I literally feed them 2 rainbow Beans and I never have to touch them in pokemon refresh again. of course, I do like to pet and care for them and see how they happily react so... there's that.

Z Power and thinking outside the box.

Many reviews I've read have declared that Z moves are a well balanced or even an underwhelming thing where they seem to not do as much damage as people expect. I'm here to tell you that's because these individuals simply did not do enough experimentation with thier Z-move of choice.

The important thing is that Z moves add additional base power to the move you're about to perform, and get rid of extra effects of the move. this is very important to consider considering that many of the most powerful moves in Pokemon have strong drawbacks to them; the charge time on Solar Beam and Sky Attack, the recharge for Hyper Beam/Giga Impact, the sacrifice required to use Explosion, the multi-target on earthquake that effects allies. these all have existing work-arounds in the forms of hold items or some sort of setup that requires additional turns, but Z Crystals give you a single shot of a power boosted version of these potent attacks. That, of course, isn't even the most potent application of Z power.

Where Z-moves TRULY shine are the support Z moves. Z-splash, for example, is a better attack boost than Swords Dance. essentially a physical version of tail glow. Z-belly drum fully restores your HP and then performs the belly drum attack, meaning you can belly drum more than once per battle or even use it as a way to restore your health after you've boosted yourself to maximum attack. Z-Geomancy when it becomes available will be a FRIGHTENINGLY devastating boosting move, putting the likes of Smeargle and Xerneas at +1 attack, +1 Defense, +3 Special Attack, +3 Special Defense, and +3 Speed. Eevee's Extreme Evoboost is equally as awesome. Silvally is actually being used more with Darknium-Z than any of it's memory discs because Parting Shot not only lowers the foe's offensive capabilities and switches in a new pokemon, but it also fully heals whatever comes in instantly. these sorts of power plays are what can swing a competitive battle's momentum back in the favor of the player, and that excites me way more than over-designed and gimmicky mega evolutions that break the game.

In the next part of the review, I'll be discussing the quality of the new pokemon in a generalized sense, balances done to old pokemon, and deeper thoughts on the game's scenario, the alola region, and the level design therein. until then...

To be continued...

Offline Oedo

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Re: Pokemon Moon: Thoughts from someone in FAR too deep.
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2016, 10:27:02 PM »
Getting to this a bit late but it's been a good read so far.

I agree that the world-building in these games is superb. In addition to all the things you mentioned about this being more of a world for humans, I really like Poke Pelago as a place for Pokemon to live outside of a Pokeball or PC. I usually start filling out my Pokedex more towards the end of the game, but I found myself wanting to catch more Pokemon in the beginning just so I could create (and expand) the islands. It definitely seems like Game Freak made a conscious effort to build a complete world for both humans and Pokemon, and I really love that aspect of these games.

SOS Battles were something I enjoyed on the surface, but I didn't realize they were that pivotal to the game. I did find it neat that Pokemon could call for other Pokemon in their evolutionary line (like Eevee calling for an Umbreon) or even for different Pokemon altogether (like Riolu calling for Chansey), but I didn't realize the mechanic went that deep. I might actually try to encounter a Shiny for the first time now.

You got the core of why I've never gotten into EV/IV training and breeding (or, to be honest, never even fully understood what that entails) at the end of your first post. Part of it is that, as you can probably tell from my posts, I continue to enjoy Pokemon on mostly the same level as I did when I was a kid, so I kinda don't want to "know too much." But if Game Freak did an adequate job of explaining how these mechanics work in the games themselves, I probably would have put more of a focus on that part of the series by now.

I don't think I've visited the Festival Plaza even once past the 20 hour mark. I thought the stalls might be more useful for people who are into the deeper mechanics of Pokemon games but, aside from a couple of exceptions, it sounds like that really isn't the case. I was hoping to at least get some fun mini-games out of this feature. As you alluded to, Poke Finder doesn't do a good job of filling that role either. At least the Dye House stall sounds kinda neat; I think I'll go back and check that one out.

I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the game a lot, overall. I'm in the same boat, albeit for some different reasons. Thanks for going into detail about things like SOS Battles and the Festival Plaza stalls; I learned quite a bit about those from reading your first two posts!
« Last Edit: December 14, 2016, 10:28:48 PM by Oedo »

Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: Pokemon Moon: Thoughts from someone in FAR too deep.
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2016, 03:57:45 AM »
so, now that I'm firmly in a position where my Pokemon Moon experience is boiling down to a lot of this:

I think I'm ready to return to this review. sorry about the long delay!

Lazy laid-back alola...

One of the most telling things to me was how in interviews that Morimoto very clearly stated that he was trying to spotlight all of Pokemon rather than let the focus fall strictly to what was new in Alola. This was executed in two different ways... first and foremost was making the new pokemon generally rarer or tying them in some sort of relationship with a pokemon from another generation, and it was done via the way new pokemon are made.

I remember reading in a 4chan thread that of base stat totals of pokemon on average, the alolan class (not including alolan formes) ranks in at second to lowest next to Johto. Power Creep is really not something that is all that present in this set of pokemon. the worst of these stats on average is speed though. If you take the 82 new pokemon introduced in alola, you'll find that only 10 of them crack the coveted base 100 speed tier. 5 of those fall into the catagory of being legendary/Ultra Beast/Mythic, and 2 of those are alternate forms of pokemon. Comfey is base 100, and so that leaves Ribombee and Salazzle as the only two pokemon that can consistently outspeed the majority of pokemon. everything else falls into your no-man's-land of base 60's or 70's where they're too slow to outspeed anything without a choice scarf and too fast to operate under trick room and outspeed slower stuff. there's also lots of pokemon that speed tie Slowbro or are even slower. Heck, Pyukumuku ties Shuckle for worst speed ever, and Wishiwashi usurps Sunkern for the dubious honor of the worst Base Stat Total of all time!

At the same time, however, it'd be foolish to write off the alolan pokemon as being total garbage. A lot of the niche roles that the Alolan Pokemon fill are things they do better than most pokemon out there. so many of them come with things baked into them meant to directly counteract common meta strategies like clearing entry hazards or fending off priority moves with ease. Bewear might just be one of the most effective physical tanks they've ever introduced, rivaling the prowess of Blissey with how little damage it seems to take from physical moves. Oranguru seems to be the perfect storm of everything that's been good in VGC as a support pokemon in the past several years barring lightningg rod and having a way to consistently put everything on the board to sleep. Toxapex is one of my new favorite pokemon, a Nigh impregnable bastion of poison and attrition...

The designs are wonderful too, but... that's more of an opinion thing than everything I've presented thus far. The Ultra beasts are on point with being simultaneously disturbing and amazing, and nothing is overdesigned outside of myabe Bruxish... overall this is a consistent batch of pokemon... if you're willing to deal with that consistency being slow as sin, that is.

Let's talk dialogue

As I watch let's plays and relfect on my own experiences with the game, it dawned on me that the narrative of Lusamine's insane family issues or the island challenge wasn't the thing that makes this game or it's characters compelling. it's soemthign Black and White flirted with a bit, but it's really on the forefront here, which is the flavor of the writing. the characters feel consistent, and it's the extra bits of flavor that stand out... from Kukui's consistent exlamations, Hau's reflection of just how laid back Alolan life is, or... little things like how your character feels the need to lay in people's beds and then describe them or the dialogue for when I pokemon pulls out an item for you. there's a point on akala island where a magmar pulls a Quick Ball out from... somewhere. The characters are what are strong here, and that strengh comes from reinforcing them by having them show up more often, and for making their dialogue a distinct part of them.

The evolution of Lillie's character is probably where this is biggest. "BACK IN THE BAG NEBBIE" memes aside, Lillie starts the game off feeling incredibly rigid and awkward, asking you strange questions on weather you dress yourself or not and commenting about her misunderstandings of Pokemon Battle and being a trainer and how she's taken aback by seeing something that by and large is a natural thing kids do in this universe. She loosens up so much throughout the journey. even after her big design change and her attempts to become more adventurous, there's still the awkward little portable pokemon center of a lady there, but she grows so much, and watching her grow the way she does is what creates the emotional bond you have with her, Nebbie, and a lot of what goes on during the main narrative of Pokemon Sun and Moon.

I think I may be out of things to talk about...

I could rail on Battle Royal being potentially worse designed than Triple Battle or Rotation battle ever was, the bullshit that is the battle tree, the fun little Ultra beast and Island Guardian post game romp is or on the stupid obscurity there is to get some pokemon for dex completion, but... well, this 'review' has nitpicked enough.

Pokemon Sun and Moon are the return to form I was looking for. Maybe not as amazing as say... BW2, and I think there are HUGE missteps that were taken here, but Overall I think gamefreak pulled things off here. I'm not going to reccomend the game or not because this was intended for folks who can make that decision on their own. this review was not for the new pokemon fan, but maybe the lapsed one as I was... and I'm not talking about Genwunner lapsed fan, I'm talking about someone who truly loves the series and had a falling out with maybe BW or XY. If you folks have any more questions, I'll be glad to come back to this thread and answer.

In the meantime... keep that Circle Pad smokin~! Round n' round n' round n' round on my Tauros I go...

Offline ClexYoshi

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Re: Pokemon Moon: Thoughts from someone in FAR too deep.
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2017, 01:40:57 AM »
The quick post-bank Addendum.

There's a couple of things I've found I can add to my review now that Pokemon bank is out and Gamefreak has announced how they intend to distribute the Mega Stones that got the axe in Pokemon Sun and Moon.

First off, a couple of additional frustrations with the awful garbage that is the Festival Plaza.

The Global Mission bit in the plaza is incredibly obtuse. it simply does not keep records for all trainers, but rather requires that you check in with an NPC in the inside of the castle of the festival plaza, a lenghy game sync to register to participate, and for you to check in with the NPC again before the end of the event to actually CONTRIBUTE to the global mission. you also have to check in again whenever the mission finishes to get more stuff.

I also find it offensive that the Festival Plaza can't get more than one level up at a time, and that Festival coins earned en masse (like the several thousand you get deluged with if you happen to be on the winning side of a global mission) do not count towards more than the current level of the castle you are on, and all the overflow just gets wasted.

I hope you like playing multiplayer against scummy randos online...

You know how Fell Stinger and Leech Life potentially make Mega Beetrill into this crazy powerful dealer of death now because of the power bump both of these moves got? well, I hope you like playing VGC! the only way to get Mega Stones that were omitted from the battle Tree is by entering battle competitions! and... while it seems like it may just be entry that's required, that's still something that players are expected to keep up with the game to get! If you haven't yet, register! you've only got a couple of days left to get your Mawilite and Beedrillite!

The Pokemon Bank update...

I suppose I'm getting a bit into another game or application or three with this, but... The Pokemon Bank update, while functional, is less than ideal. it seems to actually read the data for the national dex function from the copies of the linked games. this means that restarting my X version at this point would nuke my national dex, which is a shame because I was looking forward to being able to do that. for obvious reasons, the transfer between generations is a one-way street. I do wish that the IV Judge of Sun and Moon got bank intigration, but as far as I know, that doesn't seem to be the case. there is a pretty big elephant in the room I have to address, however...

on The 6th Day, Arceus did say to the Poke Transporter...

Hoo boy, that's a Shwarzenegger reference I didn't think I'd be making! Anyhow, Poke Transporter was also patched to interact with the Virtual Console Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow versions of Pokemon in their many various languages! These pokemon all have their hidden abilities automatically (SUCK IT, MACHAMP CHEESE!) and... something else quite startling.

The pokemon fed from the VC games to the bank come out completley different. Although these pokemon bear the nickname, moves, and the original trainer data, these are very much entirely different beasts. It's no secret that the fundamental formulas used to determine the data in every pokemon got completley rewritten in Ruby and Sapphire versions, and that was the reason for the incompatability there... well, fans have come up with formulas to at least approximate the pokemon that underwent the shift, and hacks to move gen 1 and 2 pokemon to GBA roms and up. maybe it's not 100% consistent, but your pokemon for the most part remains your pokemon in spirit, with all of it's EXP, Effort Values, and an approximation of it's individual values.

The 'official' formula pretty much obliterates this data, assigns new IVs (several of them being perfect much like a pokemon obtained from a high SOS chain) and eliminates everything else. gender is determined by some of the new data generated, and strangely enough, you can control the nature based on how much EXP your pokemon had before it got transferred. of course, that will get reset to whatever the base EXP value for that level is when the transfer happens... but yeah, When you send your pokemon through RePoke, don't expect to get the same pokemon on the other side.

Also, the same sort of checks that all other online pokemon services use are used to check the validity of pokemon coming from the gen 1 games, so... No M', Missingno, 9f, or other horrible abomination glitch pokemon that allow you to perform ACE in 7th gen. besides, pokemon like that in 3rd gen and beyond just become BADEGG, and uh... you don't want BADEGG, trust me.

Unfortunatley, this also means it checks to see if any Mew you may have obtained have a very specific OT. this means that... for the most part, mew glitch mews are a no-go, but what WILL work is if you say... do Item Underflow or glitch city or something to edit your Trainer ID, you could technically make 'legit' mews for yourself using Mew Glitch, but that's a lot of work.

Offline Phil

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Re: Pokemon Moon: Thoughts from someone in FAR too deep.
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2017, 12:46:31 AM »
Great insights, Clex! I haven't played a mainline Pokemon game in full since HeartGold, despite owning X, Alpha Sapphire, and now Sun. I wish to get into the latter very soon!
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Offline Wah

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Re: Pokemon Moon: Thoughts from someone in FAR too deep.
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2017, 06:21:43 AM »
Great insights, Clex! I haven't played a mainline Pokemon game in full since HeartGold, despite owning X, Alpha Sapphire, and now Sun. I wish to get into the latter very soon!
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Offline rygar

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Re: Pokemon Moon: Thoughts from someone in FAR too deep.
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2017, 04:38:29 PM »
This is a great read Clex, thanks. I've also been using Strider Hiryu now that I'm exploring the X/AS/Moon post-games, and he's been wrecking shop, so double-thanks.

I can understand your frustrations with Festival Plaza. I think it was designed with filthy casuals like me in mind. With the exception of wonder trading which I am a huge fan of, I hadn't used any of the PSS features in XY or ORAS. I don't have GTS level stocks yet and I haven't developed any interest in competitive battling (part is the barrier to entry, part is that I think it would ruin the relaxed style of play I have been enjoying). The type challenges and grinding for shop upgrades has me "interacting" with far more players. I think these small interactions help more passive players develop a better sense of belonging to the larger community. That being said, I would love a return of the PokeNav Plus with the next game.

Offline Wah

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Re: Pokemon Moon: Thoughts from someone in FAR too deep.
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2017, 10:20:28 PM »
I want Pokealthon back! :'(
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