Soul Swapped Challenge: Episode One

What if you took Soul Silver, and changed all of the rules? And what if by changing all of the rules, all I meant was randomizing the Pokemon in the game? That’s what the Soul Swapped Challenge is, because I just made it up. How random is it? Well, Zoey, our trainer (male character, female identity) chose Swalot as her starter. That Swalot has the ability “Cute Charm” which causes infatuation on contact. So this purple blob of a Pokemon that many consider a simple glutton is actually quite the charmer! That’s when I decided to commit to doing a Soul Swapped run.

When that Swalot grew up to Level 6, it had the opportunity to learn Captivate, a move that targets Pokemon of the opposite gender into lowering their Special Attack. Look at this fancy dude, he’s all about stirring up romance! Unfortunately, among Stealth Rock, Softboiled, Poison Jab, and Gastro Acid, I couldn’t find a spot in Swalot’s moveset for Captivate – as funny as it would have been.

I’ve never used a Swalot before, and perhaps I always thought it a second-rate Muk, but only a half hour into my game, I’ve grown to love this guy. Appropriate that Soul Silver is where I fell in love with Muk, that I’d come to like another Poison-type here in Soul Swapped. Swalot just straight-up roars at everything he sees, and hits it with the Poison Jab all ninja-like, despite his amorphous blobby physique.

The man who lives on Route 30 who isn’t Mr.Pokemon is trying way too hard to impress Zoey, giving her a bunch of nonsense about Apricorns and Apricorn Boxes and yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever Mr. Non Pokemon – we have a Togepi Egg to retrieve. Then again… it might not be Togepi in the egg. On next week’s episode: Zoey gets an Egg!



What’s Up? (3/26/14)

It shouldn’t be any surprise to you that I’m writing after 3AM once again. But why? Why not go to bed if there’s nothing else that you need to do? Perhaps I just feel like it, or perhaps I’m writing here so late at night/early in the morning because I need to. That could explain why I don’t chose sleep over voluntary writing; the writing is not voluntary, it is a necessity.

What must I write that is so important that I absolutely need to lose thirty minutes of sleep over it? Well, it’s good news! Yes, good news that perhaps makes me a tad bit nervous, and a whole lot of excited. It’s such good news, that perhaps, I dare not go deeper into explaining it for fear that I jinx it. For what it’s worth, I’ll hint that a problem expressed in a recent edition of What’s Up? may finally be coming to an end.

Oh I know, I’m being a tease right? There are some things I can tell you about though! I finally had a chance to hear Dr. Lisa Brush speak on something; that something being Women in the Workforce. A presence during Gender Sexuality & Women’s Studies programs, she’s always asked interesting questions – and last night she also proved to be an interesting speaker. I also ran into somebody who, perhaps I wish I hadn’t run into, because whenever I do – I think about inviting her to hang out, even when exiling her from my life would probably be easiest. Finally; in a screwed up world where I somehow have four simultaneous games of Pokemon in my life (Pokemon Silver,  Twitch Plays Pokemon Emerald, Pokemon Black 2, and Pokemon Y), I’ve found the most joy in creating mono-type teams in Pokemon Y. The ability to access an easy-to-use Global Trade System, and the diverse Kalos region, has made assembling a Water-type team a few weeks ago, and a Fairy-type team yesterday fun, and as challenging as I want it to be.

Sometimes I feel embarrassed about how relevant Pokemon is in my life, as somebody turning 21 soon; and somehow the words of somebody I don’t even like ring true in my head. He said something along  the lines of, “not giving up something you love as a false gesture of your maturation,” and while again, I kind of hate this guy – he’s right in a way. The “mature” thing for me to do is accept and embrace that I’m going to be a 21 year old who loves Pokemon, as abandoning it just to prove I’m “all grown up” is actually the childish thing to do, and a mistake I wish I hadn’t made over ten years ago.

I twirl the glass cork through my fingers, I toss it into the air, I catch it in the palm of my right hand, “14” it says. 

Twitch Plays Pokemon: Day 11

10 Days, 6 Hours, and 25 Minutes.

That’s how long, as of this post, Twitch users have been controlling a game of Pokemon Red by typing commands into a text box. If you haven’t heard of it by now, you’re not completely living under a rock, but you’re close. This thing is massive, with tens of thousands of viewers constantly watching and participating, and I’ve seen as many as a hundred thousand people active at once. Twenty-three million unique viewers ten days into the experiment, the fervor of Twitch Plays Pokemon has really only begun to spread.

The short version is: people type commands into a Twitch chat room, which are input into an emulator running a hacked ROM of Pokemon Red. The long version? It involves fossil-based faiths, heartbreaks, bird messiahs, debates about anarchy and democracy, and unforgettable victories over incredible odds.

I was there when “we” got the Pokeflute, when “we” beat the gym-leader Koga, and Sabrina the day after that. For moments shared with tens of thousands of people, they all felt rather intimate, like I could hug every stranger out there in the world for just being there. In the utter chaos that is this experiment, it seems a miracle to make it through a single gym let alone six. When we make it out of an elevator, navigate a room, or make it out of the Pokecenter without releasing a Pokemon, it feels like a victory for everybody. More than anything, it feels like a generational victory. I’m hearing about Twitch Plays Pokemon all of the time on the University of Pittsburgh campus, and pictures of Twitch Plays Pokemon fandoms are popping up from college campuses around the United States. All of the twenty-somethings in the world are banded together, experiencing a video game we grew up with in a way our little childhood minds could never have imagined.

Besides being this touching moment where a generation of strangers can come together online, Twitch Plays Pokemon is most importantly, hilarious. In the last 25 minutes since I started writing this, if you can believe this took 25 minutes to write, the player character, Red, has been stuck in a corner. For nearly half an hour, we have kept Red waking into a corner, because we will that he walk “right” instead of “left” and until we are tired of this, in the corner he shall stay.

… and I kid you not, we just got on a Lapras and Surfed away from that corner of hell. Twitch Plays Pokemon is amazing, and without a doubt, the best thing to collectively happen to the internet in a very long time. Go check it out if you haven’t already.

Nuzlocke Challenge Two: Log Three (151st Post)

This is my 151st post on this blog, and I thought it would be fitting if the 151st post had something to do with Pokemon.  The window in which there were only 151 Pokemon seems so small now, I don’t even know how kids growing up with Pokemon nowadays could keep track of over 700 Pokemon. I can tell you all the names of Pokemon from the first two generations: but everything is a little shaky past that, not that I don’t like new Pokemon. I’m not one of those weird purists that only acknowledge the first generation or two; obviously, because The Nuzlog has covered everything from Generations 1-6.

The current internet phenomenon, Twitch Plays Pokemon Red, has renewed some joy in my heart for Pokemon. Seeing how far Pokemon has come from its goofy black-and-white pixel origins, and seeing the internet spend 90 hours just to get three badges, I don’t know – it just made me happy to sit back and laugh as fifty-thousand people struggled together to navigate blindly through dark caves without flash. I was happy for Pokemon again.

So this is going to be the last Nuzlocke Challenge post written in this style: I’ve decided that coming up with ten meaningful things to say about a Pokemon Emerald Random-Nuzlocke run just isn’t the same after the first time, I’ll stick to how I described my experience with Pokemon Y, with brief journal-like entries about what progress has been made. This a move to keep Pokemon fun; taking the Nuzlocke Challenge super-seriously was fun once, but it’s tiring now. With that being said, here’s the last list-based Panda Progress Report.

  1. I’m a real freaking risk-taker. Pichu got down to just, 1HP, after getting poisoned and following the walk to the Pokecenter. Really could have died back there. There’s some poor soul in Petalburg Woods who thinks if you bring bug Pokemon to school, you’ll become popular. Keep dreaming, kid. I went to elementary school at the height of Pokemon fever, and if you wanted to be popular, you best have been rolling legendries.
  2. So, we’re at … Rock-town, and it’s time to take on the Rock-gym and… Goldeen doesn’t know any water moves so… Nuzleaf. The plan is now to teach Nuzleaf Bullet Seed, and train him up a bit.
  3. On Route 116, a wild Lapras appeared. There is well, basically zero chance of catching him right? Nuzleaf used Bullet Seed, and worked Lapras down to like, 1HP. Then I threw a Great Ball. No dice. Then I threw a Pokeball and what do you know? Team Panda has acquired a freaking Lapras, and before the big fight with Rock-girl, the Rock-gym trainer of Rock-town.
  4. Lapras is lvl.7, knows Water Gun, Growl, Sing, and Mist. What a dope dude, welcome to Team Panda (now let’s run a train on this first gym).
  5. Train thoroughly run into that gym; Lapras mostly one-hit ko’d Geodudes for the most part, until Roxanne whipped out Nosepass. Then I remembered that, Lapras, being part-ice, was weak to Rock. This was a pretty tight fight; potions were had, and on a few occasions, health got pretty low. Panda still walked out with her first badge, thanks to Lapras, who she owes about one-fitty. I am a fan of Lapras, and if Goldeen learns a few tricks, I could see myself doing an all-water run.
  6. What if I did a solo-Lapras run? I guess I’d still need a Pokemon that can learn HM’s, so it couldn’t be a true solo run. Goldeen reached lvl.10 and learned Supersonic (how cool).  The guys on Route 116 use bug and fighting type, and since somehow Goldeen only knows a flying-type attack (peck) this works in our favor in kind of a crazy way.
  7. Other trainers have grass and rock type pokemon, and Crobat & Nuzleaf make a good pair for taking those guys out. Crobat knows bug-type moves, and Nuzleaf knows bullet-seed. Somehow, Panda ended up with a rather well-rounded rag-tag group of random Pokemon.
  8. Crobat, a flying poison type, proves most useful for knowing his bug-type move (leech life). When it comes to fighting Aqua Grunts (who  only use Poochyena at this part of the game) it really doesn’t hurt to have a bug type, or in this case, somebody who has a bug-type move. After defeating an Aqua Grunt in some cave and rescuing a seagull, some crazy old guy offers Panda a ride on his sailboat. Being the smart woman she is, Panda accepts this adventurous offer.
  9. You know, I fast forward through so much of this game, because it’s just boring chitter-chatter of random NPC’s who don’t matter, and I totally milked Pokemon Emerald the last time I played it, but I really do appreciate how much storytelling can be done with just unanimated pixels and text. Pokemon Y failed so hard at making me care about its story content; and I care about Pokemon Emerald’s story, even if I have seen it too many times by now. I fast forward through it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still like it.
  10. I will say to Pokemon Y’s strength, I’d feel way more attached to my team if I could see them in 3D, and feed them and pet them and all of that sappy dumb tuff. The more pet-like they are, the better. I appreciated Pokemon SoulSilver’s system where you could turn to talk to your following Pokemon companion, and they’d tell you how they felt, or what they were doing right then. Things that add personality to your Pokemon are great, otherwise, you have to add your own. Even Pokemon Yellow’s Pikachu-emoticon-system was a great first step in the right direction.  At this point, I struggle to really care about any one Pokemon besides my starter Goldeen.