fourhman.com weblog feature: Pokemon Sapphire Diary / 23 entries
|Pokemon Sapphire Diary|
This is an online diary devoted to Nintendo's Game Boy Advance game Pokemon Sapphire. In the game - like previous Pokemon Game Boy games - you take on the role of a neophyte pokemon trainer. As you travel from town to town you catch and train hundreds of different pokemon, developing their skills in battles against other trainers. Although the game's most obvious goal is to work your way through the ranks of trainers to become the new Pokemon Master, there is enough open-ended gameplay after that to keep you busy for quite a long time.
This journal also covers other games and events of the Pokemon Sapphire / Ruby generation, including Nintendo's summer 2003 EON Ticket Tour and Pokemon Pinball R/S.
entry index for Pokemon Sapphire Diary
Pokemon Sapphire Diary|
Tuesday / 03.18.03 / 11:24PM / Joe
Today I picked up my Pokemon Sapphire. Interestingly, Toys R Us had it on sale already, a $30 game at $25. This mightily confused the cashier, since I had paid $5 to reserve it. Or actually, I used a TRU gift certificate, so I paid nothing according to my receipt. You can imagine the minimum wage confusion that resulted.
Once that was all straightened out, I was able to start my journey. My first impression is that it is eerily similar to the previous two Pokemon games. Just somewhat prettier. I chose the Treecko as my starting pokemon, but I quickly filled out my party with all the nearby low-level crap pokemon. So far, I've concentrated on the Treecko and a Wurmple as my main battlers. I've pegged the Wurmple as a Weedle/Caterpie type, and it already evolved into a dopey Cascoon, so I'm probably right on. Its next evo will likely be some kind of butterfly beast.
Sapphire restructured the familiar pokedex ordering, which stinks. Pokemon #1 is now Treecko, not Bulbasaur. I wonder if Professor Birch has an explanation for this sudden break in continuity.
Just about every pokemon I've encountered has been an entirely new breed, which is to be expected for a sequel sequel. The only "original" series monsters I've seen is a Machop and a Magikarp. Three Magikarps actually, in a ridiculous battle against my one Cascoon. My stupid Cascoon is a lousy fighter, and it handled three Magikarps without taking any damage at all, since the Magikarps are even stupider. Splash attack. Some things never change.
Anyway, I'm going to make diary entries to track my progress. Just entered Rustboro Town and learned a little about Devon Corporation. Had a brief run-in with a Team Aqua Grunt. Turns out my Dad is the Gym Leader of Petalburg Town, which is pretty cool.
Party: Cascoon lv8, Poochyena lv6, Treecko lv13, Lotad lv4, Shroomish lv5, Zigzagoon lv4
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 2|
Wednesday / 03.19.03 / 11:24PM / Joe
One nice addition in Sapphire is the running shoes, which you get almost right as the game begins. With the shoes, you can run across the map twice as fast as normal. In the previous games, you had to wait to get a bike or something to motor around... and I was never sure if biking counted against your egg-hatching time. Anyway, with all the walking you do in these games, it's nice to be able to speed it up a bit.
As expected, the first Gym Leader battle was a total non-event. Although, with Treecko as my lead attacker, I held a definite type advantage... grass over rock. His Absorb attack flattened several Geodudes in a row, and Roxanne's entire force consisted of another Geodude (one shot kill, thank you very much) and a Nosepass, a hideous Easter Island sort of rock monster. She used a bunch of Potions on the Nosepass to prolong the battle, which I considered a pretty cheap play from a Gym Leader.
The big news is that I achieved two evolutions tonight. My loyal Treecko evolved into a Grovyle, which turns it from a gecko-looking thing into a feathered reptile-looking thing. Much cooler, but it's always emotional to see one of your pals change form. The Cascoon came out of its shell and emerged as a Dustox, just as expected. I was hoping for something cooler - like the old Butterfree or Beedrill - so I may not keep the Dustox around for long. I'm curious to see the Poochyena evolve, so he has been moved to the top of the queue.
Party: Poochyena lv9, Dustox lv11, Grovyle lv17, Shroomish lv7, Nincada lv7, Taillow lv8
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 3|
Saturday / 03.22.03 / 07:22PM / Joe
The new bits of Sapphire are beginning to open up for me. Today I entered my Sableye in two exhibition contests, which looks like it could be a very time-consuming subgame if I delved deeper into it. It adds an interesting dimension to your pokemon's skills and stats.
The way it works is you enter any given pokemon into a particular contest, smarts, cuteness, toughness, etc. And, exactly like a beauty contest, you display your entry alongside three competitors, vying for the attention and praise of the audience and the judge. The audience votes for their favorite in secret - and base don who knows what criteria. The judge however is more discerning. You must instruct your pokemon to perform attacks, not against anything else as in a battle, but more along the lines of a dog show where the owner makes them jump through hoops and trot down a straight line.
The interesting facet is that your attacks can affect the judge's opinion of you, the crowd's applause response level, and the overall poise of your competitors. It's good to go last in this sequence, because you can use an "attack" to distract the other pokemon, make them look away from the judge, make them cry out embarrassingly, that sort of thing. Given the incredible amount of attacks at your disposal, these contests could develop into a robust non-violent game in their own right.
The third Gym Leader, Wattson, proved to be my first real challenge. He only fields three pokemon - a Magnetite, a Self-Destruct-happy Voltorb, and a Magneton - but the prevalance of paralyzation moves and frigging Super Potions made it a frustrating affair.
My party is growing by leaps and bounds... out of sheer experimentation, I've been training up a Plusle and a Minun, a pair of electric rabbity things that supposedly enhance each other's abilities when in a 2-on-2 battle. But they haven't proved exceptionally ferocious for my tastes, so I may end up storing them solely for the odd 2-on-2. Although truth be told, their natural lightning type did help me stall for time in the match against Wattson.
My poochyena evolved into a mightyena, which suggests to me I have been mispronouncing poochyena's name all this time. I was using a vaguely Russian "Poochenya," when it is clearly supposed to be an unpronouncable play on the word "hyena." The poochyena/mightyena relationship seems to me like the growlithe/arcanine and houndoom/houndour pokemon of R/B and G/S, so I actually doubt my mightyena will evolve again. But he looks completely badass right now - a hairy, dirty, junkyard collie - and his Rock Smash attack was key against stupid Wattson, so I'm happy. His name is Gringo.
Party: Taillow lv20, Plusle lv16, Sableye lv24, Grovyle lv24, Mightyena lv21, Minun lv16
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 4|
Monday / 03.24.03 / 11:20AM / Joe
TMs. I've been through Yellow, Silver and most of Crystal, and I've used maybe 3 TMs. A TM (Technical Machine) is a unique item that teaches a new attack move to one of your pokemon. But once you use it, it's gone. This is probably why I generally don't use them, because I feel like I must keep every item I find. My packrat mentality even keeps me from selling off Nuggets for money.
As I recall, each game has had a couple TMs that you absolutely must utilize if you want to progress. Grudgingly, I've used them. In Sapphire, one of these is Secret Power, which is the move you have to use if you want to establish a Secret Base. Secret Power allows you to carve a base out of the side of a mountain or create a treehouse in certain trees. You can decorate your base with pokemon dolls and furniture. The interesting thing is that you can send a copy of your Secret Base into other player's games, creating the illusion that you and your friends are all in the same game.
I was out talking to my third grade neighbor Matt last night, and he was excitedly letting me know how his Sapphire game was going. He got the game a couple days after I did, but he has already passed me, and started and re-started several times. During one of his games, he only trained up his Torchic, ignoring the rest of his team, which I thought was an interesting way to toy with the game. When I see him next, hopefully we can do some battling or Secret Base trading.
My Taillow evolved into a Swellow. He's obviously being groomed for the Fly move, so I can Fly from town to town instead of all this tedious walking. I should probably come up with a cool nickname for him. Something sharp, something fast. I'll get back to you.
But quickly becoming my favorite party member is my Sableye, another beast in need of a nickname. I've maxxed out her PokeBlock intake for the pageants, and her Night Shade attack has become a battling staple. It also helps that she looks like the low-level Heartless nasties from Kingdom Hearts. I think Sableye and I are going to go all the way to the Championships together.
Party: Swellow lv25, Gringo (Mightyena) lv23, Sableye lv26, Grovyle lv25, Plusle lv16, Minun lv17
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 5|
Wednesday / 03.26.03 / 11:51PM / Joe
I did a lot of laps around the map as I searched for the next plot point. Yes, it was largely aimless wandering, which I usually abhor (see my comments on Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past,) but in the world of Pokemon, wandering can be a distinct benefit. Firstly, the battles you trigger during your travels are always helpful: your pokemon gain experience and you learn more about their attacks, strengths and weaknesses. And in Sapphire, you get to harvest delicious berries.
Dotted across the arboreal landscapes are patches of soft, loamy soil. "Loamy" is the game's word, not mine. In this specific soil grows berry trees of several different kinds. The berries have multiple uses: pokemon can eat them for various heathful effects, or you can process the berries into PokeBlock candies to improve their presentation stats for the beauty contests.
The berry trees have an unusal cycle of life. As soon as you harvest the tree's berries, the tree disappears. It is then up to you to plant a new berry and water it with the Wailmer Pail. I can't imagine how these trees have survived in the wild. In a couple days, your planted berry will grow into a new tree with fresh berries on it. Repeat.
Captured a wild Skitty tonight, lv8, and promptly delivered it to the Day Care. If I can raise the Skitty into its evolution, it might make a nice partner for Gringo. While at the Day Care, I picked up my Nincada, now at level 23, and also dropped off a Tentacool. The next Gym Leader I need to face, Flannery, looks to specialize in fire types, so I figured I should get a strong water type in my party.
I did finally find that next plot point... a confrontation between Team Aqua and Team Magma. I wasn't expecting to see Team Magma in Sapphire; I assumed they only appeared in Ruby. But there they were, smack-talking with the Aqua goons about which team is best suited to run the continent. Unlike Team Rocket, these two teams seem to think their goals will benefit all human- and pokekind. Of course, Aqua plans to flood the world, and Magma wants to cover it in lava, so you have to take them with a grain of salt.
Pokedex: 35 (seen: 69)
Party: Grovyle lv26, Sableye lv27, Gringo (Mightyena) lv26, Nincada lv23, Razorbeak (Swellow) lv29
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 6|
Tuesday / 04.01.03 / 07:33PM / Joe
The fifth Gym Badge is obtained back in Petalburg, from none other than my own father. The path to Norman is an interesting one; you fight his subordinate trainers room by room rather than the usual one-room labyrinth. Each room gives you a hint as to what you'll be facing... the Defense Room, the Speed Room, etc. Since the game doesn't penalize you for skipping out between battles to heal up (in fact, it's encouraged), I took my time and ended up beating all of the sub-trainers.
I beat Norman on my first attempt, but it was a hairy battle. Norman fields two Slakoths and one Vigoroth, and it ended up down to a one-on-one. His last Slakoth vs. my Sableye. My Sableye truly earned her right to a nickname for outlasting the Slakoth... I would not have made it through had she not paralyzed the damn thing with Secret Power, buying me a couple free attacks.
The prize for beating Norman is the ability to use the HM Surf, and Surf itself is rather neatly obtained right next door. Unfortunately, none of my party can learn the move, so I had to dig that Tentacool out of hiding.
On my way through Mauville, en route to do some Surfing to the eastern part of the map, I ran into Wattson loitering around town center. I didn't recognize him at first - since Gym Leaders rarely appear outside of their Gyms - but his unusual hair stopped me in my tracks. He informed me of a secret underground section of Mauville and gave me the key to enter it. That's where I am now.
One thing I forgot... I picked up a fossil in the desert. I chose the Root Fossil (there are two choices, Root and Claw, but once you choose one, the other vanishes.) Just like getting Kabuto or Aerodactyl in previous games, Sapphire/Ruby has limited access to prehistoric pokemon through identifying and harvesting fossilized DNA. It makes one wonder just how these particular pokemon became extinct. My personal theory is that they all evolved into another species, and somehow forgot (or didn't need to) spawn new ones of the original species. Like, all the Aerodactyls evolved into Spearows over time, and the Spearows ended up reproducing little Spearows, not Aerodactyls.
Wasn't this Professor Elm's area of expertise? Breeding and eggs? I hope he's making progress, because the last time I saw him, he was goofing off criticizing my damn pokedex.
Pokedex: 41 (seen: 79)
Party: Skitty lv27, Grovyle lv29, Razorbeak (Swellow) lv30, Gringo (Mightyena) lv27, Tentacool lv10, Sableye lv31
PS. When I say the Aerodactyls evolved "over time," I don't mean in the gradual Darwinian sense. I mean that they evolved in the traditional pokemon sense, instantly, and over the course of time eventually every single Aerodactyl evolved. Further, Aerodactyls and Kabutops that are bred from fossils are probably incapable of reproducing, explaining why we continue to consider them extinct.
Hey, wasn't there are episode of the cartoon that dealt with this? I seem to recall Ash and company finding a hidden crater full of living prehistoric pokemon. Then again, the cartoon continuity and game continuity don't always jibe.
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 7|
Saturday / 04.05.03 / 02:47AM / Joe
Gym Leader #6 - Winona of Fortree City -was another tough battle. It took five attempts before I could beat her, and I have to totally blame myself. You see, I tend to become fiercely loyal to my party members... meaning that I rarely switch them out. For the majority of the game now, I've been keeping four pokemon always in the party, with two rotator positions depending on if I'm purposely training up a type or if I need a particular HM. So I knowingly entered the Winona battle with Grovyle at a type disadvantage, and Tentacool and Gringo not much better. After a couple defeats it becomes a matter of honor, and I feel like I have to find a way to beat the enemy and have the "weak" ones walk off with a couple experience points.
Darkling (my Sableye's new nickname!) did most of the early work with her Secret Power attack, although I did have to feed her five Super Potions to get her through it. She took out Winona's Swellow and Pelipper and was lucky not to get too wrecked by unlucky misses and confusion hits. My new Voltorb had no trouble with Winona's third battler, a Skarmory. There I had a type advantage, and I enjoyed watching Winona waste her own Potions on the Skarmory.
The last pokemon was the big mother, an Altaria. With two very tough attacks, Earthquake and Dragonbreath, this match had been the only reason I had lost every prior attempt. Tentacool was waffled, Gringo stepped in to stall, and both were quickly forgotten. But I think I uncovered something about Winona's Altaria: it doesn't like to go second. When facing a faster pokemon - like my Razorbeak - it would use a non-damaging move to increase its speed several times in a row. So after being softened up a bit by the others, Razorbeak was able to finish off the Altaria in a couple Quick Attacks.
My Egg finally hatched into a Wynaut. I highly doubt I will work much with it, because I've never been a big fan of its evolution, the Wobbuffett.
After the battle, I did something I've read about but never tried: I stopped an evolution. My Voltorb hit level 31 and was evolving into an Electrode. I halted it because I think Voltorbs look much, much cooler than Electrodes. They look meaner. I guess we'll see if I crippled his natural growth by forcing him to remain in his basic form.
Beating Winona lets you use the Fly move to travel between towns, which is great because I'm tired of walking.
I taught the Fly HM to Razorbeak, as you might expect. Razorbeak knew Quick Attack, Peck, Double Team, and Wing Attack... I replaced the Wing Attack with Fly. Normally, I would have replaced the weaker move Peck, but Peck happens to be a very strong and straight-forward pageant appeal... and I'm hoping to get Razorbeak a couple more Cool Contest Award Ribbons. It's interesting trying to balance the attack moves with the appeal moves. The pageants are a great addition to Sapphire/Ruby; I wish they would have been made more prominent and not just an ignorable side-game.
Pokedex: 48 (seen: 91)
Party: Darkling (Sableye) lv37, Gringo (Mightyena) lv31, Grovyle lv33, Razorbeak (Swellow) lv34, Voltorb lv31, Tentacool lv34
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 8|
Thursday / 04.10.03 / 01:20AM / Joe
Well, those fools of Team Aqua did it. Their leader roused Kyogre from its centuries of sleep and turned the continent into a watery mess. Team Magma showed up to rub Aqua's noses in it, and then everybody left. I took advantage of the confusion to make another run through my berry fields.
I've probably been spending much too much time harvesting berries. I follow the path from Mauville to Lilycove, visiting each berry patch on the way. Back and forth I go, watering the growing saplings and picking the berries from the matured plants. You can tell from the drastic time increase netween Diary entries 7 and 8 (13 hours) just how much time I've lost doing these berry runs.
I did get the seventh Gym Badge somewhere in there, but the battle was so short that I've since forgotten most of it. Darkling and Gringo could do no wrong; just about every attack was super-effective.
Also, Grovyle evolved into Sceptile... which is a much cooler name, but a far sillier looking pokemon. The Grovyle reminded me of those feathered dinosaurs. The Sceptile looks like part bidepal lizard and part boarbristle hairbrush. You can see why I haven't bothered to come up with a nickname for Sceptile... I just haven't made a connection to it like some of the others. Which is a shame since - back when it was just a little Treecko - it was my very first pokemon of the game.
Similarly, my Tentacool was becoming rather boring, so I caught a Psyduck back in the Safari Zone to be my new token water type. With the help of the EXP.SHARE item, Psyduck quickly evolved into Golduck, and it is now my carrier of the Surf and Dive HMs. I imagine Waterfall will soon follow suit.
But back to the plot. Team Aqua's flood led me to Sootopolis, an isolated undersea island town. I can't quite figure that one out. Sootopolis does hold the eighth Gym, so it can't be all bad. Sootopolis's other big battle is against the legendary Kyogre itself, deep inside the Cave of Origin. Since everyone said not to waste my Master Ball on it, I stocked up on Ultra Balls and eventually I caught the beast. Now it's off to battle Sootopolis's Gym Leader, the flamboyant Wallace...
Pokedex: 65 (seen: 126)
Party: Sceptile lv38, Voltorb lv37, Darkling (Sableye) lv42, Golduck lv41, Gringo (Mightyena) lv42, Razorbeak (Swellow) lv37
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 9|
Sunday / 04.20.03 / 11:57PM / Joe
Wallace had my number, so I took some time off to level up my Sceptile. I pushed him from level 38 to level 45, and his newfound power plus grass-over-water type superiorty made quick work of Wallace. After such a showing - several one hit kills - my Sceptile earned a nickname: Knifejaw. (Inspired by Animal Crossing.)
So that left me with 8 Gym Badges, the Waterfall HM for Golduck, and vague directions towards Victory Road. Hoenn's Victory Road is an annoying cave labyrinth. Something about caves drives me nuts. I can take overground hedge mazes, but all these underground caves bother me. Perhaps it's the constant attacks from feral Golbats.
But the true pain of Victory Road was the regular smackdowns from fellow trainers. So I retreated to do some more training. And some more berry runs.
I'm also taking the opportunity to persue some of the game's side-goals. Darkling has over 10 contest ribbons now; I've explored the entirety of Meteor Caverns; and I'm trying to fill out my pokedex the old fashioned way, through evolving. My Lileep (the prehistoric pokemon born via the Root Fossil) is currently holding that wonderful EXP.SHARE, and I'm trying to train my own Golbat up into a Crobat. I'll be pretty annoyed if that ends up being one of those stupid triggered evolutions.
Once I get my main battlers into the low 50s, then I'll venture back into Victory Road. So until then, it's more contests and berry harvesting.
Pokedex: 71 (seen: 138)
Party: Darkling (Sableye) lv44, Golduck lv43, Gringo (Mightyena) lv44, Razorbeak (Swellow) lv46, Lileep lv25, Golbat lv43
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 10|
Thursday / 05.08.03 / 11:27PM / Joe
I did train up a little bit, but not as much as I had intended. I didn't want to wander around Victory Road for the experience, because I hate stupid Golbat Confuse Ray attacks. So I stocked up on Hyper Potions and Revives and made for the Pokemon League. My party needed a sixth player, so I threw in the Kyogre simply because it was my highest level pokemon stashed in the box. It is not one of my favorites; looks a little too Digimon for my tastes. The following is a play-by-play of my final battles against the Elite Four and the League Champion.
Sidney fields quite a mixed bag. He has a very diverse team, but they are all from level 46 to 49, so he was not much of a challenge. First up is his Mightyena, which I countered with ol' Knifejaw. I kept Knifejaw in against his Absol, which isn't the best move when the Absol uses an Aerial Ace attack, but whatever. When Sid brought in the Cacturne, I switched to Razorbeak, back to Knifejaw to handle the Sharpedo, and back again to Razorbeak to polish off the Shiftry. All in all, very little damage and no wasted items.
Phoebe is a fan of ghost-type pokemon, but her team is very repetitive. First up, she tosses out a Dusclops; I started off with my Golduck and Waterfalled the 'clops out of the arena. Next was a Banette, which received lessons from Darkling's Faint Attack. Phoebe then sent out her own Sableye, which I matched against Kyogre and his Hydro Pump move. Another Banette, back to Darkling. Another Dusclops, this time I used Gringo and his Crunch attack. Phoebe was a little tougher than Sidney, but only in terms of using Hyper Potions at the end to bring everybody back up to full HP. And her pokemon will start in with Confuse attacks, so pack the Persim berries.
Glacia, a master of ice, was my first real difficult (and annoying) match. By now, I'm used to the constant cheap use of Full Restores just when the enemy is almost knocked out, but Glacia adds in freezing moves like Ice Beam and Blizzard. Now is when I had to dip into the berry bag for some quick thawing. Glacia's first three pokemon, a Glalie and two Sealeos, were handled by Knifejaw. The Glalie being the toughest of the three thanks to Knifejaw's inherant type advantage over the Sealeos. Then she throws out another Glalie, but Knifejaw was in a bad way, so I sent out Darkling to Faint Attack and Shadow Ball the floating ice-rock back to its poke ball. Her final pokemon was a Walrein, which I started off my Kyogre... and he did well at first, but Walrein's Full Restore unevened the odds, so when the Kyogre passed out I switched in the Golduck, figuring a water type would minimize the enemy attack damage. Not so much, but I did get the Walrein down to a controllable HP level, whereupon I brought in my superfast Razorbeak to finish the job.
Drake, the dragon-type specialist, is the last of the Elite Four. His first offering, a Shelgon, was Crunched by Gringo. His Flygon and Altaria were brought down by Razorbeak. (And again, the Altaria insisted on increasing stats with Dragon Dance before actually attacking when facing Razorbeak.) I pitted Gringo against a second Flygon, but Gringo came out hurting, so Drake's last pokemon - a Salamance - required a switch. I brought in the Kyogre and wielded a super-effective Ice Beam attack.
By this time, I have used a lot of Revives and Hyper Potions, so I felt a little stretched as I headed up the staircase to the Champion's room. But what the heck.
With everybody revived and nearly full on HP, I faced Steven. First is a Skarmory (the only non-Ruby/Sapphire creature in this entire sequence!), who I flattened with Kyogre. His Aggron fell to Knifejaw, and Kyogre took down a Cradily. Back to Knifejaw to knock out a Claydol... Steven used two Full Restores on that one, but I kept Knifejaw just as healthy and I eventually came out ahead. Next up was an Armaldo, which I knew to be weak to water attacks... but Kyogre was low after his two fights, so I brought out the Golduck. Waterfall. Steven's final pokemon is a mighty Metagross, a pokemon I had never seen before. Using an amazing Meteor Mash move, the Metagross decimated most of my team while I tried some hesitant attacks (doing very minor damage) and poured some potions into Knifejaw, Razorbeak and Kyogre. Razorbeak soon joined Darkling, Golduck and Gringo on the sidelines, so I switched in Kyogre. The Hydro Pump attack did the trick... and I am now the new Pokemon League Champion.
Here is my winning team. We made some questionable choices and relied heavily on assistance from items, but we did it.
Pokedex: 75 (seen: 154)
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 11|
Wednesday / 05.28.03 / 10:04AM / Joe
I jumped into the Battle Tower this weekend. You can only register a three-poke team, so I brought in Darkling, Knifejaw and Gringo. Although they make a big deal about "surviving seven matches in a row," your team is completely healed between bouts so it's not such a problem. I beat the lv50 mode. The Sableye did most of the work against the randomized, robotic opponents. ("I'M READY FOR BATTLE ARE YOU")
But here's what gets me. You get no experience for Battle Tower matches. So what's the point? And how are you ever supposed to become competitive enough to attempt the lv100 mode? You also don't get any money out of it. My big reward for beating lv50 mode was the Iron item. Maybe after lv100 you get Carbos. Hot damn.
Fighting battles without receiving experience points is just nuts. It kinda flies in the face of the game's predominent logic: that your trained creatures improve in skill and ability as they continue to battle. I mean, creating larger and better pokemon is why we play the game.
The eCard battles go the same way. For all the mess of having to connect two GBAs, the eReader and a link cable, scanning a battle card gets you a strange three-on-three match with no experience and no reward. You don't even see any new pokemon (at least not with the two battle cards released to date.) It might be worth it if you at least could +1 your pokedex records with a visual spotting of a Gastly or a Scizor or any of the 100-some pokemon types missing from the normal Ruby/Sapphire quest. But you don't.
This irritates me because I now have no motivation for walking into Battle Tower again. (Unless one of ya'll can tell me about amazing future rewards!) And since Sapphire has no "second quest" like Gold/Silver/Crystal, that leaves me with just some sidebar pickups... like hunting the Regi's and Latias (or Latios?)
Magic Box posted a single line rumor that Nintendo is working on a Pokemon RPG for GameCube. I think that's important enough that I need say no more about it.
Pokedex: 76 (seen: 155)
Party: Darkling (Sableye) lv50, Knifejaw (Sceptile) lv49, Gringo (Mightyena) lv48, Razorbeak (Swellow) lv53, Golduck lv46, Kyogre lv46
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 12|
Monday / 06.23.03 / 03:29PM / Joe
Rhonda has begun her own Pokemon Ruby adventure, so I'm getting to see the other side of the coin. She chose the Torchic for her starter, and she's currently working up her low-level pokemon before she guns for Roxanne, the first Gym Leader. Once she gets a few cities in, I'll be able to report on the Ruby/Sapphire connectivity.
I ventured back into the Battle Tower. As I've learned since my last Sapphire Diary post, there are some nice prizes awaiting, even if you score no experience and no pokedex entries. Particularly appealing is a couple of ribbons that are probably exclusive to Battle Tower winning streaks.
Unfortunately, my streak ended at 26, so I haven't seen too much in the way of fabulous prizes. My team of level 50 Mightyena, Sceptile and Sableye will be forced to give it another go. Someday.
Nintendo is readying the release of more Pokemon eCards... with dot codes that unlock new trainers for Battle Tower (so that's why their dialogue is so stilted!) hand out hidden ribbons and perhaps unlocking the missing R/B/Y/G/S/C pokemon. Pokemon Aaah! has some details, but it sounds like a separate set of cards than the familiar TCG series. Fine with me, I'm all for more.
I was lucky enough to catch a male and female Pikachu in the Safari Zone, and their sweet union at the Day Care has already brought forth an Egg. Can it be anything but a Pichu? And given that I'm hording a Thunderstone, one of those proud parents will soon evolve to a Raichu.
In the meantime, it's back to that pokedex. (And with Rhonda's help, we both stand to benefit from a couple trades and tradebacks... especially for getting the types that evolve only when traded.) I have a Wailmer that I'd like to see turn into a Wailord so I can attempt that whole unlikely process of unlocking the Regis. But first I need to locate a Relicanth...
Pokedex: 85 (seen: 160)
Party: Metang lv38, Tropius lv26, Golduck lv47, Rhyhorn lv31, Wailmer lv32, Egg
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 13|
Friday / 07.11.03 / 02:40PM / Joe
- Hatched my Pichu.
- Used a Thunder Stone to turn my highest level Pikachu into a Raichu.
- Evolved a Magikarp into a Gyarados.
- Hatched a second Pichu because I forgot to remove the parents from the Day Care Center. Those randy electric rats!
- Metang evolved into Metagross.
- Hatched an Igglybuff from an egg, after leaving a Jigglypuff and a Skitty at the Day Care Center.
I caught a Latias. I was wandering around the green areas SE of Fortree City, when a Latias jumped me in the bushes. After some heated mental arguments, I tossed my Master Ball at it. My friend Matthew later told me "that was a waste of a Master Ball." I don't know if this is standard issue or not, but my Latias has a naughty nature, knows Water Sport, Refresh, Mist Ball, and Psychic, and she isn't holding any items.
Good news, I finally caught a Relicanth, down outside of Sootopolis, just like everyone said. I'm levelling up my Wailmer, and I taught Dig to my Trapinch, so I'll be ready to hunt the Regis soon.
My other ongoing goal is to prepare a second team to go after the Elite Four. Once I get a collection of pokemon in upper-40s / low-50s, I'll give that a go again. So far, my pool of likely fighters includes my Metagross, Raichu, Golbat, Voltorb, Latias, Trapinch (once it evolves), Gyarados, and Razorbeak (who hasn't seen any action since beating the Four the first time, since his experience precludes him from participating in the Battle Tower.)
Pokedex: 96 (seen: 167)
Party: Silcoon lv6, Tropius lv26, Metagross lv45, Trapinch lv31, Wailmer lv38, Raichu lv44
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 14|
Sunday / 07.20.03 / 08:59PM / Joe
Today we checked out the EON Ticket / Toys R Us summer tour. Two Poke-representatives (one in a red shirt and one in a blue shirt!) had a tent sent up in the TRU parking lot, right beside one of the famous Pikachu-styled Volkswagon Beetles. I snapped some tiny pictures, and Rhonda and I grabbed some cool freebies. I'm guessing the swag was mostly NYC Pokemon Center overflow stock. Check Nintendo's pokemon games website to see when the tour is hitting a town close to you.
The first thing I did was link up with the tour official and receive the EON Ticket item in my Sapphire cart. When we noted that Rhon is still too early in her Ruby game to activate the Mystery Events feature, he commented that I could share my ticket with her when we mix records. And if I understand the tech here, only my copy can spawn like that; Rhon's would be a non-reproducible second generation ticket. We also each got to select a free plastic Pokemon figure... Rhon picked a Pichu and I got a Mewtwo, but they had a ton of different characters to choose from. We each got a Ruby/Sapphire promo bookmark kind of thing, and two sets of three pins from the Gold/Silver days (Lugia, Fighting Pikachu, Bellossom and Ho-Oh, Dancing Pikachu, Togepi). Throughout all this man #2 was demoing the EX card game to a kid beside me.
They had a stack of actual EON Ticket scan cards on the table, but the guy seemed reluctant to give them out... seeing as he had just gone to the trouble of downloading the virtual ticket into my game and explaining how I could share it with Rhonda. But I asked if I could have "that EON Ticket reading material there" and he gave me one anyway. I think the actual card is infinitely cooler than the viral version.
So now it's time to stock up on Ultra Balls and use the EON Ticket to travel to faraway Southern Island, in search of Latios.
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 15|
Monday / 08.04.03 / 11:25PM / Joe
Lots of new evolutions to report: Beautify, Cradily, Kadabra, Ludicolo, Vileplume, Graveler, Masquerain, Flygon. Also finally allowed my precious Voltorb to evolve into an Electrode. It's at level 40 now, but I still prefer the big-eyed red-over-white color scheme to the small-eyed white-over-red.
I have also claimed all three Regis. I couldn't say which one was hardest, except that I might never have figured their secret puzzle rooms out were it not for faqs on the topic. Each one - Registeel, Regice, and Regirock - is hiding behind a room that requires some sort of strange movement sequence to enter. Your instructions are written in Braille, which is actually mentioned in the game's manual but I took that as some kind of dopey joke. The capture battles were typical of Legendary fights: save before starting, waste tons of Ultra Balls, restart several times after an overzealous knockout.
I've also settled down on my famous berry runs. Now I only monitor one loamy patch: the 4X strip just west of Lilycove. Lately it has been yielded extra Sitrus and Leppa berries, just because I feel low on them at the moment.
But you're here to read about Latios, as promised in my last post. Quick recap: Latios is normally not obtainable in Sapphire (just as Latias can't normally be found in Ruby.) To find Latios, you have to somehow get an EON Ticket, either through E3 2003, eBay, a friend who already has it, or on Nintendo's summer Toys R Us tour. Once you download the ticket into your inventory, then the Lilycove ferry will take you to Southern Island. And it's just the one in Lilycove, strangely enough. I talked to the ferry girl in Slateport and almost cried when she didn't mention the Island. Because, you see, you only get one shot at this trip. Screw it up and your pokedex is forever incomplete.
I saved the game. This is, after all, a Legendary Hunt... where the purpose is to catch, not to kill. My first three attempts at catching Latios failed when Metagross knocked him out accidentally after blowing through 15+ Ultra Balls. Sure, the experience would be nice, but I'm persuing a higher calling. Metagross turned out to be a fine choice for beating down Latios, however, as Latios's obnoxious Luster Purge attack is not effective against Metagross. He only has five Luster Purges; the real problem is the twenty Recovers, which he can use to keep himself out of Ultra Ball danger. His other attacks are Dragon Dance (who cares) and Psychic. Again, the Psychic attack does little against mighty Metagross.
On my fourth try, I endured some easy back-and-forth and Metagross used Metal Claw and Psychic, and Latios countered with Luster Purge and Recover. Eventually Latios's health was in the red, thanks to some wasteful Dragon Dancing instead of Recovering. I tossed out the obligatory initial Ultra Ball and caught him. On the first ball. Uncanny. I was in my office lunch room at the time and let out a "YEEE-AAAAAAAH!"
So now I have a pocketful of extra Ultra Balls. Want some?
Pokedex: 117 (seen: 174)
Party: Metagross lv47, Flygon lv46, Raichu lv50, Wailord lv43, Razorbeak (Swellow) lv55, Ralts lv4
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 16|
Friday / 08.29.03 / 02:01AM / Joe
I just had the best game of Pokemon Pinball R/S I'm ever likely to have. Final score: 726,622,179. On the Sapphire table. 5 balls used. I wish I had kept track of how long each ball lasted, but the whole game had to run at least an hour and a half, because I started playing midway through Futurama (which starts at 11:30pm) and I didn't finish until Cowboy Bebop was about to start (1:30am.)
If you don't have Pokemon Pinball R/S yet, go re-read my old review of the first Pokemon Pinball. It's pretty much the same thing. It's your regular pinball field decorated in shades of pokemon, with complicated target sequences designed to release and capture random creatures. The R/S version is just smoother, prettier, and has more pokemon to catch. One unusual quirk to Pinball R/S is that, while your pokedex only covers the 200+ R/S pokemon, you can see older monsters decorating the board. Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Aerodactyl. Kind of strange to see pokemon that you can't catch. Makes you wonder if Nintendo has some kind of eCard/Collosseum hidden plan for Pinball.
In this one session, I caught a Whismur, Geodude, Zubat, Aron, Spoink, Vibrava, Swablu, Baltoy, Tropius, Luvdisc, Beldum, Regice, Kyogre... and the ultra-rare Jirachi! The only evolutions I pulled off were a Flygon, Altaria and Metang. I was actually trying for the evolution ramp to Metagross when I dropped the final ball between the flippers. I had to pull off some crazy crap to get some of those breeds, like travelling six times to get to the Ruins location (the only place to uncover the Beldum and Regice), and going through the bonus fields enough times to actually catch Kyogre instead of just beating on him. The Jirachi thing was a complete surprise. I had just finished the Rayquaza bonus field (+99,999,999 points!) and triggered a slot machine roll. I just happened to have the Zigzagoon switch on and saw a slot panel with an unfamiliar pokemon pictured and the word "arrival." I nailed it with the Zigzagoon and Jirachi appeared on the play field. Jirachi is the same size as a normal pokemon in Catch 'Em Mode; it just hovers left to right, and you only have 30 seconds to catch him. Now there's a rare pokemon I've caught in Pinball R/S that I don't have in Sapphire!
Speaking of Sapphire, here's the latest: Caught a Whiscash, Luvdisc, Barboach and Corphish by fishing in places I never tried before. Evolved my Ralts up into a Gardevoir, my Cacnea into Cacturne, and Rhyhorn into Rhydon. Just pulled a Slakoth and a Wynaut out of the daycare so I can get to their evolutions.
Pokedex: 126 (seen: 178)
Party: Flygon lv49, Wailord lv45, Razorbeak (Swellow) lv56, Metagross lv50, Wynaut lv20, Slakoth lv25
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 17|
Tuesday / 10.07.03 / 10:34PM / Joe
My time count below isn't going to accurately reflect the lost hours to Pokemon Sapphire for this update. I've been doing a lot of quitting and restarting in my attempts to catch Rayquaza. I also made a few fresh runs at the League with a new team but the spirit just isn't there yet.
Before catching Rayquaza, the most exciting news for my Sapphire game is that I'm now playing it on a onyx-colored GBA SP. Now - except for the two hidden pokemon - the only super-rare legendary asskicking monster I need is Groudon. I haven't done any trading with Ruby yet, so the Ruby-exclusives (like Groudon) and the trade-evolutions now account for a big portion of my missing pokedex members.
Before heading into Sky Pillar for the assault on Rayquaza, I checked my inventory: still full of potions for an eventual League match and plenty of Ultra Balls from the chase for Latios. The Pillar is nothing more than a couple floors to climb, but you have to use the Mach Bike to quickly cover the weak spots in the floor before they fall out from under you. Weaving the bike through a quick series of right angles is annoying, not to mention the random battles against Golbats, Claydols, Altarias and Sableyes. Although I did snag a Claydol and Altaria en route to Rayquaza, so "nothing ventured, nothing caught," I suppose. Rayquaza sleeps at the top of the Pillar, and like all legendaries, this is a one-time-only opportunity.
His big trick is to unleash ultra-powerful attacks, and the Rest back up to full health when you get him in the red. I started my Metagross, who is generally resistant to Rayquaza's attacks... and whose Psychic attack does a reasonable amount of damage. In the many battles I lost (and restarted), I watched my overzealous Metagross knock out the Rayquaza, or the Rayquaza get confused from fatigue and knock itself out. A few times my entire team was knocked out as I lobbed Ultra Ball after Ultra Ball (and occasional Timer Balls) to no effect.
I probably should have brought in a team with status attacks so I could put the Rayquaza to sleep myself. But since I didn't, I figured it was just a matter of playing the odds. At some point I'll get lucky and capture him on an early Ultra Ball, right? And all I need is one Ultra Ball to beat the odds and get through.
In the battle where it happened, it was the second Ultra Ball that did it... you can't ask for much more than that, even though it took me twenty-couple attempts to get there. Now back to evolving and searching. Shroomish, Machop: you're up at bat.
Pokedex: 130 (seen: 179)
Party: Shroomish lv25, Razorbeak (Swellow) lv56, Raichu lv53, Metagross lv54, Rayquaza lv70, Machop lv24
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 18|
Sunday / 10.26.03 / 11:58PM / Joe
Safari Zone: caught a Phanpy, Heracross and a Girafirag, which I believe ends my list of Safari Zone exclusives. I forget if you can catch a Donphan in there, so I just plan on evolving up the Phanpy.
Finally did some trading with Rhon's Pokemon Ruby: Alakazam, Machamp, Golem and Huntail. One nice thing about trade evolutions is that the receiver gets pokedex credit for both monsters. So by giving Rhonda a Kadabra that immediately evolved into Alakazam she got a +2 to her 'dex. Then trading it right back to me rounded out my list. The Huntail evolves from trading a Clamperl equipped with the Deepseatooth. The Deepseatooth is one of the Ruby/Sapphire "choice" items. You get to choose either the Deepseatooth or the Deepseascale and the other disappears forever (like the Root/Claw Fossils.) Note to self: choose the scale in Ruby. Also scored a Mawile and a Seedot, two monsters found only in Ruby.
Wasted a lot of time fishing on Route 119 for a Feebas. The damn things show up in a randomized 1-6 squares out of a possible 4 million squares, so they're grotesquely hard to locate. In a weird don't-kill-the-prehistoric-butterfly moment, the squares are reset every time the popular phrase in Dewford Town changes. I have a sneaking suspicion that Feebas (and, by extension, Milotic) will be among the very last pokemon I catch.
Difficult catches: Nosepass, Crobat and Snorunt. The Nosepass can only be found in Granite Cave, hiding inside the smashable rocks. Of course he's randomly uncovered, so it takes lots of Rock Smashing to find him. I've been through Granite Cave several times before and I finally hit a lucky Smash. Nosepass is, of course, horrendously ugly.
Crobat - as I discovered about 100 hours ago - only appears if your Golbat likes you. Getting a pokemon to like you is easy but time consuming. Basically you just have to carry him around forever and try to minimize him dying in battles. I tucked the Golbat into my belt for hours, with him just shy of his next level-up. Periodically I'd take him to the lady in Verdanturf City who can tell you if your pokemon like you. Her assertions are merely categorical; it took several more hours of Golbat-sitting to get him to evolve even after she claimed he "liked [me] very much."
The toughest part about catching a Snorunt was finding time to play when the tide is out. Snorunts are only found at the bottom of Shoal Cave during low tide, which always seems to be when I'm not playing. So early one morning (around 8am) I picked up Sapphire and saved my game once I was deep in Shoal Cave's ice room. Then I continued later at my convenience. Lucky that the tide can't come in while you're innocently sitting in the flood zone.
What do you do when your Shelgon needs some quick experience? I entered him as part of my team against the Elite Four. Putting him in the catbird seat for my second run at the Championship moved him up several levels without much effort.
The Metagross and Swellow did most of the work; the Raichu missed too many attacks to be used reliably. The Rayquaza was just along for insurance, and I did let him chew up a few opponents with his Outrage attack. And poor Crobat was the chump I'd throw in if I needed some time to revive/heal one of the more important fighters. I wonder if that will make him like me less.
Next entry: Nintendo's new Pokemon Battle-e cards.
Pokedex: 176 (seen: 191)
Party: Shelgon lv43, Razorbeak (Swellow) lv62, Seedot lv3, Metagross lv61, Golduck lv50, Snorunt lv26
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 19|
Tuesday / 02.10.04 / 12:21AM / Joe
There's been two main reasons why I haven't done a Sapphire Diary update in a while. One is Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the spiritual successor to Paper Mario... M&L pretty much owned my GBA SP for a couple months. Go buy it!
The other is Feebas. The hunt for Feebas has all but sapped my will to keep playing. Part of my problem is that I don't understand how exactly the stupid Dewford hip phrase changes. Does it change every time you talk to the goof outside the building, whether he likes your offered phrase or not? (I know it changes whenever you mix records with another cartridge, but does it change when you just trade?) I have now been up and down that awful river west of Fortree two and a half times... and I think I inadvertently changed the phrase in the middle somewhere, accidentally shuffling the magic Feebas tiles.
Fishing is maddeningly boring. I read that you should stick with the Old Rod so that you don't trigger as many battles with non-Feebas pokemon, but I'm not sure if I believe it. Feebas = Hate.
As for the Pokemon eReader cards... well, remember when I complained about the Battle Tower? The eReader cards are like that, but worse. As I later found out, you do get rare items and badges for your Battle Tower runs (although I would still rather have the experience points.) The eReader card battles don't even give you that.
You scan a card and the trainer on the card shows up at the old man's house in Mossdeep. You fight a 3-on-3 match... with absolutely no results. No experience, no additions to your 'dex, no rare items, no badges. These battles don't even add to the battle count in your PokeNav. Sure, some of the card trainers have pokemon that (to date) can't be seen in Hoenn, but they don't increase your pokedex records, so what's the point? I fought a Houndoom. Big deal. Just showing off the hidden art files, I guess.
The card sets also come with rare berry cards, which are another letdown. Scanning a berry doesn't add that berry to your inventory. This would be too useful. No, it simply turns all existing Enigma Berries into the berry on the card. Scan a new berry card and they all get unilaterally transformed again. I guess the idea is to puree them all into Pokeblocks right away.
I think the concept is solid, and Nintendo hyped this up like crazy... but what we got was a pale shadow of what could have been. I'd consider this as Nintendo testing the waters, to see if the buying public would go for the idea before doing something really amazing with it. Considering the overall cost involved (eReader + 2nd GBA + card packs + link cable), I doubt many gamers bit.
Still, imagine if this idea was tied to the card game cards instead. Scan a Potion card and get a Potion in the video game. Scan a Bulbasaur card and get a Bulbasaur doll, or a semi-rare item, or even a damn Bulbasaur, for crying out loud. Being able to choose from a collection of trainer cards for new battles is a great idea, but those battles have to actually mean something. Or else the whole enterprise is a waste of time. Give me experience, give me items, give me a filled pokedex... just don't give me that old man saying "Wow, that was a great battle! Thanks!" Bite me.
The Pokemon Colosseum pre-order bonus began today, and I already have my Bonus Disc. It's not much of a disc, though. It consists of two movies (one for Colosseum and one for an upcoming Pokemon movie) and the ability to download the rare Jirachi into your game. How about some other game demos? Or an exclusive (and better) eReader card? But holy crap am I looking forward to Colosseum's RPG mode. You'll be hearing about that one here in the diary.
The whole transfer-Jirachi-to-your-game bit was adorable. And it's doubly interesting in that Jirachi is actually a trojan horse: sure, you get to add this uncatchable oddball pokemon to your collection, but it also carries along a bug fix. Several months ago, Nintendo realized that the berry patches stop growing after a year. Something to do with the internal clock. So the Jirachi download somehow fixes the berry problem! Pretty nifty stuff. A patch for a GBA cartridge! Unheard of.
Pokedex: 188 (seen: 195)
Party: Metagross lv66, Salamence lv50, Razorbeak (Swellow) lv64, Golduck lv50, Alakazam lv22, Jirachi lv5
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 20|
Monday / 02.16.04 / 12:47AM / Joe
This entry is dedicated to the Pokemon Mini, Nintendo's forgotten handheld system, about halfway between a Pokemon Pikachu 2 and a Game Boy Pocket. It's roughly 2" x 3", with an inch-and-a-half B&W screen, and has four swappable cartridge games... all Pokemon-based. The system also has an infrared port for multiplayer gaming, a rumble feature, motion sensor, D-pad + 3 buttons, and a pleasingly chunky post-iMac plastic design aesthetic.
In the US, you can only get this at the NYC Pokemon Center store (or via their website.) When it was first released in 2002, a complete set of Mini + all 4 games cost over $90. Last December, they kicked it down to $40... plus they threw in all kinds of crazy Mini crap, like a pillow, bath towel, lanyard, notepad and bracelet charms.
Nice price. Mine is in Wooper Blue (as opposed to the purple and green models.)
I had read some pretty lousy reviews of the Mini back in '02, so I never thought much about it. And the Mini "sampler" you can play inside the sleep-inducing GameCube title Pokemon Channel didn't sell it to me very well. But $40 in my wallet has a way of spending itself almost without my knowlege...
And you know what, it's not bad at all. Here's how the games fall out:
Pokemon Party Mini: This one comes with the system, and it's easily the worst. It contains a bunch of simplistic games that usually revolve around timed button presses. Almost like Wario Ware if Wario Ware sucked. One game changes it up by having you shake the whole unit instead (so you freak out the motion sensor), but it's still boredom city. Toss it.
Pokemon Pinball Mini: It would seem difficult to screw up pinball. This cartridge does a pretty decent job at attempting that. First of all, it's not what you're thinking. This "pinball" is actually a very small playing field filled with holes, and you use a plunger (usually positioned bottom center) to launch the ball into the holes. Each board is timed, so if the randomness of pinball goes against you, you're out of luck. One nice thing is that you can play this one with only one hand, because the C button does everything. Erm.
Pokemon Puzzle Collection: Now things start getting good. There's four types of puzzles, mainly of the sliding tile type. Shadow Puzzles have you arranging opaque tiles to fit a form. Motion Puzzles lets you swap tiles to create an image, but the image is constantly moving. Rescue Mission has you shifting tiles to create a path for a trapped pokemon. The fourth type (an unlockable!) requires you to arrange tiles to complete an electrical circuit. There's only 20 of each type, however, so there's limited play value here.
Pokemon Zany Cards: Four card games, but only three are playable by one person. (Two support up to five players, and one requires two players... and all players must have their own Mini, so good luck with that.) One game is strikingly like Texas Hold 'Em, just with Pokemon-themed winning hands. The second game is an Uno clone. And there's a unique Solitaire variant. All three of these are quite good, and the cartridge lets you save at any point just by turning the Mini off. Zany Cards is also the most graphically interesting of the bunch, with lots of different animations based on the cards you play.
Overall, not a bad little portable for $40. (Use coupon code P4E33 to save another $5 on your online order, by the way.) Given that my mobile GBA collection has to be carried inside a small backpack these days, it's nice to have the alternate choice of an even smaller complete system tucked into my shirt pocket. There's another couple of games available in Japan, but I highly doubt we'll see english versions of them, given the absolute rarity and frivolity of the Mini. One of them is freakin' Tetris, which would be spectacular. I wonder if there's a region lockout on Mini cartridges...
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 21|
Saturday / 02.28.04 / 12:32AM / Joe
Sometimes you just get lucky.
There must be something about my office lunchroom, because most of my rare catches have occured in its cinder block walls. I wasn't even going to take my GBA into work today, I grabbed it at the last minute going out the door simply because I vaguely remembered having nothing to do during Thursday's lunch. And I don't like having nothing to do.
The Feebas hunt had left me beyond apathy. But repetitive fishing seemed better than noontime television, so I cracked open the onyx clamshell. The first thing I did was check the Dewford phrase. Still "GOING TEACHER." Being unsure if that idiot kid was going to change it on me, I reset and went straight to Fortree City to do some fishing. On that hateful river I headed north, right to the base of that skinny waterfall.
And within eight squares, I found it: a Feebas spawning ground.
I caught four of them right then and there (three females and a male.) I killed a couple too, just out of spite. I came back later in the day, but couldn't find any more... do not tell me that the magic Feebas squares reset every time you turn off the game, I may cry.
Now I can puzzle out how to raise one of them into a Milotic. I never read that far in the FAQ because I was too consumed with just catching one. Finding Feebas has renewed my interest in completing my R/S Pokedex.
Even though Pokemon Colosseum is still a month away from release, I'm already experiencing the first bitter pangs of Stadium Ennui. I'm fairly certain this is a common malady among Pokemon Trainers. Remember when the first Pokemon Stadium came out, and you were all excited about 3D pokemon, and transferring your GB team, and watching big-screen fancy-dancy battles? And then the whole game ended up as this repetitive, visually redundant snoozer so you spent most of your time playing the multi-player minigames?
And then Pokemon Stadium 2 came out, and the exact same thing happened?
Everything I read about Colosseum leads me to believe that I'll be again struck with Stadium Ennui. The interview in this month's Nintendo Power left me cold, and the preview videos on the Bonus Disc all point to the same problems that Stadium had. Again: crappy sound effects. Again: pokemon battlers never move out of a three foot radius and never actually touch each other.
I know that it's a daunting task to create interactive combat animations for over 380 characters with innumerable attacks each. I know that Colosseum would still sell a zillion copies if it was an iTunes AudioBook. But that doesn't mean they can't try, does it? Is it too much to want a full-on battle mode where you can instruct a Machamp to pick up and toss an opponent for his Vital Throw attack? Or to watch your Bulbasaur's vines actually entangle the enemy and whip him around the field?
And why oh why can't they integrate the Pokemon monster voices from the cartoon, instead of those horrible Game Boy Color-era white noise sound effects?
I'm hoping that Colosseum's RPG mode will temper these feelings, and even if the battles remain cheap then perhaps the overarching story will add incentive to play.
Failing that, there's always the minigame mode.
Pokedex: 189 (seen: 195)
Party: Metagross lv66, Salamence lv50, Razorbeak (Swellow) lv64, Golduck lv50, Jirachi lv12, Feebas lv20
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 22|
Sunday / 04.11.04 / 11:50AM / Joe
Pokemon Colosseum is an awful disappointment. It hurts me to say that, but it is all too true. Colosseum is the first game I've played where I have actually nodded off while playing. Multiple times.
And it's not like this is Nintendo's first attempt at a big-scale Pokemon game. They had two in the N64 Stadium series (three in Japan), and the problems of those games were obvious. Although they sold well, I can't recall a single glowing review. The audio was lousy, the battles were uncompelling, the gameplay was repetitious. Each time, Poke-fans figured "They'll fix it and make the next one so much better."
Nintendo did not. They made it worse. By ignoring the failings of the Stadiums, and providing an entirely bonus-free Colosseum, they have turned the game into probably the third most painful game in the franchise. (Right behind Hey You Pikachu and Pokemon Channel.)
See, we all thought Colosseum was going to kick complete ass... because it will have an RPG mode. We repeated this mantra in our sleep. We could not wait to explore a new Poke-continent. We assumed too much.
We assumed that a GameCube Pokemon RPG would approximate the depth and detail of our cherished Game Boy versions. It does not. Colosseum's RPG mode is nothing more than a longer battle mode. Walk, battle. Open door, battle. Navigate maze, battle. It's linear, it's boring, it's almost entirely outside your control. Your involvement is reduced to choosing which pokemon to fight with. No contest halls. No berry growing. No secret base. No badge collecting. You can't even catch wild pokemon.
The only intriguing bit is the whole Shadow Pokemon / Snag deal. Meaning that you can steal corrupted pokemon from evil trainers, an impossibility in the GB games. That's the only new mechanic in an otherwise endless series of battles.
Even more astonishing, Colosseum has no extras! No school mode, no GB player mode, no daily free downloads. Not even the happy little mini-party-game... all stuff found in the Stadium series. The only extras in Colosseum are more battle modes. Good gravy crap it pisses me off.
Technically, the effects and attacks look great. Rarely amazing, but mostly great. Of course, pokemon still don't ever touch each other during battles, the audio blows, and there's no continuity from one animation to the next. For example, you attack a Staryu... it will animate taking the hit, but if you have knocked it out, the screen will fade to black and come up on the dying animation. It never flows directly from one animation to the next. Every battle has this disjointed sense to it, making the "modular" animation approach obvious.
Trainers are now on the field, but they never move. Except when you defeat one, then he/she will cut from his looping stance to his loser animation and then cut right back again when the camera angle changes! Same with the ball-tossing scenes. Your trainer will animate throwing a poke ball, then the game cuts to the ball's airborne arc... except that the arc is coming from nowhere near your character. It's awkward and amateurish.
When a pokemon uses Rain Dance, you get a nice storm sequence. Which instantly stops, only to be repeated during the "It's raining" announcement between turns. NO. When a pokemon makes it rain, you should freaking have it rain throughout until the effect ends. And while we're on a water discussion, why must the underwater types all float? Throw a damn wading pool out there, so we don't have to see all the fishes flying in mid-air. Yet another mistake from Stadium that was not addressed.
If you're going to make a full-on 3D Pokemon game, you need to do it right. Colosseum is half-assed and empty from start to finish. I just don't know why Nintendo bothered.
But I'm sure the next one will be so much better.
Back in Sapphire, I've found a new problem: Horsea. To get a Horsea to evolve from Seadra to Kingdra, you need a Dragon Scale. Those are only found attached to wild Horseas (and Bagons). I have captured over 40 Horseas and not one of them has been holding a Dragon Scale. Not one.
Party: Metagross lv69, Tropius lv29, Razorbeak (Swellow) lv64, Feebas lv20, Golduck lv55, Ninetails lv44
Pokemon Sapphire Diary 23|
Tuesday / 08.10.04 / 10:05PM / Joe
Pokemon Box is essentially free... unless you already have five GBA/GameCube Link Cables and don't need another Memory Card 59, no matter how much translucent colored plastic they used to make it.
That's one of the problems with Nintendo's new $20 special-order-only GameCube release, Pokemon Box. The other is that the Box is largely useless.
Box is for the devout only. It's merely a pokemon storage tool, providing additional space and sorting options for all the creatures you've collected in your copies of Sapphire and Ruby. To really appreciate Box, you would have to have filled all of your existing in-game storage boxes, which totals to over 400 captured pokemon. The Box can store an additional 1000. I don't think there's a huge call for that. I pretty much just caught one of each species and was done with it. (Although I did move my 40-strong collection of triple-damned Horseas off the cartridge and into the Box, just to be rid of them.)
So that's why Nintendo has bargain-priced it and included the free mem card and link cable... although if you're in deep enough to want Box, you most likely already have plenty of both, thanks to pack-ins and pre-order bonuses from other games.
The tragedy is that all the features of Box should have been included in Colosseum, which would have gone a long way towards making that game more palatable.
Aside from the unnecessary largesse of the storage containers, Box also lets you play Ruby and Sapphire on the TV. This feature was present in the N64 Stadium games, disturbingly absent from Colosseum, and already available to anyone with a Game Boy Player. The word is that Box will only play Ruby and Sapphire, however, not FireRed and LeafGreen... although I would hope they include Emerald on general principle. Box also lets you take snapshots of anything and use the pictures as box wallpaper, which is marginally nice if that strikes your fancy.
Then there's this asinine showcase option, where you can build 3D displays of your Boxed pokemon. The whole thing reminded me of a lamer Smash Bros trophy collection. It's a cute, Colorforms sort of idea, but what kills it is that the "trophies" are nothing more than 2D GBA sprites tacked onto some weak mounted display. If they had included the full-on 3D figures from Colosseum, and gave you total control of placement and cameras, this could have been a lot of fun... especially when coupled with the photography feature. I would have liked creating 3D battle scenes with dramatic camera angles. A Roselia facing off against a Torkoal! A horde of Mightyenas ripping into a school of Horseas! But no.
One benefit, we do have sexy Brigitte as the host of Pokemon Box. She possesses about three frames of animation and gives you an egg.
Only new Sapphire accomplishment: evolving up an Aggron. Still no Dragon Scale, even after catching another handful of Bagons. Here's hoping they're easier to find in LeafGreen and I can trade one over.
Party: Metagross lv69, Tropius lv30, Egg, Snorunt lv33, Golduck lv57, Feebas lv20
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