Revisiting Pokémon Pearl: The Kingslocke

As we all know, Timey Diamond and Spacey Pearl are coming out in a little over a month, with Legends: Arceus following early next year.  I feel like revisiting Sinnoh, so I want to do a playthrough of the original Pearl version – but not just any playthrough.  I think it’s time to revisit the dumbest Pokémon challenge run ever devised: the Kingslocke.

This is a challenge run I created with basically two aims in mind:

  • That it be more forgiving than a Nuzlocke, with mostly temporary penalties and consequences, as well as fewer unwinnable scenarios, but also…
  • That it be absolutely bat-fµ¢£ insane and require the player to rethink their party and strategy constantly.

In pursuit of these goals, Jim the Editor and I developed a challenge ruleset where the player would regularly draw from a normal deck of playing cards, with each card changing the rules.  The effects of the different cards are very loosely based on a popular drinking game that we call “Circle of Death” in New Zealand (because, at least in our version, the cards are arranged in a big circle around a vessel in the middle of the table), but which is more commonly known in America as “Kings” or “King’s Cup,” hence the name “Kingslocke.” You don’t have to drink to play with these rules, but to be honest you probably should.

Continue reading “Revisiting Pokémon Pearl: The Kingslocke”

Unown asks:

There are rumors that (well by the time you answer this maybe it’ll be announced) this month will reveal diamond and pearl remakes. What would you hope to see implemented in the remakes?

So… I am on the record as not seeing any particular need for remakes of Diamond and Pearl, and I don’t think I’ve changed my mind about that.  But we’ll probably get them eventually, whether that’s this year or at some later point, so just for the sake of argument let’s talk about it.

Continue reading “Unown asks:”

hugh_donnetono asks:

What’s your opinion on the Beta Sinnoh Pokemon? (especially arceus)

I’m not sure I have an opinion on them, or feel I need to.  I mean, a lot of them are placeholders, right?  Many of the leaked sprites are just… clearly unfinished; that’s what a beta is.  Arceus especially; people meme on beta Arceus, but it seems pretty clear to me that no one ever planned for it to go into the finished game looking anything like that (likewise Rotom).  They knew they wanted Arceus to exist, and they had a rough idea what they wanted it to look like, but they hadn’t finalised the design or done proper sprites yet.  The only Pokémon that seem to me like they had a genuinely different design in the leaked beta materials – not just unfinished art – are Rampardos, maybe Hippowdon, Lumineon, Lickilicky (back sprite only), Togekiss and the Garchomp line, and most of them… well, yeah, they just kinda look like first drafts of the Pokémon that they are.  Beta Rampardos seems a bit less naturalistic, maybe a touch more manic?  Beta Togekiss has shades of Latias and Latios, and I do think it looks pretty cool, but I’m not sure it works as an evolution from Togepi and Togetic.  Beta Gible, Gabite and Garchomp have different colour palettes and are… I guess my instinct is maybe a bit simpler, a bit more gen I-II-like?  They’re fine, I suppose; I think the final designs are more visually interesting. 

The one thing I do think is kind of interesting is the mystery Pokémon, Kimairan, that seems to have occupied Giratina’s slot, whose sprite is clearly a draft but looks like a kind of six-legged griffin thing.  My guess is, Game Freak knew they were going to have another legendary Pokémon in that slot, but hadn’t quite figured out what the third piece of Space/Time/??? ought to be, or what role they wanted this Pokémon to have in the mythology of Sinnoh.  Even the final release of Diamond and Pearl is, in my opinion, pretty noncommittal about what Giratina actually represents (compared to, say, Rayquaza in Ruby and Sapphire or Kyurem in Black and White), so I honestly wonder how much, if any, of Giratina’s role in Platinum was sketched out in advance.  Kimairan might have represented… dreams, maybe, or the world, or life, or a fixed point of reference within space-time.  Maybe at this stage of the beta they didn’t even know they wanted this mystery Pokémon to be part of a trio with Dialga and Palkia yet, and it was just something completely different.  The point is, I think they probably ditched Kimairan and created Giratina because something clicked about the way they wanted to tell the story of generation IV, and they realised that the Pokémon they’d made wasn’t right for the role they needed.

[This question was promoted to the front of the queue because the submitter is supporting me on Patreon!  If you enjoy my writing and like getting my answers to cosmic dilemmas like this one – or just think I deserve something nice for my work – consider visiting https://www.patreon.com/pokemaniacal and signing up!]

Steven asks:

Hey, love the blog! Apologies if this has been asked before, but overall, looking back with 4 generations of hindsight, what are your feeling about how Gen 4 devoted a ton of space to new evolutions of older pokemon? I say that now because, at the time, it was a trendy idea that instead of new pokemon, they should go back and make cool new evolutions to old pokemon that deserve it. But looking back on Gen 4 which devoted 21 spots to new evolutions (20% of Gen4!) personally, its hard to see it as anything more than “well this was a mistake to never try again”. I personally only really find a couple really appealing (Weavile, Mismagius). What do you think? Was this an attempt better left in the past? Did they just not do a great job with those specific pokemon? Or heck, do you actually like these pokemon? I’m curious to see what you think.

Hmm; I count 22.  And don’t forget 7 baby Pokémon (damn it, Game Freak, did you really have to mock poor Chimecho with a baby form when other, already much better, Pokémon were getting evolutions?).  But… yeah, this is tricky.  I think it’s inherently more difficult to come up with a good addition to what was already a self-contained design than it is to come up with that design in the first place.  You’re constrained by the themes and aesthetics of the original design, but the original design “thought” that it was finished, so it’s going to fight against you.  The trouble is that evolving an old Pokémon is one of the most natural-feeling ways to give it a buff, and a lot of generation I and II Pokémon frankly needed it.  This is why I simultaneously hope Farfetch’d and Dunsparce will one day get evolutions and dread the possibility.  Farfetch’d and Dunsparce are both very self-contained, elegant designs; there’s not a lot of fluid, natural directions to take them because… well, if there were, they would have had evolutions in the first place.  And it’s not always like that; sometimes there is an interesting elaboration that you can make.  Ambipom… lives in my nightmares… but also is an unexpected yet somehow laterally logical step forward from Aipom’s design.  Mamoswine and Yanmega are the most interesting examples of generation IV’s mechanic of “Pokémon that evolve by learning certain moves” because they transform into “prehistoric” versions of themselves by learning Ancientpower.  Gallade and Froslass work because they’re split evolutions and are able to take their base designs in the opposite directions to their counterparts.  Roserade works because Roselia didn’t have that much personality to begin with (fite me IRL) and whatever else you might say about Roserade, it doesn’t suffer from a deficit of personality.  Honchkrow is… bizarre, because Murkrow had a pretty clearly defined aesthetic and Honchkrow just… fµ¢£in’… throws that out the window and is a mob boss instead, but I also kind of love Honchkrow anyway???  Most of the rest… for me lie on a continuum of “this is worse than the original design, but basically fine and I get that this Pokémon needed a buff” to “I know this Pokémon needed a buff, but… why???”  And I think that second reaction is why we don’t really see them anymore.  In the past two or three generations, Game Freak have realised they actually have a lot of different tools for buffing underpowered early-generation Pokémon that don’t force them to design new Pokémon they didn’t want in the first place.  There’s mega evolution, there’s regional forms, there’s movepool additions, there’s valuable new abilities, hell, there’s straight up literal stat increases.  I wouldn’t put money on new evolutions of old Pokémon being gone forever because, again, sometimes they are warranted and do turn out well, and I hope Game Freak recognises that, but I doubt we’ll ever see another generation that includes as many of them as II and IV did.

Anonymous asks:

In generations one/five/six/seven you were just kind of given your starter to go an a journey. In two you were originally loaned your starter to do a short errand before it was permanently given to you (the best introduction to starters, imo). And in three/four you took a starter from a bag to defend someone (the professor/yourself and your rival respectively). How would you do it? How’d you frame being given your starter Pokemon?

I’ve always had rather a fondness for IV, which I think is the most involved version.  It feels like it adds something to the relationship between you and your starter, to have you owe your Pokémon something like this, and for your partnership to begin with sheer chance (and the characterisation of the rival character Barry, through these events and your subsequent interaction with Professor Rowan, was interesting). Continue reading “Anonymous asks:”

Anonymous:

If you were to make a themed team for Cynthia, what would you give her? Feel free to interpret any particular theme you feel is appropriate for her, and you can use Pokémon from any region you want, but you MUST keep her Garchomp.

Ehhhhhhmmmmm.  Cynthia likes mythical things and ancient mysteries and such.  Garchomp probably isn’t a Pokémon I would have chosen for that theme, given the option, but it is a big dragon, and dragons are magic, so close enough.  A lot of her other Pokémon already do have an appropriately mystic feel – Spiritomb, Lucario, Milotic… Roserade doesn’t fit; the Gastrodon she uses on Diamond and Pearl certainly doesn’t fit, though the Togekiss she replaces it with on Platinum is a bit better.  I would in principle want to replace them both with Pokémon that exist in Sinnoh.  I rather like Bronzong, which has the disadvantage of being Lucian’s signature Pokémon in Diamond and Pearl, but is workable if we just switch it out for Gallade on Lucian’s team (which is actually what happens in Platinum).  I’m tempted to go with a second Ghost- or Dark-type for the final slot… maybe Froslass, or Absol.

Anonymous asks:

What are some Sinnoh locations you’re excited to see in 3D, when that comes? I’m personally excited for the three lakes, Floaroma (them flowers man), Sunyshore (considering what they did to Mauville in ORAS…), Stark Mountain (laaaavaaaa!), and of course the Arceus-damn Distortion World!

Y’know, other than the Distortion World I’m not sure anything really sticks out.  I’d like to see what they’d do with the Gyms, though; some of the revamped Gyms from Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby were pretty cool, and it’d be nice to see, say, the Eterna and Pastoria Gyms get that treatment.  Honestly though, I’m not super excited about anything that a Sinnoh remake would do, and once we get into the fourth generation I’m not sure updated graphics are a huge draw anymore; the originals hold up a lot better than the third generation games did.

Anonymous asks:

Because Pokemon fans love their patterns, there’s obviously a lot of talk about potential Generation 4 remakes on the horizon. I reckon I could guess you opinions on that, but imagine if they did and replaced the Gyms with Totem Pokemon, what Gen IV pokemon do you think would make cool “boss” encounters for each type?

Well, I don’t think they would, though.  I actually am coming around to the idea that there might be a fourth generation remake on the horizon as I move through Moon – there seem to be more than a few references to Sinnoh buried in the game, and I’m struck by how few Sinnoh Pokémon there are to be caught in Alola.  But it doesn’t make any sense to force the Alolan system of trials and Totem Pokémon on Sinnoh; the whole point of that system is to be a cultural feature that’s specific to Alola.  My bet is that Gym Leaders would be back for a Diamond/Pearl remake (I also, incidentally, doubt that generation VIII will feature trials and Totem Pokémon – I think it’s more likely that this is the beginning of a series of regions that all have their own culturally specific approaches).  In any case, I think for the most part you’d simply be looking at the Pokémon that are already the partner Pokémon of each Gym Leader: Cranidos, Roserade, Lucario, etc.

Anonymous asks:

What are your thoughts on a potential Diamond and Pearl remake?

Eh.  On the one hand, I sort of think there are better things Game Freak’s designers could spend their time on – the original Diamond and Pearl are basically fine, I feel.  They hold up a lot better than the original Ruby and Sapphire did, anyway.  On the other, I suppose I wouldn’t exactly be averse to seeing the writers tackle the cosmic Pokémon of generation IV again, take a fresh look at them, maybe play around a bit more with their roles in the Pokémon universe, and try to do something interesting with the way myths and legends work in shaping our understanding of their world.  I guess that means I’m basically neutral on the idea.