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Old 11-20-2016, 12:21 PM   #35
Nebby. Back into the bag.
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I haven't been able to play too much just yet. Seven hours and twelve minutes of recorded playtime so far. I have some stuff that takes priority until two weeks from now. After then, I should be able to play much more. I've actually just reached a rather good place to put the game down for now, but knowing me I will probably still sneak in an hour or two here or there.

Still in full-blown spoiler-avoiding mode. That means I've read almost none of your guys' posts in this or other threads; I'm pretty much just talking to myself here, even as I write this very post. ^^; It might seem selfish, but two generations in a row my strategy is paying dividends -- I'm enjoying the game, much, much more than I think I could be if I had known all the CoroCoro stuff going in. I will probably continue to not read your guys' posts until I complete the game.

Time for some early thoughts below!


Male vs. Female Protagonist: I opted to play as a male this time. I'm rather satisfied with my choice. I hadn't expected this Lillie character to exist as she does, meaning her personality and her accompanying us and everything she has been written to be. But being male, it's very easy to read the carefully-written lines Game Freak came up with as being signs of Lillie being a little smitten with the protagonist. Vice versa, playing as a female I would think the lines far too safe, far too weak to make the case for a lesbian read. In other words: "choose male, Lillie's falling in love with you; choose female, Lillie's your friend." To me, it just makes it feel like playing male is "the right choice." Not that playing female is bad, necessarily. In fact, I still personally think that the female trainer is super adorable and generally the better choice (independent of any other considerations than design). I look forward to playing as her when I play Moon some time later.

Graphics: Is it just me, or is Sun and Moon really a "Heaven and Hell" experience with graphics? Sometimes the graphics strike me as looking like the very best we've ever had. (Usually the Pokémon animations in battle.) Other times the graphics strike me as giving Black and White a run for their money for worst. graphics. EVER! (Usually the human characters during cutscenes.) Focusing in on the humans during cutscenes, what is up with the scaling!? Every character seems like they were designed to be viewed from far away and look decent, and then we just ZOOMED IN on them, like when you zoom in on an image file on your computer, and it's just ... BLOCK CITY! >_< I told one friend, it's like looking at a mosaic, it's so bad. But then you see the battle animations and the overworld experience, and it's like ... "Purtiest. Pokémon game. ever. :3" It's such a stark contrast.

Z-Moves: Didn't know about this before the demo. Clearly, it looks like Z-Moves are to Alola what Mega Evolution was to Kalos. (Let's ignore that Hoenn magically got megas too, despite the canon of X and Y originally stating that Mega Evolution was only found in the Kalos region. ) The conspicuous absence of any mega stones or talk of mega evolution leads me to believe that this feature has probably been taken out of the game ... which is crazy, and if I'm wrong and you guys know I'm wrong then you're probably laughing at me right now, but it's just what it feels like to me right now. It feels like the developers, back when they were first starting work on Generation 6, had a discussion about where to take the franchise next. And someone mentioned powering up things. And I imagine the discussion went in two different directions, supported by different opinions on the team: one direction was to make the creatures stronger (which became Mega Evolutions), while the other was to make the moves they use stronger (which became Z-Moves). You can see the design similarities: both can only be triggered once per battle, both return to normal after the battle, both require a hold item, and both are meant to confer a "broken power-up" to a very specific Pokémon, pushing him over the edge from B-rank to A-rank or from A-rank to S-rank, stuff like that. There are some differences too, of course: Z-Moves' hold items are type-specific whereas Mega Evolution's are creature-specific, Z-Moves revert to normal after the one use whereas Mega Evolution stays put for the remainder of the battle, etc. But they're similar enough to really lead me to believe that they were both put forward circa 2010 (following the release of BW1 in Japan, around the time development on Generation 6 would have begun) and that the one that "won out" got to be in a game first but that the other one wasn't perma-vetoed and it's getting to have its day in the sun now with Gen 7.

I think the idea of Z-Moves is interesting. I'm not sure how I feel about it in relation to Mega Evolution. Flavor-wise, I think I like Z-Moves much more. They're much more inoffensive than Mega Evolution was. Mega Evolution, many of us held up our hands and cried, no, shrieked foul. "NO FOURTH STAGES! NO DIGIMON! NO PSEUDO-EVOLUTIONS OR RE-TYPINGS IN PLACE OF BONAFIDE ONES!" People weren't very happy. I live in a post-mega world so I'm accustomed to them by now, but even now in 2016 if you asked me if I like the idea of Mega Evolutions I'd have to say "Ehh ..." ^^; Z-Moves, on the other hand, flavor-wise I think they don't rock the boat much at all. It's very believable that your Pokémon can normally only do these 99 moves but that when you have this magic crystal brimming with magic energy it can unleash a 100th move, one of great power, one which is clearly an enhancement of an already-known move. So whether it's making a Tackle faster and stronger or whether it's making a stat-boosting move even more broken, the crystal serves to give you this boost in energy ... without turning you into a freak of nature ^^; or temporarily giving you an evolution only to snatch it back from you at battle's end and say "'TWASN'T REAL!" But as for gameplay-wise, I dunno. I do feel like megas were relatively balanced, all things considered. You get this one "nuke" on your team ... but he sticks around all battle (pro for you), which meant that when they designed him they had to make sure that he wasn't an automatic win button (pro for your opponent). You don't feel like running the stone is a waste of an item slot (because hell yeah battle-long stat boosts and ability change!), but you might feel like a Z-Move stone is a waste of an item slot since all it nets you is a single detonation, sink or swim, and then you're done, that's it, you're itemless. Furthermore, because the Z-Move is a sink-or-swim single use only, I feel like Game Freak made the better moves too strong. I've always hated playing against stall players, don't get me wrong, but these Z-Moves seem like they render stall unplayable.

We'll see. For right now, I'm liking Z-Moves much more than Mega Evolution. I just prefer the flavor. It feels more in keeping with the spirit of Pokémon (as established by Gens 1-5) than Mega Evolution did.

No More Gyms ... and yet, Gyms? : This was a very elegant solution on Game Freak's part. Never have I been more excited by the unknown than I was during the tour of Melemele Island. By island's end, I felt like I had a better understanding of where I stood -- "there are seven 'gym leaders' and four 'Elite Four' in this game" -- and that's taken away some of the excitement ... But not really. The formula shake-up is still significant enough to entertain me. There's still enough that's unknown to me, like whether the kahunas really are the Elite Four analogue or whether there are actual Elite Fours waiting for me after I complete the island challenge.

The solution is elegant for a lot of really nice little reasons. Going in no particular order ...

Hawaii is a part of the United States. So Alola, even if it's to be considered its own "region", really should be a part of Unova -- unless Unova is only New England and not the entire country. This presented the problem of, "Shouldn't Alola belong to the Unova League?" and whether or not Alola would have a new set of Elite Four and Champion(s) or not. Well, this problem's been nipped in the bud by simply having Alola do their own thing and having them do this "island challenge".

The gym formula was getting really tired and really old. As much as I adore Kalos, I know that for many players Kalos was "oh my goooooooooooooooood " dragging the formula out. Many players were already "DONE! " with the formula by Gen 5, never mind Gen 6. So it's good that they've done away with it ...

... Or have they? 'Cause on the other hand, you're gonna have a lot of people who are nostalgic for the gym formula, who might even say that you can't be a Pokémon game without the gym circuit any more than you can be a Zelda game without dungeons. So they didn't entirely do away with gyms ... they just disguised them as this "island challenge" with captains and kahunas. By tweaking the numbers (no matter how you look at it, neither 7, 4, nor 11 equal 8) and by shaking up the very fabric of what a "gym" is (I adored that first cave and I look forward to more inventive courses like it!), you keep things feeling new and fresh while still doing the time-honored tradition of having a gym circuit.

No more HMs? : While this hasn't been confirmed yet by my playthrough, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to reason that HMs have been replaced by your animal friends who do the HM work for you. Tauros = Rock Smash, I'm guessing Sharpedo = Surf, and I wouldn't be surprised if Machamp or someone similar = Strength. This is really, really nice and I love it. My only complaint is that they have you summon the HM buddy out of thin air rather than having him mosey on over to you from offscreen, legs on the ground (terrestrial) / fins in the water (marine). Like, if I'm said to be calling Tauros to me, it doesn't make much sense for him to just appear, like some genie in a bottle. That's it. That is my only complaint with this feature. I otherwise love it. Love it, love it, love it. I hope it stays around forever. I get sick every time the game unctuously says to me, "This is something that only happens in the Alola region! :3" No. No. You had better show up in all future main-series games. 'Cause I think I speak for all of us when I say, we're sick and fucking tired of HM whores on our teams (one old approach) or of ruining our best creatures with some shitty HM in a fourth slot (another old approach). No. We're done. From now on I want to see partner Pokémon who do the HM leg work like what you've done here in Alola. "Tauros, come clear these rocks for me. Sharpedo, help me navigate these waters." From now on it had better be this. Thank you!

Hawaiian Vocabulary: Oh my god. @[email protected] This is really overwhelming. With Kalos, it was fine. I adore France, I speak some French, I know French history and culture and all that jazz ... I was fine with galettes and maisons and châteaus and the like. But with Sun and Moon ... holy shit. @[email protected] How do they expect me to remember all these Hawaiian words? I'm still struggling to memorize Tapu Koko, which to me may as well be syllables selected at random rather than actual words. But Hau'oli? Melemele? I've already forgotten the names of the 2nd island and the 2nd city (although in my defense I only just landed there). There's a definite learning curve here for me. I'm sure people of Hawaiian descent are loving this game right now, but for me it's just ... We see now the difference between a game that tries to be based on real-life culture (Gen 7) and one that tries to be as generic as possible (Gen 1)! I may bemoan the lack of authentic Japanese landmarks and culture in Gen 1, I may wish to see more of them in a Gen 1 remake, but holy shit do I now appreciate how easy the original games were for me, as an American teenager with no Japanese background, to get into! Sun and Moon, for all the Hawaiian culture stuff (and I do love it, I promise ), is really, really overwhelming at times. So many words that just sound like gobbledygook.

Music: The only track I've really noticed and enjoyed so far is Hau'oli's theme song. That's a really nice one, and a very simple "WELCOME TO HAWAII! " one. The others, I either haven't really noticed (90%?) or else I have noticed but it's been for the worse (10%?). An example of the latter is the new, Hawaiian-themed Pokémon Center song. Not a fan. ^^; Cool as a remix idea, sure, but having to have it be the permanent song for the Center the entire time I play this game ... Not a fan. That's okay though. I'm sure there are players who are geeking out over it as much as I geeked out over half of XY's soundtrack. It's fine. :')

Alola Forms: Something I got weakly spoiled on over the summer. I saw pictures on YouTube thumbnails of the new Ice-types and of Exeggutor. Didn't see anyone else. So Meowth, Rattata, and Grimer have been small surprises.

I don't like that (at least so far?) these all appear to be Kanto Pokémon. I say this as someone who likes Kanto a lot and who hates obnoxious tweens and teens who hate on Kanto and "genwunners" #ohgagme. The problem is that when you shove Kanto-centric stuff down our throats it only gives the Kanto haters that much more ammo. Why are Alola forms Kanto-only? Hopefully they're not and I've yet to discover the ones from other regions. But so far ...

I think Alolan forms are an interesting idea to toy around with in the sand box that is Gen 7, but I'll be glad to see them vanish come Gen 8. I don't want Hawaiian Muk or Hawaiian Raticate to be things we have to worry about forever going forward.

And they probably will vanish come Gen 8. But that then raises the question: why get emotionally attached or breeding-and-EV-training invested in Alolan forms if they're not even gonna stick around? That's sort of how I'm feeling right now with some of these megas. If Mega Evolution is gone from Gen 7, then what's even the point in having a Mawile or a Manectric? I'm not saying that people won't find the time or the worthwhileness to make these Pokémon up for use in Gen 7 ... I'm just saying that if you're someone like myself who already has a lengthy list of breeding projects, you're probably not going to bother with an Alolan form unless it's competitively S-tier, because your efforts are going to be for naught come three to four years.

Cutscenes: I've heard one person comment that "Pokémon games now have cutscenes! " As the resident Kalos adorer, I've gotta object here and point out that a) we've always had sprite-based cutscenes and b) Gen 5 was the first to give us cinematic cutscenes, not Gen 7, and Gen 6 had puhhhlenty of 'em too. But I'll agree that the cutscenes are striking in Gen 7. Their number, their length, their frequency ... you can't help but to notice that this game has cutscenes.

They're pretty nice. As noted earlier, I think the graphics leave much to be desired. (Those zoomed-in human faces ... ) But the sentiment is good and the content is nice. The protagonist shielding Nebby on the bridge ... Nellie stealing Nebby from that one facility ... the totem Pokémon lumbering towards you ... the idiotic Skull grunts ...

Team Skull: So yeah ... ^^;;;;;; I mentioned this before in the demo thread, but, uh ... so ........ looks like our new regional villain team is a bunch of w[censored]s? ^^;;;;; Is this a serious problem endemic to Hawaii? ^^;; Does Hawaii have way too many white urban youth trying to be urban black? So much so that it struck Junichi Masuda and team as the ideal fit for Hawaii's regional villains? ^^;;;;;;

The grunts, while idiotic and trying to do bad things, honestly seem like good-hearted guys deep down inside. I'm getting weak-to-mid Bulk and Skull vibes. Like, they're clearly bad guys insofar as they're disrupting the peace, trying to steal Pokémon, etc. But through our various interactions so far, they really don't seem to be that bad-hearted.

Stupid, though. Very, very stupid. ^^;

Starters: How could I forget? I've been on Team Rowlet since Day One -- should come as no surprise to those of you who know me -- and I've been doing my best to avoid spoilers on the evolutions. Sadly I've seen what the mid-stage owl looks like, but I still haven't seen what the adult looks like, so it's all good. Optimistic that he doesn't become Grass/Ground like people were speculating way back when, but the slow Speed stat doesn't bode well ... Even if he does, though, I liked Torterra (my starter of choice in Gen 4) and so I don't mind playing a Grass/Ground again. We'll see.

Up-leveling: Very, very easy so far. Not as easy as Gen 6, I think? But very, very easy. Without even trying, my Rowlet already has max affection and is at Level 23. Second on the team is at Level 18. There's a dropoff there (third on the team is at 15), but still: people who've been saying, "Man! This game sure is hard to level up in!", I don't get it. Maybe it becomes hard later. But if you're using what the game throws at you like normal (Exp.Share, all available trainer battles, don't run from 100% of wild battles), then I see no reason why your starter shouldn't already be rarin' to evolve by the end of the first "gym". To repeat, though: I'm only seven hours in and already at Level 23 without trying. No grinding. No excessive amounts of trying to capture stuff. Lazily coasting through and already at 23. Rowlet OHKOs most things with Razor Leaf and Pluck. If he were evolved, I can guarantee he would OHKO everything except for 4x-resist Basics and 2x-resist middle stages. And he's not even EV trained this time.

EV Training Go Down the Hoooooole : So yeah ... they took out Super Training. -.- I had to Google this when I saw I couldn't find it anywhere in the game and I was already at the first trial. I have mixed feelings. My instinct is to say it's pretty lame, but I pause and then think to myself that it's actually a blessing in disguise. For players like myself, it's very difficult to deliberately handicap yourself. If Game Freak presents me with something like Super Training out of the gate, I am going to use it and EV train my Story Mode buddies on acquisition. But this makes the game boring. Boring because you have to put the story down to do EV training. And boring because you then curbstomp everything. I'm still curbstomping most things (because lol children's game), but I can honestly say that Rowlet has fainted once during a trainer battle and that there is still room for challenge here. There's not really any room for challenge when you're properly EV trained during Story Mode. But properly EV training is the right thing to do. Conundrum. So, I'm kinda sorta glad they took it out, just so they can say, "TALON! For fuck's sake! Have fun playing our game. And then worry about EV training! " I haven't done this since Emerald, but the sharp drop off from XYORAS (which gave me Super Training) to SM (which took it away) has made it easier for me to rationalize, "Fuck it! :')" and to just play the game, "ruining" my creatures' EVs, deciding to just reset them later once we get the EV resetting berries en masse.

New Pokémon: Aside from Rowlet, I've only had one Pokémon that I have been super excited to raise on my team and that's Pyukumuku. ... Or it was Pyukumuku, but then I found out last night that Pyukumuku is like if Delibird and Wobbuffet had a love child -_-; and so yeah ... my foreseen team is still pretty much only Rowlet for right now. ^^; But other 'mons I've liked so far ... I think Cutiefly is cute, and I have a Timid one, so I'm trying to raise it ... not a big fan of the puppy, the mongoose, or even the woodpecker strangely enough, but oh well ... not a fan of the crab with the boxing gloves ... most everything else I can recall is from Gen 6 or older, so ... yeah! ^^; I think my only "<3" moments so far have been Rowlet and Pyukumuku, that's it.

Olivia: Let's end on this note, shall we?

Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame Freak!
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