Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Best Way to Play Pokemon

Long, long ago, way back in April, I was nonchalantly chatting with a friend and somehow ended up on her Twitter profile. I noticed her profile picture was this fucking bitch right here.

Now, despite the fact that Goomy is worse than even you're waifu, seeing the little slug faggot was enough to reignite my long lost and never really commendable passion for Pokemon. "But Blank!" You cry, "I thought this was an anime blog!"

Yeah, so did I. It's close enough.

So, what happened?

Well, my dear friends, I was in a somewhat precarious situation. See, the remakes of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire - Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (ORAS) - had come out in Japan quite recently at the time. The fact that these games were of the objectively best generation compounded with my rediscovered itch for Pokemon, and playing through either or both of those games seemed to be the best course of action.

However, therein lies the problem - I don't own a 3DS. I'd been meaning to get one since release because I was sure Nintendo would shill it to no end with 3DS exclusives (I wasn't wrong), and there are a plethora of games I'd love to play, but even so, I could never justify the purchase. So doing what any level-headed, intelligent man would do, I headed over to /vp/ to explain my situation and ask for some advice. Surprisingly, the thread which I thought would die out after 10 posts and an answered query went on to produce well over a hundred quality replies and an unintentionally started VGC vs Smogon war.

Following the discussion that happened, I decided to once again hold off on buying a 3DS for no good reason, though that was probably for the better, but I did get into competitive Pokemon, and oh boy, that's been a blast.

I've also experienced a whole new world of memes.

Competitive Pokemon? What the fuck?

Yeah, it's not just a kids' game, apparently. In the beginning, I wasn't your average Joe when it came to Pokemon - not to brag or anything :^). I knew about EVs and IVs, breeding egg moves and PKRS, chain fishing and a bunch of other arbitrary trivia that was of no real use, but once I joined the scene, my horizons expanded just that much more.

I could argue that Pokemon has the mechanics to be played competitively by adults, and it's not just a children's game; it was the god-awful anime that spread that misconception, but frankly I don't care what you think. When the day comes where you too can enjoy seeing Pachirisu eating Mence Draco Meteors, then can we talk.

Okay, I actually don't care. What's this "Best Way to Play Pokemon" business you've been teasing at with the title?

I'm sure you've all heard of the notorious Nuzlocke Challenge. If you haven't, you need to do some reading. It sounds like a great idea at first, but I'm willing to bet that the majority end in failure or abandonment, and I can't say I'm surprised. Seriously, what the fuck are you trying to do, taking on Roxanne with a Wurmple and a Zigzagoon? How is that even remotely fun? Who the fuck even likes Zigzagoon, because I sure as hell don't.

This is where two godsends make their debut:
  1. The Universal Pokemon Randomizer
  2. Romhacks
The Universal Pokemon Randomizer
This is a nifty Java tool that can be found here, and despite its seemingly limited functionality due to its name, it actually comes with myraid features which can be used to tweak your Pokemon roms to perfection, just the way you like it. 

There are several algorithms to randomize starter, wild and trainer Pokemon, as well as overworld items, in-game trades, Pokemon stats, types, moves and abilities on top of the other hundred or so tools and gimmicks. I'd tell you to read all of the options and try them out for yourself, but of course, your opinion isn't mine and is therefore wrong, so I'll grace you with the optimal setup for enjoying yourself a brilliant Pokemon experience.

Pokemon stats, abilities, moves and types: Unchanged.
Stay true to vanilla in this regard. Sure, having a special sweeper Gyarados, Flash Fire Scizor or Fly Golem is fun, but the novelty wears off within literally seconds. If your goal is to finish the game at all, you're going to want to do it properly.

Starter Pokemon: Randomized.
If you're playing a Nuzlocke, chances are you've already played the game(s) several times in the past. Having a fresh batch of starters really revitalizes the game and makes it more appealing overall. I'd recommend completely random starters, unless you like Caterpie or want to start off with a Ralts that only has growl and can't kill the Zigzagoon chasing Prof. Birch.

Wild Pokemon: Randomized.
Nuzlocke is a fundamentally difficult challenge. Being able to raise a potentially proper team from the get-go is a much more time-efficient and enjoyable than forcing yourself into the Wingull + Lotad route. I don't find this game-breakingly unbalanced as you can't fish around for a pack of legendaries in a Nuzlocke, and the levels are appropriate throughout the game.

Trainers' Pokemon: Unchanged.
Randomized trainer Pokemon seems like a given at first, but I find that this isn't the best way to go about things. Randomized trainer battles really messes up the difficulty curves, and it spikes at the most random points, often encouraging you to call bullshit. Knowing what's coming allows you to prepare and enjoy a planned and calculated playthrough, rather than getting 6-0'd by a bug catcher's double dance Blaziken.

Items: Vanilla field items, random hold items.
I thought it would be cool to pick up a Choice Band at the beginning of the game, but usually you just get garbage X Attacks and whatever. Keep field items stock, the Potions and Antidotes you randomly pick up are actually useful. Randomized hold items is actually good though - you get double the reward for catching Pokemon, which is already limited by the Nuzlocke rules.  

Lower Case Pokemon Names: This has to be checked. It is not debatable.

Other stuff: Just be smart about it. Try not to break things.

Exactly what's written on the box - Pokemon roms, manually hacked. These tend to be better than randomizing the roms yourself, for several reasons:
  • Can add many features that the randomizer cannot, for example:
    • Physical/Special Split
    • Fairy type
    • Newer gen Pokemon
  • Things tend to be hand-placed into the world. 
    • Probably won't find a Latios in Route 103.
    • Game will probably be more balanced.
As such, this is generally the way to go when you want to do a Nuzlocke. Especially when it comes to older games, current knowledge can be applied, which is very satisfying for the more autistic amongst us, myself included. However, there are also several drawbacks when it comes to romhacks.
  • Most of them suck.
  • Can include unwanted features, for example:
    • Self-proclaimed move balancing
    • Custom moves/items/Pokemon
    • Botnet
Basically what I'm getting at is, there are heaps of romhacks and it's up to you to dig through the shit to find the less stinky shit.

Did you really write an entire blog post just to push your flimsily justified opinions onto other people?

Yes. Also Blogger's formatting is fucking garbage. LaTeX when.

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