Radiant Historia (Whimsical Weekend #20)

Still a weekend thanks to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Radiant Historia is a DS game dating back to 2011 (in North America, at least), so it might seem strange that I’m reviewing it now of all times. Well, to tell the truth, I never knew about it until I received it as a present just last Christmas. That said, I managed to beat the game just last night (with 40+ hours of gameplay, level 61 Stocke and Marco, and level 60 Aht), and I ended up completing all but 40 nodes in the White Chronicle, which includes having missed:

  • 3 Marco scrolls
  • 2 Raynie scrolls
  • 2 Rosch cores
  • 2 Gafka books
  • 2 Stocke pacts
  • 2 Aht pacts
  • 1 Eruca pact

…which is a shame, because my two partners of choice ended up being Aht and Marco.

Why? In the initial stages, I only ever used Raynie and Marco, apart from scripted events and one super annoying miniboss fight (I’ll get to that later). But later on, when I got to the Cygnus part of the story, when Stocke finds Aht before any other of his allies, I came to really admire Aht’s fighting style. She places traps on the field that deal insane damage, and I’ve always liked being able to push enemies around, so…yeah.

So, that’s the reason for Aht. As for Marco: He, Rosch, and Gafka are the only characters with easy-to-acquire skills that pull enemies forward, and I figured that Marco would be the most beneficial due to his access to plenty of healing skills (not to mention Rosch and Gafka aren’t around as often).

And even if traps are out of the question (such as if the enemy takes up all 9 opposing tiles), Aht still proves to have decent damage output with Cross Star (especially if boosted by Marco), and the two partners are robust in the support skills that they possess. That is to say, not only are both very effective healers, but Marco can boost all allies’ Defense, while Aht can boost Magic Defense and, more importantly, ailment resistance. On another note, both have Weakness Scan.

So…yeah. Aht is a literal and figurative beast, and Marco is a robust supporter.

Other things I enjoyed about the game:

  • The timeline mechanic is a pleasant reminder of the Zero Escape series, but applied to an RPG instead of a visual novel / puzzle.
  • The combat places enemies on a 3*3 grid reminiscent of the MegaMan Battle Network series, and core mechanics include pushing enemies around and changing turn order. It may be turn-based, but all ally turns are executed before the next enemy turn, so combo execution can really feel good and look cool.
  • I like that the main character (Stocke) is laconic and antihero-ish but still has the basic social and combat skills to deal with most situations. Also brings into relief the side characters of the game.
  • Speaking of, I have an unhealthy obsession with Lippti.
  • The music is composed by Yoko Shimomura, who also composed for the Kingdom Hearts and Mario & Luigi series. So, naturally, it’s good music. Has emotional tunes, upbeat tunes, and everything in between. My personal favorite track is the miniboss music.

But, even the best of game experiences come with a few gripes.

  • Backtracking to a node in the timeline puts you at the beginning of the cutscene associated with that node, instead of the moment when you are first able to assume control of Stocke. Sure, you can speed through text boxes by holding the X button, but that’s just text boxes; the animations take the same amount of time every time. I find this particularly bothersome for the beginning node of Alternate History Chapter 1 (A New Mission), which has an exceptionally long cutscene for what it’s worth.
    1/16 edit: Well, it just came to my attention that you can skip cutscenes entirely using the Start button. Now I feel stupid for not trying that.
  • I can’t help wishing that Elm (Celestia’s military commander) had full art instead of just a sprite. She seems like she would look cute.
  • The miniboss battle in Alternate History Chapter 4, just past the Celestian War node, is honestly the most annoying fight I’ve had to deal with. At the time, the main three (Stocke, Raynie, Marco) were at level 40-ish, and Rosch was at around level 20. The battle starts off with a thaumachine (story term for an automaton) taking up the top and center tiles of the enemy grid, backed with four naval mine lookalike enemies called Clockwork Thunder taking up the corners. The Clockwork Thunder enemies cannot be pushed around, they’re difficult to one-shot with multi-target skills, and they only ever use a skill called Self-destruct that deals an easy 200 damage to whatever it targets (which, at the time, was at least half every character’s HP), only at the expense of disappearing from the field. What’s more is, when the Clockwork Thunder enemies are all gone, the thaumachine uses Floating Bomb to summon a row of three in the farthest available row in the back (unless it’s at low HP, in which case it can use Bull Crash, another painstakingly strong move). I ended up being able to survive with Rosch and Raynie as partners, and my general strategy was to keep the thaumachine in the back and use Rosch’s Gull Swing to take out the Clockwork Thunder enemies all at once (at the time, Gull Swing would barely fall short of KOing Clockwork Thunder in the back), all while using Raynie’s Thunder and Stocke’s Fire (well, in the few opportunities when Stocke didn’t have to heal anyone) to whittle away at the thaumachine. What a pain it was.
  • Another annoying part of the game is the second room of the final dungeon. The gimmick behind the room is that you defeat these floating block enemies and they become obstacles to push and create paths. It’s not a huge issue per se, but there are some crystal enemies along the path that respawn during the cutscene where the blocks become movable. It’s especially a pain for completionists (like me) who want to get the two chests at the beginning of the room (behind rocks that can only be exploded by hidden barrels at the end of the path). I mean, it’s really only the respawning thing that cheeses me off, but this is a prime example of that.

I think that’s all that needs to be said about Radiant Historia. There is a 3DS remake (titled Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology) slated for overseas release next month, but I’ll just settle for having played the original. As for the remaining 40 nodes and stuff, I will scoop them up using walkthroughs (such as this one) because I’d rather not go through the tedium of scouting them out on my own.

Overall rating: 9.3/10. Simple but fun.

 

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

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Regigigas (Poké Monday 1/1/18)

 Happy 2018 from Vouiv-review! 

 

Type: Normal

Base Stats:

  • 110 HP
  • 160 Attack
  • 110 Defense
  • 80 Special Attack
  • 110 Special Defense
  • 100 Speed

Ability: Slow Start gives Regigigas half Attack and Speed when it is sent out. This effect wears off if Regigigas stays in for 5 consecutive turns.

Notable physical attacks: Drain Punch, Earthquake, Fire Punch, Frustration/Return, Ice Punch, Knock Off, Power-Up Punch, Thunder Punch

Notable status moves: Rock Polish, Substitute, Thunder Wave

Notable Z-moves:

  • Breakneck Blitz (Normal) – Converts one use of Giga Impact into a base 200 physical Normal-type attack.
  • All-Out Pummeling (Fighting) – Converts one use of Focus Punch into a base 200 physical Fighting-type attack.
  • …That’s it, actually. Not a very good idea to give this thing a Z-Crystal.

Overview

Few Abilities can detriment a Pokémon enough for even Uber-level stats to be demoted to the lowest of tiers. Slow Start is one of them. I mean, 160/100 offenses may seem outrageous, but Slow Start makes them equivalent to a laughable 55/25 for five whole turns. And you would think that 110/110/110 bulk would at least somewhat compensate for that, but consider that Regigigas cannot regain its HP by any means other than Drain Punch or held items. Not to mention Regigigas lacks Protect and Rest, luxuries that are accessible to most other Pokémon and would at least somewhat improve its viability. You would also think to use special attacks—such as Nature Power (which defaults to Tri Attack), Focus Blast, Earth Power, Thunderbolt, and Icy Wind—while Slow Start is active, but with only base 80 Special Attack and no way to reliably boost it (its only methods are Z-Confuse Ray and Z-Gravity), it won’t get far. (Plus uninvested base 80 Special Attack is equivalent to fully invested base 40.) And it really doesn’t help that both Thunder Wave and confusion have been nerfed since last generation (having become 90% accurate and having a lower 33% immobilizing chance, respectively).

But hey, not all is bad for this unfortunate golem. At least it has reliable STAB in Frustration/Return, along with utility in Knock Off and Thunder Wave. Knock Off is also great coverage that hits most of the tier for neutral or greater damage, and the few resistant typings (Dark/Steel Pawniard, Fairy/Rock Carbink) are hit by Drain Punch and Earthquake. Regigigas also has boosting options for its Attack and Speed, although its best Attack-boosting option, Power-Up Punch, only gives a 1-stage increase per use and does not work on Ghost-types…not to mention it’s tough enough leaving Regigigas in for five turns straight, let alone allowing it to get enough boosts to compensate for its Ability. (Think about things like Will-O-Wisp and Whirlwind that could completely stop its potential rampage.)

Simply put, Regigigas is a prime example of how a terrible Ability can hinder an otherwise ridiculous set of stats.

Set

Regigigas @ Leftovers
Ability: Slow Start
EVs: 248 HP / 252 Atk / 8 Def
Adamant Nature
– Return
– Knock Off
– Thunder Wave
– Drain Punch

This is the best way that Regigigas can weaken and/or hinder the opposition while hoping that it will survive more than five turns on the battlefield. It uses Return (or Frustration, depending on preference) as STAB, Knock Off for coverage and item removal utility, Thunder Wave to cripple faster threats, and Drain Punch for extra coverage and the only thing other than Leftovers that keeps it healthy. Adamant Nature with max Attack is preferred for maximum damage output at all times, and the remaining EVs are dumped into bulk for survivability. Note that HP investment is slightly less than maximum so that Regigigas takes a bit less damage from hazards such as Stealth Rock.

Other Options

Substitute is the best alternative option available (preferably over Drain Punch), as it protects from status conditions (particularly burn) that could hinder what little potential Regigigas may have on the battlefield.

As mentioned in the overview, setup options such as Power-Up Punch and Rock Polish allow Regigigas to improve its offensive prowess, but having to survive five turns is difficult enough. It can also utilize its special movepool featuring Nature Power and such, so that its damage output is entirely unhindered but its offensive prowess is worse overall.

Earthquake is a powerful option that hits Magcargo harder than any other move Regigigas can run.

Problems and Partners

Problems

Super-size Gourgeist has the physical bulk and Ghost typing to comfortably take on Regigigas. This is further enhanced by reliable recovery in Synthesis, a crippling status move in Will-O-Wisp, and high damage output in Foul Play. (Note: The damage output of opposing Foul Play is unaffected by Regigigas’ Slow Start.)

Sableye has lower stats, but it’s a bigger problem with its higher PP recovery, neutrality to Knock Off, and STAB on Foul Play.

Fighting-type attackers can use their STAB to effectively wear down Regigigas. Be especially careful of them during Slow Start turns.

Partners

Ghost-types (notably the main two that Regigigas has problems with) can deal with the mostly physical Fighting-types of the tier, although Gourgeist-Super should be wary of Knock Off and similar coverage options.

Haunter can check the aforementioned Ghost-types and even has Dazzling Gleam for Sableye.

And anything with Aromatherapy, Heal Bell, and/or Wish can be helpful for keeping Regigigas healthy and status-free.

I have been playing Pokémon Ultra Moon (Whimsical Weekend #19)

I’m sorry to say that I’ll be keeping this brief, because I’ve said plenty about Pokémon Sun in Whimsical Weekend #6 (which just so happens to be not much less than a year ago), and I don’t have much to add to that. I owe this mostly to the fact that I don’t have nearly as much time nowadays to spend on video games (let alone what the fanbase calls a “remake” of Sun/Moon) and therefore haven’t been through anywhere near as much postgame as in the case of Sun.

…Well, to be more accurate, the one thing above all else that inhibits me from going through Ultra Moon postgame is: the quest for a good Stakataka.

First off, I’m looking for a Lonely nature with a Defense IV of 15 or less, so that it will gain Attack from Beast Boost if fully trained in Attack. More importantly, I’m going for as little Speed as possible, which is simple for me to check, considering I just so happen to have a Vullaby with exactly 21 Speed. (The Speed value of a level 60 Stakataka with a neutral nature and 0 IV in Speed is 20.) Simple as it is, though, it’s not that easy. If it was any earlier year, I would have had much more patience in constantly resetting for this sort of thing than I do now. But hey, if talk like that isn’t convincing enough, how about some statistics?

  • Chance of Lonely Nature (with Synchronize Elgyem): 50%
  • Chance of Speed not being one of the three guaranteed perfect IVs: 50% (10/20)
  • Chance of Speed IV being 0: 3.125% (1/32)
    • Chance of Speed IV being 1 and losing a speed tie with Vullaby: 1.5625% (1/32 * 1/2)
    • Chance of either of the above: 4.6875%
  • Chance of Defense IV being 15 or below: 50% (16/32)

So…we’re looking at nearly a half-percent chance of an acceptable scenario. Not as daunting as the chance of encountering a shiny Pokémon with regular odds, but still quite a pain to go for.

 

Anyway, enough about that. Remember this snipped that I posted in Whimsical Weekend #6?

Well, I decided to use 4 of those 6 in the creation of my Ultra Moon team, and it turned out like this:

I don’t remember how they were when I beat the Pokémon League, but here’s their current status. (Yeah, I still play the game in French.)

Gaebora (Decidueye) [Archéduc] (M)
Ability: Overgrow [Engrais]
Level: 69
Mild Nature [Doux]
Stats: 197/171/105/169/163/147
– Leaf Blade [Lame-Feuille]
– Spirit Shackle [Tisse Ombre]
– U-turn [Demi-Tour]
– Nature Power [Force-Nature]

Blanc (Sandslash-Alola) [Sablaireau] (F) @ Focus Band [Bandeau]
Ability: Snow Cloak [Rideau Neige]
Level: 66
Lax Nature [Lâche]
Stats: 192/174/199/53/96/122
– Iron Head [Tête de Fer]
– Ice Punch [Poing Glace]
– Bulldoze [Piétisol]
– Metal Burst [Fulmifer]

Kirche (Salazzle) [Malamandre] @ BrightPowder [Poudre Claire]
Ability: Corrosion [Corrosion]
Level: 66
Naive Nature [Naïf]
Stats: 188/119/98/151/104/203
– Flamethrower [Lance-Flammes]
– Venoshock [Choc Venin]
– Toxic [Toxik]
– Dragon Pulse [Dracochoc]

Théo (Bewear) [Chelours] (M) @ Leftovers [Restes]
Ability: Fluffy [Boule de Poils]
Level: 66
Relaxed Nature [Relax]
Stats: 253/202/139/105/106/105
– Hammer Arm [Marto-Poing]
– Facade [Façade]
– Payback [Représailles]
– Thrash [Mania]

Asui (Araquanid) [Tarenbulle] (F) @ Quick Claw [Vive Griffe]
Ability: Water Bubble [Aquabulle]
Level: 66
Modest Nature [Modeste]
Stats: 187/116/135/92/192/100
– Liquidation [Aqua-Brèche]
– Scald [Ébullition]
– Leech Life [Vampirisme]
– Mirror Coat [Voile Miroir]

Courange (Lycanroc-Dusk) [Lougaroc] (M) @ Normalium Z [Normazélite]
Ability: Tough Claws [Griffe Dure]
Level: 66
Adamant Nature [Rigide]
Stats: 185/216/98/86/109/192
– Rock Slide [Éboulement]
– Drill Run [Tunnelier]
– Thunder Fang [Crocs Éclair]
– Happy Hour [Étrennes]

In terms of nicknames, Gaebora and Kirche are the only ones I really kept, while the others are arguably improved over what I had before. In particular, I figured based on Sandslash’s tanky stats that Blanc would be a far more fitting name for it than Hokuto, and Théo is far less generic than any other Bewear nickname I can think of. (Théo is named after Theodore Roosevelt, who is known as Teddy.)

Asui is admittedly kind of a stretch for Araquanid (considering its namesake), but I’m proud of Courange. Why? It was first intended to be a simple portmanteau of “coucher” (as in sunset) and “orange” (the color of Lycanroc-Dusk), but when I thought deeper, I realized that there are even more words that can be associated with the nickname:

  • “courir” (to run)
  • “courage”
  • “cou” (the neck, the sweet spot in Poké Refresh)
  • “range” (as in range of movement)
  • “ange” (angel)

…So I thought, but the more ideas I come up with, the more they seem…off. Oh well.

As for movesets, don’t worry about what I listed them as in Whimsical Weekend #6; the me back then was a bit naïve in some aspects, particularly when it comes to moves that can only be obtained post-game. *coughEarthquakeonAlolanSandslashcough*

And yes, I did soft-reset for Adamant Lycanroc-Dusk. It’s what I believe to be the ideal nature for a Z-Happy Hour user, which is precisely the role that I ended up assigning to Courange. Shame that it has absolutely no 100% accurate attacks (unless I were to teach it Accelerock, which I’m not down for).

By the way, now that I think about it, there was something that I wanted to mention about Ultra Sun/Moon that wasn’t in regular Sun/Moon. Four words: ROTOM. NEVER. SHUTS. UP. Really, does that stinking piece of scrap metal think that it’s a good idea to babble about silly tutorial things, regardless whether or not the player has already demonstrated knowledge of such things, 90% of the time after closing the pause menu or finishing a battle? Ugh, the nerve.

So, that’s my main complaint about Ultra SuMo. That said, there were a few pleasant surprises within the main story. Particularly:

  • Totem Wishiwashi and Salazzle being replaced by Araquanid and Alolan Marowak respectively
  • The entire Fairium Z trial (I actually had to soft-reset against Totem Ribombee)
  • Ultra Necrozma
  • New environment and timing for the fourth Grand Trial
  • A Steel-type dude taking Hala’s place in the Elite Four
  • Hau contending for the Champion title, instead of Kukui defending it

 

Pff, man, I said I’d be brief, but this still ended up being almost a thousand words. Not to mention it took a longer time than I thought. But, I think that’s all I have to say here.

À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Pyroar (Poké Monday 11/27/17)

With the release of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the upper bound of the random number generator will henceforth be 807.

  

Type: Fire/Normal

Base Stats:

  • 86 HP
  • 68 Attack
  • 72 Defense
  • 109 Special Attack
  • 66 Special Defense
  • 106 Speed

Ability choices:

  • Rivalry Pyroar deal 1.25* damage to Pokémon of the same gender, 0.75* damage to Pokémon of the opposite gender, and normal damage to genderless Pokémon.
  • Unnerve Pyroar prevent opposing Pokémon from consuming Berries. As of Sun/Moon, this Ability makes wild Pokémon more likely to call for help.
  • Moxie Pyroar, upon scoring a KO, have their Attack raised by 1 stage. (Hidden Ability)

Notable special attacks: Dark Pulse, Fire BlastHyper Voice

Notable physical attacks: Bulldoze, Crunch, Flare Blitz (Egg move), Frustration/Return, Iron Tail (via tutor), Wild Charge

Notable status moves: Taunt, Will-O-Wisp, Work Up, Yawn (Egg move)

Notable Z-moves:

  • Inferno Overdrive (Fire)
    • Physical – Converts one use of Flare Blitz into a base 190 physical Fire-type attack.
    • Special – Converts one use of Overheat into a base 195 special Fire-type attack.
  • Breakneck Blitz (Normal)
    • Physical – Converts one use of Giga Impact into a base 200 physical Normal-type attack.
    • Special – Converts one use of Hyper Beam into a base 200 special Normal-type attack.
  • Bloom Doom (Grass) – Converts one use of Solar Beam into a base 190 special Grass-type attack.
  • Tectonic Rage (Ground) – Converts one use of Dig (via gen 6 TM) into a base 160 physical Ground-type attack.
  • Z-Work Up (Normal) – Grants +1 Attack with one use of Work Up.

Overview

Funny to think that Litleo was my second Poké Monday analysis, and I’m now returning to the evolutionary line not long after the release of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Well, not that Ultra SuMo really provided anything special for Pyroar (aside from making it available without requiring gen 6 transfer), but the original SuMo gave the Pyroar family Flare Blitz as an Egg move (which is quite a boon, considering that its best physical Fire STAB before then was Fire Fang).

Regardless, taking into consideration the overall base stats, Ability choices, and movepool, it’s easy to see that Pyroar is a mess of a Pokémon, and not the good type of mess. If it had a higher Attack stat, it could make much better use of Moxie. If it had a better movepool or Ability, it could be a much better special sweeper. But alas, you have…this.

On the bright side, Pyroar still has high Speed and Special Attack for its tier, coupled with powerful special STABs in Fire Blast and Hyper Voice. On top of that, SuMo introduced Grassium Z, which is the new Power Herb when it comes to firing off a one-time instant Grass-type attack via Solar Beam. Alternatively, Normalium Z with Work Up presents an option for making its physical prowess at least slightly more usable.

As for defenses, 86/72/66 might not be the best, but unique Fire/Normal typing gives it a nice set of resistances in Ghost, Fire, Grass, Ice, Bug, Steel, and Fairy (while only being weak to Water, Fighting, Ground, and Rock). Notice especially Ghost and Fairy; the Pyroar line has the only existent type combination resistant to both types. (Heck, it used to be resistant to most of Mimikyu’s coverage until Mimikyu got Drain Punch via Ultra SuMo tutor, but that’s a Pokémon tiers beyond Pyroar regardless.) Fire typing also makes it immune to burn, so at least physical sets aren’t super easy to shut down…

Sets

Set 1: Bloom Doom

Pyroar @ Grassium Z
Ability: Unnerve
EVs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Fire Blast
– Hyper Voice
– Solar Beam
– Will-O-Wisp

A simple dual STAB attacking set with simple coverage. Fire Blast and Hyper Voice are its main STAB moves. Solar Beam in conjunction with Grassium Z grants Pyroar one-time base 190 Grass coverage, a huge improvement over the base 60 that it would otherwise have with Hidden Power. Will-O-Wisp is a sort of filler option for Pyroar’s severe lack of special coverage.

EVs and Nature are obviously tailored towards fast special attacking. Unnerve is the preferred Ability on special sets because Rivalry is too situational and Moxie is physically oriented.

Set 2: Z-Work Up

Pyroar @ Normalium Z
Ability: Moxie
Happiness: 0
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Work Up
– Flare Blitz
– Frustration
– Wild Charge

With Normalium Z, Pyroar can utilize Z-Work Up for a one-time +2 Attack and +1 Special Attack in order to make the most of its meager physical prowess. Flare Blitz is a stronger and more accurate STAB off a weaker attacking stat and with a bit of recoil. Frustration (or Return with 255 happiness; doesn’t matter) is in the same boat minus the accuracy and side effect parts. Wild Charge grants coverage against (most) bulky Water-types that would otherwise cause problems.

EVs and Nature are physically oriented, and Moxie is great for racking up extra boosts against unsuspecting prey.

Other Options

Z-moves can only be used once per battle, and perhaps Pyroar is not the best user thereof, so the best alternative would be Life Orb or Choice Specs on a specially offensive set. Going down that route, Hidden Power Grass is the best bet for special coverage, unless for whatever reason you want to run Power Herb Solar Beam in a similar vein to the Bloom Doom set. (Keep in mind that Power Herb, unlike Grassium Z, is prone to Knock Off.) Choice Scarf is also a usable option for surprising boosted or naturally faster threats.

As an alternative to Will-O-Wisp, the specially offensive set can run Taunt so that it won’t end up bamboozled by utility Pokémon or setup sweepers. Speaking of offensive, a real hardcore offensive Pyroar set can run Overheat for an even stronger STAB than Flare Blitz, although with the severe drawback of greatly reducing Special Attack.

In the physical set, Iron Tail can be used to hit Rock-types that resist its dual STABs.

Problems and Partners

Problems

All of the listed Pokémon above have super-effective STAB and outspeed Pyroar. (Granted Lycanroc won’t stay in Pyroar’s tier for long, considering Ultra SuMo gave it Drill Run and an exclusive Z-move.)

Pyroar doesn’t have many super-effective options against Probopass, and the few are either Hidden Power or unconventional. Probopass isn’t particularly fazed by Will-O-Wisp either, considering it only ever runs special attacks.

Camerupt is in the same boat, and better yet, it’s immune to burn and has a particularly strong super-effective STAB in Earth Power.

Lanturn doesn’t really have anything to fear but Bloom Doom, and it can retaliate with Scald or Volt Switch.

Partners

Gastrodon is a great sponge for the above mentioned problems, taking neutral damage or less from most of their attacks and being able to spread Scald burns or Toxic poison while keeping itself healthy with Recover. Ground STAB helps too.

Aside from that, I suppose Water-, Grass-, and Ground-types are generally the way to go.

Okay, if I had to name one Grass-type…

Super-size Gourgeist is a magnificent physical wall in Pyroar’s tier, also having the virtue of spreading burns and keeping itself healthy, as well as being helpful for scouting the occasional Scarfed or Mach Punch Fighting-types.

Moves that heal allied status conditions (such as Heal Bell, Aromatherapy, and Healing Wish) are also advised, particularly with any of the two partners above.

Super Mario Odyssey! (Whimsical Weekend #18)

I bought this game on release date (October 28), but between having a full-time job, some unspoken second thing, and wanting to finish Breath of the Wild main quests first, I never had the pleasure of playing it until 2 days later. That said, I enjoyed the crap out of the game and managed to 100% complete it in roughly 45 hours overall. Now, don’t be deceived by quantities (namely that I’ve spent 125 total hours on Breath of the Wild as of now), because I have to say that Super Mario Odyssey has a better ratio of quality to time spent. But, comparing the two games is like comparing apples to oranges, so I’ll just discard any further notion of doing so.

First off, a synopsis. Bowser schemes to arrange a marriage with Peach, and Mario has no choice but to interfere. However, Mario starts off being kicked off Bowser’s airship and lost in some mysterious location, his hat torn to shreds. Fortunately, this mysterious location happens to be the hometown of a hat-like ghost named Cappy, who meets Mario and ends up becoming his sidekick by giving him special powers, notably the ability to control particular creatures. While Bowser is out wreaking havoc and stealing valuables from a multitude of kingdoms, Mario and Cappy give chase, hoping to eventually rescue Peach (and Cappy’s sister, Tiara, who accompanies Peach throughout the story).

Simply put, Odyssey has a rather standard plot, but you can’t expect much different from a main series Mario game, eh? I mean, what makes a Mario game good is the music, atmosphere, and gameplay.

Starting with the music, Odyssey has a great soundtrack all around, with both original compositions and blasts from the past. Here’s a list of my top 3 picks in ascending order: Bowser’s Castle 2, Steam Gardens, and Honeylune Ridge: Caves. (As a side note, I have to say: The Wooded Kingdom music always reminds me of Llama by Phish.)

In terms of atmosphere, I don’t have much to say on the matter, except regarding the quirky characters of the game. I mean, there’s not much that I can say about everything else, because I’m not the type to be easily moved by any sort of scenery or inspired by any sort of theme. Anyways, regarding the characters… I’ll start with minor notes regarding minor characters.

  • The residents of Shiveria are adorable. My favorite minor characters, hands down.
  • “OTEP” is a nonsensical word said by the human NPCs of the game, particularly the bassist of Metro Kingdom. It’s become a meme on Twitch, so don’t be surprised if you see the word thrown around every now and then (to say the least).
  • Not exactly a character, but darned if Burrbos aren’t the most annoying enemy in the game. They’re like Miniblins from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. They die in one hit, but they respawn constantly, make annoying noises, and are extremely pesky with their means of dealing damage.

Next up: talk about Cappy. His powers are irreplaceable, and he definitely tries his best to be a helpful sidekick. Although his help occasionally comes in handy (particularly when it comes to postgame moon/coin hunting), it’s mostly redundant to people (like me) who end up having learned more about the game than the developers would expect (specifically when it comes to gameplay techniques and normally self-explanatory moments). It also makes me curious that he and Tiara pronounce his name more like “Kyappy” than “Cappy”, presumably because the voice actors are Japanese. More importantly, his cries for help after being captured by Klepto are really annoying.

Now, last but definitely not least is the gameplay. I want to say there hasn’t been a Mario game with such satisfying movement since Sunshine or 64. Granted it kinda follows in the footsteps of 3D World, but the cat suit is not absolutely needed (in other words, taking damage does not absolutely negate the fastest form of movement). It’s no secret that Odyssey was developed at least somewhat with speedrunning in mind, considering the movement options, skippable cutscenes, Koopa Freerunning, and a few sequence breaks that Cappy comments on. Even so, it can just as easily be played casually by virtue of its design. What’s also cool is that there’s a multitude of 2D sections in the game despite it being 3D, and even with some throwbacks to age-old games such as Donkey Kong and SMB1.

And contrary to 3D World’s linearity in design, Odyssey has two types of collectibles: moons and purple coins. Some of the purple coins may be a major headache to get (read: Lake Kingdom underwater zipper and Bowser’s Kingdom lantern), but the concept of purple coins makes the game more of a collectathon like Sunshine. (3D World only had stars, stamps, and maybe flagpoles.) I mean, some of the moons were also a pain, namely:

  • Dark Side moons 3 and 4 (Breakdown Road: Hurry! and Breakdown Road: Final Challenge!) – This is the start of a series of challenges that are repeats of earlier moons except that you have to use Cappy to get in and therefore can’t use him within the rooms (like how Super Mario Sunshine secrets have Shadow Mario stealing FLUDD). Well, I didn’t know they were repeats at the time; most of them I did before the original moons. Anyway, it’s some tough crud, lemme tell ya. Although, admittedly I was a bit too search-happy with this particular challenge, but the long jump sequence is challenging regardless.
  • Dark Side moons 5 and 6 (Invisible Road: Rush! and Invisible Road: Secret!) – Honest to goodness, there were times when I felt like I was clearly stepping on the giant Poison Piranhas but ended up somehow getting hit instead. Deceitfully difficult stuff.
  • Dark Side moons 11 and 12 (Yoshi on the Sinking Island and Fruit Feast on the Sinking Island) – This is not part of the series mentioned above. I find it cool that you can directly control Yoshi in this game instead of riding on his back; it feels a bit more like symbiosis than the usual master-servant relationship. Even so, I didn’t know, nor did I think I needed to know, about Yoshi’s climbing technique, so my first playthrough of the challenge consisted of sideflip fluttering and a whole metric frick ton of deaths. I mean, at least the fruit counter doesn’t reset when you die, but it’s always agonizing when the lava catches up (usually no thanks to the spike ball cycles), especially at high HP.
  • Darker Side (a.k.a. Champion’s Road 0.5), although apparently some major skip was discovered for that level. This was actually the first place where I realized that you could control Glydon.
  • Moon Kingdom moon 16 (Found on the Moon, Good Dog!) – It wasn’t in any of the craters that the dog could access, so I had no clue where it could possibly be. I tried using Hint Toad, but the hint he gives only points to the dog, so I just had to keep trying. Turns out the moon is between the debris-filled crater and the straw dummy for moon 7 (Moon Kingdom Timer Challenge 1).
  • Moon Kingdom moon 28 (Mysterious Flying Object) – I went through so much trouble trying to figure out how to catch the UFO, not realizing that the solution was simply a homing cap throw.
  • Metro Kingdom moon 36 (Celebrating in the Streets!) – I missed this secret the first time, and it was such a pain to find it postgame, even with the help of Talkatoo and the Hint Toad.
  • Cap Kingdom moon 7 (Slipping Through the Poison Tide) – Somehow I didn’t notice the hole in the gate across from the entrance at first, and that was also the location of three of the purple coins that I was missing before I realized.
  • Cap Kingdom moon 13 (Taxi Flying Through Bonneton) – I was confused when Hint Toad led me to the binoculars, and that was when I figured out that there are certain moons that require looking at oddities in the sky. (Others include Cascade Kingdom moon 25, Metro Kingdom moon 59, and Bowser’s Kingdom moon 39.)
  • Cap Kingdom moon 17 (hint art) – I thought for so long that those were carpets like in Tostarena; I never imagined people on the moon. The blue circle in the background was the main giveaway, though.
  • Sand Kingdom moon 76 (On the Eastern Pillar) – This one was a pain—but possible—to get without motion controls. That is to say, I was on gamepad at the time, so I didn’t even think motion controls were possible, but I painstakingly found a way to get the moon anyway. What I did was I went to the Tostarena Ruins Sand Pillar location, went to the pillars closest to the east of the nearest Bullet Bill cannon, lured a Bullet Bill from the south pillar, took its hat off at the north pillar, and threw Cappy at the very northeast corner of the pillar while luring the Bullet Bill to where I threw him. This allowed me to reach the box without shaking at all, just holding Y.
  • Luncheon Kingdom moon 53 (Diving from the Big Pot!) – While capturing a Lava Bubble in the giant stew pot, do a rather precise jump to the smaller stew pot on top of the slots building in the plaza. The consequence of failing? Having to warp to the Top of the Peak Climb checkpoint and get back to the giant pot. This particular moon wasn’t a huge struggle, taking me only 2-3 tries, but it set forth a greater struggle that I had on moon 50.
  • Luncheon Kingdom moon 50 (The Rooftop Lantern) – I did this right after moon 53, so I did the exact same thing for this moon, and it was a whole lot more painstaking due to being slightly farther away and having a smaller hitbox. (It took me upwards of 10 tries.) That was before I realized that I could just take a Fire Bro. from beyond the Path to the Meat Plateau checkpoint back to the plaza.
  • Mushroom Kingdom moon 28 (Courtyard Chest Trap) – Aside from the Chest Trap in Seaside Kingdom that’s precisely like Super Mario 64, this was the first Chest Trap mission I had done. I had no idea what was going on, thinking that I had to kill all the zombies in the order specified, and I frustratingly died once or twice before realizing the truth behind it.
  • Mushroom Kingdom moon 33 (Knucklotec rematch) – Those zombies were so pesky.

And regarding 100% completion, I did almost everything on my own—”almost” as in, I tried not to look up anything (although I was tempted to look up Bowser’s Kingdom purple coin locations) except the best farming spot for coins (that being the secret stage of moon 37, the beanstalk at the west wing of the castle) and 2 of the required captures (specifically the Poison and Fire Piranha Plants).

At any rate, the gameplay of Super Mario Odyssey leads me to believe that it’s not entirely complex but not entirely mindless—that is, just the right balance between simple and clever for a Mario game. I find that the Bowser fights are particularly well done in that Bowser seems to have a surprise for every cycle. Even in the first fight in Cloud Kingdom, the last cycle has Bowser performing a counterattack instead of the usual fare of being pummeled while doing nothing back. Then the second fight has him throwing rocks that can’t be punched, more as the fight draws closer to the end. Another surprising thing to me was the third cycle of the third Bowser fight (unlocked after obtaining all 880 unique moons). Normally, Bowser throws a fixed number of rocks before bursting out in evil laughter and leaving himself vulnerable, but in the cycle in question, he never stops throwing rocks until you approach him and pummel him. (But you have to be quick, otherwise he’ll jump away.) You could always do that in all the other cycles of all the fights, but I never imagined until then that such a thing was possible. (Being able to control Bowser after the fight was also a pleasant surprise!)

And even though I’ve finished the game, I easily came to enjoy watching speedruns of it, primarily on account of how slick the movement is and how so many tricks are revealed that I never knew in my first playthrough.

Final verdict: There is no such thing as a perfect game, but Super Mario Odyssey comes very close.

 

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Pelipper (Poké Monday 10/30/17)

 

Type: Water/Flying

Base Stats:

  • 60 HP
  • 50 Attack
  • 100 Defense
  • 95 Special Attack
  • 70 Special Defense
  • 65 Speed

Ability choices:

  • Keen Eye Pelipper are impervious to external accuracy drops. As of gen 6, they ignore targets’ evasion boosts.
  • Drizzle Pelipper summon rain for 5 turns (8 when holding Damp Rock) upon switching in. If rain is already up, the duration is not reset.
  • Rain Dish Pelipper recover 1/16 HP at the end of every turn while rain is active. (Hidden Ability)

Notable special attacks: HurricaneHydro Pump, Ice Beam, Scald, Surf, Shock Wave (via ORAS move tutor)

Notable physical attacks: U-turn, Knock Off (Egg move)

Notable status moves: Defog (via 4th gen HM), Rain Dance, Roost

Notable Z-moves:

  • Hydro Vortex (Water) – Converts one use of Hydro Pump into a base 185 special Water-type attack.
  • Supersonic Skystrike (Flying) – Converts one use of Hurricane into a base 185 special Flying-type attack.

Overview

In days of yore, Pelipper was notable for being the original, easily accessible user of Water HMs (notably Surf) and Fly. In Alola, there are no HMs for Pelipper to be known for, but Pelipper gained a secondary Ability like no other: Drizzle. Since then, it has become the new Politoed…and, arguably, a better rain setter as a whole. The extra Flying typing has more resistances (including an immunity) at the expense of extra weakness to Electric, and also gives Pelipper STAB on Hurricane (the Flying-type counterpart of Thunder) for great coverage with the obvious Water STAB. Pelipper also has greater utility than Politoed, boasting access to U-turn, Defog, Knock Off, and even reliable recovery in Roost. In fact, the only real offset qualities are worse stats overall and no Encore or Perish Song.

Simply put, 7th gen Pelipper presents a new OU-legal rain setter, perhaps even the new OU-legal rain setter.

Set

Pelipper @ Damp Rock
Ability: Drizzle
EVs: 248 HP / 52 Def / 208 SpD
Calm Nature
– Scald
– Hurricane
– Roost
– U-turn

Not quite the standard fare of competitive set, but it gets the point across. This is a support set that uses Damp Rock for the maximum duration of rain to support itself and its teammates. Scald is boosted by rain and has a chance to burn; the latter factor makes it preferable STAB on defensive sets. Hurricane is backup STAB that hits Grass-types, deals decent damage, and has a chance to confuse (granted confusion has been nerfed, but it’s still nothing to be overlooked). Roost allows it to regain health so that it can stick around longer and provide as much rain support as possible. U-turn gives it a pivoting option that, thanks to Pelipper’s low Speed, usually grants a free switch into a rain abuser such as Kingdra or Mega Swampert.

Now, what makes this set in particular not so competitive is the EV spread. The 248 HP is obligatory for the best improvement to bulk that allows it to avoid the Stealth Rock number of max HP. As for the defenses, they’re simply as equal as possible, with Special Defense favored over Defense.

Other Options

Hydro Pump is its strongest STAB and the most recommended option in offensive sets. (Pelipper has low Speed and rather underwhelming Special Attack, but Drizzle makes offensive sets viable.) Ice Beam hits Garchomp and Dragonite (emphasis on the latter) harder than its other moves, while Shock Wave hits opposing Water/Flying types. Knock Off allows for item removal utility, which is particularly helpful against Chansey and works on anything without a Mega Stone or Z-crystal. Defog clears hazards, but perhaps there are better candidates due to Pelipper’s Stealth Rock weakness. Rain Dance can make it more effective at winning potential weather wars with the foremost of the problems listed below.

Problems and Partners

Problems

Since Pelipper is chiefly a weather setter, it primarily has problems with opposing weather setters.

If Mega Charizard Y switches in, Pelipper will have its Water STAB weakened and its Hurricanes reduced to 50% accuracy, while Mega Charizard Y has recharge-free Solar Beams to fire off.

Tyranitar is weak to Water, but the Special Defense boost that it gets from sand makes it tough for Pelipper to break, and the Rock STAB makes Tyranitar’s presence especially threatening.

Alolan Ninetales may have faster weather, meaning that rain will take priority in a 1v1 situation, but it threatens with Freeze-Dry and has decent special bulk for taking Pelipper’s neutral hits, especially if Aurora Veil is activated in a not-so-1v1 situation.

Ferrothorn is a fierce obstacle to rain teams, being resistant to Water and only being weak to Fire and Fighting. The worst that defensive Pelipper can do to Ferrothorn is burn it with Scald, and even then, that doesn’t stop it from setting up Spikes and/or damaging with Power Whip while gaining recovery through Leech Seed and/or Leftovers. Ferrothorn also has Knock Off for removing Damp Rock.

That is where offensive Pelipper might come in handy, considering this:

252+ SpA Choice Specs Pelipper Hurricane vs. 252 HP / 168 SpD Ferrothorn: 181-214 (51.4 – 60.7%) — 91.8% chance to 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

…but since it’s Choice Specs, that can be played around.

It goes without saying, but beware of Electric-type attacks.

Partners

A rain supporter like Pelipper obviously works best with rain abusers. Mega Swampert is a particularly close partner, considering its Ground typing threatens the Electric-types (and, to a lesser extent, Rock-types) that Pelipper despises (and Superpower coverage hits Ferrothorn hard). Kingdra is neutral to said Electric-types but is effective in dealing with the Dragons of the tier.

Worried about anti-rain? Try some anti-anti-rain. Even without rain active, Tapu Koko and Hawlucha have immense Speed and the ability to deal heavy damage to opposing weather setters. How are they related? Apparently it’s a viable strategy to run Electric Seed Hawlucha for an instant +1 Speed and Unburden boost (effectively +4 Speed) plus base 110 Acrobatics when paired with Tapu Koko’s Electric Surge. Hawlucha also has Swords Dance to amp up its firepower, along with Fighting STAB for Tyranitar and Ferrothorn.

There might be more, but that’s all I can think of.