I have been playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Whimsical Weekend #16)

…and I must admit that I’ve become quite obsessed.

Back in early August, I caved in and bought a Nintendo Switch bundle pack with Breath of the Wild (including DLC) and, ever since August 18 when I unpacked everything, I haven’t spent a single day without playing the game. (It is currently the only game I have for Nintendo Switch, but I might consider getting Puyo Puyo Tetris, and I definitely plan on getting Super Mario Odyssey.)

After 70 total hours of playing, my current progress is as follows:

  • All Divine Beasts freed
  • Full Stamina Wheel
  • 12 Hearts
  • 83 Shrines
  • 105 Koroks
  • 12 Main Quests
  • 23 Shrine Quests
  • 30 Side Quests
  • All Sheikah Slate runes, completely upgraded
  • All Towers activated
  • 4 Memories (out of the main 12)
  • 45 Hyrule Compendium entries
    • 20 Creatures
    • 16 Monsters
    • 5 Materials
    • 2 Equipment
    • 2 Treasure
  • 3 Great Fairies

In all this, I have and will, above all else, try not seek any help online. Granted, I did look up that there are 120 Shrines, 900 (!!!) Koroks, 15 Main Quests, 42 Shrine Quests, and 76 Side Quests…but simple quantities like that are acceptable in my book.

Despite that I got DLC with the bundle pack, I plan not to indulge in any of it until I’ve beaten the game normally, and I won’t beat the game normally until I feel fully prepared to do so (i.e., once I feel like I’ve discovered enough areas on the map, or at least recovered the remaining 8 memories and pulled out the Master Sword (in that order)).

Anyway, it’s been quite an adventure, honestly. If I had to describe the game in just a few words, I would describe it as an Elder Scrolls + Skyward Sword hybrid. That is to say, it has all the open-world goodness of an Elder Scrolls game, with bundles of aesthetics and mechanics reminiscent of Skyward Sword.

Not only that, but the puzzles within the shrines and such are brilliantly designed to require plenty of brain power (as in, not much hand-holding here) while not quite being on the echelon of a dedicated puzzle game. That said, I recall having trouble with more than a few portions of the game. Before I go on, though, note henceforth that when I say “I had to,” I actually mean “I felt like I had to.” Just think of it as an abridgement, really. Anyway, so…what exactly I struggled with:

  • Fighting a Guardian for the first time (in Great Plateau, with no ancient weapons or anything like that)
  • Surviving the path to Zora’s Domain for the first time
  • Fighting a Lynel for the first time
  • Immobilizing Vah Ruta without missing any shots (I thought this was mandatory at first)
  • In Sha Warvo Shrine (the one near Flight Range, along the path of the Vah Medoh quest), it took me way too long to realize that the penultimate platform block had an opening concealed from the view of the fan before it.
  • In my first fight against a Talus, I only used arrows and Lizal boomerangs, being blissfully unaware of the possibility that I could simply climb up on that enemy (when the time is right, of course) and go ham on its weak spot.
  • The Yiga Clan Hideout took me three tries to sneak through. Everything past the second guard is a huge pain, like a ridiculous jump in difficulty compared to the beginning. On the third try, I had to avoid everything except the Mighty Banana stash. As in, from the closest opening to the stash, I paraglided all the way to the final stretch, having to creep around the suspecting final guard. It was a struggle at first, believe me…but the final result felt so easy, despite feeling a bit wrong.
  • Climbing one of the towers (the one with the ancient sentries and the Pools of Malice) was a pain, and so was even finding Gerudo Tower (let alone without traversing the desert).
  • All those “Major Test” Shrines (and even a Savage Lynel that killed me) on the path of searching for Gerudo Tower
  • The two upper terminals of Vah Naboris were a humungous pain to get to. All I could think to do was haphazardly shoot arrows through whatever openings I could find near the Pools of Malice, and I eventually managed to find and destroy one of the eyes blocking my way.
  • Getting through Lost Woods—particularly the second part, where you have to follow the embers of a lit fire to get to the end
  • Facing intense cold and heat for the first time
    • In the case of intense cold, I didn’t know that Rito Armor existed until after doing the midair arrow shot training, so I had to keep a Torch with me at all times…until the training, during which I had to fight the bitter cold.
    • Intense heat was much tougher to deal with. I can’t imagine the intended way of going through it, but I went all the way to the southern mine of Eldin, making sure to keep healthy by way of healing items, Mipha’s Grace, and the hot spring near the southern mine…and then hunting down 10 Fireproof Lizards to complete the quest for the fireproof armor. (Side note: I tried to take a picture of one to take advantage of Sheikah Sensor +, but I learned the hard way that taking damage forcibly takes you out of camera mode.)
  • Wrapping my head around how the Goron cannons work, specifically that you have to hit the lever with an equipped weapon to get the cannons to turn
  • I used up 2 Ancient Arrows during the attack on Vah Rudania. On the path to the second cannon, I didn’t really think outside the box and ended up having to fire at two sentries that were giving me a hard time. The path to the third cannon was also quite a handful, but that was when I realized that the path to Vah Rudania is designed with a way to take out the sentries without engaging them in direct combat.
  • Rock Octoroks and phase 2 of Fireblight Ganon have a particular trait in common: They suck in their surroundings, and they fire a projectile that deals ridiculous damage. In the case of Rock Octoroks, I had to fire a precisely timed arrow between the interval of when they spit the projectile and when they hide in the ground. In the case of Fireblight Ganon, there was nothing else I could do. That was when I realized: If a monster sucks things in, simply feed it a Remote Bomb! Since then, needless to say, Rock Octoroks have become much easier to deal with.
  • Fighting the Igneo Talus on the isolated platform surrounded by lava (that thing knocked me into the lava so many times before I figured out how to fight it…)

So, those are things that I struggled with but ended up prevailing over. And even now, I still have some mysteries on the back burner:

  • The fourth Great Fairy
  • The Keo Ruug Shrine riddle
  • The Eighth Heroine (I plan to not fully explore Gerudo Desert until I complete this quest…however I do it)
  • Savage Lynels with clubs (seriously, I can literally only get a flurry opportunity from one of those attacks…)
  • How to snipe the eyes of the thunder and fire dragons, like sniping the eye of the freeze dragon after liberating it from the calamity

To end this off, I’ll try to think of particular things that I like and dislike about the game.

Pros:

  • Nods to other games in the series
    • The Divine Beast names
      • Vah Ruta is named after Ruto, the Water Sage of Ocarina of Time
      • Vah Rudania is named after Darunia (literally an anagram), the Fire Sage of OoT
      • Vah Naboris is named after Nabooru (and Urbosa even says that in the cutscene after freeing the Divine Beast), the Spirit Sage of OoT
      • Vah Medoh is named after Medli, the Earth Sage (is that even the proper term…?) of Wind Waker
    • Part of the Rito Village theme is remixed from the Dragon Roost Island theme of Wind Waker
    • Locations like the Linebeck and Mercay Islands (Phantom Hourglass), as well as Darunia Lake (OoT again)
    • Kass plays Epona’s Song (from OoT) on accordion when at a stable
  • The minigame music (that plays during the climbing challenge, footrace, and such) and Talus battle music are particularly catchy
  • Champion powers can be really helpful, especially Mipha’s Grace and Daruk’s Protection (that sort of mechanic is reminiscent of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, now that I think about it…)
  • Sidon is a cheesy yet somehow likable character, and baby Zora and Rito are adorable.
  • Stuff that I’ve already mentioned

Cons (take these with a grain of salt; I freaking love this game):

  • Random undead and Chuchus are pesky (especially when I try to sneak up on some random enemy or group of enemies)
  • Rain hinders climbing to a crippling degree
  • They removed Beetle’s signature “THANK YOU!!!” from Wind Waker…and now his most notable line is “Saa, saa!” (which is essentially Japanese talk for urging Link to buy/sell something)
  • That freaking blood moon… Well, that in itself isn’t too bad, considering it makes Lynel and Hinox drops significantly easier to hunt for, but it irritates me that the same old dag-blasted cutscene plays every single time after the first blood moon, and you have to press X and + to skip it. I mean, what’s so important about seeing it any more than once?
  • If you approach a Divine Beast while it’s preparing its attack on Ganon, the game moves you to one set point nearby. …Why not just have Link turn back and take a few steps, similarly to how the boat in Wind Waker makes a U-turn if you hit the edge of the map?

For now, this is the best that I can use words to express my admiration for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Next time I talk about this will probably be when I complete the game to a satisfactory degree.

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

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Flash Game Speed Marathon: My marathon debut (Whimsical Weekend #11)

Two months ago, I talked about submitting for Memeathon X, specifically with an unofficial category of Phoenotopia that I call “69 HP RTA,” but my submission didn’t make it into the marathon.

Fortunately, not long before the end of March (I don’t remember the exact date), I happened upon a more esoteric submission form posted by Twitch user LaserTrap_ in the 360chrism Community Discord. That form was for a marathon initially named “Flash Games Done Quick,” but they had to change the name mid-marathon because “Games Done Quick” is trademarked. Regardless, considering that a vast majority of the games that I currently speedrun are Flash games, of course this marathon would be the perfect fit for me. So, I submitted Phoenotopia 100%, Rock Bottom All Levels, and Chompy All Levels; and I ended up being one of only seven runners in the marathon (including LaserTrap_).

It was my first time doing live commentary while speedrunning (granted I rehearsed a bit beforehand), but I’d say it went over pretty well. Highlights can be viewed below:

Phoenotopia [100%] in 1:47:16 — https://www.twitch.tv/videos/137592161

Rock Bottom [All Levels] in 7:53 — https://www.twitch.tv/videos/137592857

Chompy [All Levels] in 6:22 — https://www.twitch.tv/videos/137593444

(Other highlights of the marathon can be found at https://www.twitch.tv/lasertrap_/videos/highlights)

Because I rehearsed so little, it goes without saying that there was at least a little rust involved in all my runs. Prior to the week before the beginning of the marathon, it had been six months since my last Phoenotopia 100% WR (1:44:08), five months since my last Chompy WR (5:09), and three months since my last Rock Bottom WR (6:17).

Since the games that I ran are so fast-paced (well, not so much Phoenotopia, but still), I can’t remember off the top of my head where exactly I messed up in each run, but I do recall that I unfortunately didn’t get the 1-minute skip in level 14 of Rock Bottom. Also, apparently my keyboard doesn’t like me pressing down, right, and Numpad 0 at the same time, so I had a tiny bit of difficulty starting the timer for Chompy.

Another thing: I’m not used to talking in general, so running my mouth for practically two straight hours caused my voice to hurt over the weekend. Thankfully, though, it was nothing major.

Bottom line: I dragged myself into a change of pace by becoming part of an esoteric marathon, and the highlights linked above are the results.

 

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

New PC + speedgames (Whimsical Weekend #8)

PC

I never really made this evident in any of my recent Vouiv-review posts, but I recently built a new PC! I spent roughly $1600 on all the relevant components, and it’s been working very well ever since I got the Windows 10 Home product key and Ethernet cable.

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This is my current setup. It may not be the most complex setup in the universe, but it gives me just what I need. As you may or may not be able to tell, in front of my bed, just near the window, I have a swivel chair facing a single table with the tower off to the right (which unfortunately hides the insides from view) and keyboard and mouse + mousepad in front of a dual-monitor setup on top. Because the monitors are of different sizes and odd angles (the 25″ one being HP brand and the 22″ one being Sceptre brand), I had to use Heroscape tiles (from my childhood) to adjust the heights and angles to my liking.

Also, since it’s a new PC with a resolution differing from that of the MacBook Pro that I would otherwise normally use, I decided that I would use a different wallpaper as well.

It’s from the same series as my laptop and phone wallpapers (that being Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo), and this particular image is from volume 11 of the light novel.

Another funky thing about the dual monitor setup that I have is that not only are the monitors of different sizes and odd angles, but they also produced different sorts of output in their initial state. Thus, I had to tinker with the settings of the 22″ monitor in order to make the outputs as similar as they can be. Even so, I’ve noticed that it’s easier to see darker colors on the 25″ monitor (a fact that I first came to realize while playing around with Phoenotopia Awakening Demo v0.06b), although the 22″ monitor actually has a speaker (whereas the other monitor does not).

How great it is to have a dual monitor setup with Windows regardless; it allows me to multitask better than I ever have before. For example, I can have a Twitch stream up on the 25″ monitor, some other form of web browsing (which sometimes involves writing, such as this post to this current instant of typing) on the left side of the 22″ monitor, and email and/or some other utility on the other side of the 22″ monitor. (Sometimes, I even have Notepad in the bottom-right corner with the rightmost Chrome window in the top-right.)

Speedgames

Also thanks to the new PC, I find it easier to toy around with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) for better quality footage of the PC games that I usually speedrun (where I would otherwise have to use the MacBook Pro). I currently don’t have reliable sources for external audio or keyboard overlay with the PC like I do with the MacBook Pro, but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. I mean, just look at this sample footage in the form of a demonstration of most of the first Prince Tower segment of Phoenotopia 100%:

The splits are just there on the side to show that I can use LiveSplit (while I would normally use Llanfair on Mac) to show all 35 splits at once. (I probably could have done something similar if not the same with Llanfair before, but I couldn’t be bothered to figure out that sort of thing.)

With that in mind, I might actually go back and improve my times in Phoenotopia (and maybe branch out to that one “Most Dangerous Arsenal” category that I mentioned in an earlier post, or maybe even the glitchless subcategory) with the new PC, and I’m heavily considering post-commentating the any% run so that I have a helpful video resource for that category (in a similar vein to the tutorial series that I made for 100%). However, the critical issue in that department is that I would have to get used to the mechanical keyboard. As it stands currently, I have a harder time performing brief inputs (notably short-hopping) with the mechanical keyboard than I have ever had with the MacBook Pro keyboard, so…yeah.

Phoenotopia Awakening Demo v0.06b

But hey, the original Phoenotopia wasn’t the first thing that I considered running on the new PC. As a matter of fact, not too long after I built the PC, demo version 0.06b of the upcoming remake (Phoenotopia Awakening) was released, and the first thing that I resolved to do was write a guide on the demo. The guide is totally completed (at least as far as I’m concerned) and can be viewed here, but…well, the developer’s most recent blog post says that download links for this particular build of the demo will be closed.

Regardless, while the game was fresh in my mind, of course I was the one to submit it on speedrun.com, and that even led me to submit a series entry for Phoenotopia. On the demo v0.06b leaderboard, I established three separate categories: any%, All Collectibles, and All Pearlstones. (I decided to make the third one a miscellaneous category because it’s less sensible of an objective than any% or All Collectibles (similarly to how All Moonstones is a miscellaneous category of the original Phoenotopia).)

By the way, All Collectibles constitutes the following (as far as I know):

  • 7 Anuri Pearlstones (should be left with 1 after unlocking all 6 frog seals)
  • 2 Heart Gems
  • 2 Moonstones (specifically from the breakable tomb and the Giant Slime)
  • 2 Antique Bracelets
  • Energy Gem
  • Slingshot
  • Crank Lamp
  • Bombs

My PBs in the three categories are 4:29, 10:27, and 6:58, respectively. My any% PB was initially 4:59, but a competitor with a 4:56 led me to rethink the route and improve my time.

Here be videos:

Rock Bottom

I don’t think I ever mentioned Rock Bottom in any of my blog posts, but that’s another game that I submitted to speedrun.com. To be honest, though, I didn’t continue beyond 7:45.97 for a long time, and it was back in early November 2016, before I had even bought the parts for the new PC, that I had established that time. Meanwhile, SRCom user CreepinAtMyDoor was out shredding my time to bits, even accidentally discovering a skip in level 14 that saves more than a minute, and ended up with a time of 6:22.1 before the end of that November. I felt at the time that WR was beyond recovery, but then, about a week ago, I had suddenly regained the inspiration to take it back. One day I got 6:35.43, the next day I got 6:30.67, and then finally I was able to take back the WR with 6:17.87 (after a 6:25 run that I opted against uploading).

This game is difficult as crud to optimize, so I am very happy with this time, even though I got spiked in level 12 (and at a very unconventional point too). Man, my heart was racing by the end of that run. Imagine what my reaction would have been if the recording had external audio. (The skip is at 4:15 in the video, by the way. If you miss the hard floor and hit the spongy surface, the run is pretty much over.)

Chompy

Another speedgame in my repertoire, although I haven’t run it since the time I submitted it to speedrun.com. My current record is 5:09.73, which notably includes two deaths in the 21-30 segment and a botched entry into level 11. So, even though I felt at the time that it was a solid run, there is still room for improvement, so I might actually try to get better.

Diamond Hollow II

This one is more of an up-in-the-air case. I don’t own the speedrun.com leaderboard of this game, and the owner of the leaderboard has been inactive for over a year (and it doesn’t help that said owner has no links to social accounts in his/her profile page). Currently there are four established categories:

  • Story Mode – Any% (all seven levels of Story Mode, anything goes)
  • Story Mode – New Save (all seven levels of Story Mode starting from fresh data)
    • The leaderboard owner also imposed a rule against “glitches,” but I honestly believe that the rule is arbitrarily imposed, especially considering the category name does not in any way imply the exclusion of glitches. Besides, I haven’t encountered anything resembling a “glitch” in the game, and I tried asking about it in the forum 9 months ago but still haven’t received a response.
  • Boss Rush – Normal
  • Boss Rush – Heroic

About two weeks ago, I submitted runs for Story Mode Any% and Boss Rush Normal, which can be viewed below:

I specified both real and in-game times because it was ambiguous which to go with, and I used real time as the submission time for the leaderboard because there was only one field.

I might do Story Mode New Save in the near future, but that seems like it would be difficult if not impossible to route out. (I’m thinking it will help to know all the Red Diamond locations, though.) Plus I would have to delete save data, and I’m reluctant to do so considering how long it took me to get a 100% completed file.

As for Boss Rush Heroic…no. No. Never. Forget speedrunning that category; I can’t even beat it casually!

Anyway, that’s all I have to say for now.

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

I have been playing Pokémon Sun ((late) Whimsical Weekend #6)

(So much to write for such poor time management, so apologies for the late post.)

I made this evident in my update post before Poké Monday 11/28/16 (Mimikyu), but I have indeed been playing Pokémon Sun as of recently, and I wish to dedicate this post to elaborating upon my experience with the game.

To start, here is the team that carried me through the Elite Four:

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As you can probably tell by the word “Objets” (pronounced ohb-zhay) in the bottom-right, I did indeed decide to play the game in French, just as I always have ever since they introduced language selection (which was in X&Y). Although French is a second language to me (my primary language obviously being English), having the game in French isn’t too hindering, and it’s also fun that way. Besides, from what I know, the Masuda Method (a trick to increase the chances of getting a shiny from breeding) is only dependent on the language of the game from which the foreign parent originates, rather than the true nationality of the game. (My copy is North American.) So, playing the game in French is not entirely lying to myself, and it also has its benefits.

Anyway, on to describing the team (which is severely underleveled, and I will explain why later). I tried to make sure that the team was packing at least the following types: Ground, Ghost, Flying, Fairy, Steel, Dark, Fire, Water, and Grass; and, as usual, I wanted to avoid repeating types. Along with the six final team members above, there are numerous candidates that I considered and/or carried along prior to the Elite Four, and I will talk about those as well.

To bring back a certain formatting style from my Omega Ruby progress report two years prior (I can’t believe it’s been that long): Pokémon, natures, abilities, and moves will be named primarily in English with their French names in [] brackets.

Final team members

Algancre the Dhelmise [Sinistrail]
Level after E4: 49
Current level: 64
Nature: Lonely [Solo]
Ability: Steelworker [Expert Acier]
– Power Whip [Mégafouet]
– Shadow Claw [Griffe Ombre]
– Anchor Shot [Ancrage]
– Giga Drain [Giga Sangsue]

While I was considering the Grass part of my Fire-Water-Grass core (I had already decided the Fire and Water parts), this candidate was where my final decision, which I made just before the Elite Four, rested. I encountered it at level 43 and could not be bothered to grind it against wild Pokémon, so I brought it in pretty much as is. While it hits really hard and technically has three STABs (thanks to Steelworker), it is weak to rather common types (including one of its own), is extremely slow, isn’t quite up to par in terms of bulk, and has missed Power Whip way too many freaking times. Name is a portmanteau of “alga” and “ancre” (anchor), because that’s probably what I would have named it if I were in charge of the nomenclature.

snek the Zygarde [Zygarde]
Level after E4: 52
Current level: 64
Nature: Hasty [Pressé]
Ability: Aura Break [Aura Inversée]
– Thousand Arrows [Myria-Flèches]
– Rock Slide [Éboulement]
– Core Enforcer [Sanction Suprême]
– Dragon Dance [Danse Draco]

“A legendary? Blasphemy!” I wouldn’t be surprised if that were a thought lingering in someone’s mind right now. Well, I had been using Zygarde ever since I was able to obtain the 10% Forme on Route 16, mostly because it serves as my Ground-type and has great synergy with the rest of my team. Back when it was 10%, it was very fast and reasonably strong, but also rather frail. Now, however, it serves as nothing short of a backbone for the team. Respectably bulky in spite of its defense-hindering nature, still reasonably fast in spite of its lowered Speed, and still just as strong as ever (well, with a slightly stronger Core Enforcer). Above all else, Thousand Arrows is awesome; Ground has amazing coverage as it is, and Thousand Arrows does neutral damage to airborne targets before they are smacked down. Speaking of airborne targets, Rock Slide has been helpful against some Flying-types (particularly the fiery kind) as well. The nickname “snek” is a deliberate misspelling of “snake” (based on a meme). When this Zygarde was 10%, though, it used to be named FrankerZ after the big dog on Twitch. As for 100%…well, I’m not considering advancing that far until I’m done with the current Zygarde. As I have read, if you combine all 100% of the Zygarde cells, there’s no going back. (Make no mistake, though, I have collected all 100 cells; I just opt to keep the 50% Forme around until further notice.)

Ao the Ninetales [Feunard] (male)
Level after E4: 51
Current level: 65
Nature: Bold [Assuré]
Ability: Snow Cloak [Rideau Neige]
– Ice Beam [Laser Glace]
– Dazzling Gleam [Éclat Magique]
– Psyshock [Choc Psy]
– Nasty Plot [Machination]

Like Algancre, Ao was another member whom I brought on board as late as just before the Elite Four. (Ao, however, was caught at a higher level: 47.) I was considering using the S.O.S. Battle mechanic to go for one with Snow Warning, but I decided that that Ability would be too much of a hindrance to my team as a whole. As for the reason why I included this member in my team…well, to be honest, I had been considering adding Alolan Sandslash to the team ever since my first encounter with Sandshrew, but, 3/4 through the game, I did some research and came to realize a vital and disappointing fact: Alolan Sandslash is Moon-exclusive.

I usually decide what version to buy based on the cover legends and how the titles feel in general, and that led me to choose Sun over Moon; in other words, I paid no heed to any other version exclusives such as Ninetales and Sandslash. To make matters worse, this isn’t the first time I’ve chosen a Pokémon game version preventing me from getting Sandslash; in fact, I would go as far as to say that the Pokémon itself has been eluding my version choices…even as early as Gen II, where I chose Silver (and Sandslash is Gold-exclusive). In Gen III, I chose FireRed, and Sandslash is LeafGreen-exclusive. So…well, after twelve freaking years, the curse of the elusive Sandslash returns anew. (Hey, man, I like Sandslash, and it would have been a great Steel-type addition to the team.)

Anyway, rant aside, since I was so bothered at being unable to obtain Alolan Sandslash, I decided to make do with what I had and get myself an Alolan Ninetales instead. It’s no slouch in terms of offensive prowess (and serves as the only dedicated special attacker of the entire team), but it’s actually slower than Zygarde, presumably because of Zygarde’s Nature advantage and extra EVs. The nickname “Ao” reflects the blue coloration of Alolan Ninetales, and it’s also based on an original character of mine (from a story that I discussed in a former Vouiv-review post) who is elementally affiliated with Spirit and capable of freezing things. (I mean, I couldn’t think of anything else to name a male Ninetales.)

Oh, and also: I had caught an Alolan Vulpix before the one that I ultimately settled upon, but I soft-resetted afterwards because I was not willing to put up with a Jolly-natured Ninetales.

Crusch the Skarmory [Airmure] (female)
Level after E4: 52
Current level: 64
Nature: Quiet [Discret]
Ability: Keen Eye [Regard Vif]
– Steel Wing [Aile d’Acier]
– Aerial Ace [Aéropique]
– Swords Dance [Danse-Lames]
– Autotomize [Allègement]

Named after Crusch Karsten from Re:Zero (my personal favorite character of the series) because of her affinity with wind and steel, this Pokémon was quite an oddity but also quite an asset to the team. I consider it to be an oddity because it possesses a terrible Nature and Ability and runs dual STAB with Double Dance (something that I never normally do in-game), not to mention I have never actually used Skarmory in an in-game team before. It has been of great help, though, with its awesome defensive typing, ability to take hits, and the occasions where it puts in work after setting up. It was caught on Route 17 at level 34, and it has served well since its debut.

Leonardo the Poliwrath [Tartard] (male)
Level after E4: 52
Current level: 64
Nature: Modest [Modeste]
Ability: Water Absorb [Absorb Eau]
– Scald [Ébullition]
– Brick Break [Casse-Brique]
– Psychic [Psyko] after E4; Poison Jab [Direct Toxik] currently
– Work Up [Rengorgement]

The Water component of my Fire-Water-Grass core ever since Brooklet Hill (granted it was after Lana’s trial), I caught this in the wild at level 14, and I was deliberately going for Water Absorb (and for a darn good reason). I also use this for super-effective damage against Normal-types thanks to its Fighting STAB (although it is a shame that I have to choose between Brick Break and Low Sweep—Focus Blast be darned despite the Nature), and Scald is arguably its best Water-type option in spite of the burn nerf as of the current generation. I had Psychic on it during the Elite Four, but after fighting Mina in Poni Gauntlet, I realized that having Psychic on Poliwrath was redundant with Ao having Psyshock, so I decided to replace Psychic with Poison Jab as I began to realize the value of having Poison coverage on the team. Work Up has come in handy on a few occasions, and my primary motive for using it is to prevent stronger Trainers from healing up if Poliwrath does less than half with any given attack. The nickname “Leonardo” comes from a chain association of Poliwrath with Battletoads and Battletoads with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I thought that the name “Battletoad” would be too predictable, so I shifted focus to TMNT and settled on the nickname Leonardo because both Leonardo and Poliwrath are associated with the color blue. (Another nickname idea I had was “Nyoron Cena,” but that sounded stupid the more I thought about it.)

Nyanta the Incineroar [Félinferno] (male)
Level after E4: 56
Current level: 67
Nature: Quirky [Bizarre]
Ability: Blaze [Brasier]
– Flare Blitz [Boutefeu]
– Darkest Lariat [Dark Lariat]
– U-turn [Demi-Tour]
– Flame Charge [Nitrocharge]

Goodness forbid, another anime-based nickname. It’s not even that good of a nickname for the final evolution, considering it’s awfully slow (although not as slow as Algancre) and looks more buff than its namesake, but hey, I couldn’t make a Cena reference because it’s been done before. I probably could have made a JoJo reference based on the French nomenclature of its Nature, but I haven’t watched nearly enough JoJo to dare to do so. I may have had something else come to mind, but I completely forgot, and it was probably dumb anyway.

Anyway, I settled upon the fire cat as a starter, simply because I’ve always been a cat lover. I was considering the grass owl as a secondary choice, but the second form of the evolution line turned me off. As for the water seal…to be completely honest, I just don’t like its design. I will concede that Primarina is the best final-form starter typing-wise and stat-wise, but the design is a like-or-dislike sort of thing, and I have to say that I am on the dislike side. At any rate, the fire cat has been strong throughout the entirety of its evolutionary cycle, but then it slowed down drastically when it hit the final stage of evolution. On most occasions, even Flame Charge couldn’t redeem its disappointing Speed. I think I was also using Flamethrower as primary Fire STAB before I got to Flare Blitz level, which is…perhaps not the best idea, although I would argue better than having to settle with the 95% accurate Fire Fang. The recoil of Flare Blitz is slightly detrimental, but the power side of the tradeoff is well worth the risk. Darkest Lariat is the best Dark STAB option, and U-turn in conjunction with Speed boosts from Flame Charge allows the fire cat to switch with style.

Regarding the name of Incineroar/Félinferno, I don’t really like the English or French name (especially English), but man, the German name, Fuegro, is freaking awesome.

Former team members

Note: These Pokémon are presented in reverse chronological order of being put into the PC. Also, the term “former” does not mean to imply that I did a Nuzlocke, because I didn’t. (I’m not masochistic enough to make a Nuzlocke of my first playthrough of a game.)

Doppel Jr. the Mimikyu [Mimiqui] (female)
Level: 47
Nature: Quiet [Discret]
Ability: Disguise [Fantômasque]
– Play Rough [Câlinerie]
– Shadow Claw [Griffe Ombre]
– Charm [Charme]
– Shadow Sneak [Ombre Portée]

Mimikyu was something that I’d been wanting to use ever since Acerola’s trial, but when I realized how popular it actually became later on, I decided to stray away from it while making changes to the team prior to the Elite Four. I will say, though: It has served well in spite of its subpar Nature, with its extremely useful Ability and awesome three-immunity typing making it a huge help in defeating Totem Kommo-o. (I will provide further detail later.) It’s had Shadow Sneak and Charm ever since I caught it (at level 30), whereas Shadow Claw was taught via TM and Play Rough was learned later, specifically after the Dragon trial (and I had to use Dazzling Gleam for Fairy STAB in the meantime). The nickname is inspired by the character Doppel from the series Monster Musume, and the “Jr.” part of the name comes from how Mimikyu’s disguise does not perfectly mirror Pikachu (contrary to the namesake of this one in particular).

Giroeuf the Exeggutor [Noadkoko] (female)
Level: 46
Nature: Quiet [Discret]
Ability: Frisk [Fouille]
– Grass Knot [Nœud Herbe]
– Dragon Hammer [Draco-Marteau]
– Sludge Bomb [Bomb-Beurk]
– Nature Power [Force-Nature]

I would have named it Girœuf if the in-game keyboard had a œ character, but alas I had to keep the “o” and “e” separate. (Regardless, I will henceforth write œuf because it looks nicer.) I had initially considered the nickname “Giriffraffe,” which is simply inserting “riff-raff” (branding for the craziest allowable posts of the KnowYourMeme forums) into the word “giraffe” (a creature that Alolan Exeggutor strongly resembles), because Alolan Exeggutor’s design is a literal meme. Later, however, I decided to keep it simple and just combine “giraffe” with “œuf,” the French word for “egg.” Like Algancre, it would have been a slow but strong and moderately bulky attacker, but I didn’t want to double up on Dragon-types and thusly ended up ditching Girœuf primarily in favor of Algancre. Speaking of Algancre, Girœuf was also caught at level 43, but since it was a temporary placeholder for the team prior to bringing Algancre aboard, it actually picked up a few levels.

Entoma the Charjabug [Chrysapile] (female)
Level: 41
Nature: Jolly [Jovial]
Ability: Battery [Batterie]
– Spark [Étincelle]
– X-Scissor [Plaie-Croix]
– Poison Jab [Direct Toxik]
– Thunder Wave [Cage-Éclair]

An odd little case, this one. First of all, its nickname is based on a character from Overlord whom I didn’t care about until the Ple Ple Pleiades special, just because it’s a bug and has an oddly shaped but likely-to-devour mouth. Second, I didn’t know how to evolve it at first (because I was trying to avoid looking anything up until just before the Elite Four, at which point I would reflect upon my team ideas and whether or not they’d work), so I just left it in its secondary form and slapped an Eviolite on it. Although I caught it at level 28 on Blush Mountain and took it through (I think) the entirety of Aether Paradise, it didn’t take me long thereafter to decide that its time was up. (I replaced it with Girœuf.) Still, it was fun to use with its paralysis shenanigans, decent bulk thanks to Eviolite, and passable offense.

Puff Mama the Cottonee [Doudouvet] (female)
Level: 36
Nature: Brave [Brave]
Ability: Prankster [Farceur]
– Giga Drain [Giga-Sangsue]
– Fairy Wind [Vent Féérique]
– Leech Seed [Vampigraine]
– Stun Spore [Para-Spore]

Terrible nature and meh nickname (I would have named it “Puff Daddy” if it were male, because the cotton aspect of the Pokémon made me think of the word “puff”), but this ‘mon has been a bulky asset to the team until I decided to replace it with Entoma after obtaining Doppel Jr. (because I didn’t want to double up on Fairies). If I hadn’t traded it off, I would have kept it until it learned Moonblast, but then I recently realized that only its evolution learns Moonblast by level-up (and, unfortunately, not until level 50). Regardless, it was a valuable asset, the Grass component of the imminent Fire-Water-Grass core, since I caught it in Melemele Meadow at level 10. Leech Seed is an amazing move in-game, providing gracious recovery and helpful passive damage at the cost of 10% inaccuracy and being ineffective against Grass-types (and Dark-types thanks to the Prankster nerf), and the STAB moves do wonders in withering down the opposition. Because I didn’t bother to evolve Cottonee while I had it, it was my primary Eviolite holder until Entoma came along, and it was respectably bulky when it acquired the Eviolite. Good times.

Harem the Dugtrio [Triopikeur] (female)
Level: 36
Nature: Naive [Naïf]
Ability: Tangling Hair [Mèche Rebelle]
– Magnitude [Ampleur]
– Metal Claw [Griffe Acier]
– Rock Tomb [Tomberoche]
– Growl [Rugissement]

I caught this as a level 8 Diglett in Verdant Cavern, which I had initially named Blondie (obviously after its hair color and partially after the artist), but then I had the wild idea of naming it Harem after its evolution (because, y’know, it’s a multitude of female heads, and that’s what a harem is all about). My thought process was that it would fill the Steel-type and Ground-type needs of my team, but I came to realize before long that it was too frail considering how much damage it could deal (especially with its low BP moves) and just couldn’t pull its weight as a whole. With that in mind, I eventually set it aside and had Crusch fill the Steel-type role and 10% Zygarde fill the Ground-type role.

Praline the Oricorio [Plumeline] (female, Pom-Pom Style)
Level: 36
Nature: Bold [Assuré]
Ability: Dancer [Danseuse]
– Air Slash [Lame d’Air]
– U-turn [Demi-Tour]
– Roost [Atterrissage]
– Feather Dance [Danse-Plume]

Caught at level 9 in Melemele Meadow, this ‘mon filled the Flying-type role for my team for a long time, and I wanted to believe that it could learn an Electric-type move as well, but its gimmick move Revelation Dance takes way too freaking long to learn (and it doesn’t get any other Electric-type attacks). I tried to make do with what I had, though, and I have to say: Even with a hindering nature and base 70 Attack, Acrobatics hit really freaking hard. That said, I decided to shift the moveset to one that plays more off its strengths and uses special STAB in tandem with U-turn and other supporting moves. Nonetheless, it ended up replaced by Crusch due to its way-too-long-lasting lack of secondary STAB and the change in formation of the team in general. Its nickname is based on a character of the same name in Bravely Default, specifically because of its tendency to dance, the white part of its body, and the similarity of its French name to the name Praline.

Agatha the Misdreavus [Feuforêve] (female)
Level: 30
Nature: Mild [Doux]
Ability: Levitate [Lévitation]
– Shadow Ball [Ball’Ombre]
– Psychic [Psyko]
– Charge Beam [Rayon Chargé]
– Taunt [Provoc]

Used to be my go-to Ghost-type until I obtained Doppel Jr. I encountered it at level 9 in the Hau’oli Cemetery, and its decent special offense and three immunities made it a respectable part of the team. Sadly, though, as it remained unevolved for the entire duration when I had it, it just couldn’t pull its weight as the game started to get harder (and Dusk Stone is awfully far through the game, Poké Pelago be darned). Generically named after the Poison-type member of the Kanto Elite Four who is also infamous for using Ghost-types.

MasterSensei the Machop [Machoc] (male)
Level: 21
Nature: Brave [Brave]
Ability: No Guard [Annule Garde]
– Brick Break [Casse-Brique]
– Low Sweep [Balayette]
– Knock Off [Sabotage]
– Foresight [Clairvoyance]

Served as a Fighting-type attacker since obtained via in-game trade at level 9, but it ended up being replaced in favor of Leonardo. I didn’t have any real fond memories of this thing, just that it was there in case Rock-types (or perhaps Normal-types) would become a problem. It would be named Macho if I had decided to play in English, but the French counterpart is MasterSensei (apparently).

Straw the Cutiefly [Bombydou] (female)
Level: 10
Nature: Sassy [Malpoli]
Ability: Honey Gather [Cherche Miel]
– Struggle Bug [Survinsecte]
– Fairy Wind [Vent Féérique]
– Absorb [Vol-Vie]
– Stun Spore [Para-Spore]

This was my designated Fairy-type between Route 2 and Melemele Meadow, before I realized that Cottonee was a better fit for me (and arguably a better Pokémon in general). Plus, its Ability and Nature are evidently sub-optimal.

le toucan the Trumbeak [Piclairon] (female)
Level: 14
Nature: Bold [Assuré]
Ability: Keen Eye [Regard Vif]
– Peck [Picpic]
– Echoed Voice [Écho]
– Growl [Rugissement]
– Brick Break [Casse-Brique]

This is the Route 1 bird, which I planned to keep until it reached its final evolution (hence the nickname), but I lost patience with it when an issue arose with the low BP of its STAB moves and the faultiness of its Nature (and, now that I look back at it, its Ability), so I replaced it with Praline, which had a superior typing and damage output.

Nermal the Meowth [Miaouss] (male)
Level: 7
Nature: Naughty [Mauvais]
Ability: Pickup [Ramassage]
– Bite [Morsure]
– Scratch [Griffe]
– Growl [Rugissement]

Just a seldom used 6th team member until I had a full synergetic team to assemble. Pickup is always nice, but I didn’t want to keep this around because I knew that the Fire starter would eventually evolve into a Dark-type (admittedly because I was spoiled before I started the game). The Garfield reference in the nickname is far too obvious, but I honestly couldn’t think of anything else.

Sacapatates the Makuhita [Makuhita] (male)
Level: 13
Nature: Modest [Modeste]
Ability: Thick Fat [Isograisse]
– Brick Break [Casse-Brique]
– Tackle [Charge]
– Focus Energy [Puissance]
– Fake Out [Bluff]

Haha, Modest physical attacker. This was my initial Fighting-type from Route 2 until the in-game trade Machop in the Pokémon Center thereof (although I believe I conducted the trade after completing the first trial). In spite of its terrible Nature, it served well for what it was worth. The nickname is a shortening of the phrase “sac à patates,” which can be translated to “potato bag,” because that’s just the type of wording I would use to describe Makuhita’s appearance as a whole.

Miracle the Magnemite [Magnéti]
Level: 11
Nature: Quiet [Discret]
Ability: Sturdy [Fermeté]
– Tackle [Charge]
– Thunder Wave [Cage-Éclair]
– Thundershock [Éclair]
– Magnet Bomb [Bombaimant]

Of all the nicknames that I have given in this playthrough, I would have to say that this is the one that I’m the most proud of. The chief reasoning behind it is because of the song Miracles by Insane Clown Posse, which contains the phrase, “magnets, how do they work?” It also fits well because of the Ability Sturdy, which allows the user to survive at 1 HP as if by a miracle. Anyway, nickname aside, this was my designated Steel-type from the Trainer School until I caught myself a Diglett. It was fun to use while it lasted.

Profiteur the Rattata [Rattata] (male)
Level: 7
Nature: Naughty [Mauvais]
Ability: Hustle [Agitation]
– Tackle [Charge]
– Tail Whip [Mimi-Queue]
– Quick Attack [Vive-Attaque]
– Focus Energy [Puissance]

Nickname is a reference to another Bravely Default character, mostly because of the moustache, buck teeth, and black outfit. Only saw a bit of action, specifically because I fear Hustle and, again, didn’t want to double up on Dark-types.

The rest are filler members: Nom the Yungoos [Manglouton], Foxy Grandpa the Ledyba [Coxy], and Wormy the Caterpie [Chenipan]. They honestly just filled up space while I was in the process of assembling a team of six.

Honorable mentions

Pokémon that I may have considered before but did not end up making the cut:

Fire-types that I would have considered using if I hadn’t picked the Fire-type starter.

Same as above, but substitute Fire for Dark.

My teambuilding process was so immunity-centric that I didn’t bother with types like Alolan Raichu, but perhaps I would have considered it otherwise.

The Water/Flying typing and regular access to Drizzle were tempting, but I’m sure I’ve used a Pelipper before, and I didn’t plan on using one again. Besides, Drizzle would have had bad synergy with my starter.

Similarly to Alolan Raichu, my teambuilding process was too immunity-centric for this thing.

I like the idea of Accelerock, but I find pure-typed Pokémon to be less preferable over dual-typed Pokémon.

An alternative Water-type that I would have considered if not for the reasoning above.

Ground-type and has an interesting Ability in Stamina, but again, it only has one type. Moreover, I couldn’t possibly grind a Mudbray up to a comfortable level for the Elite Four at the point I was at while deciding my final team.

I was a fan of stuffed toys when I was a wee lad (and I still have pretty much my entire collection), and Fluffy is a very interesting Ability, but I had already decided that Poliwrath was going to be my Fighting-type before I could even encounter a Stufful. I won’t knock the design of this one, just because of how funny it is in the anime (and the moments with the Bewear and Team Rocket led me to appreciate its appearance more than I ever could have imagined).

Definitely an interesting ‘mon in terms of its typing and unique Ability in Water Compaction, but I had the same sort of too-little-too-late syndrome to deal with as I did with Mudsdale.

I might have considered this if not for how late-game it is (in spite of its pre-evolutions being in the demo) and if I hadn’t already been using Zygarde and Poliwrath.

Hypothetical alternative team

You know, the previous section has me thinking: What if I had chosen Moon with Rowlet as my starter? Then perhaps the final team would look more like this:


Gaebora (Decidueye)
Ability: Overgrow
– Leaf Blade
– Spirit Shackle
– U-turn
– Roost

Cocytus [Hokuto if female] (Sandslash-Alola)
Ability: Snow Cloak
– Icicle Crash
– Iron Head
– Earthquake
– Protect

Kirche (Salazzle) (F)
Ability: Corrosion
– Flamethrower
– Sludge Bomb
– Dragon Pulse
– Toxic

Ty [Saya if female] (Pelipper)
Ability: Drizzle
– Hurricane
– Scald
– Tailwind
– Roost

Teddy (Bewear)
Ability: Fluffy
– Hammer Arm
– Facade
– Shadow Claw
– Pain Split

Intérieur (Krookodile)
Ability: Intimidate
– Earthquake
– Crunch
– Rock Slide
– Taunt

Legendaries and similar

Thought I was done talking about obtained Pokémon? Nah, man. I still haven’t covered the legendaries (and similar) besides Zygarde. (Note: All of them have their default movesets.)

During the main story, of course I had to catch this. Because I didn’t have any Adamant Synchronize users at the time, I had to soft-reset for the Nature the good old-fashioned way. It didn’t take too long, considering Quick Ball had a good chance of capturing and, failing that, I could just weaken it with snek and capture it in a Timer Ball or similar. The whole legendary-catching process makes me glad for two new mechanics:

  1. Upon capturing a Pokémon and being taken through the nicknaming process, you can view its status before sending it to the PC or including it in your party. This means no more having to put up with the rest of the game’s crud before being able to access the nearest PC. I feel like checking status could stand to be before the nicknaming process, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.
  2. Hyper Training means not having to worry about IVs anymore (barring Hidden Power types, and IVs kept purposely low (such as Attack for strictly special attackers and Speed for purposely slow attackers)).

I generically named this Solgaleo “King” for lack of anything better.

I don’t know whether to call this a legendary. There is only one, and it cannot be bred, but it can evolve into a Pokémon that has rather poor base stats for being fully evolved and is not banned in battle facilities or online play. Just as I have my doubts about it being a legendary, I named it “Gry” even though it’s not exactly a gryphon.

I also got the Nature for this one without Synchronize, and I went for Jolly, keeping in mind that I would evolve it into a Silvally. I mean, Eviolite Type: Null theoretically seems better, until you realize that not only is its Speed significantly lower, but it lacks reliable recovery. Taking that into consideration, my initial idea would be to run a Choice Scarf set with Return / U-turn / Parting Shot / Explosion (even though apparently Parting Shot, along with Memento, is banned from online play due to a glitch with Z-Parting Shot and Z-Memento that mysteriously causes the battle to disconnect…though I personally think it would have been a better idea to ban Darkinium Z). A set taking advantage of RKS System would be nice too, like with Ground Memory and a set of Swords Dance / Multi-Attack / Rock Slide / Fire Fang.

On the flip side, now that I reflect further on the potential of Arceus 0.5, perhaps a Timid nature could have worked with Z-Heal Block working as a makeshift Nasty Plot and benefitting its respectable Special movepool notably containing Tri-Attack, BoltBeam, Surf, Flamethrower, and Shadow Ball.

Prior to catching Nihilego was when I decided to go to the Hau’oli Market and go through the painful process of catching one Synchronize Abra for every Nature excluding Gentle, Lax, and the neutral Natures. Afterwards, it was obvious what Nature and nickname to give Nihilego. Its base stats have “Timid” written all over them, and its appearance has “Lilie” written all over it. (Her French name only has 1 L in the middle.) I decided to go for Hidden Power Ground as well, because it seemed to have the greatest coverage with its dual STAB. (I was also considering Hidden Power Fighting, but that Hidden Power is impossible on legendaries in Gen 6 and onward due to the mechanic of always having at least 3 perfect IVs.) This was reasonably easy to weaken with Leonardo’s Brick Break.

Because there were two Buzzwole in the Ultra Beast saga, I decided to get one Adamant and one Jolly, named “JOHN SQUITO” and “Protein” respectively. Base 79 Speed might not be all that impressive, but neither is base 53 Special Defense, even fully invested. It’s a shame that Pheromosa is Moon-exclusive (because Pheromosa is much more my style), but hey, at least Buzzwole presented a great opportunity for a Cena-inspired pun. I believe I weakened this one with Ao’s Dazzling Gleam and let Crusch take hits during the catching process.

Another Ultra Beast that presented itself as a pair. Obviously, I wanted both to have Hidden Power Ice, with one Timid and the other Modest. (The Timid one is named “Lanky” based on its body structure, and the Modest one is named “Créé” after another original character from the story I mentioned earlier.) This was easily weakened with the help of snek.

Okay, now this is just overkill. Not one, not two, not even three, but freaking four of the same Ultra Beast, let alone one of such a predictable nature as Kartana. Because it can really only play a role of semi-fast physical attacker based on its stat distribution, I decided to catch two Adamant and two Jolly—named “o,” “ri,” “ga,” and “mi” because I couldn’t come up with anything else. I used Crusch to weaken this one, and I have to say that Leaf Blade does impressive damage even when quad resisted.

Now this was a real pain to get, not only because of the reduced catch rate, but also because of the requirements that I imposed for it. Specifically, I wanted it to be Brave-natured with an exceptionally low Speed IV (0-2, tested based on turn order using Algancre’s Speed at the time) because…well, its stats are really weird, and I figured the best use for it would be as a Trick Room-based slow attacker. Its attacking stats are not all that impressive, but it is sluggish and lacks a reliable form of recovery, so an offensive set is honestly the best way to go with it. I was considering a set along the lines of: Draco Meteor / Crunch / Heavy Slam / Protect (with Life Orb). As for the nickname, I decided on “Utsu-P” based on their song EAT.

After the very annoying process of obtaining the right Guzzlord, it was the perfect time to redeem the event Magearna. What intrigued me most about this Pokémon is that it is the new slowest user of the rare combination of Trick Room and Volt Switch. With that in mind, of course I would go for Quiet Nature with low Speed. Surprisingly, after just a few resets, the Speed IV turned out to be in the 4-5 range! (No nickname, obviously, because it’s an event Pokémon.)

Then came the Tapus. Tapu Koko is another unfortunate case of having stats and movepool mixed up. Although its Attack is higher than its Special Attack, its physical movepool is pretty much limited to Electric/Flying/Bug (it gets Steel Wing and Thief, but those are pretty weak), whereas its special movepool is notably more colorful and actually has Fairy STAB. Sure, it could be possible to run a mixed set, but I felt like it would be better to go purely physical with a set like Wild Charge / Brave Bird / U-turn / Roost. Nicknamed “Falco” because it’s bird-like and lives on Melemele Island (which very much resembles “Melee-melee,” and Falco is a notable character in Super Smash Bros. Melee). By the way, I’m so glad that the game allows you to re-challenge Tapu Koko if you KO it after the Pokémon League.

Timid, please. Psyshock / Moonblast / Focus Blast / Taunt, or perhaps some other fourth move. As easy as it was to come up with a set for Lele, nicknaming it was not so easy. I mean, it’s supposed to be based on a butterfly, but what’s so “butterfly” about it? I dunno, I just ended up choosing its nickname based on the fact that it seems to be hiding in a pot-like shell…thing. Therefore, I named it “Magick Pot” (after an enemy in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 that behaves similarly).

Another addition to the physically-oriented-Fairy-that-doesn’t-get-physical-Fairy-STAB club. Honestly, why do they still not have a physical Fairy attack besides Play Rough? Regardless, I was debating what nature to run on Bulu, whether to just roll with Adamant or go with something bulkier, or perhaps faster in spite of its base 75 Speed. Even after a bit of research, I ultimately settled upon Adamant, and I nicknamed it “Wizpig” (after the villain of Diddy Kong Racing).

Argh, this one was such a pain to deal with. I had three difficulties in trying to get the right Tapu Fini:

  1. Catching it. I circumvented this difficulty using the Master Ball, and I will explain why. The primary reason is because of this darned move called Aqua Ring. The passive recovery makes it so that I would have to burn it to keep its capture rate in check, and obviously it’s protected from burn as long as Misty Terrain is in effect. My normal capturing process is to use Leonardo (taking advantage of the fact that Nature’s Madness is Tapu Fini’s only damaging move that works, courtesy of Water Absorb) to weaken it using Poison Jab and its STAB(s) to reduce it to as low HP as possible without KOing it, applying burn if it uses Aqua Ring. Even though all Tapus have the same capture rate (3), Fini is the only one against which I had occasions of failing to capture it before it KO’d itself with Struggle.
  2. Getting the right Nature (Timid). 50% is lower than you may think.
  3. Getting the right Hidden Power type. I was initially considering Fire based on research, but I feel like Ground has the best coverage overall. I mean, the only resistant typings to both of its dual STABs are Grass/Poison, Grass/Steel, Water/Poison, and Water/Steel; and Volcanion is resistant by Ability. Fire covers the Grass-types and hits Water/Steel neutrally, but it’s resisted by Water/Poison and (quad-resisted by) Volcanion. Sure, Shadow Ball hits all five neutrally, but Ground hits the Water-types super-effectively and the Grass-types neutrally. Regardless, of the 42 possible odd/even IV combinations on any given legendary Pokémon, 3 yield Ground, so the chances of getting such a Hidden Power are roughly 7%. (Note: Special Attack and/or Special Defense being perfect is a clear indication that it does not have Hidden Power Ground, so if it’s obvious which 3 IVs are perfect and SpA or SpD is among them, or if I see a characteristic like “Coquin” or “Un peu vaniteux” (which mean “Mischievous” and “Somewhat vain” respectively), I know to soft-reset and repeat the capturing process.)

Regardless, after many, many grueling attempts at getting the right Tapu Fini, I decided to nickname it “Kraken Zwei” as a reference to the Unlimited Fafnir light novel (specifically starting from volume 7). I don’t want to spoil too much, but the purple coloration, human-like appearance, and silvery hair are what influenced the nickname.

 

Dang, that was a lot, and it’s not even the end yet. I have yet to obtain Necrozma or Cosmog, but I will get to that shortly. Speaking of Cosmog, now that I think about it, Solgaleo with Z-Splash and Flame Charge seems awfully threatening.

Miscellaneous

My in-game identity is a male Trainer named Toru. The reason? I’ve been intrigued by that name ever since the first time I played FireRed, when I gave that name to my rival as one of the defaults. (Ah, the good ol’ days of playing as BEELEE♂…)

As for my experience as a whole, everything before the Elite Four was pretty much touch-and-go, barring a few select battles. Specifically, Totem Wishiwashi took a painstakingly long time to defeat (even with Puff Mama, which was my best bet for taking it on), and Totem Kommo-o was pure craziness. To elaborate further…

Against Totem Kommo-o, I led off with Mimikyu. Dazzling Gleam didn’t do much (especially with Mimikyu’s laughable Special Attack), and I learned that Kommo-o had Flash Cannon thanks to the Disguise. To make matters worse, Kommo-o even called a Scizor as an SOS Partner, so I just had to switch out. I switched specifically into Nyanta, which took negligible damage from Kommo-o’s Flash Cannon and Scizor’s Bullet Punch. Next, Kommo-o went for Sky Uppercut, which Nyanta survived at 1 HP thanks to its affection level and proceeded to destroy the Scizor with its Fire STAB. (I don’t remember whether it was Flamethrower or Flame Charge, but that doesn’t really matter.) Afterwards, I had to sac Nyanta to get a free switch into Leonardo, which inflicted chip damage with Psychic as Kommo-o summoned Hakamo-o and had it set up and clean up shop (mostly the former). Then I felt comfortable finally bringing Mimikyu back in, and it ended up barely surviving Flash Cannon (and apparently Hakamo-o had nothing to touch it) and securing the victory with Dazzling Gleam.

I have to say some of the music is good, especially these three particular tracks:

And speaking of the Elite Four, that is where I really started having problems. Throughout the prior stages of the game, I would use the Exp. Share sparingly, specifically only against Totem Pokémon and major Trainers such as the Kahuna, because of how ridiculous it was in Gen VI. However, when I realized how underleveled I was in comparison to the Elite Four, as well as how experience gain in Gen VII is more akin to that of Gen V, I wholeheartedly regretted not using the Exp. Share more often.

In spite of the circumstances, I did manage to push through the Elite Four without much worry (barring the way too many freaking times Algancre missed Power Whip), but the main issue was that freaking Champion. Honestly, his Primarina alone would have swept my entire team under ordinary circumstances, so I had to go into Algancre, give it my only X-Sp.Def at the time, and—get this—stall it out of Moonblasts. Yep, that was my strategy for eliminating that threat: just spamming healing items until it had used up all 15 Moonblasts. Braviary also gave me grief, considering Crusch was down (I think) and snek couldn’t take two Brave Birds, not to mention Ao wasn’t fast enough to outspeed. Thankfully, Brave Bird has the risk of recoil, which is what ultimately caused it to faint at the expense of Ao. But man, what a painful experience.

The post-game Dexio fight was also quite a bother. In fact, I was so ill prepared for it the first time around that I had to reset the game, and the last time I had saved was after beating the game. Heck, even when I actually gained some levels in the Ultra Beast saga, that Mega Alakazam darn near destroyed my team; I had to stall it out of Focus Blasts using Nyanta and Crusch, and then destroy it with a Darkest Lariat from Nyanta. Thankfully, though, that’s really all I struggled with (outside of the competitive facilities, for which I don’t even have a properly EV trained team). Now I know to actually use the Exp. Share instead of struggling to survive without it.

Another recent post-game project I’ve been considering is breeding for Snow Warning Alolan Vulpix with Freeze-Dry and Moonblast. I already did the Snow Warning part with the help of an Absol that I caught and made my designated SOS Battle abuser.

Kili the Absol [Absol] (female)
Level: 46
Nature: Jolly [Jovial]
Ability: Pressure [Pression]
– Night Slash [Tranche-Nuit]
– Bite [Morsure]
– False Swipe [Faux-Chage]
– Thunder Wave [Cage-Éclair]

Having looked up information about SOS Battles, I learned that three key components are essential: Adrenaline Orbs, the right Ability, and reducing the lone target to the right HP value. Thankfully Adrenaline Orbs are nice and cheap, and the Ultra Beast saga rewards you with a whopping 1 million PokéDollars, so I could just simply buy until I had 99. As for the Ability, Absol is the easiest Pokémon to acquire with any of the three SOS-provoking Abilities (Intimidate, Pressure, Unnerve) that also has access to False Swipe. As a bonus, Absol gets Thunder Wave to prevent a potential capture target (if applicable) from calling for further help and to make said target easier to capture. As for the rest of the moveset, since Dark-type moves have good enough coverage on their own, I decided to run two STAB moves while finding the right balance between PP, power, and not hitting both targets at once. Night Slash and Bite combined have 40 PP total, each having no less than 60 BP and only hitting a single target, making them ideal in this case scenario. Leftovers (stolen from a Munchlax on Route 1) helped in that I wouldn’t have to worry as much about damage taken, because I was hunting for Alolan Vulpix in Tapu Village (which also made it easier to tell whether an Alolan Vulpix has Snow Cloak or Snow Warning). By the way, the nickname “Kili” is another Unlimited Fafnir reference, and its namesake is pretty much the reason why I like the series so much in the first place.

So, with a Snow Warning Alolan Vulpix in tow (and a female no less), I just have to get the appropriate Egg moves onto it (and a better Nature considering it’s Jolly). However, therein lies a conundrum: The only conventional way to breed Freeze-Dry onto an Alolan Vulpix is by chain breeding from Aurorus to Lapras to Delibird, and Aurorus is not native to Alola. Therefore, the only (currently) possible way to breed Freeze-Dry onto Alolan Vulpix is by getting a Smeargle to learn it. Still, therein lies another conundrum: Double Battles are not as prominent in Alola as they are in other regions. The best way to circumvent this conundrum is through the use of SOS Battles. In other words, my plan for obtaining a Smeargle with Freeze-Dry is to get a Smeargle to 1 HP, bring in Glalie (which was the easiest way to get Freeze-Dry: to simply catch a Snorunt in the wild and give it a Rare Candy), and, on the turn the 1-HP Smeargle calls in a male SOS Partner, KO the 1-HP Smeargle with Freeze-Dry, allowing the other Smeargle to Sketch that move. As for Moonblast, I initially planned on using the SOS Sketch method (as I’ll call it for simplicity) with Tapu Lele for that move (which is what led to the recent catching spree of Tapus), but I would rather EV train Tapu Lele beforehand, and that would be a real pain considering I don’t even have Pokérus yet. So, I think I would rather raise a Sylveon to learn the move at level 37 (and perhaps make sure that the Eevee is Timid for Nature transfer purposes).

Finally, here are a few closing thoughts:

  • I can think of two minor annoyances in booting up the game:
    1. On non-New3DS systems, the game (as well as the demo) takes an exceptionally long time to boot up for the first time. It’s not as bad as Nintendo Badge Arcade, but still.
    2. I don’t see why you can’t use the touch screen to advance from the title screen to file selection. I mean, the intro starts off covering the bottom screen and leaving the top screen black.
  • How glorious it is that they got rid of HMs in favor of Poké Ride. I never would have guessed such a wonderful change in mechanics.
  • Pokémon Refresh actually convinced me to get into the whole business of affection, just because of the close calls and ability to heal off status conditions during/after battle (especially the latter). Something that annoys me, though, is how affectionate Pokémon tend to fall asleep when you move things around in the PC.
  • Festival Plaza is like Join Avenue 2.0, only it’s marked with a green (!) bubble in the menu when the residents want to talk to you (which is every freaking hour). Also, the shops don’t level up like they do in Unova’s Join Avenue; they’re just randomly suggested by Sophocles every time the Festival Plaza levels up (except for a few major milestones). The green bubble triggers me at times, but I can’t really diss the feature otherwise.
  • Poké Finder is a nod to Pokémon Snap (which, although I don’t remember fondly, I watch 360chrism speedrun from time to time) in that it involves taking up to six photos of one Pokémon and getting points for whichever photo you choose. I did actually get 1,500,000 total points for the Trainer Passport stamp, and the highest score I’ve gotten for a single photo (specifically the Mimikyu photo shown below) is just above 16k.
    mimikyu
    Something I noticed about Poké Finder is that the photos taken make a different jingle for 0-1000, 1000-3000, and 3000+ ranges of points.
  • By the time of the Elite Four, I was honestly expecting Acerola to have a Mimikyu, and boy was I disappointed.
  • Something I find annoying about the game is how it lags so much on any system not named New3DS. Double Battles, Battle Royal, Z-Moves… You name it, it lags the game. But hey, at least Sun and Moon are not New3DS-exclusive games, because that would be even worse.
  • As much as they lag the game, Z-Moves are quite interesting. Supposedly the attacking moves bypass accuracy checks, and some of the status moves have interesting effects (especially Splash and pretty much anything that grants an all-stats boost (à la Ancient Power).)
  • Admittedly, I laughed at every part of the Firium Z trial. Not just the photobombing of the Hiker and Salazzle, but I found the dancing Marowak goofy as well.
  • The Poké Finder segment just before the Totem Mimikyu battle spooked me.
  • Poké Pelago is pretty cool. Collecting beans, finding wild Pokémon from out of nowhere, growing Berries in the most convenient manner possible, hunting for treasures, training Pokémon, and increasing the happiness of Pokémon…all while being reminded of Pokémon who are normally left to rot in the PC. It’s good stuff. (But y’know, I find it odd that you can get Golden Bottle Caps but not regular Bottle Caps through the treasure hunting.)
  • Speaking of Bottle Caps, I feel like a complete idiot because I thought they were undersea treasures returning from B/W (and therefore sold them whenever I happened upon them). It took me until after beating the game to realize that they’re those things that allow you to Hyper Train.
  • It’s so weird that the Move Reminder is so far into the game (just before the Elite Four), but it’s understandable considering this one actually teaches moves that Pokémon have yet to learn.
  • My top three list of favorite characters:
    1. Lana
    2. Sophocles
    3. Anabel
  • My top three list of favorite Gen VII Pokémon:
    1. Mimikyu
    2. Alolan Sandslash
    3. Bewear
  • Overall rating? 9/10. I would say it’s the best installment of the franchise (mostly because I have a high tendency to prefer newer games), but it’s still not quite perfect.

 

Phew, 8000+ words and I’m finally done. What a whimsical weekend it was indeed, considering I had to delay my post until Wednesday. But anyway, I think that’s all I have to say for now.

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Pokémon Picross ability tier list (Whimsical Weekend #5)

I recently (by which I mean about two weeks ago) completed Pokémon Picross for 3DS without once buying any Picrites. My game plan started off with unlocking the five Pokémon slots, extending the P gauge once, and completing as many objectives as possible without unlocking Alt World or the Mega Pencil. After that, I extended the P gauge twice more, unlocked Alt World, and completed as many objectives as possible there without the Mega Pencil. Finally, I unlocked the Mega Pencil, did all the Mega stages and Mega-requiring objectives, and got the infinite P gauge in the process. And yes, there was a lot of Daily Challenge grinding involved. For the record, I started on December 3, 2015, and have spent a total of 114 hours on the game.

Anyway, regardless of the amount of grinding involved, Pokémon Picross is a fun game, and something that makes it unique is that each Pokémon has its own ability that can be used to make the puzzles easier. There are 12 different varieties of abilities in the game, each associated with one (or multiple) Pokémon typing(s), and the purpose of this post is to go over each of the abilities from worst to best and provide reasoning as to why the abilities deserve to be tiered as such.

By the way, I even compiled a database of all the Pokémon in the game, coupled with a statistical analysis of type frequency: https://goo.gl/Ad8qtz

Also, if you’re wondering where I got the statistics of Diamond, Square, and Cross Reveals, I actually found them using my own spreadsheets (linked below).

The statistics for Rising and Slash Reveals, on the other hand, are all calculated using a combination of mental math and a four-function calculator.

12. Diamond Reveal

Associated with Fairy-types, Diamond Reveal is the type of ability that should not be used unless either it is required by an objective or there are no other Reveal-based Pokémon to use. Seriously. It’s a good thing that the ability is the least common in the game, because, to put it bluntly, the ability is utter crap.

There are four different sizes of Diamond Reveal, each covering a diamond-shaped area. Going from least to greatest in terms of maximum tiles covered, they are: 5, 13, 25, and 41. In the diagram below, the first three are shown from left to right on top, and the fourth is shown on the bottom.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-2-09-16-pm

Reveal abilities can come in handy because each tile within range is filled in or marked with an X depending on the actual solution…if that makes sense; it’s difficult to explain. But really, Diamond Reveal is so lackluster. Not only are the maximum values appallingly low, but the expected values are pretty bad too, because the diamond can so easily get cut off if the target point is too close to the edge of the board (which happens very frequently with random targeting).

To put it into perspective:

  • On a 10×10 board, a 13-tile Diamond Reveal has an expected value of ~11 tiles.
  • On a 15×15 board, a 25-tile Diamond Reveal has an expected value of ~21 tiles.
  • On a 20×15 board, a 41-tile Diamond Reveal has an expected value of ~34 tiles.

Even Xerneas (the best Fairy-type in the game, located in Area 16), which has two manual-targeting 25-tile Diamond Reveals, can only manage 50 tiles on one puzzle. This is an underwhelming value when you compare it against the values of the other Reveal abilities.

I do appreciate the concept, and I’m sure that the creators would be hard-pressed to come up with anything else original, but it’s such a rubbish ability in practice. I do like Fairy-types in the main series Pokémon games (because of their few weaknesses defensively and resistances offensively), but definitely not so much in Picross.

11. Auto Fix

Associated with Grass-types, Auto Fix is tied for the fourth-most common ability in the game. The ability automatically fixes any tiles that are filled in when they should be marked with an X. It doesn’t seem like anything worth bashing…until you realize that there’s another ability called Auto Fix X that does the exact same thing and then some. (I will get to that later.) In spite of that, Auto Fix has some perks of its own:

  • Auto Fix has nearly twice as many users as Auto Fix X.
  • Auto Fix has more uses than Auto Fix X.
    • In terms of size 10 Pokémon, the most effective Auto Fix has 10 uses, whereas the most effective Auto Fix X has 5 uses. Talking about no-recharge Pokémon (those with 00:00 cooldown), Treecko (Area 4) has 5 uses, and Klefki (Area 3) has 3 uses.
    • In terms of size 15 Pokémon, the most effective Auto Fix has 15 uses, and the most effective Auto Fix X (excluding Mega Aggron (Area 16), which has 12 uses) has 10 uses.
    • In terms of size 20 Pokémon (excluding Megas and legendaries), the most effective Auto Fix has 20 uses, whereas the most effective Auto Fix X has 12 uses.
    • In terms of size 20 non-legendary Megas, the most effective Auto Fix has 30 uses, whereas the most effective Auto Fix X has 15 uses.
    • In terms of legendary Pokémon, the most effective Auto Fix has 40 uses, whereas the most effective Auto Fix X has 25 uses.

Simply put, Auto Fix is outclassed, although not 100% completely.

10. Square Reveal

Associated with Dragon-types and also tied for fourth-most common ability, I would consider this to be the second tier of Reveal: better than Diamond Reveal, but still underwhelming for a Reveal ability.

Square Reveal comes in five different sizes, each covering a perfectly square area. Going from least to greatest in terms of maximum tiles covered, they are: 16, 25, 36, 49, and 64.

This is another form of Reveal that is fairly prone to being cut off with random targeting, but it is at least better than Diamond Reveal; I can say that much. To put it into perspective:

  • On a 10×10 board, a 25-tile Square Reveal has an expected value of ~19 tiles. (This statistic is not so relevant because the best size 10 Square Reveal user, Dratini (Area 10), has a 25-tile Square Reveal with manual targeting. Altaria (Area 22), which has two random 16-tile Square Reveals, may have a greater potential maximum value, but the expected value (which is roughly 12 per Reveal, not factoring in the potential of the two Reveals overlapping one another) is less than Dratini’s guaranteed value.)
  • On a 15×15 board, a 49-tile Square Reveal has an expected value of ~38 tiles.
  • On a 20×15 board, a 64-tile Square Reveal has an expected value of ~48 tiles.

Again, it is better than Diamond Reveal, but still not the cream of the crop. However, I will admit that 10% Zygarde and Perfect Zygarde (which require passwords but are unlocked as early as Area 5) are some very nice early game assets (each size 20). 10% Zygarde has three 25-tile Square Reveals with manual targeting, while Perfect Zygarde has two 49-tile Square Reveals with manual targeting, allowing them to guarantee revealing 75 and 98 tiles respectively. It’s not the best, but it’s huge for what it’s worth.

9. Rising Reveal

Associated with Normal-types, but surprisingly the fifth-least common ability in the game, Rising Reveal selects a certain number of tiles (depending on the Pokémon) and, for each tile selected, reveals the entire column corresponding to the tile.

From a statistical standpoint:

  • On a 10×10 board, a Rising Reveal with a width of 2 has a maximum value of 20 tiles and an expected value of ~18 tiles.
  • On a 15×15 board, a Rising Reveal with a width of 3 has a maximum value of 45 tiles and an expected value of 43 tiles.
  • On a 20×15 board, a Rising Reveal with a width of 5 has a maximum value of 75 tiles and an expected value of ~71 tiles.

Size 10 Rising Reveals are actually slightly less effective than size 10 Square Reveals, but as the size increases, so too do the maximum and expected values.

I would have to say that the best Rising Reveal user is Arceus (which has two manual Rising Reveals with a width of 3), although it is sadly a mythical Pokémon located all the way in Area 30. Not only does it have a better guaranteed yield than Regigigas (a guaranteed 90 compared to a potential 75 on a board with 15 height, although Regigigas is obtained one area earlier and is not mythical), but it is used to select the second-leftmost and second-rightmost columns, any blackened tile on the third-leftmost or third-rightmost column can be a vital giveaway to the solution of the puzzle.

8. Slash Reveal

Associated with Ground- and Rock-types, although it is the third-least common ability in the game and the earliest accessible user is all the way in Area 12, Slash Reveal is slightly better than Rising Reveal in that size 20 Slash Reveal users are more effective in 20×15 boards because of the irregular dimensions (which are presumably a result of system limitations). Also, the most effective size 10 Slash Reveal user has a width of 3 instead of 2.

From a statistical standpoint:

  • On a 10×10 board, a Slash Reveal with a width of 3 has a maximum value of 30 tiles and an expected value of 28 tiles.
  • On a 15×15 board, a Slash Reveal with a width of 4 (based on Mega Tyranitar (Area 23)) has a maximum value of 60 tiles and an expected value of ~54 tiles.
  • On a 20×15 board, a Slash Reveal with a width of 5 has a maximum value of 100 tiles and an expected value of 92 tiles.

Now isn’t that something. The expected value of a Slash Reveal with a width of 5 on a 20×15 board is very close to that of the guaranteed number of tiles revealed by Perfect Zygarde.

I would also like to note that there is essentially a Slash Reveal version of Arceus, and that is Mega Diancie. It is a mythical Mega in Area 27 and therefore painstaking to access, but it’s a guaranteed 120-tile reveal with a similar sort of property to that of Arceus except in terms of topmost and bottommost rows instead of leftmost and rightmost columns.

Even so, Slash Reveal is arguably the third best Reveal ability, and the best is yet to come.

7. Auto Fix X

Associated with Steel-types, Auto Fix X is the second-least common ability in the game. As mentioned before, in terms of effect, it is just like Auto Fix except better. Not only does it correct tiles that are filled in when they should be marked with an X, but also vice versa. Also as mentioned before, Auto Fix X may outclass Auto Fix in terms of effect, but Auto Fix X has fewer users and uses.

Auto Fix X may be a really handy tool, and I was a huge fan of it in the early stages of my playing the game (i.e., before extending the P gauge to 400). However, as convenient as it is, I have come to realize two painful truths behind the ability (which also apply to regular Auto Fix):

  • If a Pokémon with Auto Fix (X) activates an ability, even if it has not corrected a single tile, that Pokémon will be subject to cooldown after the puzzle.
  • As a human being, I find that I have a tendency to make mistakes. When it comes to puzzles, these are usually misplaced inputs (e.g., in button mode, I had a tendency to press a direction on the D-pad right before releasing the A or B button (to fill or mark with an X respectively)), and Auto Fix (X) corrects those, even if you already know the mistake and wish to correct it yourself.

The second point became especially pesky when I came to realize it. For that reason, I decided to become less invested in Auto Fix X and instead pack another ability that I will explain later on.

6. Slow Time

Associated with Electric-types and the fourth-least common ability, Slow Time does what it says on the tin: It slows down the puzzle timer depending on the Pokémon using it. Specifically:

  • The non-recharge Pokémon with this ability, Pikachu (Area 4), makes the timer run at 90% speed.
  • The most effective non-legendary and non-Mega Slow Time users make the timer run at 70% speed.
  • Mega Ampharos and Mega Manectric (Areas 20 and 9 respectively), the only Megas in the game with Slow Time, each make the timer run at 60% speed.
  • Legendary Slow Time users make the timer run at 50% speed.

The slowing of the timer not only makes it easier to complete objectives with a time limit, but it also prolongs the duration of the timed abilities Stop Time and non-infinite Blue Force (which will be explained later), meaning that it can not only help complete timed objectives but also be a team player for other Pokémon doing so as well.

Incidentally, the absolute slowest multiplier for the timer—which is achieved by setting Zapdos (Area 20), Raikou (Area 20), Thundurus-Therian (Area 29), one of the two Megas, and a Pokémon that makes the timer run at 70% speed—is shown in-game as 0.05. That’s right; it is possible to make the timer run at roughly 1/20 of its regular speed. (On a 20×15 board, this is only possible with the three legendaries, Mega Ampharos, and Luxray (Area 27).)

5. Scatter Reveal

Associated with Dark- and Poison-types, Scatter Reveal is also tied for the fourth-most common ability. Each use of the ability reveals a certain number of different tiles (which varies depending on the Pokémon) in completely random locations. One thing special about Scatter Reveal is that it is the only Reveal ability belonging to any of the eight Pokémon with a cooldown time of 00:00 (in this case, specifically Poochyena (Area 1)).

In terms of the number of guaranteed tiles uncovered by Scatter Reveal, note the following:

  • Of all the size 10 Scatter Reveal users, Zoroark (Area 30) reveals the most tiles (25). This is less than the expected value of a Slash Reveal with a width of 3, but bear with me here.
  • Of all the size 15 non-Mega Scatter Reveal users, Beedrill and Umbreon (Areas 26 and 8 respectively) are tied with 30 tiles (but note that Beedrill has a manual activation timing unlike Umbreon).
  • Speaking of Megas: Mega Gyarados, Mega Houndoom, and Mega Sharpedo (Areas 27, 14, and 10 respectively) have the most effective size 15 Scatter Reveals, each having an effect size of 60. Recognize that value? Yes, that is the maximum value of a Slash Reveal with a width of 4.
  • Of all the size 20 Scatter Reveal users, Hydreigon (Area 30) is the only non-legendary and reveals 80 tiles.
  • As a whole, Darkrai (Area 18) is the most effective Scatter Reveal user, able to clear a guaranteed 120 tiles. (That’s enough to clear an entire 10×10 board in one fell swoop!)

I do realize that Yveltal (Area 12) could potentially clear more tiles than Darkrai (because Yveltal has two uses of Scatter Reveal, each with an effect size of 70), but calculating the expected value of that would be far more complicated than doing so with any other Reveal ability. If I were to guesstimate, however, I would say that Yveltal leans towards, but doesn’t quite reach, the caliber of Darkrai.

As a whole, Scatter Reveal can prove to be surprisingly effective in terms of working towards the solution to any given puzzle, but the use of multiple Scatter Reveal users is ill advised (unless the objective requires only Scatter Reveal users or only Dark-/Poison-types).

4. Hyper Scan

Associated with Flying-, Fighting-, and Bug-types (more types than any other ability), Hyper Scan is the second-most common ability in the game. I initially thought that this ability was completely useless because of the existence of Auto Fix X, and it wasn’t until I got started on the Megas that I learned better. Now I feel ashamed and wish to explain my newfound appreciation of this ability.

I mentioned when talking about Auto Fix X that it gets pesky when it corrects misplaced inputs that I already know are mistakes, but Hyper Scan does not have that problem. My primary motive for having such fixing abilities in the first place is this: If I lack these abilities, there are some occasions where I may end up having a row/column marked incorrectly. Unlike Conceptis puzzles, Pokémon Picross does not have an Undo or Check button…and, in spite of myself, I am not methodical enough to keep track of every move that I make from start to finish. So, if I reach a point like that and lack any corrective abilities, I generally have two options:

  1. Cheat by looking at a picture online (Yes, I confess that I have done this before)
  2. Restart the puzzle completely (which is not ideal, especially if I used a legendary for the puzzle)

With that in mind, if I pack a Hyper Scan user and run into such a situation, I can just call upon the Hyper Scan user if needed and have it get me out of that slump. The best part is, unlike with Auto Fix (X) users, if I end up not needing Hyper Scan, I can just not activate it, and the Hyper Scan user will not need to cool down.

Sorry, I got ahead of myself. I never actually explained what Hyper Scan does, did I? At any point in time during the puzzle, activating Hyper Scan will check for incorrectly labeled tiles. If there are any, a number of randomly chosen tiles equal to or less than the effect size of the Hyper Scan will be selected and corrected. Otherwise, a huge check mark will be displayed on screen. (Note that the number of uses for the Hyper Scan is always lowered for any given check, no matter the outcome thereof.)

In terms of Hyper Scan effect size, note the following:

  • Pancham (Area 2), the one with the 00:00 cooldown, has 1 Hyper Scan covering 5 tiles.
  • The most effective size 10 Hyper Scan user is Gyarados (Area 27), which has 1 use covering 15 tiles.
  • The most effective non-Mega size 15 Hyper Scan user is Vivillon (Area 29), the effect of which is identical to that of Gyarados.
  • Megas included, the greatest sum of tiles covered by any size 15 Hyper Scan user is 20. The ones with the fewest uses are Mega Pinsir and Mega Heracross (Areas 14 and 18 respectively), each having 2 uses covering 10 tiles each.
  • The most effective non-legendary, non-Mega size 20 Hyper Scan user is Staraptor (Area 30), which has 3 uses covering 7 tiles each (covering a total of 21 tiles).
  • In terms of Megas: the most effective non-legendary size 20 Hyper Scan user is a tie between Mega Charizard Y and Mega Pidgeot (Areas 28 and 12 respectively), each having 3 uses covering 10 tiles each (covering a total of 30 tiles).
  • Including legendaries and excluding Megas, the most effective Hyper Scan user is Genesect (Area 26), which has 3 uses covering 15 tiles each (covering a total of 45 tiles, even more than a legendary Auto Fix).
  • As a whole, the most effective Hyper Scan user is Mega Mewtwo X (Area 30), which has 5 uses covering 10 tiles each. This covers a total of 50 tiles, making it the most effective checking ability in the game.

Simply put, Hyper Scan is basically a non-automatic (which equates to me as not-as-pesky) Auto Fix X with more uses.

3. Freeze Time

ZA WARUDO!

Sorry, had to. Associated with Psychic- and Ghost-types, Freeze Time is the third-most common ability in the game. Much like Slow Time, Freeze Time does what it says on the tin: It briefly pauses the puzzle timer. This makes it slightly (or, if using a legendary, much) easier to achieve timed objectives. As mentioned before, it also works in conjunction with Slow Time, because Slow Time effectively prolongs the duration of Freeze Time as a result of slowing down the puzzle timer.

In terms of effectiveness, I would classify varieties of Freeze Time differently: partly in terms of the sum of times, and partly in terms of the longest one-time use. The reason? In terms of limited-duration abilities (namely this and Blue Force), I always prefer the ones that have fewer uses with longer durations. With that in mind, note the following:

  • Munna (Area 4), the one with the 00:00 cooldown, can freeze time once for 10 seconds.
  • The size 10 Freeze Time user with the longest duration of one use is Misdreavus (Area 17) with a 60-second time freeze. This is also the greatest sum of time freeze durations—albeit tied with Meowstic (Area 9), which can freeze time twice for 30 seconds each.
  • In terms of non-Mega size 15 Freeze Time users:
    • The one with the longest duration of one use is Espeon (Area 10) with a 40-second time freeze.
    • The one with the greatest sum of time freeze durations is Alakazam (Area 12), the Freeze Time effect of which is identical to that of Meowstic.
  • In terms of size 15 Freeze Time users including Megas, the point about Espeon still applies, but Mega Banette (Area 5) has the greatest sum of time freeze durations: 90, which is comprised of three 30-second time freezes.
  • In terms of non-legendary, non-Mega size 20 Freeze Time users…well, there’s honestly not that much competition. Both Gengar and Chandelure (Areas 8 and 29 respectively) have a duration sum of 120 seconds; however, Gengar has one 120-second use, whereas Chandelure has two 60-second uses.
  • The only non-legendary size 20 Mega with Freeze Time is Mega Gengar, which can freeze time three times for 60 seconds each, making for a sum of 180.
  • In terms of non-Mega legendaries, all of them have the same sum of time freeze durations: 600. However, they can be distinguished in a number of different categories that can be counted on one hand:
    • 1 use, 600 seconds: Mewtwo (Area 30), Deoxys (Area 16), Giratina (Area 14)
    • 2 uses, 300 seconds each: Lugia (Area 21), Azelf (Area 24), Victini (Area 24)
    • 3 uses, 200 seconds each: Cresselia (Area 30), Meloetta (Area 21), Hoopa-Unbound (Area 29)
    • 5 uses, 120 seconds each: Mew (Area 4, password required), Celebi (Area 4), Uxie (Area 25), Hoopa-Confined (Area 8)
    • 10 uses, 60 seconds each: Mesprit (Area 23)
  • As for legendary Megas…actually, the only one is Mega Mewtwo Y, which can freeze time 3 times for 300 seconds each, making for a whopping sum of 900. That’s a lot of seconds spent halting a timer.

In conclusion, Freeze Time is somewhat trivial when used by non-legendaries, but the great many legendaries possessing the ability can use it to a great effect.

2. Cross Reveal

Associated with Fire-types, this sixth-least common ability is a combination of Rising Reveal and Slash Reveal, which is one of the reasons why I deem it to be the best Reveal ability in the game. Other reasons? Well, just look at the statistics:

  • On a 10×10 board, a Cross Reveal with a width of 2 has a maximum value of 36 tiles and an expected value of ~33 tiles.
  • On a 15×15 board, a Cross Reveal with a width of 3 has a maximum value of 81 tiles and an expected value of ~78 tiles.
  • On a 20×20 board:
    • A Cross Reveal with a width of 4 has a maximum value of 124 tiles and an expected value of ~115 tiles.
    • A Cross Reveal with a width of 5 has a maximum value of 150 tiles and an expected value of ~141 tiles.

That is freaking crazy. Literally no other Reveal ability can parallel the ridiculousness of Cross Reveal. (Darkrai surpasses the expected value of a 4-width Cross Reveal, but don’t worry about that unless Ho-Oh (Area 24) is on cooldown.) Speaking of Ho-Oh…what a literal freaking legend. An expected value greater than Yveltal’s maximum value, a minimum value that’s only 2 less that Perfect Zygarde’s guaranteed value, and a maximum value that other Reveal users could only hope to reach.

I should also mention that Entei (Area 19) is the closest thing to a Cross Reveal version of Arceus. A guaranteed 96-tile reveal isn’t much, but if used on a tile just away from a corner and its edges (suggested tiles are highlighted black in the diagram below), the third tiles away from the edges covered by the blast can be vital giveaways to the solution of the puzzle.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-8-51-36-pm

Simply put, Cross Reveal is best Reveal, and the proof lies in the statistics.

1. Blue Force

Associated with Water- and Ice-types, this is the most common ability in the game, and I’m glad it is. Oh, what would I do without the lovely Blue Force? Mon amour…

Huh? Oh, the explanation. Blue Force does this funky little thing where it makes certain rows and columns turn blue. Why do they turn blue? Well, it’s an indicator that the rows/columns are the place to look when trying to figure out the solution to the puzzle. Even as I always do weekly puzzles on Conceptis and gain further puzzle experience through this game, it’s tough to make out which rows and columns are hiding clues and which are to be saved for later, especially in the sorts of puzzles with fewer filled-in tiles (and don’t get me started on Mega Picross). Blue Force, however, alleviates that issue in a way that I cannot take for granted. It’s like having a canteen in the middle of a desert hike, you know?

Anyway, on to the effectiveness, which is laid out in a similar fashion to Freeze Time:

  • Squirtle (Area 7), the one with the 00:00 cooldown, can use Blue Force once for 120 seconds.
  • The size 10 Blue Force user with the longest duration of one use is Marshtomp (Area 17) with a duration of 300. This is greater than any sum of any other size 10 Blue Force user.
  • In terms of size 15 Blue Force users (none of which are Megas):
    • The user with the longest duration of one use is Lapras (Area 6) with a duration of 180, although keep in mind that Lapras is directly outclassed by Feraligatr (Area 21), which has two Blue Force uses, each with a duration of 180.
    • On that note, the greatest sum of durations is 360, which is not only held by Feraligatr but also shared with Blastoise and Swampert (Areas 21 and 27 respectively), both of which have three uses, each with a duration of 120.
  • In terms of non-legendary, non-Mega size 20 Blue Force users, Vaporeon (Area 7) has the longest duration of one use: 300 seconds. Keep in mind, however, that it is directly outclassed by Samurott (Area 16) with 2 uses of 300, which in turn is outclassed by Ash Greninja (Area 3, password required) with 3 uses of 300. (Ash Greninja has the greatest sum of durations of any non-legendary with Blue Force.)
  • With the inclusion of Megas, Mega Swampert has the most effective single-use Blue Force with a duration of 600. In terms of sums of durations, however, the point about Ash Greninja still applies.
  • Now, if we were to include legendaries…remember that all legendaries with Blue Force have an infinite duration. The legendaries in question are specifically as follows: Articuno (Area 22), Suicune (Area 21), Regice (Area 22), Kyogre (Area 10), Palkia (Area 17), Manaphy (Area 2), and Keldeo (Area 11).

In essence, Blue Force is so amazingly useful in Pokémon Picross that it is the one ability that I have always kept handy whenever I could (although part of me thinks that Cross Reveal is faster for 1-Pokémon challenges).

 

Phew…that’s definitely it for this post. It was tiring, but I had fun with it, and I hope it can be of use and/or entertainment value somehow.

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Phoenotopia speedrunning: resting on my laurels…for now (Whimsical Weekend #4)

I know it’s unusual to with a post one week after the previous post, but I just had to get this off my chest (so to speak) as soon as I could.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 11.25.35 PM

Phoenotopia is a 2014 Flash 2D platformer developed by Quang H. Tran a.k.a. Quells. This game is hosted on a number of sites such as Newgrounds (the original) and OneMoreLevel (my preference), and playing it is absolutely free.

Since one year after the release of the game, I have written articles on how much I enjoy playing it, as well as my endeavor to do what no one else has done and make an official leaderboard of the game on speedrun.com. First off, I wish to go through a retrospective of what I’ve written in the past.

A Retrospective of Former Articles

Spontaneous Saturday 8/15/15: Phoenotopia

This is the first Phoenotopia-related post that I’ve published to this blog, and it’s a simple review consisting of my thoughts on the game and my desire to make it a speedgame (primarily influenced by the “Speed Runner!” medal in the game and my love for the game in general). I also included compendia of purchasable items and enemies / environmental hazards inspired by my go-to walkthrough at the time, as well as this little meme:

StraightOuttaSomewhere

Spontaneous Saturdays 9/12/15 and 12/5/15

I only talk briefly about Phoenotopia in these posts, and it’s just thinking out loud about the routing process of any% and 100%.

Phoenotopia speedrunning (Thought Dump Thursday 1/7/16)

This was after I had finished constructing the primary route for the any% category and was in the process of constructing a primary 100% route. The post contains the following: how I started running the game, how I discovered Loot Duping (a glitch that produces extra spoils from Rai containers and heart pots), and an analysis of my first recorded any% run with a time of 59:22 RTA (1h 2m IGT). Some of the information contained within the post is obsolete (notably claiming that Loot Duping is pixel-perfect when it’s actually a three-pixel window), although the first two videos included are still relevant. The first video demonstrates what I was doing when I first discovered Loot Duping, and the second video involves combining the pixel-based and timing-based methods of Loot Duping.

Potpourri feat. winter 2016 anime

As the title implies, this post was mostly centered around the interesting anime series that aired during the winter 2016 season (Phantom World, Dagashi Kashi, and KonoSuba), although I did briefly mention Phoenotopia. Specifically, I tried out the French version and got a new PB of 55:14 RTA (58m IGT), but I came to realize that the French version is roughly 4 seconds slower in any% due to longer blue text boxes (i.e. the sorts of text boxes that appear when you obtain an important item) and differing dismissal timings of said text boxes (more consistent in the French version, but overall slower). I also publicly wrote some food for thought regarding the routing of 100%.

Phoenotopia 100% speedrunning (Thought Dump Thursday 2/4/16)

After having demystified any questions that I may have had while routing 100% and completing the primary route, I did my first run of the category and ended with 2:06:39 RTA (2h 9m IGT). This was back when I thought that doing the Loot Dupes in Sunflower Road was a good idea. Therefore, some of the techniques mentioned in the post are obsolete, although a majority of them still apply to the current route.

Another glitch in Phoenotopia + current speedrun PBs (Thought Dump Thursday 3/3/16)

This was the point at which I discovered a glitch other than Loot Duping. A day or two after my first 100% run, I was mucking around with pots in Prince Tower and found a way to get the moonstone on the 7th floor without having to use the Rocket Boots. Later on, as I wrapped my head around what I had stumbled upon (a phenomenon that I ended up dubbing “Pot Head Clipping” (even though I don’t do drugs)), I decided to record a clarifying demonstration and include it in the blog post.

To explain, if Gale has a harmless solid object sitting on her head and independently affected by gravity, trying to jump will result in Gale being warped to the nearest available space in any of the four basic directions: up, down, left, or right. At the time of the blog post, I thought of Pot Head Clipping as abusing this concept of warping to such a degree that would allow Gale to clip past barricades and walls. I also thought that Pot Head Clipping had no practical use other than the alternative way of getting that one Prince Tower moonstone, but that ends up changing later on.

Glitch aside, I also mentioned how I got 54:52 RTA (57m IGT) in any% and 1:59:43 RTA (2h 2m IGT) in 100%.

Phoenotopia Forgotten Forest navigation + yet another glitch (Thought Dump Thursday 3/31/16)

Let’s be honest here: Forgotten Forest was atrocious in my 1:59:43 run of 100%. By the time of this post, however, I managed to figure out ways to take one of the worst parts of the run and make it faster and less risky. First off, I found another practical use for Pot Head Clipping, and that is to bypass the first locked door without having to kill any of the Arc on the screen of that door or the Plant Dog one screen to the right thereof. Second, in order to bypass the locked door on the screen with the Big Robot 2.0, I tried unsuccessfully to set up a Pot Head Clip (in the traditional manner), but then I discovered something even more astounding: While I was fiddling around with two of the boxes taken from the lower path, one on top of the other while slightly farther forward, I was overcome with disbelief when I found that pushing the duo into the locked door actually caused it to move from its normal position. Like, how is that possible!? When I look back on the concept of a locked door being pushed, I still can’t believe it. (I simply referred to the phenomenon as “Door Pushing.”)

At any rate, the new glitch and the new application of the old glitch allowed me to move through Forgotten Forest more elegantly, although I have picked up some new tech since then. Regardless, here is the video demonstration:

(Also, I would not attempt the Forgotten Forest JBJ (Javelin Bomb Jump) in a real run, let alone succeed as well as I did in the recording above.)

Phoenotopia speedrunning: status update (Thought Dump Thursday 4/28/16)

I talk about how I got 54:02 RTA (56m IGT) in any%, and I also rambled about categories that I was considering beyond any% and 100%, as well as the imminent possibility of improving my 100% time.

Back from hiatus! Anniversary potpourri (Thought Dump Thursday 6/2/16)

This blog experienced a hiatus for pretty much the entire month of May because I felt like I wasn’t taking things seriously enough (specifically overdue assignments and job hunting). When I got back, I dropped a whole load of detail on my 1:48:16 RTA (1h 50m IGT) run of 100%, including some amazing new discoveries with Pot Head Clipping—namely, you can clip through locked doors from the left without placing any objects behind you, and using a container containing a moonstone or inventory item causes Gale to obtain that item upon clipping (and also go through a jumping animation)—and also that Loot Duping is not pixel-perfect but a three-pixel window. It was when I realized the second fact that I went and wrote a Loot Duping Guide containing revised and detailed information on the glitch and all loot containers that can and cannot be subject to Loot Duping.

Nothing Specific (Thought Dump Thursday 6/30/16)

Just talking about my future plans regarding the speedgame and potential improvements to existing times, resources including a save password compendium for practice/learning, and the possibility of running Diamond Hollow II in the future.

Phoenotopia – How to softlock in less than a minute (Thought Dump Thursday 7/4/16)

Just a little filler post showing off the quickest way to force yourself into a softlock in Phoenotopia. It’s a simple Pot Head Clip in Panselo.

Phoenotopia 100% – New speedrunning guide in the works! (Whimsical Weekend #2)

This is the most recent post that I’ve made on Phoenotopia. It covers a detailed guide of the 100% category and the thought process behind constructing the guide, including some new tech in Prince Tower, specifically on the first floor (image below) and in the second tower box puzzle (video below).

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.27.45 PM

And Now We Arrive at the Present (This is now)

Transitioning from memory lane, the main purpose of this post is to say that I am on temporary hiatus in terms of speedrunning Phoenotopia. That is to say, I have established every category that I feel like establishing, and I have run times that are satisfying enough for me to stick with until they are contested. Specifically…

Any% record

For some reason, I don’t think I ever mentioned that I got 51:53 RTA (54m IGT) in any%.

The run was pretty shaky in some areas (such as failing Golem Skip), and it was before the time that I discovered the “chandelier climb” (as I call it) on Prince Tower floor 1, but it was a good run overall.

100% record

As for 100%, my most recently achieved time is 1:44:08 RTA (1h 46m IGT), and that was after I constructed not only a written guide but also a video tutorial series (which I’ll explain later).

This was also a pretty good run, even though it had a sloppy beginning and some minor execution faults throughout. I did manage to get all four skips in Ancient’s Crater regardless, and I did the new tech in Prince Tower, so that alone already makes it better than my 1:48:16 run.

All Moonstones record

All Moonstones is the first and only miscellaneous category that I decided to establish. I was initially reluctant about it due to the riskiness of the route, what with the whole run being under bare minimum conditions (no extra items other than the Iron Hammer and Lamp), but then I figured that it was the only miscellaneous category discussed in Thought Dump Thursday 4/28/16 (or thought of externally) that I saw fit to officialize. Why did I refuse to officialize the other categories? Well…

  • 99 HP RTA (Diamond Skin) / All Heart Rubies: As I mentioned in the aforementioned Thought Dump Thursday post, there is a Heart Ruby that requires 40 moonstones to obtain, which makes a category like this not much different from 100% in my opinion. So, I am completely opposed to officializing a category like this.
  • Max HP no Moonstones: I initially thought very highly of this misc. category idea because of how it was pretty much the safest middle ground between any% and 100% that I could think of, but I ended up feeling unsettled by how arbitrary the category actually is, particularly in its nomenclature.
  • All Tools: Why? Why did I even begin to think this was a good idea? Similarly to the previous category, the nomenclature just makes it seem…off.
  • 88%: At one point, this sort of idea crossed my mind: a category that involves collecting all Heart Rubies and all Moonstones but nothing else. The issue is that it’s difficult to name such a category, and 88% was honestly the best I could come up with…and that’s saying something, because the name “88%” isn’t very descriptive of the category itself.
  • Most Dangerous Arsenal: I just thought of this recently: a category in which all Tools and Misc. Items are obtained (based on the medal “Most Dangerous Arsenal,” for which the category goal is based on the condition of obtaining the medal). This might actually have potential for a misc. category, but I shudder to imagine Nebula Armlet with 20 HP.
  • Glitchless subcategory?: I was considering adding a glitchless subcategory to the speedrun.com leaderboard, which would forbid the following: duplication of Rai or heart drops by breaking a container multiple times on the same frame; deliberately placing anything on top of Gale’s head; and pushing objects into locked doors. (The restrictions are meant to encompass Loot Duping, Pot Head Clipping, and Door Pushing, respectively.) However, I can’t help thinking how much of a pain it would be to have to deal with 100% or All Medals glitchless (or All Moonstones, which would actually require backtracking through Prince Tower since PHC is forbidden), so I just decided to discard the idea altogether. I might change my mind if someone else were to record a glitchless any% single-segment run with an in-game time of less than an hour, though.

Anyway, I did end up doing an All Moonstones run in spite of my initially reluctant self, and I ended up achieving a time of 1:13:17 RTA (no in-game time because the category does not require beating the final boss).

Obviously not perfect, and Forgotten Forest + Hidden Village can stand to be routed before the Daea backtrack, but it’s a miscellaneous category, so I don’t plan on improving any time soon.

All Medals record

I’ve had a route in the works since the time I wrote Thought Dump Thursday 4/28/16, but I never got around to finishing the route until after I did the All Moonstones run. It took me less than a week to complete the whole run, and I ended up with 2:09:18 RTA, which is surprisingly close to my first 100% record.

I have a strong feeling that it’s possible to obtain all medals in under 2 hours, but I currently have no strong desire to improve my record.

Resources

Over the course of routing and running the categories above, I have been compiling a number of resources throughout the journey, such as Q&As (which I used to call GQIGAs (Got Questions? I Got Answers)), written routes, detailed information on glitches (through blog posts, guides, or otherwise), and perchance various specific compendia. The following remain relevant to this day:

  • Speedrun.com leaderboard – The “official” leaderboard for the game, which I myself submitted for approval, and of which I am currently the sole moderator.
  • Any% Q&A 4.0 – Q&A for my most recent any% run.
  • 100% general Q&A – That’s what I called it at first, but it’s actually the 100% Q&A 4.0, which relates to my most recent 100% run.
  • All Medals Q&A – Q&A for the All Medals category (version 1).
  • Loot Duping Guide – An elaborate guide on the method behind the madness of Loot Duping: what it is and where/how it can be applied.
  • Save Password Compendium – A collection of save passwords for practicing/learning the any% and 100% categories.
  • Any% guide – A guide to the any% category. I have kept this guide up to date between the first time I decided to run the game and the most recent run, so note that it does not contain information regarding the chandelier climb.
  • 100% guide – An elaborate written guide to the 100% category.
  • 100% video tutorial playlist – Between Whimsical Weekend #2 and this post, I had the wild idea of coming out with a video tutorial (in spite of myself) of the 100% category.
  • All Moonstones planning/route – The planning and condensed route (the latter is on page 3) of All Moonstones. No, the route has not been updated since the recorded run.
  • All Medals route – The condensed route for All Medals. I do not plan to make a full guide of this category, because doing so would be rather redundant in my opinion.
  • Splits:

Conclusion

All right, I think that about covers everything: the retrospective, the point that I’ve currently reached, and a set of resources that might help provide further insight. Now that I am temporarily resting on my laurels, I will move on to Diamond Hollow II.

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Phoenotopia 100% – New speedrunning guide in the works! (Whimsical Weekend #2)

Well, it’s Labor Day where I live, and that’s part of Labor Day Weekend, which is still a weekend…right?

For this weekend, I was considering doing a step-by-step guide to this week’s Cross-a-Pix puzzle on Conceptis, but then I figured that it would be legally wrong considering the puzzle is only free for a week.

So, instead, I felt like it would be better to discuss something else that I’ve been up to, and the first thing that came to mind is my progress towards making a new and improved guide to Phoenotopia 100% speedrunning. The reason for this is because I do plan on improving my 100% time, and although I don’t have quite as much time as I used to because of work, I am gradually working towards getting a satisfactory time so that I can be done with the main categories and move on to miscellaneous categories and/or Diamond Hollow II.

But again, it takes time, and I feel a bit guilty that I was unable to write up a detailed guide for the May 2016 route…and besides that, the first detailed guide that I’ve written on 100% is quite lazy because it frequently refers to the any% route…but then the following thought occurred to me: “What if somebody wants to run 100% but not any%?” I mean, the fact that my 100% runs get more than three times as much viewership (on YouTube) as my any% runs is the main contributing factor. Going deeper, when I did my first 100% run, I thought that it was a long category…but then I thought about games that take longer to complete any%, such as Super Mario Galaxy and modern-day Pokémon games. Duration aside, any% is a very risky run, considering you go through the entire game with no extra collectibles besides the Iron Hammer and one moonstone, and it is rather long for an any% run of a Flash game. (It takes around an hour ideally, and my current record is 51:53.) 100%, on the other hand, isn’t that much longer (around 2 hours; current record is 1:48:16) and is much safer because of all the Heart Rubies and useful tools collected (although most of the tools aren’t obtained until the backtracking part of the run), so I feel like it would be a more enticing category for potential newcomers. Unfortunately, some of the secrets in the game are very well hidden, which…well, gives all the more incentive to writing a detailed guide, right?

Ranting aside, I have currently written up to Ancient’s Crater 1, which means based on run time alone that I am about 60% finished. Here is a preview:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HZdCr4GKqkZZ1eOOYQHrqs4gO7gTCUGUkxyGdEPplQE/edit?usp=sharing

(Regarding the subtitle, I go by EchecCritiqueMisc on YouTube and SirCritique on Reddit. Also, there is not yet a Loot Duping Index, but when I do get around to making one, the content will be copied+pasted from my Loot Duping Guide.)

Along with the guide itself, I’ve thought of some minor improvements to the technique and route:

  • I decided to move the cracked pot moonstone on the second-rightmost screen of Dread Lands to the backtrack instead of the first visit, because with the Morning Star and Nebula Armlet, it is much easier to defeat the broken golem guarding the pot.
  • Bits of new tech in Prince Tower:
    • It occurred to me accidentally that you can actually stand on one of the chandeliers on the first floor, like this:
      Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 7.27.45 PM
      While it requires a precise Javelin throw, it makes for a respectably faster climb.
    • I found a new way to complete the box puzzle in the second tower, which saves about 30 seconds:

It’s not much, but it’s something, and definitely enough at this point to inspire me to get a better time in 100% (but not before fully completing the guide, of course). I’m hoping for a time that’s equivalent to twice my any% time in some way, i.e. 1h 48m in-game time or 1:43:46 real time. The latter is kind of ambitious, though, considering the best in-game time I’ve managed to achieve in a segmented rehearsal run is 1h 46m in-game time, and in-game time ranges from 2-3 minutes longer than real time for some odd reason, therefore it would be reasonable to estimate 1:44 real time. Then again, that was before I thought of the new tech for Prince Tower and the rerouting of that one moonstone in Dread Lands, so…you never know.

So, that’s enough for now. I will strive to get this new PB soon while also keeping up with real-life matters and trying to maintain my sanity.

 

Nowi Wins À la prochaine! (Until next time!)