Pokemon Red

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I got Pokemon: Red on my 3DS. Originally it was to let my nephew play from the beginning, but kids love their pretty graphics, and so he was bored quickly. I upgraded him to Diamond, and he seems to accept that leap, despite his complaints he wants X/Y. Sorry kid, I can’t afford to buy you a 3DS, but I can afford to give you my old DS.

With my nephew moving on to decade old technology, I dove into a game that came out when I was 12. At this point in my life, there was a Playstation, I played Final Fantasy VII, middle school was a horrifying experience, but life overall was good. However, I only watched people play Pokemon.

I’m used to wrap not interrupting me for three turns. I’m used to poison wearing out when my Pokemon reaches 1 HP. I’m used to a skinny pikachu.

fat pikachu.jpgYes. Pikachu was fat. Actually it was because in the anime he was slimmed down and kids liked that more so pikachu lost the baby fat.

Anyway, there are a lot of things that I had become used to, as I first started in Gen III and IV. A lot of these changes were brutal. A kid with an under leveled ekans nearly slaughtered me because he was a little faster than me and kept using wrap. I just watched for three turns as he curb stomped me, then hoped that maybe this time I would be faster. Or he would use leer. What I learned is I need a speed arbok and I’ll crush all in my way.

Last night was a nostalgic reminder of how difficult games were. Today for Pokemon, you get an XP share that works for your entire party. It’s easy to get rid of status effects. You know how you’re training and don’t need a guide on which Pokemon give which stat boosts. From the sound of it, in the next game you won’t have to breed Pokemon for 8 hours to get the ideal one for competition. One. Out of six. And you usually need one or two a month to keep up with the evolving trends.

I kind of miss those difficult video games where imagination was king. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I really like seeing a picture of my Pokemon and I know what it is, instead of a blob.

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Pokemon Sun and Moon Demo

The demo came out today. I’ve been waiting for it as they show more and more of the features. It looked like a living world that wasn’t just battles and a few side missions like coordinating. Instead of battling to the equivalent of a gym battle, you have to take photos of rare Pokemon hiding all over the cave. When you get past a certain point, you can do a Pokemon catching competition. There will be a contest to see how many millions of Pokemon players can catch shortly after release. This is incredible.

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So I started playing the demo. It’s really limited. You start as a boy named Sun. You get an epic geninja, which I can’t wait to use in the game. You also get to see the first trial. From what I can tell there aren’t any gyms. It’s all trials. Each one seems a unique challenge.

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So I’m excited for the new game. It’s one month away, and I will likely play the demo a lot. A friend asked me today why I liked Pokemon. What made me so giddy about it. I love going out to adventure. In my head I’m not simply running around with some pixelated animals in balls. I’m talking to them, like a writer talks to their characters. I coach them. I think about what it would be like in that world, walking alongside them, going through challenges.

So one month. I just need to wait one more month.

Sun Tzu and Pokemon

Obsession you say? Nonsense I say!

Today I convinced my coworker to play the Pokemon TCG with me. I have a hoopa deck that I’ve played several times online, but I haven’t used the physical deck. He worked off the volcanion deck.

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Hoopa Unbound. He’s a scary purple genie

I sat there with a deck I knew. I had my primary strategies, the cards I needed and would try for, and I felt confident. I felt there was no way I could lose.

For whatever reason in that moment I understood the meta of what I was doing. Not the acronym people use, where META means Most Effective Tactic Available. At that moment I was watching the flow of competition as if I was outside of the moment. It felt as weird as it sounds.

My opponent surely felt he could win, especially with the knowledge my 4 year old nephew crushed me. He had a deck that was built to face off against mine, even if he didn’t know what exactly was in it. To be honest, aside from knowing it was a fire and steel deck, I didn’t know what was in it.

Know yourself, and you will win half your battles. Know yourself and your enemy and you will win all of your battles.

As the competition went on, I had my strategies before me. I worked through the cards I usually did, even though I had some energy issues. I had to try something new, and it paid off. My opponent made his moves as he learned the deck.

Then it reached a point where I knew how the game ended. It would still be five or six moves until the finale, but as he had two major Pokemon set up, I had two major Pokemon set up, I saw the only path which made sense. I would take out his active Pokemon. He would then take out mine. Our two final hopes would be on the field, with our little people waiting in reserve.

I needed to win a coin toss. I get that you may not understand everything leading up to this, but it would come down to two powerful beings trying to take each other out, and if I could win a coin toss, I won the game. If I lost the coin toss, I lost the game. It would still be three turns after that coin toss, but the results would be inevitable.

It played out the way I expected it to, and we were left with the coin toss. I flipped and looked at the ceiling. In that moment I was both victorious and defeated. I looked down. Heads. I needed heads.

He tried valiantly with his final two Pokemon, but I ran through them in two turns, and the game was over.

Both sides believe they can win a conflict, or they wouldn’t be in conflict. Sometimes it’s delusional or ridiculous defiance, but usually there’s a shot. There is also generally a key moment, and often times the farsighted strategist will see it. They will see the events leading up to that moment, they will recognize that moment, and they will comprehend that winning or losing that one moment dictates the course of everything else to come.

This is Helm’s Deep. It’s Normandy. It’s a thousand other battles, real and fantastic. While not as cut and dry, they are the defining points that a loss would mean total defeat, and victory would mean the march continued.

In this moment of playing a children’s game, I gleaned all of this. It’s amazing what we can learn, even in the simplest of things.

Pokemon Professor Exam

So tonight I spent like three hours reading information about Pokemon. I was basically studying for the Pokemon Professor exam. By basically I was. I want to get an organizer certification so I can organize events. In 30 days I’ll also apply for a judge certification, since the store I’m interested in helping needs both.

After doing all this reading, taking notes (if I write information, I remember it better), discovering how to do the paperwork required of an organizer, I went to take the certification test. I thought, I’m ready. I can take the world.

I could not. I looked at half the questions with a blank stare. Back to the drawing board.

I know I could have cheated. I could have looked up all the answers to the questions they gave me. A few were value calls, so those it’s really just what do I think embodies their values best, but a lot of it was not. However, two of the core values are integrity and honesty, and I greatly believe in both of these.

So tomorrow I study some more, read more of the information, and I think tomorrow night I’ll be ready for the certification.

I will become a Pokemon Professor. My friends will make fun of me. But I’ll be able to teach kids a cool card game, and that makes the mocking worthwhile.

Not the very best there ever was

I lost to my nephew over the weekend at Pokemon card game. I seriously looked at what he played, and he played it twice, and my brow furrowed, and I thought to myself something I will not type here. But it was vulgar. A kyogre that could heal 30 damage every turn? How do you compete with that monstrosity? Add to it my deck was poorly shuffled. It was just bad.

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I mean, what was I going to do?

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Especially when this was the ace up my sleeve….

When I got home, I responded as any mature adult would respond to getting thrashed by a four year old who still requires me to read his cards for him: I made a new deck with new cards since I can buy these cards on my own and he cannot, and I made sure it would thrash him. Like, the next time we play, abandon all hope, kid. Because…adult.

To say the least, I haven’t learned much about being a good loser from watching the anime. The lessons just aren’t setting in.

I also got him the video game. He is starting with Pearl, and I’m excited for that adventure. I’ll be setting up gyms for him, and I have a friend making badges out of wood, so when he beats me, he can get a gym badge. My plan really is for him to lose once, try to learn how he lost, and then if he actually uses what he learned, he can beat me the second go. Should be a lot of fun.

As for my niece…I need to learn more about Barbie apparently. She loves dolls. I mean, she also enjoys Pokemon, but I am fairly sure that’s her copying her brother. Though she does think diancie is beautiful.

Pokemon Go: Day 4

I think it’s day four.

For those of you unaware, wondering about all the weird people glued to their phones outside major landmarks and stores, Pokemon GO released last week. The game is AR, where Pokemon are placed in our own world, and we go catch them.

There are gyms and poke stops at places marked by Google Maps. The gyms have people vie for power to show they are the very best. Some of these gyms are really hardcore, and I feel lacking with my 200 power, compared to the 700 I often see.

I digress.

The last few days I’ve gone on several walks. We walked downtown when visiting my brother, from nine to ten at night. I went for walks with my niece and nephew to catch some Pokemon and collect a poke stop.

The first night, my brother and I walked around three blocks, and I was winded. In this moment I had a realization: The game would make me fit or kill me.

Yesterday I bought a bike so I could go down to the lake which is two and a half miles, in order to catch water Pokemon. Really, the idea is to start this as a Pokemon thing, then make it so I bike pretty much everywhere in the city, even if not Pokemon related.

What I learned is bikes are hard. There’s the balance thing and peddling. This one has gears, so it’s figuring out how much friction and which gear to be in for the best peddling. I found a good middle ground that lets me get going good enough.

In time I was pretty capable on the bike, though it was a little weird. I’m in my 30s, biking around a bunch of high school kids. Really need to knock someone up so I can share this with a kid and not look all sorts of creeper.

However, I was living the dream. Those of you who never touched Pokemon or grew up don’t get it. This dream has been 20 years in the making. I mean, I only hardcore got into it in college, but I still have some of the old school stuff.

On top of that, some people are living this out to extremes.

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There is a gym out in the ocean, in the middle of a bay, because there is a landmark out there. These two women got a kayak and went out there to battle the gym and claim it.

“Well that’s just nuts,” you say. That’s because you don’t get it, you didn’t live the game. I just finished the end of Omega Ruby. You enter a volcano to capture a massive dinosaur. There is a gym where you climb a rock wall to reach the battle. You bike for miles, which now that I’ve tried, I wish I had started this quest as a 12 year old where the bounce back is quicker.

To point, these two women are living out dreams twenty years in the making. They saw a test and challenged it to prove they’re the very best like no one ever was.

Now others did take it from them, but that’s not really the point. Sure it’s cool to have and hold gyms, but there’s something I really loved about Pokemon: it was as much about the journey as about being the best. The destination is impossible. There’s always someone better. It’s all about how you get there, and these two women got there in style.

Anyway, now I have a bike. I’m excited to get on my adventure, even though there’s not a whole lot immediately around me. Looks like it might be a mile or two bike ride just to hit good places, so I’m guessing my chunk is going to burn off pretty quick. Should be good.

Happy hunting to the other trainers out there!

My first Pokemon battle

First, I swear this kick will end. At the end of the year. When the Pokemon 20th anniversary is finished.

Second, it’s not really my first, but my first in a long time. It was also against a significantly better opponent. I’ve never played someone I know who is significantly better than me. To be honest, I’ve been afraid to play him because I know how much he puts into the game, and it makes me look lazy. In a video game.

We battled twice and it reaffirmed a lot of the Pokemon themes, which was cool. First, he whooped me. I was able to take out three of his Pokemon in the first battle and five in the second. However, in that second battle a lot of me getting ground was he couldn’t use the team he wanted, and he was trying to show me all his bug types. Oh, did I mention he was only using bug types? I knew exactly what I was up against. Still put in a grass/poison type.

I learned a lot about moves I usually don’t utilize, switching out at good times, and using poor moves. I also learned my Pokemon are slow. So, so, so slow. I went first once.

So as cheesy as this sounds, it was a worthwhile couple battles. It was a lot of fun. It was also awesome watching someone I consider a master play. I’ll have to train some more.

Interested in battling, trading, or exchanging tips? My friend code is 1091-9607-6694. I have X/Y, Alpha/Omega. I will be getting Sun/Moon. I do not have IV bred Pokemon. I’m a little more natural.