Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals (SNES) (post 1/2)
About 15 years ago I watched my cousin play Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals (SNES)
. I hadn’t seen many RPG’s back then, but it did seem to have some neat similarities with the early Zelda games (epic dungeons!), some downright epic music, a fun battle system (like in Chrono Trigger!) and I understood it perfectly since the game got a complete Dutch
translation, which is extremely rare. Apart from one of the James Bond games for the GC I don’t think I’ve even seen another game you could play entirely in Dutch. No big deal per se, but it is something quite precious when you think about it. So yeah, I've basically been wanting Lufia for 15 years, but whenever you find it on eBay it's WAY overpriced, even without box and manual. I was lucky to find a cartridge only, in Dutch, which works perfectly.
Since the first Lufia game (also for the SNES): “Lufia & the Fortress of Doom” was never released in Europe, over there “Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals” is just called “Lufia”, which is fine seeing how it’s actually a prequel. The game tells the story of the evil Sinistrals and how a team of heroes has to uncover their destiny to defeat them. “Lufia & the Fortress of Doom” (the very first Lufia game) actually starts with the final battle (kind of as a history lesson), and the rest of the game takes place after that.
There’s also Lufia: The Legend Returns (GBC), Lufia: The Ruins Of Lore (GBA) and Lufia: Curse Of The Sinistrals (DS), which is actually a remake (more like major overhaul) of Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
. Apparently it’s a very ambitious remake, as the graphics are totally upgraded into 3D, instead of turn-based battles you have live, 3D action, there’s mini maps, and basically it looks and feels very different (3D + drastically changing the battle system). It’s not even the same game anymore, but I’ll definitely get it at some point, most likely not liking it as much since a game is a lot more than a journey through a story. The story is the same, but the gameplay will feel VERY different. I do hope they’ll remake the first Lufia game for the DS at some point, preferably not changing it that drastically, although I really just want to enjoy the story, not get caught up in live action too much (not for the sake of live action anyway). I don’t think I’d like Kid Icarus: Uprising either, too much hack ‘n slash. Although at one point I did enjoy that about some of the earlier LOTR games. But there you’re just happy travelling through many Middle Earth locales, and the story doesn’t seem far away. But I digress.
Time to discuss why Lufia is such a great game (series)!
1) Lufia is an RPG similar to Chrono Trigger and the Golden Sun games. It has random monster encounters on a top-view world map, like most RPG's, but in caves and dungeons you have more of a ALTTP kind of deal, and you see the enemies moving around
, and it's a bit like in AoL where you only fight them when you land on the same spot. Many enemies (in caves) only move when you do, so it can be a bit of a cat and mouse game. If you engage an enemy from behind you'll get a sneak attack (round) in (and vice versa). You can hit an enemy with an arrow to temporarily immobilize it, so you can move past it without engaging a battle. At one point I was in a narrow corridor (leading to a treasure chests) where about 7 monster sprites were lined up, so you knew you’d have to fight your way through to get the chest! (Not all right after one another as you still need to move your character one step forward to face the next monster in line).
2) You have to literally recruit the rest of your team to fight together to defeat the Sinistrals and save the world. In most RPG’s it’s more of a “friends hanging out thing” at first, and a few characters you meet along the way who happen to have a common goal at first, but then never seem to leave cause it was just a device to get them into your party. Somehow uncomplicating things in this game seems to work great and make things more epic. Goes to show that stories and character interaction doesn’t need to be awfully contrived to be successful. Although the friendly banter in Lufia definitely adds to the enjoyment factor.
3) Some monsters can be caught and used to fight alongside you. There’s 7 “Capsule Monsters” in the game, all of which have an elemental affinity (and moves reflecting that affinity), pros & cons, and can level up like your main characters, and evolve up to 4 times into more powerful creatures. They’re a lot like Tamagotchi in that you have to feed them, too, for them to evolve. As these monsters level up techniques will be gained, feeding them will help them grow into larger forms (which will enable them to learn more powerful moves), and battle experience will increase their status. They’ll ask for a specific food item (some piece of equipment or fruit / drink), and if you give it to them it counts double (than if you just stuff them with the cheapest stuff). They are not exactly like Pokémon since it’s also possible for them to devolve; revert back to a previous form. This can be done purposefully by feeding them particular kinds of fruits (if you want to try and evolve them into something else). But for the final evolution, a particular item is needed, depending on the Capsule Monster. Think Elemental Stones in Pokémon – you’ll need unique elemental fruit to acquire their final forms. The monster you’re currently using in battle will always appear, sometimes just defend, and possibly run away if it takes too many hits. If it runs away or even dies, don’t worry since it’ll always be back the next battle. You don’t have to worry about its health and it can’t be afflicted with status conditions. You couldn’t heal it if you wanted to, or select its moves. It’s just there for the ride, and gets XP just like your main chars.
4) Dungeons have a lot of puzzles like in the early Zelda games, move blocks and carry jars on switches, make bridges (literally collect pieces of a bridge to cross a gap across the water), hit a switch with an arrow, use the hookshot to cross a chasm, and find hidden paths to hidden treasure chests. A spell called “Restart” (0 MP) can be used at any time to put everything in the room back how it was (including the monsters). It puts you back at the start of the room, too. This is very handy, of course. In Zelda many puzzles reset too when re-entering the room, though of course you still need to first leave the room for that. The “Restart” spell is a really fresh concept, and the fact it’s in there makes you realize the game’s dungeons are more puzzle-based than merely linear adventure-based. Tis a good thing. And I must say the puzzles are really challenging, and therefore awesome.
By the way, Lufia features a Hookshot, Hammer, and Bombs to blow up walls and junk, next to the Arrows (and Boomerang in battles only). Plenty of hidden stuff to find with these weapons. Weak wall bombing ftw!
5) You learn most magic spells by purchasing them from the many towns’ magic shops. You have to pay per character you teach it too. There’s quite a lot of them, status, buffs, elemental attacks and convenience things like Escape from a dungeon, or Warp to any previous town.
6) Also you can cast most attacks, spells and buffs on enemies too. Deliberately hitting yourself with your own sword is extremely silly. It doesn't make much sense but it's funny. You can also HEAL a couple of enemies to death, due to a programming glitch (only works if their HP is full and stays full). Intriguing stuff.
7) Arrows are not the only item you can use outside of battle (to stun an enemy or hit a switch). They’re not consumables, but a skill that doesn’t use MP, so you can shoot as many arrows as you want. So if you’re afraid of battles, you can stun all you want. You have to be lined up with an enemy, of course. They seem to be good at dodging, so sometimes it’ll feel like they don’t even want to fight you
The stunning only lasts a couple of steps, though. Also, swinging your sword counts as a step too, which can kind of force an enemy to move in a desired direction (or trigger a battle) if they seem to want to outrun you. The occasional cat-and-mouse is entertaining, though. Usually not much of a hindrance.
8) Rage Meter: every time you take a hit from an enemy it goes up. You can use its energy to unleash powerful attacks depending on the equipment you have on – all types of equipment actually. With these types of attacks you’ll always have a fighting chance against overpowered bosses or an overdose of enemies of a certain type, like spiders and bees, which are weak to Insect or Fire attacks. Enemies and bosses usually have at least one weakness (and resistance), so this can be a big help here too. The Rage Meter will stay maxed out if you don’t’ use its energy – it doesn’t reset after you save & quit either.
9) There seems to be a good deal of items that can be equipped alongside conventional weapons to unleash special types of attacks. This usually uses “Rage Meter” energy. The interesting thing is pretty much anything can have such an attack: your helm, armor, shield, ring or Jewel/ Rock. With some equipment you can heal yourself, restore MP, cast a status condition on an enemy or use a buff, etc. It can give any character a good boost, and less reliance on just the weapon or learned Magic Spells. Of course as always, the Rage Meter energy supply can get depleted pretty quickly. But taking a hit every turn helps XD
10) There's also elemental attacks, some types can be combined, and other types cancel each out so you shouldn’t try that. For instance, light & dark negate each other, as do water & fire.
11) You can forge items, like in many RPG’s. The ultimate forging quest has to do with dragon eggs, well-hidden in the world, and needed to forge some ultimate equipment.
12) Most stats can get up to 999 max, theoretically, although apparently the game has more bits assigned to your stats (just not to the 3 digits displaying them). In other words, you can get your HP and MP up to… 65,534, theoretically, although there’s no way to verify exactly how much you have since it’ll only display 999. One of the advantages to having an obscene amount of HP is that your Rage Meter will get filled up much faster when the game thinks you have severely diminished HP (999 out of whatever you REALLY have but it’s not displaying). Get it?
13) Lots of treasure chests to be found (but not as excessive as in Chrono Trigger, where admittedly most of them contained some kind of HP or MP restoring item). Everybody loves finding plenty of treasure in caves and dungeons. You usually feel good about yourself, too, since there’s not many of them that are so obviously right in your face that you’re almost sure it’ll be just a lame potion. Since enemies can drop HP & MP restoring items too, and all shops have some of these as well, you’ll be happy to find more ACTUAL treasure in your chests. Shops do always have good stuff, too, so no endless repeats of the same garbage you could buy two towns ago, which is quite significant since Lufia DOES have 28 unique towns!
14) Funny items: typically the items you can buy in the starting town are crap, but Lufia gives crap a whole new dimension by allowing you to buy a couple of kitchen pans, pots, wooden plates, knives and other utensils that you can actually equip as a helm, shield and weapon XD. This is quite funny, and one of the many charming features. Quite often it’s the stuff that’s not necessary or even useful at all that ends up adding a LOT of charm to a game, isn’t it?
15) Monsters and bosses can drop certain unique items (Jewels & Rocks), which provide some stat increases for your char when equipped. You can’t buy any of these items, so it’s quite good to have some of them for you to choose from, depending on the situation. Several monsters and 3 of the game’s bosses may drop an item that when equipped, allows you to perform their signature move. A “Mega Quake” move, fiery destruction, and a spider web attack are among them. Since you can’t refight most bosses, if he doesn’t drop it when you beat it, you’re outta luck. Of course one always saves religiously so one can simply reset and try again, making sure to fight at least one normal battle before the boss to change the game’s RNG. If you’re not a completionist this is nothing to worry about, as you obviously don’t need all items to beat the game. But it IS extremely satisfying to use certain bosses’ and enemies’ signature moves. Most of them use up a big chunk of your Rage Meter energy, so you can’t exactly keep spamming them, but still. It IS quite desirable to have some of these items equipped, since there’s only a handful of them you can expect to find on your journey (and most of them aren’t found early or easily either).
16) Rings are a different kind of equippable accessory, but no monsters seem to drop them and so far I’ve only found one little store selling them – but they’re really basic and barely increase your stats. Your best bet is finding all the treasure in the dungeons, and acquire some elemental rings late in the game.
17) So far most monsters I’ve encountered look like actual animals, not just animated freaks / fantasy / mythology-based creatures. Not that there’s something wrong with those, but it seems too overused in most RPG’s. It’s good to see some more typical looking enemies. Sometimes reminds me a bit of Pokémon (though there’s less tedium with trying to kill them with the right types of movies, or getting annoyed at the frequency of (the same ones) recurring a million times).
18) Speaking of tedium, battles are actually REALLY fast. Barely a second goes by between the monster encounter (random or otherwise) and you getting to input your actions. Monsters evaporate and boom, you get the “Got … XP” message. If you simply hold down the A button it will scroll through the following lines of into (what chars leveled up, their stat increases, and how much XP is needed for the next levelup). It scrolls through all this faster than you can read, which is a good thing since you only need that one glimpse to assess how close you are to the next levelup. Close enough, usually, with 4 chars + 1 Capsule Monster.
19) You have to literally recruit the rest of your team to fight together to defeat the Sinistrals and save the world. In most RPG’s it’s more of a “friends hanging out thing” at first, and a few characters you meet along the way who happen to have a common goal at first, but then never seem to leave cause it was just a device to get them into your party. Somehow uncomplicating things in this game seems to work great and make things more epic. Goes to show that stories and character interaction doesn’t need to be awfully contrived to be successful. Although the friendly banter in Lufia definitely adds to the enjoyment factor.
20) It's refreshing to see a main hero with so much dialogue. He’s witty, too, and most of the conversations are quite entertaining.
21) There’s a lot of humor in general, for instance with one particular boss: instead of a random evil monster there’s a monster with character who talks to you, from its high horse, blatantly telling you you’re lame and he doesn’t want to fight you – he was just bored so he decided to cause some earthquakes – and after you teach him a lesson he’s all like “Okay I’ll be nice now I guess I should know my place”. There’s too many fun(ny) examples to list!
22) There’s also some references to the controller and its buttons, which is very reminiscent of Link’s Awakening
. When being told to use a certain button, that character will add: “Though I’ve never seen such an “R button” around anywhere”. Same goes for the Help feature (pressing X on most types of menus gives an explanation). A character will say: “Though I have no idea where this “help” comes from.” It’s the little things like that that add to a game’s uniqueness, and Lufia has tons of that.
23) The game has MANY towns (28 if I recall correctly), and thus, many NPC’s to care about. It’s one of those RPG’s that, 15 years ago, focused more on a great game(play) experience than trying to provide the best possible graphics and sacrificing a more wholesome overworld (and town) experience. Sure, in later (awesome) games like Golden Sun you get quite some diversity as well, but when you add even more towns to the list, some you may not even need to ever visit to beat the game, you find yourself caring more about the world, since it’s more real. Too much linear stuff and too little optional stuff is most often a bad thing. Older games still have that classic balance, and often yield games that take several dozen hours more to fully complete.
24) There's a randomly generated “Ancient Cave” of 30-100 floors (depending on if it’s your first file or not) of puzzles and enemies, with some tough unique bosses and unique equipment, kind of master dungeon. When entering it temporarily resets your levels to one, and empties your inventory, so you have to level up and hunt down equipment from scratch. It’s an adventure within an adventure! There's a lot to it apparently, judging from the various in-depth FAQs about it. Many unique challenges go along with it and you could spend days in it seeing how it's randomly generated. Most items you find there cannot be taken outside of this cave, though (since then you would be theoretically able to acquire dozens of certain rare items). You are able to use specific kinds of items there, though, and bring back another type of items (to forge certain items, I think). This Ancient Cave is also unlockable as a side-game when you beat the game twice: selectable from the title screen, you can have fun in this randomly generated cave with whatever characters you wish, and enjoy its challenges to the fullest. It sounds a lot like the kind of challenges the Hero Caves in the Oracle games threw at you – make you use ALL your items, and provide brand new puzzles, not just rehash old stuff. The same goes for the battles. You can’t compare it to TP’s Cave of Ordeals since it doesn’t have a turn-based battle system, but you do see the enemies roaming on the screen so yeah. And since for some of them you will want to save your Rage energy, you’ll have to plan things accordingly. You’ll also have to figure out what items to feed to your Capsule Monsters (they too have to be evolved again), and just hope you’ll be powerful enough for the boss. 99 floors should mean you should be gaining one level per floor. You have to kill the boss in 3 rounds to be victorious, which means focusing on attack only, giving it all you got, combining the most powerful Rage attacks, etc. The rewards are quite worth it, and of course you’ll be given your initial equipment and levels back. You WILL get to keep all the items from Blue Chests in the Ancient Cave – they are special items that can only be found in here. There’s apparently a set of Iris items that can’t be equipped, but one particular character displays them in her tavern. Nice to see a complete set displayed there!
25) Obviously replayability is high in this game, and not just because of the Ancient Cave. The first time you beat the game you unlock a Retry / Extra Mode, where you start from scratch again but all XP and Gold gain is times 4. Quadruple gain ftw! It’s like the game’s easy mode, compared to the standard hard mode. After you beat the game in this mode, you unlock the “GIFT” mode, a separate Ancient Cave feature I wrote about above (with 100 floors). But make no mistake – the Ancient Cave is accessible in the main game as well – but it has only 30 randomly generated floors instead of a whopping 100. This feature is also unique in that you can switch between characters freely, and it’s for instance the only way of having Tia (the girl from your starting town and Maxim’s would-be girlfriend, basically) to accompany you in the Ancient Cave.
I’m only 12 hours and a half into it, with chars under Lv. 30. I’ve only seen the first 5 towns, only have 3 party members and 2 Capsule Monsters. The story is unveiling itself quite nicely, and some of the plot twists and subplots are extremely good and entertaining. I’ll wrap up this post now, and write up another one after I’ve fully beaten the game, which will most likely take several dozen hours more. Here’s the conclusion of the first part of my review!Conclusion: Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
seems to combine a great many awesome things from various successful games. Lots of exploration, treasure chests to find, characters with entertaining dialogue, a satisfying battle system in the caves & dungeons - very Chrono Trigger - and good puzzles therein - very Zelda. A turn-based battle system that’s more expansive than in Chrono Trigger (having more in common with the Golden Sun games), and a world with LOTS of towns and people to care about. If you have a chance to play one of the Lufia games, seize it and I promise you will enjoy it to the fullest!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Pokémon Black (post 1/2)
A couple of weeks ago I decided to continue with my Pokémon Black
adventure on my daily train rides. Took me a while to really want to go for it again, but I’m finally back into it and rather enjoying it actually!
1) What really does wonders to keep you motivated and interested is that you ONLY see brand new Pokémon (until you’ve beaten the Elite 4). No caves swarming with Zubat and Geodude, and no Pidgey, Rattata or other mon we’ve seen more than enough of in the previous gens. Sure, now there’s Pidove and Boldore to roam routes and caves, but 156 brand new mon is more than enough to stay interested. It also forces you to use them
, get to know them, and pick your favorites, where especially in the previous gen you would most likely focus on the ones you knew (or go for redundant evo’s of previous gens, something which Generation 4 seemed to excel at). No such evo’s (or prevo’s) here – they’re all new and aren’t related to any previous mon.
2) I actually like a great many of the new mon, too, although there’s also a bunch that are downright awful. Sawk, Troh, Klink, Stunfisk, the Vanill- ice cream trio… I’m looking at you guys. Sawk & Troh don’t look like Pokémon at all. The 3 Klinks are just gears (with ridiculous names), and Stunfisk is downright ugly (like Scraggy). The jury’s not out yet on Escavalier – I like the concept of a bug “suiting up” to become all armored, but he looks SO much like a knight in armor it’s a a bit on the ridiculous side.
- That being said, a great many of them look nice and refreshing. I particularly like the Litwick > Chandelure line (Ghost/Fire), the Solosis > Reuniclus line, the elemental monkeys, Frillish (a Water/Ghost), Zebstrika, Sigilyph, Cofagrigus, Archeops, Foongus- Amoongus (Poké Ball shroom are amusing), Galvantula (Bug/Electric), Volcanora (get your lv. 1 hatched Larvesta to Lv. 59 OR just catch it at Lv. 70…) and Vullaby (vulture! but Mandibuzz looks a bit too much like one, if you know what I mean).
- I like pretty much all of the legendaries. Though the Musketeer trio (or quartet) is reminiscent of the 3 Beasts from Johto, I like their mythology and they just look super awesome in their own right, nice addition to series, and probably the Kami/ Cloud God trio even more (they remind me of Cyclos & Zephos from TWW). Genesect has some similarities with Mewtwo – the resident Team trying to “upgrade” a mon to use it for evil.
- There’s almost no new Water mon, which is good because Hoenn overdid it, and D/P didn’t have many memorable ones. There seem to be more interesting type combinations too, and all in all a nice addition to the roster (looking also at Physical vs. Special-dominant attackers).
3) I got the impression there’s less mon you need to evolve yourself compared to previous games – meaning most of them can be caught at some point, or don’t need many more levels to fully evolve (though usually fully evolved mon are quite rare). Stone and 3 trade evolvers you obviously have to do yourself, but since that doesn’t involve tedious grinding I’m fine with that. The game does have the highest evolution level threshold in the entire series, namely 65 for one particular dragon (Zweilous into Hydreigon). But one really high threshold is still better than a dozen you are forced to train and evolve yourself. Of course, evolved mon learn their (best) moves later, so if you want a good team without having to overlevel evolved mon, you may want to postpone evolving some of them to get the best moves, and then evolve them so they’ll kick more ass at an earlier level. Decisions, decisions. Nothing new there
4) TM’s are reusable, oh joy! Apart from the obvious, this also has the awesome advantage of less relying on multiple HM mules/ slaves. You don’t need mon with Flash AND Dig AND Rock Smash AND False Swipe on you at all times – you can just temporarily teach one of these moves to one of your mon who can learn it, and afterwards just replace it with the TM that suits that mon best. Doesn’t take long (definitely not compared to getting back to a Pokémon Center to move your mon around to carry the right HM/ TM setup).
5) The music is simply glorious. Unlike in Generation 4, I’ve almost never muted my sound (except for a few cases of tedious “mon that appears with less than 5% encounter rate” trekking). The Surfing and Biking themes are wonderful – you don’t get tired of them. Many of the cities’ themes are glorious as well. And the different legendary themes too. The Musketeer one kinda rattles you, but is cool nonetheless.
6) Black/White actually REALLY focuses on the story
, compared to the previous games, and the resident Team isn’t lame either. The story is deep, there’s many interesting moments with N and Team Plasma members, and the scope is much larger than in previous games.
7) Speaking of Team Plasma, I like their logo, which appears every time you have a battle with one of them, and they have their own battle theme and even neat victory theme (when you KO their last mon). Once again the music stands out. Too bad most Teams can’t seem to get their hands on more original mon – it’s usually the same crappy Normal, Dark, Poison types over and over again. I guess it makes sense since they don’t usually catch them themselves (or if they do they get all the common, crappy ones).
8) The Shadow Triad is awesome. Ninjas popping up out of nowhere is always awesome.
9) The Gym Leaders may not be the best in the series. Apart from ridiculously clichéd names like Clay, Skyla & Brycen they’re mostly bland and too easy (except of course the dragon gym but that should be self-explanatory). The Gyms themselves are pretty cool, though, plenty of cool gimmicks to get to the Gym Leader. Quite the adventure
10) The XP system was changed so you get more XP if you beat mon that thare higher level than you, and a bit less if you defeat lower level mon. Also, Pokémon have their own XP value now, with Audino (very often found in shaking grass) giving the most XP for beating it. This is another step towards most RPG’s where XP gain is calculated by several factors.
11) There’s also a TON of post-game stuff to do. If you look at the map, the Elite 4 is about halfway, so after you beat them there’s still pretty much half of Unova to still explore. You’ll encounter hundreds of previous gen mons, fight much tougher battles, meet some characters from previous games, tackle particular sidequests (some still very related to the main story, like with the Team Plasma Sages roundup), and finally when you’re up to it you can challenge the Elite 4 again – who’ve all added over 20 levels to their Pokémon (and changed their lineup somewhat, too). After that there’s still quite some post-post-game stuff left, so really it’s a long game without it being too tedious.
12) Seasons! Although not as elaborate as in Oracle of Seasons, there are distinct differences to several routes, cities and Twist Mountain depending on the season. In Winter the snow will either allow access to or block off certain parts (frozen ponds that otherwise house mon or items). Things look different, and even have a different music theme playing (also for some routes). This is all very neat, and of course Deerling & Sawsbuck have one distinct color scheme for each season. I’m trying to get all 8 of them. It’s good to see they didn’t go overboard with this, either, since no one wants to have to mess with the seasons too much (read: change the DS date to skip a season a couple of times).
13) Dust Clouds & Dark Water are a great invention, too. In caves you’ll randomly see Dust Clouds popping up: get yourself over there ASAP (if a wild Pokémon battle occurs before you reach it, the item will be gone). Many types of Gems can be acquired this way, and of course also Drilbur, the brand new mole Pokémon.
Dark Water is pretty much the same deal but while Surfing. I don’t think you can claim items this way, though most mon you encounter this way are different from the ones you encounter from Surfing on normal water. Or shallow water/ puddles, for that matter.
14) Only 2 real Sea Routes in this game, really. I’m not mad, though since I really liked the currents I would have liked to see some more of that. Routes 17 & 18 are lots of fun.
15) You don’t need the PokéRadar or such items to trigger mon in Shaking Grass. They randomly appear, and if you want to focus on them only you can use Repels, since that will halt random mon encounters but not prevent grass from shaking so as to get specific mon to appear (Audino comes to mind). Of course there’s also Tall Grass, with its own list of wild mon.
16) In general, there seems to be less pointless items and features in B/W. Although the Safari Zones aren’t bad, or the Contests, or the Ribbon madness, or mon/ room customizing and other minigame nonsense, B/W seems to focus more on what really matters (including much more attention and detail to the story).
17) I do miss the Pokétch apps from D/P/P. You could easily see the location of roaming mon (although there’s only one in Unova so I’d just throw the Master Ball at it), what levels the mon in your daycare are, a step counter (for hatching eggs), and even a type-effectiveness chart if I recall correctly. These features were particularly handy, and easy to cycle through. At least the clock is now on screen at all time, which I personally find quite handy on the train.
18) Every time you hit the menu button, for whatever submenu, you have to reactivate your Item Finder again afterwards. This gets really annoying.
19) I don’t really like Rotation battles. Pokémon battles are too focused on who’s facing who (types and Physical VS Special wise) to literally mix things up and play Pokémon roulette. Double Battles aren’t bad, though it would be nice to know beforehand which attacks can damage both enemies (or your own teammate, like with Surf). You can see when selecting the attack that there’s multiple targets, but I meant make it visible on your Pokémon move list if an attack will hit one or more enemies. There’s also certain stat moves that complicate things when doing Double Battles.
20) Battles do seem to flow a bit faster than in D/P, but they’re still too slow to my liking, especially since they seem to have cranked up the mon encounters (at least while running and biking – seriously, why give us the power of speed if it’ll only incrementally increase the encounter rate along with it?)
21) For those who want, there’s plenty of daily rematches in the game, some of which are different every day. Very good for quick XP and cash.
22) I don’t like the linear structure of Unova, though. You basically go clockwise around it, and you’ll have seen everything after crossing the Marvelous Bridge leading back to Nimbasa City. I miss the more non-linear, organic regions and routes.
23) That being said, there IS a lot to explore, and a lot of hidden items to find – who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt? And even though most of it is relatively linear, there’s some less obvious, more intricate areas (apart from the caves/ dungeons, I mean), and when I think of how you reach Routes 17 & 18 from Route 1, I know they haven’t forgotten how to force you to thoroughly explore everywhere to see everything. (They could have just put water RIGHT next to the starting town, but it’s on a side path of the first route, branching off, so it’s not immediately obvious there’s a whole route out there.
24) Admittedly I would have preferred the White version. Though I do like the technological look and plenty of battles for good XP, most B/W differences put me more in the White camp. I probably decided a bit too fast, but in a way it’s also a good thing: White City, for one, wouldn’t be as epic for me anyway since I don’t have anyone to play with (using the Entralink expands/ adds more catchable mon to it), and I’d only be tempted to catch ‘em all. I do hope the GTS will be kind to me with regard to good deals for mon, but since I’m not planning to gather all 649 mon on one file, I’m fine with “just” getting 150+. This is once again where it’s beneficial to only have new mon (before getting the National Dex after the Elite 4), so you can focus on the new ones and not be too concerned with any previous gen mons. There’s plenty of them in the post-game areas, but I don’t know if I’ll bother with all of them. Since you need an updated AR, I can’t AR myself a few hundred Rare Candies to quickly evolve all of them, or any other codes to speed things up. No, focusing on all the brand new mon will do just fine. One of the currenty unobtainables will probably be released in an event this spring. I bet Keldeo will be first (the 4th musketeer!)
25) B/W’s Victory Road and checkpoint areas before that are very well-conceived. For the checkpoints the rooms come in the theme(s) of the respective Gyms, and as you progress the music theme playing evolves (think of SMG’s Observatory theme with more instruments, or LA’s Ballad of the Windfish).
Victory Road itself is very neat, too. It’s basically a mountain you ascend, sometimes you have to drop to a lower floor, then do some caves again, you’re back outside, and so on and so forth. It’s quite epic. Quite possibly the most enjoyable Victory Road of all the games.
26) The Pokémon Leage is quite awesome as well. High atop the mountain, each Elite 4 member has their own spiraling tower you ascend in a suspenseful way. Torches get let as you ascend, the ghost-themed tower looks like a haunted library, and the psychic one whisked you up magically and had you wake up the trainer from a nap in her luxurious bed. You get to choose the order you fight them in, though you can’t access a PC or healing lady in between. Of course there’s plenty of time to heal manually with Revives and Super Potions. Since this only the first round of Elite 4 battles, they’re not overpowered yet, and have only 4 mon each. Still, nothing comes easily. I brought my fateful encounter Mewtwo (Lv. 70) around since I didn’t have any mon over 50 yet. I switched mon too many times during the adventure (to evolve them and then put them back in the PC). Fortunately I didn’t have to rely on Mewtwo too much, since Unova’s finest worked together quite well.My dream team: Serperior, Lampent, Fraxure, Krokorok, Swanna & Mewtwo.
Yes, 3 of them still need to evolve. Fraxure was only Lv. 43 but the others were 46-48. Good fights. And then some long flights of stairs leading to the peak… suspenseful!
27) Major plot twists with N’s / Team Plasma’s Castle rising from the ground and pretty much enveloping the peak where the champion was beaten by N. Lots of stairs descending, too. Epic music once more, and then the castle itself. Of course Team Plasma’s 6 sages (with Ghetsis being the 7th) have to be jerks. More epicness follows with the 8 Gym Leaders you fought joining in the fight, leaving you to explore the castle.
28) N’s Castle comes with a dignified theme, some nice halls to discover, N’s play room, a laboratory with scientists saying part of the plan is to steal everyone’s boxed Pokémon and release them all! Scary. Some Shadow Triad dudes pop up out of nowhere, too, for some more dialogue here and there.
29) Nice little throwback to the previous generations: one of the Plasma Grunts states that “in regions far from here, Team Rocket & Team Galactic drew far too much attention to themselves and were thwarted as a result”. Yay for cross-game references.
30) This is also the first game where catching the version/box’s legendary is mandatory. If you accidentally kill it it’ll appear before you again. Also if you run out of Ultra Balls (probably your best bet) one of the Grunts in a previous room allows you to warp back to the Pokémon League to purchase some more, and then make your way back there. Reshiram & Zekrom’s catch rate is higher than most legendaries, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
31) Speaking of Reshiram & Zekrom: their entrances were both really epic: showing off the source of their power (it’s in their tails!), and displaying some of it of course. That should have seriously collapsed part of the castle! Ah well. More holy-sounding epic music, and then of course a final battle with N… and Ghetsis. Some of the best battle moments of the game ensue! When all is said and done, cue the credits, but only for the first time…
There’s still TONS to do, like finding the 6 sages who’ve gone into hiding into various parts of Unova. Your ultimate goal is become powerful enough to take out the Elite 4 for real – all of them are using 6 Pokémon now with levels well into the 70s – so all of them added 20+ levels to their mon. Since you’re not REALLY the champion until you beat them the second time (and also get this on your Trainer’s Badge), it really IS a must.
There’s also rematches with Cheren & Biance, you can find Cynthia (D/P’s champion) in a house somewhere for an epic battle, and explore the eastern half of Unova, catch a hundred non-Unova mon, go fishing for them, partake in the Battle Subway fights (taking out the bosses), hunt down the swarming mon, and work on some more evolutions – most of it are really worth it.
I’ll wrap up this post right here. It will take a long time to tackle all the post-game stuff, get a full Unova Dex, and basically do everything the game still has in store. I’ll end with a proper conclusion, and will probably write up a Post-Game experiences post in a couple of weeks, when I feel I’ve fully beaten the game.Conclusion (1/2): Pokémon Black & White
have succeeded in a great many things, and overall I would rate them higher than D/P. I have faith in the series again, and I hope that with Black 2 & White 2 they will continue to go in a good direction. Less is more, GAMEFREAK!