Tag Archives: Pokemon

Pokémon Power!

An odd trend popped up in comics towards the end of the 20th century.  Instead of producing freshly drawn adaptations of film and television, publishers would use images straight from the screen to make a comic book.  With the right screen captures and well-inserted word balloons, an animated feature could become a comic book in no time.

Often referred to as cine-manga or ani-manga, these publications were widely used by companies like Disney or Tokyopop to make comics for young readers.  Some of the more prolific examples are Studio Ghibli film comics like Castle in the Sky, cartoon series like Avatar: The Last Airbender, and a certain video game about battling monsters. Continue reading Pokémon Power!

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Full Force: Twitch Plays Pokemon

Full Force is GFN’s weekly look at some of the biggest news in geekdom, from video games to anime to movies and everything in between. We also welcome your comments below, if you want to join the conversation. This week, our panelists take a look at the phenomenon that is Twitch Plays Pokemon.

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Twitch Plays Pokemon managed to beat Pokemon Red, a feat that took about 16 ½ days and more than eight million button inputs. What did you think of the social experiment (anarchy/democracy, working together, etc.)?

Chris: When I first heard about it on day three, I thought it was silly. Just another way to waste time on the internet, I figured. But I underestimated the community that built just about as quickly as the stream went viral. Inside jokes and religions sprung from nowhere. Even in times of strife (like the epic battle against Misty, for example), the collective somehow managed to string together the correct inputs. Whatever data the creator was searching for when he first created the Twitch channel, even he had to have been surprised by the end result.

Chip: Generally speaking, I cannot stand the mindless flow of comments that comes from Twitch chat. During Awesome Games Done Quick, I couldn’t fully enjoy the stream when watching on a mobile device since the flood of inane chatter took up half of my display. That being said, I think Twitch Plays Pokemon has shown that there is a demand for this sort of gaming.

What I would like to see spring up from Twitch Plays Pokemon is a sort of competition or challenge-based livestream where random “players” get dropped into groups to square off against each other. Twitch Plays Pokemon took so much longer to play through the game because there was so much purposefully antagonistic input, but imagine an uncoordinated team working together to finish a game in a race against other random groups of players. Almost like a speed-run challenge, but with the random element of TPP.

Cary: I tuned into TPP a handful of times, and was utterly mesmerized by what I saw, from the stream of inputs to the bizarre actions happening in the game. I can’t speak to the anything specifically Pokemon-related, but watching a collective attempt to progress in a meaningful fashion was really astounding. In my mind, it’s akin to comparing, say, the activities (physical or otherwise) of a single person to the output of an entire group. Sure, we’re all going remember people like Einstein, Tesla, and Abraham Lincoln for their individual contributions to history (just as we remember our friend who beat Super Metroid in less than an hour), but we also have a lot to appreciate from the accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement and the inventions of ancient civilizations. True that the output of TPP was the completion of just a single video game (not much when compared to the Mayans), but it proved that when people have their minds set on a singular task and work together, things get accomplished, and this despite the naysayers and inputting troublemakers.

Shaun: Knowing what goes into it a little bit, and considering things like trolls, conflicting inputs, and lag, I’m just amazed that they managed to make any progress, at all, let alone beat the game. It might not be a feat of much importance, necessarily, but it’s a pretty amazing feat nonetheless.

One of the most interesting aspects of Red’s adventure turned out to be the multitude of memes and references that sprung forth from the community. What was your favorite inside joke from the series?

Shaun: I think the early memes were the best, mostly because they took me by surprise, as I had no idea what to expect here. And because, for whatever reason, the events spawned a sprawling religious epic narrative, rife with overseeing gods, false prophets, and the consequences of giving into temptation.

The funniest one for my money was the early story of the Helix fossil and Bird Jesus, culminating in the false prophet Flareon banishing Jay Leno and Abby into exile. The images and jokes created from this phenomenon were hysterical, sometimes simply in the fact that the scenes they were reflecting are depicted with such solemn sincerity and heartbreak.

Chris: In general, I agree with you, Shaun — the earlier stuff was more funny in general. I especially liked the devotion to “consulting” various things; that’s what spawned the Helix devotion in the first place, but we also loved the Secret Key and the Coin Case. Plus, every time they accidentally played the Poke Flute, the chat rained down a slew of “THAT’S A CATCHY TUNE” comments.

Still, I think the highlight of the entire stream for me was everyone’s favorite All Terrain Venomoth (from his name AATTVVV) and his underdog battle against Lance’s Dragonite the first time Red fought him. With the rest of the team dead, things looked bleak. Venomoth had a terrible moveset with only one attack (the pitiful Leech Life) and was 25 levels below. One Hyper Beam and the Elite Four was over. But no! He poisoned Dragonite, and thanks to a little-known glitch, Dragonite was unable to use any attack moves — he kept trying to use Psychic moves for a super effective hit, but they were Barrier and Agility! From then on, our hero became known as All Terrain Venomoth the Dragonslayer.

Now that TPP’s original run is done, the next step was Pokemon Crystal and Emerald. If you were running the stream, however, what video game would you most like to see the collective tackle?

Chip: I am not sure that many other genres outside of RPGs would work for something similar to Twitch Plays Pokemon. I cannot imagine the difficulty in hundreds of people trying to play through a platformer or something with more than six buttons, let alone the programming effort behind the scenes. Additionally, I think what made Pokemon such a good choice is the fact that this series is already strongly tied to a wealth of inside jokes and memes across the internet. From a perspective of just keeping the theme as a sort of online drama, Pokemon Gold was a solid choice.

However, I wouldn’t mind seeing other old RPGs get some time to shine. The key would be picking a title with a limited number of commands, so the amount of options would not be overwhelming. Maybe the original Dragon Quest would work, either the NES version or the remake for Game Boy Color.

Cary: I’m with Chip in thinking that RPGs are probably best suited for this kind of play, maybe a simple (control-wise) one from ye olden days like Dragon’s Lair. But I think it’d be really interesting to see if an old-school shooter like DOOM or Wolfenstein could be played collectively. I imagine it’d be horribly frustrating, but, again, the key inputs would be pretty simple. Oooo, even worse, how about a text-based game? Questprobe or Mystery Mansion? The number of commands would be outrageous and the chances would be extremely high that the game would get completely stuck, but that’d be something to watch.

Chris: Yeah, it’s difficult to imagine this working too well for many other games. Twitch Plays Pokemon was something akin to lightning in a bottle. There will be derivatives, and the original stream itself is going through Crystal as we speak (although it’s nowhere near as good). An original Legend of Zelda stream popped up around when TPP was finishing, but even that required exceptions like infinite health to have a chance.

I think something like Dragon Warrior would be a good fit, but the key is that whatever game it is has to be forgiving to mistakes. That’s what worked so well with Pokemon — suboptimal play very rarely resulted in an impossible situation (except Safari Zone, Rocket Hideout, releasing 12 Pokemon on Bloody Sunday, etc.).

Shaun: Pokemon was sort of the perfect play here. Tons of recognition, so the memes could really catch fire, and the stream could attract a lot of attention. Simple inputs, relatively simple gameplay and progression. Not a reliance on reaction times or active health. Plus, punishment for failing wasn’t severe — you go back to the Pokemon Center, sure, but most importantly, you don’t lose the levels or experience you gained. That’s HUGE to a series like this working. I’m sure if I thought about it long enough I could give you another game that could work, but until it happens, I’m not really sure we can find one that will match this phenomenon.

 

At the Buzzer (02/27/14)

Episode 121: Much Hungry — The guys talk about food for the 395th time in the history of the show, including a supermarket game show and another look at fat Americans. Also, Chris has trouble with intimacy during his youth, Dave sentences his daughter to a fate worse than death, and Shaun throws every single family member under the bus.

Headlines

Secondary Segment — Buzzkill

  • Media: Supermarket Sweep
  • Merchandise: PIzza Lunchables

Credits

Music:

  • “Main Theme (Rhythm Thief)” by Tomoya Ohtani
  • “Main Theme (Valkyria Chronicles)” by Hitoshi Sakimoto
  • “With Mila’s Divine Protection” by Noriyuki Iwadare
  • “Arkham City Main Theme” by Nick Arundel
  • “Night at the Octodrag” by Thee Jaguar Sharks

Production Assistance: Tony Robinson, Executive Producer

Announcer: Molly Robinson

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Full Force: Pokemon X/Y Review

Full Force is GFN’s weekly look at some of the biggest news in geekdom, from video games to anime to movies and everything in between. We also welcome your comments below, if you want to join the conversation. This week, our panelists give their thoughts on the most recent entry in the juggernaut that is Pokemon.

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Pokemon has a familiar formula by this point, and not much has changed in X and Y. What did you think about the newest entries from a gameplay standpoint? Continue reading Full Force: Pokemon X/Y Review

Gotta Catch ‘Em All: How Playing Any Pokemon Game Is One Step Towards Insanity

If anyone has followed my writing at all, be it on my blog, this blog, or United We Game, then you may have heard how I’m not like other gamers. I don’t have a ton of nostalgia for owning classic systems or playing all the games that have been groundbreaking for the video games industry. My gaming memories are filled with watching relatives or friends play, or dabbling in console gaming for an hour, while I attended an after school program when I was in grade school. As an adult who is building her gaming memories now with the current generation of games, I have the chance to experience some of the games I missed out on as a kid or teen. One of those games is Pokemon.

Continue reading Gotta Catch ‘Em All: How Playing Any Pokemon Game Is One Step Towards Insanity

Sometimes Being A Cheap Gamer Is Hard, Especially When You Have Games Like Pokemon X/Y

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I’ve always prided myself in being one of those gamers who doesn’t buy every single, most anticipated released game on midnight launch or pre-order. I’m not putting down anyone who does buy a game soon after it’s released. Not at all. I’ve spent a huge portion of my life having to budget my money pretty tightly because I didn’t always have a large reserve of it. And when I finally did have enough money to get what I wanted to buy, I always had to make a choice between the one thing I really wanted over the other thing I wanted just as much.

Continue reading Sometimes Being A Cheap Gamer Is Hard, Especially When You Have Games Like Pokemon X/Y

An Electric Tale

Since the release of a certain 3DS game last week, Pokémon Fever has reached pandemic levels once again.  It seems like every marketable surface is covered with the adorable faces of this latest batch of Pocket Monsters.  This overwhelming cross-media promotion is nothing new for Pokémon.  With each fresh entry of the beloved game series there comes a flood of toys, television shows, and comic books.  Most of these products are safe, cookie-cutter creations; all sharing the exact same art style and purpose of cashing in on the Pokémon frenzy.  But every so often, a piece of media will come along and portray the familiar characters and creatures in a different light.

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The Electric Tale of Pikachu was first published in the Japanese monthly magazine CoroCoro Comics in October 1997.  Artist Toshihiro Ono was asked by his editor to draw a manga to accompany the new anime series that was about to release.  Interested in themes surrounding a boy’s travels, Ono decided to approach the Pokémon manga from a more serious angle than the other media at the time.  For each issue, Ono would receive the script of an upcoming anime episode, and he would adapt the story for the printed page.  This led to many of the general plot points within the comic being similar to the anime, but the two are quite different in art style, tone, and details.

Pokemon2For starters, the various Pokémon drawings are not based on the official artwork of Ken Sugimori.  Many of the creatures take on a more realistic look when compared to their anime counterparts, particularly the fearsome Pokémon like Onix and Gyrados, who look quite feral and dangerous in the manga.  Most of the human characters have a more “shojo” look to their designs, with slender proportions and very emotive facial expressions.  The artwork on a whole is a nice blend of clean and simple backgrounds against highly detailed characters.  This design choice suits the stories well, since most of the action in Pokémon revolves around the trainers and their monsters as opposed to the locations they inhabit.

Pokemon3The main plot still concerns trainer Ash Ketchum and his Pikachu on their journey to compete in the Pokémon League.  Unlike the anime, where Ash travels with Brock and Misty on most of his journey, the manga features Ash traveling on his own for a significant amount of time.  Our hero falls into many of the same situations as in the anime (the Ponyta Races, the Eevee Trainer’s conundrum, and plenty of Team Rocket shenanigans), but there are standalone stories which are quite engaging.  My particular favorite revolves around Ash’s arrival in Saffron City.  After an unsuccessful battle against the psychic gym leader Sabrina, Ash learns of a massive ghost-type Pokémon that has been terrorizing the area for years.  With the help of Brock and the residents of Saffron City, Ash manages to defeat the monstrous Haunter and free the city from the soul-crushing grip of the gaseous giant.  It was so interesting to see a Pokémon like Haunter turned into something truly horrible as opposed to its sort of Three-Stooges-goofball portrayal in the anime.

An interesting side-effect of the Ono’s more serious design choices is plenty of censorship when the comic was published in America.  In the original release, many of the female characters are drawn in revealing clothing or swimwear, all of which was altered or covered up.  One scene in particular, in which Misty is bathing at a hot springs only to be spied on by Ash and Brock, was removed entirely from the Viz Media release, as it was deemed too controversial for American readers.  Other changes include some reframing of panels to hide other naughty bits, and the entire comic was flipped from the original format to be read from left-to-right instead.

Pokemon4Over the last few weeks, my wife and I have spent our evenings watching old episodes of the Pokémon anime through an app on the iPad.  We will view an episode each night, have a good laugh at the silliness of the show, and share in a nostalgic experience.  A strange bi-product of this nightly ritual has been frequent discussions of Pokémon biology and real-life applications (read: a lot of conversations beginning with, “Well if I had a Pikachu…”).  Both of us also realized that the anime is full of obvious marketing moments and plenty of plot-holes.  This makes the whole show seem like a half-hour commercial instead of stepping into a fantastic world quite unlike our own.  As I read through the Electric Tale of Pikachu once more, I longed for more serious representations of these interesting and adorable creatures.  I guess I will just have to hold out for the Pokémon Origins anime and hope for the best.