An 8-bit Christmas

I’ve always been a fan of the holiday season.  This year I decided to cap off a year of 8-bit albums with my very own Christmas album!  This album is 31 of my favorite (and least favorite) Christmas songs, one for each day of December.  These will be posted on their corresponding December dates on Instagram and Twitter.  You can also listen to the whole album on YouTube or download the album for free on Google Play.

1 Sleigh Ride
2 Last Christmas
3 It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
4 God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
5 The Christmas Song
6 Little Saint Nick
7 Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
8 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
9 Blue Christmas
10 The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)
11 Frosty the Snowman
12 Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time
13 Lupang Hinirang
14 All I Want For Christmas is You
15 The First Noel
16 Christmas Wrapping
17 You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
18 Do they Know it’s Christmas At All
19 Holly Jolly Christmas
20 Feliz Navidad
21 Carol of the Star
22 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
23 Christmas Time is Here
24 Silent Night
25 O Holy Night
26 White Christmas
27 Happy Xmas (War is Over)
28 Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
29 Old Waits Carol
30 What Christmas Means to Me
31 What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

Click above to listen on YouTube.

Download “An 8-bit Christmas” on Google Play for Free!

The Sinnoh Stone Gets Even Worse

As you may have read in my last article I’m not a big fan of the Sinnoh Stone.  In short it seems like a cop out to have one stone evolve half of Pokémon from previous generations. Having unique research tasks to unlock the evolution of each one would have been something that I enjoyed far more.

Recently it became well known that now, instead of getting one Sinnohy Stone a week, they were not longer guaranteed as a seven day research reward.  Yesterday Niantic finally addressed this with the following tweet.

The Sinnoh Stone is only one notch above everyone evolving everything just using candy.  It was introduced as something to be doled out very slowly and allowed users to evolve one new Pokémon a week for eleven weeks.

Now it seems that this system has gotten even worse. Instead of being slowly doled out you’re rolling the dice every seven days for the chance of getting a Sinnoh Stone.  Niantic has hinted on a new system but until that rolls out this makes things even more frustrating for players.

I don’t care if it takes me a month to earn whatever I need to through research to evolve one of these new evolutions.  The point is we need something to be playing for, to be working toward.  Doing a research project a day was boring but at least it was something.  Now we are left with just dumb luck until Niantic rolls out this new system they are referring to.  If it’s anything like previous things that were hinted at (e.g. the stat rebalance) then we could be in for a very long wait.

This seems like a move done by 2016-2017 Niantic and not like the much more polished roll outs we’ve seen this year.  I hope they put something great in place soon but I’m really curious as to why they didn’t just put it in place from the start.

My Problem with the Sinnoh Stone

I’ve got a big problem with the Sinnoh Stone.

Back in August I wrote My Ideas for Pokémon Go Generavion IV Evolutions which outlined what I’d like to see with the introduction of the Sinnoh Pokémon into the game.  What I hoped was that we wouldn’t see an easy way to evolve all the Sinnoh region evolutions right away with candy as that would be way too easy.

What we have so far is the Sinnoh Stone.

The Sinnoh Stone is very simple.  So far the only reports are in getting it from a 7-day research reward.  And it only evolves eleven of the Sinnoh evolutions from previous generations, exactly half of the twenty-two that will ultimately be available for Gen 4.

While this doesn’t allow you to simply evolve any Pokémon immediately (think Crobat when Gen 2 was released) it also doesn’t add anything interesting to the game.  Now all I have to do is continue doing my daily research tasks and once a week I will be able to evolve a new Pokémon from this batch of eleven until, at the end of January, I will have one of each of the evolved forms for my Pokédex.

Not very compelling.

What I had hoped, and outlined in the article previously mentioned, was that there would be specific requirements for each new evolution.  I don’t necessarily have a problem with the introduction of the Sinnoh Stone as the one stone to evolve them all, a departure from the main series games.  What I have a problem with is the stone being the only thing you need.  Much like the “Visit PokéStops 7 Days in a Row” in the Celebei quest this is just a huge, unnecessary time gate to prevent you from just doing it immediately.  If it’s going to take seven days to do it, I would like to be doing something to work toward it for those seven days.

It will now take exactly eleven weeks to evolve this first batch of evolutions.  And that’s fine.  I don’t mind it taking eleven weeks.  Twice as long would be fine with me.  What I mind is waiting.  I’m not doing anything to work toward this, I’m just waiting and at the end I’ll get a stone that morning and evolve.  It will just mean that I waited the appropriate amount of time and for five seconds, once a week, I did the thing I needed to do.

My main hopes for these evolutions was that there would be tasks to do, something to work toward. What I would have preferred, if we assume the Sinnoh Stone stays in the equation, was to just let it drop once a week.  That’s fine.  Eventually I’m going to be sitting on 16 Sinnoh stones and trashing them the same way I do with Metal Coats, Sun Stones, and the lot.  But while I’m waiting for the next one to drop wouldn’t it be cool if I was working toward something else?  The coolest Pokémon to evolve are the ones that take additional tasks (e.g. Milotec, Umbreon, Espeon).

With the exception of Rhyperior there aren’t really any others from this first half that I’m going to evolve more than one of outside of potential shiny variants.  After that’s done I’m hoping they’ll consider something more interesting to do with the remaining eleven evolutions.  Here are some ideas they could introduced.  It would be great to see some assortment of things like this happen to evolve a Pokémon, especially the meta relevant ones.

 1.) Walk 10km as buddy.
 2.) Defend gym for ten hours with Pokémon.
 3.) Win 100 gym battles with Pokémon.
 4.) Obtain gold medal for Pokémon type.
 5.) Evolve during specific weather.
 6.) Trade specific number of pre-evolved Pokémon.
 7.) Make 3 excellent throws.
 8.) Catch specific number of specific type of Pokémon.
 9.) Earn specific number of candy with buddy.
10.) Win specific number of raids.
11.) Reach trainer level 30.
12.) Reach trainer level of 35.
13.) Reach trainer level of 40.
14.) Make 10 ultra friends.
15.) Make 10 best friends.
16.) Hatch specific number of eggs.
17.) Obtain silver gym medal in specific number of gyms.
18.) Obtain gold gym medal in specific number of gyms.
19.) Obtain certain number of gym badges.
20.) Trade certain number of kilometers.
21.) Complete 10 tier 1 or higher raids.
22.) Complete 10 tier 2 or higher raids.
23.) Solo a tier 3 raid.

These are over twenty things off the top of my head that could make the week between waiting for stones to drop much more interesting.  Instead, for this first batch, we will simply wait and then evolve.  Unless you’re new to the game you probably don’t even need any additional candy, you’re just ready and waiting.

I know it’s early but so far I’m disappointed and hoping that the second half of the evolutions are going to be a lot more interesting.

The Beatles’s “Abbey Road” (8-bit Full Album Cover)

My father had an original copy of “Abbey Road” that I would listen to as a kid along with all the other Beatles albums.  While this album was viewed as being “thrown together” by much of the group there is not much else by the Beatles that can top this record in my opinion.  The medley of songs on the second side is just incredible and I tried my best to stay as faithful to that mash up as I could in 8-bit form.

Click above to listen on YouTube.

Download “Abbey Road” on Google Play for Free!

Megadeth’s “Countdown to Extinction” (8-bit Full Cover Album)

The 1992 follow up to “Rust in Peace” was eagerly awaited, particularly by me.  “Rust in Peace” is, in my opinion, the greatest metal album of all time.  The follow up was quite different but I loved it.  While it received much more airplay and critical acclaim it is difficult to top “Rust in Peace.”  That being said I played this repeatedly during the summer of 1992.

Click above to listen on YouTube.

Download “Countdown to Extinction” on Google Play for Free!

Pokémon GO Sinnoh Region Launch – 24 Hours Later

A little over 24 hours ago Sinnoh Region Pokémon began appearing in Pokémon GO.  This is nearly a year after Hoenn Region was introduced in late 2017.  Hunting, Catching, and Evolving new Pokémon still remains my favorite part of the game.  Since the launch I’ve had no time to play outside of at home or my commute to and from work.  Given that fact you’d think I wouldn’t have made much progress.  However, here’s where I stand with candy for the three starter Pokémon.

For Turtwig, Chimchar, and Piplup I have 48, 86, and 92 candies respectively (I’ve caught more since making this image).  That seems a little too easy.

The game has changed a lot since its launch in July of 2016.  I remember distinctly not evolving my first Venusaur until October and my first Charizard in November.  There were no Pinap berries, essentially no events, and your biome more directly impacted your spawns.  Yet here I am with a very good chance of being able to evolve all three starters to their final evolution by the end of the second day.

I’m excited to see this next generation introduced but it seems like before I will get a day off of work to go out and hunt I’ll pretty much be done with this first wave, all while simply casually catching at home, my kids’ skating lessons, and on my commute with my GO Plus.

A few things are still not figured out with this launch.  Firstly, Niantic made a brief and bungled attempt at rebalancing stats which they immediately rolled back.  Until that is redone we’re all in a holding pattern, waiting to see what is worth powering up and how the new gym game is going to look.

Secondly, there has still been no increase in Pokémon storage.  With nearly 500 Pokémon soon to be in the game, this is making catching and grinding difficult.  Even if you only kept one regular, one shiny, and one lucky of each Pokémon you would still run out of space.  With the addition of trading in there is so much need for more space.  Culling Pokémon is much harder now that they all have some sort of value in the game whether for distance, lucky acquisition, or simple friendship boosting.

And, lastly, how are the Gen 1-3 evolutions going to work?  We can already see that those Pokémon do not have the option to evolve in game.  With the starters so easy to acquire I’m really hoping that my long held hopes for getting these Pokémon will come into play.  At least something like this.  With these  Pokémon out for so long, and now spawning again at increased rates, it would really make the game fun if there was a big challenge in rounding out your Pokédex with these evolutions.  Making up 20% of the Sinnoh Pokémon it would be a real let down if all I had to do is run through my Pokémon and just evolve them all consecutively.

This is only the first wave and it will be interesting to see how the remaining waves are introduced into the game in the coming months.

For now I will simply sit and lament my 98% Chansey which I’d hope to evolve into a killer Blissey.  It’s looking more and more likely that it may never live to see the full potential I’d hope for it.

RIP, Pure Bliss.  2018-2018.

 

Led Zeppelin’s “IV” (8-bit Full Album Cover)

This is an album that was introduced to me by a close friend as I began to dive deeper into learning about classic rock.  Everyone had an older brother or friends that was a little ahead of the curve and would broaden their horizons with such albums.  The scene in “School of Rock” where Jack Black teaches the kids about about rock and roll history is not that far off.

Click above to listen on YouTube.

Download “IV” on Google Play for Free!

The Friendship Fix for Pokémon GO

It’s been over ninety days since friendship launched in Pokémon GO and I have finally gotten my first three best friends in the game.  Initially I thought getting three best friends was a dumb idea because you’d get them all on the same day.  It turns out it took me about a week between my first and third best friend.  This doesn’t seem gold medal worthy since I am still working on my gold Fisherman badge  and am likely six months away from completing.

With nearly 100 days played in this new friendship system I’m really enjoying the feature but I think there are a lot of flaws that are still yet to be addressed.  Overall it is a tedious, repetitive, and mundane process in a tedious, repetitive, and mundane game.  Not that I’m knocking it!  I love things that are tedious, repetitive, and mundane!

The problem with friendship is that it’s also a little confusing.

If you open a gift from someone it will have a blue halo around their avatar for the day.  If you send them a gift there will be a grey arrow indicating that they have an unopened gift from you.  However, if they open that gift the arrow goes away and you have no indication if you’ve send them a gift today.  This is probably fine if you have ten friends or fewer.  I currently have 88 and it’s an impossible task.  There’s also no way to see if they are sitting on a gift that you sent them previously.

In order to make the friendship experience more enjoyable, here is what I’d like to see introduced in the game.

Sort By Gift Needed

You can already sort by gifts you need to open, it would be great if you could sort by friends with open gift slots.  This would make dishing out gifts so that you can collect more a much easier task.

Graphic Indicators of Gift Slots

We have a big gift to show they’ve sent us one.  We have the arrow to show we’ve sent one today.  We need a simple graphic on the friends list that shows whether or not their gift slot is empty.  Anything so that we don’t have to tap on each friend individually.

Scroll Bar For Friends List

This was added to the Pokédex and Pokémon Storage.  It would be very helpful to see this on the Friends List as well.

Friendship “Level Change Approaching” Notification

I’ve had a few Ultra Friends sneak up on me and, therefore, was unable to put on a lucky egg with enough time.  So far I’ve been fortunate that my best friends in game are people I have contact with in real life.  Otherwise coordinating the opening of gifts would just be up to dumb luck.  I do not think they should have any sort of in game messaging as that would have for more negative implications than positive but if the game could let us know we were due for a level increase it would take a lot of pressure off the daily checking.

Sort By Days Until Next Level Up

Organizing by who is leveling up and how many days would be another great feature to try to maximize XP.  It’s great to know who my top friends are but knowing that in 3 days I’ll have 1 best friend, 3 ultra friends, and 9 good friends on deck would be extremely helpful.

Sort By Friends Needing Daily Level Up

It would be great if it could sort and prioritize to the top all those friends that still are in need of a level up today.  By putting all those friends at the top you’ll know who you need to exchange gifts with, send gifts to, raid with, or trade with.

Bulk Gifting

Instead of laying out friends in list form, why not lay them out like Pokémon are arranged in a grid?  You could also have the option to bulk gift (think of the way that bulk transfers work) where a random gift is assigned to all selected friends.  Friends that are grayed out mean they can’t accept a gift, full color indicates gifts can be given, blue background (like Pokémon caught in the past 24 hours) indicate a gifts has already been given and received that day.  It would simplify and clarify the whole process.

With gift sending limited to how many you can acquire and gift opening limited to twenty per day we need a better way to maximize efficiency in the process.

I’ve even considered keeping a written list so I can track days until leveling up, ensure I don’t open gifts from the same friend twice, and not waste sending gifts to friends I’ve already sent to that day.

Even for someone who relishes the tedious, repetitive, and mundane having to keep a written list is a bridge too far.

Pokémon GO Kanto Event Review

With the Kanto Event officially over I have to say I’m pretty happy with how things ended up.  I’m curious as to what this means for the future of Kanto spawns in the game.  Are they going to be strictly limited outside of events?  At the release of Gen 4 there will be nearly 500 Pokémon available in the game.  Divided equally that will seriously dilute the Kanto pool.  Will grinding for Starly be the new grinding for Pidgey*?

*I had to look that up as I have no clue about Gen 4 at this point.

Here are some of the highlights and regrets about the event now that it’s over.

Kanto Event Highlights

The 7km Egg Hatches

7km egg hatches were exciting for maybe a week when they were first released as you had a chance to catch the Alolan forms for the first time.  They quicky became stale as there were really only four Pokémon that you could hatch that weren’t spawning int he wild.  After you hatched them all the thrill was gone.

Having 7km eggs have the prospect to contain something more interesting (the regionals) they became more exciting.  The prospect of getting the never before released regionals was exciting as well and that it was dependent on this new friendship system was very cool.

I ended up with seven Kangaskhan, six Mr. Mime, and ten Farfetch’d.  I have no idea on how many Tauros as I transferred all but one.

Now with my Kanto Pokédex finally complete I can move on to simply waiting for the release of the missing Pokémon or eventual release of the other regionals I am missing from the Hoenn region.

Building Up Candy

It seems like they have made Pokémon from outside your normal biome spawn in increase numbers.  I have never seen a Doduo or a Sandshrew in my neighborhood but they’ve been out in huge numbers for two weeks.  Still that hasn’t been enough to entice me to catch either as they are not really relevant to the meta.

I have, however, been able to add thousands of candy for the the Kanto starters even though I already have tons from Community Days.  I have also gotten thousands of Machop, Geodude, and Rhydon candy which are all incredibly relevant for battling so that’s been great to stock up on, not knowing when they’ll be out in such numbers again.

Chansey, Chansey, Chansey!

Like most players I’ve encountered a tiny number of Chansey since the game launched and it was truly my last Pokémon to get in the original Kanto Pokédex excluding regionals and my own stubborn need for a good IV Dratini to evolve.

This event started off with a bang for me.  I caught six Chansey on the first day, something I normally don’t catch in six months.  Then things slowed considerably.  Here’s the total count:

September 14: 6
September 15: 1
September 16: 1
September 17: 1
September 18: 1
September 19: 2
September 20: 0
September 21: 0
September 22: 0
September 23: 0
September 24: 2
September 25: 1
September 26: 0
September 27: 0
September 28: 0
September 29: 0
September 30: 0

Total: 15

That’s 90 Chansey Candy, bringing my total Chansey Candy to 473 as of the end of the event.

Most importantly I finally got my first Chansey with Great IVs:  98%.  The only problem is its CP is 153.  To max it out will cost 348 candies and 268,400 stardust.  Normally I just bring Pokémon up to level 30 (which would cost a mere 251 candies and 118,400 stardust) but with a near perfect Chansey it may be hard to resist maxing it out.

I’m also planning on trading for some lucky Chanseys so who knows?  Maybe I’ll get a higher CP Chansey with similar or better IVs!

Overall this has been a great event.

Kanto Event Regrets

Where is Snorlax?

I didn’t encountered a single wild Snorlax!  I’m not complaining about the Chansey but I haven’t seen a Snorlax in the wild since January.  It would have been great to catch a few during this event.

Third Tier Evolutions

There really weren’t any third tier (or even second tier) evolutions spawning during this event.  I have only encountered a wild Dragonite once in this game.  It was nice having Dratini as a raid boss but it would have been cool if they upped the possibility of running into a Dragonite, Charizard, or Poliwrath even a little.

Overall Rare Spawns

The first few days, even week, we saw Tangela, Porygon, Hitmonlee, Hitmonchan, and Chansey popping up.  These are Pokémon that many players could easily be missing.  It makes me wonder why we didn’t see more overall diversity in the spawns.  I didn’t see Clefable, Scyther, Kabutops, Onix, or any number of rare spawns that could have made given the event a little more excitement.  Imagine running into a wild Muk or Vileplume.  They’re useless in the meta and I’m not hurting on candies for either but it would certainly be fun to see them out and about.

Shiny Disappointment

Two new shiny Pokémon were introduced for this event: Grimer and Geodude.  I managed to catch a Grimer but came up empty on the Geodude.  I missed out on Omanyte a few months back and the likelihood of catching them outside of the spawn rates of an event is pretty tiny.  I’ve caught hundreds and hundreds of Geodudes with no luck.  Growlithe was released shortly before this event and no luck with a shiny on that front either.

I Almost Forgot!

This event was so good at building candy and stardust for meta relevant Kanto Pokémon that I almost forgot we had a Community day in the mix as well!

I only hunted for Chikorita for a little over an hour but came away with seven shinies.  The spotlight was stolen by a new Pokémon which we learned, days later, is named Meltan.  They dominated the end of the event but, sadly, all transformed immediately into Dittos after being captured.

It appears that this is a tie in to the upcoming Nintendo Switch games “Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu!” And “Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee!”

I’m a father of three in his forties so, naturally, this got me super pumped for this release!

Gotta catch ’em all*!

*Before your midlife crisis is over!