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!

Metallica’s “…And Justice For All” (8-bit Cover Album)

 

Finally a version of …And Justice for All where you can hear the bass!  A truly remarkable heavy metal album is dumbed down here using the sounds of the NES.  This was an important album in my musical development and it was a joy to realize it alongside the sounds of the video games that were contemporary to its release.

Click above to listen on YouTube.

Download “…And Justice For All” on Google Play

Pokémon GO Friendship and Training (One Week In)

Here we are.  It’s officially one week in to Pokémon GO’s new Friendship feature.  The Friendship aspect of Pokémon GO is something I always wanted added to the game, though I couldn’t have really articulated exactly how I wanted it to work.  Some way of connecting with — and keeping tabs on — friends that play the game was something I thought would be really cool.

Trading is something I never wanted in the game.  I thought it sounded horrible.  Why would I want to trade with anyone?  Wouldn’t that be potentially dangerous?  Wouldn’t it create a black market?  Wouldn’t it give the advantage to spoofers who can instantly collect 100% IV Pokémon from anywhere in the world and use them as leverage to get whatever else it is that they want?

Well, Niantic seems to have taken all of that into consideration and put together what may be their most well thought out update to the game yet.  They seem to have addressed almost every issue that could potentially make trading not work and this system really seems to work.  On the one hand it would be cool to potentially use a 100% IV Pokémon to trade to a collector or get for your collection, but this update anticipates that problem and it’s a necessary sacrifice that it is not possible to do with the current system.

Intertwined with friendship and trading is a gifting system that allows you to send gifts to your friends anywhere in the world.  This is a very nice feature in that total trading distance is now tracked so if you have friends anywhere far away, if you trade a Pokémon hatched from one of their gifted eggs you can use that to get a lot of trading distance.

This is a huge update to the way that the game is played, introducing lots more to do, new strategy, additional things to accomplish, and much more to think about.  The last few months have marked a huge change for Niantic from seeming to not do anything with this game to introducing things at such a dizzying pace that it’s almost hard to keep up even as someone who plays every single day.

As I see it, here are the current issues with the new update that I’d like to see worked out.

1.) It’s Clunky

With all the new things added to the game, navigating has become pretty clunky.  I think a complete UI redesign may be in order soon.  I think more should be accessible from the Pokéball at the bottom of the screen including friends and gyms.  Clicking through the avatar screen is getting harder and harder to navicate.

2.) It’s Glitchy

This is to be expected with a new roll out but it’s so glitchy.  Sending gifts, opening gifts, showing the wrong sprites, not clearing out the gift image once it’s opened, constant errors with almost every interaction, friends list not loading, all of this needs to be worked out soon.  Again, I wouldn’t expect perfection for this brand new feature but it’s hard to imagine how something so glitchy couldn’t have been ironed out before a full scale release.

3.) Friends Sorting

I can’t imagine anyone playing the game that doesn’t wish there was some sort of sorting feature for friends.  It’s actually remarkable that it wasn’t put into the release to begin with.  Even with my small group of 33 friends it gets pretty old scrolling down, down, down, looking for someone.  A simple sort by name, level, location, etc. would solve all of these frustrations easily.  While we’re on the subject . . .

4.) No Location Indicator

There’s no indication where any of your friends are from.  Some players (sorry, it’s hard to call them “trainers” with a straight face) have taken to naming their buddy Pokémon with their location.  This is a good workaround but this should really be built into the game.

5.) No Gift Indication

Currently there is no way to scroll through your friends to see who can or cannot receive a gift.  Having to tap on each friend individually is annoying.  There should be a way to see this at a glance and also a way to see your friend’s info if you currently have a gift waiting from them.

6.) Sorting Pokémon By Location

We need this in the game with the next update.  Simply sorting your Pokémon list by nearest or farthest from your current location will make the trading process so much easier.  Two players looking to wrack up trading distance will much more easily be able to do this rather than by individually renaming Pokémon based on their geotags.

7.) Pokémon Storage Space Increase

I can’t believe I’m saying this but 1500 slots is just not enough!  Between saving Pokémon for transfer or evolution for double candy or double XP events, all the shinies, new forms,  and now saving loads of Pokémon from far away places to trade these slots are getting used up pretty quickly.  I feel like we were in a similar spot back when training up gyms was int he game and we had to keep a lot of 800CP to 1200CP Pokémon in reserve.  Getting rid of training cleared up a lot of space but we have two additional generations, shinies, forms, etc.  It’s time to bring it up to 2000 slots so that then we can claim we need 2500.

8.) Egg Anxiety

With 7km eggs added to the game, and only available through gifts, this makes spinning Pokéstops so much more stressful.  Accidentally spinning a stop when you have an open egg space and getting a 5km egg is now the worst thing that can happen to you in the game.  A week in and I’m still trying to get my timing and strategy down for when to open gifts and when to spin stops.

9.) Overall 7km Egg Variety

Getting the new Alolan forms is cool and all but having a mere four new Pokémon in this class of egg got old by day two.  Having Meowth hatch more than half of the time (56%) with Vulpix less than 4% of the time seems like nothing more than a cheap excuse to get people to buy more incubators.  Having a wider variety of Alolan forms (or just more Pokémon in general) would be necessary pretty soon to avoid this getting old.  The only saving grace for this is that if you are lucky enough to get garbage (i.e. Meowth) from far enough away you can always trade it for someone else’s garbage Meowth and then transfer it right away.

The ability to discard eggs poses some legitimate problems but something needs to change.  An additional infinite incubators, having 7km eggs on a separate egg screen, having 9 eggs of each distance, permanent incubator bundles available, whatever it is it seems like there is a shift needed at this point.

10.) No Alternate Name or Message Feature

Combined with not knowing the location of friend requests coming in there’s no way to put an alternate name or message explaining exactly who this friend is that’s requesting you.  It’s also hard to remember who is who when scrolling the list.  Real names (optional) or nick names could help as well as locations.  That being said I do not think there should be a chat feature in the game for a number of obvious reasons.

This update has been a lot of fun.  A few simple tweaks and bug fixes could really take this new system to the next level.  This may be the single biggest update to the game since launch and it’s going to open the doors to many more great things in the future.

 

 

Pokémon GO Special Battle Showdown

Wow.

After nearly two years it seems that Niantic has finally discovered a way to make events a surprise.  Out of nowhere Niantic announced this morning that they’ll be launching another event, a mere 24 hours after the previous one ended.  Just when I thought I’d be able to build my Pokéball inventory back up it looks like I’m still destined to have my item storage depleted.

Here’s the official announcement:

Trainers,

It’s time to test the strength of your Pokémon during a special battle event! Fighting-type Pokémon, such as Machop and Makuhita, will appear more frequently in the wild starting May 1 at 1:00 p.m. PDT.

But what’s a battle celebration without some competition at your nearby Gym? Until May 14, you’ll receive 2× bonus XP for Gym Battles and Raid Battles. Plus, Raid Battles will also award a guaranteed 3,000 Stardust for participating—and at least one Rare Candy if you win!

Several actions at Gyms will yield bonuses, including a 2× Badge multiplier, so you can receive even more benefits at a Gym you visit frequently. Just stopping by? Spinning the Photo Disc at Gyms will also yield more items!

Our Battle Showdown is sure to pack a punch, so don’t miss it!

—The Pokémon GO team

I feel like we were inundated with Machop during the Kanto event but this seems to be a very good way for newer or more casual players to earn their Gold Black Belt badge and earn some vital Pokédex entries.

The most interesting part of this event is that it focuses around gyms.  Battling will earn extra XP, raids will earn extra XP and guarntee rare candy, and there’s even a multiplier on gym badges.  To the best of my knowledge this is the first time I’ve seen gym badges be relevant in the game since being launched nearly a year ago.  It would be great to see some future research surrounding gyms and gym badges.

Additionally, with hundreds of shiny sprites added to the game we can no longer predict when or if a specific shiny variant will be added to the game.  It is very possible that we’ll see shiny Machop or even several shiny fighting types added with this event.

In a stark contrast to where this game was at this point last year, Niantic is giving us nothing but reasons to make sure we play this game every day.

The Problem with Research in Pokémon GO

I have been a huge booster of quest and research in Pokémon GO.  It’s the feature I was looking forward to for the longest.  Overall I’m happy with this addition but it doesn’t bring as much to the game as I had been hoping.

The pace with which new features and events have been coming to the game has been crazy over the past couple of months and that’s a very good thing.  At this time last year the game was so boring I was only playing for 5-10 minutes a day.  Now it’s hard to go an hour without checking in on the game to see what is happening.

Research added a great new element to the game.  The quest for Mew was cool but just too easy.  I completed it in a little over a week, doing it at a very leisurely pace.  Others completed it the day it was released.  The reason it was so easy is that for people who have been playing since day one most of the objectives were automatically accomplished.  The other ones, like transferring or evolving a few Pokémon, were incredibly easy.  Catching Ditto was probably the hardest part of the quest and that was more annoying than anything given it didn’t require anything other than dumb luck.

Some parts of in the special research would have been great had this feature existed since day one.  As a daily player for nearly two years it was a little disappointing.  If they make an element of quests be getting a gold Sinnoh medal, or evolving some rare Sinnoh region Pokémon then that will definitely seem like much more of a challenge.

I am currently sitting on 96 Lotad candies, and not a decent Lotad to evolve.  I’m excited any time I see one.  Imagine if I also knew that evolving Lotad would bring me one step closer to completing a special research assignment.

I’m also not sure if laying everything out in 8 segments is the best way to do it either.  Just having a complete checklist seems like it would work much better.  As it stands everyone is worried about evolving anything at this point as that evolution may be necessary to complete the next research project.

Field research has its own problems as well.  Since you can complete field research it’s really easy to just sit on three completed research projects then just use them daily.  Prior to research all we needed to do every day was catch a single Pokémon and spin a Pokémon and our mission for the day was complete.  During those boring days of the game last year a lot of days I’d open the game in the morning, do both of those things and then be done for the day in a matter of a minute.  Now I feel like my morning ritual also includes claiming a reward and that only adds a few seconds.

Including some sort of tracker to measure how many of each task you’d completed and maybe giving additional rewards for doing that task 5, 10, or 100 times would spice things up a bit.

Research is a great addition to the game but in the absence of an ongoing event it just becomes another task to perform to keep a streak alive.

The 7 day reward for Poké Stops is getting an evolution item, something almost completely unnecessary in the game at this point.  These are for Gen 2 evolutions and none of them are particularly useful evolutions at that.  So we’re all sitting on dozens of evolution items that we do not need.

The 7 day reward for research is a legendary encounter.  This sounded really cool at first but so far we have had four straight weeks of Moltres encounters.  This seemed like a really good solution for rural players who have no real options to get legendaries.  Imagine how stoked rural players must have been to have learned of this feature only to find out it would be the same encounter four weeks in a row.  On the one side you get four shots at getting something with decent IVs and you can get at least 12 candies for power ups.  The downside is at this rate you’ll need over a year to complete your legendary Pokédex, and that’s assuming that no additional legendaries are released.

Something about this needs to change.

It would be great if you could voluntarily select quests for the legendary Pokémon you need.  Long, hard quests that would result in a standard level 20 encounter.  There could be varying quest for each one and trainers could do them all simultaneously if they chose.  They could easily make the 7 day reward for research be something else like increasing an attack, defense, or stamina stat by one point, item rewards, or a number of other options.

Overall this has been a great addition and a solid test run of this new system.  Now, some tweaks are needed to add some more challenge to the game for hardcore players, and a little more incentive for rural players to want to continue to participate.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Part 14)

As Leia sulks in the command center on Crait, we see the hooded figure of Luke enter, reminiscent of his entry into Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi.  It’s a touching family reunion between the two.  Luke explains that he has to face Ben and that he can’t save him.  He ends the dialogue by saying that no one is ever really gone and hands her the gold dice from the Millennium Falcon.  It was hard not to feel touched by this moment.  Much like seeing Han and Chewie in action again and like seeing Han’s unfortunate death it is hard not to feel touched during these scenes with the original characters.

Luke then heads out onto the battlefield to face the First Order army.  In what seems like an anticlimactic move Kylo Ren orders every gun available to fire on him.  I’ll admit, a part of me thought that was it.  That was the tragic and cheap ending of Luke Skywalker.  However, after a moment, the smoke clears and Luke is left standing there without so much as a scratch on him.  It’s more like a scene from Dragon Ball Z than from Star Wars.  I was happy though that Luke was still with us, at least for a brief time more.

Sometime during this Finn somehow manages to transport Rose around the explosions surrounding Luke and back into the rebel base.  Meanwhile Kylo Ren takes a shuttle down to meet Luke face-to-face.  They stand there looking at each other and Kylo Ren asks if Luke came to save him.  Luke says, “No.”

After a few minutes Poe says, “He’s doing this for a reason!”  Then he figures  out that they have to make an escape.  Apparently no one ever tells Poe the plan.

The plan is pretty flawed.  They’ve already lost valuable time since Luke didn’t actually tell anyone the plan and they’re also backed into a corner with no perceivable way out.  That is, until, they discover that the weird crystal foxes are somehow getting in and out of the base.  They, unfortunately, reach a dead end with a pile of boulders blocking the path with gaps only large enough for the crystal foxes to squeeze through.

“I failed you, Ben.  I’m sorry,” Luke calls out across the salt flats.

“I’m sure you are,” Kylo Red screams back.  “The Resistance is dead, the war is over, and when I kill you, I would have killed the last Jedi!”  This marks the first time the title of a Star Wars movie has been delivered as a line of dialogue in a good Star Wars movie.

Luke then delivers a line he’s already used once with Rey:  “Every word you just said is wrong.”  Then the movie does a very non Star Wars thing and Luke’s words become a voice over as we see examples of what he is talking about.  “The rebellion is reborn today, the war has just beginning, and I will not be the last Jedi.”  It ends on Rey lifting all the boulders out of the way so the Resistance can escape.

First we see Luke emerge from the smoke like Goku, now we see him dodge lightsaber slashes like Neo dodging bullets.  Eventually he allows Kylo Ren to stab him through the heart and he doesn’t even flinch.  It’s then that we realize Luke has been conning Kylo Ren this whole time.  He’s not actually there at all.  Kylo Ren has been duped and Luke is merely projecting himself, a technique Kylo Ren had brought up earlier in the movie.

I’ll have to admit that I didn’t see this coming.  I know I’m in the minority.  Everyone else that saw this movie, apparently, noticed that Luke looked younger, that he was using his original blue lightsaber, that his feet were not leaving red streaks in the salt.  In retrospect it was incredibly obvious but I was maybe the one theater goer that was blown away by this trick ending.

Part of me could easily feel cheated out of the fact that there is not showdown between Luke and Kylo Ren.  I could extend that to the fact that this is the only Star Wars movie aside from Rogue One that there is no point where two lightsabers touch each other.  It is the only Star Wars movie with two lightsabers where no lightsabers touch each other.

That aside, it is actually a pretty sneaky trick by Luke Skywalker.  He keeps his promise that he is never going back and at the same time he achieves closure with Leia and helps the good guys escape.  Luke vanishes after being stabbed by Kylo Ren.

This is met with exactly the calmness we have come to expect from Mr. Ren.

Next up . . . a bit more about Luke’s role in The Last Jedi and the conclusion of the film!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Part 13)

On Crait there is a touching reunion between Poe and BB-8.  The happiness is countered immediately with Rose walking around saying, “Is this all that’s left?”  Given the fire we’ve seen from Rose it’s surprising that she doesn’t punch Poe in the face since he is directly responsible for her sister’s death.  Apparently that doesn’t happen to Poe.  Poe gets a free pass in life to do whatever he pleases.

The First Order lands and stars slowly moving toward the Big Ass Door with some sort of cannon that is clearly the sci-fi equivalent of a battering ram.  This strategy doesn’t really make much sense, similar to the AT-AT attack in The Empire Strikes Back but it does a good job of building tension.

Poe then announces a grand plan to take out he cannon.  Since Poe has such a great track record at not getting everyone killed everyone blindly follows him again.  At least at this point it seems like they don’t have a ton of choices.

From the trenches a soldier walks out onto the battlefield leaving what appear to be bloody footprints.  A soldier in the trenches sticks his finger in the red footprint then puts it in his mouth and spits it out saying, “Salt.”  It seems like a pretty unnecessary scene.  In doing some research it appears that the planet has red soil and it, for some reason, coated in a thin layer of salt.  That’s pretty neat and extremely cool visually but having this odd exposition seems out of place.

In one of the most visually spectacular moments in the movie a squadron of odd ships, balancing on single skis, bursts out of the base and begins their attack on the First Order army.  Great plumes of red salt burst out from behind the fighters like smoke.  In retrospect I am unclear if the red is the soil or salt at this point but it sure looks pretty.

When it looks like all is lost the Millennium Falcon comes from out of nowhere with Rey at the helm, blasting TIE fighters.  Everyone is now reunited in one glorious battle.  All this excitement is punctuated by Porgs immitating Chewbacca and being thrown against cockpit windows.

As it becomes clear once again that they are outmatched they give the order to retreat but Finn ignores it.  He decides he’s going to sacrifice himself to save the rebels and begins accelerating toward the battering ram cannon.  It seemed odd that they would kill Finn off in the second movie and apparently that was not the plan since Rose comes from out of nowhere and rams his ship with hers, a move that seemed almost as likely to kill him as what he was planning to do.

Finn runs over to Rose where she has to explain to him why she did what she did.  “It’s not about destroying what we hate, it’s about saving what we love.”  She then calls him a dummy before he kisses her and she passes out.  This is a great message but it might be a little lost in the fact that it seems like they are still going to be destroyed.

On cue the First Order army destroys the blast door and it seems like the end is in sight.  To add insult to the Resistance’s injury it is revealed that their distress signal has been received but they have gotten no response.  Leia then looks all depressed saying: “We’ve fought to the end but the galaxy has lost all its hope. The spark is out.”

This movie is really starting to be a major bummer.

Next up . . . Kylo Ren vs. Luke Skywalker!

 

 

 

 

 

23 New Pokémon from the Hoenn Region Available Later Today

Niantic just made an announcement on the official Pokémon GO site that they are releasing 23 additional Pokémon from the Hoenn region into the game sometime later today.  These will all be brand new for me as my encyclopedic knowledge of Pokémon ends abrupty at #151.  Part of the excitement of Pokémon GO has been discovering the new generations that came out after I’d finished my run with the card game in the late 90s.  Despite many of these Pokémon being old enough to vote they are new to me.

Niantic’s official announcement states the following:

Trainers,

Starting later today, 23 additional Pokémon originally discovered in the Hoenn region in the Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire video games will begin appearing in Pokémon GO for the very first time. As you’re out adventuring with friends and family and exploring your local neighborhoods, be sure to share your favorite moments and photos using #PokemonGO on your social media channels.

—The Pokémon GO team

This brings the total number of Gen 3 Pokémon to 100 with 35 left to go.  Many people were a little put off by staggering the release of the Hoenn region Pokémon but I think it’s going pretty well so far.  We’re almost two months in and I have plenty of hunting and farming left to do even to complete the Pokédex with what’s available right now.

I’m looking forward to seeing what new odd-looking creatures I’ll be introduced to later today!