Last Week’s Gaming – July 15th, 2019

Pinballing through Deep Space, all with D6.

So another week of not quite the number of board games I was hoping to get to, but a lot of setup for some better gaming next week. Regular games nights are starting again, and a few other little projects are almost ready to get started on which I am looking forward to!

But that’s enough of that, here is what I did get to play this week 🙂

Deep Space D-6

I got in a couple of rounds of Deep Space D-6 this week, but my favourite game was playing and teaching Alpal how to play.

Watching Alpal play and having everything click was really satisfying for me. It proved to me that once you know how to read the rules and use the summaries how simple Deep Space D-6 really is.

One thing I did notice however was that Alpal had a slightly different deck, from a printing in 2016. This will need to be explored a little more, but expect a full review soon.

It may be a solo game, but teaching Alpal how to play her copy meant we got to play Multiplayer Solataire for real!

So this is a little bit of a cheat, but Alpal introduced me to the 5 Paper Pinball Roll and Write games.

I was already intrigued, buty actually playing the Paper Pinball games was surprisingly fun and frantic. Even though we were playing the ‘same game’, just like a game of pinball our scores and strategies were wildly different.

Esentially, roll dice and mark off the corrosponding value. Can’t fill out something on the table? Lose a ball, and lose 3 balls it’s game over. It even has multiball!

More on this series will be coming soon after I have had a closer look at the series.

Now I know about the series, I want to look into scoring a little more, but this is a lot of fun

Hungry Shark World (Switch)

So I noticed there is an eShop sale on the Switch, so I had a bit of a look around to see what was around.

I nabbed a couple of games, but the only one I tried this week was Hungry Shark World. I had seen Outside Xbox playing it a while ago and I was curious. Here I could get it mobile and for $7.50 – how could I go wrong?

Well, pretty easily apparently. It crashes every second life without fail, and sometimes on the first round. After having a look online, this has been happening since 2018, so I woudl say by now no patch would be coming to fix this.

Don’t get Hungry Shark World on Switch. Just don’t. It looks like fun, but the frustration and progress loss makes it just not worth it, even for free!

I can see the appeal of this game, just not on the Switch. Crash city.

Final Fantasy X (Switch)

I only played for an hour, but I got through the first visit to Guadosalam. If you know what I mean, then you are nodding. If you don’t know what I mean, it’s close enough to a 45 minute unskippable cutscene section setting up a lot of story about halfway into the game.

When you get through Guadosalam, you then hit the Thunder Plains. Here, if you can dodge 200 consecutive lightning strikes, you get a component for Lulu’s ultimate weapon.

But this is insanely hard compared to what I remember. I got a best of 3, then a fight, then I relaxed at the end of the fight and got zapped as the game transitioned back. This is going to be a challenge.

Yes, I know the graphics have had a bump. But almost 20 years later, this still looks amazing!

Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee (Switch)

So I have been walking around with the Pokeball Plus in my pocket for a few weeks now. This week, I decided I should probably check on how my Pokemon was doing in there.

Short answer – great! Lots of play, lots of steps, and I learned something. There is an experience cap on how much XP you can earn in one hit taking your pokemon for a stroll. 99,999 to be exact.

So if you are walking around with your Pokemon in your Pokeball, don’t forget to bring them back regularly!

Pokemon Lets Go MewTwo
The legendary MewTwo. Guess who I am running around with post game?

Tetris 99 (Switch)

With everything that has been going on, I haven’t even fired up a ‘quick’ Tetris 99 round for a while. And it showed – I was pretty rusty.

But there was a semi-surprise waiting for me this week – another Event with a skin up for grabs!

This time it was a Splatoon skin in honour of the last Splatfest. I thought it might be a bit of fun, so I settled in for a little bit and played a couple of games to snag the 100 points required for the theme. And rusty and all, snag it I did 🙂

But talking about Tetrising…

Another event this weekend, this time snagging myself an awesome Splatoon theme!

Building a new desktop PC!

This took a lot of time out of my board gaming this week, but it was worth it. Even if I essentially had to set it up twice thanks to TPG, but that’s another issue I don’t want to dwell on.

My old i7-5820 served me well, but now my new machine is running a bit faster and a lot quieter, making my work at home even more pleasurable 🙂 Gaming will be coming soon with any luck!

Talking about putting things together properly, there is one more Tetris project this week…

The new desktop is alive!

All games are finally unpacked!

All of my games are finally out of boxes. Some are in storage, true, but now all games are unpacked from the move.

It became obvious that even with putting some games in storage, I was going to be very tight on room. But there wasn’t any room for more storage. Rabbit came up with a brilliant plan though – put wheels on Kallax!

But just having the games out is only half the battle. Now I need to reorganise all these boxes.

A couple more months at this stage, but the shelfie video will be incoming!

Putting together this many games surely counts as Tetris right?

How was your week for gaming? Was there anything you really enjoyed playing, or did you set yourself up for upcoming gaming?

Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Pokemon Let’s Go Review

Pokemon Lets Go Eevee is Happy 20181119
Pokemon Lets Go Eevee is Happy 20181119
Released 2018
Platform Nintendo Switch
Publisher Nintendo (Website)
Developer Game Freak (Website)
Homepage Pokemon.com (Website)
Players 1 (2 player is a little deceptive)
Category Light RPG
Collectables

Let’s Go on so many levels indeed!

To call Pokemon a marketing phenomenon would be fair.  Even if you are not into games, it’s even money you know Pikachu.  You may not realise what Pikachu is, but you know the little yellow mascot by sight and possibly the call.

This all came to a head a couple of years ago with a massive surge in popularity due to Pokemon Go.  Droves of people were walking everywhere trying to catch all the Pokemon.  True, initially it was probably the sizable number of fans that always wanted to catch a Pokemon themselves, but the media frenzy that followed definitely got a lot of people that had never played a Pokemon game loading Pokemon Go onto their phones.

So what is Pokemon Let’s Go?

To say Pokemon Let’s Go is a remaster of the original Gameboy Pokemon Yellow isn’t quite right.  A lot of the story elements are there, the basic map and abilities are all present, but a lot of the game has been modified as well.

Pokemon Let’s Go is a new gateway game to the world of Pokemon, with many nods to the old school fans.  Gameplay has also been tuned to make the game accessible for the players that Pokemon Go is their only background to the world of Pokemon.

Pokemon Lets Go Meeting Oak
Your first meeting with Professor Oak! This time you don't pick your partner Pokemon first.

This made the initial reception to Pokemon Let’s Go mixed for some.  The hardcore audience screamed that the series had been dumbed down, while some new players were overwhelmed with the adventure and complexity of the world compared to Pokemon Go.

My take: Game Freak, Nintendo and the Pokemon Company took the opportunity to not only update a 20-year-old game, but to update the entire series in such a way that a whole new way of playing was introduced.

And it works well.

The Story

I’m not going to beat about the bush – the story isn’t anything super special.  If you want a deep narrative that rivals the greatest literary works, this isn’t it.

Yes, you get to beat the 8 gym leaders and then take on the elite 4 to become a Pokemon Champion.  You get to stop Team Rocket and their ‘evil plans’.

The overall story is enjoyable but predictable.  As I said – kids game.

But.

There are moments that are beautiful.  Playing with your Partner Pokemon is adorable, even if it’s not part of the story proper.  And reuniting Cubone with its mother pulled more heartstrings than a story like this deserved.

Pokemon Lets Go Facing Brock
80's kids already know all about Brock, the first Gym leader you meet on your travels.

Describing the story of Pokemon Let’s Go is like describing a day out at a park or something similar.  You remember the highlights and the individual moments and somehow gloss over the mundane things that you did for most of the day.

Yes, like any adventure game you grind facing other trainers to be strong enough to battle the next leader.  You run around for hours catching various Pokemon.  But the individual moments make it all worthwhile to see it through to the end.

The old school changes – the story run

One of the biggest changes to a traditional Pokemon game (even ones as recent as Pokemon Ultra Sun/Moon) is the random battles required to capture Pokemon.

You used to walk around and wander in fields of grass and hope that the Pokemon you wanted to catch would appear.  Then you had to battle it, and hope you didn’t knock it out, then when you wore it down, you could throw your Poke Balls at it to try and catch it.

This worked and allowed you to give your Pokemon experience to level them up and improve their stats.  Just like any other RPG, your individual stats don’t matter, it’s your parties stats that count.

Unlike most other RPG’s however, you aren’t the hero of the quest battling whatever comes along – that’s what your Pokemon do, so they need to increase their skills.

While fun, this quickly became repetitive, the very definition of ‘the grind’ of RPGs everywhere.  Coupled with the random chance of Pokemon appearing, this quickly put off a lot of casual gamers in the past.

Pokemon Let’s Go takes advantage of the much-improved graphics and storage capabilities of the Switch to change this up.  Now as you explore Kanto, you can actually see the Pokemon inhabiting the land around you.  Don’t want to capture any more Weedles?  Don’t walk into them, and problem solved!

Pokemon Lets Go Seeing The World
Being able to see the Pokemon around you makes it both easier to collect them, and more immersive.

You also don’t have to fight the Pokemon first.  Taking inspiration from Pokemon Go, if you see a Pokemon all you have to do is capture them.  Better Poke Balls give better odds of capturing them, and you can use different berries to stop Pokemon from running around the screen or like you a little more to help.

Pokemon can run away, which can be frustrating.  You can throw a lot of Ultra Poke Balls at a Pokemon,, run out and capture the same Pokemon with a standard ball first time.  But what you can’t do is accidentally knock out the Pokemon, stopping you from attempting the capture at all.

Pokemon Lets Go Catching Pokemon
Catching new Pokemon is almost the same as Pokemon Go - just time the throw with the circle, and see how you go!

The Old School Changes – Post Game

For those that screamed ‘It’s too easy!’ when Pokemon Let’s Go launched, this is where they should probably have stuck with it.

A lot has been added to the post-game content.

You can hunt down and catch some legendary Pokemon, such as MewTwo, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres.  Not that unusual as post-game content, but it’s there!

Finding the Mega Evolution stones should also be on your list.

Also on the cards are the original two rival trainers, Red and Green as well as Blue.  Finding more powerful trainers sounds standard as well, but these aren’t the only three.

Pokemon Lets Go MewTwo
The legendary MewTwo. Guess who I am running around with post game?

Pokemon Let’s Go also has Master Trainers.  These are trainers that have trained one specific Pokemon to level 75.  Not only do you have to beat them with the same Pokemon, but without any items or assistance as well!

Now people were complaining about levelling up Pokemon as the main experience source was catching Pokemon, and Poke Balls cost.  Unlike any other Pokemon Game I have played, you can continue to face Gym Leaders and the Elite Four for experience and a cash boost at any time!

Pokemon Lets Go Master Trainers
Not only do you have to train all of the Pokemon, you have to find the right trainers as well

While not everyone will want to do these activities, this should be what every hardcore Pokemon player was hoping for.  Yes, you have to finish the game to get to this, but this becomes the biggest collectible/side quest Pokemon I have ever seen!

And fair, I have only finished Yellow, Sun and Ultra Moon until now – but that’s kind of the point.  Pokemon has been almost the same game for over 20 years – it’s great to see something new in the mix!

Pokemon Go Integration

A game heavily influenced by Pokemon Go, many including myself were intrigued by the idea of importing between the two games.

I managed a connection once, imported Ditto, and then didn’t do it again.

Don’t be put off by this though – if you are a keen Pokemon Go player with all of the Pokemon to transfer, the ability to play with Pokemon in Let’s Go is amazing!  You just don’t need to do it to play the game, and I found the process annoyingly unintuitive.

Pokemon Lets Go Transfer with Go
Exchanging Pokemon is a whole lot of fun. There are even cool descriptions I won't spoil 🙂

Biggest issue – Pokemon Let’s Go doesn’t like sharing Bluetooth connections.  If you have a Fitbit or similar tracker, prepare for some issues.  But once it was working, the experience was fun, and it’s a great way to bring in some missing Pokemon if you don’t have anyone to trade with for the missing Pokemon between Eevee and Pikachu.

Poke Ball Plus

I already talked about this in my Poke Ball Plus review, but this was a fun add-on to the whole game.

Controller wise, it worked reasonably well.  The motion controls I actually found better than the single Joy Con.  I wasn’t as happy with the fact that you had to shake the ball to use the Y button though.  Overall this isn’t an issue, but because shaking in battle brings in a partner, if you don’t know exactly what a move does (bought up by the Y button) you are in trouble.

But taking your Pokemon for a walk makes up for all that in a lot of ways.  Read the review for my full thoughts, but if you are only going to get Pokemon Let’s Go, it may be an expensive luxury.

Poke Ball Plus Battery Level Check
If the light is green, the trap is clean! Wait, wrong franchise...

What’s this about 2 players being deceptive?

The one thing I was hoping to try was playing with my Partner, but timing kind of killed that.  In some ways though, it’s kind of lucky it did.

It’s true you can have a helper in the game, the second player.  But that player controls one of your party and uses your Poke Balls to try and catch Pokemon.

They don’t get any benefit at all other than helping you out, and you don’t even need another person.  Pokemon is turn-based, so if you are having trouble in a fight you can just play both ‘trainers’ yourself with a second controller.

Now this is great if you have little ones that are having trouble in a fight or catching Pokemon.  You will be playing together and helping rather than taking over the game.  But playing the whole game like this?  I feel it’s a little less than advertised.

Pokemon Lets Go Two Player Roaming
The help works, but it's not what I would describe a true two player game

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Pokemon Let's Go

Final Thoughts

I didn’t play constantly, but I enjoyed Pokemon Let’s Go every time I picked it up.  Personally, I don’t have a preference for Eevee or Pikachu so my choice was dictated by my partner getting Pikachu.  Both games are almost identical, with a few Pokemon only available in the other game.

If you are interested in Pokemon or are curious about turn-based role-playing games, Pokemon Let’s Go is a great choice for you.  Light enough with a little handholding in-game to teach you the ropes, but enough in it to keep the interest intact.

Even as a relatively hardcore RPG player, Pokemon Let’s Go was a fun experience that I will probably keep picking back up to beat all those Master Trainers for some time to come.  It has a surprising amount of depths and layers around it, making it one of the better examples of ‘the game you want it to be’ for quite some time.

Overall
8.7/10
8.7/10

Pros

  •  Modern take on a beloved franchise
  •  Playing with your partner Pokemon is amazing
  •  Great to pick up and put down as you need to

Cons

  •  Music is so repetitive
  •  Second player isn’t really a second player
  •  Veterans may not see it through

Last Week’s Gaming – January 7th, 2019

20190107 Shadows Amsterdam

Shadows of Crime spun by Spinderella start with a Thief!

Oh, the holidays.  There was so much I wanted to do, but the only real thing I got done was wipe 99{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of sleep debt.  Still, worth it!

I didn’t replay a lot of games, but I did knock over some video games which was fun.  Even the old favourite Stop Thief! was a new twist, trying out the cooperative mode 🙂

Spinderella

This was an Alpal special, and it was a surprising amount of fun!

Basically a kids game, your goal is to move all three of your bugs from one end of a path to the other.  But there are also some spiders working together to nab your bugs, and bits of log falling on you as well!

Heavy use of magnets makes Spinderella younger child friendly, as it will be hard to break the string because of moving the topmost spiders too far apart.  Roll and move gameplay with a twist – give it a go if you get the chance!

20190107 Spinderella
Don't let the fact it's a 'Kids game stop you from having a great time

Chronicles of Crime

I had been hankering to play this since my Kickstarter copy arrived a few weeks ago, and I finally got the chance!

A higher tech version of games like Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Chronicles of Crime requires you to use an app to play.  All ‘cards’ have information from a QR code, allowing different scenarios and corrections to be rolled out with app updates.

You can also ‘investigate’ a crime scene – one person has the device/VR kit, and describes the area while actively looking around.  It’s deeper than I expected, and much quicker to play than I expected as well.

Investigating is fun, and the ability to actually question subjects on individual items without prompting is amazing.  For example, if you want to ask the waiter about drinks, you scan the waiter, then the drinks evidence – done!  But you can ask literally anyone about the drinks, and there is no ‘If you have the drinks, go to page xx’ prompts, so it’s also more challenging as you work out what needs to go where.

I can’t wait to provide a formal review soon!

20190107 Chronicles of Crime
You answer like you play - by scanning the cards to give the answer. No spoilers here though!

Stop Thief!

Finally had a chance to kick back and enjoy the first Restoration Games classic in my collection.

Stop Thief! is normally played competitively, with individual players trying to work out where the thief is from the provided sound clues.  This round though I got to play cooperatively with Rabbit, and it was an intriguing round indeed!

Having never played Stop Thief, it was good to lay out my thinking to teach Rabbit how to play without having to step back from ‘winning the game’.  The game is very similar, but instead of the most money being won, everyone has a single stack of money that can run out as robberies happen.

Now to put aside some time for Solo Mode…

20190107 Stop Thief
It looks like a lot is happening, but Stop Thief! is simple and straightforward and a blast to play

Shadows: Amsterdam

Another Alpal special, and one that knocked off an item for ‘most anticipated game to play in 2019’ (You knew the lists were coming, right?)

Imagine Codenames and Dixit had an affair – Shadows: Amsterdam would be the result.

Playing in two teams, one player is in charge of giving their team clues in the form of picture cards.  Players then need to interpret which picture to move to on the board.  There are three ‘clues’ that need to be collected before a final client is to be found.  First team to find the client without getting caught by the police three times wins!

Shadows: Amsterdam is fun, fast, and a heap of fun to play.  Formal review coming soon!

20190107 Shadows Amsterdam
If you enjoy Codenames, Shadows: Amsterdam is a no-brainer selection for you!

Pokemon Let’s Go

And I have finished!  The story at least, but the journey is done 🙂

As very much a Pokemon ‘casual’, and someone that was flat out at the end of the year, Pokemon Let’s Go was a great game for me.  As I had already played Pokemon Yellow (years ago, but yeah) having an idea of the game meant I could pick it up and put it down with ease.

And it was a little too much ease.  Honestly, I skipped two gyms and a secret technique that lets you fast travel to towns you have visited, and I still beat the game (with a lot of walking and backtracking).  And beat I MewTwo.  Yep, I have a MewTwo now 🙂

There is a bunch of extra stuff to do that I may or may not do, but you can hear about all that tomorrow with the Let’s Go review 😀

20190107 MewTwo
Wandering into the cave with 3 mid-level 60 and high level 50 Pokemon made this a tough fight, but I have MewTwo now 🙂

Detective Pikachu

So I started Detective Pikachu AGES ago, and the linear story was/is fun and a new Pokemon take was interesting.

The main problem I had was I put it down as the music was putting me to sleep (I was playing bit by bit at the end of the day), and didn’t pick up the DS to play for weeks.  Even at PAX Aus, where I was grabbing StreetPasses left and right, I didn’t even fire up Detective Pikachu.

I was determined to finish Detective Pikachu this year though, and now, it’s done.  I was about 2 hours from finishing, and that was taking my time.  So close!  But I also wanted to start another game on the DS, but more on that soon.

But you can hear my final thoughts on Detective Pikachu next Tuesday if you would like to know more.

20190107 Detective Pikachu
Detective Pikachu is a whole lot of fun 🙂 Not an overly complicated, but still enjoyable.

Luigi’s Mansion

I remember years ago buying a copy of Luigi’s Mansion and a Game Cube for a friend.  I must have watched many hours of their kids and my nephew play it, but I never got around to it.

Last year, Luigi’s Mansion 3 was announced for the Switch.  Now these days, if you want a game to get my attention, announce it on the Switch.  And memories of the first game came flooding up…

Thanks to the EB Games Boxing Day sales, I now have the first two in the series on DS.  I have only really played the tutorial and the first few rooms, but it’s already proving itself to be a fun diversion that needs just that bit of attention to finish it.

20190107 Luigis Mansion
It may be an old game, but Luigi's Mansion is still a bit of fun on the 2DS.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission

This fun little gem has taken the gaming awards by storm.  According to Metacritic, it’s the #7 PS4 game released in 2018, and #1 if you look at PSVR only!

With the January sales, I had to have a look at it.  It was being universally praised, and I can see why.  It’s adorable, immersive, challenging, and most importantly (for a VR game) completely immersive.

I only played for about 8 hours I think in total, but I have 100{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} completed 3 of the five worlds and I am on the final world now.

Short version – if you like Mario Bros style games, and are interested in VR, get Astro Bot Rescue Mission.  You will hear much on this game over the coming weeks, so be ready 🙂

20190107 AstroBot Gameplay
Find your bot friends, collect coins for mini-games, and enjoy the most Nintendo platformer on PlayStation

Beat Saber

In my opinion, Beat Saber got robbed by Astro Bot on Metacritic.  As I said, Astro Bot is a great game, and I am enjoying it thoroughly, but Beat Saber I have kept coming back to all year.  No other VR game has been able to do this, and that was before the new content.

A recent update added a couple of very fun new songs, and Rabbit has discovered with me the fun of playing some songs on Faster – it somehow makes them more fun and easier while making you move even more at the same time!

I need to move more, so I am going to try and get back into playing Beat Saber daily.  Let’s see if my score goes up…

Beat Saber Hitting the Cubes
You can watch people playing, but nothing compares to the feel of cutting cubes yourself

Kingdom Hearts

YES.  It has begun.  The Kingdom Hearts run is beginning.

I am a little torn though.  Do I just run through the games?  I can do this, and may even be able to finish Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 if I do this.

But.

I love this series, and I kind of want to platinum them – including the games I missed as I didn’t have a DS at the time.

Thinking, thinking.  Decisions to be made.  I will let you know what I decide, but if you are a fan grab the Final Mixes if you haven’t already.  The worst of the PS2 controls have been smoothed – they aren’t gone, but I am not as frustrated playing.  And it’s as fun as ever 🙂

20190107 Kingdom Hearts
There's a lot of cutscenes, but once you are into the game there isn't much time to laze about.

What about you?  What have you been up to?  Have you been getting more games in?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – December 17th, 2018

20181217 Cryptid

Do you have 5 Minutes to Geek Out over the Deep Sea? Or use Lemonade for Cryptid bait?  Let’s Go ask our Muse!

Wow.  I can’t believe there is only about a week until Christmas.  So much is being thrown around in last minute preparation in every part of my life, but I managed to get a lot more gaming in than I thought!

5 Minute Marvel

Another Alpal special this week, but the timing was excellent.  Last week I received my copy of 5 Minute Dungeon and the Curses! Foiled again expansion, so this retheme was a great way to warm up!

The idea is pretty simple overall – each player is a hero and has a pile of cards with icons on them.  You have 5 minutes to work your way through a pile of enemy cards by matching the symbols on your cards with the symbols on the bad guy.

20181217 5 Minute Marvel
It looks a mess, becuase it is. This is not a game to play neatly, but quickly!

It plays real time and time is tight, so cards go flying and mistakes are made, but that is always part of the fun!  First game, made it to the final boss Thanos but ran out of time.  Definitely will be compared to the base role play theme!

Muse

An early Christmas present was unwrapped at games night, allowing a game I wouldn’t have looked at twice to be enjoyed by all!

Muse is like a guided game of charades, but even that isn’t really correct.  One team draws six cards with fantastical art on them, and 2 cards with ways the other team’s Muse can give a hint.

Hints can be sounds, poses, shapes, anything really – but most of the cards we saw had a non-fictional stipulation, much to Alpal’s horror :p

The first team to get 5 clues correct wins, but it’s one of those great party games where you can just play as long as you are all having fun.  If you see a copy and enjoy party games, grab a copy – you will enjoy it!

20181017 Muse
Pick the right card. It doesn't sound hard, but it led to a whole lot of fun!

Geek Out

I enjoy a good trivia night, but there are a lot of topics I am at a bit of a disadvantage in.  Pop Culture, Music past the 60’s, Most names – these are all things my brain has trouble holding on to.

This is a situation a lot of people find themselves in and can be why some people do not like trivia.  There are also people that are the other way – a topic or genre is so ‘easy’ for them that trivia isn’t challenging for them.

Geek Out bridges this gap by having not only having a huge range of topics but adding a bidding mechanic where you have to answer questions with multiple answers.  Examples are in the photo, but if you want a surprisingly fun trivia game Geek Out is highly recommended.

20181217 Geek out
It's a trivia game, but one that allows a suprising amount of flexibility and incclusivity

Deep Sea Adventure

Oh, Oink Games, you subtle and many-layered publisher of greatness.

You have heard me talk about Kobayakawa and A Fake Artist Goes to New York.  Deep Sea Adventures is one of their earlier efforts, and one that is incredibly deep – no puns intended.

Players are competing to dive for the richest treasure haul, but thematically you have had to work together to pool your resources and hire a single sub.

20181217 Deep Sea Adventure
I hear a lot of people call Deep Sea Adventure a push your luck game, but that's only a small part of it.

Now many have described Deep Sea Adventure as Push Your Luck, but this is only a small part of the game.  The best description is Competitive Coop, with a potential traitor mechanic.  Everyone must work together to a point, or everyone will fail.

Not for everyone, but expect a review in the near future.

Cryptid

The search for Cryptids – animal or creatures that are unsubstantiated – has kept public attention for a long time.  Creatures such as the Yeti, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster – these are all names people know.

Cryptid takes the idea of searching for such creatures and makes it a deduction game.  Each player has one certain clue such as ‘Within 2 tiles of water’ and the first player to locate the creature wins.

Apart from the deduction aspect, an intriguing aspect is the ‘honest lying’ of the game.  When answering other players with your information, you must always be truthful – but you can ask questions you know are ‘wrong’ to identify other players clues and locate the creature yourself.

20181217 Cryptid
Cryptid looks complicated, but it's a very simple and straightforward game. That doesn't make it less challenging though.

That’s Not Lemonade

Originally a game called ‘You Mad Bro?’, Tuesday Knight Games has taken Matt Fantastic’s game and released a quick, fun and quirky push your luck game.

Similar in mechanics to Blackjack, instead of reaching 21 you are trying to make the best lemonade possible.  The theory is pretty simple – have the most lemons in your drink, you will have the best lemonade!

But this is a competition, so someone may sneak something in That’s Not Lemonade!  Quick to play and learn, expect to see more on this game freshly delivered from Kickstarter soon!

20181217 That's Not Lemonade
That's Not Lemonade is simple, yet addictive. And the longer you play, the riskier it gets.

Pokemon Let’s Go

Another round of Pokemon Let’s Go was played this week.  Not too much progress overall, but I am getting there!

This week I took on Team Rocket and rescued a Cubone, allowing me to get the scope I need for Pokemon Tower.

I also think I am getting close to unlocking Pokemon Go and Pokemon Let’s Go integration, as some people have started referring to Go Park in the game.

I don’t know how much I will get in this week, but it’s still a fun pick up and put down game.  And I am still walking around with my Poke Ball Plus!

20181217 Pokemon Lets Go
Giovanni was taken down for the first time. Pokemon Tower Next!

What about you?  What have you been up to?  Have you had time to play, or are you flat out in the Holiday lead up as well?  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Poke Ball Plus Review and Guide

Poke Ball Plus Feature
Poke Ball Plus Feature
Released 2018
Publisher Nintendo (Website)
Category Augmented Reality Controller

Reviewing the little controller that is hiding so much more

So you would have seen in the last couple of Last Week’s Gaming that Pokemon Let’s Go has been my go-to game of choice lately. This is for a few reasons. It’s ‘simple’ – there are puzzles to solve of a sort, but nothing that has stumped me. Collecting Pokemon is still fun, but the ‘battle grind’ is gone. I don’t have to worry so much about random encounters – I can see Pokemon in the game world.

Now all of this is great, and I will review the game when done. I need to finish the game first, and I want to try teaming up and a few of the other new features before going there.

But one of the new features isn’t in Pokemon Let’s Go itself. New controllers aren’t exactly a new thing for Nintendo – just look at Super Smash Brothers as an example. But the Poke Ball Plus earns the plus by being more than ‘just’ a new controller.

Pokemon Lets Go Eevee is Happy 20181119
Eevee is happily sititng on my head as a walk around Professor Oak's office

The Poke Ball Plus itself

Being based off a Poke Ball, the Plus doesn’t have a lot of room to move in terms of design. The Poke Ball Plus is smaller than I expected, but not terribly so. On the ‘top’ of the ball is the B button, mostly hidden with a small circular indent in the red section. The centre of the Poke Ball holds the control stick, and pressing the stick (like L3 on PlayStation or L on XBox) becomes the A button. It’s straightforward and fairly intuitive once you have it in your hand.

At the back of the ball is a strap, and at the base of the strap is a small cover that comes off to reveal the USB-C charging port. I thought this cover would be more of a pain than it is, but it has proven fairly functional. You do need a little bit of fingernail or something to help pull it out, but as long as you use the recess on the left-hand side it’s a simple process.

Poke Ball Plus Front
If you look at the top of the ball, you can see the slight indent - this shows where the B button is

Also attached to the strap is a plastic ring section. This is supposed to fit around your finger as you play, as another measure to stop the Poke Ball Plus from flying if thrown. I also use it to hook the Poke Ball Plus to my jeans when I go for a walk. Becuase the ring is flexible, don’t forget to also secure the Poke Ball with the strap itself – while mine has survived a couple of drops relatively unscathed, why push your luck?

Poke Ball Plus Rear
USB-C for easy plugging (Yay!) and the cable just sits beside the Switch dock.

Playing Pokemon Let’s Go with the Poke Ball Plus

You would think this would be fairly straightforward – sync Poke Ball Plus with the Switch, play the game. And to a degree, it is this straightforward – just not like any other controller I have even synced.

Normally to sync a controller you slide the Joy Con into the Switch or plug in the controller via USB (Pro Controllers for example). Not so with the Poke Ball Plus. Start your Pokemon Let’s Go game, and you will be presented with a screen asking which controller to use. You can see Poke Ball Plus on the screen, but it’s not obvious how to select it.

All you need to do is push the A button on the Poke Ball Plus, and after a few seconds, you will see the controller change colour on the screen. Press A again, and you are most of the way there. The controls are now shown on the screen, and you can decide to back out and change controller if you want to.

It sounds simple, and it is simple. But when the instructions in the Poke Ball Plus state only ‘Follow On Screen Instructions’, and it’s so different from every other controller, a few people got caught out initially.

Poke Ball Plus Connect Controller
Normally to connect a controller you connect then play. Not the Poke Ball Plus!

Once that’s out of the way though, into the game you go. Playing is just like any other Pokemon game, and exploring the game world is a breeze. As I only really played Pokemon Yellow on my Game Boy, and then Pokemon Moon on my DS, the two button system made sense to me and off I went through the world!

The tutorial on how to catch a Pokemon came up on screen and was easy to follow. Really all you do is hit A to ready your ball in game, and then ‘throw’ the controller (action only – don’t send it flying!) in time with the capture circle. There aren’t curve balls or advanced techniques to worry about, so it was all pretty natural and fun. And the feeling when you feel the Poke Ball Plus vibrate and you hear the sound of the Pokemon come from the Ball? Talk about immersive!

Poke Ball Plus Throw Poke Ball
Capturing feels fun with the Poke Ball Plus. You get the on screen reminder to throw, but it just feels right.

The only downside is Pokemon Let’s Go takes advantage of the + and Y buttons in the game. Most screens will let you shake the Poke Ball for these extra controls, but not in combat. Shaking the Poke Ball Plus allows Partner moves (Special timed moves), so if you can’t remember what a move does you can’t bring up the info during the battle. It’s annoying, but not enough to stop me playing. I do pay more attention to the Pokemon while out of combat now to learn the moves a bit better, which is really all the system is asking of you.

Gaining a Mew

So one of the big bonuses of the Poke Ball Plus is that it comes with a Mew – a Pokemon that everyone swore you could get in earlier Pokemon, but I never worked it out.

Firstly you need to be far enough into the game to unlock the ‘Communicate’ panel. I don’t think this takes long – I had just started off on my quest from Professor Oak when I connected my Poke Ball Plus for the first time and everything came up on screen. You will also need to make sure you are able to connect to the internet, and that the Poke Ball Plus and Switch are charged. When you connect the Poke Ball Plus for the first time, if there is still a Mew available (remember, one per BALL not one per game you play on!), you will hear the ball make a shrill sound. This will let you know you are good to go.

Poke Ball Plus Communication Menu
Hitting B on the Poke Ball Plus brings up the main menu. You are looking for Communicate.

From here, as per the onscreen instructions, select Communicate, then select Mystery Gifts. You will see a bunch of options, select ‘Get with a Poke Ball Plus’. The Switch will connect to the net, and after a few seconds you will see the Mew emerge from your Poke Ball! The Pokedex screen will then appear, and the transfer is complete 🙂

Poke Ball Plus Mystery Gifts
As long as you heard Mew in the Poke Ball, it's all automatic from here

From what I understand, the Poke Ball Plus is the only way to catch a Mew in the game, making the Poke Ball Plus a must buy for the true completionists. If that’s all you are after though, it’s up to you how much you would pay for owning a Mew. Because I am not far enough into Pokemon Let’s Go to experiment transferring Pokemon Go characters I don’t know if this would work assuming you have a Mew in Pokemon Go.

I think the Poke Ball Plus would be pricey for just a Mew, and that is where some bad feedback was thrown Nintendo’s way pre-launch, but time will tell if this is how it will all play out.

Taking your Pokemon for a Stroll

This is the feature that has grabbed my attention the most. I thought the idea sounded cute – take your Pokemon with you kind of like an old-school Tamagotchi, and ‘play’ with it now and then. But it’s more.

As you walk around, the Poke Ball Plus has a kind of inbuilt pedometer to keep track of your steps, and it counts how many times you play with your Pokemon. If your Pokemon is bored and calls out, all you have to do is hit the A button to play with it, and you are rewarded with a rainbow set of lights to show it worked.

Poke Ball Plus Stroll Results
This was Monday's effort. I scored 10,000 experience from doing this!

For someone like myself that usually gets to play in very short bursts, this was an amazing ability. All I need to do to help boost a new Pokemon or work on my better ones is essentially wear a new key ring. This is probably what I would call the most pay to win feature of the game, but man is it helping me so far.

As I mentioned in Last Week’s Gaming, I got a very base level Magikarp and walked around with the ball for a couple of days.

Nothing sustained or over the top, I think a shopping trip was the most steps in a single trip. But Friday night when I bought back my Pokemon from my Stroll, Magikarp evolved into Gyarados.

No grinding battles, no switching from the first Pokemon out to maximise XP, just keep the Poke Ball Plus on me, and my Pokemon has evolved.

Pokemon Lets Go 20181210
$500 Pokemon Dollars for a Magikarp, a couple of days walking around with the Poke Ball Plus and bam - instant Gyarados!

And what is the benefit of all this? In game XP. You don’t even have to be playing Let’s Go to strengthen your Pokemon – just walking around like you do every day. The more you move, the more you will be rewarded obviously, but especially early in the game any experience boost is a major advantage.

The process is fairly simple as well. On your Save screen, choose ‘Take your Pokemon for a Stroll’. This will start a screen asking you to connect your Poke Ball Plus – even if it was already connected, you have to do this again. Once synced, hit the A button and you will be given the choice of walking your Partner Pokemon (Eevee or Pikachu) or opening your Pokemon Box. Select the Pokemon you want to take for a Stroll, and after a bit of data transfer all is set!

Poke Ball Plus Prep for Stroll
It's hard to miss the Stroll choice as you will be saving Pokemon Let's Go often

Now you can only take one Pokemon for a stroll at a time – but I suspect that is per Poke Ball (as you have to connect the Poke Ball). Now I don’t think it would be worth buying multiple Poke Ball Plus to stroll your whole team, but I believe this may be possible. I will try this over the Holidays once Rabbit has gotten into playing, as I don’t want to do anything that may cost her a Mew.

To bring your Pokemon back, just do the same thing – the Switch detects that there is a Pokemon in your ball, and you get to bring it back. Here you will see the results of your Stroll and all that Experience – plus rewards like Candy for taking your Pokemon out! While not essential to the game, all of this is saving me so much time and giving me bonuses, I am surprised how much I have gotten into the Strolls.

Poke Ball Plus Return from Stroll
Returning is a little unintuitive, but that can be said for a few Poke Ball Plus options

Playing with Pokemon Go

Here is where things get a little more complicated, but not by too much. There are a couple of things to remember though. First, Pokemon Go must be running in the background on your phone. This will probably cause the most problems, as some phones will cut background apps silently. Secondly, you have to pair the Poke Ball Plus with your phone. While this seems obvious, you will also have to unpair your Poke Ball Plus from your phone if you want to play on your Switch. I would have preferred the disconnection to be automatic when joining back up with the Switch, but oh well.

To connect your Poke Ball Plus with Pokemon Go, first select the Poke Ball icon in Go, then select Settings from the top right menu. Scroll down until you see Poke Ball Plus, then select it. At the bottom of the screen, you will see Available Devices – it should be blank. Hit the B button to make Poke Ball Plus appear as an option.

But wait – it’s not over! From here, on the Pokemon Go screen, you will be able to see a dark Poke Ball symbol in the top right. Tap your A button on the Poke Ball Plus, then tap this icon. All going well, this will then pair with your Poke Ball Plus. I say all going well, because I haven’t gotten it to work yet! I haven’t gone too far into troubleshooting though, as until I find Go Park in Let’s Go I don’t really want to sync the two.

Poke Ball Plus Pokemon Go
The first part is easy, assuming you know to look at the bottom of the settings

Once it is all synced, as long as the game is running in the background and you have taken a Pokemon for a stroll, any Poke Stop you travel near will be automatically spun. If you see a green ring on your Poke Ball Plus, this means there are Pokemon near for you to catch. Hit B to throw a ball. If you are successful, you will see rainbow lights on your Pokeball. Well done! If your Poke Ball Plus starts to glow red, this means you don’t have space for any more Pokemon, and you will need to have a look at your phone to clear space or buy more space.

As I said, I haven’t been able to do this yet, so screenshots and images are a bit limited unfortunately, but hopefully soon I will be able to show how this works in more detail.

Some more undocumented tricks – Sound and Battery Levels

So a couple of days in I thought I broke my Poke Ball Plus. I could feel vibrations when I played with my Pokemon, but no sound. Turns out all I had managed to do was mute my Poke Ball Plus! If you hold the A and B buttons together for a second and then release, you will feel one vibration. This is letting you know the Poke Ball is now muted. Do it again, you will feel two vibrations and sound is restored.

Preferred playing mode – Handheld, Joy Con, or Poke Ball Plus?

This is a little tricky. I enjoy handheld mode for the most part, especially being able to use the touchscreen to play with my Eevee. But catching Pokemon is a lot fiddlier and you have to twist around more, which motions control improve easily.

What surprised me though is that the motion controls on the Poke Ball Plus are more sensitive than the Joy Con. Lack of buttons aside (more on that in a bit), the smaller Poke Ball Plus does seem to be the better controller of the two for Pokemon. Moving your character and button selecting is better with the Joycon, but picking up on the throwing of a Poke Ball or the finer control of feeding your Pokemon definitely feels better to me on the Poke Ball Plus.

My main gripe with the Poke Ball Plus, especially when docked, is the inability to put the Switch to sleep from the Poke Ball. You either have to have a Joy Con beside you to be able to hit the Home button or get up to hit the button on the docked Switch.

To check the battery level, the easiest way is when the Poke Ball Plus is off. Press and hold the A and B buttons for about 5-6 seconds, and you will feel a vibration and the ring will glow.

  • Green means your charge is good (>2/3)
  • Yellow means it’s OK (<2/3)
  • Red means low (<1/3)

Once you know the reading, just click A again to shut the Poke Ball Plus back down.  Simple when you know, but some instructions in the box would help!

Poke Ball Plus Battery Level Check
If the light is green, the trap is clean! Wait, wrong franchise...

You can check the Poke Ball plus on the Controllers screen in the Switch system menu, but the amount of mucking about makes this a bit of a pain in my opinion. You have to start Pokemon Let’s Go, go to the Home menu, select Controllers, and then you will see an oval-shaped controller – this is actually the Poke Ball Plus.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Poke Ball Plus

Final Thoughts

Cash grab?  If all you want is a Mew, yes.  Pay to win?  This is a little harder to answer.  Some of the features such as Auto Poke Stop spins in Pokemon Go and the Stroll in Pokemon Let’s Go definitely make your life easier.

I am happy I got mine, and if you were thinking of getting Pokemon Let’s Go I would recommend the bundle deal of game and Poke Ball Plus just for the immersion of playing on the couch.  That feeling and sound when you catch a Pokemon, gimmicky as it is, is undeniably satisfying to me still.

Bottom line though, the Poke Ball Plus is a $50-70 investment, which to be honest is another game.  If you have any doubts about the Poke Ball Plus, this is where you should spend your dollars.

Overall
7/10
7/10

Pros

  •  Finer motion controls than the Joy Con
  •  Comes with Mew
  •  Allows you to grow Pokemon as you walk around – great for ‘casuals’
  •  Allows you to play Pokemon Go without using your phone

Cons

  •  It’s AUD$70
  •  Advantages have a slight feel of pay to win, especially for ‘dedicated’ players
  •  No real manual on use outside of Let’s Go

Last Week’s Gaming – December 10th, 2018

Fireball Island 20181210

Welcome to Fireball Island, where there are no Men at Work

I can’t believe there are only 2 more Mondays until Christmas, and the second one is Christmas Eve!  Aaaargh!  So much running around to do, and that’s just for work!

But even with a Games Night down to see Iliza Shlesinger’s Elder Millennial (it’s on Netflix as well if you can’t get to go!), some great games still made it to the table.

Welcome To…

Played it before, and will play it again.  Welcome To is a fun Roll and Write, and in a few more games I will get to writing a full blown review.

A nice thing about games like Welcome To is that while the game is fairly simple in rules, you just get to concentrate on your own suburb during the game.  It doesn’t mean you play on your own though – you still get all the benefits of playing and socialising!

This was my second or third game (I have been slack updating BG Stats) and we were all around the same in terms of the number of games played, but we came out within five points of each other in the end.  Alpal even smashed her personal best score winning this round!

Welcome To 20181210
Our naming strategy seemed to follow a theme... Maybe that's why we were all so close? 101,102 and 106 - close game!

Men at Work

How to completely flip Jenga on its head!

Men at Work is the latest game from Pretzel Games, a company with a great mission.  Every game they make has to be playable while holding a Pretzel!

Building a skyscraper with supports, girders and workers with beams and bricks, nothing can go wrong with such expert engineers on the case!

Cause an ‘Accident’ (knock it over) and you lose a safety certificate.  Build it higher than anyone else, and become Worker of the Month!

It was fun, it was ridiculous, and it was everything you want a party dexterity game to be.  Again a review will be coming, but if you see it before the holidays nab a copy if you enjoy building things.

Men At Work 20181210
Salesman - "Stable as anything. This building will reach the moon!" Client - "But one of the workers is holding up the" Salesman "THE MOON!"

Fireball Island

It has arrived – Fireball Island.  The game Restoration Games said couldn’t be done, then said “Surprise!”

We only played the ‘base’ game – I went all in on the Kickstarter, and there are expansions to play around with, but later.

For the moment, Fireball Island was everything I expected it to be – essentially a silly Roll and Move game that is just fun to play.

It may be seen as childish, but knocking those marbles around the island and from Vul-Kar is just fun, and the game plays so quickly I can see many groups including families enjoying Fireball Island.

Fireball Island 20181210
See the sights, take happy snaps, and don't forget to explore! Oh, did you get hit by a lava ball? Have a free souvenir!

Pokemon Let’s Go – Eevee

So I had a pretty long week, and Saturday I basically flomped on the couch with my Switch and Pokemon Let’s Go.

I now have three gym badges under my belt, 28 Pokemon in my Pokedex, and the Poke Ball Plus has grown on me.  I still wish the Pro controller would connect to Pokemon Let’s Go, but the Poke Ball Plus has shown me some more moves, plus let me get three Pokemon to Level 30+ without playing – my Magikarp even evolved into Gyarados with 0 game time!

As such, tomorrow’s review will also be a little different – a review on the Poke Ball Plus controller – check it out tomorrow.

Pokemon Lets Go 20181210
$500 Pokemon Dollars for a Magikarp, a couple of days walking around with the Poke Ball Plus and bam - instant Gyarados!

What about you?  What have you been up to?  Have you had time to play, or are you flat out in the Holiday lead up as well?  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – December 3rd, 2018

20181203 Banner

Tales of Scarabya Downforce of the Island – but no Yoshi!

Another busy week, but I managed to once again get in more game time than I originally thought!

It’s fun on a Monday morning to look at my BGG Stats app and see what I played.  Once in a while I even win 🙂

Mythos Tales

Second case in on Mythos Tales, and a few things are falling into place so much better.

I still feel Harls and I are in the ‘tutorial’ phase of the game, beginning to add in items found and other conditions to the gameplay.

Compared to my first experiences with Mythos Tales (which I will either Blather on about or do in a review, or both!) this is shaping up to be a really fun time.

Hopefully I can get in another game this week, next week at the worst.

Mythos Tales 20181203
Case 2 sorted, and in style! Remember though, always drink responsibly when pretending to be a detective

Scarabya

Scarabya is an interesting game.  Everyone has the same board layout, and the same Tetris type shapes to fit onto that board.  But you don’t want to fill it, you want to ‘trap’ Scarabs in areas of no more than 4 squares to maximise your score.

Scoring sounds weird, but is very simple – the number of scarabs x number of squares (up to 4) is your score.  So if you have 2 scarabs in a 3×1 row, your score will be 2×3=6.

It’s like a tactile roll and write – everyone has the same chances, it’s purely up to your skill and luck to maximise your score.  I can see myself getting a copy of this in the near future.

20181203 Scarabya
Almost a Roll and Write - everyone has the same board, the same pieces, and the same goals. It's only your choices that decides how well you do.

Downforce – Mario Kart Fan Rules

So before you get too excited – this is not an official game.  You need to have Downforce and Monopoly Gamer: Mario Kart in order to play it.

But if you have those (or stuff to use instead of Monopoly Gamer), then a quick look on Board Game Geek will show you these rules.

Now I was simultaneously in the wrong frame of mind to play, but that was also the perfect time to play.  You see I have been working to finish stuff for my job by the end of November, and the toll had started to show.  I couldn’t focus on reading the new rules, but I knew Downforce and most of the game was the same.

20181203 Downforce Mario Kart
It's Downforce, but with Mario Kart! And just like Mario Kart, be careful if you are in the lead!

So even though I probably annoyed Harls and Alpal asking the same question multiple times, the core Downforce gameplay was intact and fine.  That’s one of the reasons I love that game – here was a night I proved I could play on autopilot!

Almost all of the rules are clarified well, and the ‘Current Position’ rule we ended up deciding on the same rules having missed it in the text.  Translating Directly is my only question – is it in the same corridor of positions, does around corners count, that kind of thing.

But the game was Downforce brilliance, coupled with Mario Kart’s amusing unfairness – definitely recommend a game if you have the ability!

Treasure Island

Now this was a little surprise when I first heard about it on Shut Up & Sit Down.

Treasure Island is a one vs many hidden movement(ish) game where one player plays Long John Silver, and has buried a treasure on the Island.  The other players are searching the island as Silver is feeding them clues to the treasure, but also biding time to escape from jail and get it back himself.

Straight up, not the greatest rule book and I will say interesting colour choices for the markers.  But the fun of exploring the board and marking your progress and searches is great, and a few more games will bring a review with it.

20181203 Treasure Island
Cartography will become a skill by the end of this game! My only issue is really how busy the map actually is

Pokemon Let’s Go – Eevee

Octopath Traveler is still sitting to one side, and I will probably be jumping back in this weekend all going well.

This week, the little time I got to put back into Pokemon Let’s Go was well spent.  I have beaten the first gym leader, and am starting to make my way to the next town.

I put Mew in my Pokeball this week, and again with what I consider minimal effort Mew is now sitting on level 25.  The Poke Ball Plus is a great way to ramp up an individual Pokemon, but it’s starting to feel a little pay to win though.  But pay I have, and I now have a Magikarp sitting in my ball 🙂

20181203 Pokemon Lets Go
I know my progress has been slow compared to most, but this is a game I can pick up and put down without guilt. It's so much fun!

I will need to get to Pokemon Park (about 3/4 of the way through the game apparently) before I can try mixing Pokemon Go and Pokemon Let’s Go, but I will try when I can.

Bottom line though, Pokemon Let’s Go is a great relaxing adventure that I can see myself finishing relatively soon – OK probably over the holiday break, but for my play times that’s quickly!

20181203 Team Rocket
Old favourites are up to their usual shenanigans 🙂

What about you?  What have you been playing?  Let me know on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Games – 26th November 2018

Welcome To 20181126

Welcome to the Desolate Penny Papers

Hi everyone!

Work is starting to ramp back up for a couple of weeks, so gaming time took a hit again, unfortunately.  That said, I had a great time playing the games I could get around to playing, especially checking out some of Alpal’s latest Roll and Write haul!

Penny Papers Adventures – The Temple of Apikhabou

Started the weeks gaming off with a fun little Roll and Write game of Alpal’s called Penny Papers Adventures – The Temple of Apikhabou.

Now Roll and Write’s are exactly what they sound like – Roll a die (usually, sometimes cards, sometimes draw from a bag) and write the result down on a special sheet.  There is usually a scoring mechanic such as most grouped together of a certain value, and the highest score wins.

This game was no exception and was a new experience for a couple of players as well.  There was a bit of ‘take that’ as when a mummy is rolled, you get to place a potential negative points marker in opponents grids.

Penny Papers The Temple of Apikhabou 20181126
All you need is a pen and the piece of paper. The rest of the stuff is because we didn't clear the table properly :p

This was a fun and quick little game that is also the start of a series, so if Alpal is willing there may be more games for a formal review coming in the future!

Welcome To…

A slightly different Roll and Write in that Welcome To is played with a deck of cards instead of dice, but the mechanics holds up very well.

Welcome To is a lot more thematic than most of the Roll and Writes I have played.  Here everyone is trying to build their ‘perfect’ suburb hence the Welcome To – your first job is to name your little area!

Then there are goals to meet such as making a certain number of estates containing certain numbers of houses.  House placement is fairly simple, you can place a house number anywhere in a street, as long the numbers are in ascending order.

Welcome To 20181126 Board Setup
Three house numbers, and three building abilities - everyone picks a house number and writes it on their sheet, and uses the power next to it if they wish. Simple!

You pick house numbers from three cards in the middle, and next to the house number are building ‘powers’ such as pools, fences and roadworks.

We played Alpal’s copy but I have a copy sitting on the table waiting for me – I thought I would be playing it more solo than in a group, but that idea has gone right out the window!

Welcome To 20181126
A Roll and Write with cards, Welcome To... is surprisingly stressful to play - but in a good way!

Desolate

The fun single player I haven’t played in a while, I saw the box and decided on a couple of games as I was over screens for a while.

Desolate is still a lot of fun and a great challenge as I wrote in my review, and once I clear some games over the holidays I will probably look at ordering the expansions.

After a hard week and just looking at some much-needed downtime, a couple of rounds of Desolate was perfect for me.  Not too long, not overly fiddly, and I could get up and come back to it easily.

Desolate Conflict
Combat is interesting in Desolate. Spend your resources to roll more die, or try and conserve ammo and potentially take a beating,

It’s just a pity I forgot to take a new pic, but oh well – as I said it had been a hard week!

Beat Saber

Well if you follow me at all, you knew this would be here.

Earlier this year I reviewed the ‘early access‘ version of Beat Saber on the HTC Vive, and tomorrow you will get to read all of my thoughts on the PSVR version.

This review will probably blend into a comparison of experiences with the PC version, as this week (fingers crossed) PC users will get all the new features the PlayStation got day one.

Beat Saber Note Coming
The Tutorial View. There are times you wish for the stream of nothing once you get into the game...

Short version though – it’s somehow more fun now, it’s amazing on PS4, and this is a game that sets the newbie VR bar so high other games will seem like a let down!

Pokemon Let’s Go

So I played very little Pokemon or Switch this week – this week and next week are going to hit me hard.

You may have seen on Facebook my little driving misadventure with the Poke Ball Plus.  Short version – it’s like an old-school Tamagotchi where your Pokemon tries to get you to play with it.

This is fine and fun and all, but it scared the hell out of my rattling away while driving down the freeway!

Poke Ball Plus
The interesting motion control and instant way to capture Mew, the Poke Ball Plus is growing on me - but not in game!

Anyway this weekend I got to pull my Eevee back from the stroll and went up about 14 levels.  From barely paying attention to it.  So gameplay wise – honestly, not overly impressed.  But to get Mew and ramp up your Pokemon when you can’t play?  The Poke Ball Plus is amazing!

What about you?  What did you get to play this weekend?

Let me know on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Last Week’s Gaming – November 19th, 2018

Pokemon Lets Go Eevee is Happy 20181119

When I hear Tales of Explosion Criss Cross, put down the Bones and have a Tea Party is my motto.

So many games played this week – and more to come!

Aetherworks has sent notifications that Kickstarter games are coming, including Fireball Island and Tokyo Series!

In the meantime though, no time was wasted in trying quite a few new games.

Dagon’s Bones

Showed Harls how to play this little kit and he had the same opinion I do – great for more than two players, and a fun little filler game.

Personally, I wouldn’t play more than four players still – but I need to put that to the test.  The limit comes only from downtime between rolls.  Each player only really having one roll means limited downtime, but it’s still a factor.

This little Kickstarter surprise has a home in my games bag all the time now, mainly because it is so small and simple it fits in a pocket nicely.

Dagons Bones Gameplay
Dagon's Bones - 3 dice and some coins. There really isn't much action to show, but it's an interesting premise

Mythos Tales

Another game I was showing Harls, this Consulting Detective style game has been on my ‘to play’ list for a while.

A couple of years ago, I backed the Mythos Tales Kickstarter and had a not great experience.  I then imported a retail copy and was disappointed with misprints and errors in the run, and I never finished the series.

A few weeks ago I bought the reprinted version with the corrections and replayed the first case.  The short version – we enjoyed it, and Harls was keen to play the second case immediately.  I was tired so pulled the plug, but more games will happen soon so that I can do a formal review soon.

Mythos Tales 20181119
Mythos Tales - A map, a book, a directory, and some newspapers. And the reprint made case one a great time.

When I Dream

Oh, this was a surprise hit.

I had heard about When I dream a while ago, and I was excited when Alpal got a copy.

Essentially it’s a word based social deduction game.  One player is blindfolded and the other players have to provide clues for a word shown in the middle of the table.

The catch is Fairies want the ‘Dreamer’ to get the words right, the Boogeyman wants them to get it wrong, and the Sandman wants an even split.  The Dreamer has to work out from the clues who is who and guess appropriately – based only on words provided.  Another one for a full review after some more games!

When I Dream 20181119
It doesn't look like much, but I guarantee when you have people playing attention will be given to your table.

Potion Explosion

So Potion Explosion is an App I play fairly often, but I passed on the board game.  I had a lot of trouble discerning the colours of the marbles, so the app made my life a lot easier.

This week though I got play with a reprint copy, and my much has changed.  The colours are easier to distinguish, and the cardboard quality is definitely better.

And I enjoy this game.  It is a brain scratcher with a simple veneer, and the pattern recognition and logic puzzle nature of the game is very enjoyable.

A full review and a Ramblings comparison of the Board and App versions are coming soon!

Potion Explosion 20181119
A lot of pieces are involved, but Potion Explosion is an addictive puzzle game of the highest calibre.

Dinosaur Tea Party

Do you remember Guess Who? The two-player deduction game where you ask the other player questions like ‘are you wearing a hat?’ to deduce their identity.

Restoration Games seems to, and they have made a multiplayer version where players are Dinosaurs at a Tea Party, trying to guess each other’s identities.

This was really cleverly done.  Each character is beautifully drawn, but for colour issues or clues that can be missed, each character has the relevant clues on each card for easy reference.  It’s also completely open information – your answers are put in front of you in the form of tea bags.

A couple more games at different player counts to make sure, but I think this will be another Restoration Games winning review I believe!

Dinosaur Tea Party 20181119
Essentially this is your 'Guess Who' board. Dinosaur Tea Party is quick, fun and I can see expansions coming.

Criss Cross

There seems to be no way I can keep up with Dr Reiner Knizia’s released games.  Criss Cross is another Alpal special, and one that is so simple it’s annoying that you don’t just beat it the first time.

The idea is simple – roll two dice that have half a dozen different shapes, and fill in a Sudoku or Magic Square style grid with the values.  You get points for the horizontal and vertical lines with grouped matching shapes and lose points if the lines do not have any matching shapes.  The diagonal is counted twice.

It sounds easy, but you also have to write the shapes next to each other.  Alpal absolutely blitzed me in the game, but it was a lot of fun and one I can see myself playing solo just to try and beat my score.

Criss Cross Alpal Whooped Me 20181119
It's not much too look at, but Criss Cross will be an addictive puzzle to solve. And Alpal WHOOPED me!

Spyro Reginited Trilogy – Spyro the Dragon

Even though I was a PlayStation player, Spyro the Dragon was a game I never played.

It wasn’t because it was ‘childish’ – Jak and Daxter were right up there for example.  It just never squeezed in between the Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid marathons, and when the sequels came out I just never went there.

With the buzz and excitement over the Spyro Reginited trilogy, I decided to give it a go – and wow.  The platforming is what I remember of ‘old school’ PlayStation 3D games, but so much smoother and control wise much more forgiving.

The platforming is not forgiving at all though.  Missed by a pixel?  Try again!

Spyro Reignited Trilogy Thor 20181119
The developers obviously had a ball making this game. You even get to rescue Thor! An old, rambling Thor, but still...

It was fun to explore, and easy enough to get a hold of without the handholding tutorials I am used to with today’s games.

There have been updates such as the rescued dragons are now unique in look and the advice they give you, and these are very much appreciated.

The gorgeous stills you will see do Spyro an injustice though – the animation and world are better when you play.  The little touches like grass parting as you charge about and the expressions on the enemies are amazing.

From a ‘this will be a quick bit of fun’ game to probably ‘clear an area a night’ affair, Spyro is the light but challenging game I have missed playing lately.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy Progress 20181119
I am only a bit over an hour in, but I seem to be making good progress. This is basically the tutorial world though, and I am looking forward to more to come!

Starlink

This is a game I started and then about 30 minutes in decided to put away.

I didn’t put it away because I wasn’t enjoying Starlink – I decided to put this in the ‘I need to give this dedicated time’ group of games.

I thought Starlink was a “Go to Area X and kill all the bad guys” challenging but mentally relaxing shooter.  The opening tutorial type engagement certainly looked like this was the case.

But then it turned into an open world sandbox adventure game with plenty to see, explore and unlock.  I was discovering new species, collecting items and found a way into a ‘secret’ area – all from 10 minutes in.

Starlink Main Game Begins 20181119
I expected a cute generic wave shooter with a toy gimmick with the ships and weapons. What I started deserves my full attention.

The way Nintendo has integrated Fox McCloud and the Arwing was quite cool as well.  Obviously, I haven’t seen how fully the story integrates, but an extra ‘makes sense’ cutscene meant that the Starfox team felt natural to be there.

I can see why people are playing this on the Switch, and I am glad that I have followed suit.  More of this will be played, but probably later.

Pokemon Let’s Go – Eevee

*This has been edited as originally it was showing only placeholder text.  Ooops!  Thanks to everyone that pointed that out 😀

Well, last Friday was the day – Pokemon Let’s Go is now real 🙂

I have been playing Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee, and Rabbit has Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu on the new Pokemon Switch.  We played for a while single player in the same room and had fun comparing the little differences in the game.

Now I am not a hardcore Pokemon fan, and the lighter mechanics in Let’s Go seems to fit into that pickup and put down category nicely.  The controls in handheld mode are great, and the graphics are gorgeous.

Pokemon Lets Go Eevee is Happy 20181119
Eevee is happily sititng on my head as a walk around Professor Oak's office

I will say though I don’t like playing with the Poke Ball Plus under normal conditions.  For some things like it’s amazing – it took two throws to get used to catching pokemon, and then I was nailing excellent each time.

The problem is the Poke Ball Plus only has 2 buttons, but the game expects you to use at least 4.  For 95{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of what you are doing the two buttons (OK and Back) is fine, but having to shake and hope that the game knew I wanted to use the Y for info not the + for menus was frustrating.  When I don’t have to get so much extra info though, it might be more fun!

Also, I am taking the Poke Ball and my Eevee Rabbit for a ‘stroll’ while at work tomorrow, so expect some news on how I found that!

And there are more coming!

So many games played this week – and it’s not slowing down for a while!

What about you?  What have you been playing lately – any of these, or other games you think I should be keeping an eye out for?  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Pokemon Let’s Go is real, Pokemon Quest is out now, and more in 2019!

Pokemon Lets Go Feature

So Nintendo just did more than a mic drop

So the other day Nintendo dropped a ton of information on the official Pokemon Twitter account.  Five Pokemon games (or three depending on how you count), one out immediately, two in November, and two more next year.

Considering how excited Nintendo and Pokemon fans were for these games, the timing is strange.  Dropping this information so far before the E3 Nintendo Direct has me both terrified and excited at what is being announced!

Pokemon Quest

So what a lot of people are excited about and honestly what I should probably be focusing on is the available right now Pokemon Quest.

I will try and give it a go on the weekend, but honestly, I think I will wait until the phone version comes out next month.

It just looks like one of that ‘wait to play’ type freemium phone games, so it’s not really on my radar.

It is a free to play, so if you have a Switch grab it and let me know what you think!

Pokemon Quest
Not a 'main' game, but could be a fun diversion. It's free, so I am guessing micro transaction heavy?

The new ‘core’ RPG coming in 2019

Not much information here.  Basically, Nintendo said “Hey, you know that RPG game you were waiting for?  Well, Let’s Go isn’t it.  But it is coming.”

That’s what they basically said.  What they actually said is:

Pokemon Let’s Go

So here is the game I am excited about that is coming out this year – Pokemon Let’s Go.  Obviously, there have been massive graphical overhauls from the DS games, but this is more than a pretty version of an old classic.

Pokemon Let’s Go seems to be ‘Pokemon Lite’.  Don’t let the kiddie veneer of Pokemon fool you, there is a heap of mechanics for new players to try and assimilate all at once.  Think of trying to learn Magic: The Gathering level of information.  This is a daunting proposition under any circumstance.

And a lot – and I mean a lot – of new players picked up and enjoyed Pokemon Go.  How do you convince those new players to try the ‘core’ Pokemon games?

By bringing out a halfway between Go and the core RPG’s – Pokemon Let’s Go!

Like the main core Pokemon games, Let’s Go comes in two versions: Pikachu and Eevee editions.  Gameplay is the same for both games, but your starting Pokemon is determined by the edition.

So Pokemon Let’s Go is in a weird position, especially for a company like Nintendo.  Let’s Go is essentially a remaster of Pokemon Yellow, which came out on the GameBoy 20 years ago.

But it’s far from a straight remaster – while the game and story may be based heavily on a known property, Nintendo has taken this opportunity to really branch out and create a unique experience.

New game mechanics, controls, integration with Pokemon Go, and integration with the Pokeball Plus – this is going to be a very interesting experience.

Pokemon Lets Go
Rabbit is getting Pikachu, so I will be getting Eevee

If you haven’t seen the reveal trailer already, you can catch up below.

No more Random Battles

All RPG players, especially JRPG players, know ‘The Grind’.  Random battles to help you level up your character, one experience point at a time.

The Grind has always been a part of Pokemon, but there has also been another layer.  The motto of Pokemon is ‘Gotta Catch ‘Em All!’, and players have always explored the world around them in an attempt to do this.

But because you battle with a random (to an extent) Pokemon, you can wait a long time to catch the Pokemon you are trying to catch!  In Let’s Go, you can now see the Pokemon around you, letting you know which ones you want to try and catch, and which ones you can just skip by.

Pokemon Lets Go Explore Encounters
Like Final Fantasy now, you can 'see' who is around to fight rather than hoping to find the Pokemon you are looking for

It’s not clear if you still battle wild Pokemon to level up your Pokemon and make it easier to catch them.  Opinions seem divided on this from the trailer, but if you think of Let’s Go as a gateway to the core RPG games, it kind of makes sense.

Wild encounters seem to launch straight into a Pokemon Go style capture screen, but it is possible this screen can be directly after a battle.  The screens do show Pokemon with level values, so there must be a way to gain experience.

Time will tell for sure of course, but I am already looking forward to seeing what is around me.

Pokemon Lets Go Psyduck Encounter
From the trailer, you can see attempts at capturing Pokemon is almost identical to Pokemon Go

Cooperative Play

So in Pokemon Go, you can ‘team up’ with friends and do raids and the like.  You can walk around and play with your friends, but I never got the real feeling of ‘playing’ with my friends.

Pokemon Let’s Go is on the Switch, so technically you can walk around and play with your friends in handheld mode, but that seems to be against what Nintendo is pushing with the ‘one joy con’ push.

But you know what it does let you do on the console?  Use the second Joy Con to play with your friend!  Two players on the screen exploring, battling, and even catching Pokemon!

No idea how you ‘share’ a cooperatively captured Pokemon, but hey it will be fun waiting to find out.

Pokemon Lets Go Cooperative.jpg
Let's Do This!

New ways to capture Pokemon – sort of?

In Pokemon Go, instead of selecting the ‘Throw’ command, you flick the ball at your target on your phone.  Sure, the Switch has a touch screen, but how does that work on the couch?

You know what else the Switch has?  Motion sensing Joy Cons.  Make the throwing action with the Joy Con, and watch the ball travel towards your intended catch!

Just remember the Wii, OK?

Pokemon Lets Go Catching Pokemon
If the Wii taught us anything, it's use the wrist straps. Do not throw the Joy Con at the screen!

Pokeball Plus

OK, so technically not Let’s Go, the new controller works with both Pokemon Let’s Go and Pokemon Go.  But it’s also more than that.

Remember the Pokemon Go Plus?  I regretted not buying one in the end.  While I don’t know how much I would have tried to catch Pokemon with it, not having the Pokemon Go app open for steps and notification when you are near a Poke Stop or there are Pokemon around would be very useful.

Well, the Pokeball Plus does this as well!  So you can carry around your Pokeball Plus controller and get benefits for Pokemon Go even with the app off, as long as the ball is paired with your phone.

And during Let’s Go?  Why ‘throw’ a Joy Con at the screen, when you can throw a Pokeball?

The diagram shows one button, but the video seems to show people ‘pressing’ the controller, so I am guessing it’s a two button controller.  You couldn’t use it as a universal Joy Con replacement, but for Pokemon games it does help with the immersion!

Pokeball Plus
Pokeball Plus - it's like the Pokemon Go Plus crossed with a Joy Con

Take your Pokemon with you in the Pokeball Plus

The last feature of the Pokeball Plus seems to be essentially granting every Poke Trainers dream true.  You can actually carry your Pokemon around with you!

Like the old school Tamagotchis, your Pokemon can be transferred to your Pokeball and carried around with you.

This apparently ‘strengthens your bond’, but the exact mechanics are a little up in the air at this time.

While this seems fun, for me I don’t really have time at work to pull out a ‘neglected and/or bored’ Pokemon and look after it, but the idea certainly appeals.  For a certain type of audience, I can see this feature being the only reason some people would play Pokemon Let’s Go at all!

Pokemon Lets Go Pokestroll.jpg
I don't know if I have time for a virtual pet, but the idea is a winner for Pokemon fans

Switch Pokemon between Go and Let’s Go

So this one seems to be causing a little bit of a stir amongst certain players, but being able to transfer Pokemon you caught between games seems like a great idea to me!

The video shows that Pokemon transferred to the Switch go to Go Park, so maybe it’s a sandbox area where you can play with your Pokemon in ways you can’t on your phone.

Pokemon Lets Go Switch Pokemon
Switch (puns!) your Pokemon between Go and Let's Go

You can dress your Pokemon

So I am not one of the people that thinks you should dress up your pets for fun.  There are a lot of people in this world that disagree with me though.

During the game, your Pokemon sits on your hand or rides on your back, showing the closeness of your relationship.  But Pikachu looks like everyone else’s Pikachu, until now.

In Pokemon Let’s Go, you can customise your Pokemon and really show the world your specific Pokemon!

Pokemon Lets Go Dressups
Yes, Eevee looks cute here. I just can't see myself dressing mine up.

And all the rest?

I am really hoping that trading and battling your friends takes front stage in Pokemon Let’s Go.  While not critical, if you watch the anime at all you know how battling especially is such an important part of the world.

I am sure there will be new features announced and clarifications made over the next six months until the release of Let’s Go.

Until then, I will just keep an ear out on what is happening.  One thing is for sure, November 16th will answer all questions!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Oh, one more thing…

Pokemon Lets Go Special Surprise.jpg
What will the special treat Pokemon be?

Even though Let’s Go is not a ‘core’ Pokemon game, there will be one new Pokemon included.  There will be a lot of speculation on this Pokemon will be over the next few months, so this could be interesting to watch.