Last Week’s Gaming – December 2nd, 2019

So you know how life loves to throw challenges your way?

Not much gaming this week. And not ‘Hey wow I tried 7 games I forgot about’ not much.

Lots of things happening at the Den of Delightful Diversions. I will update everyone to that on Wednesday, alongside this weeks Yeti hunt. But until then, the gaming I did get in is awaiting some attention!

Oooh I have been waiting to play this one, and thanks to an Alpal purchase I finally got the chance!

Villainous is hard to explain quickly, but it is a heap of fun. It’s like a really, really streamlined Magic the Gathering/Netrunner style card game. You have your hand, your opponents have theirs, and you largely play your own game.

You can play cards against other players, but you play special cards from that character, so the Genie doesn’t mess with Captain Hook for example.

Hoping to do a formal review on this early next year, but for the holidays if you get the chance play Villainous for yourself – you will be glad you did. Also, having Hades and Scar in two different expansions is just mean :p

Each character plays in a unique way, with a simplicity of game flow I wasn't expecting.

Pokemon Shield (Switch)

Yep, I am still chipping away at the latest Pokemon outing.

I have now collected four gym badges, but I am thinking that I will give the challenge a rest for a little while. Instead, I am going to focus on Poke Jobs and filling out my Pokedex for a little while.

New jobs have opened up that give you more than XP (but that as well!). Now I think I might just have to think about building up a couple of tailored teams, rather than just power leveling various Pokemon as I usually do.

I am four badges in now, but I think I will stop the gym challenge for a little while

I only got to play a little bit this week, but I think the final push will be a pretty long one. Which is unfortunate, because I think if I don’t finish Terminator: Resistance this week I don’t think I will anytime soon.

Not becuase it’s a bad game, I am really enjoying it. At the moment I know I am about to be really busy again, and that will cut into my time. It’s like when you have to stop watching a series for a couple of weeks – you will pick it back up immediately, or it will be a long time later.

Oh, and I really wish network security was just playing Frogger. It would make my life so much easier ūüėÄ

Get your dot from one side to the other. There is even a checkpoint in the middle. Hacking of the future!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

A big week of reveals, and another one coming! E3 2019 times and more

Wow it’s been a week.¬† And next week is going to be bigger!

End of financial year is a hard time work wise on a lot of people, including myself.  Last thing I remember it was Tuesday and I was trying to get out early, then finish at a reasonable time, then working until way too late at home.

Now it’s Friday morning, I am semi-recharged after a night of finishing Good Omens and rest, and I am looking at all the announcements over the week I need to actually look up.

Wow.

So today is a very quick ‘Wow’ wrap up of what I have been looking at and what I want to look into over the next week or so!

Pokemon Sword and Shield

Looking at the first ‘real’ Pokemon game for the Switch, the Pokemon Direct a couple of days ago certainly revealed a lot of exciting looking info.¬† Not the least being the release date – November 15th!

Dynamax looks like a great mechanic, and when I first saw the affected Gyrados I immediately thought “Pokemon Kaiju!!”

Catch the entire 15 minute direct here (don’t forget to click the ‘YouTube’ link if you want to go to the main YouTube page!)

Google Stadia

So I still have a lot to take in with the Stadia stream, as I haven’t got a chance to look at a whole bunch of it in detail yet, but there is a lot of promise.

Nothing for Australia yet, but I am really happy to see Australia (and Brisbane!) on the server map – not something I was expecting!

The pricing also has me very happy. Yes, it’s more expensive than Game Pass, but you need almost no new hardware to play with it! Games wise, there isn’t anything exclusive yet that has me drooling, but there are 2 new reveals that have caught my interest…

Nothing for Australia yet, but that pricing is very attractive

Destiny 2

So Bungie is free of the Activision publisher agreement, and we are starting to see some big changes coming.

Firstly, as they are no longer involved with Activision Blizzards, Destiny 2 on PC is moving from Battle.net to Steam. I would put a joke about the Epic Store coming in and stealing it as an exclusive, but that’s another thing entirely.

It’s also coming to Google Stadia. Going for the Fortnite play anywhere approach Bungie?

Secondly, the next expansion ‘ShadowKeep’ is completely standalone – no previous purchases required to play! This certainly makes the price of entry a lot easier on new players. Shadowkeep is dropping September 17th.

And finally, the most interesting news to me overall Рthere is going to be a free version of Destiny 2.  Called New Light, at the moment it looks like it will be a free version of the base game and all Year 1 DLC and items associated with it.

As a try-before-you-buy tactic, this is definitely a much better idea in my opinion than the free base game that came out last year. Yes, it gave you a small idea of Destiny, but for a game that is designed to evolve over time it was the worst version of Destiny 2.¬† Not sure when this is coming out, but I think it’s a great idea overall.

Baldurs Gate 3

As a long-time computer RPG player, the Baldur’s Gate series has a special place in my heart.

The new Enhanced Editions are fine to play, but they do show how far the technology has really come over the years.

That said, they also prove the old adage “Good gameplay trumps good graphics 9 times out of 10!”

So during the Stadia presentation, one of the game revealed was indeed Baldur’s Gate 3.¬† It is being developed by Larian Studios, the same people behind the Divinty: Original Sin series.

Short version – yay it’s coming to PC and Stadia! And the reveal intro looks AMAZING.

I will just let it speak for itself.

E3 2019 Starts Monday (Australian Time, anyway)

That’s right – one of the biggest events for video games is starting – and already has in a lot of ways!

But the ‘formal’ show starts Monday 6am for East Coast Australians, so there will be another week of spotty ‘Oooh!’ and ‘Aaaah!’ reports coming ūüôā

Times for the shows in Australian Eastern Standard Time are below:

Monday, June 10
Microsoft 6:00 AM
Bethesda 10:30 AM
Devolver Digital 12:00 PM
Tuesday, June 11
Ubisoft 6:00 AM
Square Enix 11:00 AM
Wednesday, June 12
Nintendo 2:00 AM

There are a lot of side events and simultaneous happenings as well, but these are the main reveals.  I wonder how much more is happening inside E3?

Until next time,

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 Рkids 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 ūüôā

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

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 ūüôā

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

How long can Pokemon Go keep me coming back to it?

Pokemon Go Feature

And once again, I fire up an old game and wonder ‘when did that happen?’

Pokemon Go.¬† To say it was a phenomenon back in 2016 when it first launched would be an understatement.¬† Even if you weren’t interested in Pokemon, everyone in the world heard about it.

I was one of those people.¬† Pokemon was a thing I knew of, but apart from playing Yellow on the Game Boy hadn’t had much interest in.¬† But as I needed to start walking again, a game that had you walking around and finding things was a well-timed incentive boost.

Then things changed.¬† A lot of people voiced ‘lack of things to do’ and just stopped playing.¬† Myself, I stopped having to walk so much, so it was an app on my phone that I fired up now and then.¬† I would catch a Pokemon or spin a Pokestop, and shut it down for another few months.

A few weeks ago I found out about tasks that are assigned to players.¬† Completing such tasks gets you rewards and items.¬† Completing all of them gives you a chance to find some really rare Pokemon.¬† I am starting to buckle down and go hunting for Mew ūüôā

I even got to catch a legendary Articuno!¬† Honestly, I don’t know what that means really.¬† I have another Pokemon is all I know, but a lot of people were really excited about these legendary Pokemon being added to the game.

But it’s not just special Pokemon that are being added.¬† Pokemon from different generations and even areas have been slowly added to the roster.¬† Again, as a player that doesn’t even rate themselves a casual, this meant little to me.¬† I was just happy when I saw some Pokemon from Sun and Moon ūüôā

Pokemon Go Articuno
I apparently caught my team's Mascot. All I know is I need to walk him a huge amount for some candy.

There has also been new mechanics added.¬† The friend system is now helping trainers trade their Pokemon.¬† This is something I never understood why it was missing in the first place.¬† One of the selling points of the original Game BOy Pokemon RPGs was the link cable and trading – it’s how you got your ‘missing’ Pokemon, those not in your version of the game.¬† But hey it’s here now.¬† And it’s my next target on what to look at…

Trading can lead to a type of Pokemon called Lucky.  These Pokemon take less Stardust to train than normal, and apparently the longer it has been in a trainers storage, the higher the chance it will be a Lucky Pokemon.  As I am pretty sure I have some day 1 Pokemon, they may be a likely trade candidate for some of my friends.

The other thing that has been in Pokemon forever are Shiny Pokemon.¬† I heard about them, but that was it.¬† Shinies are rare differently coloured Pokemon with a ridiculously low chance of finding any.¬† Well, so I found out after I asked a friend heavily into Pokemon Go what all the stars were about…

Pokemon Go Shiny Wailmer
I have a Shiny Wailmer! No idea how or why, but its mine ūüėÄ

I don’t see myself collecting Shinies (or trying to really), but the trainer trials I want to keep doing now.¬† So I can see myself playing Pokemon Go at least 5 days a week, with a bit of a stroll at lunch to get away from the computer.¬† This won’t help with my 7-day collector bonuses, but hey you can’t have everything.

And all of this renewed interest is before the November release of Pokemon Let’s Go and the integration betwen the two games.¬† And the Pokeball Plus controller that lets you play both.¬† The idea of walking without having to constantly look at my phone has a lot of appeal¬†to me.

So somehow, without noticing it, a two-year-old free mobile game has bought me back to playing it.¬† That is something a lot of ‘proper’ games have yet to accomplish.

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.

Playing Pokemon Go again, Day 1 I get an Alolan Exeggutor

Pokemon Go Feature

Well this just looks silly.¬† I like it ūüėÄ

I don’t pretend to be a Pokemon master.¬† I enjoyed Pokemon Yellow back in the day, then Pokemon Moon.¬† I still haven’t finished Pokemon Ultra Sun.¬† Recently I have been catching up on the anime, which overall I have been enjoying.

Then there is Pokemon Go.¬† Like a lot of people, I jumped in last year and had a fun diversion, then let it die away.¬† It has recently gotten my attention again, as there is apparently a way to catch a Mew, and possibly a Mewtwo apparently.¬† Actual ‘goals’ have been added, and that has me at least willing to look at it again.

Now when I play, I tend to do it in the same areas.  This does limit the amount of different Pokemon I can catch, but that is simply how it is.

One Pokemon I was lucky to catch one PAX Aus was the Exeguttor.  Now, Pokemon masters will be able to tell you all sorts of different fun facts about this Pokemon.

Me – you evolve it from a group of eggs, and I think that is hilarious.¬† It’s just one of those small things that make me laugh.¬† No real reason to love it, apart from it tickles my funny bone.

Pokemon Go Exeggutor
Yep - this guy is the evolved form of a six pack of eggs

Well, because I hadn’t been on Pokemon Go for a fair while, I had a LOT of news to read.¬† Well, I say read – hit close as fast as possible would be a truer description.

One of the bits of news I flicked past is that Alola Pokemon have now made it into the game.¬† In the back of my mind, all I could hear was “Well there is another huge bunch Pokemon I won’t get”.

Turns out I was wrong!¬† The very first Pokemon that appeared for me when I was waiting for a work lunch was…

The Alolan Exeggutor!

The two are very similar, except the Alolan¬†Exeggutor is Grass/Dragon vs the ‘normal’ Grass/Psychic Exeggutor.

Plus, it’s a palm tree.¬† This thing is no so big it doesn’t fit on your screen!

Pokemon Go Alolan Exeggutor
How do you make a ridiculous idea more fun? TURN IT INTO A PALM TREE!

This is all a part of the promotion for the recently announced Pokemon Lets Go for the Nintendo Switch, but it was just what I needed to see this afternoon to put a smile on my face.

Do you have silly gaming things that put a smile on your face?  Let me know in the comments or on the Facebook page!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD