Pokemon Omega Ruby: The Delcatty solo run

So, I'm back to ORAS again, after ditching my Delcatty solo run one year ago. The reason for that most unexpected comeback is pretty simple: I recently discovered that ORAS are an utter and complete treasure trove of 'Mons that are incredibly hard, if not impossible, to find in other games. Glameow, Larvesta, Lopunny, Ponyta, Deerling, Clefairy: you name them, they roam Gen VI Hoenn. Heck, even super-duper rare Venomoth itself can be found in the wild in ORAS! And don't get me started on all the Mega Stones lying around, which are just begging to be picked up and slapped on my next One and 'Monly. Mega Audino, here I come! Anyway, pair that sheer wealth of 'Mons and MS with the very convenient possibility to trade with X&Y and pretty lenient Obedience conditions, and you get a massive amount of potential Gen VI solo runs.

Well, now you have.

Of course, gaining access to that treasure trove of solo runs involved finishing at least one run of ORAS; and if you remember well, Omega Ruby and I didn't exactly part on the best of terms. However, I had an inkling at the time that I could like ORAS with a bit of tweaking namely, to treat it as its own unique game, and to avoid playing it back-to-back with Ruby and Sapphire. Luckily, I hadn't erased my OR save file from last year; and so, I was able to dive right back into my aborted Delcatty run and to finish it in one smooth, clean go. And mind you, it didn't even hurt; in fact, I daresay that I really enjoyed OR this time around. Not touching Gen III for a whole year really cleaned up my memories of Hoenn, allowing me to start anew with OR and to appreciate it on its own merits. It's still too early to elaborate on my impressions of those remakes; but I'll sure get around to it once a have a couple of runs under my belt.

At any rate, I enjoyed the second half of that Delcatty solo run, and I took the purple feline all the way to the Elite Four and beyond. And it wasn't even that hard, too! Although I had left my Delcatty with a crappy Move pool made of Secret Power, Assist, Feint Attack and Dig, I had no problem progressing and vanquishing the opposition. And with my run firmly back on track, I launched into the Great Quest to Get a Decent Move Pool. Mind you, my Move pool from last year was serviceable enough: Secret Power hit quite hard with added status effect bonus, and Assist allowed me to access six extra Moves Surf, Brick Break, Strength, Cut, Fly and Dragon Breath. However, I wouldn't be able to rely on Assist during the final showdown; and thus I needed more Move options.

There's no such thing as 'too much water' but more on that in a future post. Yup, teaser!

And thus began the most backtracky fetch fest of them all, which had me Flying, Surfing and Diving all around Hoenn to get my hands on a measly four TMs that didn't even have the decency to fully exploit my Améthyste's stats. See for yourself:

Shadow Ball: Inside Mt. Pyre's probably the easiest to find.

Thunderbolt: In New Mauville; obtained by running an errand for Wattson, after beating Primal Groudon.

Ice Beam: In Sea Mauville, obtainable only with Dive.

Return: Available only in Pacifidlog, i.e. at End Game's door. RSE let you get a second Return TM from Professor Cozmo in Fallarbor; ORAS offers no such convenience and forces you to go all the way to Pacifidlog.

Those four Moves made the cut to the Pokemon League; they could have been a dope set indeed, if not for the fact that my Delcatty boasted a Careful nature and thus a lowered Sp. Attack meaning that she couldn't make the most of Shadow Ball, Thunderbolt and Ice Beam. And since I Moon-Stoned her before she hit lv. 46 and learnt Play Rough, I was stuck with a mere single Physical Move to exploit her most powerful offensive stat. Now, did this hinder me in any way? Not at all; I steamrolled the Elite Four and the Champion just the same and all the other Trainers before them, for that matter.

All's well that ends well.

At any rate, I now have a finished OR run under my belt, which means that the stage is set for serial recruiting, breeding, MS-picking and trading. Ditto being kinda hard to find in ORAS how very ironic indeed I already recruited a specimen in X and sent him to my OR cartridge for immediate breeding purposes. As for the other half, I have a number of runs already lined up; but for suspense's sake, I'll keep the identity of my future One and 'Monlies under wraps until I post my reports. Until then, dear fellow gamers, keep playing and take care!


Animal Crossing - New Horizons: 50 days

Surprise surprise, dear fellow gamers: I'm being playing ACNH casually for the last 50 days, totalling a respectable 40 hours of play and lo and behold, I really like it. Before I elaborate on that (kinda unexpected) last point, I should explain what I mean by 'playing casually': we're talking about 15 to 30 minutes of daily play, centered mostly on foraging, selling stuff and socializing. It's worth noting that I'm taking my sweet time here, doing just what I feel like doing and nothing more each day, and not worrying one bit about hitting gameplay milestones. If I wanna spend a whole playing session harvesting wood and then call it a day, then that's exactly what I do. As a result, my island's urbanization is progressing at a most languid pace: my second batch of fellow islanders moved in a mere week ago, and I just barely unlocked the Town Hall.

'Playing casually' also involves not obsessing over money-making schemes and debt repayment. The loans are not going anywhere, and it doesn't matter if I pay them in two days or two weeks; what matters is that I have fun with my daily dose of NH and play it my way. One of my little pleasures is to finish each session with an empty inventory, ready to be refilled the next day; another is to fly to a Mystery Island, strip the place of all its resources, fly back and sell all my loot in one fell swoop. I know I'd get more money if I crafted stuff from those resources and sold it; but it's tedious, so I'll rather keep the materials and the fun intact. Heck, I don't care about time anyway: I might be in for the long run, so better save some stuff to do for later.

This is undoubtedly the main difference between my runs of New Leaf and New Horizons: this time around, I have things to do meaning both things I can do and things I want to do. While I struggled to find interesting activities in New Leaf and had absolutely nothing to look forward to, I have a batch of long-term goals in New Horizons on top of my daily grind. NH is much more RPG-ish than NL, to yours truly's delight heck, paying back Tom Nook alone is enough of a objective to keep me going. As for other differences between New Leaf and New Horizons, I can gladly say that everything and I mean everything — that bothered me in the former is blissfully gone from the latter. No more villagers that force me to rendezvous with them one real-time hour later, no more boring never-changing Tropical Island, no more guilt-tripping because I didn't play for a couple of days and boy, is NH all the better for it.

Since I just played for 50 days and 40 hours and just unlocked the Town Hall, the time is perfect to take a small break from NH, take stock of what I've accomplished and build up anticipation about what's to come. Other games are calling me anyway; and as you know, my gaming instinct runs the show! Still, I'm really glad I could already enjoy NH so much, because that was far from being a given considering my history with the series. Hopefully the best is yet to come; until then, dear fellow gamers, I'll see you soon with some fresh gaming goodness!


Pokemon X: The Pyroar solo run

Dear fellow gamers, the Pokemon Summer 2020 Season is now officially open! Kickstarting that new round of solo runs is my annual revisitation of X&Y, starring a 'Mon I've wanted to cruise with for the longest time: Pyroar, the somewhat-out-of-place, somewhat-statistically-impaired Kalos lion. I rolled with the lioness for convenience's and aesthetics' sake said lioness being more abundant on the field and more pleasing to my retinas and was lucky enough to land a specimen with a Bashful Nature, which means that I could experience the purest, truest-to-form version of Pyroar.

Let's address the elephant in the room right away: yes, Pyroar's stats distribution is kinda off, and it makes its hidden ability totally useless. You can see for yourself the vertiginous gap between my Fiamma's Attack and Special Attack: we're talking about a whopping 89 points here, which I'm sure is one of the highest Attack stat discrepancy I've ever encountered in a solo run. Now for the million-dollar question: did it hinder me? Nope, not in the slightest. Fiamma basically blazed through Kalos, burning every living thing to a crisp and one-shooting the entire Elite Four bar five 'Mons that pulled off the exploit of lasting two turns.

Of course, that battle prowess required a fair bit of tweaking. Pyroar's learnset is pretty shallow and infested with Physical Moves; and to make matters worse, it takes her forever to learn powerful Special Moves through levelling-up the first Special above 40 power being Flamethrower, at lv. bloody 38. With Rock Smash, Ember and Echoed Voice, my early Move pool was nothing to brag about; and with Pyroar's Attack being so shitty, the arrival of Take Down, Fire Fang, Crunch and Return painfully failed to turn the tables. Faced with such inefficience, I decided to go Special all the way; and that's how I finally ended with Incinerate, Flamethrower, Hyper Voice and Dark Pulse renouncing my beloved Return along the way.

With that battery of Special Moves, my French lioness could live up to her full potential; but I can understand why it failed to make an impression back in the days and later, for that matter. Getting my late kickass Move pool took ridiculously high levels and an awfully long time and mind you, that was with the benefit of running solo. Let's just say that GameFreak is keeping up with the tradition of sneaking in trolly, stat-misfitted 'Mons in every game, and that Pyroar is Gen VI's Pidove.

Still, I had a blast with Pyroar, and that run was a most delicious appetizer. Because indeed, I'm nowhere near sated; more solo runs will be tackled this summer, both in X&Y and other entries. And talking about this: back to da grind! See you soon for (much) more Pokemon goodness, dear fellow gamers; and as usual, feel free to drop clever and challenging One and 'Monly suggestions in the comments!


Long-arse games I want to play again

The title says it all, really; but I'm still gonna elaborate, just because I can. When I say 'long-arse games', I mean playthroughs ranging from 50 hours to 200-or-so; such lengths should make those games one-run-only experiences for weak little me, who starts feeling gaming fatigue around the 30-hour mark. And yet, I want to play those games again, at least once and maybe more, who knows. You musn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling!

Dragon Quest IX: A.k.a. the Don of long runs as far as my gaming career is concerned. I spent roughly 220 hours on that game, and I was nowhere near done when I stopped. Okay, that's a bit of an embellishment: I was actually very close to being done, since I was buried deep in Grottoes slaughtering Metal King Slimes by the dozen. Still, I stopped because other matters required my urgent attention at the time, not because I was bored; if not for that untimely interruption, my run might have boasted a couple more hours. Anyway, I wanna solo that game again. Because it means a lot to me, being one of the first RPGs I played after my Second Coming of Gaming; because it has an unique atmosphere I still remember fondly; and simply because I love it. Since I combed the game world with the Strategy Game by my side during my first run, mastering all Classes and collecting nearly all the available gear, my second run would be much swifter. I would simply master the most useful skills and Classes for a solo endeavour, grind a bit at chosen spots, skip all the postgame, and voilĂ ! I used to be afraid of not being able to choose a different MC after spending so many hours with my original one; but after eight years of not touching the game, I've kinda forgotten her, and I'll gladly craft a new MC from scratch a male one, this time.

Hometown Story: I know that game's nothing to write home about (easy-lousy pun a million times intended), being bristling with flaws and boasting a most horrendous Metacritic score of 47; and yet, I have the fondest memories of my 70-hours-or-so run. I remember scouring the whole village for ressources, I remember rushing and running around in my shop to refill shelves until I became slightly delirious, I remember the sweet dingling sound of the cash register; and most importantly, I remember loving that game, and having great fun playing it. I really wanna live the shopkeeper's life again at some point once again, preferably with the male character that time around. 

Atelier Ayesha: A.k.a. the game that made me fall in love with the Atelier series in earnest, after a number of tepid experiences with the Arland entries. My heart still flutters with a wondrous sort of wanderlust everytime I remember the gorgeous Dusk vistas; and I still have a number of potential party members unhandled despite playing two runs back-to-back and don't get me started on all those endings I still have to uncover. And of course, beyond all that, I simply love Ayesha's whole atmosphere so much that I really wanna bask into it again. And lucky (and industrious) me, I just got my paws on Play-Asia's Atelier Dusk Trilogy Deluxe Pack and its most convenient multi-language option! It's the third time I'm buying that darn game, but I love it so much I'm not even salty.

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory: It's been hardly a year since I polished off my 50-plus-hours run of Hacker's Memory; and yet, I wanna play it again. I absolutely adored it, and still do; in fact, I daresay that I love it even more than when I played it last summer. There's something quite unique about that gem of a game, something that makes me wanna dive right back into it again and purchase every single Digimon portable entry while I'm at it. At any rate, it's now safe in my precious collection, to be played and treasured for all eternity, after I secured the rare and much-coveted physical edition of the Digimon Story Cybersleuth: Complete Edition for the Switch. Yet another game I've bought twice but gosh, was it utterly worth it.

There you have it, dear fellow gamers: the games I'll definitively replay one fine day, despite having spent way too many hours on them already. It goes without saying that I'd love to read about the ludicrously long games you really wanna tackle again please feel free to humour me in the comments! I'll see you very soon with more gaming goodness because indeed, as promised, I finally got my life back and I'm gaming again with a passion. Until next time, take care and keep playing! 


Drowning in giddiness and games

I've announced the upcoming end of my collecting endeavours on that blog many times already. There was a time when I truly believed it would happen soon indeed; but now, I've finally come round, and I can safely claim that my collecting is nowhere near done yet, and won't be as long as there are handhelds around. Why, this feels like a coming-out of sorts! I feel much lighter now that I fully and shamelessly acknowledged my roaring collecting impulses.

Roaring indeed: a mere six month after getting my beloved Switch Lite, I already own 35 Switch games and counting. Counting very fast indeed, because my Switch To-Buy List is growing by the month, each purchased game being replaced by two future releases. Not that I'm complaining, mind you; my appetite for Switch games is enormous — so enormous that it took the jaded collector in me by surprise. I never though I could feel that much passion for collecting again, so long after the giddy, intoxicating early stages of my collecting; and I certainly never, ever thought a Nintendo handheld, of all systems, could elicit such a a burning collecting passion, so soon after my lukewarm experiences with the 3DS and the original Switch. Dare I say I'm immensely grateful for that unexpected change of collecting fortunes? Yup, I dare.

That rekindled collecting passion is even pouring onto my older collections, which I deemed mostly complete until I suddenly found games that I totally couldn't live without a second longer. Games like Sol Trigger for the PSP, or Atelier Sophie and Firis and Digimon Next Order for the Vita, which all joined my precious collection lately.

With all that gaming goodness piling up, it's all the more frustrating that I can hardly play these days. Other matters are claiming my attention urgently, forcing me to put my barely started run of Pokemon X on hold and to delay my eagerly awaited run of Three Houses not to mention all the other runs I'm itching to tackle. Yet, I know all that wait and frustration will make the ultimate release even sweeter and better. That ultimate release should happen in roughly a week; and you can bet your sweet life that I'm gonna play with abandon and a vengeance then. See you soon with fresh gaming goodness, dear fellow gamers, and take care!


Fire Emblem Echoes - Shadows of Valentia: Ce n'est qu'un au revoir

After a bit of meandering, my gaming instinct's verdict is now clear: I'm done with FEE for the time being. I might have forged on if Berkut were the final boss; but given that he's not and that there's still another short, but still whole act after him, I'm throwing in the towel. When I play FEE again (because indeed, I'll definitely replay that hidden gem of a game), I'll make sure to grind early on; and since I know now what to expect, that second run will undoubtedly be much more streamlined and satisfying.

Not that my first run wasn't satisfying already, mind you; in fact, I daresay that Echoes is my favourite FE entry so far. Apart from all the goodness I mentioned in my first post, I'm extremely fond of a number of playthrough-altering features. Those include the absence of offspring units, which is a blessing in disguise as far as I'm concerned because it spares me the cumbersome task of playing matchmaker on the battlefield. They also include the wonderful possibility to play with all units at all times, sparing me the heartbreak of ditching some promising characters along the way and the hassle of replaying the game just to cruise with them. And how could I not mention the deeply and wonderfully strategic battles, which forced me to get out of my comfort 'charging like a bull' zone and rack my brain in earnest to make it out alive?

On the 'room for improvement' side, I would have liked an exhaustive quest log to save me from all the blind backtracking I had to endure to fulfill sidequests, as well as the possibility to hold more than one item per unit. More subtle and developed storytelling would also have been a must, especially during segments such as (SPOILERS!) Alm's and Celica's conflictual second parting, which loses all its emotional impact because of how shockingly rushed it is, or Alm's discovery of his lineage, which is digested way too fast and smoothly. (END of SPOILERS) Well, at least I cannot complain about cutscenes overstaying their welcome, now can I?

Of course, a FE wrap-up post wouldn't be complete without a list of my favourite units. I'll keep the finer details for my next run reports; for the time being, suffice it to say that Alm, Celica, Lukas, Clair, Python, Mathilda, Clive, Tatiana, Zeke, Leon and Sonya were absolute little darlings of mine for reasons both futile and profound, ranging from their looks to their battle prowess.

FEE contains little romance, and certainly no active wooing the player can perform; however, that didn't prevent me from indulging in a darling little FE habit of mine, i.e. spotting a couple with potential and rooting for them. And so, my own Best Couple Award for Echoes goes to Tatiana and Zeke, a pair that's both sweetly endearing and hot as heck. We'll see if Celica and Alm, another couple I really fancy, end up stealing the top spot once I'm done with the story. I also kinda ship Clair and Lukas, despite them not being a canon pairing; and Mathilda and Clive manage the tour de force to be classy and hilarious at once, which earns them an honourable mention in my FEE couple ranking.

Long story short: I love that game, I'll certainly replay it again, and I'll finish is while I'm at it. For now, new gaming shores are beckoning or maybe not so new indeed, if I obey my gaming instinct that currently presses me to play Three Houses. See ya soon with more gaming goodness, dear fellow gamers!


Fire Emblem Echoes - Shadows of Valentia: What now?

My first 25 hours of FEE went by without a hitch. Sure, there were a couple of tough battles here and there, some of which I barely escaped alive; but overall, it was smooth sailing. However, things took a turn for the worst upon entering the Fifth Act: that basterd Berkut sent me packing, wiping away a good chunk of my advance in the process. I was rightfully salty, but also a bit discouraged: to encounter sudden resistance after nearly a whole run spent progressing swiftly is ten times more disheartening than to struggle right off the bat. The game led me to expect an easy ride all the way to the end, and now it's slapping me in the face with tough-as-nails battles? Not fair! This sudden change of gaming fortunes led me to take a step back and ponder my next move. After a bit of musing, I see four courses of action:

 To put my run on hold: Not only do I feel like I've had my fill of FEE already, but Three Houses is stamping its feet and screaming for attention. Wouldn't it be better, then, to humour my gaming instinct and come back to FEE later with a fresh mind and renewed fondness?

To force my way through: Berkut was nearly done for when he put an end to my prowess and progress by nastily taking Alm down; this makes me think that I could win that battle with a bit of strategic tweaking. Of course, I would hate to cross the Temple of Duma only to lose again against Berkut; but still, that's definitely worth trying.

To grind like a beast: A.k.a. Me Life and my go-to solution when I struggle in an RPG. I could go back to the Fear Mountain Shrine and farm some Silver Marks there to improve my weapons. That dungeon also hosts a Cantor, which is a most convenient foe for grinding purposes: its sole move is to summon Gargoyles, thus providing potentially endless waves of leveling-up fodder. The only thing that stops me from running there right away is the game's stinginess when it comes to granting XP; with my crew boasting the levels they boast, it could take hours before I manage to buff them enough to steamroll Berkut.

To restart a more streamlined run: A very tempting option, I must admit. I resorted to it when playing Fates, and it just saved everything my run, my fun, my love for that game, you name it. Not only that, but I really enjoyed Echoes' early stages, and I totally wouldn't mind replaying them again with added mastery of the gameplay's ins and outs.

I'm still on the fence right now, with all four options looking equally appetizing. I'll tell you more when my gaming instinct is done settling the matter, dear fellow gamers; until then, take care and keep gaming!