31/01/2017

Nintendo Switch: Random technical enquiries


As the Switch release date is getting closer and Nintendo is as tongue-tied as ever about specs and technical aspects of the system, unanswered questions are bound to pile up. I've been pondering a couple of points myself since the Switch presentation, and I sure hope to get conclusive answers as soon as possible. Without further ado, here are my burning technical enquiries about the Nintendo Switch:

  • Can the system be used exclusively on portable mode from the get-go, or is a TV required at least for the initial configuration? The answer is not as crystal-clear as it may seem, and it's not guaranteed at all that the Switch can be booted up right away and played solely on tablet mode. Let's take the example of the PS4 remote play on the Vita: while it's perfectly possible to stream PS4 games on a Vita without any TV at all, a TV monitor is still necessary to install the PS4 at first. Granted, we're talking about a single occurrence, but it's a serious hurdle nonetheless for a gamer like me who doesn't own a TV. If the Switch works in a similar way, that would be a major deterrent to a purchase as far as I'm concerned. 

  • It's now established that the resolution and frame rate will vary between tablet play and TV play. Now, doesn't that mean that developers will have to come up with two different versions of the same game if they want to exploit these specs to the fullest? Like, one version that can be accommodated by the tablet and another for dock-powered TV play? I'm not a tech wizard and I have very scant notions regarding such matters, but my meagre understanding is that squeezing a game with high specs into a console that cannot accommodate such specs will not result in an smooth automatic downgrading, so to speak; the console will either have major difficulties running the game (case in point: Pokemon Sun and Moon on the original 3DS model) or be purely and simply unable to run it. This means that either developers will indeed have to develop two versions of every single game, which I seriously doubt anybody but Nintendo will do, or they will have to downgrade their games right away to the level of the tablet's specs, which I'd wager every developer but Nintendo will do. Or will some developers choose to limit their efforts solely to one of the two display modes, ignoring the other entirely? Like, could we have games that will run solely in docked mode or tablet mode? Is that even technically possible? And if it is, will Nintendo allow it?

  • Because Nintendo decided to go all Wii on us again, these stupid little Joy-Cons contain batteries. Now let's imagine an hypothetical situation in which you play some motion game or some Mario Kart 8 on the TV with the Joy-Cons for some time, then decide to play something on the tablet. Since you've been using the Joy-Cons separately from the tablet screen, doesn't that imply that there will be a discrepancy in the battery levels of the Joy-Cons and the tablet screen? Could this lead to a situation where the Joy-Cons will die on you before the tablet screen, de facto preventing you from using the screen's full battery? Or will the Joy-Cons suck power away from the tablet screen, which could then lead to faster battery depletion? And if the Joy-Cons don't feed from the screen battery, does that mean that they must always be recharged in their dedicated dock? Because then again, such a configuration would be a major deterrent as far as I'm concerned. Charging one system on a regular basis is enough work as it is, and there's no way I'm going to double that workload. One's home contains only so many AC sockets, after all. 

Those are my enquiries of the moment, and more will undoubtedly pop up as time goes on. The Switch is shaping up to be a very fussy and complicated console indeed, and I cannot say that my desire to get one is increasing. Hopefully things will clarify in due time and possible technical issues will be solved in an efficient way. Thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime! 

27/01/2017

Pokemon Sun: The Midday Lycanroc solo run


A.k.a. the run that blew me out of the water and proved further that good candidates for Pokemon solo runs come in all shapes and sizesand types. My expectations regarding a Rockruff solo run were the lowest of the low: my sole reason to attempt such a solo run were the rocky canine's looks, which I deemed irresistible despite not exactly digging dogs. So far, this is the first time ever I love all of a 'Mon's forms equally. There is usually always a crappy form nested somewhere in the evolution process, but not so with Rockruff: his pup form is too adorable to handle and his vulpine form oozes haughtiness and poise. On top of that, his overall design is a perfect mix of animal shape and natural elements tapping into his typing, which should be the blueprint for all Pokemon designs. But when it comes to the gorgeous canine's fighting performances, I expected to have a pretty hard ride and to be forced to keep my Rockruff permanently high on Battle Items in order to progress. After all, we're talking about a 'Mon with five weaknesses, no immunities whatsoever and only four resistances, which is probably as lousy as it gets when it comes to Type effectiveness.

The reality couldn't have been more removed from that vision of doom. Not only was my Rockruff solo run considerably more pleasant than I had expected, but it was also much smoother and easier than my Litten and Rowlet solo runs. I got a really sleek ride this time around, and this can be attributed to three factors:
  1. Rockruff naturally levels up much faster than his fellow starters and can thus tower over opponents much more effortlessly. 
  2. Rockruff and his evolution Lycanroc (midday form) have stellar Attack and Speed stats, which is a blessing in a solo run. 
  3. Rockruff learns powerful moves much earlier than his fellow starters. Let's take the example of a move of any Type with power ranging between 55 and 65: Litten and Dartrix learn such a move at lv. 15 (respectively Fire Fang and Razor leaf), but Rockruff learns such a move at lv. 7 (Bite). And believe me when I say that this makes all the difference in the world. When I recruited my Rockruff at Ten Carat Hill, he was already wielding Bite and could wreak serious havoc on Alola's fauna. 
That being said, Rockruff still has some massive deficiencies that needed to be handled properly. The most blatant one is obviously his wide array of Type weaknesses, which didn't bode well for upcoming Trials. I was especially fidgety and anxious about the Water Trial, for very obvious reasons: we're talking about the game's second Trial only, which means that I couldn't rely on overlevelling to punch my way through. Fortunately for me, the Totem Pokemon was dumb enough to use a move that transformed my Rockruff into a Water-type 'Mon right on the very first turnneedless to say, this took care of matters. I powered through the Grass and Ground Trials with a couple of Battle Items; and by the time I reached the Elite Four and got to face Hala, my Rockruff was ovelevelled enough to take down his Fighting 'Mons without breaking a sweat. And while I'm mentioning the Elite Four, my Rockruff was around lv. 75 when we finally reached Mount Lanakila's summit, i.e. a good twenty levels above his opponents. Easy-peasy! Now this is the kind of edge I want for my Elite Four showdowns, not this paltry ten level-lead I had to endure with Incineroar and Decidueye.

Rockruff's other main shortcoming is his abysmal Special Attack stat, which could have put me in a bind; fortunately, the game took care of that issue itself. All the offensive moves Rockruff and Lycanroc learn by leveling-up are Physical moves, as well as most of their TM/HM moves. Out of a total of 13 offensive moves, only four are Special moves, which gives more than enough leeway to operate without ever worrying about Rockruff and Lycanroc's crappy Sp. Attack stat. I mentioned in my Rowlet run report that I was not sure I would ever need to take Move Categories into account again, and I'm quite glad my Rockruff solo run gave me the opportunity to do so. My Pokemon solo runs are getting deeper by the game, and I'm lapping it up.

Rockruff's move pool was not exceptional, I must admit: when it comes to offensive moves, the rocky canine can solely learn Normal, Rock, Dark and Fighting moves. However, this tiny variety of moves is more than compensated by the sheer power that all these moves pack. I spend the second half of the game cruising around with four powerful movesone of each kind: Rock Slide (Rock), Crunch (Dark), Brick Break (Fighting) and Rock Climb (Normal). Combined with the corresponding Z-Crystals, these moves allowed me to tackle all situations and blaze through Alola, leaving a trail of fainted 'Mons  and crying Trainers in my wake. 

After successfully beating the crap out of the Elite Four and Professor Kukui, I started exploring postgame territory and went much further than usual. I captured the quartet of Guardian Deities as well as all the Extra Beasts on the loose, collected the missing Z-Crystals and gained a couple of extra levels before finally giving up after beating Blue in front of the Battle Tree. I wanted to climb that monument of grinding with my lv. 85 Lycanroc, but the rules implied that levels would be lowered to 50 upon entering the Tree, which was not to my liking at all. Like, do you want me to actually play fair and come up with strategies and well-balanced teams instead of one-shooting my way to the top? No way, game. Keep your stingy and illiberal Battle Tree; as for me, I'm off to new and exciting solo runs. 

It's worth noting that I played the french translation for a change; and oh boy, is it a million times better than the english one. Not only is the text brimming with jokes, witty comments and puns on 'Mons names, but the characters are also considerably more fleshed-out. For instance, Captain Ilima's snotty nature and obsession with his looks come across much more blatantly: I roared with laughter when Team Skull Grunts claimed that they didn't want his 'Mons because they "reeked of conditioner", or when Ilima himself told me he hoped my Island Challenge would bring me "plenty of good thingslike, a better haircut or fancier clothes". There were also minor story elements that were not mentioned in the english translation and helped clarify a couple of things. Cherry on the cake, discovering a whole new body of text made me feel like I was playing a totally new game. 

I have nothing more to add, apart from the obvious: Rockruff is a perfect solo run candidate in Sun and Moon. He's not afflicted with the slowness that seems to plague most native Alolan 'Mons, he packs an awful lot of punch and his weaknesses can easily be managed. I would have loved to indulge in a Rockruff solo run of Moon; but unfortunately, Lycanroc's midnight form looks so goofy and dumb that I simply cannot imagine myself cruising Alola with that bipedal canine by my side. I've had my share of anthropomorphic 'Mons that look like they're lifted straight out of a saturday morning cartoon, thank you very much; and thus will my Rockruff solo run remain a Sun exclusive. Thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!

22/01/2017

Aqua Kitty-Milk Mine Defender DX: Let's not get physical


It's time to expose another dirty little secret, dear fellow gamers: I'm extremely fond of Shoot'em ups. Despite the fact that I didn't even play enough of these games throughout my gaming career to count them on the fingers of one hand, every single one I've played enthralled me and pretty much remained engraved in my memory for all eternity. So when I found Aqua Kitty on a PSN sale a couple of months ago, I simply had to purchase it. Because it's a Shoot'em up, and because cats. And I've been playing it lately not because I needed a fix of frantic shooting or cute felines, but rather because Limited Run Games are about to release a physical version of the game and I wanted to assess if it was worth the purchase.

I had good hopes for that game, mind you. Not only is the premise of having kittens foraging for milk unbearably cute, but Aqua Kitty emulates one of my favourite and seldom-used shooting subgenres, i.e. horizontal aquatic shooting. I still have exhilarating memories of wreaking havoc on the marine fauna in level 2-3 in Super Mario Land on the Game Boy, and I fully expected to feel the same kind of giddy delight again in Aqua Kitty's cut-throat waters. I had also heard that the soundtrack was absolutely glorious, pure chiptune ear-candy; and I was more than ready to blast every swimming creature in sight while gorging on 8-bit aural goodness until my head swam.

However, my actual gameplay experience with Aqua Kitty was nowhere near as frantic and elating as I had fantasized. My trip through the game's hazardous waters was a bit of a trudge, and this was solely due to questionable game design. Take the level design, for instance: instead of featuring an automatic scrolling, zones loop and can be navigated indifferently from left to right or right to left. While this gives the player a bit of leeway by letting them choosing their direction and speed, it also removes the stimulating feeling of urgency generated by an automatic scrolling. I found myself looping through the zones and meeting the same waves of pesky enemies over and over again until I got sick of them. And talking about enemies, they are the meat and potatoes of the game, since you can only exit a zone once you've been scouring it of all the resident pest. No rushing towards the end of the stage and dodging half of the aerial obstructions in heroic dashes in Aqua Kitty: you're basically a marine janitor, and you won't go anywhere until you've cleared all the trash floating around. I don't know about you, but I find that gameplay premise a tad anticlimactic.

Aqua Kitty also suffers from the "Seen Level One, Seen Them All" syndrome. The entirety of the gameplay is concentrated in the first set of levels: you get your two types of ammunition from the get-go (weak unlimited ammo and strong limited ammo) as well as a briefing regarding gameplay objectives; then you polish off a couple of levels, fight a boss, and that's it. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the game, only with more waves of pesky enemies as the game goes on. Sure, these new foes boast fresh moving and shooting patterns; but at its core, the gameplay remains desperately unaltered. When you've played the first set of levels, you're pretty much  played them all; the rest is just flourish and extra enemies by the truckload. It doesn't help that said first set of levels is graced with what I deem the best track of the whole game (i.e. the wonderfully giddy and bouncy "Buttermilk Bay"), making these opening levels feel like a monument of perfection that the game never manages to top in its latter stages.

And since I mentioned the music, does it deserve its stellar reputation? Oh yes, it does. It's highly reminiscent of the Ecco the Dolphin soundtrack, and it's bound to elicit tidal waves of nostalgia just by sheer virtue of its lush chiptunes that sound like a love affair between a Game Gear/Master System soundchip and a Megadrive one. It's not the game's only highlight, mind you: the controls are as tight, sharp and responsive as they can possibly be, without a shred of lag or delayed response to be found. And it would take a heart of stone not to melt when hearing the adorable "mreow" sound uttered by the feline miners when you rescue them from abducting jellyfishes.

This leads us back to the original question: is Aqua Kitty worth a physical purchase, with shipping and toll fees involved? To put it simply, no. Sure, it has one of the most adorable premises ever created since the dawn of gaming and the best OST of the last two decades; but take away these two elements and Aqua Kitty loses fifty percent of its appeal. The gameplay is too shallow to offer any replay value beyond the challenge of clearing the game in the insanely hard Normal and Arcade modes, which I certainly won't do. Although this little aquatic feline odyssey was definitely fun to play, I can't really imagine myself picking up that game ever again now that I've cleared it. And so will Aqua Kitty forever remain a digital entry in my precious collection. On the other hand, I've purchased the OST, because it's freakin' awesome and it's stuck so deeply in my head that I simply had no other choice. Heck, I'm even listening to it as I'm wrapping up this post. Thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!

16/01/2017

Nintendo Switch: The emperor's new clothes


Watching the infamous Switch presentation didn't change my stance one bit when it comes to acquiring the console: I'm still determined to purchase it further down the line, when prices have decreased and the line-up of games has inflated. Nonetheless, I obviously have an opinion regarding the presentation and the console itself; and that opinion is genuinely mixed. The presentation did nothing to reassure me and make me more enthusiastic about the upcoming Switch; if anything, it made me more worried about the fortunes of Nintendo's newest piece of kitand by extension the fortunes of handheld gaming as a whole.

There were positive points, I must admit. The announcement that region-lock would be removed made me utter a big sigh of relief, and the prospect of getting some RPG titles brought a beaming smile to my lips. But once the joy of learning that I could resume my cosmopolitan collecting endeavours unhindered when I felt like it and that I would have some RPG goodness to enjoy wore out, the harsh and cold reality appeared in all its unholy glory. And boy, did it pour icy-cold water on my newfound enthusiam for the Switch.

That harsh and cold reality is that despite Nintendo's bragging about the heavy third-party support they supposedly managed to secure, the Switch is so far a console bereft of games. The launch line-up is as anaemic as it gets, there are no surefire release dates for big third-party titles in 2017 and most of the appetizing games shown in the presentation seem to be still in the embryonic stages. You might say that this should not matter to me since I'm planning to purchase the Switch much later; and in a way, it does not. However, I'm still worried about the Switch's fortunes as a whole; because if it doesn't perform well from the get-go, some thrilling third-party game releases could be purely and simply canceled or end up never being developed as years go by.

What worries me even more is Nintendo's insistence on showcasing the Switch's motion control gimmick and presenting it as a home console first and foremost. This is the exact opposite of the Switch trailer, which was presenting the system first and foremost as a portable console that could optionally be played on a TV screen; and all this to and fro makes me think that for all their bravado, Nintendo don't actually know what they are doing and what they are aiming for. The segment in which they clumsily attempted to present the Switch as a synthesis of all the Nintendo consoles ever released before is quite telling in that regard. At first, I though they were trying to capitalize on nostalgia for marketing purposes; but then, to my utter dismay, I realized that they may actually have been totally serious and have envisioned the Switch as a fusion of all the Nintendo console gimmicks ever created. That would sure explain the uncanny combination of motion controls, rumble technology, portable display, touchscreen capabilities, local multiplayer and whatnot; and that hotchpotch of features makes me genuinely worried. My fear is that by trying to have a finger in every pie and cater to all types of gamers, they will spread themselves too thin and end up catering to none of them in earnest. We would then end up with yet another WiiU fiascoonly with direr consequences, since it would also affect Nintendo's portable prospects.

Or maybe not. Even if the Switch fails to compete with the PS4 and XBox One on the home console front, it could end up thriving as a portable console. If developing for it is as easy as rumor has it, I can totally envision developers focusing solely on the portable side of the Switch equation and showering it with games tailored for portable playthe type of games that would formerly have been released on the 3DS and Vita. For all we know, the Switch may even become the newest hideway for niche games after the Vita bails out. Now of course, that would imply minimal interference on Nintendo's part, which is not something I'm counting on. But I think we can all safely assume that if the Switch does indeed fail as a home console, Nintendo won't hesitate to hail it as the 3DS' successor and market it exclusively as a handheld.

So yes, I'm worried about the Switch's fortunes and I'm quite sure Nintendo don't really know where they're going with this system. It seems that all rest on developers' shoulders now: they can pretty much make the Switch or break it, depending on what kind of games they will choose to develop for itor on whether or not they choose to develop for it full stop. I think there's not much left to expect from Nintendo themselves: they've proven that far from having a crystal-clear vision of what the Switch should be, they are so lost at sea that they are potentially aiming for all gaming audiences at once and letting developers choose on which gimmick they want to focus. Only time will tell if the all-encompassing Switch was Nintendo's greatest stroke of genius or the final nail in the coffin, and I'll follow the upcoming Switch soap opera eagerly in the months and years to come. Thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!

11/01/2017

Pokemon Sun: The Decidueye solo run


A.k.a. my first-ever Grass Starter solo run, dear fellow gamers! Now, the reason why I always snubbed Grass Starters when considering potential candidates for solo runs is the exact same reason that made me choose Rowlet this time around: looks. Yes, I'm a fickle Pokemon player that chooses 'Mons for their appearance first and foremost; and Rowlet is the first Grass Starter that managed to catch and please my eye and make me want to pull off a Grass Starter solo run.


I'm saying "pull off", because Grass Starters are traditionally not considered great solo run material. I'm always ready for a good challenge though, and I was quite eager to see for myself how tough it would prove to cruise Alola with the Grass owl. And surprise surprise, it didn't prove much more difficult than cruising Alola with its Fire counterpart. I'll go further and claim that Litten and Rowlet are virtual copy-pastes of each other when it comes to their final forms. Indeed, Decidueye and Incineroar have eerily similar stats, and that includes a ridiculously low Defense stat. That took me by surprise, I must say. I mean, I fully expect a Fire 'Mon to have low Defense, but a Grass 'Mon? I thought these guys were supposed to boast sky-high Defense, for Rotom's sake! To add insult to injury, Incineroar actually has higher Defense that Decidueye, which doesn't make any sense. Overall, Decidueye felt like a alternative version of Incineroar, only with slightly crappier stats and a different move pool.

Although I fully enjoyed my Rowlet solo run, there's no denying that this 'Mon is not exactly stellar solo run material. Rowlet and his evolutions have one of the most miserable move pool I've ever encountered so far, and that tiny move pool severely restrained my enjoyment. I spent hours spamming the same old tired moves and desperately waiting for new fresh moves to come my way, only to be disappointed when half of them turned out to be defensive and buff moves. I would also have a lot to say about Decidueye's pitifully low HP, which put me in a bind more than once by sheer virtue of being so limited. Once again, I had to resort to the massive use of Battle Items to punch my way through and stand a chance to finish the game with Decidueye as my One and Only.


On the plus side, the Grass owl is a pretty memorable 'Mon that can lift up a whole solo run by sheer virtue of his colourful personality. Cute Rowlet is just too adorable to handle, coquettish Dartrix and his obsession with his hair is absolutely hilarious, and solemn-looking Decidueye oozes mystery and charismaalthough Game Freak could have tried a tad harder to make him look like a genuine bird rather than like a man in a cheap bird suit. It's great to see a Grass Starter whose final evolution doesn't look completely goofyif anything, Incineroar looks ten times goofier than Decidueye, despite the fact than Fire Starters are usually the ones blessed with badass final evolutions.

Cruising around with Decidueye also gave me the rare opportunity to experiment with move categories. During the latter stages of my run, I had access to two powerful Ghost move dealing similar amounts of damage, namely Decidueye's signature move Spirit Shackle and TM move Shadow Ball. The trick is that Spirit Shackle is a physical move while Shadow Ball is a special move; and after my Decidueye learnt both of them, I had tons of fun experimenting with these two similar-yet-different moves and trying to determine which one was the best fitted for each 'Mon I had to pummel into oblivionerm, situation. This is the first time I've ever taken this aspect into account, and it may well be the last time for all I know; but at any rate, it was a welcome discovery and it helped make the late stages of my run more exciting and rewarding.


All in all, this was a pleasant and entertaining solo run despite the Grass Owl's inherent limitations. I'd lie if I said that this solo run made me want to cruise around again with Grass 'Mons; but I'd also lie if I claim that it put me off all 'Mons grassy. Only time will tell if I ever tackle another Grass Starter solo run; but for now, I'm firmly planning to cruise Alola yet again with Popplio, thus making the Sun/Moon pair the first Pokemon games I've ever roamed solo with all three Starters. I've been playing Sun until now, but I will switch to Moon for that third solo run, as well as switch to a male trainer for a change. See you soon for more solo run goodness, dear fellow gamers! Thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!

06/01/2017

Pokemon Sun: The Incineroar solo run


It should surprise no one that my first solo run of Pokemon Sun starred the feisty Fire Starter Litten. Because, you know, cats. Fire Starters are not my favourites when it comes to solo runs, but the fiery kitten was the obvious choice and did a fine job during the 17 hours I spent cruising Alola by his side.


I can safely claim that this solo run was the hardest and most challenging Pokemon solo run I've ever tackled. It was even harder than my Purrloin solo run of Black, and that's saying something given that Purrloin is overall a crappy 'Mon whose evolution Liepard belongs to the NeverUsed Tier. The difficulty level was definitely ramped up in Sun and Moon, and the game's wide array of Trials, Captains, Totem Pokemons and random Trainers roughed me up on a regular basis. Even more telling, my Litten-turned-Incineroar only boasted a paltry Lv. 64 when I finally reached the Elite Four headquarters, which is just the most unusual thing ever; at this point in the game, my lone 'Mons usually boast levels between 90 and 100 and can pretty much one-shot their way to the champion accolade. Not so in that case; I had to fight 'Mons that were a mere ten levels below me, and believe me, it was a struggle.


Not that I would let ramped-up difficulty stop me, mind you; before long, I had found a brilliant and reliable solution to get myself out of any bind and compensate for my Litten's weaknesses. This solution was none other than the regular and diligent use of some items I had neglected until now, i.e. Battle Items. Anytime I had trouble with a battle, I stuffed and buffed up my Litten with X Attacks, X Defense and the like, and voilĂ ! Formerly impassable battles suddenly became manageable and I could progress unhindered. I can shamelessly claim that I would never have taken down the Elite Four and the Champion without those wonderful Battle Items, and I'm immensely grateful for their very existence. And now that I've learnt to assess their wonderfulness, I can go back to my unfinished Purrloin solo run of Black and finally put an end to it with the help of a huge stock of X-whatever.

Litten's move pool was decently varied, but not staggeringly so; and while his double typing was interesting, it didn't hold a lot of novelty for me given that I had already played a solo run with a Dark-type Cat Pokemon. Is there some kind of hidden rule at Game Freak stipulating that all feline 'Mons must belong to the Dark type? Anyway, I had already wielded Dark moves on a regular basis and knew them well enough to be a bit blasé towards Litten's ability to learn them. I was also not impressed by the teeny-tiny number of Fire moves Litten can learn over the course of his evolution: we're talking about a meagre four moves there, and I don't think it's enough for a Fire 'Mon. More fire moves can be learnt through the use of TMs, but one must get their paws on them first, and I have to admit that I didn't perform honorably when it comes to acquiring these precious items and thus ended up with a very small choice of Fire moves.


I also have to admit that for all my love for Litten and his middle evolution Torracat, I had a shock when he finally crossed the ultimate evolutionary threshold. When Incineroar appeared before my incredulous and horrified eyes, I had to fight a very strong urge to turn off the game, erase my save file and try to forget I had ever witnessed that. I mean, how did this happen? How did we go from Love Meow to John Cena in a single evolution? That's certainly not how I expected Torracat to evolve, and it took me a very long time to get used to Incineroar's deviant art-infused design. It certainly didn't help matters that I had to repeatedly massage the creature's heavily muscled chest during the Pokemon Refresh sequences, making me feel like I had gotten myself stranded in a bad case of fanfiction. But hey, time heals all wounds, and I finally managed to get used to Incineroar's questionable design and to stroke his bulging muscles without cringing. Thanks a lot, Game Freak, for giving me the unforgettable opportunity to get up close and personal with an humanoid cat looking like Machamp's long-lost brother. I'll remember that solo run, oh yes I will.

Game Freak's dubious design choices aside, my Litten solo run of Sun was a fairly entertaining one. It was so entertaining, in fact, that I started exploring postgame segments with enthusiam, before realizing that what I really wanted was to relive the early stages of the game with another 'Mon. I thus started another solo run with another Starter; and that's a story I'll tell you in my next run report, dear fellow gamers. Thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!

03/01/2017

Coveted games: 2017 a.k.a. the grand finale


Dear fellow gamers, I wish you all the best for 2017! May this brand-new year be full of delights, accomplishments and successes, in gaming as in other fields. We'll obviously focus on gaming here, as I'll lay down my gaming hopes and plans for 2017. Without further ado, let's get started!

One thing is pretty obvious as I'm writing this: 2017 will mark the end of my collecting endeavours, at least for the time being. My collecting pace already slowed down considerably last year, and it will slow down even more over the next months. My prognosis is that by the end of 2017, my 3DS purchases will have trickled to nothing as the 3DS will be quietly yet firmly ousted to make room for the Switch; as for Vita purchases, they will probably have become occasional occurrences by the time 2018 rolls in.

But like I've said before, my ultimate collecting moments will be glorious ones. I have a massive list of coveted titles for the first half of 2017, with the Vita playing the star role. See for yourself all the goodness I'm planning to get my greedy paws on: Fate Extella, Akiba's Beat, The Nonary Games, Mary Skelter, God Wars, Period Cube, Hakuoki Kyoto Winds, Danganronpa V3, Operation Babel, plus any digital-only game that will capture my interest. On the 3DS, there is unfortunately very little on my radar, with only Dragon Quest XI, Ever Oasis and maybe the upcoming Story of Seasons on the purchasing horizon; but maybe a couple of interesting releases will pop up in the months to come. Fingers crossed!

This leads us to my localizations wishes, which are quite reasonable. I'm only pinning for two games, one for each system: Ys-Lacrimosa of Dana and Etrian Odyssey V. If I get this duo, I can bid the Vita and 3DS farewell with a serene heart. And lucky me, there are actually good chances that we'll indeed get these two games, if Nihon Falcom's and Atlus' track records when it comes to localizations are any indication. And while I'm mentioning Etrian Odyssey, I wonder if a remake of Etrian Odyssey III: will ever come to life. Atlus remade the first two DS entries, so it would make perfect sense to remake the third as well; but on the other hand, the 3DS is on its last legs and maybe they don't want to bother with a dying console. Oh, well; 2017 will tell, I guess.

2017 will also certainly tell if the Switch lives up to the hype and turns out to be a resounding success. I'll follow the fortunes of Ninty's newest piece of kit very closely, and I may even write a couple of posts about it if I'm inspired. But you know my plans, dear fellow gamers: no Switch will join my collection in 2017, and the next months will be all about exploring the depths of my current treasure trove of games.

So that's 2017 in a nutshell: watching the Switch from a comfortable distance, getting my paws on the ultimate games that pique my interest and enjoying all the great games I managed to secure over the last five years. As my collecting days are slowly but surely coming to an end, it's now time to lay back and enjoy my hard-earned games without worrying about game-hunting. Goodbye custom fees and endless internet browsing and hello long gaming and blogging sessions! Hopefully I'll keep you entertained along the way, dear fellow gamers. Thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!