Part 16: Feeling JapaneseUpdate 13: Feeling Japanese
Just before we begin, there won't be any real progression in this update and there will be a lot of words as I go over some very interesting and not well known features. So consider this a combined Update and Side Notes.
Welcome to Japanese Crystal! We're in this version because of a pretty large building. Welcome to the Pokemon Communication Center. Let's see what this place has to offer.
To begin with, this place does function as an actual Pokemon Center, so you can heal your Pokemon no problem.
The second floor also remains the same, allowing you to trade and battle with your friends over Link Cable, the usual.
But there's a lot more to this place otherwise. However, a lot of it is unavailable since we have yet to connect to the Mobile Adapter GB for the first time. But once we do, then we can trade and battle with players all over Japan for just ¥10 (not including carrier service fees). But once we do do that, we can access all areas and even change the music!
Pokemon Communication Center
Let's walk through walls and discover all the features we have. The Administration Office has three staff members talking about the facility and computers that have documents and support options for this new fangled technology.
As with most games, going through doors and that only warps you to somewhere else on the same map, so we can head up and be back in the main center, though none of the people are loaded, cause what would be the point?
The next facility is the Trade Center, allowing you to trade with other people all over Japan in what is a precursor to the GTS. By using a peripheral called the Mobile Game Boy Adapter, you could connect your GBC, GBA or GBASP to a compatible mobile phone. The standard cable was blue, but yellow, red and green cables were compatible with different phones. Though the most well known game it worked with was Pokemon Crystal, it also worked with a number of other games, mostly for the GBA, including Mario Kart, Napoleon and Mobile Golf. Only five titles were released internationally and all mobile features went unused.
Finally, we have the Pokemon News Machine. For ¥100/month, you could learn about the latest news, which was updated monthly and compiled data from players around Japan. You could also participate in minigames and quizzes and even obtain some very rare event only items. This includes the Odd Egg we currently have in our inventory. The event, beginning from January 27th 2001, let you obtain an Egg Ticket from the Day Care Man, to redeem at the Communication Center. This allows you to get a rare baby Pokemon with the Egg move Dizzy Punch and has a 50% chance of being shiny. It's just given to us in the international versions, though there are a couple more exclusive events we didn't get, such as the distribution of the Bluesky and Mirage Mail. There's one more event we'll go into later.
To go into further detail, the Mobile Game Boy Adapter was released on January 27th 2001, as a collaboration between Nintendo and Mobile21, which was jointly owned by Nintendo and Konami. Two months in and the peripheral had only sold 80k units, as the only game to make extensive use of the device was Pokemon Crystal and mobile phones were still relatively new, so young players of the game wouldn't have one. This was the main reason we didn't get this device in the West: it sold poorly and Nintendo of America were unsure how well mobile phones would sell. It was just a bit too early for such a crazy device.
The service shut down December 14th 2002 and all features in both Crystal and Stadium 2 that used this device are dead and gone. Sounds familiar to the GTS, right? There are further features of the Mobile Adapter GB that we'll go into when we see them. But for now, the Pokemon Communication Center is just a glorified Pokemon Center now. Though I should note that connection between friends is still possible if you use a peer-to-peer network. This still allows you to access the two new menu options: MOBILE and MOBILE STADIUM, which only appear when you successfully connect to the mobile network. The full title should be MOBILE CENTER, but it was too long to fit in the menu, so it's just MOBILE.
The Mobile Center let's you set up your profile for Pokemon News purposes and lets you access the Battle Tower when it becomes available outside Olivine City. We'll be going into this later. You could also use a Card Folder, to check your profile and manage a contact list, similar to the Pal Pad, though with phone numbers instead of friend codes. The Mobile Stadium, meanwhile, allowed you to take timed mobile battles from Crystal (10 minutes max) and replay them in full 3D on Pokemon Stadium 2 via the Transfer Pak, similar to the VS Recorder. An example of such a battle can be found here.
The last thing to really note about the whole package is the Mobile Trainer. Included with every package of the Mobile Adapter GB, this was a general guide and help menu for the new system and allowed you to set up and change your registration details and see your remaining balance. You can only access these features when you're connected to a mobile phone. You could even sign up to an email system that let you text other players and also connect online to the Mobile System GB homepage, which published various articles around different titles. For a clearer look at the program, I recommend this video.
There's not much else to really note about the Pokemon Communication Center, there's a lot to cover and it was a pretty deep and useful system that was unfortunately short lived. As a small easter egg, the designs of a Pokemon's stat screen are different in Japanese.
Even the Pokedex looks different.
But now we're back to our regular English playthough. And you'd think we'd be done, but there's just a little more to show off. Now when they translated this game for international audiences, there was a decision to dummy out all of the Mobile Adapter stuff. But that doesn't mean they removed it from the game. Far from it, they simply made it inaccessible. In fact, there's an unused warp to the Administration Office in the Goldenrod Pokemon Center. Now what if we used a code that changed unused warp tiles into holes we can fall though?
Tada! We're in a legitimate map in the game's coding. Only the Administration Office is available and the entire thing is translated, meaning the decision to dummy out the mobile stuff happened after they'd gone forward with it. There's even translations in other languages! Though the English version progressed the most.
: When my first try worked, I was so impressed that I got the shakes!
There's actually more to the Communication Center in reference to the Ruins of Alph. Those secret chambers only available in Crystal recently appeared according to the scientist there, but in the Japanese version, he theorizes they exist due to the opening of the new Pokemon Center and the radio waves from there are conflicting with the natural radio waves the Unown produce. This fits in with the opening of the game, where the Unown communicate to Suicune, alerting it to the Ruins of Alph. For whatever reason, this was not included as part of the game's story, but we'll be getting into that in a few updates.
Like with the Japanese version, we have the map of the full Pokemon Communication Center (referred to as the PokeCom in international versions, though ultimately unused), but there's no way to access this map properly without changing a warp in the game's coding. Only the Administration Office has a direct link to the international game.
But that's everything to do with the Japanese version of Crystal, we might come back a bit later for a couple of other reasons, but now we move onto something else entirely.
Welcome to the Japanese version of HeartGold! I didn't go over the Game Corner in the SoulSilver update, for good reason, cause we're gonna be going over it today.
The inside of the Game Corner looks like it usually does, right? Well everyone's familiar with the international version, we'll talk about that in just a moment, but for now, we can't do much here, we're missing something very important.
No, not TM87 Captivate. You can obtain this much later in the game, but you do have to buy it, so Japanese players get a nice little freebie here, like they usually do.
We actually need to head back and get the Coin Case, since you get given that automatically in the international versions. It's where we found it in GSC, in the Underground.
And look at this crazy bullshit, we can buy coins here! Woah.
Anyway, let's do some goddamn underaged gambling already!
The slots this time around follow the DPP feature of playing a minigame on the other screen. While you had to wait a while for Clefairy (or Ditto) to pop up, Smeargle is here from the start.
The first mechanic is Smeargle's mood and can range from -15 to +15, from happy to angry, basically. When it's happy, its mood will slowly go up (to moody) every time you don't win on a given spin. But once it's already moody, it'll go up by a varying amount when you line up two Poke Balls, or two 7s and fuck it up.
If you keep missing, then Smeargle will get angrier and angrier. The main reason for doing this gives it a higher chance to unleash its anger on the coloured background. Green denotes normal play, blue gives you a higher chance of landing Pikachu or Marill. And red gives you a higher chance of landing Poke Balls or 7s. Once it changes the background, it'll then go to a random happy value, so if you keep fucking up, eventually it'll just make itself happy instead of relying on your bitch ass.
But I eventually get some wins. Go me.
The real fun starts when you roll a 7 or a Poke Ball. This begins the bonus round.
The bonus round has you matching up the three starters using three panels. Thankfully, two of the panels are locked in and the speed is low enough to make the match relatively easy. But you do need to make it an exact match, or you won't get coins, so you still need good timing.
It's relatively simple and you've got 15 rounds. So if you've got good timing, then you can rack up coins pretty quickly.
However, randomly, with the chance increasing the more you win, they start getting pretty nasty: requiring you to stop all three panels with it going pretty fast. These were my best attempts at stopping them.
But there we go. After 15 rounds, I racked up around 250 coins and completing the panels gave me 25 coins a pop.
After completing the bonus round, Smeargle will always change the background to red, meaning...
We can jump right back into a bonus round. This is a very useful way to chain jackpots and you should, since it's an actual mechanic. The formula to calculate payout in a bonus game is 20 + d * Floor(n / 2), where d is the difficulty, either 1, 2, or 3 and n is the previous number of successes in the current game. The difficulty increases each time clear a bonus round and start a new one. This can give you jackpots of over 400 coins if you keep winning and winning. You may also have noticed that the jackpots for lining up 7s or Poke Balls increased as we played. It increases randomly whenever you don't score a jackpot to entice you into playing further and resets whenever you come out of a bonus round.
But that's everything to do with the slots. It's definitely a fun little diversion, probably one of my favourite minigame uses, it's pretty cool to try and game the Smeargle system. But now it's time to move on to what you've all been waiting to talk about.
To conform with new PEGI ratings that made the slot machines useless in European versions of Platinum, so the game stayed at 3+, instead of 18. All western versions of HGSS have no slot machines either, as gambling is becoming more and more reviled in video games aimed at a younger audience, but they created a brand new game that isn't technically gambling. The slots and the Japanese map is still in the game, but you need to change your warps. If you try and play any of the machines though, you'll play the new game instead.
: My heart pounds with excitement when people enjoy my Coin game! Why don't you play my Coin game? You can get fabulous prizes if you manage to collect a lot of Coins.
Saves making an Underground trip to find this. Now we can play a game.
Welcome to Voltorb Flip. It's much different to the slots and you can get consistent and high payouts if you're good at maths and strategy, with just a slight amount of luck to carry you all the way. Let's see how it plays.
It's listed as a combination between Minesweeper and Picross. What you need to do is flip over the tiles to score multiplier cards to increase your payout. If you find all the x2 and x3 cards on the board, you win and move on to the next level. But if you flip over a Voltorb, it explodes and you lose all your coins, since it's technically a x0. There's also x1 cards, but those are pointless to find as they add nothing to your score, except if it's the first card you find, since it gives you 1 coin, but it's not necessary. You're told on the side how many points a row or column has, so the higher the number, the higher chance of x2 or x3 cards. And of course, if there's a high number of Voltorb, then you're gonna have some fun.
Before we start puzzling things out, there's a few steps you need to take when you start a game. First, any row or column with 0 Voltorb can be flipped no problem, since there's no chance of failure. You can see our coins are racking up and we haven't even started yet. From here, we need to start working things out.
Next, take a look at the rows and columns and any of them that have their points and number of Voltorb equal 5 exactly, you can put down whatever mark you want to make sure you never flip them over. There's no point flipping them over, since x1 cards are meaningless to your score and Voltorb of course end your run. It's easy to figure out, if you subtract the number of Voltorb from the 5 panels and the points you can gain from that row or column equal the number of potential panels to flip over, then they're all x1. We'll be using maths a fair amount now.
Carbon Dioxide has this to add, as I only really started playing this game properly for the update:
The more complete strategy requires a small change to the sum of points and Voltorbs = 5 rule. It's as follows: still calculate that sum. If it's more than 5 and you have flipped blocks in that row/column, for each 2x subtract 1, and for each 3x subtract 2 from the sum. If the result equals 5, there's nothing left of value in that row/column.
Now we've worked out all the panels we have no need to flip over without moving into the guessing... now we guess. The best way to figure it out, is to find the most likely panel to contain a x2 or a x3. Usually this is where the highest points on the board intersect, but keep the number of Voltorb on that row in mind. This is the part of the game where you just flip things over and hope for the best. But, once you flip something over, you can then do some subtractions and work out whether there's anything else on that row or column worth going for.
: You've found all the hidden x2 and x3 cards. This means you've found all the Coins in this game, so the game is now over.
: Congratulations! You can receive even more Coins in the next game!
Now we can move on to the next level. As you'd expect, you have more Voltorb show up, but also more x2 and x3 cards, giving you a really big bonus if you play lucky.
So here's our level 2 board. We unfortunately have no clean rows, nor any that add up to 5. So we just skip straight to the guessing games.
It's pretty simple, just find the most likely multipliers and work from there.
And before long, we're in the clear.
Overall, while this game isn't particularly difficult, it does require an annoying amount of luck and guessing, once you figure out what panels to ignore.
But it's not long before we reach level 5. There's 7 levels in the game and from level 6 on is when you can get over 600 coins a round, no question.
Okay, pretty lucky how we can ignore three rows and get a high scoring bottom row.
Sometimes the game psyches you out if you want to flip over a card that's either a multiplier or a Voltorb. But I will admit, I'm pretty good at maths, so I wasn't worried. Well maybe 99% sure. And congrats if you noticed a couple of errors I made working out if a row or column was now useless, so I'm surprised I've got this far, honestly
And now it's level 8! But how come? The only way to get to level 8 is to win 5 games in a row. Thankfully it doesn't require beating level 7 five times in a row, but it can be tricky regardless. This is where the big bucks are from and since this is the hardest match, let's go over our tactics.
We can wipe off one column and then go on by hoping the high points intersecting work out.
Some more reasonable guesses and then we can work out some more useless rows.
Okay, we're nearly done. Can't be much more to go. Can you work it out?
And there we go. That jackpot total is pretty insane, since getting to level 8 only gained us like 1000 coins.
And you can keep on going until you fail, or you get 50k coins without stopping. Once you get rolling, you can get insane coins from this game. Now if you fail, you'll drop down a few levels and lose all the coins you'd gained in that level. How many levels you drop down is determined by the added value of the cards you've found so far in the level. So if you find a Voltorb right away, you're going right back to level 1.
: You can exchange your Coins for prizes with the two gentlemen at the table over there.
We have a nice array of pretty expensive prizes. It's the same in the Japanese version, but you can buy your coins there, so those prizes are easier to get. But really, Voltorb Flip can be a lot of fun and you can get some mad coins quickly, but it's understandable why it's quite a divisive game. Game Freak just played it safe from Gen 5 onward and just removed the Game Corner entirely. So RIP.
And that's it for this update and indeed everything about Goldenrod City. Next update, we'll be back to our English version of Crystal as we finally move on to new locations.