The Let's Play Archive

Pokemon Shield

by Falconier111

Part 17: Awaiting Your Instructions

Update 18: Awaiting Your Directions

Wild Area (Version 2) - Pokémon Sword and Shield OST

While we’re here in the Wild Area, I think I’ll take the chance to get away with some mechanics chat I’ve been putting off for a bit. Like, a lot. As in, this entire update will be mechanics.

Can you see how the colors are a bit bleached out here? That’s because there’s a weather effect on the battlefield (in this case, excessive sunlight, though they can be rain, hail, sandstorms, etc.). You can only have one weather effect out at a time and they persist either until the battle ends or you replace them with another weather effect; if they reflect some environmental condition of the overworld (like in this case) they can also be present the moment battle starts. At the most basic level, they boost a particular Type’s damage (Fire in this case), plus a bunch of other minor buffs and debuffs. More importantly, they play into Abilities – remember how Tiddles suddenly stopped being Burned? Like that. You can get healing, damage boosts, stat mods, and more will out of them as long as you use them right. I rarely bother, filthy casual that I am, but NPC Trainers often make use of them as parts of various strategies.

I also promised to explain the term “Genwunner”. I probably don’t have to tell you that nerds are prone to particularly destructive forms of nostalgia, and for some, that nostalgia ends up directed towards the first generation of Pokémon games. Known as “Genwunners” for how frequently they bark about Gen 1, these folks enthusiastically maintain that the original games were by far superior to any of their heirs and that any changes to the formula drive the games further from idealized original experience. Constitutional Originalism as applied to virtual cockfights, if you would. They have a reputation for the same sort of aggressive, sneering contempt you find in any such gaggle of elitist nerds.

As someone who was there at the beginning, Genwunnism has always struck me as a bit funny. On the one hand, Pokémon Red and Blue were brilliant games, far ahead of their time. While elemental types had been around for more than a decade, they were the first games to build a complicated elemental system that rewarded clever thinking and planning; while other games had included monster party members (Dragon Quest), they were the first to not only make collectible party members your only party members, but have your opponents operate on the same system; while other games had ways different games could interface, they were the first to implement a trading system (which I’ll probably get into in a future post) that incentivized both obsessive collecting and social interaction. They were landmark games that inspired an entire genre of knockoffs, gave birth to an anime which gave birth to multiple movies, and left a permanent mark on video gaming as a whole.

But “seminal” does not mean “good”. The outdated design, frustratingly nitpicky gameplay, and graphics and sound so primitive people at the time criticized the games for it would have been enough to tank their replayability now, but they were also buggy, janky messes. When I say they were ahead of their time, in part I mean they were so big they couldn’t fit properly in the cartridge. In order to ship them out, they had to cut out (among other things) a piece of programming called a sanity checker, which would detect if anything had gone wrong and shut the game down to prevent data corruption. Without it, all sorts of bizarre design choices, spaghetti code, and various hidden issues quickly made themselves known. Gen 1 was famous for the sheer weight of all its glitches; lots of people have heard of Missingno., the Pokémon born from a memory error, but I remember catching Fire-types at sea by manipulating my placement on the map and watching a friend collect dozens of rare candies by exploiting a glitch. Hell, these games were so buggy Ephraim225 made an entire LP just to show them all off, and over its course they discovered at least two previously-undiscovered glitches in a game that’s been played continuously for over 20 years. The bugginess doesn’t make them bad games, per se, but it does make them badly designed. People had a lot of fun playing with that bad design! They sure do generate stories people love to retell. That’s not enough to put it above later, cleaner games.

To some extent, the Genwunner is a stereotype. You’ll find very few people so enthusiastic to prove Gen 1’s superiority that they’ll go looking for fights over it. But that philosophical tendency does stalk a lot of the Pokémon fan base, same as it does so many others. That doesn’t make it any more applicable or useful. Gen 1 games were products of their time, and fetishizing them because they were seminal or fun to break is not a productive use of your time.

Thank you for attending my TED Talk.

Granted, awful and impenetrable design has never left to the Pokémon series:

Blaziken386 posted:

Hey who wants to learn a fun fact

in gen 8, they changed the ability Flash Fire, and gave it a Field Effect! What's the effect, you might ask?

If a pokemon with Flash Fire is first in the party, 50% of the time, wild pokemon encounters will be forced to be fire-type, if possible.

The beginning of Route 3 has oodles of Vulpix (in Sw) or Growlithe (in Sh), both of whom have Flash Fire as their ability. (And they're not part of the "random encounter" table, they're purely overworld spawns, so they won't interfere with looking for the fire bug)

So, it's really really easy to catch a sizzlipede, provided you know about this one obscure game mechanic which is never mentioned and is entirely new to the series.
Stuff like that is never explained, but by golly they WILL hammer in type-matchups until the final boss

In case you can’t tell, he’s jumping off the ground.

After waiting far too long for this to trigger, I FINALLY got my first Affection reaction. Affection in Gen 8 is a consolidation of a couple different hidden stats that governed your relationship with your Pokémon, the oldest of which goes all the way back to Pokémon Yellow (where it governed how much your Pikachu hated you). Here, it correlates to how much TLC you give Pokémon; as is traditional for the series, there are a billion different dumb and obscure ways raise it, but the most obvious are including them in battle, using toys to play with them at camp, and feeding them lots of curry. The bonuses are so valuable it’s worth taking the time to cultivate a personal, affectionate relationship with your creatures by sitting them down and forcing food down their throats until you run out of patience. You keep track by watching those little alerts as they show up, since they change depending on Affection level.

This is probably a really deep cut, but have any of you played any of the later Persona games until up to the endgame? Early on, your Navigator character acts as mission control, by which I mean they offer you useless advice, give you information you don’t need on enemies, or tell you things you already know. However, as the game goes on, they start gaining more and more functions they use at random; healing, free attacks, stat boosts, mana restoration. Those bonuses, though always helpful, are random enough that you can’t count on them being strategically relevant. But once you hit the last part of the game, the fact that the AI isn’t planning what it’s sending out stops mattering because its actions are so frequent and powerful that they get more work done then most of your active party in every fight. I think of Affection a lot like that (though less so). Even a little Affection magnifies how much experience your Pokémon get, while as the stat rises they start dodging more frequently, refusing to faint, and getting extra criticals. Even though you can’t control or predict when Affection bonuses will kick in, they build and build until you can count on them just getting luckier than their opponents. I can and will be farming Affection.

I’ve also been hitting up various Dens gathering Watts to spend on random crap. I’ve caught a couple Pokémon, some of which are better than others, most notably a nice pupitar that’s substantially stronger than the rest of my team –

Wait. I didn’t think they… it can’t be…

No way!


Let me tell you about Sad Carnival.

Drifloons show up natively a little bit later in the game; I originally attacked one just because I thought it looked fascinating. When I found out it was Ghost-type (which I’ll get to later), knowing that I’d need it for future fights, I caught one, put her in my party, and promptly discovered she was about as hardy as an actual balloon. I wanted to keep her around, I really did, but even though she’d ladle out serious damage every time she fought, it only ever took one or two hits to knock her out. And then I hit the appropriate part of the game. Instantly, Sad Carnival went from an anchor around my neck that I was about to abandon in my box to the most important Pokémon in my party, eventually almost soloing the next Gym. If this creature even begins to live up to her, it’ll stick around in my party until the end of the game.

I’m an endless bucket of trivia, as you can probably tell, but I think that’s about enough for this update. I think it’s about time for party reorganization! I’m going to be keeping that drifloon, but with that pupitar hanging around in my party I’ll have a couple spaces to clear up. I need the thread's input; which two Pokémon get kicked out of my party? The current available Pokémon are:
If you don't remember what those Pokémon are, copy the names and put them into google. Iwill also need names for the drifloon and the pupitar. Voting probably won’t close for a couple updates, but the sooner I get a consensus the sooner I start training them up. I’d also appreciate some more name suggestions for that Hatenna and Morpeko; the current leaders (in that they have the only votes) are Morgan and Jekyll, respectively.

I’d also like some input on format. Recently I’ve been spending more time on commentary and mechanics than narrative. Does the current mixture work for everyone? Or should I be favoring one side or another?

Finally, I’ve come to a conclusion: I will not be visiting the Isle of Armor. I have
plans for how I’m going plot the rest of the LP and there just isn’t enough room to shove the entire island in. But the real reason? They left the U out of Armour