Oct 242012
 

Join your favorite robo nerds as they talk about the new Pokemon games, pizza, Pokemon making booze, World of Warcraft, and farts (though not necessarily in that order).

Also, David mentions a charitable art auction he’s contributing to. If you’re interested in checking that out, you can go here.

[podcast]http://archive.org/download/Robocast031-PokemonBlackwhite2/robocast031.mp3[/podcast]

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Aug 212012
 

Beginning on August 27th, USA Pokemasters can go to their local GameStop and grab their very own Keldeo, also known as the “Colt Pokemon”. Its unique Water/Fighting typing will make it a valuable addition to any team.

 

Once Keldeo is transferred to Pokemon Black/White 2 it will gain access to it’s additional form, and learn its signature move Secret Sword. This event won’t last long, so be sure you don’t miss out on adding this special Pokemon to your team!

Oct 132011
 

TEN-HUT! Tell me what’s pink, squishy, often makes squeaky sounds, and is bound to make you smile? No…we’re not talking about THAT. Now drop and give me 50 and stop being a pervert. What we’re talking about is one of Nintendo’s most understated franchises — KIRBY! Kirby has experienced a lot of adversity in his days; he’s been forced to shift the world around him for mobility, turned into a ball that can only roll on rainbow lines, and even been morphed into a circle of yarn and transported to a world made entirely of fabric. Now in Kirby Mass Attack, Nintendo and HAL Laboratories have fit Kirby into yet another whole new and unexpected type of game. Continue reading »

Jul 282011
 

Not only has this been a summer full of super hero themed blockbuster movies, but it has also been a summer filled with super hero themed lackluster games to tie in to these movies. I tried really, really hard to like Thor: God of Thunder and Green Lantern: The Rise of the Manhunters but I just couldn’t do it — despite Thor’s pecs that could crush a walnut and Hal’s abs of steel. They both felt like drab games that had been rushed to be released in time to sorta-kinda tie-in to their respective movies. Naturally, you can appreciate the trepidation with which I approached Captain America: Super Soldier, especially since it was developed by Griptonite who did the aforementioned Green Lantern game. I knew deep down inside of me that the animated version of Chris Evans as Captain America wouldn’t exactly put the toppings on my pizza, if you catch my drift, but I was surprised to find an enjoyable 2D brawler seasoned with a bit of nostalgia a gamer of my advancing years can appreciate.

Gameplay
Captain America: Super Soldier on DS plays a lot like any 2D beat-em-up game, such as Viewtiful Joe or Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. You advance Cap through the levels of Hydra’s (the bad guys) headquarters until you hit a spot where you can no longer advance. Then you must brawl your way through wave after wave of spawning enemies using B to jump and evade, Y to initiate attack combos, X to throw enemies, and R to block attacks or deflect projectiles. Once you defeat every enemy in an area you will be allowed to continue your progress through the stage. Landing successful blows while avoiding taking hits yourself will fill up Captain America’s special attack gauge. Once it is half full you can press the L button to unleash a special attack that damages everything on the screen, or you can wait until it is 100% full to unleash an even more devastating attack. The controls are quick and responsive, though it is  a little too easy to get into a rut of just bashing the A button to spam the shield throw. Trying to vary Captain America’s attacks usually just results in him being overwhelmed until his health bar is drained away.

The development team at Griptonite went to great lengths to keep the gameplay elements varied. There are segments where you will have to keep Cap out of the line of sight of Hydra’s soldiers, then stealthily sneak up behind them and take them down. There is also a pretty good range of enemies for the Captain to pummel: ranging from run-of-the mill Hydra foot soldiers who are wussier that the biggest wuss in the imaginary town of Wussopolis, to gigantic missile firing robots like Iron Cross. There are also auto-run levels where Captain America will run at full speed through the stinking and stagnant bowels of Hydra castle while you only control his jumps jumps in order to grab medals which increase your score, and you can hit Y to do a shoulder bash which will eliminate the Hydra foot soldiers in your path.

Throwing the shield well will be crucial to your success in this game. Image courtesy of GamesPress.

Most people wouldn’t expect to find a puzzle in a 2D brawler like this one, especially ones that require at least a rudimentary understanding of geometry. There is nothing even close to the level of puzzles one would find in a game like those in the Legend of Zelda series, but they are certainly a welcomed addition to the game. Usually the puzzle is an environmental one that requires players to find and manipulate switches that will unlock the way forward. All of Cap’s special skills are used, such as his wall jumps, dashing (we’re talking about running fast here, not being a lady killer), and most importantly, the shield throw. Many switches needed an electrical charge to activate, so you would have to throw Captain America’s shield at an electricity source and ricochet it to the switch. It’s pretty convenient that Hydra’s secret switches are seemingly designed specifically for Captain America to foil, but how often does the world of video games actually make sense?

Presentation
Visually, Captain America: Super Soldier looks good. The color palate of the backgrounds is pretty dull and washed-out, but given the fact that the whole game takes place in a singular location that happens to be a Nazi military base that is somewhat forgivable. I really doubt Red Skull spent a lot of time watching Christopher Lowell for advice as he was choosing the castle’s decor. Character models look very small, but that could be an attempt from the developers to show the scale of the castle. All in all animations are fluid and the overall visual style is one that plays to the DS’s strengths well. The sound is composed of standard adventure music fare which is very conducive to crushing in Nazi skulls. Believe it or not, dialogue in the game is handled by actual voice acting, which is pretty rare in a DS game.

Image courtesy of GamesPress.

Honestly, Captain America: Super Soldier on the DS surprised me. After a summer full of disappointing super hero games I went into this with low expectations and came out of it with a renewed hope for this genre. Fun beat-em-up gameplay joined with interesting puzzles and a fairly solid presentation made this a game comic geeks of any level would want to check out. Maybe the inevitable Avengers movie game won’t be awful, and maybe it will pander just a little to the gay geeky gamer audience, but I wouldn’t count on that just yet.

Captain America: Super Soldier (DS)

ProsGood gameplay and decent graphics make for a super hero game that finally feels playable.
ConsColors look washed out, Cap's moves are little unbalanced.
VerdictAnyone looking for a decent super hero game on the DS will like this game.
Rating
70%
Apr 112011
 

It's KROOKODILE!

 

Krookodile — The Intimidation Pokémon, or as I like to call it “the Pokémon who wears its sunglasses at night”. It’s hard to look at Krookodile and not compare it to Tyranitar, and sadly Krookodile will always fall a little short of its Generation II cousin. It has lower base stats in almost every area and less types it resists. Nonetheless, Krookodile would be a viable addition to most teams with it’s excellent 117 base attack and decent base speed of 92.

Set type: Revenge Killer
Nature: Adamant
EVs: 252 Attack, 252 Speed, 4 HP
Ability: Moxie
Item held: Choice Scarf

Moves:
-Outrage
-Earthquake
-Crunch
-Stones Edge

Moxie really gives Krookodile the chance to be come a sweeper with this set. One KO will boost its attack one stage and give it the extra umph it needs to tear through most, if not all of, an unprepared team. Outrage could also be replaced with Pursuit if you’re so inclined, giving you a nice hit on Pokémon too scared of Krookodile to stay and fight, but I personally have an issue with two attack moves of the same type one Pokémon.

Set type: Sweeper
Nature: Adamant
EVs: 252 Attack, 100 Speed, 156 HP
Ability: Intimidate
Item held: Leftovers

Moves:
-Bulk Up/Hone Claws
-Earthquake
-Crunch
-Stones Edge/Taunt

On this set, Intimidate is preferred over Moxie because it makes Krookodile’s switch in much easier. The EV spread will give it just the right amount of HP it needs to take a hit or two while switching in and setting up, and enough speed to outrun just about anything that isn’t holding a Choice Scarf. I would chose Bulk Up over Hone Claws because Bulk Up helps shore up Krookodile’s mediocre defense. Granted, the accuracy boost from Hone Claws would be nice alongside Stones Edge, but with 80% accuracy that boost is hardly needed. Taunt is given as an option for you to block set-up of entry hazards.

Countering Krookodile isn’t too challenging if you can outrun it and have a super effective move. Krookodile has five weaknesses, and no moves that are effective against those types of Pokémon. Sure, you could put Fire Fang or Thunder Fang on Krookodile, but they’re pretty useless moves unless they are joined with a STAB and super effectiveness.

Bearing this in mind, it is important to consider Krookodile’s team mates. Water and fighting types will probably be the two most common counters for Krookodile, so you will want to bring along something with strong electric, grass, flying, or psychic moves. As long as its fast enough, Krookodile can manage ice and bug types itself with Stones Edge — so if you put Taunt on the sweeper set you’re probably in for some trouble from those types. Zapdos would be an ideal teammate, as would Ferrothorn or Breloom.

Do you love Krookodile, or hate it? What are some strategies you use with or against it? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

Krookodile's normal and shiny sprites

Apr 092011
 

For the advanced Pokémon trainer, there are a lot of numbers to keep track of: Effort Values (EVs), Individual Values (IVs), and all sorts of other PokéData is constantly swirling in their head. Back in the days of Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald this meant carrying around a notepad, pen, dense strategy guides, Pokédex books, and a calculator — or finding appropriate tools and information on the internet. Now, with the abundance of mobile technology Pokémon trainer can carry all they need in the palm of their hand.

EV Counter by Khatto Software
In the early days, trainers kept track of the EV points they were spending by using tally marks on a piece of paper, or by counting the PP of the moves they used in battle. When Diamond/Pearl/Platinum released and had the Pokétch feature, I decided to use the Pokétch’s counter app to keep up with my Pokémon’s EVs. There was a small problem with this method however: the counting app reset to zero when you moved to another Pokétch app or saved the game and came back to it later. The EV Counter app in the Android Market offers the perfect solution for tabulating EV spreads. You can set what EV boosting item your Pokémon is holding, toggle Pokérus on or off, and much more. The app auto saves your progress so you can easily pick up where you left off with your training any time you want.

EV Counter is simple to use and intuitive.

The same developer just released an app called “Poké Pal” which seems like it will be an even more useful tool, so give it a look while you’re in the Market.


CalcIVm by RBDevv
Determining a Pokémon’s Individual Values used to be a complex ordeal, involving NASA supercomputers, complex thermodynamic algorithms, and a slide rule. Web-based IV calculators made life easier for trainers when they were at home, but those who are like me and usually play Pokémon on the go needed a mobile solution. CalcIVm is clean and simple, and does it’s job well. You simply input the Pokémon’s name or National Dex number, level, characteristic, and stats and then the app instantly displays a range of possible IVs for each stat.

CalcIVm is simple, clean, and accurate.

Pokédroid by Nolan Lawson
Pokédroid is a fully functioning Pokédex for Android smartphones. It displays all the data you could possibly need for every Pokémon, except their location in-game. The developer is currently considering how to best display location info and has expressed his plans to add that feature at a later date.


Other than having the nicest interface available for a mobile Pokédex, Pokédroid has a few other unique features. The first is that it you can search by voice, provided you can pronounce the Pokémon’s name correctly. The second is that the app uses a text-to-speech feature to read you the Pokémon’s entry, which gives the feel of having a device much like one in the anime. Now your Ash Ketchum cosplay outfit can be 100% complete! There are advanced sorting modes, allowing you to sort by moves, base stats, or other criteria.

One of my most used Android apps to date.

Not only are all these applications incredibly useful, but each of them are completely free, with not even so much as an ad in sight. In this day and age, when children basically emerge from the womb clutching a mobile device so they can update their Facebook status as soon as the doctor slaps their hiney, it is nice to see gaming tools becoming popular in the form of mobile applications. If there are more Pokémon apps you use on a regular basis, let us know about them in the comment section below!

Apr 012011
 

It’s hard for me to imagine my life without Pokémon. I’ve been collecting, battling, breeding, and training the adorable little buggers just about since they were released into the wild of North America, a little over thirteen years ago. Given the fact that I am nearly 30, that means I have been playing Pokémon for almost half of my life. Now before you come rushing over to my apartment with cases of BENGAY and Metamucil (FYI my favorite flavor is orange), just relax for a second so I can turn up my hearing aid and we can talk about the real topic here – Pokémon Black and White. The two newest games in this insanely successful video game franchise are about as close to a reboot as the series has ever gotten, and it is a much needed refresher considering how often this series is accused of being stale. It is for that reason that this review attempts to look at Pokémon Black as a standalone title. Please don’t think any obvious comparisons were omitted due to my feeble, old mind breaking down!

Story
If you’ve ever played a Pokémon game before, this will sound a little familiar. If not, be warned that a few spoilers may follow. You are a pre-teen who doesn’t seem to have a father, and is living in the smallest town in the entire region of Unova. Your town is also home to Professor Juniper, the most accomplished Pokémon researcher in the area. She sets you on a journey to see all of the Pokémon in Unova in order to complete her electronic index of Pokémon, or the Pokédex. In order to aid you on your quest, the professor gives you a familiar fire/water/grass type Pokémon. Along the way, you will encounter dubious Pokémon trainers known as Team Plasma who seem hell bent on snatching everyone’s Pokémon. You will also, as has been par for the course over the last decade and a half, discover there is a legendary Pokémon that will either destroy or save the world.
Aside from an adorable monster to aid your quest, you also have two friends that will travel with you. Bianca is a little older and has some daddy issues. Cheren is a boy who shares your goal of becoming Unova’s Pokémon League Champion, and is perhaps ambitious to a fault. The three of you begin your journey together, but eventually take different paths and discover you have varying ideas on what you’d like your lives with Pokémon to be like. Also along the way, you will discover that Team Plasma doesn’t exactly just want to steal Pokémon, but they in fact seem to want to liberate them from their lives of slavery to trainers. This is a heavier subject than younger PokéFans are used to dealing with, but unfortunately the idea is never fully realized. If more time had been spent exploring the idea of Pokémon being mistreated slaves, then Pokémon Black could have appealed to a more mature audience, but perhaps at the expense of loosing the younger following the series has enjoyed for its entire life cycle.

Gameplay
At its core, Pokémon games are sort of an elemental version of “paper-rock-scissors”, and this hasn’t really changed much at all over the last thirteen years. Each Pokémon has one or two types assigned to it which designates what kind of Pokémon they are strong or weak against. Fire trumps grass, water, beats fire, and so on. Once getting the knack for what types trump what other types, the basic turn-based RPG gameplay seems pretty standard, but there are hidden intricacies that will keep older players occupied once they figure them out. All together, 18 types of Pokémon, but this generation brought us some new combinations, such as Golurk the Ghost/Ground type Pokémon. This and the other interesting new type pairings are sure to create some interesting teams in the competitive battling scene. Also, with the introduction of reusable TMs, trainers can try out many different and unorthodox move combinations on these new Pokémon.

Entering a gym can be stressful even for the most seasoned of players.

This generation also has the addition of Triple Battles and Rotation Battles. Each of these types of battles utilize three Pokémon on each side, but that is really where the similarities end. In a Triple Battle, players pick a move for each of their three Pokémon The tricky aspect of these types of battles is that the Pokémon on the ends can only attack the Pokémon straight across from it or in the middle. You may swap a Pokémon’s position on your turn or choose an opponent to attack. Rotation Battles are quite different and will require a lot of strategical thinking in order to be successful. Each trainer’s three Pokémon are placed on a rotating platform, and only the Pokémon in the middle may attack or be attacked. Before you make your move you can choose to rotate the platform to the left or right. The rotation happens first, then the Pokémon attack in turn based on their speed stat. What makes these battles so challenging is you have no way of knowing which Pokémon your opponent has rotated into your line of fire, so it could easily be one that will resist or even completely absorb your attack.

Presentation
Visually, Pokémon Black has brought a lot of new things to the table, despite the fact that it looks like it’s running on the same graphical engine as its DS predecessors. A huge change comes in the way of more advanced camera work. The camera’s angle seems to have been shifted down a few degrees which give the entire world a more 3D feel. Also, the camera is no longer in a static place; it shifts around to show different angles occasionally, like when entering buildings or traveling up a tower’s spiral staircase. During a battle the camera moves to create a more dynamic feel. Pokémon sprites and their attacks are more animated than ever before, and when combined with the updated camera, creates a brawl that looks and feels as much like Pokémon Battle Revolution as we can expect on the DS. Unfortunately, there is a drawback to all these new graphical bells and whistles — the camera now zooms in on Pokémon and other sprites quite frequently, giving them a pixelated look that can make the game feel a lot more outdated than it is.

The game’s soundtrack is great and sounds up-to-date. Some areas even have songs that vary with the game’s seasons, which change each calender month. New in-battle themes have been added to indicate when gym leaders are on their last Pokémon, or when your own Pokémon is low on health. Sadly, the same 8-bit screeches and electronic roars that have been assaulting players’ ears for the entirety of the series have somehow sneaked their way back in and sullied would otherwise be a perfectly passable auditory experience.

You'll be seeing the world of Pokémon from a whole new persepctive.

It would be easy to gush about Pokémon Black simply due to the amount of my life that has been spent playing these games, but when everything is said and done, this is just a great game that has the capacity to keep any player with even a remote amount of interest occupied for a very long time. A small attempt was made to mature the story, and the game’s creators stuck to their rock-solid turn-based RPG formula that can literally appeal to players of all ages. There is plenty of newness to draw seasoned vets back into the fold, but the game is still approachable by people who have been living in a cave on an isolated island and never heard of Pokémon until today. Don’t let a few graphical and sound shortcomings deter you from picking up this game, because Pokémon Black is a game worth strapping on your adult diapers and bib for. You’ll need both to keep you clean and tidy for the hundreds of hours it is bound to take you to “catch ‘em all”.

Pokémon Black

ProsPokémon Black stays true to the widely accessible turn based RPG roots the series was built upon. New gameplay mechanics and scores of new Pokémon will keep the game interesting for players both new and experienced.
ConsCertain aspects of the graphics and sound seem dated, elements of the story are stale or not fully realized.
VerdictCatch 'em all. No really, I mean it.
Rating
96%
Mar 192011
 

Ash is celebrating the release of Pokemon Black and White with his favorite black and white outfit.

Hello! My name is Aron, and I’m a Pokeholic. I’ve played nearly every version since the beginning. When the Pokemon cartoon’s theme song stated there were “150 or more” Pokemon, no one ever quite expected the ranks of these little critters to reach the staggering total of over 600 they are at today. As soon as Pokemon Black and White were announced, naysayers were talking about how a fifth generation of Pokemon was overkill, but somehow Game Freak recaptured the magic one more time.

When you make your first trip to the Unova region, you will notice that on the surface, not much has changed. You are still playing the role of a youngster setting out to complete a Pokedex, just like in each preceding game. However, instead of one rival you will now have two, but unfortunately neither one can be named. This is also the first time that the region’s Pokemon professor has been a woman. Once you set out into the world, you will notice a level of graphical refinement previously unseen in this franchise. Autumn leaves blow through the air and speckle the pavement in some areas, buildings and backgrounds look better than ever, and there is now a city rendered in full 3D. In a battle scene, the Pokemon even have a few frames of animation so they no longer just stand still. These graphical goodies pair up with a new dynamic battle camera to make a Pokemon game like none other.

Opening cinematic for Pokemon Black and White. GEE THANKS IGN!!!

As mentioned, those were only some of the surface changes. There are huge amounts of changes made to game mechanics that have yet to be explored. Tons of new abilities and moves have been thrown into the mix, along with new battle types such as Triple Battles and Rotation Battles. At this point in the game, the only new battle type I’ve had is a Rotation Battle. It was a little confusing at first, but once the concept of it clicked with me I could definitely see the appeal. If you’re planning on doing a lot of these Rotation Battles you may need to construct a specially designed team.

So far it seems like the developers crammed enough stuff into Pokemon Black to keep raging Pokeholics like myself hooked for a very long time. There is a ton of material here to delve into. So much, in fact, that at 16 hours of play time I am just feeling like I can write about the first impressions the game has made on me. Whether this is your first for tenth Pokemon excursion, there is bound to be things in this game to entertain and delight you. There is a simple enough base game here for younger people, but more mature trainers can find plenty of complexity. What are your thoughts on the game so far? Is it more of the same, or a true step forward for this flagship Nintendo franchise? Get the ball rolling in the comments below!

Feb 202011
 

Ten or so hours in, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation. It is the final chapter in SquareEnix’s series of remakes of what fans like to call the “Castle in the Sky Trilogy,” comprising Dragon Quest IV though VI on the Nintendo DS. The last two games in the series were not only fun to play, but also had really neat plot structure gimmicks that still remain rather innovative (for the genre) to this day — especially V. Add the brilliance of Dragon Quest IX to the mix and the long wait for this game was pretty tough! I must admit, though, that it was also tough to pry myself away from Marvel vs Capcom 3 to start this.

So far it hasn’t wrestled me into fanboy submission like V or IX, but it’s still crazy, time-stealing, old-school JRPG fun. Akira Toriyama’s instantly recognizable art is as entertaining to look at as it has always been, and the classic, never-changing Dragon Quest mechanics are as nostalgically endearing as ever. The music, composed by series mainstay Koichi Sugiyama, is at times lighthearted and whimsical, other times dark and foreboding. In the case of the battle theme, the music is totally badass. The bass that leads into the battles, while simple, gets me fired up every single time. The consistencies in the series somehow really make these games great, which is strange, because normally such apathy towards change in a franchise leads to stagnation. The elements that make up Dragon Quest just go that well together. Like peanut butter and chocolate, but with more slimes.

The plot so far is more goofy than anything else. The gimmick this time is haphazardly switching back and forth between two worlds in order to solve various problems and complete quests. Ten or so hours in and I’m mostly confused, but so are all of the characters, so I guess that’s fine for now. The cast, both main and inconsequential, are so silly and fun that I don’t really care much about being confused until the next nonsensical exposition scene. I mostly just enjoy using the party chat feature to interact with Carver, the first teammate you get, because he likes to talk about martial arts, smashing things and wimps. I really love this feature; it adds so much to the supporting cast. To make things even better, he and the main character also have awesome hair.

Dragon Quest VI is definitely a lot of fun, and I’m just getting started. From what I understand, the game has a class system, and I love class systems more than just about any other JRPG gimmick. I’m a little disappointed that it hasn’t made itself available yet, considering most games that have one give it to you pretty early on, which makes me think that either Dragon Quest VI is an enormous game, or that the classes might not have a huge impact on the game, which would make me very sad. For now I’m just going to try not to worry about that or think too hard about the plot, and spend more time thwomping monsters and admiring Carver’s bitchin’ pink mohawk.

Feb 072011
 

We are now only about 5 weeks away from the March 15th release of Okamiden for DS. It is being dubbed one of the “last great games tailor-made for the DS”. Okamiden is a direct sequel to Okami for Playstation 2 and Wii, and will follow the adventures of the decedents of Amaterasu and Issun, the first game’s protagonists. Seeing as how this is a game I have been anticipating for quite some time now, I figured it would be prudent to bring some newly revealed details regarding some of the game’s characters to you RoboAwesome addicts. More info is expected in the coming weeks leading up to the game’s launch!

Ryo: This demon is the sum of all those who lusted after worldly riches. At some point this demon traded the pursuit of riches for human souls. He is always calculating the best ways of luring new souls to his clutches, and will use any means he can to obtain them including lending out souls in order to collect a fatally high interest.

Shiranui: The grandfather of Chibiterasu, an incarnation of Amaterasu, the sun-god-turned-wolf in ?kami.

Isshaku: The grandfather of Issun, he played a big role in expelling Orochi over 100 years ago. Once the companion of Shiranui (the incarnation of Amaterasu at that time), he watched helplessly as Shiranui sacrificed himself for the sake of Nippon.

Sakuya: The spirit of the Konohana Sapling, she appears in the form of a younger Sakuya. Though she is in the prayers of all of those in Kamiki Village, she is unable to come into this world. Sakuya, along with the saplings, matures while taking in the peoples’ prayers.

Images and information via Capcom