Over in Japan, field testing for Pokemon GO has begun. And while Niantic’s attitude towards releasing information about this game online is a rather negative one (they’re banning users who share information and pictures of the game online), pretty much everything you can imagine has been leaked anyway.
Above: An early Let’s Play for Pokemon GO
So what’s Pokemon GO like? Well, it seems to be a mixed bag. For one thing, as confirmed earlier, you don’t fight wild Pokemon in this one. You encounter them yes, but you just throw Poke Balls at them to catch them rather than wearing down their health as in past games.
That said, it does seem like a battle system of sorts will be featured here. As of the field test beta, 137 attack names have been found in the game’s code. These include a lot of direct attacking moves such as Hyper Beam and Flamethrower, but nothing that causes status effects. Additionally, there are also ‘fast’ versions of these moves, Mega Evolutions don’t seem to be present and in gym battles, Pokemon seem to be only able to use two moves each. In other words, it’s got a battle system, but it seems to be a rather simplified version.
Some other details are:
A day/night cycle is present in the game, implying time based evolutions and encounters.
Legendary and Mythical (read, one of a kind and event only) Pokemon are in the game, and are categorised as such.
Pokemon Natures are present, but are different to those in the core games. The only ones currently known about are Stoic, Assassin, Guardian, Raider, Protector, Sentry, and Champion, and their effects are unknown.
Only first gen Pokemon exist in the beta version.
A ‘Starburst’ function has been found in the code. No idea what it does.
Similarly, Virtual Reality functionality is likely present, with references to Google Cardboard being found in the source code.
Items present in the beta are Poké Ball, Great Ball, Ultra Ball, Master Ball, Potion, Super Potion, Hyper Potion, Max Potion, Max Revive, X Attack, X Defense, X Miracle, Razz Berry, Bluk Berry, Nanab Berry, Wepear Berry, Pinap Berry, and Special Camera. Based on the name, it seems likely that X Miracle is going to be something akin to an ‘increase all stats temporarily’ item, given how the other X items work.
All 18 Pokemon titles are present. This likely implies support for later generations is coming in the future, since no Dark type Pokemon (and few Dark type attacks) are found in generation 1.
A CV (Capture Value) is associated with each Pokemon. Higher the value, the harder it is to catch.
Gyms give you points and prestige, though it’s currently unknown what these are used for.
Evolutionary stones are gained by collecting enough Evolution Shards, which are gotten from wild Pokemon you battle.
Above: Artwork of an Evolution Shard
Trainers can reach level 50, which lets them store 500 Pokemon and 1000 items. Again, this supports the theory that other generations will be featured in later updates (or even just the finished version) of the game.
Items are categorised into seven types, Poke Ball, Potion, Revive, Maps, Battle Objects, Camera and Food. It’s unknown what the last two are for, but my guess is that Camera might be something akin to Pokemon Snap and Food might be something akin to the Bait you find in the Safari Zones. But that’s just a theory based on the existing evidence.
Must have lost a few points recently, since my count was wrong. Never the less, updated.
When it comes to the gaming media, the quality of the journalism is… not very good. From lazy stories taken off social media sites to uncontrollable rumour mongering and even outright attacks on their audience, gaming journalism is to real journalism what the average tabloid is to the BBC. And just like the tabloid newspapers its quality is inspired by, the world of gaming journalism has its cliches too.
So let’s look at them all! Here are the nine laziest cliches in gaming journalism!
Video Games in Real Life
Let’s start with the most ‘harmless’ one first. Namely, video games in real life.
This was somewhat of an interesting idea… round about the time the internet started becoming a thing. So, about 1990 then. When a bunch of bored college students dressing up like video game characters was somehow a new and innovative piece of ‘comedy’ genius.
Unfortunately, since then, it’s just became way overused. For example, how many attempts at recreating Mario Kart in real life have there been?
Far too many, as you can see in the tons of real life Mario Kart videos shown above. And the thing is, just about every series on the planet has been recreated like this. Mario platformers, the Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Metroid, Super Smash Bros, Mega Man…
It’s not interesting any more, and is completely overused as an article subject. Please find something else to write about. Just not…
Classic Games Remade in the Unreal Engine
These silly remakes. Okay, there have been some cool looking Unreal Engine remakes for popular games. Like this one of Clock Town in The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask:
Or a surprisingly high amount of this Super Mario 64 Unreal Engine remake/test video:
But the vast majority of these remakes just aren’t very interesting. They’re not trying to be anything like a game, they’re just the same old bland field with a few character models chucked in for the sake of it. For example:
I get it. You can buy a bunch of assets for the engine, and find some character models from popular video games in a similar style. But they’re not interesting in any way. Anyone can make this sort of thing, it’s not special.
Talking of overused ideas, the next one is getting a bit old as well…
Video Game Marriage Proposals
It’s like rule 5963 of the internet; if a work allows user generated content, someone has used it for a marriage proposal. It’s like some sort of geeky ‘tradition’, propose to your one true love (who just happens to care about video games for some reason) through an edited video game level.
It’s happened in Super Mario World:
And Super Mario Bros 3:
It’s happened in New Super Mario Bros Wii:
Either way, it’s getting a bit old hat by this point. Indeed, it makes me want to see either:
1. Someone actually divorce someone through an edited video game. Forget a marriage, imagine someone breaking up in the form of a custom level filled with dangerous traps and angry messages. Now that WOULD make for an interesting video.
2. The person being proposed to being an actual level designer/ROM hacker, who promptly chews out the creator for their shoddy level design. Because let’s face it, almost all of these levels are designed in the laziest, most uninspired ways possible, and laden with sprite spam and cutoff. It’d be rather funny to see someone like levelengine pick one of these hacks up, utterly annihilate with a bad score in a video review and then stick it next to Hammer Brother Demo 3 and Link’s Adventure on a worst ROM hacks of all time list.
Either way, the marriage proposals are getting a bit tired now. Time to try something new! Like, the very opposite of the next cliche on the list:
The Top Two Million X of All Time
Because if there’s anything the internet likes more than jokes and memes and ‘heartwarming’ Youtube videos, it’s lists. So if there’s a topic related to video games in any way at all, there will be hundreds upon hundreds of lists about it.
Like the top ten hardest or top ten easiest bosses. That seems pretty common.
Above: There’s a good chance this guy will be on the easy bosses list. Along with Gohma and Cloud ‘n Candy.
Or lists about random subjects no one really cares about. Top ten cats in gaming? Oh sure, that’s actually surprisingly (or should I say ‘purrsprisingly’) common:
Above: Given how much the internet loves cats, this should surprise no one.
But the worst (and obviously most common of all) tends to be the inevitable list of ‘best games ever made’. Trust me here, every single journalist on the planet seems to have written a version of this list. And guess what? They’re all completely useless.
This is because of two obvious reasons:
1. Games are different from each other in just about every way, so even the best games of all time by Metacritic score are usually not comparable. Can you really say that the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time:
Can be objectively compared to Super Mario Galaxy?
Above: Can you spot all the beta elements in this trailer?
Cause they’re both good. Just good in different ways, and appeal to different people. Additionally, no one will ever actually play every game ever made. It’s impossible, there are simply too many of them. So how you can REALLY say what’s the best game? Or for that matter, what’s worst?
And that’s not even getting into today’s sorry excuse for a ‘media’, which wear their political biases on their sleeve and will happily give scores based on how ‘moral’ they think a game is rather than how good it actually is. So next to games people actually like, you get the odd walking simulator and boring Twine game that mostly only appeals to insane Tumblr users. But more on that later, the point is that top whatever lists just don’t work, and they’ve been done to death by now. Please think of something else to write!
Above: Also, you’re reading a top nine gaming journalism cliches article. I’m a hypocrite, aren’t I?
Although it should be your own work…
Press Releases as News
Which in simple terms, means something that takes effort to write.
It mostly certainly does not mean ‘copying and pasting press releases into a WordPress post’. Journalism is not ‘being paid to press CTRL + C and CTRL + V in quick succession’. It’s meant to be about doing research. Providing a balanced look at the events of the day. Standing up for people who otherwise have no voice. Finding interesting things your readers actually need to know.
Above: This is better than your ‘article’
Copying press releases and acting like corporate yes men is nothing like that. In fact, if that’s the kind of thing you like doing so much, maybe your boss should just pay your salary to the company’s marketing team. After all, they did the hard work of actually writing the press release and providing the screenshots!
Above: Some stats from Reed show that the industry is very aware of this, since apparently the average gaming journalist salary is even lower at about $28,000 (£19,000) a year…
But even regurgitated fact sheets are better than posting…
No, it’s not closing down (regardless of what some early reports may have said). But due to Scribblenauts: Fighting Words being cancelled by Warner Bros, 45% of their staff have now lost their jobs as the company undergoes significant downsizing.
Here’s the original statement from the company in full:
Statement: Unfortunately, due to a project cancellation, we have had to let go of 45 of our very talented staff members today.
Layoffs aren’t something we take lightly and we’d like to thank all our employees for all the hard work and dedication over the years.
5TH Cell as a company is not closing down, but our focus right now is 100% on helping our staff make the transition to other external opportunities. If we haven’t already reached out, any interested employer can reach us at email@example.com.
Above: Scribblenauts: Fighting Words was going to be a new Scribblenauts game for iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad.
Tim Borrelli’s tweet below is also relevant as well, though the company isn’t quite as dead as he initially believed.
Either way, I hope the good folk at 5th Cell find a new job soon, and that the company manages to keep going for the foreseeable future. It sucks to see an interesting game like Scribblenauts: Fighting Words get cancelled, and it’s even worse to end up without a job in today’s economic climate, but your skills should make you extremely hirable for other companies in the video game market. Hopefully you’ll all be able to find new jobs soon, and 5th Cell will continue as a company in some form for at least some time to come.
5th Cell Lays Off Staff as Scribblenauts: Fighting Words Canned – Polygon (via Archive.is)
Well, it’s only a rumour at this point, but dear god, it’s looking like an accurate one. Basically, a Pokemon GO panel was supposed to take place at SXSW this year, but it was cancelled. However, Niantic (the company making the game) apparently did hold some sort of presentation, and a video about the game supposedly leaked from said presentation. Here’s the video:
So… what can I say about this title? And the footage shown above?
Well to be honest, I’m not all that impressed so far. For one thing, that Ivysaur certainly didn’t blend in very well with the environment around it, and (as people have pointed out on Twitter), seemingly teleported around the place at random. Yeah, it’s early days, but it’s certainly not giving the 3DS’ AR games competition on the Augmented Reality front…
The Poke Ball select screen having the option to throw Master Balls looks a tad worrying as well. Oh sure, it’s possible we might be getting the latter in rare events and the rest from some sort of in game currency, but there’s a sneaking suspicion that micro transactions might be involved here. That it might be a lot like other ‘freemium’ titles, where the rich people buy the most powerful items outright while the rest of us are limited to whatever we can get in game. I’m hoping that’s not the case, but the small amount of evidence we have so far suggests it could be.
Still, we’ll stay optimistic. After all, we haven’t seen anything of the whole ‘battle’ aspect yet, nor how things like gyms and rival trainers fit into the whole thing. Perhaps the battle mechanics are as deep and well thought out as those in Pokemon X and Y. Maybe the above footage is merely a really early tech demo, or simply fake, and doesn’t actually indicate what encountering a Pokemon will be like in the title.
But based on what I have seen, I’m not all that impressed just yet.
First Look on Pokemon GO Gameplay – Reddit
Pokemon GO may be coming out on smartphones later this year, but it’s not doing any signups for beta testing just yet.
Unfortunately, given that this is the internet… that’s not deterred the scammers. Put simply, Facebook and other social media sites are becoming inundated with fake pages offering the ability to register for the game in advance, so long as you enter a survey to win some non existent prize or two, and they’re also popping all over the place in Google and other search engines. Here’s a example of a scammy survey page promising to let its users access the beta for the game:
As well as a Google results page showing what are clearly scam pages promising beta access:
The Pokemon website has a page (in Japanese) saying that the way you get beta access to the game hasn’t been announced yet, presumably in response to these scams going around:
Pokemon GO Beta Info/Warning (official site)
So yeah, take this is as a warning. If it’s not being posted on an official Nintendo page or channel (like the one here), or being mentioned on a legitimate news site like GoNintendo, Serebii.net or Bulbanews, then it’s not real. We don’t know whether Nintendo, Game Freak or Niantic ever will open up the game for open beta testing (or whether it’ll just be released on a single game like other games), but if they ever do look, then it’ll be on their official site and reported by the media.
Do not give your personal information away by entering these surveys, they are scams.
Beware those Pokemon GO Sign-up Pages, They Are All Scams – Destructoid