VIDEO GAME: Pokémon Picross (2015)

Pokémon Picross Year: 2015 Rating: E Time Played: ~78 hours I’ve never been much of a fan of picross-type games. Mostly, the user interface for them required the use of a D-pad, which made solving each puzzle a slow endeavor. Additionally, most of the pictures created via these picross puzzles were not that interesting. This was why I was surprised to find that I enjoyed Pokémon Picross so much. Sure, it might be a picross game at its core, but the addition of the Pokémon brand made it much more entertaining to play than any other picross game I’ve come across. Additionally, the 3DS touch screen and stylus made completing puzzles that much easier than using a D-pad. While the Pokémon content and stylus controls were two reasons I ended up completing this game, I admit that it has one annoying flaw: paywalls. Granted, Pokémon Picross is a free-to-play game, but there are a few points early on where you need a certain amount of...
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VIDEO GAME: Pokémon – Platinum Version (2009)

Pokémon Platinum Version Year: 2009 Rating: E Time Played: 88.65 hours Even though I was a fan of the Pokémon series growing up, when the main-line games transitioned over to the Nintendo DS, I couldn’t justify buying the new system at the time. I felt the dual-screen/touch screen format was a bit of a gimmick (which I still do, to an extent). However, fast forward a good decade or so when I finally gave in and bought a New Nintendo 3DS. This now meant I could play a sizable back catalog of games, including the Pokémon games I had missed since the change over to the DS. Fortunately, because I had waited so long, I could jump right into the 4th Generation games with the more complete Pokémon Platinum Version. Having now played at least one game from each Generation all the way through (I’m still working on Gen. 8, though), I think Pokémon Platinum provides the best experience of any Generation. Not only was...
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VIDEO GAME: Pokémon – White Version (2011)

Pokémon White Version Year: 2011 Rating: E Time Played: 61.88 hours As I worked through the back catalog of Pokémon games I had missed between Generation 3 and 7, I had always heard that the Generation 5 games were the most difficult. Having completed Pokémon White Version, I can say that there is a definite challenge spike when compared with previous entries in the series. This doesn’t mean it’s an impossible game, just that it took a little more work and a little more grinding to be able to defeat the final bosses. Since grinding isn’t necessarily that enjoyable, this made the gameplay suffer slightly as a result. I was quite surprised to start up this game and find that all the Pokémon I was used to were nowhere to be found. Granted, they did show up after I beat the game, but by then, it was clear that this Generation of games was a reboot of the series formula. With a whole bunch of...
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MOVIE: Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution (2019)

Mewtwo Strikes Back: EvolutionYear: 2019Rating: PGLength: 98 minutes / 1.63 hours Growing up with the Pokémon franchise during the peak of its fervor, I definitely remember going to see the first movie when it came out in theaters. Consequently, there is an amount of nostalgia that I associate with this first forray of the franchise onto the big screen. When I saw that Netflix had recreated the 2D anime of my childhood with their style of CGI animation, I was intrigued enough to check it out. Much like in the recent CGI version of The Lion King (2019), just because a movie was faithfully recreated using newer animation technology does not make it a better movie. Additionally, I believe the fact that I had aged since I first watched this movie made it so I could see it through a more objective lens. What I found was that the story was incredibly light, and the only thing that made it worth watching...
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VIDEO GAME: Pokémon X (2013)

Pokémon X Year: 2013 Rating: E Time Played: 36.37 hours When I finally bought a 3DS, one of the games I had missed (that I quickly rectified) was Pokémon X. I appreciated all the legendary Pokémon given out as part of the 20th anniversary of the Generation 1 games. Still, I didn’t get around to playing through this game until after Pokémon Sun came out. For the first game in the series to be fully 3D, I certainly enjoyed the look and polish of it, even if the stereoscopic abilities of the 3DS weren’t used as much as they should have been. After all, with everything rendered with 3D visuals, I want the full game to use the ability of the hardware to display in 3D. After playing the much more difficult Generation 5 games, I did enjoy how much easier they made Pokémon X. Granted, they kind of overdid it with the sharp drop in difficulty. Still, I also think they were trying to...
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VIDEO GAME: Pokémon Sun (2016)

Pokémon SunYear: 2016Rating: ETime Played: 115.37 hours While I grew up with the original 1st Generation Pokémon games, I had lost interest in the series just after Gen. 3. This was around the time I headed off to college, so I didn’t have as much time for video games as I did while in high school. Fast forward to the 20th anniversary of Pokémon and the release of Pokémon Sun and Moon. There were plenty of legendary Pokémon being given out at the time, so I found it was as good a time as any to get back into the series. A lot had changed since I left, and Pokémon Sun carried over plenty of these changes. I appreciated a lot of these tweaks, including the removal of HMs and unlimited-use TMs. And while adjusting the “experience share” to give experience to all the Pokémon in my team made the game a little easier, it also reduced the amount of grind that...
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VIDEO GAME: Pokémon Sword (2019)

Pokémon Sword Year: 2019 Rating: E Time Played: 92.03 hours As with any new iteration of a long-running franchise, it’s equally interesting to see how the formula is changed to make things interesting while also cutting out some of the tedium present in previous installments. While Pokémon Sword has certainly improved some of the quality of life issues present in the franchise, some of the newer features still need a bit of work to be fully enjoyable. That being said, for the first time in many generations, I was able to (almost) completely fill my Pokédex (even with the DLC Pokémon, having not actually bought it) while playing entirely by myself. I still have a few evolutions I need another friend for, but they account for ~1% of the total. I was somewhat pleased with the introduction of the “Gigantamaxing” mechanic, even if it was essentially a combination of Mega Evolution and Z-Moves from Generations 6 and 7, respectively. The annoying thing about these special...
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VIDEO GAME: Let’s Go Pikachu (2018)

Pokémon: Let’s Go PikachuYear: 2018Rating: ETime Played: 23 hours I hesitated to pick up Let’s Go Pikachu for the sole reason that I already had bought this game decades ago in the form of Pokémon Yellow. I couldn’t justify spending $60 for a re-skin and decreased difficulty to align it with the Pokémon Go-style of catching. That being said, I was able to pick this title up for $20 as a part of Redbox’s video game sale, and I’m glad I did. Sure, the game is the same as before, but there are a few things I still enjoyed about it as I reveled in the nostalgia it brought to me. First off, the visuals are stunning. I think we often forget how limited the Game Boy’s graphics were, but seeing all these classic Pokémon in full HD on my big screen was an experience. I also appreciated how they removed HMs in favor of special techniques for Pikachu to use, which...
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MOVIE: One Piece – Stampede (2019)

One Piece: Stampede Year: 2019 Rating: PG-13 Length: 101 minutes / 1.68 hours It’s interesting how different Japanese franchises handle their 20th-anniversary movies. In the case of Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You (2017), a nostalgia tactic was used to bring in those viewers who might not have seen a Pokémon movie since the anime started airing back in 1997. Two years later, and another well-known anime (or at least it should be well known) has a movie that celebrates the 20th year of its animated series. One Piece: Stampede (2019) takes a somewhat different tactic here and embraces everything that turned it into what it is today. While anime movies rarely interact with the canon of the series they’re based on, it is essential to note that the author of the original manga did help create the story for Stampede. The reason why this is important is that this movie was able to bring together 20 years’ worth of extraordinarily overpowered and unique characters in a way...
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MOVIE: Detective Pikachu (2019)

Detective Pikachu Year: 2019 Rating: PG Length: 104 minutes / 1.73 hours The transition of nostalgia into live action can be a tricky business. Plenty of franchises have faltered in this aspect, so it was interesting to see Pokémon approach it from a side angle. Instead of adapting the core series of games or anime to a live-action adaptation, they instead used a spinoff game as the framework to create this movie. Despite my initial skepticism, I can honestly say that Detective Pikachu (2019) works much better than any video game franchise adaptation before it. It’s not entirely perfect, but it came a lot closer than any of its predecessors. On the plus side, the “realistic” Pokémon were enthralling—if not wholly terrifying (I’m looking at you, Ludicolo)—to see in a real space interacting with humans. I already had a bit of a visceral reaction to seeing realistic fur, skin, and feathers on Pokémon when I played Pokken Tournament DX. At least they certainly seemed to be at...
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