So, when you first watch a Pokemon Nuzlocke playthrough, can you really blame a guy for wanting to go back and replay through a Pokemon game with certain rules and restrictions? No, I don’t think so. However, can you blame them for getting bored with the idea and just playing Pokemon normally after a Koffing uses explosion and kills their Primeape after they spent fifteen hours raising it? Nope. Balancing in Pokemon is hard enough if my struggle with Pokemon X was an indicator. So what am I doing here? Talking about Pokemon Firered after a decade. Well, that was the plan, then I spent over 25 hours with fan made Pokemon games, so I’ll just roll them into one ball and call it a post.
I feel little need to mention much of anything about the storyline of Firered, but let’s just say that it is basic and has better writing than I recalled, but I was too busy listening to something while plaything through the game, the curse I cast on most handheld games. That, and my pre-owned, NES skinned GBA SP with stuck pixels, stuck dust, and a battery I had to replace lacked a headphone jack and I always wear those when sitting where I sit most of the time. Personal nostalgia fueled desire made worse by how I got all obtainable Pokemon and the mention of Twitch Plays Pokemon aside, I suppose that I should get down to discussing the actual merits I found with Firered, along with its faults.
First with the pros, the spritework of the games has been something I observed for literally hundreds of hours in my youth due to the popularity sprite-based of webcomics back in the later half of the ots, and as such merely seeing it in its natural environment felt as good as it was crisply crafted. The music is iconic little jingles that I understandably had on for hours on end, even though the Pokemon Center theme is basically dead to me and cries have lost their endearing nature as technology has advanced.
With technological advancements also came something I like to view as EXP balance, which allows for regular increases in level, but after nearly 25 hours with the same core team for most of the game, fighting every trainer, I was somehow underleveled for the event I had to do in order to properly beat the game. Instead, the amount of experience I got from victory road was pitiful at best, and insulting at worst. With about 60 fainted Onixes and not even one level gained for my party members who needed at least five to stand a chance against the Elite Four, I could only wonder how any child ever had the patience to beat Firered, let alone normal Red, which was likely even worse.
Even then, the ever difficult task of assembling a team was something I found to be difficult even if I wasn’t only getting the first Pokemon on each route. With limited TMs that led me to spend hours at the game counter, playing a lucky based slot game, ranting about the type and power balance in the movesets for some Pokemon could warrant a page as I go through the team I ultimately settled with. It left my starter with nothing better than razor leaf until the twenty hour mark, and a strong feeling that I was somehow playing the game wrong despite how I was attempting to assemble teams to the best of my ability.
Pokemon Firered was more fulfilling for the sake that I was revisiting something I loved as a kid than any other factor. It is not uncommon for a series to evolve to the point where the first installments in it feel archaic to a certain degree, and Firered certainly felt that way. It was a slower, more grind intensive experience than it ought to have been with a conclusion so daunting in the amount of unnecessary hogwash that I just gave up. Leaving my team for good, because what reliability I assembled was hardly worth the effort it would have taken to transfer them into the modern titles.
At the same time as my Firered kick, which failed to give me what I needed to fend away Pokerus for the time being, I saw web personality and comic review show do-er Linkara start up a let’s play of a Pokemon fan-game under the subtitle Omicron, with Zeta being its sister version, and creators being two guys making the most of RPG Maker. So I naturally downloaded the Beta, version 1.3.28 to be exact, and played it for a little over ten hours.
I do like how the game is trying to be very serious with the weight of events, as some Team Rocket recolors by the name of Asgard have destroyed the protagonist’s main town, and they must escape into the brave new world with a non-starter Pokemon. A notion that does seem even more odd given how a Horsea, Magby, and Bellsprout are the level seven team members available, and even more so given how they evolve at levels fifteen, sixteen, and I’d guess sixteen as well, respectively. Something I know because I did manage to get a Magby before I stopped playing.
A concept that is as appealing as catching starters, but the biggest factor that led me to stop is just that, the catching of Pokemon and formula for the catch rate. Take this scenario, a level seven Bulbasaur is down to one HP and is paralyzed. If this were a legendary with a catch rate of three, I would not be surprised if three Great Balls did not work, but it is not, it is an early wild Pokemon with a catch rate of 45. Combine this with a very large quantity of Pokemon jam packed into the game, and the actual catching of Pokemon becomes praying for random numbers to work in your favor after you spent ten minutes looking for the one species you desire.
Even if you do catch it, however, the game does a very good job of making one feel like their Pokemon is flawed due to the visibility of one’s IVs, which I quite frankly find to be an unnecessary thing to add in a recreation, let alone show in exact numbers. The game even goes so far as to include stones to maximize a Pokemon’s IVs, even though I highly doubt the effects of the boosted stats would be felt even if the temptation to regularly revamp one’s team with the swarm of Pocket Monsters is not overwhelming.
All of which I may be willing to forgive and ignore, except for how the game very much feels unfinished. I understand that goes with the label of Beta, but something as simple as recognizing my keyboard inputs while naming a Pokemon was laggy, with the battles feeling very cobbled together in terms of effects. Also, I am pretty sure the frame rate was tanking exceptionally hard.
Then there is the spritework, which makes me believe that there is no designated technical graphics designer for this little group. With recolored protagonists and reassembled gym leaders, whenever the game tries to throw something new, it looks very amateurish eight down to the way many of the areas look even with their fancy lighting effects and the double shadows they create. It is likely a technicality that still must be worked on, much like the audio volume, because whenever a battle starts or a PC is accessed the volume output doubles. Two things that are likely being down every few minutes if you are playing the game properly.
I feel mildly bad for stopping the game after an absurdly long route that had the worst case fo trekking back to the health station as I inched through the status inflicting fields of doom, but it contained the area I just described and several other annoyances. It is unrefined and likely could become something rather remarkable, but the desire to include every Pokemon was something of a foolish move, as was allowing for a public release of a sprite based game filled with a choppy frame rate.
However, many of those complaints can go to another Pokemon project I stumbled upon, Pokemon Godra, an RPG Maker based beta that seems to be combining large scale player choice along with Pokemon. I am actually rather fond of the grandiose scope adopted by Godra, placing you in a nation split into two with war on the brink and death being as common as the color green is in this and the average Pokemon game. Yet that sentiment is hardly taken to anywhere near its full potential, as the plot has next to nothing to do with the first word of its title. Example, the first choice I made was to help uncover some corporate embezzling that resulted in a contaminated lake. This did result in a large lake area with Trubbish lying around, but aside from the inclusion of Misty and a Pokemon battle with the man behind the pollution it feels very jarring with the tone set by the games it resembles.
There are many interesting ideas, however. For example, you have a total of 128 starter pokemon you can access, downside is that they are determined very arbitrability and can only be properly determined by a graph the creator thankfully provided. The routes and towns do have a nice sense of scale to them, but the problem I have with long stretches of land in Pokemon games is that the smart player never uses potions when the Pokemon Center is a minute away. And those routes do happen to have a wide range of Pokemon available, but the levels are very haphazardly selected, as the game seems to skip wild Pokemon leveled 6-9, and jump right to 10-15 with next to no warning.
Yet that could be a problem specific to the fact I chose to start in West Godra, as opposed to East Godra, a decision that could have easily made the level management harder to track, especially when the routes themselves seem as if they should be split up in the case of Route 5. I suppose the intertwining variables are also the explanation for why a guard refused to let me cross between an area when I can easily run around to the other side through a more time consuming voyage. That’s not even getting into a point where I did run into a game breaking bug after wandering around Godra searching desperately for my next course of action, as what I determined as my main questline had ceased until further notice. However, doing so I had to more or less join a pro-war party in order to get Rock Smash and by extension progress in the game. Which is especially odd considering how I originally viewed my choice to “join” the party as one where I would take down the organization from the inside out.
Thankfully, I did indeed discover a new version was applied, when I could easily have just written this game off, which I did not choose to do because I actually found something about Godra to be very endearing. From the world itself, the possible conflicts that were hinted at in what legendary Pokemon I had seen, and potential adding in of more complexity into the world of Pokemon. Even if it feels as if the level balance is merely placeholder, it was a journey I was enjoying thoroughly until I sequence broke so I never got a Pokedex, found a way to sequence break, and submitted myself through five hours of Voltorb Flip just to get a TM I would eventually get from fighting an uninspired gym leader.
Actually, that very gym leader did change her overworld sprite after beating her, a graphical glitch that was as smooth as a character sprite vanishing from the map, or the protagonist having trouble with certain doors. None of which are isolated instances, by the way, as in my 16 hours I assembled quite a list of unfinished animations in battle, with dig being the most notable as the Pokemon’s sprite oddly stays on screen. Oh, and need I mention how the game did on occasion chug, but the occasion was notably less common than Zeta, yet I haven’t a clue why.
As it stands, I can see myself eventually revisiting Godra in due time, but the current game is too glitchy and unrefined as of right now. From maps, to animations, to the very simple question of where I need to go, it is very ambitious which is always something of a hindrance with games that are being made in a toolset.
Okay, that’s all for now, I promise I’ll get back or playing Metro: Last Light and watching Kill La Kill before the month’s end. I’m still gonna keep working on ideas for a potential Pokemon game though.