Author Archives: Andy

About Andy

I'm a paleontologist enthusiast who loves wearing bowties!

Suggested 3rd-Party Ports for the Nintendo Switch

With the myriad of ports hitting the Switch I wanted to write a short list of pre-released 3rd party video games that I think would do well on Nintendo’s newest platform.  I tried not going for big-name, highly profitable games as those I felt would be too obvious (with one exception). I also picked games that would port well to the Switch without facing a noticeable downgrade in quality. Now true, there have been a few recent games, like Doom, that ported reasonable well to the Switch but from what I understand the developers had to make a lot of cuts to make it work. I’m definitely no video game programmer so I’m avoiding games like Resident Evil 7 or God of War as those seem like a big challenge. Nonetheless, there are tons of other games that the Switch would love to have. Without further ado, let’s take a look!

Fez

It’s been six years since Fez was released but the charm of that game still stands strong for me. Surprisingly, Fez hasn’t been ported yet to any Nintendo console so the Switch may be a great way to get some attention again. Customers’ strong indies support will easily boost Fez’s sales. The only issue is that Fez’s programmer, Phil Fish, left the video game world for several years now so seeing him (or in general Polytron, the developer behind Fez) come back just to make the game compatible with the Switch seems unlikely.

Danganronpa Trilogy

Spike Chunsoft has a history developing games for Nintendo. Not even counting Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, we also have the underground hit series “Zero Escape” who’s dark, and honestly mindfuck, story isn’t a far cry from Danganronpa. So the connection is clearly there we just need the idea to take hold! The original Danganronpa games were on the Playstation Vita games so I imagine it wouldn’t be difficult to move them over to the Switch as well. Packaging the whole trilogy would make the games more enticing for newcomers as well. And frankly giving a discount on the first two games would make me want to spend money on it again just so I can have some fun on the big screen.

Fallout

Okay, so I know I was trying to avoid big-name games but I couldn’t help but mention Fallout. Recently, Bethesda commented how pleased they were on the sales for their Switch games. This mainly includes their game-of-the-year quality games, Skyrim and Doom. If they could do a decent port of Doom, why not Fallout 3, New Vegas or even 4? I don’t know if I’ll buy Fallout NV again but I’d definitely put some money down for Fallout 4. The Switch flawlessly handled Breath of the Wild and Skyrim’s open world-system so I imagine it could manage Fallout’s world. Plus, the thought of seeing Pipboy on the Switch and Switch skins seems so hilarious to me.

Persona 5

P5’s infatuation towards subways would transition well for playing it on an actual subway. I can imagine this to be a great on-the-move game as P5 is broken up by story events, battles, and side quests. True, you would (more than) likely get lost in the palaces if you stopped midway and picked it back up eight hours later but if that’s the port’s only fault, I’ll take it! What’s more, P5 was initially developed for the PS3 before transitioning over to the PS4. I bought the PS3 version and it runs pretty great! The load times are supposedly longer compared to the PS4 but I never felt they dragged on or were infuriating. Plus, Atlus already has a healthy relationship with Nintendo and even developed a Persona game, Persona Q, and its soon to be released sequel Q2, on the 3DS. Out of all the games on this list, P5 is the one most likely to happen.

Katamari Damacy

Why the hell does Nintendo not have any Katamari games? I’m still surprised by this just thinking about it. Katamari’s weird, offbeat humor would mesh well with Nintendo’s imagry. Namco could also go above and beyond their port by implementing motion controls. Perhaps you can give yourself a workout by moving your hands back and forth like our prince character. Or you could move just one Joycon forward, backward, and side-to-side to control the general direction of your katamari. Either way, I would be down to trying and playing it with motion controls. Katamari could also have a bonus level in the Mario Kingdom or Hyrule which would be hilarious! The thought of rolling up Gorons, Goombas, Koopas, and Octorocks would be a blast.

Journey

This is a curveball but I believe a Journey-port would be a fantastic hit on the Switch. Not only has it been years since its first and second release on the PS3 and PS4 respectively but it’s a game that has held up extraordinarily well. The distant mountain you strive towards evokes a similar feeling when Link steps out of the Shrine of Resurrection and looks out to the huge, expansive world of Hyrule. And meeting a fresh new group of journeyers like you along the way would be so spine-tingling heartwarming and bittersweet. Journey is all about…well the journey. And to experience that once again on the Switch would be touching.

Advertisements

The Best Games, Pokemon, and Moves for a Poison-Type Run

If you’re looking for a fun, and rather different, Single Type (or Monotype) run in Pokémon I would suggest the Poison Type. This is one of the few types that make a feasible run in Generation 1 due to their extraordinarily high abundance and diversity. Ever since then, these toxic monsters litter the games and make a wonderful monotype run in every generation with the exception of Black/White and its sequels. For this article, we will look at the best games for a Poison Run and the most common and/or useful poison type Pokémon you’ll run into during your playthroughs (along with some helpful moves to look out for).

As usual, the rules are as stated. You must catch the first Pokémon of that type ASAP and disregard all other types. A Pokémon that evolves into your type may be trained as long as you evolve it ASAP. Only Pokémon you can catch in your game are counted (i.e., no traded Pokémon). And only pre-Elite Four Pokémon are counted for the run.

The Worst Games

Just avoid Black/White and its sequels. They have low occurrences of poison Pokémon and, depending on your version, don’t appear until after your first gym at least.

The Best Games

Honestly, pick virtually any other game in the series and you’ll have a fun time. If you want more information, consult my type chart as seen here. Now, you’re going to watch out for Psychics for most of the games as Poison/Dark Pokémon are exceedingly rare and unfortunately there’s no Poison/Steel or Poison/Psychic yet.

Single Type Run Chart of all Pokemon Games

Nostalgia paints a rosy picture for all of us so take this for what you will but one of the best Poison-Type games would be Red, Blue, and Yellow. You can get a Bulbasaur as a starter (or get it later in Yellow), catch a Weedle in the forest and from there, pick up the Nidorans, catch a Zubat in Cerulean Cave, pick up a Bellsprout or Oddish if you’re feeling it, and then find a Gastly/Haunter in the Lavender Tower. Later on, you can find your Tentacool in the seas, Venonat in the Safari, and finally catch a Muk or Koffing in the Cinnabar Mansion. Lots of good choices!

But what if you hate Psychics and realllly want to defend yourself?

Generation 6 and 7 will do you wonderfully well along with Diamond/Pearl/Platinum.  You can catch a Poison/Dark pokemon in all these games like  Drapion, Alolan Muk, or Skuntank.

I think if I had to choose I would go for Pokémon Y as you can catch a Skrelp and evolve it into a Dragalge! I love this Pokémon but it’s unfortunately rare. You can also get a Bulbsaur (with a mega bonus too!), Venipede, Croagunk, and Zubat fairly early on so that already gives you a good wide base of moves and abilities. Later on you can catch a Nidoran, Stunky, and Tentacool which further expands your movesets. Drapion fans are in luck as Skorupi is catchable with the setback that you won’t find one until late in the game. I’m not even counting other Poison Pokémon as well! So you got a lot of great choices going into it.

 

MVP (Most Valuable Pokémon)

Crobat Line

Considered one of the most pestilent, annoying Pokémon, Zubat, and its evolutions, can be found in every single game naturally except Black/White. There’s a reason many players dread going into the caves! But to the Poison Type fan, Zubat is a blessing. Not only are they usually found early on but they offer a valuable immunity to Poison’s hated Ground weakness. Zubat’s final evolution, Crobat, is also a solid Pokémon to train. Incredible speed and a wide range of support moves makes Crobat a great partner when tackling your respective region. Oh, and Crobat has the highest stats of any non-Mega, non-Legendary Poison Pokémon. That’s pretty awesome!   Plus, Crobat gets a subjective boost as you need to love and support your bat to be its very best! Love it.

 

Tentacruel

Similar to the ubiquitous Zubat, you can find Tentacool in every game except Black/White and its sequels. Unlike Zubat though, Tentacool does not neutralize any weaknesses but the trade-off is pretty great. Tentracruel is a great wall that has decent special attack. Teaching Tentacruel Surf and Ice Beam is a smart way to handle Ground types (and Giga Drain as well in some games!). Tentacruel also learns Toxic Spikes which really hones in that Poison mentality.

 

Venusaur/Roserade/Victreebel/Vileplume

Unfortunately from here, Poison Pokémon are more scattered throughout the games so any I list from now on must be taken with exceptions. That being said, these four itchy and allergenic Pokémon you will more than likely find on your journey. Grass/Poison Pokémon serves as a decent wall for different types and offers a nice neutralization towards Ground moves. Poison status and Leech Seed/Drain moves can make short work of walls while gaining you a nifty HP boost in return. Venusaur is obviously the top choice here as it’s the strongest of the four and, if you’re playing in later generations, can go Mega. That being said, if you want to venom-up your creepy Poison team, I would get a Victreebel ASAP!

 

Drapion/Alolan Muk

The Poison/Dark combo is by far one of the best type-combos in Pokémon. And if you’re lucky to play a game with either of these guys then you’ll have a swell time. Of course, that Dark-half makes them immune to any Psychic attacks so when you’re going up against a Psychic-trainer then these guys will make short work of them. Of the two, I honestly would pick Alolan Muk mainly for that amazing design and great moveset (plus one of its abilities is Poison Touch which is superb for wearing down your opponent). Drapion is still amazing though and if you give it a strong Bug move like X-Scissor, then you got your Psychic-bases covered.

 

Nidoking/Nidoqueen

As much as I love the Nidorans, they are unfortunately not that common in the main games; Kanto, Johto, and Kalos are pretty much the main regions you can catch them. That being said, they are great for their nice stats, lovely designs, and a STAB Earthquake bonus. The Nidorans also learn a bunch of moves through TMs like Thunderbolt, Flamethrower, Ice Beam, and Surf. Finally, they both learn moves naturally that can combat weaknesses like Nidoking’s Megahorn and Nidoqueen’s Crunch (but only for Generation 3 and on).

 

Scolipede (and other Bug/Poison Pokémon)

Bug/Poison Pokémon are honestly a mixed bag. On the one hand, they’re (usually) available early on, they neutralize Ground weakness and have a STAB, super effective move against Psychics. On the other hand, their stats range from average to poor and what Bug moves they do learn are usually weak (or in early Generations practically nonexistent). Scolipede is the exception to this rule, although mainly available in Black/White and X/Y, Scolipede is a fast, hard-hitting Bug Pokémon that can learn Megahorn naturally and learn some decent TMs, like Earthquake. If you can’t catch a Venipede but still want a Bug, go for the likes of Venomoth or even Dustox. In later generations, they can learn Giga Drain along with Bug Buzz and the incredible Quiver Dance.

 

Gengar/Haunter

So I honestly hesitate to put Gengar on here as although it is a strong Pokémon, there’s some unfortunate setbacks. First, trading. If you’re going solo you’ll have a hard time trading that Haunter. Now if you love Haunter that’s not a big deal! I honestly have taken Haunter to the

Elite Four several times and I love that creepy ghost. So if that doesn’t bother you then good! Second, the game appearances. Gengar has a spotty record of locations as it’s entirely absent from Hoenn and basically nonexistent in Unova. Other than that you’re looking at a Pokémon that surprisingly has some early-in-game locations as seen in Johto and Sinnoh.

There’s also a weird sticking point for its ability. Gastly and Haunter have Levitate which is amazing for those Ground moves. Gengar though lost its Levitate ability in Generation VII so be prepared to suffer a OHKO from an Earthquake attack as Gengar’s defenses are low. However, Gengar is a beast! He can learn an amazing array of moves like Shadow Ball, Psychic, Thunderbolt, Dazzling Beam, Energy Ball, and the list goes on.   He’s fast as well and that special defense is pretty good. If you can get your hands on a Gengar you’re going to have a stellar time on your Poison Run!

 

Helpful Moves

Bug Buzz-Level up for Venomoth and Dustox (but starting Generation IV and on)

Crunch- Leveling up for female Nidoran line, Alolan muk, Drapion, and Seviper

Dark Pulse-Level up for Gengar Line, and a large number of Poison Pokémon via TM.

Energy Ball-TM for Grass/Poison Pokémon and Venomoth, Dustox, and Gengar.

Giga Drain-A large abundance of Pokémon can learn it by level up, TM, or Move Tutor

Ice Beam-TM for Water/Poison Pokémon, Nidoqueen and Nidoking, Swalot

Megahorn-Level up for Scolipede and Nidoking

Shadow Ball-Leveling up for Gengar line. TM for many Poison Pokémon.

Shadow Claw-TM for Nidorans, Gengar, Salazzle, Stuntank

Surf-HM for Water/Poison Pokémon, Nidoqueen and Nidoking

X-Scissor-TM for Beedrill, Ariados, Crobat, Seviper, Drapion, Toxicroak, and Scolipede

 

Review of the Oscar Nominated Short Films (Animated) for 2018

I’m back again with another article on the Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts. 2018 was a satisfying year for shorts as all the nominees were entertaining and moving in their own way. Although Lou’s animation and Garden Party’s ending were fantastic, it’s the characters, humor, and voice acting of Revolting Rhymes that make it my pick for best ONAS of 2018. Let’s dive in.

Dear Basketball

The weakest of the five shorts although that does not mean I disliked it. Far from it, the pencil animated styles stood out strongly against the plethora of computer-model shorts from this year and the narrative was definitely it’s own thing (plus the score was quite moving thanks to John Williams). Dear Basketball, which focuses on Kobe Bryant’s basketball career, makes it this year’s memoir short along with Negative Space. Although it was nice, it falls flat for two main reasons. The first was the deflated story.   There wasn’t much conflict or pivotal moments to keep the story going. What’s more, this memoir short was too positive on Bryant’s basketball career and did not bring much in the way of sorrow or negative memories. It definitely paints Bryant in a positive light which makes it feel more self-adorning, and unfortunately egotistical, than self-reflecting. I will say the scene when Bryant mourns his aging body was great as the style shifted jarringly and really communicated how debilitating that was for him. Beyond that, nothing much else to say.

Negative Space

The other memoir short also stood out for its style and the premise and, unlike Dear Basketball, had a healthy mixture of positive and negative memories. Unfortunately, Negative Space’s story felt a bit clipped. At first I laughed at the line “there’s too much negative space” in the funeral scene but then I was astonished when the credits rolled after that. What I took as a comedic line was instead a somber reflection at how careless the coffin was created for the protagonist’s father. With such a quick ending, I felt cheated, as if the story was going somewhere but then decided to pull the plug half way through. With that said, I do like how much thought went into animating the background and the luggage as it really highlights the unique father-son bond the main character has.

Garden Party

What an ending! This was Mary’s favorite and I liked this one as well. It took me awhile before I realized what exactly was going on. Eventually, I was thinking an apocalyptic event happened and nature was reclaiming lost territory. My prediction was almost completely wrong but I’m happy that I was. What I find so compelling about this short are the frogs as they look so realistic but…not? It’s like the frog-version of the Uncanny Valley which I find amusing to think about. I think this quasi-realistic quality helps make the shocking ending great as the bloated decomposing man is so repulsive against the cute and adorable antics of the frogs. So funny.

Lou

Out of the five shorts, I predict Lou will win the Oscar. The story is nothing to write much about but Goddamn is Lou’s animation fantastic. You could tell the animators tirelessly planned and animated Lou’s movement to the insanity that his anatomy would let him. The whole chase scene with the kid was great, I could watch that scene dozens of times. Other than that the only other thing I have to comment is, did anyone else experience an existential crisis when the kid took all of Lou’s belongings and gave them to the kids?   Like, where did Lou go? Is his personality split up? Is he gone? Does he come back when the kids eventually lose their stuff again? The toys in Toy Story got nothing on Lou. Entertaining and energetic short but that’s not enough to make it my favorite for this year.

Revolting Rhymes

I went to see the shorts with Mary and my friend Kaitlin and all of us agreed that this was one of our favorites if not the favorite of the five shorts. Where to being on it? First, the short’s length was spent fantastically as no minute felt wasted. The characters, the pacing, the style, the voices, the humor all coincided perfectly to match Roald Dahl’s twistedness. There are so many things I loved about Revolting Rhymes. Like how the Mirror was animated very different compared to the rest of the characters indicating otherworldliness to him. Red and Snow White’s friendship felt believable and the Wolf’s revenge was not hackneyed or farcical.   And unlike Negative Space’s ending where I felt cheated, I felt satisfied but intrigued by Revolting Rhymes’ ending. Curious how the story could continue but content if this was the true ending. Not to say that it is, mind you, as it is Part 1. I really want to watch Part 2 and see how everything plays off.

If there’s one major criticism I had about the short its Red and Snow White’s “friendship.” Yes, I love their relationship but come on, they’re totally in lesbians with each other. Don’t give me this bs they are friends. They should be married. Sorry it just seems so painfully obvious they love each other but the short says otherwise. Come on.

See you at the Oscars!

The Dog Talisman: The Best Defensive Talisman

Happy Year of the Dog! We’re back once again to talk another talisman and this time it’s the Dog. The Dog Talisman has a special place in Jackie Chan Adventures as it introduced two prominent, reoccurring supporting characters. One was Scruffy, the noble dog that inherited the talisman’s power, and the other is the amazing Hak Fu! That’s right! Hak Fu’s was first introduced in the Dog Talisman episode in season 1, pretty interesting, huh?

But I’m getting ahead of myself, what does the Dog Talisman do? The Dog Talisman’s power is immortality. Whoever holds the talisman will not die and will survive events that would otherwise maim or kill them. We see Scruffy surviving a blast of dark magic from Daolon Wong, Uncle withstanding a brutal, wall-breaking punch from Hak Fu, and Jackie escaping unburnt from Shendu’s fire blast. This is a defensively strong talisman! However, beyond this the power becomes a bit inconsistent. Sometimes, the user does not flinch from attacks (like Scruffy for instance) while other times they seem to feel the pain but exhibit no outstanding injuries (like Finn’s collisional injury or when Shendu was electrocuted). This inconsistency seem to derive more from story convenience and less on the user or the situation. The show implies the talisman brings youth to the aged like it did for Uncle in season 1. Although he did not physically de-age, he fought like he was in his prime (it also cured him of his lactose-intolerance).

Some people scratch their heads though as the Dog Talisman sounds suspiciously like the Horse Talisman and its power of healing. I would also question why the two talismans even exist separately. Remember, the talismans originated from Shendu. An ancient warrior casted a spell on the dragon and extracted his powers in the form of the talismans. Wouldn’t the healing and immortality be the same talisman? Also, I have to wonder why Shendu would even need the Horse Talisman if he’s immortal all the time (even Finn questioned why he would need to carry both at the same time)! But I’m nitpicking here.

If Jackie Chan Adventures had less respect for its characters or storyline we might have seen the Dog Talisman used more commonly as a solution to tricky problems. Luckily, thanks to Jackie’s reluctance on talisman use, this was not the case. When we do see the Dog Talisman, it’s usually in the vein of a talisman episode or a season climax. On that note, characters label the Dog Talisman as one of the “cool” talismans making it one of the first talismans characters try to snatch in the heat of the battle. Whoever carries it means their foe has to think cleverly to win the battle which is always an exciting moment.

Regardless, we have an unusual situation in that we have a “cool” talisman that rarely makes appearances! So there’s not much to talk about the Dog Talisman besides one noteworthy moment in Jackie Chan Adventures. As mentioned before, in season 2, “Enter the Demon World, Part 2” Jackie survives a fiery blast from Shendu thanks to the Dog Talisman. When they escape, Jackie relies on the Dog Talisman for survival and when he loses it, he doubts his own strengths. Jade rallies Jackie though and explains how Jackie by himself is still a great hero. This lifts Jackie’s spirits and helps the J-Team defeat the demons. It’s a touching moment in the series in that we rarely see Jade give an effective pep talk to Jackie.

That’s it for now, hope you all have a great Year of the Dog!

Best Types for a Single Type Run in Pokemon Gold, Silver, Crystal, HG, and SS

Pokémon Gold and Silver remains one of the top rated and favorite games in the Pokémon franchise for fans all around. Their popularity was heavily boosted with Heartgold and Soulsilver which, at the time, modernized the games and brought with it Pokémon that could follow you wherever you go. And now, with the rerelease of Pokémon Gold and Silver on the Virtual Console, I thought it was time to revisit these games but this time ask the crucial question, what are the best types for a Single Type (or Monotype) Run? This article will be similar to my previous two articles on the subject matter so feel free to check those out for more information. As usual, a Single Type Run is a run that involves no trading, only trains Pokémon of a certain type, and is completed when you beat the Champion (or in our case the first Elite Four). Since Heartgold and Soulsilver are very similar to their original counterparts (minus the Pokewalker) they’ll be included as well.

Best Types

Image from bulbapedia

Generation 2 has an advantage over its predecessor as it’s building off of most of the original 150 Pokémon with the addition of a 100 new Pokémon that bring more type diversity. As such, there are a lot more fun runs to choose in these games compared to Red, Blue, Yellow, FireRed, and LeafGreen. The best type for a Single Type Run is probably the Water type. A huge diversity of Water Pokémon available throughout the game makes this a fun type to play as there are many different team combinations. Most notably, this generation introduced Quagsire which neutralizes Water’s weakness to Electricity and can be caught after the first gym. The Flying type is probably the second best as you can catch about ten different type combinations and there’s a new catchable, Flying Pokémon after each gym battle. Other types do very well including Ground, Bug, Normal, Poison, and, if you are generous, Grass and Rock. Check out a list of team combinations below.

Worst Types

Image from bulbapedia

The usual suspects for a bad Single Type Run are found here namely Dragon and Ice. Dragon’s especially bad as you can only catch a Dratini after the final gym and you can’t get a Kingdra unless you trade for one. Ice is very funky though as although the weaknesses are neutralized regardless of the game, the first Ice Pokémon you can catch is the Union Cave Lapras after you get the Surf HM (which is activated after the 4th gym). So you’ll be playing awhile without any Ice Pokémon. Ghost is also not that swell as despite Gastly’s pre-first gym availability, the next Ghost Pokémon you can catch is Misdrevous at Mount Silver, so basically at the end of the game!

Since Gold and Silver introduced Dark and Steel it’s no surprise that there is a rather low and late diversity of them in these games. You have some pretty big handicaps as Steelix and Scizor are basically off the table unless you have a trading partner. Then there’s poor Dark as many of the famous Dark Pokémon (Houndoom, Tyranitar, and Sneasel) are available after you beat the Elite Four.  Although once you finally catch that Murkrow, you won’t have to worry about Fighting and Bug attacks!

Pokewalker

Before I list Type Team Combinations, I should talk about the Pokewalker. As mentioned before, HG and SS are basically the same game as Gold and Silver with some tweaks, graphics update, and other gameplay features which doesn’t affect a route’s Pokémon. But the Pokewalker, God bless this device, makes it so you can catch some Pokémon as early as the first route. Sure, you might have to do a lot of walking but it will be worth it! The Pokewalker makes it so you can catch Electric, Steel, Psychic, Fighting, Dark, Ice, and even Dragon Pokémon right from the get-go! All these Pokémon are Pokémon you can still catch before the Elite Four so you won’t change your team diversity but at least you can get them earlier. This means you can do a feasible Ice type Run as you can catch a Shelldar and a Smoochum fairly early on. If you still have your Pokewalker, give HG and SS a go because a lot of types become more fun for a Single Type Run. I’ll make special mention of the types that are affected by the Pokewalker below.

Team Combinations

Bug

Ideal Team: Heracross, Venomoth, Shuckle, Parasect, Scyther/Yanmega, Forretress

First Pokémon: Caterpie (G, C, HG)/Weedle (S, C, SS)/Ledyba (S, C, SS)/Spinarak (G, C, HG) in Route 30 before the first gym. Venonat and Paras via Pokewalker.

Covers Weaknesses? Yes

Dark

Ideal Team: Murkrow, Umbreon

First Pokémon: Eevee given by Bill in Goldenrod after the third gym or Murkrow via Pokewalker.

Covers Weaknesses? Yes, thanks to Murkrow and Fairy not being introduced yet

Dragon

Ideal Team: Dragonite

First Pokémon: Dratini via Dragon Den after the eighth gym or bought at the Goldenrod Game Corner after the second gym (or by Pokewalker).

Covers Weaknesses? No

Electric

Ideal Team: Raikou, Ampharos (G, S, HG, SS), Magneton, Lanturn, Electrode, Jolteon

First Pokémon: Mareep via Route 32 after first gym (except Crystal which would be Magnemite Route 38 after the second gym) or Magnemite, Elekid, and Voltorb via Pokewalker.

Covers Weaknesses? No, Ground is not neutralized.

Fighting

Ideal Team: Primeape (C, G, HG)/Machoke, Poliwrath, Heracross, Hitmontop, Hitmonchan, Hitmonlee

First Pokémon: Heracross via headbutting trees after the second gym, Poliwag in Crystal via Route 30 before the first gym, or Machop via Pokewalker.

Covers Weaknesses? Psychic and Flying not neutralized.

Fire

Ideal Team: Typhlosion, Magmar, Ninetales (S, SS)/Arcanine (G, C, HG), Flareon, Rapidash, Ho-Oh (G, HG)

First Pokémon: Cyndaquil via starter

Covers Weaknesses? No; Rock, Water, and Ground (besides Ho-Oh) are not covered

Flying

Ideal Team: Gyarados, Dragonite, Gligar/Gliscor (G, C, HG)/Skarmory (S, C, SS), Murkrow/Honchkrow, Jumpluff, Xatu

Optional Pokémon: Dodrio, Pidgeot, Spearow, Mantine (G, C, HG), Crobat, Yanma/Yanmega, Scyther

First Pokémon: Pidgey and Hoothoot via Route 29 before the first gym. Pidgey, Doduo, Spearow, Hoothoot, Murkrow, Zubat, and Dratini available via Pokewalker.

Covers Weaknesses? Yes, regardless of your version

Ghost

Ideal Team: Haunter

First Pokémon: Gastly via Sprout Tower (or at night at Route 30 in Pokémon Crystal) before the first gym; Gastly can also be caught on the Pokewalker.

Covers Weaknesses? No, Ghost and Dark not neutralized

Grass

Ideal Team: Meganium, Jumpluff, Victreebel/Vileplume, Exeggutor, Parasect, Tangela/Tangrowth

First Pokémon: Chikorita via starter

Covers Weaknesses? No, Flying, Ice, and Fire are not neutralized.

Ground

Ideal Team: Quagsire, Dugtrio, Rhydon, Nidoking, Nidoqueen, Mammoswine/Piloswine, Gligar/Gliscor (G, C, HG)

Optional Pokémon: Graveler, Onix, Donphan (G, C, HG), Sandslash (G, C, HG or by slotmachines in S and SS)

First Pokémon: Geodude, via the southern route of Route 46 before the first gym or Geodude, Onix, the Nidorans, and Wooper via Pokewalker.

Covers Weaknesses? Regardless of your version, all weaknesses are covered

Ice

Ideal Team: Piloswine/Mammoswine, Lapras, Dewgong, Cloyster, Jynx, Delibird (S, C, SS)

First Pokémon: Lapras in Union Cave after the fourth gym or Smoochum and Shelldar in Pokewalker

Covers Weaknesses? Surprisingly yes

Normal

Ideal Team: Pidgeot, Stantler, Dodrio, Girafarig, Miltank, Tauros

Optional Pokémon: Urasaring (S, C, SS), Fearow, Noctowl, Kangaskhan (via Pokewalker), Lickitung, Ambipom (HG, SS), Persian

First Pokémon: Pidgey, Rattata, Sentret, and Hoothoot via Route 29 before the first gym. Kangaskhan, Doduo, and Spearow via Pokewalker.

Covers Weaknesses? Yes

Poison

Ideal Team: Haunter, Venomoth, Tentacruel, Victreebel/Vileplume, Crobat, Nidoking/Nidoqueen

Optional Pokémon: Muk, Weezing, Arbok, Ariados (G, C, HG)

First Pokémon: Weedle (S, C, SS) or Spinarak (G, C, HG) in Route 30. You can also get Grimer, Koffing, Tentacool, Gastly, Zubat, Venonat, Oddish, and the Nidorans on the Pokewalker.

Covers Weaknesses? No, Psychic is not neutralized.

Psychic

Ideal Team: Espeon, Exeggutor, Girafarig, Xatu, Jynx, Starmie/Slowbro

Optional Pokémon: Lugia (S and SS), Kadabra, Hypno, Wobbufett

First Pokémon: Slowpoke at the Slowpoke Well before the second gym. Abra, Wobbufett, Slowpoke, Smoochum, and Staryu via Pokewalker.

Covers Weaknesses? No, Dark is not neutralized

Rock

Ideal Team: Graveler, Rhydon, Shuckle, Sudowoodo, Corsola, Onix

First Pokémon: Geodude via southern portion of Route 46 before the first gym, or Geodude and Onix via Pokewalker.

Covers Weaknesses? Yes

Steel

Ideal Team: Magneton, Forretress, Skarmory (S, C, SS)

First Pokémon: Pineco via headbutting trees after the second gym or Magnemite via Pokewalker.

Covers Weaknesses? No, Fire is not neutralized

Water

Ideal Team: Feraligatr, Gyarados, Quagsire, Slowbro/Starmie, Tentacruel, Lanturn

Optional Pokémon: Lapras/Dewgong/Cloyster, Vaporeon, Seaking, Golduck, Azumarill, Kingler, Corsola, Poliwrath, Octillery (S, G, HG, SS), Mantine (G, C, HG)

First Pokémon: Totodile via starter

Covers Weaknesses? Yes

The Rooster Talisman: there since the Beginning

Happy Year of the Rooster!  To celebrate the occasion, let’s once again check out the Rooster Talisman in the Kids WB cartoon series, Jackie Chan Adventures.  The Rooster Talisman (which bestows Levitation powers to the user) is special as it was the first Talisman seen and premiered in the first episode of the series!  Looking back at this episode, I can’t help but be amused how different the show was compared to later seasons such as the rougher character designs and an overall awkward pace.  You can tell the creators were trying to figure out what kind of show Jackie Chan Adventures was going to be.

image from jackie chan adventures wiki

image from jackie chan adventures wiki

But enough about the show, let’s talk about the Rooster Talisman!  Unlike our previous two talismans, the Rooster was prominently used throughout the show, even in episodes where it was not the focal point (a big example being Jade’s battle with the Sky Demon).  It’s now hard to understand why either.  The Rooster Talisman is simply useful.  The power to levitate yourself (and other objects) would’ve solved a world of problems for our heroes had it not been for Jackie’s reluctance to use the Talismans.

This was also one of the best episodes in the series as well.  The Rooster and Rabbit Talismans were just icing on the cake.  Image from the Jackie Chan Adventures wiki

This was also one of the best episodes in the series as well. The Rooster and Rabbit Talismans were just icing on the cake. Image from the Jackie Chan Adventures wiki

The Rooster Talisman has been a constant presence in the series for reasons you may actually not realize.  Okay, so in season 3 when Jackie blew up the Talismans, the Rooster Talisman possessed its noble animal, Eggbert, a rooster that lived in Malaysia and later moved to Kansas.  Eggbert was subsequently paired up with the Pig Talisman’s noble animal, Mordecai.  These two were the best as Eggbert just flew Mordecai around while he caused havoc with his laser eyes.  Now, this episode was one of the few times Jackie Chan an co. lost to Daolon Wong as he absorbed both powers with his freaky mouth hands.  In subsequent episodes, up to the climax of season 3, Daolon Wong frequently used his newfound levitation and heat beam eye powers to his advantage.  I like this a lot actually as Daolon Wong becomes a bigger threat unlike season 1 where the Dark Hand barely used their talismans.  That wasn’t the last of Eggbert though as he and Moredecai were infrequent guests to the show in later episodes such as “The Amazing T-Troop” and “The Powers That Be.”

Luckily, when push comes to shove the Talismans will be used as a last resort.  These instances don’t happen too often though and that’s what makes those episodes great.  Some of the special ones include the awesome Talisman battle in Season 2’s “The J-Team,” the Talisman vs Demon battle in Season 2’s “The Demon World,” and the battle against the Oni Generals in Season 4’s “Ninja Twilight.”  The Rooster Talisman’s insane usefulness combined with the show underplaying them means that every time we see someone use it, we’re in for a good time.

Happy Year of the Rooster!

Godzilla in Hell: Review and Analysis

There are few things in life that equal the ridiculous concept of Godzilla in Hell. Yet, this concept is the foundation of a wonderful comic miniseries that tells the story of Godzilla as he traverses through the different circles of Hell. When I first heard about this series I immediately was intrigued and wanted to learn everything I could about this comic book series.   When Christmas came, I finally got the chance to get the complete volume as published by IDW. And the result? I love it. It wasn’t what I expected and that’s what makes it good. Godzilla in Hell’s risky departure from the normal, Monster-of-the-Week formula, makes this series a must read for fans of the Big G.

Image from issue 1. Art done by James Stokoe.

Unfortunately, those looking for a straight-forward narration similar to Godzilla and the Fifty Year War (done by James Stokoe who also penned the first issue in Godzilla in Hell) will be disappointed as narration is kept to a minimum, if at all, and some issues have many pages completely devoid of dialogue. As such, the reader shoulders a great deal of interpretation that would otherwise be spoon fed to him. This lack of exposition makes the series strong as I feel a word-by-word explanation of Hell would only detract from the experience and not enhance the other worldly feel of this abysmal world.

Each issue is also done by a different artist and as such we see radical shifts in styles throughout the series.   The aforementioned lack of dialogue means the artists are given almost free reign over the pages without worrying too much about spacing problems. Whole pages are dedicated to scenery and battles and it’s amazing. Stokoe’s Godzilla still looks good as usual but I have to give a hand to Eggleton’s Godzilla as his issue is entirely painted and he makes a damn fine looking Godzilla.

Image from Issue 2. Art done by Bob Eggleton.

The multitude of artists leads to the most interesting thing about Godzilla in Hell and that’s the self-contained stories in each issue. Rather than one continuous arc, the miniseries is comprised of many tales that you could easily interpret as stand alone rather than interlocking. It strikes me as the old epics in literature like the Odyssey; here is another tale of Godzilla and his never-ending journey through Hell. This further lends fuel to the reader’s interpretation fire and allows us to enjoy Godzilla in Hell in a variety of ways.

With only five issues, I can’t help but analyze each of them and try to understand what the artist was trying to convey to the reader and what it means overall. In issue one, we are given a snapshot of Godzilla’s initial fall to Hell. The silence of the fall and the impact lends to the eeriness of the setting. Philip Glass’ opus Koyanassqui plays in the background in my head as I watch the King of Monsters recover and set forth. After Godzilla blows up Hell’s famous entrance sign, he encounters an avalanche of naked people who swarm him like an immense tidal wave. Are these the souls of the damned? Or souls whom Godzilla has killed in the living world? I think it’s the latter as they form a splitting image of Godzilla himself before transforming into a demonic-being that is a cross between Godzilla and Biollante. In a way, this weird monster reminds me of Shin Godzilla and how the collective power of Humanity was able to stop him and not some giant monster. Unfortunately, for this monster, Godzilla destroyed it with one mighty blast and moved forward on his journey.

The return of Rodan, Ghidorah, Anguirus, and Varan highlights the painted issue two. Demons now posses Rodan and Anguirus who now reside in Hell for eternity. Eggleton cleverly references their origin stories as Rodan first appearance was from a volcano while Anguirus’ was trapped in ice. Since Godzilla did not kill either of them (or Varan) I would wager he recognized them and did not want to kills their incarnations

image provided by snappow.com

image provided by snappow.com.  From Issue 3, art done by Buster Moody.

Issue three reveals how Godzilla fell to Hell in the first place and it’s probably the most fascinating chapter of the five although the other chapters give it a run for its money. I had to read the chapter twice before I realized that Godzilla actually went to Heaven first before he rejected it and was sent to Hell in response. In fact, it took me awhile to realize that the angel’s wings were similar to Mothra’s! In Godzilla lore, this makes a lot of sense considering Mothra is basically the Earth’s Guardian.

There’s a quote from the epic poem “Paradise Lost” that I’m sure issue three parodies which goes “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.” Unlike virtually all mortal beings, Godzilla has the power to reject Heaven and in response, Heaven sends Godzilla down to Hell. Yet after he defeats Space Godzilla, he rejects ruling Hell as well. As such, Godzilla takes a third, unscripted option that stuns the denizens of both worlds. Better to live on Earth.

I just love these issues as they are all so different in style and tone. Wonderful as they are, issue four stands above the rest as Godzilla finally meets his match through his arch nemeses King Ghidorah and Destroyah in a Hellish version of Tokyo. As much as I love the previous issue, Godzilla never faced a total sense of doom, depression, hopelessness and torment. Sure, he may have had problems with the Lust monster or Space Godzilla, but he prevailed nonetheless in relatively short battles. Issue four changes that and gives us scenes of constant battle. Scenes of Godzilla fighting and killing Ghidorah and Destroyah again and again. Scenes of Godzilla killed again and again. And scenes of Godzilla trying to break through the wall in vain again and again. We have seen Godzilla in Hell but never Godzilla in his own Hell.

Godzilla is truly a force to be reckon with but to finally find something that stops him is unbelievable. I would argue that this issue, and not issue five, truly tests Godzilla’s spirit. With no narration, we are unsure how long Godzilla has suffered. Months? Years? Godzilla’s eternal damnation may be similar to Dante’s version of Hell where the passing of time is inconsequential; it’s happening for now and forever. As such, I can’t help but applaud Godzilla’s escape; he broke through eternity. And as Godzilla leaves his Hell, Destroyah and Ghidorah, mere tools of his damnation, slowly disappear along with the faux-city of Tokyo.

Image from Issue 5.  Art by Dave Wachter

Image from Issue 5. Art by Dave Wachter

In the final issue, Godzilla has to climb an incomprehensibly steep and tall mountain where he can finally escape Hell. Out of all the issues, this one is the hardest to interpret. Why does Godzilla’s atomic breath fail? What is the giant monster on top of the gate? Why do the winged demons reform into Godzilla after eating him (and why do they all now have eyeballs) and why can they now release a full atomic blast? Although I can’t answer all of these questions, what I can suggest is that Godzilla’s indomitable spirit and will to succeed has brought him back from the dead and made him stronger.

Questions aside, this is a gorgeous looking issue. I love the lighting effects and the predominance of black and red. I feel like issue five’s Hell is like an abyss, devoid of light but not devoid of action. The lightning in the clouds was done rather well and the formidable mountain looked foreboding. This contrasts amazingly well with the last panel of Godzilla escaping Hell and he’s released onto the surface of the Earth, breaking through the ocean and taking his first breath of freedom. Godzilla never looked so content.

Overall, Godzilla in Hell is a great comic and I recommend all Godzilla fans to read it. It’s a different take for the King of All Monsters and it works well. Check it out.