Games

Why we can’t have nice things…


The only reason even more people aren’t playing Animal Crossing and other Nintendo Switch games while in lockdown is that all new online inventory is being snapped up by bots and resold on eBay at a substantial markup. And with walk-in stores still closed in most places, online inventory is the only kind there is.

Switch scalpers make the busty cheesecake cry:

Annals of the not-very-bright, volume 37


Nintendo:
to keep people from changing the clock to cheat at Animal Crossing: New Horizons, we’ve made it impossible to transfer your save file to another Switch, back it up to our paid cloud service, or have multiple save files on a single console. If your Switch gets busted, stolen, or lost, kiss your island goodbye. For now, anyway; we’re thinking about offering a custom transfer/restore option sometime, maybe, later.
Every gaming site:
just turn off Internet time sync, and you can freely change the clock to cheat at Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

I guess now we know what the decision-makers at the WHO and CDC were up to before they got sidetracked by Corona-chan…

Gigantamax Gardevoir revealed


Now that’s what I call evolution! Although, technically I suppose it’s Gainax rather than Gigantamax…

Related, on a whim I watched the new all-CGI Netflix Pokémon movie while on the elliptical, and while it’s shallow and cliché and poorly acted and basically impenetrable to anyone not well-acquainted with the anime, what really rankles is that they completely failed to make Misty cute. Most of the other females were at least presentable, but damn, the character designer must dislike her.

The Witcher series, on the other hand, is quite good. I bounced on the most recent game, and I’ve never read any of the books, but one of the random people still on Tumblr that I follow is obsessed with it, and it sounded like it had potential.

Dear Pokemon Company,


Remember when you decided that the multi-player interactivity in Sword and Shield would be restricted to seeing player names and pokemon nicknames, participating in raids without even hand signals, and burning curry together?

The following screenshot from the shiny new trade tool Pokemon Home tells me that your system needs a little work:

Seriously, how do you not block the all-caps N-word in an online service where you validate the data before allowing someone to start a trade?

Also, this was on Pokemon Day, when it was announced that Greninja was the most popular pokemon in the world, and sure to be searched for by lots of players.

In other news, I think I’m ready to face the first gym challenge in my new German Shield playthrough…

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Okay, Game Freak…


Tired of one-third of all raids being G-max Alcremie for the past month? Good news! Now half of all raids are Milcery, plus a chance at the item that turns them into… (wait for it…) G-max Alcremie.

Sitting at home sick yesterday and today, I’ve gotten at least sixteen of them so far. In fairness, the pre-evolved ones all had strawberries, and this event is handing out all the other candies, so you can fill out the full set of 63, if you’re into that sort of thing.

It appears that this is heavily biased toward low-level characters, and people who’ve finished the story won’t see quite as many of them. I had whimsically decided to level up a second profile in Japanese far enough to catch some Dittos, so I’m drowning in マホミル.

Unrelated, in anime news, Funimation belatedly realized that a show about men screwing whores was about men screwing whores, and ran away screaming. Interspecies Reviewers is no longer streaming legally in the US, or some other related streaming services internationally (apparently Sony bought up a lot of them).

A Beginner’s Look At Pokémon Sword/Shield


Since I burned out for a while on Breath Of The Wild, I’ve bought a number of other Switch games, including a steeply-discounted copy of Diablo 3, which made a nice holiday diversion (reached GR89 in season 19 with a one-button monk). Now I’m alternating between that and Pokémon Sword, as illustrated in the most recent cheesecake post.

I am not of a Pokemon generation. I never watched the shows or played the games, and in general, I’m only slightly more acquainted with its memes than I am with Zelda’s. I briefly played Go because some friends were into it, but while I understand it’s more of a game now, at the time there just wasn’t much to it.

(this also means that I was blissfully unaware of the “dexit” “controversy” surrounding this game, until the DLC was announced and people found even more ways to complain that Orange ’Mon Bad; note: don’t try to explain it to me, I don’t care)

Since the primary functional difference between Sword and Shield is a list of semi-exclusive “mons” that I have no prior attachment to, my decision was based on the fact that the exclusive minor human character is a cute karate chick in Sword, and some sort of weird radioactive mutant boy in Shield.

So, what do I think?

  • Fully half of the time it takes to finish the main story is spent waiting for the screen to change. Not “watching animations and cutscenes”, but literally waiting for sleep(1) to finish (sleep(5) before you set the text display to the fastest speed); without the obviously artificial pauses, you could finish the story in about two hours once you knew your way around. I expect most speedruns will use a hack that eliminates these delays.

  • Your remaining play time is divided pretty evenly between shaking berry trees, fighting squirrels, collecting watts, dressing up your avatar, clicking through cutscenes that occasionally offer “choices”, repeatedly clicking to get in and out of menu screens, playing the slots, beating up Chloe for her lunch money, waiting out the start-of-battle animations, clicking through the end-of-battle text boxes and animations, battling the raid/trade matchmaking system, sorting through your inventories, and (finally!) grinding levels battling actual pokemon.

  • The only way to interact with other players is to grief them in raids, cheat them in trades, or put up a tent and silently ruin curry together.

  • Terrified of the potential liability from allowing players to exchange offensive words, the game instead encourages creatively offensive and unchangeable character and pokemon nicknames.

  • Don’t bother clicking on the “players” you see biking around the Wild Area when you’re online; they’re just NPCs that drop curry ingredients, repetitive dialogue, and your frame-rate.

  • Multi-player raids are so broken that the advice on how to get in reads like a cargo-cult airstrip manual, and is about as effective.

  • The official explanation is that you need to open a fulltime firewall hole passing UDP ports 1-65535 to your Switch, which is a spectacularly bad idea; it’s also not true, although it gets a bit less unhappy with you if you disable port remapping (“type B” NAT on Switch network test; A is for wide-open binat, D is for “out of the box with every goddamn router on the planet”).

  • The draw distance on the 3D engine in the Wild Area is really, really poor; not only do things pop in right in front of you (especially if you’re online), empty raid dens appear full of watts until you’re close enough to realize you’ve wasted your time biking over to them again.

  • Speaking of the bicycle, you can spend hours dressing up your dollie, but everyone wears the same pajamas and helmet when they’re on a bike, which is 99% of the time.

  • Speaking of online, it requires a paid Nintendo Online subscription for each user profile, which means buying a family plan even if there’s only one person with one Switch.

  • Despite this, the game does not support cloud backups, so you can’t switch Switches; your save file is tied to one device.

  • To solve this problem, they’re creating another paid subscription for transferring your pokemon between games. On the bright side, I’ll finally be able to do something with that old Pokemon Go save file…

  • If you’re not interested in dressing up your dollie, play the male avatar, which has very little customization compared to the female.

  • Despite the third-person camera view, this game avoids the common problem of “staring at your avatar’s (pre-teen) ass for 200 hours” by giving you a huge honking backpack.

  • That said, if you dress a girl in the water-gym uniform, her raid animations are pure pedo-bait. Dock-owner Ryu’s famous “damn I’d like to see you in eight years” comment definitely applies.

  • Put at least one pokemon into each of the 8 inventory bags and exit the menus to unlock bags 9-16, then repeat until you have 31-32 bags; you’re welcome.

  • Now move all your favorite critters to high-numbered boxes and change their names and backgrounds to help overcome the crude inventory management.

  • Leave box 1 empty, because while newly-caught pokemon go into whatever box was last open, ones returning from jobs always go into the first available empty space, which is annoying as hell.

  • When the berry tree starts shaking fast, you can only shake it one more time without triggering a squirrel attack; you’re welcome.

  • When you reach the Wild Area the first time, run straight through to the next town, go past the Onix, and talk to the black NPC outside the record shop to enable the volume control settings; you’re welcome.

  • You don’t actually use the item he gives you to disable the music adjust the volume; it just adds options on the settings menu.

  • Divide most of your early time between solo raids for loot and farming trashmons for XP, then hit the next gym battle and repeat.

  • The only difference between NPC Martin and a classic online PC troll is that he doesn’t insult your mother before trashing your raid.

  • How bad is the raid NPC AI? So bad that you’re thrilled when Isabella shows up with her Magikarp, because you know it will at least attack rather than sit there and buff itself until it dies.

  • Related, I’d like to see some fan-art of Patricia, whose NPC model and animation don’t seem to show up outside of raids. She’s cute, grown up, and spends the entire raid shaking her ass. [update! just found her on the road to Spikemuth, and hanging out in one of the pokestops; no ass-shakingdancing, though]

  • On the subversive side, this game celebrates capitalism as you work to earn three separate currencies, and enforces heteronormativity with two fixed genders that are required for breeding.

  • Unless you identify as a Ditto, in which case you can fuck anything.

  • There are only three random NPC spawns in the Wild Area; pay Fisherlady and Digbro 100 watts every time you see them, and beat up Chloe’s starter collection until you’re crazy strong and flush with cash (find the Amulet Coin in the Motostoke Outskirts or buy the Luck Incense in Hulbury to double her cash drop).

  • The other two Digbro slot machines are more expensive and tedious, but can eventually drop all four fossils needed to finish off your pokedex, along with some other useful stuff.

  • Most of the other fixed-spawn NPCs who look exactly like Digbro are curry-related; the most important item to buy from them is the Food Tin, which you’ll need 12 of for your currydex (6 to trade with people who bought the other game).

  • Spend the rest of your watts on Quick and Repeat balls when they’re available, at least until you reach Wyndon and find the one store that sells them for cash. Those and a bunch of Nest balls will speed up the catch-em-all portion of the game.

  • Don’t waste watts on Wishing Pieces; between world drops and the Digbros, you’ll get plenty.

  • Sell most treasure drops to any vendor, but save one of each for the guy in Stow-on-Side who pays more than double for one item per day.

  • Forget about all those distinctive-looking NPC models from the crowd scenes, and get used to seeing the same dozen over and over and over again; if you’re lucky, they sometimes have a different name.

  • Once you unlock fast travel, the only reason to take the roads is to check for hidden unique items you may have missed the first time, complete your pokedex, and shake berry trees.

  • By the way, berry trees can drop Leftovers, one of the most useful held items for a beginner; you’re welcome.

  • Items that claim to reduce trashmon encounters don’t do jack shit; fortunately you can almost always just run away and avoid the extra sleep(1) delays.

  • After finishing the story, use the speed rental team to quickly get through level 4 of the solo battle tower; this unlocks “IV” quality display in the inventory.

  • Always catch the flaming pokemon; free watts, and when you unlock IV display, you’ll finally find out how much better they are than the others.

  • Using an item on a pokemon applies its effect immediately, while having one hold an item does nothing unless there’s an associated trigger event; that’s an hour of trying to evolve an Applin that I want back.

  • I have no idea what a shiny is, or what pokerus refers to, and don’t really want to find out.

Final report: 8/10, would catch again. First half of DLC comes out in June, second in November. By then I’m sure to have stopped playing for long enough to be willing to come back and try out the new areas.

(list of well-known link-trade codes after the jump; you’re welcome)

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Virtual Escape


The single most useful feature of virtual desktops in Windows 10 is getting out of crashed full-screen games:

Win-Ctrl-D
Ctrl-Alt-Del
"End Task"
Win-Tab

Living in the world you made…


It’s a pity that when you beat the Big Bad in Breath of the Wild, you don’t get to live in the world you’ve made (unless you count the sequel that’s coming next year…). Like all soldiers returning from war, Link has picked up some behaviors that don’t translate well to peacetime, and mastered many skills that there would no longer be much use for. I figure Zelda will quickly become so exasperated with him that she’ll welcome the next catastrophe:

Habit Is A Cable

“Link, no! I just bought that vase!”

“It might have rupees in it.”

“Link, stop! Those crates are filled with supplies!”

“I certainly hope so.”

“Link, that belongs to someone! And you already have four of them.”

“I need five.”

“Link, those apples are offerings to the guardian deities!”

“​…and darn tasty.”

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