Saturday, February 28, 2015

MadCap's Pokemon Emerald Nuzlocke Challenge - 19 - "SPAAAAAAAAACE!!!!"

"Oh, sorry, this isn't the self-help seminar, is it?"
Heading over to the Space Center, Andrew got to see a pack of Team Magma grunts heading for the place, followed by running into the engimatic Scott once again.  Finding him creepy as ever, Andrew was glad to see him leave and made his way into the building, where Team Magma had already set up shop.  Apparently, they want to steal the Rocket Fuel but made the unfortunate mistake of, well...announcing their evil plan before enacting it.

Doctor Doom doesn't have Twitter for a reason, guys.

Andrew fought his way through several Magma grunts to get to the stairs, coming up to be attacked by three at once...who were all kind enough to attack him one at a time with a single Pokemon each.  Besides the insane plans to either create more land or create more water, I'm beginning to think that Hoenn's criminal organizations are incredibly stupid.  Andrew was more confident in his own operation (Shroomish Highs still selling pretty well, you know).  Deeper within, he encountered Steven once more as the purple-haired man was accosted by two instead of one.
Space, Space, wanna go to space! SPAAAAAAAAAAACE!!!!
And so, the plan is revealed that Team Magma does not, in fact, want to go to space! In a terrible betrayal of the values of the Space Core, they want to aim the rocket at Mt. Chimney and hold Hoenn ransom for...well...

...okay, not really.  They want to aim the rocket at Mt. Chimney to try and cause it to erupt, flooding Hoenn with liquid hot magma (so I probably should have found that clip, but bite me), thereby creating more land.  Steven requested Andrew's help and, being the only person with a working brain cell in the entire plot, Andrew decided to get involved and save the day once more.

Admin's Maxie and Tabitha were taken down in a fierce battle, where Andrew narrowly avoided the loss of another team member.  Maxie mused on his failings of being able to mind Groudon after he awoke, and failing to force the volcano to erupt with moon rocks back in Part 10.  Finally, for a brief moment, some character other than Andrew had a moment of thought that maybe what they'd doing is completely insane! Huh!

Then, they left and Steven invited him to come visit his home right there on Mossdeep. Given that he's now roughly 3 to 1 in terms of going to houses where he ends up being put into lethal situations, Andrew decided to give it a go and head there.  Steven was welcoming and gave him the Hidden Machine for Dive, which will allow Pokemon to...dive.  With this new power, after teaching it to Leviathan, Andrew went out to go explore the wide world of Diving.

So, next time...well, we'll see what happens...

Pokemon Emerald is brought to us by Nintendo and GameFreak.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Friday, February 27, 2015

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island"

I've spoken fondly of games from my past that shaped me into becoming a gamer in the past right here on this very blog. For me, it's been games like Pokemon or Banjo-Kazooie or the Super Mario series that were some of the first I ever played as a child.  But some of my earliest memories were in playing two particular games.  You see, I came into gaming at a time after the Super Nintendo, but before the Playstation, and my parents actually had a NES and got me a SNES, so I got the chance to play many different games from that era.  Like the original Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt.

...and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.  Let me be frank - me screaming obscenities for nine paragraphs is not a review, so no, I won't review this.

Then came the SNES where I played games like Jurassic Park, Scooby-Doo Mystery, and Super Castlevania IV, among others...like Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.  If you've read my review of Yoshi's New Island on the DS, then you know all about my lavishly described backstory in which my mother would play the game and I'd observe for some time until I developed the fine motor skills necessary (give me a break, I was four) to master the big, green dinosaur with a bizarre digestive tract.  After all, even then, I could play Super Mario and pretty well, but this was just something else. Yoshi could do so much more than just the running and jumping that Mario could do.

I can't even tell you how many hours of my life I gave to this game once I was playing myself. It has pretty much all you'd expect from a Mario title. Fun, addictive, and with fair challenge.  At least, that's how it was to me when I was in my...younger youth.  So does the game still hold up to what the rose-colored glasses say it is? Or have I allowed myself to think something is good for all this time only to return to it and find it isn't remotely what I thought?
The Yoshis learned from the Muppets how to travel by map, you see...

Let's begin with the story.  This is the earliest story in the Mario series chronology (no, seriously), beginning with a stork trying to deliver the adorable babies Luigi and Mario to their family in the Mushroom Kingdom when it gets attacked by Kamek, a "Magikoopa" who has foreseen the great trouble that Mario and Luigi will cause for Bowser in the future.  While his attack manages to net him Luigi, the stork drops Mario and the little bundle of joy falls all the way to the eponymous Yoshi's Island.  There he is taken in by the natives, taught their ways, and grows up to be a fine young man who is a great warrior and friend to all animals as the Beastmas-

...oh, wait.  That's that other guy.

Instead, the Yoshis decide to reunite Mario with his brother and go on an epic, multi-colored quest to do just that. With Mario on their back, each Yoshi will take on one level as they move through six worlds of madness in order to reunite the brothers. On the way, Yoshi gets the standard Mario powers - that is to say, running and jumping (along with a flutter jump to give a few more seconds in the air). However, each Yoshi can swallow most enemies whole and...err...eject them as an egg that can then be thrown as a projectile to either interact with the environment or as a weapon.

Crashing all those hopes (of getting an extra life) down the drain...
More than that, the Yoshis can use the power of Morph Bubbles that allow them to transform into various vehicles so they can traverse the environment in different ways for a limited time, as well as being nigh-invincible in this state. The trade off is, again, the limited time. If the player doesn't reach a "Yoshi Block" in time, they're sent right back to the area with the original morph bubble after the aforementioned limited time. There's also the Super Watermelons that come in red, green, and blue varieties that cause Yoshi to spit fire, seeds, or ice in addition to the eggs that can be thrown.

The Yoshis can also collect stars (not the Invincibility Stars of previous and later games) that play into the time-based health system. Yes, time-based as would be used in later games. Yoshi himself is virtually unkillable barring some of the more obvious deathtraps (e.g. giant spikes or falling down a pit) but when a Yoshi is hit, it causes him/her to buck, sending baby Mario flying into the air in a protective bubble.

From there, Baby Mario begins to wail in the most annoying noise ever.

More annoying than the Guild Leader telling you your health is low...more annoying than Sumter claiming that "Green Knight needs food badly!"...more annoying than the sound of Link's heart meter when he's about to die...actually, it's amazing how many really annoying sounds in video games are related to health, isn't it?

So Yoshi either has to catch him within a pre-allotted time or Mario will be captured and the player will be dealt a "Game Over". How do you up the time? By collecting stars, of course. The stars can be collected from Winged Clouds, from defeating certain enemies, and from completing some challenges found in the levels. However, the timer won't go above thirty seconds.  And after thirty seconds of hearing the incessant wailing of Baby Mario, you'll definitely want Kamek to take him...if not just hand him over yourself...
Little known fact, Kamek's mentor was Rita Repulsa
On the plus side, if you get a Super Star, then Baby Mario becomes Super Baby Mario, donning the cape from Super Mario World (the first one) as Yoshi regresses into a giant Yoshi egg and then is able to run through the level with invincibility and reckless abandon...for a limited time, anyway. Still, used properly, a limited time is all you need.

As far as collectibles go, there are also five Flowers in each level. On their own, they do nothing except grant points. On each level, there are thirty stars, twenty Red Coins, and five Flowers that all contribute to your final score. The highest score you can get, as you can imagine, is 100. If you manage to get all five stars in a level, then the end of the level's roulette wheel may land on one, which gets you better odds at trying a mini-game.

Needless to say - unless you're incredibly dedicated - you aren't going to get a perfect score on your first time every time, particularly in the later levels, where it's near-impossible unless you have the mad platforming skills.  Needless to say, I don't.
And the sidekick is recovered. All is well...
However, I will say that I find this game just as enjoyable as when it came out twenty years ago.  Going back to it now, it's nothing but fond memories brought back to life before my very eyes once again. It's one of the first games that brought me towards wanting to play games as a regular form of recreation, one of the first games I ever really played, and so I think it was the perfect choice for my ninety-ninth review.

...wait...ninety-ninth?! I've done ninety-nine reviews?! Really?! Holy moly!  I can't believe it! Ninety-nine reviews?! That means next is the Big One! The one double oh! Stay tuned, Madmen! For next time I come back with a review of a game, we're going to hit the one hundredth review! Stick around!!!

...oh, and Mom? Thanks.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is brought to us by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System/Super Famicon.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

...many falls, but one remains...

Friday, February 20, 2015

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Far Cry 4"

Remember when I reviewed Far Cry 3? Yeah, it was a hoot! A lot of the press releases at the time called it "Skyrim with Guns", which I found absolutely hilarious when I actually got my hands on it. Sure it had the open world experience and graphics that were all kinds of damn pretty, but it didn't really have the political situation or the same feeling of adventure.  Skyrim was another in Bethesda's wonderful sandbox adventure games.  Far Cry 3 on the other hand, is a very tight, interesting plot dealing with themes of insanity and free will versus destiny, among others that happens to have a sandbox added on.

And for that, I dare say that Far Cry 3 was actually far deeper than Skyrim.

Yes, you read it here (so stop staring at the screen like that), I'm actually choosing another game over a Bethesda game.  Clearly I'm going batty. However, back to my original statement, Far Cry 3 was an excellent first person shooter with a surprisingly deep storyline that made you feel for not only the main character, but bothered to make the villain somewhat sympathetic.  But it is not, however, "Skyrim with Guns".

...Far Cry 4 is Skyrim with Guns.

Elephants are awesome!

I'm not kidding.  There's a civil war brewing between the established social order and a ragtag band of native rebels, and a hero comes into the picture at an opportune time to have to pick a side and forever change the destiny of the nation they have been placed into.  Oh, and he has the power to command and ride a mythical creature into battle.  To anyone who disbelieves that statement, get the skill that lets you mount and ride elephants.  You will believe that elephants are magic.

But more to the point, Far Cry 4 forgoes the theme of insanity for much different one this time around - taking apart the Messiah cliche. However, this game goes for the Dune approach and pretty much - spoiler alert! - has no real right answer, it's all based down to personal preference.  Do you go with Guerrilla Leader #1 who wants to help the people but will create a Knight Templar-run religious state in the style of the "old ways", or do you want to go with Guerrilla Leader #2 who is the more pragmatic, wanting to use the nation's only natural resource - opium - to keep the country afloat while bringing it into a more progressive world-stance? Or do you just throw them both under the bus and take over the whole thing yourself? It's all up to what you want to do.  Anyway it goes, somebody's gonna get screwed over and the status quo will never be the same.

Min 2016!
That, of course, brings me to the main villain of the piece - Pagan Min.  Or, at least, that's what you're supposed to think.  In reality, outside of the homicidal killings out of nowhere, the dude is actually really, really awesome.  When the main character, Ajay Ghale (who I'll get to in a minute) comes to Kyrat, Pagan outright murders one of his men when he thinks he might have killed him.

 When he finds out he's not, he's immensely glad and apparently cleared his calendar just for him so they could party! Even when Ajay starts killing off his soldiers and traipsing through the jungle causing chaos, he's all too happy to call him up to chat about his future and about the Twitter of Kanye West (which is apparently hilarious).

The guy kinda sounds awesome, really.

Okay, so major spoilers follow from here, so I'm going to actually put up a warning before I continue. Past this point, if you haven't played this and don't want spoilers...turn back now.  Go watch Keyboard Cat and then go finish the game.

...okay, done? Good. Welcome back. Now we can move on.

Pagan Min was apparently giving it to Ajay's mother back in the day, when she was an agent of the Kyrat resistance movement known as the Golden Path.  However, she was also slinging leg for Ajay's father, who was the leader of said resistance.  However, if Ajay can learn that his father was not exactly the archetypal hero that the Golden Path makes him out to be, and murdered your half-sister, a child of Pagan and Ajay's mother.

As it turns out, and is evidenced very much by his behavior and actions towards Ajay, Pagan loved Ajay's mother deeply (they even had a daughter together, Ajay's half-sister) and sees his return to Kyrat with her ashes as the one chance to reconnect with his lost love and the only family he sees himself as having.  To Ajay, he's not a cruel overlord who wants to crush his spirit and command him entirely - he just wants to be an awesome stepdad who takes you out shooting guns and just having a grand old time.

After all, he's a violent murdering psychopath, but he treats his loved ones well.

"I can see my house from here! No, REALLY!"
You can even pick an alternate ending where Ming takes Ajay to where his half-sister (the "Lakshmana" she requested to have her ashes spread with) has been laid in state, then Min says they can now go "shoot some goddamn guns". There's no post-campaign gameplay after this, but here's hoping that Ubisoft will make some DLC based off this ending. I'd personally love to play the side of the Empire for once and crush some rebel scum (word of mouth is that they are).

Unfortunately, I can't really give the same praise to any other character outside of Longinus (the weapons dealer for the Golden Path, really awesome dude) and Rabi Ray Rana (the voice of Radio Free Kyrat). Both the leaders of the Golden Path (again, seeing a lot of Dune parallels) are rather dull, Sabal and Amita both being two sides of a coin as a mentioned before - one going towards the old ways and another towards progress.

Most damningly, Ajay, who says surprisingly very little throughout the game and is bizarrely easy going about joining up with a resistance movement and screwing up the power structure in the country ruled by a guy who has really been nothing but nice to him. Compared to Jason Brody, whose character and development was not only well done, but integral to the plot of Far Cry 3. It's just rather disappointing to see them dropping back into a character who is almost a blank slate and doesn't seem to operate by any sort of logic.

We know some things about Ajay, but we get very little in terms of who he is and what his motivations are beyond wanting to bring his mother's ashes back to her native country. Why exactly is happy to just drop everything to join a resistance movement against his psycho stepfather really doesn't make that much sense (yes, I know how that sounds, but it's really not that simple).  And unlike the rather colorful cast of Far Cry 3 (Vaas, Hoyt, Citra, Buck, etc...), few individuals stood out to me.

Oh, and Willis came back. And I still wanna shank him in the groin.

As for the gameplay itself, it's not that different from Far Cry 3.  Ajay traverses Kyrat with a single weapon at first, but can later craft holsters to allow himself more weapons in the style of the walking death tornado that was Jason Brody.   Crafting comes back, both with animal skins to create various holsters and packs, as well as syringes that Ajay uses so he doesn't have to heal himself after being gored by a leopard by tugging on his thumb.

Seriously, I'm pretty sure decapitation in the Far Cry universe can be cured by lightly tugging one's thumb.
Working for Pagan Min can give you such a crick in the neck...
Regardless, Far Cry 4 adds some new features that 3 had no, including player housing as mentioning in the inset picture right above.  Ajay gets the Ghale (pronounced "Gah-Lay" by the natives) Homestead and - along with bizarre trips into the mystical land of Shangri-La thanks to a magic (maybe it's magic, maybe it's weed) - it can be upgraded and added to using Kyrat's native currency as you go along through the game.  If you didn't have to climb a mountain to get to it, I'd call it prime real estate, though it does help to explain why it isn't a smoking crater in the ground.

The level up system is back in full force, experience points granting skill ranks that can be put into either the "Elephant" or the "Tiger" skill trees, which pretty much cover all the skills the Tatau gave back in Far Cry 3 plus a few tasty extras.  Like the ability to ride an elephant which is, to reinforce an earlier point, awesome!

My few complaints about it can be dismissed, alas, because this game really is awesome. Like it's immediate predecessor, it's clear that Ubisoft put a lot of work and care into it. Also, any game that lets me fire off an automatic machine gun from the back of an elephant that I'm using to charge into an enemy compound is absolutely going to get a gold star from me, no questions asked.

Mind you, I would still like them to go the extra mile and get us a jetpack in these games, but I'll take the wingsuit and now riding on elephants any day.

Seriously, I rarely outright give recommendations here, but if you happen to have not played this game yet, go play it.

Far Cry 4 is now available from Ubisoft and Ubisoft Montreal for Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

...Many touchstones try the stranger...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

MadCap's Pokemon Emerald Nuzlocke Challenge - 18 - "Agua, agua, por todas partes!"

Twist: Team Aqua aren't pirates, they're internet trolls!
And so, with the stunning cliffhanger of Part 17, Andrew was left watching as Team Aqua hijacked Captain Stern's submarine.  Andrew and Stern entered just in time to see Archie do as a pirate does and steal the very ship in question, mentioning Team Aqua's hideout in Lilycove City...which Andrew already knew of.  With Stern having no options, it seems it's up to Andrew once more to save the day.  I'd make a joke about the ten year old having to once more save the day - especially this ten year old - but we've seen how utterly useless the adults are around here.

And so, Andrew flew back to Lilycove City to take on Team Aqua on their own home turf, which turned out to be just a normal cave on the coast and a far, far better choice than inside an active volcano.  Of course, Andrew found something far more dastardly than wild Pokemon within a center of molten hot magma - teleporter pads.  Navigating through them and annihilating the Grunts he found on the way, Andrew eventually found himself face to face with Aqua Admin Matt, who promised to stop him flat.

If you've been tuning in regularly, you know how silly that presumption is.

Alas, Matt was able to stall Andrew long enough to keep him from getting to the sub, which departed.  The moron also gave the suggestion to search the seas out by Lilycove for it.  While musing on the continued appearances of the plot convenience fairy, Andrew surfed out into Route 124, battling some trainers and coming across a Winggull that was caught and sent to the PC as "Crowe" before he went on his way.

...look, all the nicknames can't be gold.
Huh...house in the middle of nowhere. I can only see this ending well...
Eventually, he came across a sandbar, and found "Hunter's House". Luckily, this was not another psychopath with an itch to scratch or bizarre puzzles to solve, just a man who apparently dove beneath the waves to seek treasures - in particular Shards he's willing give various Evolution Stones for. Keeping in mind to look for Green Shards in particular, Andrew went on about his way.  Some more surfing got him all the way to Mossdeep City.

With the Space Center bragging to be "the closest place to space", Andrew walked around exploring but found little of interest beyond the apparently psychic child who told him where he put his Secret Base and Steven up at the Space Center telling him that Team Magma was apparently seeking to take the rocket fuel.  Then it was off to Route 125 (Andrew having no interest in staying behind) for more epic level grindings!

Believe me, lady, it's been a crazy 17 episodes...
And, Shoal Cave was discovered, and a Spheal was the first beast encountered. Captured, it was nicknamed "Left Shark" (don't say I'm not topical) and sent off to the PC.  By walking and surfing, he took to exploring and - of course - leveling.

Once everyone was at a cool Level 45 (thanks to keeping everyone alive via trips back to Mossdeep City's Pokemon Center), Andrew headed up to the Pokemon Gym to take on the psychic type trainers with Veruca at the head of the party.  Within, he found more teleporter pads (because those weren't getting old or anything) and the twin gym leaders who apparently have psychic ability.

Wow. Psychic twins. Never seen that before.

Andrew managed to defeat them, alas he was unable to do so without a cost.  It is my sad duty to report that Muad'dib, who has been with us since Part 11, fell in a battle with the duo's Solrock.  He fought bravely, and he shall be remembered as will all others who have so fallen in service to Andrew.  The Mind Badge was won, and Andrew took the time to ponder the cost and mourn the latest loss in his battle.
Long live the fighters...
Leaving the Center following his latest release, Andrew remembered Steven's words from earlier about the Space Center.  Team Magma was to show up once more, and Andrew had no excuse to not show up and give them some grief for leaving him stuck inside an active volcano.  Next time, he will take on Team of Dorky Red Pikachu Hats and perhaps see...spaaaaaaaaace?!

Pokemon Emerald is brought to us by Nintendo and Game Freak.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Friday, February 13, 2015

MadCap's Game Reviews - "New Super Mario Bros."

Mario, Mario. The Italian plumber known throughout the world as the savior of the Mushroom Kingdom. Constant menace to Bowser, a man with a love of daring adventure, everyone knows who he is and what he's all about.  Nintendo certainly isn't afraid to put this guy on everything.  From go-carting, to music, to paint, and even full blown party games, Mario is everywhere and has done everything.  The guy's even been a doctor!

But, of course - and everyone knows it - Mario is most well-known for his platformers. And why not? The original Super Mario Bros. stands today as a standard by which all other platformers are judged even to this day, thirty years later. If not by that game, then by Super Mario 64...which is also in the series. So it's fair to say that the Mario series is the definitive platformer in gaming. If games don't outright copy it, they at least owe their existence to it. And many will complain that Nintendo is just wringing every last penny they can out of what is a fairly simple and braindead concept.

...say what you will, it friggin' sells!

So it is once again time for Mario to put on his bright red cap and go save Princess Toadstool (yes, I know they call her "Peach" now) once again, through eight worlds of deadly dangers to stop the most evil plot of Bowser and Bowser, Jr. In a surprising show of confidence, Bowser, Jr. takes the reins of most of the kidnapping and stalling Mario throughout the game. This is largely because you fight Bowser  in the first castle and then outright murder him by dropping him into liquid magma.  Yes, you did this at the end of every level in the original, but we never actually saw death.

Now you're thinking, this is a Nintendo game.  Surely death isn't a thing! Let me correct you not once but twice with A) the story of a child gone mad going out dealing drugs, burning down buildings, and engaging in piracy, and B) the fact that at the end of the final castle in World 8 that Bowser, Jr. brings up the bones of Bowser and throws them into a cauldron to resurrect his father from the dead for the final fight.  However, this does mean that the other boss levels can actually be unique to the various environments.  Yes, Mario defeats them by jumping on them, but that's how Mario always solves problems, so we really shouldn't be expecting anything else.
Not that those can't be awesome...
After all, the last time that they tried to do something unique with Mario, they gave him a glorified water gun.

Mario has the standard armament when dealing with Bowser's goons - the Red Mushroom that makes him grow to normal size, the Starman that gives him a brief bit of invincibility, and the Fire Flower that allows him to feed his urge to burn everything to the ground with fireballs. But this time around, Mario has even more at his disposal such as Blue Mushrooms that make him shrink down so he can jump insanely high and get into secret areas, though it comes at the expense of being a bit of a glass cannon due to his size.  Then there's the Super Mushrooms which make the Mario grow! For a limited time, he's invincible and can literally walk through anything, including the flagpole at the end of levels (which is hilarious). Last, but not least, is the Blue Koopa Shell.  Like his longtime enemies, Mario can hide in his shell for protection and aids in swimming.

So new window trimming, but basically nothing that you wouldn't expect from a Mario game. Go on the epic adventure, save the princess, save the world.  After all, Mario does have the most braindead simple plot in video gaming besides "hit this ball between these two sticks". As for this? It's a good game. I very much enjoyed it, and I did find the challenge appropriate as it got into the upper levels. So, for the 200th rendition of Super Mario Bros., very well done.

New Super Mario Bros. is now available from Nintendo for the Nintendo DS.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

...The stranger's fate...the curses' bane...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

MadCap's Pokemon Emerald Nuzlocke Challenge - 17 - "Oh, My God! A Giant Magma Rock!"

Oh, great...lost again.
With the immediate threat to Mt. Chimney on the rise, and the need to keep his land of profit from being threatened as well, Andrew flew to Lavaridge Town and jumped some slopes to get on the path to head up Mt. Chimney. However, there was nary a Team Magma or Team Aqua member in sight...just a bunch of trainers around the peak. So, after earning the team a little more XP, Andrew returned on the lift back down the mountain and entered the Fiery Path once more...and on the other end found Route 112.

Naturally a bit confused, the player decided to consult the wiki...I mean, Andrew checked his Pokenav.
"Hello? I've got Girl Scout Cookies!"
Then he took the car back up and headed for Jagged Pass, the Magma Emblem opening a doorway in the mountain.  Andrew entered to find.."Magma Hideout". How very on the nose. While navigating the volcanic terrain, Andrew happened upon a Torkoal that he captured. "Ms. Burns" went off to the PC and Andrew and the group continued on their way. Eventually, Team Magma grunts were encountered and fighting began!

Afterwards, apparently a few of Team Magma were smart enough to question why they were inside an active volcano, but not enough to actually...you know...leave...

...good for you?
From the look of it, Team Magma's plan was to unleash a legendary Pokemon called Groudon, which would further their plans to get rid of the ocean, apparently.  Nevertheless, as he made his way to the center of the base, Andrew once more encountered Maxie who had managed to unearth the legendary beast but not yet awakened it, but he did so with the Blue Orb. When Groudon left without Maxie getting what he wished, Andrew was all too happy to take the Team Magma Admin down in a fight which, thanks to Andrew's leveling, the man stood absolutely no chance in. He left to go lick his wounds and leave Andrew to figure out how to get out.

Once he did, Andrew decided to go check on his Shroomish crop and accidentally headed to Slateport via the flight of Q-Tip. Back in the city where he's wanted for arson, Andrew was nonetheless able to walk around without arousing any suspicion or indeed even getting a policeman's attention as he made his way to the Harbor to find a crowd to get caught up in. He watched Captain Stern being interviewed by that one reporter and her cameraman who won't leave him alone. Happy for the lack of attention for once, and back among someone who is in on the game (if you recall that package Andrew delivered to him back in Part 5), Andrew learns that Stern's explorations have borne some fruit - primarily knowledge of an underwater cavern on Route 128.

However, before he could learn more, Team Aqua interceded and took control of the good Captain's submarine!

Pirates actually doing something pirate-y! Who would have guessed?

Pokemon Emerald is brought to us by Nintendo and GameFreak.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Monday, February 9, 2015

MadCap's Pokemon Emerald Nuzlocke Challenge - 16 - "The Afterlife Aquatic with Andrew D. Luffy"

May...give it a rest...it ain't happenin'...
Andrew faced more trainers on Route 120, his team making good progress and capturing a Kecleon as his addition to the team for the route, giving her the nickname of "Karma", which was then sent to join the B-Team before he finally reached Route 121.  Following some more trainer battles, he found the Hoenn Safari Zone and some members of Team Aqua who were still enroute to Mt. Pyre...which is apparently reached by ocean. Heading to the east, however, Andrew fought his way through a bunch of future contacts and eventually reached Lilycove City.  Finding some Team Aqua grunts running around, Andrew also met a familiar face at the Lilycove Department Store.

May...again...

This time, it seemed, May wished to test Andrew once again in his battle skills or he would never see the inside of the Department Store!!!

Normally he wouldn't care, but seeing as he wanted to check for a Leaf Stone to finally evolve Not-Gloom, he had to pass her.  So, as one might expect, a battle ensued.  And, as one might expect given her losing streak longer than Mai Valentine's, May had the floor wiped with her before she flew off...with the prospect of returning to the compound at Littleroot and showing the Professor her Pokedex.  And so Andrew went into the Department Store at last...and found no stones, and thus had none to leave unturned (direct your disdain at that pun here).
"Wait, wait, I came in here for an argument!"
Afterwards, Andrew wandered about talking to the various Team Aqua grunts, some of which warned him to stay away from the cove and others just being generally rowdy but in no mood to fight...apparently Andrew's battle at the Weather Institute had caused some waves (above link to direct your disdain). Eventually, Andrew found a building and was introduced to the concept of Pokemon Contests!  Because if there's only one thing more thrilling than turn-based combat, it's using those same moves so the game will award you a random amount of points out of sheer pity!

So, not to cut himself off of even more clients for him and his Daycare Partners, Andrew entered with Muad'dib...and ended up getting the fourth place slot.  And so, this time, he went into a Beauty contest with Leviathan, who failed slightly better - second place.  Afterwards, finding little interest in the exercise in pointlessness, he left and headed to get himself cultured at the museum.  After browsing the gallery, Andrew was met by the Curator...who asked the ten year old boy if he would come upstairs, alone, with him when the boy expressed a passing interest in art.
"Don't go in the cove? I DO WHAT I WANT!"
...luckily, not a stranger danger alert, the Curator just wants to acquire some paintings of Pokemon.  Andrew said he would keep a look out before heading off to the sea...and that cove that Team Aqua was telling him to stay away from.  However, the cove apparently is blocked off by two Grunts who were all too happy to direct him back to Mt. Pyre and wouldn't fight to clear the way, leaving Andrew with no choice but to go there.  And so, it was back to the dock and on Leviathan to head to the south, swinging 'round a mountainous cluster to find Mt. Pyre, apparently aptly named as being a graveyard of Pokemon much akin to Lavender Town.

Heading further up the mountain, the weather became insanely foggy as Andrew came across enemies, namely Team Aqua Grunts.  Still offended by their earlier betrayal of him, Andrew made his way through their ranks as they attacked, eventually reaching the peak and Archie as he harassed an elderly couple for the "Red Orb", which Team Aqua wants for reasons of completing their "ultimate objective".  And Archie, apparently a pirate not afraid of cowardice, left before Andrew could take him out.  The elderly couple gave Andrew a Magma Emblem, and told him the creation story of Hoenn, of two Pokemon who dueled between the land and the sea - much as Teams Aqua and Magma are doing now.  But finally, a brave young Pharaoh locked the creatures away within seven Millen-I mean, two magical orbs were used to calm their spirits and they disappeared.  Jokes aside, Andrew felt a strange fascination with the story...something that pulled upon his very soul and a feeling of things yet to come that he would face.

On his way back down, Andrew was accosted by a Vulpix who, when caught, was given the name of  "Kit" and sent packing to the PC.  Then, a quick voyage across the sea brought Andrew to Route 123 and jumping through some ledges indiscriminately saw Andrew back in Mauville of all places, where he finally was forced to switch out Starburst once more...this time for Q-Tip, a Pokemon that could fly.

And being that Q-Tip was many, many, many levels behind the rest, well...you know what comes next...

EPIC GRINDING!!!
Eh, you're no Muninn, but you'll do...
With a new fighter on the team that had more than earned her stripes, Andrew was finally able to take to the skies. Where would his journeys take him next? Well, he went back to Lilycove, and it looked as though he might be able to progress further into the Cove...but all hints pointed towards that wonderful vacation spot from Parts 9 and 10 - Mt. Chimney.

So next time, well, we all know where he's going...

***

Detective Norris slammed a fist against the table. "This is bull!"

"I'm afraid it's all true, Detective." Birch spoke in a jovial tone, which really only served to piss off the Detective all the more. "If my calculations are correct, the Red Orb and Blue Orb have been removed. It's only a matter of time now."

"Until what?"

"Until Rayquaza arrives, of course."

"Okay, yeah...you got your legend. And no proof."

"I don't need proof, Detective. I have faith that-"

"Look, pal, I deal with facts." Norris raised up a hand to cut the man off. "And the facts are that you are one of the big wigs in a group that kidnapped a ten year old boy from his home in Johto, possibly murdered his parents, and now he's running around Hoenn burning down houses and selling drugs.  Hell, he even murdered one of your own people. A Gym Leader no less. His blood is as much on your hands as that kid's."

"He's fulfilling his destiny, just as the writings of the prophets predi-"

"You're meaning to tell me that you planned for all of this to happen?"

"I do not expect you-"

"C'mon, Birch...be honest. You can't honestly expect me to believe that..."

"...not...exactly word for word, but..."

"I thought not."

"Nevertheless, Andrew will be the one who Rayquaza bonds with. It is inevitable.  The Balancing will take place."

"Where is your daughter? May?"

"May? I do not see what she..."

"Well, last someone from Global heard, she was heading back towards Littleroot.  Whacha think she's gonna find when she gets there?"

"...you wouldn't!"

"Oh, we'll detain her for questioning at the very least."

"She must not be stopped.  When Andrew bonds with Him, she must be..."

"I've had enough of your mumbo jumbo, Birch. You can spend the rest of your days in a nice, padded cell, sleeping it off..." At his words, two members of the Slateport Police entered, each one coming to a side of the Professor and lifting him from the table, the man kicking and screaming curses at him all the while.  Norris ran a hand across his face, breathing deeply as Slott entered in the wake of it all.

"Uh...got some news you might wanna hear..." Slott said. "Global got some intel from Mt. Pyre...the Orbs are gone just like he said...Team Aqua from the looks of it."

"...yeah?" Norris asked.

"Wanna know the real kicker?"

"No, Slott, please, leave me in suspense." The man's voice was thick with sarcasm.

"The kid was there."

"...what?"

"Cleared out Team Aqua, apparently. Sent 'em scattering."

"...damn, just when I think we've got him figured out..."

***

Pokemon Emerald is brought to us by Nintendo and GameFreak.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

MadCap's Pokemon Emerald Nuzlocke Challenge - 15 - "Return of An Old Friend"

As long as they don't serve me as a banquet in their god's honor...
And so, Andrew walked among the Ewoks! Do I lie?

No, but really, he climbed a ladder and walked among the tree forts. In the homes, he gained the use of TM 10 - "Hidden Power" - from a woman and saw a news report on his fearsome fight with News Reporter Gabby a few episodes back.  Avoiding that, when he attempted lower himself from the ladder nearest the Gym, he found himself blocked by a force unseen.  Apparently he didn't spend enough time training in the desert back in Part 11. But now is not the time for Dune references, and Andrew wouldn't begin to know what that is anyway.  And so, he journeyed onto Route 120, where a most curious occurrence...well, occurred.

A Mightyena, female, assaulted Andrew as soon as he stepped into the grass. The same haunted look he had seen in the eyes of one of the first Pokemon he had ever captured - a Poochyena who had taken a fall to a Winggull back in Part 2.  Was it possible that Veruca had...survived? And if so, had she gained strength before returning to her master? Or was I just horrendously lazy in nicknaming? Let's go with the former. More mystical. And so it seemed to Andrew and, the one captured once was captured again all the more easily, Crazy-Eyes putting the beast to sleep as Andrew put an Ultra Ball to use capturing her and rechristening her "Veruca".
Oh, god, you again!
Starburst returned to the box as Andrew took his newly-returned friend back to Route 120 to do, what else, grind levels intensely...and ran into the ever-so-loveable Gabby still running about trying to get a story on the mysterious white-hatted trainer.  Once more, Andrew cleaned the clocks of both Gabby and her camera man and they once more fled the area in fear...and Andrew ran into the infamous Steven once again.  Apparently, Steven has a Devon Scope and is all too happy to see Andrew duel a what was until then invisible Pokemon.  Andrew managed to take it out, apparently impressing Steven and gave him the Scope.
All about that base, Secret Base...
With the Scope, Andrew finally fought his way into an access point outside of town, deciding to break down and make his Secret Base in the side of a cliff by scenic lake. Good enough for the time being, he wagered, though he would need to decorate it further to make the place livable.  And so, he returned to grinding, working diligently until the entire team got up to Level 40.   Then it was off to the Gym with the Devon Scope, opening the path to reveal the Gym of "Winona", apparently a Flying type specialist.  Andrew chuckled to himself as he put Crazy-Eyes to the top of his list and headed in to face Revolving Door hell, culminating in...well...

Badge Get!

...oh, c'mon. Surely you've seen that coming by now. Winona gave the Feather Badge and then joined Andrew's list of contacts as apparently flying on birds does not make one high enough.  Upon leaving the Gym, Andrew was contacted via PokeNav by Scott, who once more affirmed that he'll be rooting for him whilst giving no real clues as to his identity or motives.  Creepy.  With that finished, Andrew decided to head back out Route 120 way, hoping to find a new area in which to capture a Pokemon that could fly.

With renewed vigor at the return of Veruca to his team, Andrew heads out to face destiny with his head held just a little bit higher...

***



"The guy's a nut, Norris." Slott said.

"Nut or not, he helped snag that kid from Johto and bring him here." Norris said as he put out his cigarette in the ashtray before the one-way window. It had been a hell of a raid, but they had finally captured Littleroot with some aid from the Global Police with only two casualties. Once they'd breached the perimeter fence, those people were rounded up before they knew what hit them...and now, Professor Iggy Birch sat in their interrogation room.

"And you think he's gonna talk?" Slott asked.

"Wasn't he some well-respected Professor at some point?" Norris decided to answer with his own inquiry.

"Uh...yeah, until he fell in with Emerald Balance a few years ago." Slott said, leafing through some papers from the file on the Professor they'd gathered. "Apparently his theories on the cult's god, Rayquaza, got him ridiculed by the rest of the community...and he just stayed in Littleroot after."

"So we've got a Cult that brainwashed a respected Professor who helped kidnap a kid from Johto who he then illegally entered into the Pokemon League," Norris sighed, "days like this, I miss being a beat officer."

"Well, he keeps ranting about the kid. And his kid. Says they're going to meet Rayquaza and sweep the world clean. And they're kid is going to rule over it or some crap like that..."

"If I wanted to believe in fairy tales, I would have brought my first edition of Grimm."

"So, 10-13?"

"Does a Ursaring crap in the woods, Slott?"

"Alright, alright!" His partner threw up his hands. "I'll run it through with Global, see if they can pick up anything else."

"Any word from the kid's folks in Johto?"

"That's just it, no." Slott shook his head. "Global had somebody in Goldenrod check it out, but they weren't home. The house looked like it'd been stripped clean, no forwarding address."

"...so they're just...gone?"

"They say they're looking into it, but so far they have all of jack."

"...and what about his daughter? What was her name? Margret? Madison?"

"May." Slott said. "And she seems to get around at an alarming rate. No idea where she falls on the scale, she might just be an unwitting pawn like Andrew."

"Except Andrew's at least burned down that house near Slateport and murdered a Gym Leader..."

"Who was connected to his kidnapping..."

"Still murder. And that's not even getting into the drug trades. Shroomish spores are on a hell of a rise, you know..."

"Yeah, but we've found no link between him and the rise."

"Give it time. Every rumor has some truth. And we know the kid has a Shroomish. We find the Shroomish, we find the ring, we break the ring..." He sighed. "First, we gotta sift through this cult..."

"You wanna take a crack at him?" Slott offered, gesturing to the door to the room where Birch was cooking under some hot lights.

"Yeah, yeah, I do." Norris muttered as he slid another cigarette from the pack in his breast pocket and walked up to the door.

**

Pokemon Emerald is brought to us by Nintendo and GameFreak.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

MadCap's Pokemon Emerald Nuzlocke Challenge - 14 - "What A Pain In the Grass!"

"...I am so lost..."
With that, Andrew did his best to traverse the insane amount of grass on Route 119, finding some mimicking trainers who he made short work of because they all used bugs and Starburst knows Fire Spin...and also, Rock Throw.  Once he got through (fighting a Zigzagoon on the way and unfortunately knocking it out - again, Rock Throw), Andrew found himself heading up another mountain. Battling some more trainers and spreading out the Shroomish network, Andrew got up the mountain further and made a startling discovery...

More grass.

Double checking his PokeNav to make sure he hadn't ended up on Isla Sorna, Andrew then step forward and fought more of the "Pokemon Ranger" trainer class. They were mostly complete wimps who went down likes sacks of potatoes. And so, through more and more grass, Andrew eventually found signs of civilization that didn't involve snarky people hiding in grass giving off slightly than better than Generation I terrible Japanese dialogue translated into English.

Suddenly, pirates!
A massive building which the sign spoke of as the "Weather Institute" and with two of Andrew's piratical brethren guarding a rope bridge nearby.  The two standing guard there were only too happy to give Andrew a heads up that the Weather Institute was not a safe place. And as we know on a series about a ten year old who has - to date - escaped kidnappers, formed a drug ring in Hoenn with contacts in everyone from trainers to Gym Leaders, committed piracy, committed arson, shut down the electrical grid for an entire city, and likely outright murdered the Gym Leader who kidnapped him for killing his oldest friend, we can rest in the knowledge that Andrew will make the smart choice and in no way breach the sanctity of the Weathe-

Well, yeah, of course he goes in.  Do you wanna play Pokemon or not?

Within, Andrew discovered that Team Aqua had taken the place over. On the ground floor...well, as Lucien Lachance would put it..."BETRAYAL!" They attacked him, and Andrew began to work his way up the building and through those he had considered his brothers and sisters in piracy.  He learned of a weather Pokemon they wished to gain control of.  Apparently, the Weather Institute has outright created a Pokemon to control the weather! But how? With SCIENCE, of course!

...odd...I wonder where that came from...
"Hey, lady, I was on your side!!!"
But regardless, Andrew continued to fight his way up the floors to - he hoped - face Archie and get an explanation for this sudden and quite frankly shocking betrayal.  Instead, he found the admin known as "Shelly" who stood literally no chance against Andrew in spite of all her swagger.  Andrew defeated her, and she decried his interference...nevermind he was just trying to figure out what in the world was going on!  But his protests were all for naught, and it seemed he was destined to be forever grouped in with the dorks in the red Pikachu hats.  However, before further statements could be made for or against his case, a Grunt came to inform her of Team Magma members heading to Mt. Pyre. Naturally not to be left out, Team Aqua's admin continued her pursuit of the Red Team, leaving Andrew and the Weather Institute behind in the dust.

And, of course, Andrew was thanked for saving the place by the hostages, who were apparently blissfully unaware of his wanted posters and the various TV reports on him and gave him a Castform who got the nickname "Helios" and was sent to the PC.  Once outside, Andrew crossed the now unguarded rope bridge and headed further up the mountain...only to be met by May, who has apparently been looking for him. Fearing the jig to be up, Andrew engaged her in a battle and managed to defeat her without losing any of the team.  Apparently the intense grinding sessions were paying off in a big way.

Not to be dissuaded from trying to get Andrew into her pants, May forked over the HM02 when she lost...alas if only Muninn were still alive to see the day.  She gives him a hint to fly back once he gets the next gym badge and see his "mother".

Apparently she does not yet know of Norman's fate and the fact that the rest of the cult won't be so happy to see him again once they know...

But Andrew was happy to take the HM and head out on his way...until the enigmatic Scott once more accosted him.  Apparently, he said, May was royally pissed at losing and that he would see Andrew again real soon before heading to the north.  Andrew mused on the thought of losing a few numbers from his contacts as he journeyed further north to fight more trainers and finally reach Fortree City...which is apparently very aptly name, consisting of several tree forts with only the Pokemon Center, Mart, and Gym as fixtures resembling anywhere else.

So, next time, Andrew will hang out among the Ewoks.

Pokemon Emerald is brought to us by Nintendo and Game Freak.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Friday, February 6, 2015

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Banjo-Tooie"

When I spoke of Banjo-Kazooie nearly four years ago, I spoke of it as a game that changed the fundamental way I saw gaming and altered my entire perception of what gaming was for the rest of my life. If I can be frank, this is just more of that, because Banjo-Tooie is just more of the same, and I mean that in the best way.  Some people tend to look down on a movie or game sequel as a desperate money grab by the studio or developer to wring every last penny they can out of the property. While that is the case all too often, it's not in the case of Banjo-Tooie.

No, they waited for the third game to do that...

But enough about games that we'll be getting to later, now is the time for a game I genuinely enjoy.  Banjo-Tooie is a continuation of the story of loveable bird and bear duo Banjo and Kazooie. Riding high two years after they rescued Banjo's sister Tooty (not appearing in this game...sort of) and defeated Gruntilda the Witch and trapped her under a rock - spoiler alert - the two have the shaman Mumbo Jumbo and Bottles the Mole over for a game of poker, unaware of trouble being very much afoot in idyllic Spiral Mountain.

Drilling through the wall that cordons off Spiral Mountain from the rest of the Nintendo world (well, not anymore, I guess) in a giant tank come Gruntilda's other sisters - Mingella and Blobbelda - who use a magic spell to destroy the rock that has imprisoned Gruntilda for two years to reveal that she'll have to bone up on a few things - now apparently having become a lich in her spare time.  Because she's feeling particularly spiteful, Grunty whips up a nasty spell to turn Banjo's house into a big pile of rubble and succeeds...killing Bottles the Mole in the process.

Wait wait wait wait wait, what?!

This may not seem like a big thing, but considering how death is so often shied away from for good guys in Nintendo products, this was a big shock as a kid. Especially to later see the halo-clad ghost of Bottles rise up from his own corpse later on.  After all, the mooks we kill off are a dime a dozen but for something like this to happen to a main character? It was unsettling to my nine year old mind and still, even now that I know the ending, is.
"Honey...you got real ugly..."
Not to be dismayed, and vowing to avenge the Root Muncher, Banjo and Kazooie set off to follow the witches and find the "Isle o' Hags" is where they call home.  Finding the Jinjo Village, they make the acquaintance of King Jingaling (Songaling? Dingaling? Wringaling?), setting up the need to collect Jinjos once more in the game and to show off Grunty and her sister's new weapon the "B.O.B." which can apparently drain the lifeforce completely from any target. This ends up with Jingaling becoming hideous zombie, and anyone within range of the "Big Ol' Blaster" being in danger of the same fate.

So, we've got one hell of a set up and a massive threat that needs to be taken out. Even more so than before.

Mechanically, the game runs almost identically to its predecessor.  Banjo and Kazooie run, jump, peck, and so many other ways to move their way through the worlds collecting Jiggies, Musical Notes, and other memorabilia to be sold in their old age as souvenirs (from the resort "Banjo-Casino"). This time, musical notes are used for Jam Jars - the militaristic brother of Bottles - to teach the bear and bird duo brand new moves - such as how to split up the duo into two separate controllable characters, new varieties of eggs to shoot, and how Banjo can use Kazooie as a gun to fire said eggs in certain areas.

On the magical end of the spectrum, we have a new ally in Humba Wumba - a Native American shaman who uses her magic to transform Banjo and Kazooie into various creatures (including a motherfluckin' T-Rex) to aid them in their quest.  But what purpose, you may ask, does Mumbo Jumbo serve in this game, if not to do as he did in the previous one?

You play as him.

I'm not kidding, you give him a Glowbo (little pink things that can be found in various places in the worlds) and Mumbo will jump up from his chair and go out to perform his magic at specially marked pads within the game worlds, things ranging from making a massive, golden, indestructible statue come to life for a brief time to putting a train back on its tracks and beyond.  Really, I'm very much underselling it.  For all he has to do, to set it up, it's pretty cool.  Also, he has the magical bug zapper he calls a wand, which is always funny to hit enemies with.
"We have a T-Rex..."
Puzzles to open worlds are a little bit different this time around.  Instead of using Jiggies to fill in portraits with pieces missing, Banjo and Kazooie have to collect a certain amount to be allowed to play a puzzle game not dissimilar to those that one could play in Banjo-Kazooie by standing on Banjo's rug in his house and looking at the picture of Bottles at the right angle.  Once the player has completed a puzzle, the mighty Jiggywiggy will open up the door to another world to them.  This does come with the unfortunate time waster of having to go back to Jiggywiggy's place every time you want to open a world up, but with the addition of Jam Jars's silos, this does cut down on time a fair bit.

In fact, the Silo system allows the duo to go to anywhere in the Isle o' Hags that they've visited previously. As I stated above, this saves a lot of time, since the Isle o' Hags is massive and getting around can be a real pain if you haven't found the Silo entrances.  It serves as the Hub world, and is a great deal more varied than Gruntilda's lair with forests, cliffs, and swamps.  The worlds themselves are also varied. From a Mayan temple to a massive underwater world to a world of ice and fire (no, really, and no cutting off of penises, either!) to an entire world that's an amusement park, this game has quite a lot to offer and expands on the first quite well.

And that's the idea - expansion. This game offers more, but without changing what made the original awesome.  Some people may take issue with it being so similar, but I'm not one of them.  Some changes have occurred - such as a few of the moves and the addition of boss fights among others, but not enough to completely detract from what was one of the greatest platformers of N64, but what is still one of the greatest platformers of all time. Even to this day, I can put it in my N64 and still have a grand old time, just like the first one.

...and unlike the one that follows. But as I'm not ready to deal with the atrocity known as Nuts & Bolts quite yet, so I'll sum up. Great game, should have reviewed it earlier, you can get it on Xbox Live if you don't have it on N64. Really, nothing that I can say here is remotely adequate. Go check it out!

Banjo-Tooie is available from Rare and Nintendo (Nintendo 64) and 4J Studios and Microsoft Game Studios (Xbox Live Arcade version).

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

...Many trials make manifest...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

MadCap's Pokemon Emerald Nuzlocke Challenge - 13 - "The Electric Company"

Water, water everywhere...bitch...
Leaving Petalburg behind after dealing with Norman and his gym, and still mourning the loss of XtraCrispy, Andrew journeyed east and eventually found himself back in Slateport, where Starburst rejoined the team to serve as a Fire type. Deciding to take on the bike path and all the trainers that were spared his wrath, Andrew made his way back to Mauville City. Upon his return, he was greeted by the still-living electro-phile nutjob Wattson, who wants to ask a favor of Andrew.  In an underground section of the city, called "New Mauville", Wattson wants a switch pulled to turn off a generator, claiming its unsafe and giving him a key.

So, the ten year old is being trusted to take care of electrical equipment.  These people are morons.
"Touch nothing but the lamp..."
And apparently, the entrance isn't too far off...just a quick surf off of Route 110.  So, being the mute drug dealing pirate that he is, Andrew went along with it and began to surf around on Route 110 before he discovered the cave of perpetual torment! ...which was known as New Mauville.  And, almost as soon as he entered, Andrew found himself accosted by a Voltorb, which fell under twin assaults of Crazy-Eyes and (after Crazy-Eyes was paralyzed) Not-Groot.

What followed, beyond a very ridiculously high appearance rate, was floor switch puzzles before he got to the generator and shut it off, never knowing (or, perhaps, not caring) how Wattson's insidious plan to make his Gym the sole distributor of power to all of Mauville City, allowing him to continue his tortures on the people of Mauville and anyone else who was unfortunate enough to step into the city.  And Andrew's gift for this? TM 24, Thunderbolt!

After popping over to the Daycare to check on the Shroomish patch, Andrew decided to leave the city far too close to the smoldering remains of the Trick House to go to Route 118. Surfing across the water, Andrew was asked if he like a good rod by a creepy fisherman. As Chris Hansen came for another visit, Andrew went off to go play with his new rod.

...and he almost immediately ran into the randomly appearing Newsperson and their camera man. He took them out in a battle, and tore the footage from their camera, having Starburst burn it to ash so that he could not be traced. Leaving the beach, however, he was met by Steven - the man he delivered that mysterious package to in a cave near Dewford.  He made some inane conversation before disappearing, leaving Andrew a bit bewildered.  Moving through the tall grass, Andrew came across a Linoone and it was captured, being sent to the PC as a "Miranda" (don't feel bad, you won't get the reference).

With that settled, Andrew clipped the wings of Two Bird Catchers (no doubt his brutality triggered by the use of a Swellow that reminded him so much of Muninn) before stepping onto Route 119 and discovering taller than tall grass, wherein hid many a Bug Catcher. Them, he just burned for the lols even in the tall, damp grass and rain.  But alas, there is more grass to traverse and more challenges within to face when we return again to Madcap's Nuzlocke Challenge.

**

"How the hell did he get past us?!" Slott was less than pleased as he and his partner entered the Petalburg Gym. A boy matching the description of the perp from Iddle's house - that trainer named Andrew - had been seen in the area. Was even registered as taking the Gym challenge in the area.

"I don't know, but he did. Kid managed to walk right the Hell past us." Norris was gritting his teeth as he stepped in. "What'd you find out about him?"

"Record says he came from Littleroot Town."

"...but there's nothing down here! Just the Birch lab."

"'Fraid that Birch is doing a little bit more than just putting out trainers nowadays...didn't you hear he got disbarred?"

"What?" Norris looked skeptical.

"Not even kidding. Fell in with that Cult of Emerald Balance and the Town practically closed its doors...until the Gym Leader from here moved in." Slott told him.

"Great..." Norris said, stepping into the next room...and his eyes meeting the body still laying on the floor. "Norman...Husband, Father, Gym Leader, corpse..."

"Forensics said it looked like he'd been hit with some head trauma. Either a Mega Punch or a Psybeam. And that's not the worst bit." Slott pointed behind his partner to the far wall. Norris made a half turn, seeing the message that had been etched into the wall, most likely by a Cut attack.

"Xtracrispy"

"What does it mean?" Norris asked, confused and intrigued by the single word that seemed as though it had been written in a shaky hand.

"No clue." Slott said.

"...Slott. Get me everything you can on the Emerald Balance." Norris said. "I wanna know who they are, where this kid suddenly came from, and what it's all about."  He didn't wait for his partner's answer, mouth still agape at the word before him.  It had been done in a shaky hand, one that couldn't be kept steady for anything...but why?

Detective Norris had a feeling things were only going to get more complicated from here...this was indeed not the open and shut case he'd imagine it'd be...

**

Pokemon Emerald is brought to us by Nintendo and GameFreak.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Monday, February 2, 2015

MadCap's Pokemon Emerald Nuzlocke Challenge - 12 - "The Daring Dad Dust-Up"

"But, take the red door...and see just how far down this rabbit hole goes..."
Andrew entered the Petalburg Gym to finally march up to Norman and give him what for...and found that two doors lay before him instead of the single room with his "father" within.  The helpful gent at the doors offer him a choice of either.  Taking the "Speed" door, trusting on his team's speed to overpower his opponents', Andrew found himself in another room with just one opponent and two locked doors behind him.  He defeated the trainer, and found two others, the process continuing...

Until the second battle, where Andrew saw the defeat of his oldest and dearest friend Xtracrispy.  Yes, I'm afraid that Xtracrispy has indeed become...original recipe.
...surprisingly, I have no joke for this...
A quick return to the Pokemon Center saw Andrew tearfully have to release his oldest friend from his service. Vowing to not let this stand, he marched back into the Petalburg Gym and tore his way through to Norman, finally coming face to face with the Gym Leader. Facing "Dad" at last, Andrew began a long and arduous battle in which Norman was defeated and he took the Balance Badge (also, during the Battle, Alia evolved into a Wobbuffet.

However, as Andrew was savoring his victory of the man who had kidnapped him from his homeland of Johto, Wally's uncle rushed into the Gym claiming that he had a present for him.  Taken to Wally's former home, Uncle gave some detail about Wally's bettering health and gave up the Surf HM that could now be used thanks to having the Balance Badge.

Next time, Andrew will take to the sea on his own without the aid of Mr. Briney. Will he continue his stint of drug dealing and piracy, now that he is free of those who had him chained? Or is more on the horizon for him? And what of the intrepid police detectives from Slateport City who have thus far only been appearing in the end of episode stingers?

As the team must now recover from dwindling to almost nothing, all these questions and more can and will be answered as the Nuzlocke Challenge continues!

Pokemon Emerald is brought to us by GameFreak and Nintendo.

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