How Nintendo handled the Pokemon 20th Anniversary – a retrospective

How Nintendo managed and progressed their Pokemon games on their 20th anniversary represents a significant trend in culture to look back over. This short post is a summary of what Nintendo did for Pokemon’s 20th Anniversary year.

Released a rare Pokemon each month through card distribution, or online

Legendary Pokemon usually come in sets of three, but there is always one rare, unique legendary – Mew, Celebi, Jirachi, Deoxys, Manaphy, Phione, and Darkrai for example. Releasing one of these unique legendary Pokemon each month kept the gamer and collector fanbase engaged throughout the year.

The rarest Pokemon were always at the front of the community’s collective mind, particularly on social media. Pokemon trainers tweeted out reminders of when new Pokemon were available, and when new plushies and merchandise were on sale. When legendary Pokemon were available through a code printed on a GameStop or EB Games distribution card, gamers shared their extra cards through social media.

Re-released the three original Pokemon games, and linking these games to the most recent titles

Just as the Pokemon 20th anniversary started, Nintendo re-released Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue, and Pokemon Yellow for the Nintendo 3DS virtual console. The release came with the announcement that the older games would link to the most recent.

Just before the end of the 20th anniversary year, the Pokemon Bank link between the oldest and newest games went live. Nintendo kept a key promise to the fanbase.

Released PokemonGO, after a strong trailer and marketing plan – the effects of which were unprecedented.

From my point of view, PokemonGO was significant, bringing Pokemon back to the levels of phenomenal popularity not seen since the mid to late 1990’s. One of the best outcomes?Many gamers  reported leaving their house, meeting people, and making new friends through the app’s outdoor gameplay.

Looking back over the past year, Nintendo has celebrated the impact their Pokemon games have had on gaming culture and the history of gaming and animation, artwork and world culture. They made several promises, and kept them.

One more legendary Pokemon distribution  event continues for another few days. The rare Pokemon Magearna is still available to download from the American Pokemon website, and from Australian website Pokemon Australia.

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Collect a free bottle cap for Pokemon Sun and Moon from Nintendo

Nintendo announced on the official Pokemon website that a distribution event for a free bottle cap for Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon will run from  February 13 to March 5.

The distribution takes the form of a download code, which will be available from GameStop Worldwide, and EB games in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

You can use the bottle cap to raise your Pokemon’s stats to the highest possible number:

  • Pokemon must be at level 100 for the bottle cap to work.
  • Exchange the bottle cap with the hyper training expert in Hau’oli City Shopping Mall.
  • The Expert will ask which of your Pokemon’s stats (HP, Attack, etc.) you wish to raise to the maximum level.

Seribii.net has some information on other locations the Bottle Cap will be available around the world.

Transfer older Pokemon to Sun and Moon Version – Returning Victreebel to the Jungle

Playing Red Version on 3DS, I was re-reading old Pokedex entries. I think Victreebel’s entry is evocative:

“Said to live in huge colonies deep in jungles, although no one has ever returned from there.”

I have so many questions on this Pokemon lore. How did anyone report on these
colonies if no one returns? Are Victreebel dangerous to humans invading their territory?

Regardless, while Victeebel appears in the Kanto region, Kanto has no Jungle
setting. Kanto has grassland and forest where Bellsprout and Weepinbell reside, but no deep jungle. Since Pokemon Moon version has a jungle on Akala Island – called Lush Jungle – I decided to bring a Victreebel from the old Pokemon games, re-released on 3DS virtual console, to Pokemon Moon version.

This is a ‘How-to’ set of directions. You need Pokemon Bank access to complete the transfer. Be aware that Pokemon Bank is a paid service:

  1. Move the target Pokemon to Box 1 on the old Pokemon game.
  2. Download the PokeTransporter app for the 3DS If you have not done so already.
    • Log into the app with your Nintendo Network ID.
    • Select the old Pokemon game you wish to transfer from.
    • The PokeTransporter App will load a screen with Box 1 from the old game. Confirm that you wish to complete the transfer. Note that once a Pokemon is transferred to Sun and Moon, it cannot be sent back to the game of origin.
  3.  log into Pokemon Bank. The default location for old Pokemon transferred to Pokemon Bank is the transfer box.
  4. Select the old Pokemon, and add it to a box in your version of Pokemon Sun or Moon.

After completing these steps, I added Victreebel to my party in Pokemon Moon, and took a ride to the Lush Jungle on Akala Island, returning Victreebel to a jungle setting.

The Pokemon Bank website has more information on transferring old Pokemon to Sun and Moon versions.

Yokai in Kubo and the Two Strings

This summary contains spoilers – character and story details for Kubo and the Two Strings – if you must blink, do it now.

The new stop-motion fantasy film from Laika travels through a ancient Japan inspired by mythology such as The Bomboo cutter and mythology surrounding the moon diety Tsukuyomi.

It also calls out to various strange creatures called “yokai”.

But what are these things?

They’re not just a ghost or a spirit, according to the Nintendo game and anime Yokai Watch.

They are their own class of fairytale characters. And fairytales are often cautionary tales.

Even if the creators at Laika did not explicitly consult these specific spirits from Japan’s folklore and yokai history in depth, the cultural symbols, creatures, and ideas are still invoke and resemble yokai.

Kubo and the Two Strings brings to life some of these obscure monsters. Sometimes the resemblance is comic, and even a bit hazy. The movie narrative still has elements that are in harmony with the folklore and folk knowledge that surrounds these yokai. The cautionary aspect of some of these creatures remains.

Here are some that I spotted:

When telling an enthralling tale about Hanzo and the Moon King to his friends and neighbours, Kubo folds a giant spider from paper. This is a Tsuchigumo.

The Tsuchigumo appear early on, when Kubo begins telling a tale of Hanzo and the Moon King. His tiny, paper hero dispatches an enormous paper spider. While the legend of the Tsuchigumo (which translates as “ground-spider”) is from centuries before Kubo was born, They’re a fearsome opponent for him to pit against his hero hanzo.

Kubo’s elderly friend Kameyo demands a “fire breathing chicken” appear in the paper samurai story. Kubo obliges with a yellow, red-confetti spewing monster, which resembles the Basan.

A fire breathing chicken is a Basan. Kameyo asked for it because it sounded funny to her. The folklore behind the bird is a bit comedic – its fire does not burn anything, and produces no heat. That’s just like the ineffectual paper confetti Kubo crafted for Kameyo.

A Bakekujira is a ghost whale, that resembles a skeleton, and is said to bring bad luck and misfortune to anyone who sees it. Kubo and Monkey sought refuge from a snowstorm inside a frozen, dead whale.

The whale itself was frozen, and long since dead, however there was something eerie about the ocean giant frozen and lying in the ice. After staying inside it for shelter, misfortune did find Kubo as the story progressed. Arguably, this had nothing to do with the whale from earlier in the film, but the connection can’t be ignored completely. However, this may be just a case of folklore correlation, and not causation.

Mischievous, supernatural sparrow yokai do exist – the Yosuzume. Kubo encounters a sparrow, and creates his own flock of the tiny birds with blue paper of various shades

Kubo is tired and frustrated after meeting his bossy, monkey companion. Naturally, he feels like letting out some of the frustration. That’s when he sees a sparrow, and inspiration strikes. Kubo himself is the bringer of misfortune here. He sends one of his birds after monkey, who does not appreciate the ninja-like stab from behind. The folklore surrounding the Yosuzume in particular is associated with bad luck – it’s recommended not to let these birds fly up a shirt sleeve, anywhere near your body.

The giant skeleton – the O-Dokuro or Gashadokuro – has been covered expertly on tumblr by GloriousPancakes

The giant skeleton has several folktales surrounding it. The film even references the famous print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi “Mitsukuni defying the giant skeleton spectre”.

takiyasha_the_witch_and_the_skeleton_spectre

As depicted in the film, the Gashadokuro is capable of disassembling itself to fit into small spaces.

At an emotional high-point in the film, Kubo’s Shamisen breaks, losing its strings. A broken Shamisen left in disrepair can shift into a yokai classed as Tsukumo-gami.

A Tsukumo-gami (translates to “haunted relics”) are sufficiently aged antiques that gain a life of their own if they are loved, and then left behind. Usually, and completely understandably, they are remorseful, but in the case of the Shamisen-choro the instrument was so well loved in life, a shade of the master musician’s spirit remains with the instrument. Thankfully, Kubo finds a novel (and powerful) solution to repair his shamisen. No guitars were harmed, or left to gently weep, in the making of this film.

Those where my thoughts, but did you spot any yokai hiding in the film? Let me know in the comments.

Bibliography:

  • http://yokai.com/ (2016) Matthew Meyer.
  • Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide (2012) Hiroko Yoda, Matt Alt, Tatsuya Morino.

 

The Three sectors of Starfox 3D

Starfox 3D is a re-release of the original Lylat wars (or Starfox64) game for Nintendo 64. Flying through space, the player controls a futuristic fighter ship called an Arwing, which is a bit like an X-wing from Star Wars. I like the arwing’s design. The armored structures next to the wings are a good look for a fighter ship. The ship also made an unofficial appearance in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time.

Fox McCloud is the main character, and the story of the game follows him and his team defeating and overcoming the various plans of an evil empire trying to seize control of the Lylat system. Within the system are a series of three gas clouds in the shape of the last three letters of the English Alphabet. Since I had the chance to play through the game on the Nintendo 3DS, I thought I would investigate these three nebulae and report back on the game play.

Sector Z

This was unfortunately my least favorite of the three because it is essentially an escort mission. Sector Z has a long history of battles, and there are debris of broken battleships drifting through the region. This perhaps made it the ideal place for an ambush against the large, and slower moving Great Fox ship: a carrier vessel that houses Fox McCloud’s arwings. Unlike the other levels in the game, Sector Z begins in “All range mode” where the player is able to pilot the Arwing in a large arena-like area. The opposite mode is “corridor flight” where the Arwing flies down a fixed path, which the player cannot deviate from.

The goal of Sector Z is to protect the Great Fox from six “Copper head” missiles that are slowly flying toward the carrier ship. Considering Fox has four other teammates to help him – three wing-men and one guest – this surprise attack is not particularly difficult to repel.

Sector Y

Ever since I played Lylat wars in the late 1990s, I remember Sector Y as a difficult level, which required significant flying and targeting skills to complete. The challenge is to destroy 100 enemies to progress further down the more difficult but more rewarding of the three pathways through the Lylat system. The alternatives are the Medium and Easy paths, which have less challenging or less interesting missions.

What makes this level interesting is that it is essentially Fox’s team versus and entire fleet of enemies. In addition, the enemy employs several battle suits that serve the same function as a Gundam (Art by shinigami117) despite the fact that they have a completely different design.

Sector X

This Sector is interesting because the final boss, the Spyborg, is unusual. It’s design has several references: its head is shaped like Nintendo 64, and it’s communication avatar, which is normally a portrait of the characters face, is a glowing red eye similar to Hal from 2001: a space odyssey. The Spyborg apparently developed a fault in its programming, and destroyed the base around it. It could have been infected with a virus, similar to what happened to Evangelion Unit 3.0.