Tag Archives: game freak

The Pokémon Studio’s New RPG Sets Itself Apart

Little Town Hero, out October 16 for the Nintendo Switch, is a Game Freak role-playing game about a young boy who’s charged with fighting a bunch of viciously powerful monsters as adults stand idly by. No, not that one. Little Town Hero is totally its own thing: a deceptively simple RPG-card-game hybrid with light tactical elements that manages to be addicting.

My co-worker Joshua Rivera joked that my taste in games was “hardcore,” politely clowning me for gravitating toward games about “anime and math,” so it was no big surprise that Little Town Hero is my cup of tea. In it, your protagonist, Axe (or whatever you name him), fights off monsters suddenly invading the town using the power of a mysterious gemstone he found in the nearby mines. He’s guided by the irresponsible knight who was previously sent there to fight the monsters but hurt his back and now spends too much time in the tavern. The townsfolk must figure out the mystery of how these monsters are getting into the village in the first place. How does Axe fight these ferocious beasts? With the power of ideas.


Little Town Hero’s battle system revolves around ideas charmingly called “Izzits” which function like cards do in card-battle games. You can hold up to five at a time, while others remain in your Headspace to be summoned to the front of mind when space opens up. You have a set amount of “Power” each turn that you can use to turn Izzits into “Dazzits,” or usable moves. There are three types of Dazzits: Blue Dazzits, which have an immediate effect on yourself, your opponent, or both, Yellow Dazzits, which can be used again and again until they break, and Red Dazzits, which can be used once per turn or until they break and can be used to inflict damage directly on your enemy when the opportunity arises. Most involve attacking or defending with your pickaxe-shield weapon, but some involve picking up rocks or throwing a firecracker, for instance. Both you and your enemy have health represented as hearts, as well as “Guts,” a buffer that must generally be broken before you can inflict direct damage. It’s important to be careful about how you do this damage, because several enemies have powered-up states they go into when their guts are reduced to zero. After direct heart damage, guts are restored.

The core of the gameplay is simple, but there are a lot of ways to use the finite tools at your disposal, meaning that there’s a lot of predicting and planning and customizing you can do when it comes to your actual playstyle. You always see your opponent’s available Dazzits and the particular one they’re using each turn, which guides your strategy. I’m using a high-risk high-reward playstyle, taking opportunities to gamble by sacrificing health in order to make big plays on my opponents. The combination of Red, Blue, and Yellow Dazzits allows a static set of moves to be mixed and matched in a variety of different ways, especially once you start powering them up and unlocking new effects. The key to winning the game is breaking your opponent’s Dazzits to score a direct hit. Taking direct damage yourself automatically restores all your used-up ideas, which keeps the matches from becoming too one-sided at any given time. The game is easy enough for anyone to pick up but has a lot to offer a fledgling min-maxer.


Between turns, you move around on a party-game-style map. On this map are other townsfolk, who can give you bonuses. Axe’s buddy Nelz, for example, reduces the cost of turning one random Izzit into a Dazzit to zero. His rival Matock can do direct damage to the opponent’s body, regardless of its Dazzits. There are a variety of townsfolk ready to jump in and support this small child battling monsters, and you can find more via sidequests and story progression. Some of them offer inspiration for new ideas mid-battle. There are also environmental effects called “Gimicks” you can tap into if you have the right Dazzit. For example, I’ve taken on a very aggressive play style, so I enjoy strategically using the Barrel which does direct damage to both your and your opponent’s Dazzits and body, strategically sacrificing some of my guts to go ahead and deal heart damage to an energy. There are lots of these options to explore and thus lots of strategies to mess with during the battles, which can easily take 15 or 20 minutes a pop, if you’re like me and enjoy mathing out every possibility.


You may be wondering what you do between battles. You can take on sidequests to get to know townsfolk and gain rewards like Eureka Points, which you can then use to upgrade your Dazzits or increase your Guts on an upgrade grid. This adds a nice, if light, layer of customization to the game. You also fight Matock… a lot. And just like other Game Freak rivals, he is both relentless and unperturbed in his endless quest to get his bell rung by the protagonist, over, and over, and over, and over again. One chapter of the early game had me fight him three times, pretty much consecutively. I didn’t mind so much, since the battles changed slightly each time, but, man. The sidequests and between-battle moments are charming and provide some color for the town and townsfolk you fight so hard to protect. It’s banal but makes complete and total sense within the game’s themes of small-town fellowship, and it’s wholly inoffensive when punctuated by the solid battles you get to think through.


Like the little town Axe works so hard to protect, Little Town Hero is straightforward and earnest. Comical moments between characters and a Toby Fox-made soundtrack keep the boring parts manageable, and the battle system’s mix of a simple core with a variety of ways to execute makes the game work. You have a finite level of actions you can take and a clear layout of your enemy’s attack options. It’s the type of game that makes you feel clever for doing exactly what it’s designed to allow, and that’s always a great time.

Source: Kotaku.com

Pokémon Manholes Installed Across Japan

Photo: ©2019 Pokémon. ©1995-2019 Nintendo/Creatures Inc. /GAME FREAK inc. (poke_times)

Japanese cities and towns across the country have their own manhole designs. Each one is unique and reflects the local culture, history or beauty. Fittingly, the country now has Pokémon manholes.

Earlier this year, the city of Ibusuki unveiled a series of Eevee-themed manholes. Here’s what the city’s typical manholes looked like:

Photo: Ibusuki City

They’re pretty nice! But check out the Eevee ones:

Photo: ©2019 Pokémon. ©1995-2019 Nintendo/Creatures Inc. /GAME FREAK inc.
Photo: ©2019 Pokémon. ©1995-2019 Nintendo/Creatures Inc. /GAME FREAK inc.
Photo: ©2019 Pokémon. ©1995-2019 Nintendo/Creatures Inc. /GAME FREAK inc.

Why does this city have Eevee manholes? Ibusuki sounds like “Eevee suki” or “Eevee likes.”

The Pokémon manholes are designed to make connections with the local area either visually or through other thematic ways. For example, Rock-type Pokémon Geodude, Tyrunt, and Onix have their own manholes in Iwate Prefecture as “iwa” (岩) refers to rocks.

According to Time Out Tokyo, this is part of a project called Pokémon Local Acts, which tries to drum up local tourism. Manhole-spotting is a popular pastime when traveling within Japan, and folks enjoy checking out the different manholes across the country while traveling.

Plus, they double as Pokéstops in Pokémon Go, so they’re more than just manholes!

They’re photo ops, too.

Source: Kotaku.com

Junichi Masuda Reminds People: Game Freak Makes The Pokémon Games

Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.  

Quick! Who has made the mainline Pokémon games? That’s right, Game Freak. But some people think the answer is Nintendo. According to Junichi Masuda, lots of people do.

In a recent clip on Game Freak’s official YouTube Channel, Masuda recalled how when Pokémon first came out, it was called a Nintendo game. While the game was released on Nintendo hardware and while Nintendo is involved in publishing, Nintendo did not make Pokémon.

The relationship between Game Freak, Nintendo, Creatures, and the Pokémon Company is rather complex. But as Nintendo World Report explains, Nintendo does the game publishing and distribution, Creatures handles the cards (though it also does games), Game Freak develops the games, and the Pokémon Company seems to handle everything else and have its fingers in all aspects. Granted, this is an oversimplification. Game Freak has released its games on non-Nintendo hardware, including the Mega Drive, PC Engine, Windows, and the PS4.

Plus, Nintendo, of course, does make spin-off games like Pokémon Stadium. Other studios have also developed Pokémon spin-offs, including Jupiter and Spike Chunsoft. However…

“I’ve asked about 200 people who they thought made Pokémon,” Masuda said, adding that almost 100 percent said Nintendo. “Even now, there are those people who think I’m a Nintendo employee.” This notion is so pervasive that when Masuda goes back to his hometown, he’ll overhear people express disbelief to each other that he is actually Junichi Masuda, saying, “Someone from Nintendo would never come to a place like this.”

So remember, Game Freak has made the mainline Pokémon games! Also, I’m sure someone from Nintendo would visit Masuda’s hometown.

Source: Kotaku.com

Not All Pokémon Can Be Imported Into Sword and Shield

E3 2019It’s time for the biggest gaming show of the year. We’ve got articles, videos, podcasts and maybe even a GIF or two.  

Pokémon fans eager to see the previous seven generations of pocket monsters popping up in Pokémon Sword and Shield received disappointing news yesterday when producer Junichi Masuda announced that only Pokémon present in the new Galar region Pokédex can be imported into the upcoming Switch games.

Pokémon Sword and Shield kicked off yesterday’s Nintendo Treehouse Live presentation at E3, with producer Junichi Masuda and game director Shigeru Ohmori exploring the game’s vast explorable overland and its array of free range Pokémon battles. The presentation ended with a breathtaking four-player battle against a gargantuan Steelix.

After the battle ended, Masuda delivered the bad news. While the recently-announced Pokémon Bank replacement, Pokémon Home, was built to be a service that collects all of players’ pocket monsters in one place, not every pocket monster players store in Pokémon Home will be able to be transferred into Pokémon Sword and Shield. Unlike previous entries in the long-running monster RPG series, which allowed Pokémon from multiple generations to be traded and imported, Pokémon Sword and Shield draws the line at Pokémon appearing in the Galar region Pokédex.

“In previous games that worked with the Pokémon Bank service, you were able to, for example in Sun and Moon, bring over any Pokémon even if they weren’t in the Alola Pokédex,” Masuda said via a translator during the presentation. “With the transition to the Nintendo Switch hardware, with it being much more powerful and allowing us to be much more expressive with each of the individual Pokémon, and now we’re well over 800 Pokémon species in the games.”

According to Masuda, developer Game Freak spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to move forward, taking into account battle balance and development time, and came up with a new direction—limiting Pokémon imports to those in Sword and Shield’s specific Pokédex.

It bears mentioning that we have no idea about the size of the Galar region Pokédex is at this point, or how inclusive it is. We’ve seen a handful of new Pokémon and a smattering of old favorites so far, but not enough to give any sense of scale. Game director Shigeru Ohmori followed up Masuda’s comments with assurances that completing the Galar region Pokédex will be no small feat.

“In the Galar region you’re going to find a lot of Pokémon, including a bunch of Pokémon that no one has discovered yet, so the games are definitely chock full of content,” Ohmori said via translator. You can watch the entire exchange in the video below (starting at 1:40:08).

Basically what Masuda is saying is that rather than update every single one of the more than 800 existing Pokémon with new expressions and animations to fit in the new games, Game Freak decided to limit the scope in order to reduce development time.

It makes a certain amount of sense, but that doesn’t mean fans have to be happy about it. They are not. The Pokémon Reddit is filled with threads and comments from upset players. Some are calling for the games to be delayed until all of the pocket monsters can be added. Others suspect the limited scope is due to greed, and the Pokemon available to transfer could increase through downloadable content or in later iterations of the game. My favorite Reddit thread so far is one by Redditor Saltypuddingmountain titled “Gotta Catch a limited variety for the purpose of a very sudden focus on game balance.” Exquisite.

While I will be perfectly happy with Scorbunny and friends, I understand why the prospect of leaving behind digital pocket monster friends that have been by players’ sides for decades can be upsetting. We’ve reached out to The Pokémon Company and Nintendo for comment on this new direction and will update the post should either reply.

Source: Kotaku.com

Pokémon Sword And Shield Will Have Co-Op Raids (And Everything Else We Learned Today)

Pokémon Sword and Shield, the long awaited new entry in the Pokémon franchise for Nintendo Switch, is coming out November 15th. Now we finally know more about the region of Galor, the Pokémon adventure that awaits you there, and the pocket monsters that live there.

Play With Your Friends

Pokémon battles haven’t changed too much since the beginning of the franchise, and Pokémon Sword and Shield come with co-op, which isn’t new for the franchise. Raids, which Sword and Shield will also have, are new.

During Max Raid Battles, you and your friends will fight against powerful Pokémon for a chance to catch rare Pokémon. You’ll be able to play with four friends in person, or online. These Pokemon will also be super big and super powerful, which is a new mechanic called Dynamaxing.

You’ll be able to Dynamax your own Pokémon too, which makes them huge and turns all their moves into powerful Z-moves for three turns. Gym leaders seem to be all about Dynamaxing, as gyms are built so that gym leaders and trainers can Dynamax—and if you hated the Trials from Sun and Moon, don’t worry, Sword and Shield has brought back more traditional gym leaders.

New Region, New Pokemon

As with every new Pokémon game, there comes an onslaught of new Pokémon. Galar is a a region based on the United Kingdom, so the new Pokémon from that region have a bit of an British flair.

Wooloo, a normal type, Gossifleur, a grass type, Drednaw, water/rock type,and Corviknight, a flying/steel type, all definitely feel a bit British to me, especially Wooloo, a big fluffy sheep, if the sheep dotting the Welsh countryside I saw during a road trip is anything to go by. Corviknight is well, a giant flying bird knight—the connection to British culture was pretty clear there.

Of all these new Pokemon, the only one with an evolved form that we saw was Gossifleur, who evolved into Eldegoss. It’s very cute and I want to hold it, even if it will give me hayfever.

Pokémon Sword and Shield introduces two new legendary Pokemon as well: Zacian and Zamazenta. Zacian carries a sword in its mouth, and Zamazenta wears a shield. Both look like good dogs.

The game comes out November 15th, and I can’t wait. If you’re hella psyched, you can pre-order a double pack of both games starting now. Maybe gift one to a friend, so you can go on Max Raid Battles together.

Source: Kotaku.com

Pokémon Fans Really Hope Scorbunny Doesn’t Evolve Into A Fighting Type

Screenshot: Pokemon (Nintendo)

Scorbunny, one of the starter Pokémon for the newly announced Pokémon Sword and Shield, is a sweet lil bunny, and I love him. He’s also the source of some concern among Pokémon fans.

So far there have been eight different generations of Pokémon games in the main series, leading to eight different sets of starter Pokémon. More modern entries allow those starters to gain a second Pokémon type in addition to their initial ones, Fire, Water or Grass. Whereas the Water and Grass Pokémon have gotten a diverse range of secondary types, the Fire ones tend to follow a routine. Torchic (Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire), Chimchar (Pokémon Diamond and Pearl), and Tepig (Pokémon Black and White) all became Fire/Fighting creatures. These three games also followed each other consecutively, making the trend all the more glaring.

Pokémon players are now afraid Scorbunny will have the same fate. Why? Because of the bandage on his nose.

It might not mean much to people who aren’t obsessed with Pokémon, but the designs of the characters usually have consistent motifs to signal the type of Pokémon with which they’re associated. It’s not very subtle. Fighting-type Pokémon and Gym Leaders usually have a sporty look. Pokémon like Hitmonchamp and Hitmonlee wear martial arts gear. Maylene, the Fighting-type Gym Leader from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, has a bandage on her nose like Scorbunny. Besides the bandage, Scorbunny also gives off a sporty vibe. He’s long, lean, and fast, kind of like a soccer player.

He’s also…… so cute.
Screenshot: Pokemon (Nintendo)

All those signs have sent Pokémon fans into a fit of speculation. They’re desperate for some variety in Fire type starter Pokémon. Your starters are usually with you the whole game, and whatever second type they get in evolutions can also help fill some gaps in your party. While Fire/Fighting can be a useful type in the late game, it’s also more of the same. Pokémon Sun and Moon had some creative type combinations for the final evolutions of its starter Pokémon with Grass/Ghost, Fire/Dark and Water/Fairy. Getting another Fire/Fighting type is seen as a boring step backwards.

Put more succinctly, one fan tweeted, “If Scorbunny is fire/fighting I’m gonna do a murder,” and it was retweeted over four hundred times. The conversation also continues to crop up on the Pokémon subreddit. In the thread announcing Sword and Shield, the highest rated comment about Scorbunny, with over five thousand upvotes, reads, “Scorbunny looks like it has a band-aid on its nose. You know, like a martial artist… sounds like everyone’s favorite starter type-combination is back!”

All of this is speculation, and I’d love to see Scorbunny turn into anything other than Fire/Fighting. As a series, Pokémon has been slow to try new things, with the recently released Let’s Go games being the first shake-up the series has had in a long time. Only time will tell what Scorbunny will turn into. For now, I can safely say that he’s a cute bunny and also my friend.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Next Pokémon Might Be Set In The UK, And Scottish Twitter Is Thrilled

The prospect of the new Pokémon game being possibly set in the UK has amused some fans, and I’m laughing along with them.

In order to understand these jokes, you’re first going to have to explain the concept of Scottish Twitter. Regional Twitters have regional dialects. A community of Twitter users based in Pittsburgh might say “yinz” instead of “y’all,” and instead of LOL, Twitter users from France might type MDR—mort de rire, or “dead from laughing.”

Scottish Twitter users tend to write their tweets phonetically, like they’re in an Irvine Welsh novel. It leads to hilarity like this:

Illustration: Nintendo

Where does Pokémon come in? Well, the newly announced Sword and Shield are going to be set in the Galar region, which appears to be based on the United Kingdom. Some people have pointed out that the map of Galar looks like the UK flipped upside down. It looks like the snowy region up top may represent Scotland in Galar.

None of this is confirmed, but it has players imagining what the region will be like. When Black and White came out, I was so excited to see the Pokémon version of New York, and spent a lot of time wondering which town was what borough. While the game didn’t always trade on the stereotypes of New Yorkers I was expecting, it was still a hoot to see the city where I now live from a different perspective. British and Scottish Pokémon players are now wondering how their own countries will look with the Pokémon treatment, and are using their own cultural stereotypes to riff off of.

Take this tweet, for example, which is a riff on a gag from Scottish Twitter:

Or this tweet, which gives the voiceless characters from the trailer some cheeky dialogue:

If just reading the tweet doesn’t do it for you, here it is read aloud in a Scottish accent.

Why is this shit so hysterical? There’s something about niche jokes that, even if I don’t fully get the context, just tickle me. The idea of Game Freak nailing the culture of the United Kingdom so fully that they based their Pokémarts on Greggs just makes me laugh.

Some players have even envisioned what a battle against the Queen might look like.

It’s unlikely that Sword and Shield will play like this, and we’re still not sure if Galar is based on the UK. I’ll be happy whatever happens, because it’s new Pokémon and I am starved for that. Still, I’m holding out hope that whenever I battle someone, they’ll say, “you wot, mate?”

Source: Kotaku.com

The Internet Reacts To Pokémon Sword And Shield’s Starters

Screenshot: Nintendo

Today Nintendo finally released some information about the upcoming Pokémon games for Switch. They’re called Pokémon Sword and Shield, and the starters are absolutely adorable.

The region where this game will take place is called Galar, and is based on the United Kingdom. The three starters, Scorbunny, Sobble and Grookey, are the Pokémon that will accompany you on the start of your journey to become Pokémon Champion.

People are already picking favorites. I love Scorbunny, though I also have a soft spot for Sobble. Grookey is also present.

Pokémon fans are also making some fun observations, and as to be expected, incredible jokes.

As far as how these Pokémon will play, we’ll only figure that out when we get the game in late 2019. For now, please send me all your fanart of Scorbunny, thank you.

Source: Kotaku.com