Blog Update: Admin & Anime

Oh hi there. I’ve been relatively quiet as of late, so thought I’d put together a quick post as to why, as well as noting some other projects! To keep y’all entertained whilst doing so, there’ll be anime GIFs throughout, so stick around, yeah? This isn’t gonna be a long one. Either way, there is anime, so, yeah! We’re all a fan of that right?

OK so firstly, to explain my recent reduced frequency of posting; a storm of different life stuff has been going on, from moving where I live, to starting a new work position, to, erm, managing to damage the keys on my laptop and therefore making typing tricky… However! The first two are more organised now, and the latter I have sorta-fixed (don’t ask). I’m back in a position where I have more opportunity to write!

Also, I have been playing quite a few games recently, and have a lot of material ready. Expect quite a few reviews soon, as well as more Let’s Chat, and even some more one-off articles. I’m keen to start doing more list articles as well, but one thing at a time and all that. With it being the time of year that it is, also expect themed pieces…

Another exciting prospect is that I have been setting up my video recording arrangement, to the point where I am prepared for video capture and streaming. For those intrigued, there are two methods in which I am doing this; when I am recording gameplay, or streaming solo on Switch or PlayStation, I have a set-up of the Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition in combination with the OBS software. When I am playing multiplayer in party chat with friends on PlayStation, though – such as for Path of Exile at the moment – I go through the in-built Broadcast feature, as this is a straightforward way in which to get multiple voices into the stream.

This means I shall occasionally be online for you to follow along Рpredominantly the streams shall be through Twitch, and the bespoke videos on YouTube. My writing shall continue to happen here, with the videos as a complimentary channel of content that runs alongside. I have plans to stream the soon-to-be-released The Crown Tundra DLC for Pokémon Sword and Shield!

Those are the main topics I was planning to mention. Yet, I’m here now, so let’s discuss a couple other events going on. With new consoles on the way – I hope I can get a PS5 at launch! – there is going to be much to write, and I imagine a lot of this shall be done through Let’s Chat. I’m very excited for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and finding out more of the story at that point in the Zelda timeline; I have been avoiding much of the info released so far so that I go into that game as fresh as I can! Expect in-depth articles from me on potential story theories when that game is out.

I have many reviews planned, as I try to get through my backlog; finishing a game and then reviewing it is a process I find very satisfying for ticking a game off in my mind – perhaps that is just me, but maybe that is a feeling shared by others. Gotta get through that backlog, right? Also I shall continue my Film in 500 review series, which seems to have been well-received, and fit in anime too. So much great stuff!

Okay that’s enough rambling from me. I mean, I should get onto making headway with all these fun projects! I hope you have a wonderful day! See ya ūüôā

Hades Review

Developed and Published by: Supergiant Games
Platforms: Switch (Reviewed), PC
Release Date: Out Now

They’ve done it again; and got me, too, coming back again and again. In Hades, Supergiant Games have crafted a masterful take on the roguelike that blends the brutal yet rewarding appeal of said genre with the immaculate, characterful art and music direction the developer is known for. I have never played a roguelike that encourages you on in such a way; not only are you seeking to better yourself on skill, but you’re motivated to find out more on the richly developed characters as well. If I was making a list of my top ten developers, Supergiant would probably be in there, and Hades is another example of why (again, a great idea for a list article there… I should start doing those)!

Going Rogue

The story premise, whilst deeply layered within the Greek Mythology it employs, is quite straightforward in the goal set out to you. You play as Zagreus, son of Hades – the God of the Dead – and having grown tired of your constrained life within the Underworld, you set about trying to escape to discover more about your family. This means fighting through multiple areas, including Tartarus and Asphodel, in order to reach the surface and the secrets that await you there. It’s set out in familiar roguelike format; you battle through consecutive, randomised chambers of enemies and traps, with boss fights capping each of the sections; as well as this, there are surprise interludes; this includes fountains to restore health, and a shop run by Charon, Ferryman of the Underworld. If you die, you are kicked back to your starting point of The House of Hades, where you regroup (more on that below) before setting off again, undeterred.

Controls are deceptively simple; you play from a dynamic isometric perspective – it is reminiscent of previous Supergiant games, in particular Transistor – and this means that whilst Zagreus maneuvers around a open area with a sense of depth, it is in a 2D style (see the screenshots in this review). There is more surrounding space compared to roguelikes such as Rogue Legacy or Dead Cells, which are strictly from-the-side 2D and often claustrophobic – arguably to a fault. In contrast, Hades has a bit more freedom that is delightful to operate within; the game goes a long way to balancing out this extra space by throwing a barrage of enemies at you. Still, this approach does supply slight breathing room for the player, and I found it much less daunting – and, overall, easier (though not easy) – than other roguelikes, especially once you settle into the rhythm.

The start of another quest for the surface!

You have an attack and a special that are determined by your choice of Infernal Arms – there are 6 strains of weapon, from your starting sword to a spear, bow, and more. They each handle very differently and cater to different playstyles. Finding your preferred weapon (shock, I mainly go for archery) provides a sense of personal customisation to your repeated escape campaigns, especially as you unlock different Aspects to further fine-tune your loadout. Furthermore, you have a ranged cast attack, and in terms of movement, your dash is crucial to keep up momentum and avoid the smorgasbord of threats coming your way; the frenetic pace of the action means that mastering this is very important to being successful in Hades. There is then an extra ultimate-style move named a Call that you can only get as an offering from one of the Olympian Gods.

Which is a great way to segway into the Boons themselves. Another way that Hades brings distinct personality to the familiar roguelike set-up is with the way it portrays the Greek Mythology, especially the characters within it. You see, as you progress through an escape attempt, the Olympian Gods attempt to help you out; you will come across offerings from them – Lady Artemis (my favourite character in Hades), Lord Zeus, and Lady Athena, to name three – granting you Boons that affect the nature of your abilities. This may be a refinement of one of your attacks or your dash, or perhaps a passive improvement such as increased move speed. Two examples: Lady Artemis grants perks that focus on critical hits and pinpoint damage, whilst Lord Poseidon applies wave splash damage that pushes enemies aside and away from their trajectory. Utilisation and combination of these specific effects is the source of much possibility within Hades; experimenting to see the sets that work best for you is the source of long-lasting fun.

Be wary on all sides…

That fresh feeling on each attempt is supported by other elements too. Completing each chamber gives a reward: this could be a Boon, but also could be an increase to your Max Health that run, a modifier for your current choice of weapon, or another besides. You often get a choice of path at the end of each chamber, where you can see the next rewards on offer, again putting the initiative in your hands. Enemies along the way challenge you in different ways; at one moment you’re avoiding the close-range swipes of a skeleton, the next you’re dashing your way around incoming butterflies (no, really). It ensures that whichever set-up of skills you’re going with, you feel thoroughly tested. A subsequent pace to proceedings prevents encounters from getting stale – skipping from weapon to weapon, trialing different Boons, seeing how they work together in complimentary combos… It’s so, so enjoyable.

Home Comforts

Importantly, this variety and sense of character is present whenever you go back to The House of Hades. Effectively a hub area that you visit before your next try, it is packed full of customisation, character interaction, and overriding charm. After appearing from the Styx, you’ll happen upon Hypnos and his sleepy demeanour as you approach the seat of Hades, who finds time away from judging the souls in front of him to berate you for one act or another – it’s not always the most healthy father-son relationship. Beside Hades is Cerberus, complete with petting option, and on the other is the House Contractor. The latter is the source of much longevity, as the resources you gather through your skirmishes can be exchanged here for a multitude of unlockables – some cosmetic, some very much gameplay-oriented.

Communication is important for a healthy relationship…

From here you can explore more of the House; the Wretched Broker offers further options for currency exchange, fish you catch can be swapped with the chef, and Dusa – a Gorgon Head taking care of the House – is adorable. The more you progress in your escapes, the more facilities and conversations are available here, and this creates an air of anticipation for the content awaiting you here even when your fights don’t go as planned – there is a constant sense of progression that hooks you in for that one-more-go feeling. When the character interactions are so intrinsic to the feeling of reward, it means that the game needs to pack a lot in, as that approach could quickly fall apart if you started encountering repeat dialogue and repetitive systems. This, though, is where Supergiant has shined before, and that has translated to Hades in spectacular fashion.

Seriously, it is so impressive how much content is in this game. Even where I am now – post-credits and very much in the endgame – I still get surprises pop up in conversation and gameplay, and could perhaps count on one hand the amount of times I have run into repeated dialogue in well over 50 hours. Staggering detail is within Hades and goes towards maintaining the motivation to keep trying new escapes. The Darkness you gather can additionally be put towards new permanent perks, courtesy of Nyx, that affect every run – not just the one you are on at that moment. Therefore, your proficiency constantly rises and helps you to make more progress. Beyond this, from gifting Nectar to characters, you get Keepsakes in exchange that have traits of their own. You may be able to tell by this point that there are many ways to alter your experience and tactics in Hades, and well, you’d be right!

This floating battlefield gets intense

Ultimately, the narrative and the gameplay interweave beautifully to produce a story that feels as though it is always pushing on, just as you are always pushing gradually further in your escapes. At the heart of Hades is a touching story on family, and there are even multiple side quests where Zagreus is a driving force for improving the existence of others around him. If somehow that isn’t enough, the Fates’ Prophecies act as tracking for your advancement in different departments, whether that be acquiring every Boon from each God or getting two characters to reunite. There are sections later on I’m not going into due to spoilers, too! With engrossing combat and an expansive suite of progression, Hades has plenty to hold your attention.

Super Style

Supergiant have really found their trademark style that makes their games distinctively theirs even as they hop across genres. It’s not a surprise at this point – Hades has artistic flair that takes all that which I have mentioned and presents it in a strikingly inviting manner. Stunning character artwork exudes eminent personality, even when static; and the models in motion are fluid and, as aforementioned, wonderful to control. The use of colour and stroke to make the world so vibrant allows the player to fall in with ease and start soaking the lore in. That clarity of art direction lends itself to the fast-paced roguelike genre too, as even when lots is happening on screen, it doesn’t descend into an undecipherable cacophony.

That art though

As much as visuals are a strength of Supergiant, so is audio design, and wowzas, the soundtrack is superb. Compared to the more dulcet tones of Transistor and Pyre, Hades is a slight departure in the more rock-oriented vibe. It’s as though the awesome Thrash Pack tune from Pyre has been expanded into a full soundtrack! Continuing on another Supergiant theme is the inclusion of heartfelt lyrical, voiced tracks, – this is another vinyl purchase to add to the collection… Similarly, the voice work throughout is another piece of the puzzle that gives Hades cohesive character, with the specific traits of everyone coming through as much in the speech as in the text itself, from the booming and often condescending tones of Hades to the endearingly sarcastic and witty Lady Artemis.

The energy of the audio suits the relentless nature of the game, and itself escalates to a peak as you get to the final fights. One endgame track is perhaps the pinnacle of this… Speaking of boss fights, they’re integral to the pace I have been talking about. They punctuate the different areas of the Underworld nicely, and include characters that impact the non-combat side of the game too; that is to say, referential and dynamic dialogue carries into these too. As instances where narrative and gameplay cross over, they’re exceptional examples of the strengths of Hades. Oh, and they’re very tough, so prepare yourself for that!

Tartarus, the first step on your way to the surface

As I near the end of this review, a word on the way this game evolves with playtime. The roguelike nature is one the game stays committed to, but the way that your goal changes is part of how Hades regularly shakes itself up. Just be aware that the roguelike framework won’t disappear, even if your in-game position alters. Hades does a fantastic job of keeping this going, though to make another ever-so-slight criticism, the level at which it succeeds on that does fluctuate – never to the point of dissuading me from playing, but there was one section around mid-way where the main task felt slightly more repetitive than at other times.

Final Thoughts

The idea of a new Supergiant Games release is one that excites me, and I eagerly followed the route of Hades from Early Access to the recent 1.0 launch on Switch and PC. It’s remarkable that, even still, they surprise me as they glide seemingly seamlessly from genre to genre, maintaining their high quality and distinctive style as they go. With Hades, they have dived into the roguelike genre and put a new and unique spin on it to phenomenal success, not only nailing the gameplay cycle but giving it a personable and character-fueled element; it is currently the main contender to Resident Evil 3 as my Game of the Year. Is it my favourite Supergiant game? For me personally, no – the grace and precision of Transistor just edges it. A wonderful aspect of Supergiant is that it feels as though their releases form a lineage of evidence for how the studio has developed over time. Perhaps the greatest praise I can give Hades is that it fits into that emphatic aplomb.


Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

Let’s Chat: Definitively Ranking Every Fall Guys Round

With Season 2 of hit multiplayer game Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout out today (8th October), the newest Let’s Chat is going to take a view of the game up to this point in a new way; that’s right, we’re going to be listing our personal ranking of every Fall Guys round. All of them. For this, Ashley Harrison is making his return to Let’s Chat after a hiatus in recent times! I shall say that if you are not familiar with Fall Guys then it may be tough to follow this article – it is more suited to those who are aware of most/all the stages. Furthermore, this piece was written over quite a bit of time, but here it is, ready for the new Season, where we shall have even more stages to play. Let’s go!

William Robinson: Hi again Ash! So, we were wondering about topics for Let’s Chat, and then we realised we were in the same situation of joy and pain in Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, huh?

Ashley Harrison: Genuinely, I think this is up there with in my top 3 Game of the Year candidates already, despite how frustrating it can be at times, especially in certain minigames. It’s genuinely pretty much the only Battle Royale I’ve actually enjoyed playing, and whilst doing “research” for this Let’s Chat, I actually finally managed to score my first win!

WR: Meaning that we two are now superior humans, right, for having won an Episode in Fall Guys? I’ve already talked about the game in my review, so I won’t go on too much here myself other than reiterating that I find it fun but a bit lacking in options. How would you sum up your time with it?

AH: Like I said, it’s up there in my GotY discussion personally, so to say anything other than I’m really enjoying it would be doing it a disservice. If, however, I had to give criticisms, I really wish there was more variety in which minigames you play, because I keep seeming to play the same ones over and over. I believe it changes what games are more likely to appear every day, but it’s not great having Gate Crash as your opening game 7 times in a row.

WR: Not sure if that was intentional, or just a sign of how synced up we are now, but that is a nice segway into the specific purpose of this Let’s Chat: you may have heard many opinions about the game, but here we are going to somehow attempt to list all of the stages from best to worst. Now, to prevent us loading the back of the list with Team games, we’re gonna split this into two lists, one for Team games, one for Solo. Sound good with you, Ash?

AH: Given how awful all of the team games are (that’ll be fun trying to rank them from best to worst, haha) I’m fine with that. I definitely think we’d both be putting all of the team games at the bottom of the list because, in my opinion, there isn’t a single one that holds a candle to the solo games.

WR: That doesn’t seem an unpopular opinion, either. It’s just that feeling of your result feeling out of your hands, right? While at least in the solo games I can only blame myself.

It’s every Fall Guy for themselves

AH: When you get put on Yellow Team, you know you might as well just quit out of the game there already.

WR: Ahaha, yeah, there was a game of Egg Scramble where Yellow ended with a score of 1. ONE. It’s cruel.

AH: So, going back to what I mentioned about feeling like you’re always playing the same minigames? Just today, after who knows how many games played, I actually played Egg Scramble for the first time ever. I’ve genuinely just had to look at a list of all the minigames to find out which it actually is.

WR: OK, so as there are less Team games than non-Team, let’s tackle those first. I’m immediately suggesting either Jinxed or Team Tail Tag for last place. As reference, here is the list:

Egg ScrambleFall Ball
HoardersHoopsie Daisy
JinxedRock ‘N’ Roll
Team Tail Tag

AH: I finally got to play a game of Jinxed and that was enough for me to decide it’s undoubtedly the worst mini-game in the whole thing, so I’d put that below Team Tail Tag because it’s just awful. Team Tail Tag is another I am not a fan of; the fact that you can have your tail grabbed from seemingly miles away, yet you can literally go right up to people and have the grabbing animation play when pressing R2 but not steal their tail whilst trying to get one for yourself, is enough to make me quit any time I see it come up.

Team games can be clumsy

WR: I’ve played quite a bit and only had Jinxed appear once, so it does seem rare – it’s similar to Team Tail Tag in terms of it essentially being a game of “it”. Not only is there the baked-in advantage or disadvantage of starting with or without being Jinxed or having a tail, but your teammates can drag you down without you being able to do much about it. So let’s put Jinxed last, with Team Tail Tag next. Of the other 5, which is your next one to knock off the list?

AH: For me, the next one I’d have to knock off is Hoopsie Daisy. Not only is it yet another game where you’re relying solely on your team (let’s be honest, you can be the best player in the world, you’re not single-handedly carrying your team to either 1st or 2nd place in this without them) but you also have to get lucky with RNG in terms of where the rings themselves spawn. If you can’t even reach the rings before someone else does, it’s another easy goodbye.

WR: Yeah, I can agree with that – also, if the Golden Hoops spawn in a spot that favours the other team, that skews it as well. I’m noticing we’re gonna have the games with a focus on ball games towards the top here!

AH: Who’d have ever seen that coming with the two of us haha? Even real life sports interests put aside, I do genuinely think the ball games are the best of the team ones.

WR: The question is, does Egg Scramble knock one of the ball games out of the top three? I’m saying no. Though, it is close with Hoarders for me.

AH: I’m not a fan of Rock ‘N’ Roll, so for me, it does. The first half of Rock ‘N’ Roll is a great team exercise forcing you to work together, but the second half? Man, it’s so annoying. I don’t think I’ve played a game of it yet where the 2nd half hasn’t just turned into 2 teams stopping whichever team is last to get their ball to the ramp from being able to push their ball to the goal. At least with Egg Scramble, the whole point of that game mode is to try and literally steal the win from your opponents; in Rock ‘N’ Roll, people just do it for fun.

WR: You know, it may be because I’ve generally done well in Rock ‘N’ Roll, but that has often been an aspect I haven’t considered. It does bring out the bad side of players, eh? I guess for that, we should knock it down. So we have a Top Three of Egg Scramble, Fall Ball, and Hoarders. We reckon Fall Ball as the best? It’s essentially Rocket League

AH: Yup, I have to agree there. I always love a good football mini-game (give us a new Mario Strikers dammit Nintendo), so it has to be at the top for me. There’s no luck involved with it, it’s purely skill-based, being able to work with your team to outscore the opponents. When it’s as simple as that, you can’t dislike it.

WR: There also tends to be less players involved when it pops up, so less of a random element. Very satisfying to score from the ball first being dropped too! If Mario Strikers ever returns, Let’s Chat is gonna be very excitable.

Go team!

AH: Yeah, I only ever seem to get Fall Ball when there’s between 10-14 people remaining, so there’s enough people on the teams to make both attacking and defending at the same time possible, but not too many people so that it’s impossible to score because they just play the Mourinho way and have everyone in defence.

WR: Park the… Guys? Aha! OK, so that leaves the fight for 2nd between Egg Scramble and Hoarders. Not sure about you, but I prefer Egg Scramble, if only for it being so different.

AH: I’m with you there too, Egg Scramble definitely wins 2nd place for me. Not even for being so different – because they’re both essentially Capture the Flag minigames – but because it’s easier to steal the eggs to place in your team’s goal than it is to control the balls in Hoarders.

WR: Nice, so this is our list. You all in agreement for this?

1: Fall Ball2: Egg Scramble
3: Hoarders4: Rock ‘N’ Roll
5: Hoopsie Daisy6: Team Tail Tag
7: Jinxed

AH: I see no issues with that if you don’t.

WR: Onto the second list, of all remaining Rounds. This should be fun… So, the rounds:

Block PartyDizzy Heights
Door DashFall Mountain
Fruit ChuteGate Crash
Hex-A-GoneHit Parade
Jump ClubJump Showdown
Perfect MatchRoll Out
Royal FumbleSee Saw
Slime ClimbTail Tag
The WhirlygigTip Toe

AH: I mean, I can start there easily with the worst game in that list and I don’t think it’ll take a genius to work out which. By far the worst solo game is Tail Tag.

WR: I’d actually say that Royal Fumble is lower for me. It’s essentially Tail Tag but for the final, so whoever has the tail at the end wins. It often occurs when there are not that many players left for the final, too – and it is such an advantage for whoever is randomly selected to start with the tail, as with less players around, it’s tougher to get the tail from another.

AH: There’s an even worse version of Tail Tag? Oh Jesus, thank God I’ve yet to come across that. It sounds awful. Yeah, I’ll put that as the worst of the solo games for sure with you. Tail Tag with even less players and only one having a tail sounds absolutely horrible to play.

WR: More than once, I have gotten to a final, really excited, seen it is Royal Fumble, and just internally sighed. Give me either Jump Showdown or Hex-A-Gone for the final, yeah?

There are balance issues in the Tail-centric rounds

AH: I’m quite partial to Fall Mountain for the final round to be honest with you, because it’s just pure platforming skill. Although I might be biased on that because it’s the course I won my first crown on, and I haven’t really come close to winning on either of the others.

WR: You won on Fall Mountain? Woah, impressed here, I’m not great at it. Tell us more about your victory?

AH: Yeah, I won on Fall Mountain! Should actually have won twice on it, but for my first should’ve-been-guaranteed victory, I forgot to press R2 to grab onto the Crown, and as such, bonked into it and ended up losing when I’d had such a clear run up until that point. My actual victory though: I got there as the Crown was at the top of its possible height, so I had to wait for it to come down which allowed people to catch up, but luckily I still managed to grab it first through the wave of people jumping.

WR: Oh man, that first one sounds agonising. One mistake can ruin your whole chance there, so as I say, impressed. My victory was on Hex-A-Gone, I scraped it; literally as I was falling off the final floor, the other person fell first. It was so close that my screen initially didn’t register it as my win! I had to wait to get my rewards show up.

AH: Man, that sounds so intense. To think you’ve lost it, only to realise that you actually haven’t and had scored the win. Crazy that, though I do kind of have to feel for the other guy if it was that close.

The race to the peak of Fall Mountain

WR: Pfft, no time for sentiment in Fall Guys. Give me that Crown! OK, so we’re putting Royal Fumble last, and Tail Tag second last. I’d personally put – based on how tough I have found them – Fall Mountain and Fruit Chute quite low, though that may be skewed by me just not being great at them.

AH: I won’t agree with Fall Mountain being low down – however, I will agree with Fruit Chute. There’s been too many times I’ve been trying to climb, gotten near the top, then just been absolutely sniped by the fruit from seemingly out of nowhere, so I have quite a lot of disdain for that game mode.

WR: It’s just so hard to predict. My only real strategy is running behind others and hoping they take the hit instead…

AH: That’s such a cheap way of getting through though, and even if they do take the hit, you still gotta avoid them otherwise they’ll take you down with them.

WR: I mean, it doesn’t really work. I’ve only made it through Fruit Chute once! OK, so let’s put Fruit Chute there. Of the remaining, which would you suggest next?

AH: Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever actually not qualified from Fruit Chute, but it has come far too close for my liking on some rounds; more than once I’ve qualified last. My next one I hate to put here, because Takeshi’s Castle is one of my favourite TV programs of all time, and this is just one of their games, but it has to be Door Dash for me next. I hate the games that just descend into as many people as possible trying to squeeze through a gap, and unfortunately this is the biggest culprit for it, so it has to go low on my ratings.

WR: I can agree that it should go further down the list, but for me there are stages that aren’t as fun – Perfect Match, for instance, which to me is too easy and often doesn’t do much to whittle down the player numbers. Though I am very impressed if you are that successful at Fruit Chute!

-at this point there are several days where the conversation is on hold-

AH: Alright, so in the time in between these, I’ve not once qualified from Fruit Chute, so there goes that brag I made – typical that, ain’t it? I think I can agree on Perfect Match being next on the list. It’s essentially just an autoscroller with zero strategy to it; just pile onto a tile people are all going to. What annoys me then, is that because it’s such a small space (especially in the later rounds) there are people who try and push you off. It’s happened more than once.

WR: OK, so with Perfect Match there, perhaps we should put the other two rounds with a similar format – staying in roughly one place and avoiding the obstacles – next. Of Block Party and Roll Out, which do you prefer? My main issue with these levels is that they aren’t that challenging; often either not many people are eliminated, or it is a while before the limit of eliminations is reached. I personally prefer Block Party, as there are many intense moments and the music is awesome.

So much for organised queues

AH: Yeah, I definitely agree Block Party is better than Roll Out. Like you said, the music is incredible, and it also does increase difficulty to make you do more than just switch between 2 sections of the Roll Out tube until they reach the other side.

WR: Also, and perhaps your opinion is different, if we are going to place Door Dash after these, then we should also consider putting Gate Crash with it, as they are quite similar; though the latter does have a bit more skill and timing to it with the moving barriers, and is in a way more rewarding as a result.

AH: Yeah, I was gonna do that.

WR: Almost all of the ones remaining are obstacle courses, aha! We’re getting close to the top and giving our own Crown to one of these levels. I’ve already mentioned Fall Mountain; or is there one you would place below that?

AH: You’re going to hate me for this, but I would honestly put Fall Mountain towards the very top of the list, because it’s pure platforming and nothing else; I’m a big fan of that. There’s no randomness like Fruit Chute, only the balls to avoid and you can track them (and alter your path) for basically the whole length of the course. Having said that, it is heavily reliant upon where you start, but I still find it one of the best Fall Guys levels.

The quest for the Crown

WR: I agree it brings a challenge, but it can quickly put you way back if you get hit. We’re gonna have to find a compromise! If not that next, then I reckon either See Saw or Tip Toe. I find the former can be quite, erm… Well, it is shocking how we humans have such a tough time with those contraptions, I’ll say that.

AH: See, now we’ve got the ones that’re easy to dismiss out of the way, I’m gonna say that Tip Toe would definitely be the next worse in my opinion, because there’s literally no strategy to it other than just wait for everyone else to discover the path and hope you can cross the finish line in time. At least with See Saw there’s actual physics to throw a challenge into the level, even if you do come across people who somehow don’t seem to know how a see-saw works.

WR: I mean, I am okay with either of those two being next. Tip Toe we agree on then, you okay with See Saw following it? I guess as we get to the higher places, these disagreements are gonna get more intense, aha!

AH: I’m happy with that, yeah. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see whether or not we have the same top 3 courses or not, I’m going to vote “most likely not” already haha.

Oh, the See Saw stage. Oh indeed.

WR: 8 Remain! It’s getting very tough to pick now… There are a bunch of obstacle course levels here, how do you order them?

AH: I definitely think it’s smart to bunch a group of obstacle courses here, so from worst to best I’m gonna put: Hit Parade, Dizzying Heights, Jump Club, Jump Showdown, and then The Whirlygig. Hit Parade is one that I am genuinely indifferent on, but the reason I put it below everything else is because it’s such a short level so you don’t spend basically any time on it. Jump Showdown and The Whirlygig are basically just Jump Club and Dizzying Heights (respectively) but better and more challenging, so they have to go above their standard forms. That leaves me personally with an alphabetical final 3 of Fall Mountain, Hex-A-Gone, and Slime Climb.

WR: I’ll agree with most of that, but not Jump Showdown specifically; in comparison to Jump Club, the tension of how long Showdown – being a final round – can go on for is so fun and tense; there is genius in the simplicity of it, and blimey, that spinner gets fast. It’s definitely in my personal top three, at the expense of Fall Mountain. So, erm, we have 4 levels and a top 3 to decide…

AH: Alright, I’m gonna admit something here. The only reason I haven’t put Jump Showdown higher is because I’m absolutely awful at it haha, but I wouldn’t disagree with you putting it in your top 3, because it’s definitely one of the most tense games, especially considering it’s a final round, so you know the Crown is within touching distance.

Keep… Jumping…

WR: In my opinion, for the originality of the idea – it doesn’t seem to be close to many other games out there, whilst a game such as Jump Showdown is clearly similar to Total Wipeout – then in my opinion Hex-A-Gone is the best stage. After that my next pick is Slime Climb, for how refreshing it is to have a stage where surviving and making it to the end is the priority, as often the amount of people who can qualify is not reached.

AH: That your top 3 then? Hex-A-Gone, then Slime Climb, then Jump Showdown?

WR: Yeah, that’s my personal top 3. Depends how much you’re fighting for Fall Mountain though, and whether you’d change the order.

AH: That’s a solid top 3 that, I can’t lie. Although, considering we share 2 courses in our top 3, I don’t really think I can say anything other than that, can I? For me, I think that the order I would put it in is Hex-A-Gone 3rd, Fall Mountain 2nd, then Slime Climb as the best Fall Guys minigame.

WR: If we go by averages, then overall, with a 2nd and a 1st, Slime Climb emerges as our top choice. Then we have Hex-A-Gone 2nd, and a tie 3rd of Fall Mountain and Jump Showdown. To be polite, though, I’ll allow Fall Mountain 3rd. A word on the top two and why you are such a fan?

Our winner!

AH: Hex-A-Gone takes my 3rd place because of how fun it is to play at a glance, but also because of how technical it is, making it befitting of a final round. Not only do you have to pay attention to the level that you’re on and which of the hexagons you can move between to survive, but you also have to keep an eye on the level below to ensure that you don’t fall down into another hole and potentially into the slime if you get that low. And that’s assuming you’re playing it the “proper” way; it’s also fun to just fall down to the very bottom of the tower at the start of the round and clear as much of that floor as possible to troll the other finalists as they move down the tower. Slime Climb takes my top spot because it’s the minigame I find myself wanting to play as the level select reel spins – I’m always hoping it’ll come up. There’s so much that can go wrong in the level that’ll potentially eliminate you, and for me, knowing that I could potentially lose thanks to the rising slime at any point makes me focus more, rather than playing nonchalantly like I do with the other games. There’s also so many elements in the level, so you’re not just facing the same obstacle throughout. There’s the rising slime, the moving blocks, the rollers, the hammers, the moving poles, and then the swinging balls at the end; I think that’s the most you face in a single minigame in the whole of Fall Guys. Each section requires a different playstyle, and it just helps break up the repetitiveness, in my opinion.

WR: Yeah, there is a certain skill to each that really creates suspense. My victory on Hex-A-Gone I mentioned is an example of how tense that level can get. Slime Climb often eliminates so many; you know you have to focus. That better balance of skill and randomness has those two levels rise to the top. So our final order for the solo games… Happy with this?

1. Slime Climb2. Hex-A-Gone
3. Fall Mountain4. Jump Showdown
5. The Whirlygig6. Jump Club
7. Dizzy Heights8. Hit Parade
9. See Saw10. Tip Toe
11. Gate Crash12. Door Dash
13. Block Party14. Roll Out
15. Perfect Match16. Fruit Chute
17. Tail Tag18. Royal Fumble

AH: On the whole, yeah, I’m happy with that list. Don’t think there’s anything there that I could complain about whatsoever.

WR: Well, then, I think we have actually managed to do it! Just in time for Season 2… I’m excited to try new levels, and depending on how it goes, perhaps we shall update this list at some point.

AH: Yeah, we’ll definitely have to revisit this for Season 2 once we’ve played enough to be able to rank them. Honestly though? Rather than levels, I’m more looking forward to the new costumes that Season 2 is gonna bring, the ones we’ve already seen look hella dope.

WR: It’s gonna be fun to have the refresh! Until the next one, Ashley; time to practice at Fall Guys

AH: I apologise how long it’s taken to finish this article, but we’ll be back soon enough. Have a good one, Will!

There you have it, our list. You can let us know if you agree or disagree with our choices in the comments! For more Let’s Chat, you can go here.

Film in 500: Mary and the Witch’s Flower Review

Certificate: U
Directors: Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Giles New
Production: Studio Ponoc
Distributor: Altitude Film Entertainment
Platform: Viewed on TV with English Dub, and on Blu-ray with Japanese Audio
Release Date: Out Now

Such a delight of a film. Whilst straightforward in terms of plot, Mary and the Witch’s Flower shines by telling that story of magic and adventure with distinct personality and endearing characters. Adapted from the novel The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, it follows Mary Smith (Hana Sugisaki/Ruby Barnhill), a young, energetic, and clumsy girl living in the English countryside with her Great-Aunt Charlotte (Shinobu √Ētake/Lynda Baron) and Miss Banks (Eri Watanabe/Morwenna Banks). Mary clearly yearns for excitement, searching for ways she can contribute to activities of adults around her – with an adorable range of success.

Mary finds that excitement when she follows two cats, Tib (Ikue √Ētani) and Gib (Lynn) into the woods, discovering a glowing, mysterious plant – the Witch’s Flower itself! In picking a bunch, she sets off a chain of events; the flower grants temporary magical power, allowing Mary to reinvigorate a broomstick that, ahem, sweeps her skywards to Endor College. This magical school combines the captivating appeal of Harry Potter with the otherworldly essence of Spirited Away – Mary, caught up in the rhythm, makes questionable choices and initially doesn’t realise the underhand goings-on. Consequences drive Mary to amend the situation and help those compromised by it, such as similarly-aged Peter (Ry√Ľnosuke Kamiki/Louis Ashborne Serkis).

Two extravagant major figures at Endor College are Madam Mumblechook (Y√Ľki Amami/Kate Winslet) and Doctor Dee (Fumiya Kohinata/Jim Broadbent) – each is a charismatic and formidable presence. As aforementioned, the narrative is quite linear in terms of obstacles encountered and solved. Though, I found this worked well. As there aren’t many side characters, screen time is centred on those we’re most invested in; it felt as though Mary was in almost every frame! It builds a strong connection, where I was rooting for her, her family, and her friends to make it. A plot doesn’t always have to be extremely layered for a film to be compelling.

Furthermore, art and music direction is stunning. The founder of Studio Ponoc is the former Studio Ghibli lead film producer Yoshiaki Nishimura, and carry-over is keenly felt, with a different edge of contrasting clarity. Use of painterly backgrounds with more clearly defined animation on top creates effective immersion – a duality emphasising emphasises the merging of Japanese style and English setting.

In a similar vein, the music has welcoming charm, subtle yet striking – there is the air of referencing tradition and also striving for the new. Whilst mentioning audio, I must bring up the fantastic, expressive Japanese and English voice casts. I shall reiterate that Mary is the star here, with a fiery, determined approach to tackling hardships and accepting change.

Final Thoughts

So much charm is in Mary and the Witch’s Flower. The plot may not be the most complex you will ever watch, yet the spellbinding setting and likeable characters produce an adventurous spirit, compounded by joyful creativity of sight and sound. A certain marvel is in a wondrous story well told; it’s hard to ask for more when you’re having this much fun.


Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Let’s Chat: Hopes & Dreams for Pok√©mon’s The Crown Tundra DLC

Another week, another Let’s Chat! Once again, with Ashley busy, I have called in support; Pok√©mon fan Stephen Brown joins me to discuss the recent video presentation for Part 2 of the Expansion Pass for Pok√©mon Sword and Shield, The Crown Tundra. We got new info on the features included, as well as announcements elsewhere in the Pok√©mon franchise! So, let’s get into it!

William Robinson: It’s time to, yet again, say hi to a new voice! Welcome, Stephen Brown – similar to the introductions for Jordan Senior, Jed Harling, and Toby Court in the previous Let’s Chat, give us a quick summary of where you currently do your gaming, and your favourite game series!

Stephen Brown: Hello and thank you for having me; I’m Stephen, and currently do all my gaming on my Nintendo Switch. However, I do have a PlayStation 5 on pre-order, so it won’t be long until I expand my gaming experience further past Nintendo. I am very well suited to this conversation, as my favourite game series is Pok√©mon! The very first game I ever played was Pok√©mon Gold for the Game Boy Colour, and since then I have been hooked with the series. I’ve always loved the fact that there are so many different Pok√©mon, and that when new Pok√©mon are revealed they become the instant favourite for someone, perhaps such as for the long-awaited Galarian Slowking we saw in this video!

WR: Thanks for that! Without further ado, then; prior to the airing of the Expansion Pass Updates today, which content were you hoping to see?

SB: I was expecting an in-depth announcement about The Crown Tundra DLC pack, similar to the trailer we got for The Isle of Armor earlier this year, opening up with Galarian Slowking to mirror the reveal of Galarian Slowbro for the latter. Then, panning shots of the area, with a sprinkling of the returning Pokémon, followed by more details on new mechanics such as the Dynamax Adventures and Galarian Star Tournament. Furthermore, I was hoping for it to end with a closer look at the new Legendary Pokémon Calyrex, hinting to their role, and then a release date. I would say we definitely got the majority of that, and more, all within this almost 11 minute video.

WR: That covers it quite well Рand then there was me, with my prediction of Candice returning from Diamond/Pearl/Platinum because we have a snowy setting and the presence of Regirock, Regice, and Registeel, reminding me of Snowpoint City! Which, actually, in a way, I actually got correct with her appearance in the music video that ended the Updates! Presented by The Pokémon Company President and CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara, we opened into a new trailer for The Crown Tundra, and immediately got those landscape shots of the Wild Area free-roam setting РI am drawn to this sort of cold, atmospheric environment, and am therefore excited to explore it. You?

SB: Well, indeed, we did get to see Candice Рso you were technically right! Maybe we should add Galar and Sinnoh being connected to copious piles of Pokémon fan theories that are out there! Yes, the snowy setting and variety of ancient, mysterious buildings/temples are a big appeal. I can’t wait to explore all the new areas and find hidden TMs or a Hyper Potion tucked away in some secret corner. I wonder if we’ll see the return of finding Diglett, which was part of the Isle of Armor Pack. There could be another 150 Diglett to find!

WR: Or perhaps 150 hidden Vanillites? Find the ice creams! The more mystical vibe relative to Isle of Armor intrigues me, and ties into the clear emphasis on Legendary Pokémon for The Crown Tundra. We already knew there would be new Forms of the Kanto Legendary Birds Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres, but now we know that every Legendary in the series is going to be available upon this release!

SB: Oh now that would be cruel, but also so satisfying to complete; Vanillite was designed by the Art Director for Sword and Shield, James Turner, so that would be a nice Easter Egg. Yes, it seems that with the introduction of new Legendaries, Regional Forms, and the Dynamax Adventures, The Crown Tundra is going to be focused on giving players the opportunity to catch various Legendary Pokémon. I wonder if this is the role of new character Peony; some kind of Legendary Pokémon expert? I also noticed that there is a shot where the player runs up to a cliff edge and we see Galarian Articuno in the overworld flying away into the horizon. Do you think this could hint at the return of roaming Legendaries?

WR: I’m not sure… It is possible, but could also be a one-off moment. Chasing them around the area could be a fun new twist on the roaming Legendary Pok√©mon though, yeah! Here I shall express my concern of whether including all these Legendary Pok√©mon is going to act as a distraction from a lack of content elsewhere; I am not going to judge before I play, and I hope that it is not the case. There is spectacle to the returning Legendary Pok√©mon, which ideally are backed up by longevity in other areas and don’t seem to be covering up deficiencies, which was an issue with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. We haven’t seen much of the main narrative yet – it could be that they are holding quite a bit back still.

SB: True, it could be similar to Crystal, where you simply see Suicune at various points within the story and then battle at a certain point. However, with the Wild Areas and Pokémon appearing in the overworld, this could be a fresh take on roaming. No more tedious planning to enter the right area at the right time and then lock Pokémon into a battle with Mean Look! On the distribution of content, I think that’s a fair point to raise. It does seem as though including Legendaries is a shiny distraction for perhaps a shorter story; a reward for completing a 4 hour narrative that some will easily get through in one sitting, encouraging you to keep exploring the new area. Their inclusion could also be to make up for the lack of a National Pokédex, which still seems to be some peoples main hang up with these games (it’s been almost a year now people stop whining about it). The inclusion of Legendaries may be becoming a post game staple for Pokémon. We saw this in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, entering Ultra Space to catch them, and now we have Dynamax Adventures for Sword and Shield.

I’m really excited to try this out and team up with my friends for evenings of Dynamax Adventures

Stephen Brown

WR: Aha, another great segway into the next topic! It’s as if you’re doing it on purpose… So, yeah, Dynamax Adventures are a new addition to the Raid Battles of Sword and Shield. They make Raid Battles into more of a dungeon-crawling mode, where you go up against consecutive battles in a row to either get to an end goal or even try the Endless mode! This is going to be a way to meet many Legendary Pok√©mon; it seems really fun, adding extra intrigue to the Raid Battles and offering even more ways to team up for multiplayer. I’m glad they are expanding this side of the experience – and it should offer a challenge too, as you go in with rental Pok√©mon!

SB: Definitely, I’m really excited to try this out and team up with my friends for evenings of Dynamax Adventures, in the hopes to catch epic Legendary Pok√©mon! Additionally, I think only using rental Pok√©mon for these adventures is a really clever move on Game Freak’s part. At first I was a bit shocked that – unlike regular Dynamax Raids – we couldn’t battle with our own Pok√©mon (who, let’s face it, are all probably Lv100 and EV trained by this point). However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. With Legendaries from all previous games coming back, and the idea that at this point players will have at least completed the main story, using rented Pok√©mon will allow Dynamax Adventures to remain a challenge and feel even more satisfying when you get to the end and capture a Legendary Pok√©mon. You won’t be able to go in with a team of Eternatus’ or other Legendaries to quickly sweep through with relative ease. I think it will add a layer of strategy and longevity to the new mechanic and stop people falling off of the DLC within a week.

WR: Yeah, that’s a great point, it’ll add lasting challenge to the Raids, and hopefully make them more similar to how the recent Mewtwo Raid was a really tough battle. It reminds me of the Battle Factory from Pok√©mon Platinum, too! You were hoping for a glimpse of Calyrex, and we got that, though we don’t know much on them yet.

SB: I thought about the Battle Factory as well (Gen4 Remakes Confirmed haha). Yeah, compared to the Isle of Armor and its Legendary Pok√©mon Kubfu, it seems that Calyrex is less pivotal to the storyline of The Crown Tundra, sharing the spotlight with the Regional Legendary Birds and the new Regieleki and Regidrago. It’s still too early to tell how Calyrex will affect the story, but with their being on the official logo artwork, it may well be a big role. I’m excited to find out more on the mysteries that surround Calyrex; how they interact with the player and other characters in the story.

WR: In terms of the narrative, there isn’t much else we know; you have mentioned Peony, but we are going to have to wait to find out more on him. There is a bunch of more intrinsic mechanical introductions as well, including the new Ability Patches that bring out the Hidden Abilities of Pok√©mon. This further opens up training options, which is an area Sword and Shield have put a clear focus on, for example with the Mints to change Natures. Personally, I am very excited for the new fashion items and League Card customisation options!

SB: The introduction of Ability Patches is going to contribute to shaking up the competitive meta game. Like you said, Sword and Shield did a lot to help get more players involved with online competitive battles. With the addition of Mints, Ability Patches, and new terrain setting moves – to name three – it’s now easier than ever to build up a strong team full of your favourites. Shiny hunters are probably rejoicing at the fact they will be able to give their special Pok√©mon Hidden Abilities. It does make me wonder how we will get this item. Will it be purchasable through Battle Points (BPs); some new Ore based item similar to Armorite Ore; or will this be a limited item with only 3 or so in the game, making it more critical a decision? The little additions of new fashion items and League Card options are great for keeping the game fresh, trying out new styles that show off your personality! One thing we can see from the trailer is that Peony has a Dynamax band, and appears to have a pre-battle animation screen, so it’s more than likely we will have to battle him at some point. I wonder if he will have a Gigantamax Pok√©mon as well; maybe G-Max Melmetal to help tie in the upcoming connectivity between Pok√©mon HOME and Pok√©mon GO.

WR: BP in exchange for Ability Patches would be okay with me, as I have so much to spend from my time with Shield! I imagine that we will indeed be battling Peony, and I hope that he is challenging. Was there any other details from this part of the video which stood out to you, or should we go on to the Galarian Star Tournament?

SB: Same here, I have an abundance of BP from all my time on Sword. Let’s go onto the Galarian Star Tournament, another new mechanic coming with this DLC where we can pair up with Pok√©mon Trainers from the core game and the DLC in 2-on-2 battles. Do you think there will be a reward for competing, or is it mainly a fun way to develop the lore of the characters? Also – I can probably guess – who are you going to pair up with for the Star Tournament?

WR: I mean for me, that extra lore is the reward! The characters in Sword and Shield are wonderful; finding out more details on them is a fantastic prospect! Hopefully, there are various different combos of characters, with it taking quite a few goes to hear all the different dialogue. Personally, I am confident that there will be other prizes as well, for example perhaps items or awards for your Pok√©mon. Of the characters we have seen in the Galarian Star Tournament so far, Marnie is the one I am going to be prioritising teaming up with. Though, I am still hoping for appearances from other regions too… Do you know who you are going to pair up with?

The characters in Sword and Shield are wonderful; finding out more details on them is a fantastic prospect!

William Robinson

SB: I couldn’t agree more! I love reading the League Cards you get from the other trainers, learning about their personality and goals. Same here, I think there shall definitely be a variety of combos, which will unlock new dialogue for already established pairings. Marnie and Piers, Melony and Gordie, Bede and Opal, Hop and Leon, Leon and Raihan, Leon and Mustard, Leon and Sonia… Leon sure does get around for someone who’s constantly late and bad with directions haha! Oh! I hadn’t thought about other regions, that’s a good point, we could have something similar to Pok√©mon World Tournament in Black 2 and White 2; if so, that would be pretty awesome! On the other hand, I do think because it’s called the Galarian Star Tournament and not the World Star Tournament we might just be limited to those from Sword and Shield. For me, I’m most excited about teaming up with Bede or Opal and using my all Fairy team with theirs!

WR: You reckon Professor Sonia is going to be in the pairings? It’d be great, but I doubt that. Having so many options for battling characters again is one of the endearing aspects of Sword and Shield, and this is an emphasis on that. I imagine you are correct on the characters in Galar being the only ones participating, but hey, I can dream right?

SB: You’re right, I was just pointing out how many pairings you could get with just Leon and someone else – he’s a popular guy! Maybe we shall see a return of Sordward and Shielbert, the post-game antagonists with the, um, unique hairstyles? You certainly can dream, and there isn’t anything to say trainers from other regions couldn’t join the tournament; we may have even seen a hint to this in the music video that premiered at the end of the presentation. After this, we found out that The Crown Tundra comes out on October 23rd in the UK, and the 22nd in other parts of the world. We also learned that a physical copy of Sword and Shield with the DLC included will be available on 6th November. I’m curious to see how well it does in terms of sales, and if it will be enough to help boost Sword and Shield‘s overall sales positioning. It’s currently the third best selling Pok√©mon game, after recently overtaking the sales of Diamond/Pearl/Platinum.

WR: I’m glad; the 22nd gives a decent amount of time to play before the many releases in November, with the new consoles and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. I can now put aside time to play The Crown Tundra! I really hope it builds upon Isle of Armor; the first DLC was very enjoyable as a base platform for them to progress with new ideas. I may be disappointed if they don’t continue to innovate with The Crown Tundra. In retrospect, how did you find Isle of Armor?

SB: Don’t forget Pikmin 3 Deluxe comes out the following week! I’m glad it’s not a new Pikmin game, otherwise I would be torn on which to play. Considering that Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra were announced together as a package, it wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t get anything too different from one to the other and the parties involved use the two to test the waters for future endeavors. However, I could be wrong; there is still so little we know about The Crown Tundra and the potential surprise features, such as how in Isle of Armor there was the return of Pok√©mon following you in the overworld. Isle of Armor was not only challenging at points, it was also packed with cool details and great humour to get you invested. As well as this, the story really helped me build up a bond with Kubfu. If I had been given them as a Mystery Gift, as with other Pok√©mon in previous games, I wouldn’t have battled with them as much or struggled over which form of Urshifu to choose. There were definitely some aspects that felt a bit tedious, mainly the fetch quests, but overall I really enjoyed Isle of Armor and I think that’s down to it being a DLC as apposed to a repackaged Sword and Shield with added content.

WR: For me, Pikmin 3 Deluxe isn’t a game I shall purchase, as I have played the Wii U original. There are so many other games to play – I am confident I shall be busy either way! After this, we got the news of the distribution of Ash’s Pikachu with 8 separate hats, the first of which can be downloaded now with the code P1KACHUGET! I’ll continue on past this soon, and onto the Pok√©mon HOME and Pok√©mon GO news, but a quick word on this? Excited?

SB: I actually found out that there are two Cap Pikachus now available; the second one is through the code 1CH00SEY0U, and both are available now until November 30th. Honestly, I’m not that excited as I already got all these Cap Pikachus when they did a similar distribution for Gen 7, with the exception of the new World Cap Pikachu that reflects the cap Ash wears in the latest anime. Either way, I will be getting them again because who can resist a unique, free Pikachu!

WR: Right, onto the next part of the video, where we got news of Pokémon HOME now being compatible to connect with Pokémon GO, allowing you to send over Pokémon from the mobile game. Yet, there are caveats. It is confirmed that after sending over Pokémon, there is then an allotted time you have to wait before being allowed to send over more, unless you pay with PokéCoins, which does seem unnecessary and monetary-minded. Is there a reason for this other than creating extra financial gain?

I imagine this has ruffled a few feathers for all the avid Pokémon GO players out there.

Stephen Brown

SB: The only reason I can think is to stop a flood of Pokémon ascending onto the HOME servers and overwhelming them. Remember GO is one of the most successful and longest-running Pokémon apps, with people having collections ranging in the thousands. If everyone tried to upload all of those in one sitting, I can see it causing a lot of technical issues. So, it could purely be from a logistics point of view, with the addition of money-making on the side. Who knows.

WR: But in that case, why allow it at all? Monetisation doesn’t need to be there. It appears really dodgy to me; do they really need another source of income? The aspect of how many Pok√©mon could be making the journey over from GO I get, but how they are implementing the restrictions is the side I do not agree with; it isn’t a pro-consumer move.

SB: It is really bizarre, especially with the changes they made when lockdown began, allowing players to keep playing from inside their quarantined homes. However, from what I hear, they have been making some strange decisions, turning some players off the app completely. Most notably, the Mega Evolution mechanic being overly tedious and complicated, all for a one-use battle boost. I think if sending over Pok√©mon was entirely monetary then I’d have a real issue with it. Again, as someone who’s not played the game in over a year, it doesn’t really affect me – but I imagine this has ruffled a few feathers for all the avid Pok√©mon GO players out there.

WR: Indeed, and now taking away the alterations they introduced so players could play at home seems badly timed, as it isn’t as though we’re all allowed back out… I shall say I am excited to finally get Melmetal, though, which is possible after sending Pok√©mon over to HOME from GO. I also have a certain friend who can send me them… I wonder who, aha! The Gigantamax form is awesome, appearing in a liquid metal style; with my favourite type being Steel, this is exciting for me. We were informed that the HOME/GO functionality is going to happen this year, too!

SB: Yeah, as of October, Pok√©mon GO will get rid of the changes they implemented… Let’s hope they decide to go back on that decision. Haha, I wonder who this friend is, I have a feeling they may have a few Meltans spare for you! Another Steel type for you to play with, and a new Gigantamax form as well! We were shown Gmax Melmetal earlier this year by accident in a Pok√©mon Showcase in Japan, but since then its appearance in the game has been a mystery. You couldn’t even transfer over a Melmetal and feed it Max Soup on the Isle of Armor to give it Gigantamax capabilities. I’ll be interested to see if they fix this with an update, or if we will have to find some new Max ingredient to allow Melmetal to Gigantamax, maybe Max Metal or Max Cake!

WR: The presentation was not over though, because we ended on my personal highlight, the “GOTCHA!” by BUMP OF CHICKEN music video that celebrated the history of Pok√©mon, with appearances from many different characters and a delightful art and music direction; BONES Animation Team were involved! It includes Jasmine, so yeah, it’s amazing.

SB: It was a brilliant and fun video celebrating the history of Pokémon, packed full of fan favourites from all the regions, and also celebrated the current generation of Pokémon with a big focus on Galar near the end half of the video. Previously, I mentioned that characters from other games might be returning, and we may have gotten a hint to this; at the end of the video, we see two billboards with Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra landscapes depicted on them. In addition, on the billboards closest to us, the Battle Subway Duo Ingo and Emmet appear on the left and on the right we see Nita, Evelyn, Dana and Morgan from the Battle Maison. Both of those locales have a focus on chain and double battles, so do we think we will see those characters appear in the Galarian Star Tournament?

WR: I’m not sure, that is possible, and would be really fun to see! Pok√©mon has such a wonderful history, and I hope they lean into that more and more. Seeing all the characters in that video was just delightful, and it is no surprise to me that the physical single is selling very well! It is tempting to get it…

SB: My opinion is that it would be great to see them – and possibly other characters – return in a Battle Tree-style way, and that could be a secret we don’t learn about until the release of The Crown Tundra. We know with the success of Pok√©mon Masters that players love seeing trainers from all regions come together to compete in customisable teams; it would be great to see that reflected in the main series games. The physical edition is tempting, I wonder if that will ever come with some great big poster with all the trainers from the video featured – that would be epic!

Pokémon has such a wonderful history, and I hope they lean into that more and more.

William Robinson

WR: Maybe with the success of “GOTCHA!”, they shall make extra merchandise around it. I really appreciate the detail and references that went into the music video. It was a fantastic way to finish this presentation – I eagerly await October 23rd! We’ve covered most of the info now, so I’ll end with this: in your opinion, is this the end of the DLC plan for Sword and Shield? I personally don’t see them doing another DLC, with focus going on to the 2021 game; perhaps you see it differently.

SB: I could see extra merchandise happening – for now, though, I’m happy about the success of the music video and all the amazing references and detailed shots that capture the heart of the Pok√©mon series. In my opinion, another set of DLC for Pok√©mon Sword and Shield isn’t out of the question. If we combine the success of this DLC set and the fact that next year is Pok√©mon‘s 25th Anniversary, I think we could potentially get one or two more DLC packs quite early on in 2021, around February 27th, Pok√©mon Day. The rest of the year could be dedicated to the Pok√©mon Unite rollout, a summer release of Pok√©mon Snap 2, and then a mainline game, remake, or something else later in the year. All I know is that next year is definitely going to be packed filled with some great Pok√©mon content, and I can’t wait to see it!

WR: Don’t forget Pok√©mon Sleep, aha! February seems a bit soon for DLC in this vein, but perhaps it is dependent on how The Crown Tundra does. Either way, yes, I am excited for future Pok√©mon releases! This seems a fitting place and sentiment to end on, so unless you have any other comments, we’ll close out here.

SB: Ah yes, Sleep! I’m sure we will get further info on Sleep and more unique Pok√©mon app ideas soon. Nope, I think we’ve covered everything; hopefully we’ll now see a steady stream of short trailers as we run up to the release date of The Crown Tundra. I’m already super excited, and can’t wait to embark on another adventure!

WR: Awesome, thanks for joining me!

SB: Thank you for having me! It’s been great discussing Pok√©mon with you, and I hope your readers enjoy our thoughts.

Here we are, in the end segment of a Let’s Chat article once again! For official info on the Expansion Pass for Pok√©mon Sword and Shield, then you can go to this link. For more Let’s Chat articles, you can go here. I hope you have an awesome day!