Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Thought to Chew: Pokemon Picross and Choosing Poison


With the new Pokemon games on the horizon, I think it's a nice time for a bit of a return to form, so here's another thoroughly-chewed thought in need of further mastication.
Listen: I enjoy Pokemon Picross. It took me a while to warm up to the idea of playing it, but when I started, I was instantly hooked. It's a simple concept of marking blocks that intersect certain lines and it works pretty well, and it just works for what it is.
The issue arises in the fact that this is one of those free-to-start games. Y'know, the kind that Nintendo has recently been shoving down 3DS owners' throats by automatically downloading them onto the system during routine updates, and this sets the game back a bit too much.


It's hard to argue against in-game purchases, but they're best when they exist solely to get extra content and DLC for those fully invested in the game. The main conflict with Pokemon Picross, meanwhile, is that it's centered around either several microtransactions or waiting an eternity to get from one zone to the next. Let me explain:
Each zone has stages that, when certain goals are accomplished, award in-game currency called Picrites. Once you reach the end of the zone, you have to use these Picrites to move onto to the next zone.
The issue is, however, that the game has no sense of pacing and doesn't care to help you along your way. The idea of an energy gauge really slows the game down, but I do get the point: it's trying to hide the game's ungodly pacing issues by making you wait largely dependent on how good you are at the game. You use one energy per block, regardless of if it's placed correctly or not, so the game tries to pad it out so that you eventually need to wait for the bar to refill or, of course, pay Picrites!
Never, never, never, never, never, never do this. It's a waste and a trick. There's no reason for the feature to exist besides to drain you and push you further down the pit of debt.
You know what, though? The game works fine for a while. Obviously, you have to wait, but once that time is up, you can keep going on your merry old way without thinking about it too much. Then, once you reach the third or fourth world of the game, it hits you like a rock and you are positively screwed.
At this point, the game is increasing the amount of Picrites needed by ten for each world you transgress. You know what? That's fine. Award the players who perfect each level to get the most Picrites possible over those who try to rush through. Don't punish them both by cornering them to a point where even at maximum efficiency you can't keep proceeding at a decent pace.
We are thus forced to turn to Daily Training, a part of the game where you complete randomly-generated puzzles to earn points every day dependent on the speed at which you complete it. You will come to hate this part of the game. There isn't a trace of doubt in that statement to such an extent that I'm going to bold it, make it extra large, and repeat it.
YOU WILL COME TO HATE THIS PART OF THE GAME.
Perfect.
It's not even that bad. It just sucks because you go from playing the game periodically throughout the day to playing this darned minigame once a day for the next two weeks until you get enough to progress, and even then, you're gonna be doing the process again and again until the day you die or, more likely, run out of craps to assess your current status in relations to the game.
This is where money factors in. If you don't feel like watching your life solely drain from you as the game vacuums up a decent extent of your time on Earth, you can always pay. The problem is that this turns the game from a time-waster to a game that is completely pointless. If you purchase enough Picrites, eventually the game just starts giving them to you for free, which is the dumbest feature imaginable.
All of the sudden, the game is completely pointless. There's no reason for the goals to exist, there's no reason for the gauge to exist. The game goes from heartless to a spoon-feeding affection.
You know what that means? The concept of this particular installment was created entirely to drain money out of you. Even making it a game you bought from the start without microtransactions wouldn't fix it because its inner workings are so honed on loosening your pockets.
I think the reason reviewers didn't really pick up on this when it came time to them promoting it was that they did the transactions to purposely speed up the pace of the game, neglecting to notice how awful the game's pacing is without it. That's not to say I hate the game with a fiery passion even though it legitimately sounded like that based on all of the fuming above this sentence. Rather, it's inherently flawed: when it's going at a good pace, it's enjoyable. When it's not, it's a disaster.
Now, let us never speak of this game again.

For the last Talking Points...
...on fancy dildos and plant sex, CLICK HERE.
...on The Legend of Zelda and Japanese '80s pop music, CLICK HERE.
...on Dennis Miller reading news (It's a game!), CLICK HERE.

For the last Interviews...
...with FinalSmash, CLICK HERE.
...with MyNewSoundtrack, CLICK HERE.
(Christ, it's been a while.)

For the last A Thought to Chew on Sonic Unleashed and level progression, CLICK HERE.

NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS PART OF THE LEGACY LIST. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CLICK HERE.

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