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Pokémon: A History of Reveals

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Pokémon Sword and Shield have finally been revealed following the announcement of their development in May, 2018 at the unveiling of Pokémon Let’s Go, Eevee! and Pikachu! The titles, region, early details, and starters have all been disclosed following the Pokémon Direct on Pokémon Day, February 27, in what may well have been the best new generation unveiling to date. That’s not to say that Pokémon doesn’t have a fascinating history of reveals and releases where the core titles are concerned. Until The Pokémon Company, Nintendo, and presumably Dark Horse Comics provide a much needed Pokémon History and Encyclopedia similar to those The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. received, here is a brief history of reveals for one of the most popular gaming franchises of all time.

The History of Pokémon: The Beginning

In 1996, Pocket Monsters Red and Green had to overcome every obstacle a brand new IP does when entering the market. However, being published by Nintendo has its benefits, especially, in this case, the clever idea to publish the game in two versions, each complete with exclusive Pokémon, a concept courtesy of Mr. Miyamoto himself. The games proved to be an immediate success and sales surged, prompted in part by eager consumers buying both versions. Soon after, Pocket Monsters Blue version (from which Pokémon Red and Blue were localized) was released, further solidifying the franchise as a popular and critical hit, alluring fans with updated artwork and new dialogue. Most intriguing of all, however, was the inclusion of an additional, enigmatic Pokémon, Mew, revealed by game designer Satoshi Tajiri. A legend was born almost immediately as rumor, speculation, and myth swirled around the game and the mysterious new (or ancient?) Pokémon.

It was in this state that Pokémon reached the Western world in 1998, preceded by the equally popular anime and the all-too-valuable word of mouth (particularly in the late nineties), resulting in an absolute frenzy and unprecedented pop cultural phenomenon. While the games were officially announced at E3 in 1998 (then held in Atlanta in May), revelation concerning Red and Blue tended to be far more personal. Unlike now when information is revealed and then regurgitated by countless online sources, in the late nineties, when those countless media outlets didn’t exist, the buzz surrounding something was far more pivotal to success. Visibility was further enhanced by unique marketing campaigns from Nintendo. The ageless appeal, social interactivity built into the core of the game with trading and battling mechanics, emergent myth and legend surrounding the games, and the trading card game following in quick succession ensured Pokémon would persist until the sequel and subsequent entries arrived a short time later.

The Sequel

Pokémon Gold and Silver claim perhaps the most unique reveal in franchise history. The first public showcase of the game was as early as November 21-23, 1997 at the Nintendo Space World video game trade show (a now defunct event Nintendo would host annually in Japan where it typically unveiled new hardware), a full two years before the game was released. It took the form of a demo, reportedly the most popular display of the show. According to Creatures Inc. president, Tsunekazu Ishihara, development for Gold and Silver (tentatively titled Pocket Monsters 2: Gold and Silver) began almost as soon as Red and Green were finished, explaining why this early demo exists. The prototype features two unused starters and several other unused Pokemon designs amongst several other differences between the Space World version and those released to the public two years later. On May 18, 2018 a ROM of the demo was anonymously leaked, giving fans a rare glimpse behind the curtain into a Pokémon game’s development. Paired with a separate leak provided by team Helix Chamber of some prototype data from Red and Green and we have a fascinating perspective into the history of this beloved franchise. While that is an incredibly cool way to reveal a game, for the majority of the public it remained the stuff of legend until the ROM leak of May 2018 and now it’s nothing more than fascinating trivia and captivating history.

The Dark Days

Ruby and Sapphire‘s announcements and development history are not well documented worldwide. They appear to have been revealed via press release by The Pokémon Company, then picked up and distributed by various media outlets. Again, this was before the internet was over saturated with sites and blogs, and information was particularly scarce surrounding the third generation of the franchise. It was notably absent from E3 and most information seems to have come via translated Japanese sources. The original games’ debut has been further buried by the remakes, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

The CoroCoro Days

The development of the fourth generation of Pokémon was first announced via a Nintendo press release two years prior to the titles’ release in 2006, though that was all that was disclosed. Actual information regarding Diamond and Pearl, including the titles, was provided courtesy of CoroCoro, a popular childrens’ magazine in Japan that Pokémon still often utilizes to make many of it’s reveals, in May of 2005. Four Sinnoh region Pokémon were introduced in the eighth Pokémon movie, Lucario, Bonsly, Mime Jr., and Weavile, which premiered in July, 2005 in Japan and September, 2006 in the U.S., prior to the release of Diamond and Pearl in Japan on September 28, 2006.

Similarly, the fifth gen. was revealed in a press release direct from the Pokémon Company stating that the titles were due out later that year, though no further details were given. The silhouette of the first Pokémon of from generation five was revealed on “Pokémon Sunday,” a Pokémon variety show, on February 7, 2010. This Pokémon was later revealed to be Zoroark, the star of the 13th animated Pokémon movie. On May 9, 2010 the three starters were similarly silhouetted and later revealed via Pokémon Sunday. The games’ titles, cover Pokémon, and release dates were revealed on the Pokémon website later that May.

This seems to be the start of the info drop pattern the Pokémon Company and Nintendo would use on the rest of their new core games: initial reveals at the beginning of the release year in January or, more typically, February, cover art and cover Pokémon revealed in April or May, followed by smaller trailers and teases, typically via YouTube and CoroCoro, leading up to release in the fall, now typically November. Remake titles and sequel entries tend to be revealed later in the year with a shorter gap between announcement and release. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, for example, were revealed in June, 2017 before their release in November that same year. Alpha Sapphire, Omega Ruby, and the Let’s Go titles were similarly unveiled in May, 2018, and released in November, with Let’s Go getting an additional mention and demo in Nintendo’s E3 Direct and show floor.

The Direct Days

On January 8, 2013 Nintendo streamed it’s first ever Pokémon Direct, a Nintendo Direct presentation dedicated exclusively to Pokémon. Though not the primary focus of the presentation, the eleven minute direct culminated in the unveiling of and Y. The stream concluded with the late Iwata San disclosing the Pokémon Company and Nintendo’s desire to finally achieve a global release with the sixth generation of Pokémon games. The Nintendo Direct format, first introduced in October of 2011, gave publisher and developer the perfect format to deliver global updates and news drops to assist in this initiative, allowing Pokémon to be properly promoted worldwide. Since then, all Pokémon reveals, remake, sequel, and new generation alike, have been unveiled via Nintendo Direct except Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire as well as Let’s Go, though the Let’s Go games were part of Nintendo E3 presentation in June.

Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire instead made use of some of TPCi’s other direct resources, the Pokémon website and official YouTube Channel, to make their debut. Though some reveals, at least initially, come courtesy of CoroCoro, the majority of additional details concerning new titles comes from these direct, digital sources. On February 26, 2016, for example, a Pokémon Direct occurred which celebrated the twenty-year history of the franchise. In the end of this Direct, the title art for Sun and Moon were displayed as well as some brief glimpses of the game’s development. Sun and Moon truly first entered the light when a trailer introducing the starters and teasing the mascots was uploaded on May 10, 2018, to the site of media channels.

The Future of Pokémon

That, of course, brings us to the reveal of Pokémon Sword and Shield. It can reasonably be predicted that the next reveal will be a trailer in May disclosing the cover Pokémon, artwork, and a release date likely in November based on the franchise’s history. Looking even further out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sequel or remake title announced in May 2020 and scheduled to be released in November as well. Only time will tell.

Pokémon is a franchise with a rich history, from its early days as a pop culture revolution, to its unique history with Nintendo and the publishers most notable figures, to its long record of mythic prototype designs, hidden monsters, eerie urban legends, and glorious glitches. Each game reveal has added an interesting chapter to the IP”s history. If anything is to be gleaned from this, it’s not the ability to predict the future announcements of the series, but that Pokémon, perhaps more than any other franchise, really needs that encyclopedia.

Tim is not the droids you are looking for. He resides quietly in the Emerald City where he can often be found writing, reading, watching movies, or playing video games. He is the Xbox editor for Goomba Stomp and the site's official Pokémon Master.

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‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

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Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

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