Yonder

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Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles opens with mystery. After years of being away from your island home, you are returning. Where you’ve been, what you’ve done, are all non-issues. As you sail near the island, your boat is struck by lightning. And then, a spirit named Aaerie appears…

“WHAT IS THAT!? That’s scary.” – Wyatt, age 8

You are then tasked with removing the Murk, the bad stuff, that has infected the land.

Cast onto the rocks of the island of Gemea, you wake up wet and cold. You venture forward, knowing you must head yonder.

Yonder excels at encouraging the player to keep moving forward. See that mountain over there? Let’s go explore it! The core exploration is fantastic, as the world feels alive and begging for adventure. Wyatt and I found ourselves tromping all over the place. Minutes would span into hours. And in a first for us, Yonder caused us to fight over who was playing. An achievement for developer Prideful Sloth.

We love running around and exploring. But we dislike the Pokémon collecting, lite farm simulator, and generic MMO quest system.

Nothing like Pokémon Collecting

To defeat the Murk, you, the player, need to collect Sprites. Think Pokémon-like creatures who enjoy playing hide-n-seek. Some Sprites are captured by simply finding them. Tag. You’re it! Other Sprites require small quests of appeasement, a “I’ll join your quest if you give me 5 wood”, sort of thing. The Sprites are cute. However, they do not add special powers or unique interactions to the game. I feel like this was a missed opportunity. As they exist, Sprites are content gatekeepers. Want to destroy the Murk in this area? Sorry, you need to collect 5 more Sprites.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Early in the game, you come across a farm with broken fences. You are immediately tasked with bringing the old place back to life. Once done, you discover that this is no farm but a ranch. A place to hold animals, who poop, a lot. Yonder allows the building of various animal pens by collecting materials. That’s about it. While I wasn’t expecting a Stardew Valley experience, Yonder left me wanting more.

The Compass is Broken

As Aaerie tasks you with clearing up the Murk, she gives you a Celestial Compass to give you your bearings. The compass shoots a beam of light to the quest giver for whichever quest you are on. The big problem, for Wyatt and I, is that the compass only points at the original quest giver. The compass does not update location based on where the player is in the quest. As it stands, the compass is a broken tool we’d love to see fixed.

Which leads me to talk about the quest system. The quest system comes across as padding or filler. There is nothing meaningful in having to collect x-amount of wood for an individual. Modern quest design has pushed past the “kill ten rats” mindset. Yonder tries to wrap this generic design around meaningful stories. For example, the one quest that sticks out to me is one where we helped a lady grow a beard. This required us to go to a specific pond at night. Collect a certain type of fish (Side Note: The fishing mechanic is spot on). Prepare the correct concoction, etc. A silly but unique quest. I wish more of the game’s quests were as memorable.

Wyatt’s Thoughts:

The Good

  • I like running around and exploring.
  • I like being friends with the animals.
  • It feels like playing a Link game with no monsters or weapons.

The Bad

  • The day and night cycle is too fast (but I think that’s their point).
  • I don’t understand the story or what is going on.

Bottom Line:

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles failed to grab Wyatt and I. This is not to say that the game is bad. Yonder is a good game that is perfect for playing with children in the room. For us though, we needed a reason to keep coming back. Depth to either the farming system or to collecting Sprites would have done this. If you are looking for a game to play with your family that encourages exploration, Yonder is the game for you. Prepare for many hours of walking, map reading, and feeding all the animals. As your in-game pockets fill with items collected, perhaps Yonder will grab you more than it did Wyatt and I.

wavesplinter2/5 – A beautiful game that lacks purpose.

Wave SplinterTitle: Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
Developer: Prideful Sloth
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
Reviews on: PlayStation 4
MSRP: $19.99

*Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles was reviewed using a code provided by developer Prideful Sloth.

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Pokémon aren’t free

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Woke up the boy this morning.

 

“Hey Bulblasaur, it’s time to get up.”

“Venusaur, I choose yo….”

“No. That is not how this works.”

“What?”

“You’re a Pokémon, you can’t summon other Pokémon. You have to do what I say. You have to fight when I say.”

>Insert random combat move yelled by child here<

“Oh look, you are back in your Pokéball. It’s time for breakfast. Get up.”

>this went on a bit more<

Got me thinking about how Pokémon are slaves to their Trainer’s whims. With no free will to make their own way in the world. That is as deep as I get for this Tuesday. Go forth and catch’em all!

Thoughts on the Nintendo Switch Super Bowl LI Commericial

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The Nintendo Switch Super Bowl Commercial came out yesterday. Showcasing the new console’s strength, playing games with others. This is Nintendo bringing back the feels from the playground Pokémon games of youth as well as the Wii era. Cooperative play at its finest.

I can’t wait to:

  • Wake up and play Zelda in bed. My wife won’t mind…
  • Punch my kid in the living room. Virtually, of course.
  • Live out my western quick draw fantasies.
  • Dance?
  • Force neighborhood children to watch me and my son play a two player game of Mario Kart. Seriously, who needs more players crowding up the home TV.
  • Discover new/rich friends who each have their own Nintendo Switch.

Will you be making the Switch?

How Wyatt and I got past a sleeping Snorlax

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A giant Snorlax blocked the Route 7 bridge. Wyatt wasn’t sure what to do.

250px-143Snorlax

He searched for other routes to take. Distracted himself by catching the odd Pokémon. Yet, the Snorlax slept on.

What Wyatt didn’t know is that the game had given him a context clue. The mystical Poké Flute would solve everything. The sleeping Snorlax’s reign of terror was about to end.

Furfrou

Furfrou

Wyatt came to me frustrated. So we pulled up a walkthrough and figured out where he was in Pokémon X. Sitting on my lap, the boy and I discovered that we needed to backtrack to the Parfum Palace. The owner was missing a Furfrou, which happened to be lost in a maze out back. After finding the Furfrou, we were lent the Poké Flute of power.

r7-wake-snorlax

We dashed back to Route 7, some ninja dude jammed out, and the Snorlax woke up. The Pokémon journey was saved!

What I love about sharing Pokémon with Wyatt is that it is a series he can play on his own. When he comes to a place where he needs help, we can sit down, engage, and devise a way forward. Together.

(As a side note: All my random Pokémon knowledge is finally being put to use. Super funny when I know what the evolved form of whatever-it-is is.)

The Pokémon Tourist

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Pokemon Logo

I want to be the very best, like no one ever was. Even though I was 17 when Pokémon Red released, I have always been somewhat of a novice trainer. Following the series evolution across platforms, I have dabbled in different generations. Never completing:

  • Pokémon Red
  • Pokémon Yellow
  • Pokémon Pearl
  • Pokémon Platinum
  • OR Pokémon Y

Pokémon just isn’t an obsessive thing for me. What does draw me are the solid game mechanics, relaxed world, and creature battling.

Pokémon Y represents the most time I have spent with the series. Clocking in at over 20 hours, I thought I was almost done with the campaign. Nope. A walkthrough confirmed that I am but halfway on my journey. Never going to be number one at that pace. Ash, I’ve failed!

Pokemon Y

As a dad, Pokémon has taken on a new meaning. It is a series that I can share with Wyatt. A series that encourages reading, fun gameplay, and quality time spent. Nintendo has indeed created a monster.

pokemonThis year, The Pokémon Company is celebrating Pokémon’s 20th anniversary. The Super Bowl ad above is but the cusp of this tidal wave. Throughout the year, Nintendo and GameStop are offering one rare creature download a month. Take a look:

  • Celebi: March 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Jirachi: April 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Darkrai: May 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Manaphy: June 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Shaymin: July 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Arceus: August 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Victini: September 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Keldeo: October 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Genesect: November 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Meloetta: December 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)

We’ll see if Wyatt and I can keep up with the pocket monster collecting. I’m still waiting for him to be ready for his own handheld console and copy of the game. We just aren’t there yet… but soon.