Tag: Mudkip

Commitment to unexpected storytelling

Commitment to unexpected storytelling

I was planning on writing a different blog post today, but this caught me so off-guard that I had to talk about it.

Since the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in December, I’ve become a fan of YouTuber Alpharad thanks to his Ultimate Level 9 CPU Tournament video.

The premise was simple: Throw a bunch of computers onto a tournament bracket and watch them fight. Alpharad and a few friends commentated the matches, providing insights into actual competitive strategies and general comedy.

It was fun and apparently so popular that he would have been a fool not to do more.

From there I got into a few more series. Mostly other Smash-related videos like ranking all of X elements or “Stage Builder was a Mistake.”

The guy is also a fan of Mudkips and Shantae, so it’s hard not to like him!

However, the CPU tournaments were clearly Alpharad’s bread and butter.

Over time they grew into more than just a showcase of computer intelligence. Jokes about certain fighters repeated to the point of giving them distinct personalities. Then came clever brand integrations by having his video sponsors “sponsor” the winners of previous tournaments like they were sport stars proving themselves.

Sure some of those deals were a little cheeky, like having an Incineroar sponsored by the eSports team Panda Global where he serves as creative director

But still a clever idea.

Then the series grew further. Original characters were added via Mii Fighters that developed entire plot threads cleverly delivered by commentators on the spot.

I’m not sure how much was pre-planned or improvised based on genuine tournament results, but either way it was impressive to see a cohesive narrative emerge that culminated in an “Endgame” duel between light and dark.

Released two days after the newest Avengers movie.

Perfect SEO.

After a few months hiatus, the series returned with noticeable differences.

In the lore, two years had passed. Thus, much of the first episode was spent doling out exposition about what had changed — from new Mii Fighters to the off-screen reigns of joke characters like Rosalina.

What stood out most about this structured direction is how much more planning and effort clearly went into the season’s pre-production. Everything down to anime-inspired intros that are just cringe enough to be great.

Whereas the first era of the CPUCS emerged from completely different roots and had to develop into something more, the second era is immediately running with the aftermath and presenting more foreshadowing for underlying story bits.

That was exhibited magnificently for me in the episode uploaded just today.

After the time skip, a Mii Fighter called “The Agent” appeared. She was understated because she didn’t make it very far, but in the second episode she came back.

Again she lost, but this time Alpharad ended the match by suggesting she would be writing about this on her blog. Then he quickly read off a url.

I was willing to wave that off as a joke, but part of me was curious to know whether it was real.

Agent Naomi Winters’ blog is absolutely 100 percent real.

And probably made with Squarespace. Because sponsorship.

We live in a world of digital marketing, so creating websites or social media accounts to help promote a fictional story isn’t anything new.

In fact, Ryan Hollinger has a great video about the effective use of external marketing sources by Cloverfield (and not Snakes on a Plane).

Yet I felt like this guy when I discovered that the blog not only exists, but has been used since May to create a more lived-in environment:

Screen Shot 2019-06-23 at 1.59.24 PM.png

I too am now a big fan of Agent Naomi.

For what many would write off as a silly YouTube series about Smash Ultimate where cashing in is easy because no human interactions are needed for gameplay, this is an awesome bit of committed world building.

It shows how much Alpharad genuinely cares, and I can respect the hell out of that.

So if I haven’t convinced you yet, go watch the CPUCS.

I swear it’s more than just your average Smash Bros. series if you stick by it.

This ain’t Monster Hunter, this is Pokémon Sword and Shield!

This ain’t Monster Hunter, this is Pokémon Sword and Shield!

♪It’s the most wonderful time of the year~♪

There are few things which I will openly admit I have a massive bias toward.

Pokémon is something I unabashedly have a ginormous bias toward.

Pokémon Crystal was my first video game outside of some silly educational titles featuring Sesame Street or Elmo. I’ll always fall back on the story that it helped me learn how to read when I played with my Mom all those years ago because that memory is precious to me.

So whenever a brand new entry in the Pokémon series is announced, I truly feel young at heart.

It happened with Sun and Moon.

It happened with Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee.

And by god it’s happening right now with the announcement of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield for the Nintendo Switch.

I know some of you must be wondering I got up at 6:00 a.m. just to watch a video game get announced. Especially when real life political things are happening.

Let’s just say I had to get up extra early for some meetings and intentionally overdid it to watch the Pokémon Direct live.

Though the announcement was seven minutes long, it offered a lot of hype.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are new mainline games set in the Galar region. Kanto through Sinnoh were analogous to different parts of Japan, Unova was analogous to New York, Kalos was analogous to France and Alola was analogous to Hawaii.

Galar will take us into a world modeled after post-Industrial England:

Everything about the theme feels right. Sword & Shield as names evoke the Knights of the Round Table knowing this region is London.

Towns look stuffed with industrial imagery of steaming cogs and stone chimneys set under foggy weather.

The new gyms, or at least the grass-type gym, looks like a Soccer/Football stadium.

Oh, and let’s not forget it all looks fucking gorgeous.

I was a huge fan of the Let’s Go graphics because they were faithful to the original Red/Green/Blue/Yellow while updated for the Switch’s capabilities.

But just off of initial screenshots alone, Sword and Shield look like Pokémon games set in Breath of the Wild Hyrule.

That game’s minimalist style had an almost watercolor quality that screams out with the creative possibilities of a Pokémon region.

Just look at the battle screenshot. Its models may look similar to previous generation’s Pokémon, perhaps to save time, but having that countryside villa in the background is stunning.

It looks a lot better in the original video than it does on Twitter screenshots.

The trainer models also look better than ever, featuring more realistic humans akin to the mobile app GO, but with far more personality than even Sun and Moon achieved.

Hopefully this time the protagonists will make more than one facial expression, too.

But of course, we can’t talk about new Pokémon without delving into the starters:

Images courtesy of Serebii

Good old Serebii.

Based on first impressions alone, all three of these starters are way too cute for their own good.

Unlike the Alolan starters where I immediately had a favorite (#TeamRowlet), I don’t know that I have one among these three.

The last time we saw a simian starter in Chimchar I wound up being a huge fan of Infernape. So the Grass-type Grookey has a shot.

Bunnies are also a favorite of mine in Pokémon, with Mega Lopunny being the first IV/EV trained ‘mon I ever bred in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. So the Fire-type Scorbunny has a shot.

But the Water-type Sobble is a wild card. It looks like Mudkip and uses a camouflaging  gecko design reminiscent of Kecleon.

Any reference to Hoenn is appreciated, and that’s two in one!

I’ll honestly have to see their evolutions to decide who I want to stick by.

While these are the only Galar Pokémon we’ve seen thus far, I’m sure Game Freak will introduce us to the rest before the end of the year. Even if I do wish they would keep some more secrets this time.

In the meantime, we know the Galar region will represent a wide-range of Pokémon from other regions.

In this trailer alone we can see a Zweilous, Flygon, Wishiwashi, Hoothoot, Munchlax, Tyranitar and so much more.

It feels like watching the latest Detective Pikachu trailer all over again. 2019 is shaping up to be a fatastic year for Pokémon.

That’s just about all we know so far.

Obviously I’m very excited to learn more, and there’s no doubt the next few months will be full of Sword and Shield information posts like I had for Sun and Moon!

These long periods of hype building up to the catharsis of a wonderful game have to be one of my favorite things about the Pokémon franchise nowadays. I live for the endorphines of new reveal trailers.

But what do you think about our first look at Sword and Shield, the Galar region and those new starters?

Let me know! I’m all kinds of ready for more and more Pokémon.


Featured Image courtesy of the official Pokémon Twitter account