I’m aware that this post will reveal how much of a nerd I am (if it wasn’t already obvious), but that’s ok.
Pokemon Y Kalos Dex Completion
After just over a year of playing and 230+ hours of game time, I’ve completed the Kalos Pokedex.
I received Pokemon Y as a gift on January 3, 2014 after voicing my jealousy of everyone playing the game. Starting all the way back with Pokemon Blue Version in the 90’s, I’ve been playing Pokemon games for a long time. Though I’m not happy with some of the changes they’ve made to games in Generation VI (namely the Fairy type and Flying Press, the first dual-type move), I’m quite pleased with Pokemon X and Y overall.
Immediately after receiving the game, I started playing it all the time. I defeated the Elite Four and thus completed the main core of the story on February 1, not quite a month after I started playing. For casual players, that’s pretty much the end of the game. They may spend some time exploring endgame areas and leveling up their main party a bit more, but nothing extensive. However, I’m not a casual player. Beating the Elite Four and unlocking the Battle Maison is when the fun gets started.
At the surface, Pokemon is a game of collection and relatively simple battles. Most people get a team of Pokemon they like, raise them up in level, teach them some good moves, and fight other trainers they come across. Underneath this shallow facade is an intricate game of numbers and balance. With natures, Effort Values, Inherited Values, and all the stats a pokemon has, there are tons of ways to customize a party of 6 Pokemon. If you want an explanation of all those, look somewhere else like Serebii, Marriland, or Bulbapedia.
Regardless, I’m one of those people that gets extremely caught up in building a perfect party. There are plenty of players who are far better at it than me, but I enjoy the process of building a team and testing it out. Once I unlock the Battle Maison, I test and tweak my team constantly, trying to nail down the combination of Pokemon that best fits my play style. I spent several months tinkering with my party and fighting at the Battle Maison until I eventually got bored and put the game down.
Fast forward to the release of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, my wife and I decide we’ll eventually pick them up and play together, since I had done most everything there was to do in Pokemon Y before she even got Pokemon X. She then tells me she wants to finish the entire Kalos Pokedex before we start playing the Ruby and Sapphire remakes. For Pokemon X to be her first Pokemon game, that’s quite an impressive aspiration. The Kalos Dex consists of 3 different sections, each with about 150 Pokemon. Sure, the National Pokedex is up to 721 now, but something over 450 is still quite a few pocket monsters to catch.
I decided to pick up Pokemon Y again in order to embark on the quest to catch ‘em all. Collecting the full Pokedex isn’t typically my goal in Pokemon games, but I did try it once before with Pokemon HeartGold. After getting within 15 Pokemon of a full National Dex, I got burned out and never picked it up again. I’m certainly not going for National Dex completion now, but just the Kalos Dex didn’t seem like a particularly daunting goal.
Luckily, I try to catch anything that I encounter along the way, even if I’m not actively making a point to fill out the Pokedex. I won’t stay in an area for hours on end, searching for that one rare spawn, but I will at least give a solid try to catch anything new I see. With this policy, I had achieved a good bit of progress across all 3 Kalos Dexes. If I remember correctly, each of the 3 had something north of 90 Pokemon caught and plenty of others seen.
I got a jump on the Central Kalos Dex and finished it fairly quickly. Most of the Pokemon I had left were fairly easy to obtain, either by evolution, breeding, or trading. Once we were both finished with Central and I gave her a little while to catch up on the others, I started on the Coastal Kalos Dex. Again, finishing the second Pokedex wasn’t a huge hassle.
By the time we both started on the Mountain Kalos Dex, I was beginning to get frustrated with the tedium. I only had 50 left, but it felt as though I was still forever away. As of Christmas, we had Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire in our possession. The only thing preventing us from playing them was the self-applied restriction of finishing the entire Kalos Dex first. In addition to the frustration of simply obtaining everything, I was beginning to run out of limited resources like certain evolution stones. Moon Stones and Dusk Stones are particularly hard to come by, but I had traded on the Global Trade System for most of those. Since the release of ORAS, the GTS on X and Y had become a ghost town.
Once I hit the 130 Pokemon mark, I decided to make a document with each remaining pokemon and the way to obtain them. I had 1 left to catch in the wild, a few left to level up, a few to breed, 2 Dusk Stone evolutions, and a trade evolution. Picking up a stomach bug over this past weekend, I had nothing better to do within my quarantine than to polish off those remaining few. The level evolutions had become a cakewalk. Triple battles in a Lumiose City cafe consisted of spamming the A button while a team of 3 Pokemon at level 100 obliterated the competition with multi-target moves.
Come Sunday afternoon, all I had left were a trade evolution and 2 Dusk Stone evolutions. Trade evolutions are no biggie, having a wife who plays. Dusk Stones, however, are a bit of a hassle. There are 2 guaranteed in the game, and 3 methods with a chance of winning one. I had already used both of my Dusk Stones given in game, and I hadn’t collaborated with anyone else to save theirs for Murkrow and Lampent.
My lack of patience got the better of me. I put up a trade request on the GTS for Murkrow’s evolution and began looking for Gurdurr offers. People often put up a trade evolution and request the same pokemon, such that both players reap the benefits of the trade. I finally found a trade request, and thus knocked out that last trade evolution. My request for Honchkrow still had no takers, so I began investigating my options to acquire more Dusk Stones.
An Inverse Battle has a chance to win a Dusk Stone, but those can only be done once per day and my luck is typically abysmal with those prizes. I tried my daily quota, but only got a berry. One method down. The next method to try was Super Training. I personally hate Super Training, but I figured it can’t hurt to try. I tried the specific training method that gives Dusk Stones several times, but never got one. My options looked grim.
The last method requires a Pokemon Global Link sync, which I tried setting up once before back in August and never did anything with. I decided to figure that whole mess out again. Once I was on the Global Link website, I couldn’t remember my login information (I couldn’t even remember if I had ever created a login). Eventually, I made a new account and linked it to my game. Once everything was set up, I synced up my save data in order to transfer all my PokeMiles over.
According to some research online, a specific mini game that one can play by paying PokeMiles has a chance to give Dusk Stones. The Balloon Popping game costs 100 PokeMiles to play, and I transferred over roughly 11,000 when I set up the Global Link. From any discussion on the subject, it doesn’t seem like the game has any sort of strategy or even a correlation of better prizes for better scores. As far as I can guess, it’s all luck. Since I had no plans of using my PokeMiles for anything else, that means I’d have 110 chances to win 2 Dusk Stones.
I started playing the game, and I was reminded of all the terrible flash games I played back in the early 2000’s. The entire goal is to click on 10 balloons as they float up across the screen. There’s no time limit, and from what I could tell the balloons keep coming. No specific type or size of balloon seemed to give a higher score, so the best bet is to simply click on 10 balloons as fast as possible to finish the game quickly. Rinse and repeat until I’ve managed to get the Dusk Stones and I would be done.
Within 10 games, I was irrationally frustrated with the game. All of my prizes were terrible and how was I to know how many games it would take before I would get even a single Dusk Stone? I went back to playing Super Training on my DS. At least I didn’t have a limit on how many times I could try that. When I was tired of playing both, I put everything down for a while. With only 2 pokemon left before I would be finished, there shouldn’t be a rush. Those can wait.
After a very brief break, I was more determined than ever to get those last two Pokemon. My GTS offer still had no takers, so I went back to Balloon Popping on the Global Link. Lo and behold, the very first game gave me a Dusk Stone. What’s this madness? That means I only had to get one more and I would be done. One Pokemon, that’s not hard. I tried Balloon Popping again. The next game one something useless, but I didn’t care. With something close to 100 tries remaining, I knew I’d be able to get another Dusk Stone somewhere in there (I hoped). The very next game, I got it. In 3 tries, I was able to get both remaining stones.
I immediately got back on my DS and synced it to get the stones in game. My party already had the 2 Pokemon ready to be evolved. I applied stones to both, and I was finished. Looking at the Pokedex, I had the completion crown by each of the 3 Kalos Dexes.
Since finishing the Kalos Dex, I haven’t picked the game back up. I immediately jumped on The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and will stay on it until we start on ORAS, most likely. I’m proud of myself for finishing the Pokedex, but it was an extremely tedious achievement. I’ll eventually see about transferring some of my Pokemon over to Omega Ruby, but that can wait until later.
Jarren and the Chaos EP
I enjoy supporting small time musicians, and this was one of the most interesting times that I did.
A couple of years ago (circa February 2013), I was at Winter Jam in Greenville, SC. I typically enjoy the show, and try to go when it comes through town. For those who don’t know about Winter Jam, it’s a concert of several Christian rock and pop artists that play for a $10 door price. Seeing so many bands for so cheap is an absurd deal, and tickets cannot be bought early. Every year thousands show up, and reportedly thousands are turned away. Once the building is filled to capacity, that’s it. The concert doesn’t start until 7pm, usually, but people will show up as early as noon in order to get as close to the door as possible. By the time the doors open, crowds will be packed up near the entrance with easily a 50 ft. radius. Lines go back far beyond that.
I usually arrive fairly early, so I end up pretty close to the door and stuck within the mass of people. This year was no different. With everyone packed so close, it isn’t difficult to hear every conversation around you. Complete strangers frequently strike a common interest because of this, so the wait before the concert can sometimes be just as interesting as the show itself.
In the context of the Winter Jam in question, this was a time when dubstep was starting to get big. There were several popular artists in the genre, but many people still refused to see it as legitimate music. While waiting around outside the door, I overheard a conversation between a guy with a backpack and a group of people who had already congregated together.
He asked, “Do you guys listen to any sort of electronic music?” The people in the group turned in acknowledgement of him, but didn’t really respond with any sort of coherent words. To clarify, he continued “You know, like trance, house, dubstep, that sort of thing?” One of the girls finally decided to speak for the group and responded, “A little.” The gentleman began with a discourse that I could tell had been repeated more times that he’d like to count. “Well, I’m Jarren. I’m a dubstep artist,” he began, “and I just made my first EP. It’s all clean lyrics with Christian themes, and I want to get my music out. I’ve been following the Winter Jam tour selling my album. It’s five bucks, six tracks, and I’m really just trying to sell enough for gas money to stay on the road.” The longer he talked, the less attention the group gave him. When was finished, the girl retorted with a sheepish “We’re not really interested.” Without skipping a beat, the guy thanked them for their time and continued on with a smile.
As a fan of dubstep music and a huge supporter of novice musicians, I was very curious. Before he could step away, I caught his attention. “Hey man, you said you’re selling dubstep music,” I asked when he came over. “Yep,” he said, “five dollars for a six track EP.” I bought one on the spot. Was it a gamble? Sure. For every artist that makes it big, there are probably tens of thousands that fail completely and the vast majority of those are completely terrible, I’d guess. But for $5, I figured why not? I wished him luck and went on to try to sell a few more albums before the show started. “JARREN AND THE CHAOS EP,” the paper sleeve read, against a cosmic looking background. What I assumed to be his logo, a stylized ‘J,’ was emblazoned across a planet or other celestial body in the lower right corner.
Immediately after the show was over, I popped the new acquisition in the cd player of my car to listen on the way home. Overall, I was impressed. The album isn’t professional quality, but I wouldn’t expect it to be. I highly doubt Jarren had the cash on hand to buy or rent top end equipment, and even early EP’s of the biggest artists sound raw and unpolished compared to later work. “Chaos,” the title track, was definitely my favorite song on the album. Slow to start, but it’s extremely catchy after the intro. Definitely not money lost, I decided, and I hoped he got at least a few more out that day.
That album got shuffled into my massive collection of music and forgotten about for at least a few months. I eventually stumbled upon it again and started doing some research. The Official Jarren website was still up, so I sent a message just to see if he was still hanging in there. Surprisingly, I received an email on July 7, 2013 from TheOfficialJarren@gmail.com, indicating that he was working on a new album and would be playing live shows soon. Apparently he was pretty successful with his music endeavor.
The Chaos EP is available on Google Play from the link below. I’d highly recommend anyone who likes electronic music to check it out. Even if you don’t buy it, listen to the samples. I’m super excited to hear some new music from Jarren, so fingers crossed he’ll have the new album available on Google Play when it’s finished.