Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pokemon Trainer Challenge now in open beta!

...and it's looking pretty good. The Pokemon Trainer Challenge enables anyone with a Pokemon Trainer Club account to play the Pokemon TCG against 14 different virtual Trainers, each with a different deck, personality, and skill level. You can use any one of three decks (fire, water, or grass) to challenge your opponents; when the Black and White theme decks come out on April 6, they will contain codes you can use to play with their virtual versions.

As you might expect, the Trainer Challenge works a lot more smoothly than third-party simulators like Redshark - deck shuffling and card drawing are automatic, only legal moves are allowed. The AI needs a little tightening up, though; opponents will often use Trainer cards when there is little need to use them (e. g. Potion on a Pokemon that has only 1 damage counter on it). Hopefully, any kinks that might be present will be ironed out when player-vs.-player matches debut in the fall.

The Trainer Challenge is also a great opportunity for players to get acquainted with the new Black and White rules before they come into effect (whenever that is). The two most important changes are:

  • You can play Trainers, Supporters, and Stadiums on your first turn, even if you go first.

  • You cannot play Rare Candy on the first turn of a game or on the first turn a particular Pokemon is in play.

The Pokemon Trainer Challenge can be found at pokemontcg.com. It's a great place for newcomers to learn the ropes and experienced players to hone their skills.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More earthquake-related Pokemon news

As the drama in Japan unfolds, the effects on the Pokemon world continue to manifest themselves. Japan's Worlds qualifiers have already been canceled; no word on how or even if they will pick who gets an invite. This will have a major effect on Worlds itself in August. Perhaps Americans will sweep this year?

Also, for those of you who have been itching to have fun in the Dream World, the Pokemon Global Link's international debut has been delayed until further notice. It was originally intended to open on March 30. C'mon, I want it now....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japanese Earthquake Update - the Pokemon perspective

I'm sure everyone has seen pictures of the devastation wrought by the recent earthquake in Japan, and let me tell you, words can hardly describe it. It may sound crass or tasteless to some, but images of Hiroshima spring to mind. Yes, the damage was that severe.

As you might imagine, this has had an effect on the people who helped make the Pokemon games possible. I'll start off with what needs to be said: contrary to what some media outlets have said, Satoshi Tajiri (Pokemon's creator, if you didn't know this by now) is alive and well. Two of the artists involved, however, ran into problems: Ken Sugimori, head artist for the Pokemon games, was stuck in Naha Airport in Okinawa for a few days, whereas Midori Harada (one of the better artists for the Pokemon TCG) couldn't leave her office for 3 days due to a damaged elevator. Both are now home safe.

The main Nintendo headquarters suffered no damage from the quake.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Earthquake/Tsunami in Japan

Since this is a disaster of major importance and since Pokemon is a Japanese game, I simply have to blog abot this.

Unless you live under a rock, you probably know that a magnitude 8.9 earthquake and its accompanyting tsunami struck Japan yesterday, causing untold destruction and great loss of life. As always, my prayers and condolences go out to the victims of this disaster. Let's hope all the great Pokemon TCG players escaped unharmed.