E3 is raging on around our ears, but we're safely ensconced in this, our No-E3s Cushion Fort. It might be drafty, it might be no structural integrity, and Mom says we can't have any more snacks until after dinner, but at least it's a chill place where we can hang out and play Game Boy until it's time to put the sofa back together (or, in the case of GB's sofa, fix its janky-ass legs before it collapses and kills someone). In Fort Coolduder this year, we're all about those randomizers; a superlative method of improving games that I discuss in more detail over here in this series about a cat with a sword defeating a pig with a trident.
Today's sacrificial Mareep is Pokémon FireRed, a Pokémon game. This one's more like... an obligation. In part because I don't really care for Pokémon as a game series, but also because it's the first thing that comes to mind when people think of game randomizers. I was curious to see how extensively a randomizer could change everything and how it might improve the experience, or at least make it more unexpected and exciting. However, I'm not adept enough at Pokémon to know which parameters are best suited for the randomization process, nor am I in any mood to start a "Nuzlocke run" or one of its equally limiting variants, so I'm really just going to be tinkering around for this playthrough. (Real talk: I wanted to try a Terraria chest randomizer instead, which adds more random elements to a game that's already built on procgen, but I guess Re-Logic updated it again last year and made all the older mods inoperable. Fie on you, you accursed perfectionists.)
Day 2: "Porked More Fine"
: GameFreak's Pokémon FireRed, first released in 2004. It's a Gen I remake with Gen III tech, which probably means something to someone.
: This thing, which is compatible with every core Pokémon game, is truly impressive. I'll give to the Pokémon franchise: there's a lot about it you can tweak, from Pokémon names to types to set moves to stat distribution to evolution trees to items held. You can do this with your Pokémon, wild Pokémon, or the rival trainer Pokémon, and you can draw from three generations of Pokémon with the way the game is compatible with Pokémon Emerald and previous versions through some arcane method using an intermediary like Pokémon Stadium. They're all there in the game, sprites and stats and such, so this randomizer can draw them out if need be.
That said, it's a little difficult to know where to start (and stop, for that matter). If you randomize all the types, that's going to make it nigh impossible to assemble a team to cover all your bases and know which one to bring out ahead of time, in case you suddenly meet a Pikachu shooting Ice Beams at you while deflecting your Ground-based attacks because it's a Grass/Bug type now. That's on top of the usual randomizer problems with game difficulty balance, if you're the type of goober who would choose legendaries as your starter or finds Master Balls in Viridian Forest. However, randomizers are rarely meant for neophytes in the games they pertain to; they're more suited for veterans who have beaten the core game enough times that they're looking for something different, or speedrunners who want to compensate on the fly for unexpected wrinkles to make their runs more engaging and prove their mastery.
Heck, for FireRed in particular, it might be fun just to play the game with a version of Kanto already populated by (level- and terrain-appropriate) Gen II and III Pokémon for all the extra strategic options they provide you for Gym Battles and the Pokémon League. There's definitely the potential within that comprehensive randomizer to produce an unrecognizable but still very fair and well-balanced version of the game. Not that I went for it.
That'll do for now, I'm not going to be able to hold out until a Gym Battle or even get through Viridian Forest without losing what little patience I have for this game. I'll say this much: the randomizer is really fantastic, with all those options unlocking an unprecedented number of variations. Smartly, it also adjusts itself for game balance and difficulty, letting you know ahead of time whether an option will disrupt that balance or offering additional corollaries to address same. Randomizing the Pokémon you can find on the field but ensuring that they're all the right level for that part of the game, for example, or making sure that while you can evolve Pokémon into completely different Pokémon species, it'll still require you to be level 16 or whatever. It's full of little tweaks like that, so be sure to give it a look at the link provided for the full range it offers.
Well, I feel like I did my due diligence today. Tomorrow will the final day of E3 and thus the final randomizer I look at, and it's one that represents several randomizer tools that don't so much modify the game but completely change its format. You'll see what I mean when we take a deep dive into it. Until then, I'll leave you with the immortal words of Ashley Ketchup: "You just have to catch all of them!".
|Day -2: EarthBound||Day -1: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow|
|Day 0: Super Mario World||Day 1: Final Fantasy Tactics|
|Day 2: Pokémon FireRed||Day 3: Secret of Mana|