Mento's Alternative to E3 2018 Day 2: A Randomized Pokemon FireRed

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Posted by mento (4158 posts) -

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"

No Caption Provided

The Game: GameFreak's Pokémon FireRed, first released in 2004. It's a Gen I remake with Gen III tech, which probably means something to someone.

The Randomizer: The Universal Pokémon Game Randomizer.

The Rules of the Randomizer: 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.

The Playthrough:

Welcome to Pokémon FireRed! We're just starting and- wait, a GENGAR is fighting a NIDORINO? This is already too crazy, I'm outta here.
Welcome to Pokémon FireRed! We're just starting and- wait, a GENGAR is fighting a NIDORINO? This is already too crazy, I'm outta here.
Fine, let's go. I always wondered why there's a NES here. 99% of people playing Pokémon in 2004 would've been born long after it came out. To them, it probably looks like a trash can that's fallen over. Plays like one too, if the NES Classic's Balloon Fight and Ice Climber are all they have to go on.
Fine, let's go. I always wondered why there's a NES here. 99% of people playing Pokémon in 2004 would've been born long after it came out. To them, it probably looks like a trash can that's fallen over. Plays like one too, if the NES Classic's Balloon Fight and Ice Climber are all they have to go on.
I'm skipping ahead to the Pokémon starter choice. It's always the first fun moment of any Pokémon randomizer.
I'm skipping ahead to the Pokémon starter choice. It's always the first fun moment of any Pokémon randomizer.
First, we have this Mightyena. Its Dark type would make it an unpredictable... well, dark horse, I guess. That is, if I knew for a fact its type was still Dark. I don't.
First, we have this Mightyena. Its Dark type would make it an unpredictable... well, dark horse, I guess. That is, if I knew for a fact its type was still Dark. I don't.
Then we have... oh, OK, I see. The most powerful Legendary in Gen III. I guess this is the Pokémon we're choosing, huh?
Then we have... oh, OK, I see. The most powerful Legendary in Gen III. I guess this is the Pokémon we're choosing, huh?
Yeah, I don't care about this guy or his Christmas tree tail. Back to Rayquaza.
Yeah, I don't care about this guy or his Christmas tree tail. Back to Rayquaza.
Darn tootin'. I want to name it something cute.
Darn tootin'. I want to name it something cute.
There we go.
There we go.
Randolf the Rando Rival picks the big dog, figuring it's better than a tier-3 evolution like Sceptile. You do you, buddy.
Randolf the Rando Rival picks the big dog, figuring it's better than a tier-3 evolution like Sceptile. You do you, buddy.
Ah, a fight for the ages. Who will win: the All-Powerful Eternal Guardian of the Skies, or testicle birb?
Ah, a fight for the ages. Who will win: the All-Powerful Eternal Guardian of the Skies, or testicle birb?
That's what I thought. I also randomized stat distribution but with a limiter to stop it getting crazy. Those aren't normally a level 6 Rayquaza's stats (though good luck finding one to compare it to), but those types of numbers are close to correct.
That's what I thought. I also randomized stat distribution but with a limiter to stop it getting crazy. Those aren't normally a level 6 Rayquaza's stats (though good luck finding one to compare it to), but those types of numbers are close to correct.
My Quirky Rayquaza is a Flying/Ice type, which... I mean, it's close enough. I'll keep it away from live flames, I suppose.
My Quirky Rayquaza is a Flying/Ice type, which... I mean, it's close enough. I'll keep it away from live flames, I suppose.
The Rayquaza was holding this when I acquired it. I dunno what it does, but it sounds like something I can sell?
The Rayquaza was holding this when I acquired it. I dunno what it does, but it sounds like something I can sell?
Our first random battle outside of Pallet Town is a Kadabra. This is the first Gen I Pokémon I've seen, though I lack any Pokéballs right now. Man, I loved this guy back in the original Pokémon Red, but I guess he was a little overpowered.
Our first random battle outside of Pallet Town is a Kadabra. This is the first Gen I Pokémon I've seen, though I lack any Pokéballs right now. Man, I loved this guy back in the original Pokémon Red, but I guess he was a little overpowered.
Coming back after getting Oak his parcel and receiving the Pokédex. No sign of the Kadabra, but I am finding some other Pokémon out here.
Coming back after getting Oak his parcel and receiving the Pokédex. No sign of the Kadabra, but I am finding some other Pokémon out here.
A lot of Pokémon, in fact. I've counted about eight types just in Route 01 alone. That's another thing you can edit: how many Pokémon appear in each region of the game, in addition to randomizing who and what appears. Their levels are still around 2-4 though, thankfully. Anyway, there's lots of Eevees around so I'm just stockpiling them; they have like a bajillion evolutions after all.
A lot of Pokémon, in fact. I've counted about eight types just in Route 01 alone. That's another thing you can edit: how many Pokémon appear in each region of the game, in addition to randomizing who and what appears. Their levels are still around 2-4 though, thankfully. Anyway, there's lots of Eevees around so I'm just stockpiling them; they have like a bajillion evolutions after all.
I stopped after grabbing five unique Pokémon. Let me show you my team! First, we have our Psychic/Poison Vileplume, Muffintop.
I stopped after grabbing five unique Pokémon. Let me show you my team! First, we have our Psychic/Poison Vileplume, Muffintop.
Surskit, who is an impressive combination of Psychic and Dragon, is our requisite Water expert. (His only move is Bubble right now.)
Surskit, who is an impressive combination of Psychic and Dragon, is our requisite Water expert. (His only move is Bubble right now.)
I kept one of the Eevees. This one's a Grass Pokémon that likes to Tackle and only Tackle.
I kept one of the Eevees. This one's a Grass Pokémon that likes to Tackle and only Tackle.
This Ice/Poison Delibird is sure to liven up any Christmas party or mall event. Call early, her schedule is packed.
This Ice/Poison Delibird is sure to liven up any Christmas party or mall event. Call early, her schedule is packed.
Finally, lil' Muncie is a Water/Flying type, which is quite the combo for something that lives in a hole in the desert. Her bite attack is my secret weapon.
Finally, lil' Muncie is a Water/Flying type, which is quite the combo for something that lives in a hole in the desert. Her bite attack is my secret weapon.
I wandered over to the Pokémon League. Forgot that Dumpo here challenges you with decent Pokémon should you go this way first. Serves me right for being curious.
I wandered over to the Pokémon League. Forgot that Dumpo here challenges you with decent Pokémon should you go this way first. Serves me right for being curious.
Neither of Rando's Pokémon are the Luvdisc we saw earlier, nor the Mightyena he picked up. I must've set it so his Pokémon are random each time. Anyway, neither of them lasted long.
Neither of Rando's Pokémon are the Luvdisc we saw earlier, nor the Mightyena he picked up. I must've set it so his Pokémon are random each time. Anyway, neither of them lasted long.
Dunsparce is another Gen II, along with Delibird, so there's a huge variety of beasties just waiting to be caught. With all their randomized stats, you could find two of the same Pokémon with completely different builds and thus different roles for your team. It's a little intimidating. Dunsparce isn't imitating though; he's a tubby little Tsuchinoko who's about to get Dragon Twister'd into oblivion.
Dunsparce is another Gen II, along with Delibird, so there's a huge variety of beasties just waiting to be caught. With all their randomized stats, you could find two of the same Pokémon with completely different builds and thus different roles for your team. It's a little intimidating. Dunsparce isn't imitating though; he's a tubby little Tsuchinoko who's about to get Dragon Twister'd into oblivion.
Man, it was so unexpected to find something as normal as a Rattata out here that I made me pause for a moment. I guess it's true that you're never more than 6ft away from a Rattata, huh?
Man, it was so unexpected to find something as normal as a Rattata out here that I made me pause for a moment. I guess it's true that you're never more than 6ft away from a Rattata, huh?
First random item of the game, and it's a Full Restore. Nice. I randomized a lot of item stuff, including what TMs got you and, of course, items that the Pokémon are holding. You can even toggle an option to remove trash items from the game, like mail or berries.
First random item of the game, and it's a Full Restore. Nice. I randomized a lot of item stuff, including what TMs got you and, of course, items that the Pokémon are holding. You can even toggle an option to remove trash items from the game, like mail or berries.
One more trainer battle for the road. I remember these bugcatcher kids throwing inanimate cocoons at me thinking they were hot shit, but that confidence might now be justified by the randomizer.
One more trainer battle for the road. I remember these bugcatcher kids throwing inanimate cocoons at me thinking they were hot shit, but that confidence might now be justified by the randomizer.
The names are randomized, but I forgot to randomize their titles or appearance. Honestly, it didn't seem important.
The names are randomized, but I forgot to randomize their titles or appearance. Honestly, it didn't seem important.
Scott's first Pokémon was a Cascoon (old habits...) but his next was this Tyrogue. I could totally see a kindergartener with one of these guys - they're like your scrappy little buddy.
Scott's first Pokémon was a Cascoon (old habits...) but his next was this Tyrogue. I could totally see a kindergartener with one of these guys - they're like your scrappy little buddy.
Albeit the kind of scrappy little buddy that doesn't do well against giant sky dragons. The kid thinks one of those Pokémon was a Caterpie, but to be fair he's like eight and doesn't have a magical portable computer to tell him what everything is. Time to check my Poképrivilege.
Albeit the kind of scrappy little buddy that doesn't do well against giant sky dragons. The kid thinks one of those Pokémon was a Caterpie, but to be fair he's like eight and doesn't have a magical portable computer to tell him what everything is. Time to check my Poképrivilege.

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!".

Rating: B+.

Day -2: EarthBoundDay -1: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Day 0: Super Mario WorldDay 1: Final Fantasy Tactics
Day 2: Pokémon FireRedDay 3: Secret of Mana
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