Friday Favorites: Starter Pokemon

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Friday, everyone!

One of the most important decisions you make as a character at the beginning of a main Pokemon game is your starter Pokemon. Your first partner helps to determine the rest of your team and how difficult the beginning of your journey will be. While I tend to always pick the Grass-type starters for at least one of the games in a generation, there are definitely a few exceptions I’ll make.

Pikachu

Pokemon Yellow was my first Pokemon game, and eight-year-old me was delighted to be able to have Pikachu as my first partner. Watching Pikachu slowly start to trust me more while also being able to collect the rest of the Kanto starters like Ash did in the anime was really special to me.

Cyndaquil

I’m in the minority in that I honestly don’t pick the Fire-type starters at all. However, I always found Johto’s Cyndaquil to be a fun partner. The evolution line’s designs were both simple and functional in showing the Pokemon’s powers, and I was able to get a taste as to why Fire-types are one of Rachel’s favorites.

Rowlett

The Alola starter Pokemon were all great designs, in my opinion, but the little owl was utterly adorable. Combining two of my favorites types into one — Grass and Flying — only to later gain the rarer pairing of Grass and Ghost, Rowlett’s line certainly did not disappoint on my journey through the newest region.

Froakie

I loved all three of the starter Pokemon in the Kalos region. Having the final three evolutions be based off traditional RPG classes — Chesnaught the Warrior, Delphox the Mage, and Greninja the Ninja — touched my inner nerd. Of course I naturally gravitated toward the ninja-like final evolution, and I wasn’t disappointed when choosing Froakie for my second Kalos run-through.

Treecko

The Treecko line was always one of my favorites. There’s no real rhyme or reason — I believe I just preferred the design of the Pokemon in the line, as well as finding Ash’s Treecko’s “tough guy” persona in the few episodes of the Hoenn anime I watched. The Treecko I’ve raised always had great Speed stats, something that was doubled with its Hidden Ability.

What are some of your favorite Starter Pokemon?

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Gender Tropes

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday, everyone! I hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend. Going off of last week’s post about Healer Tropes, I thought I would share my thoughts on Gender Tropes. Remember, kids, sexism shouldn’t have a place in the real world or video game worlds!

When I was writing up my Fire Emblem Fates review, one of the biggest issue I had with the newest trio of Fire Emblem games was the treatment of the sister characters from the two quartets of the avatar’s siblings.

From Nohr was Camilla and Elise, while Hinoka and Sakura were from Hoshido. I felt that they got a bit pushed to the side after being created to be the cute healers and tough female warriors. It was the brothers that got more development, that were the wielders of the other divine weapons, that had stronger ties to the avatar character. While I enjoyed all the characters for the most part, I still maintain that it may have worked better if the royal siblings were cut in half, with one side having an older sister and younger brother while the other side had the older brother and younger sister.

Thinking back on my Healer Tropes post where I mentioned both Elise and Sakura, I also realized that the brothers also followed stereotypical male tropes as well. The strong older brothers are the leaders, Leo is the cool, calculating, aloof character, and Takumi is the brooding, hotheaded one. Many of the other Fire Emblem games have the older brother characters as the leaders, as the strong ones, while the women tend to favor gentler routes.

Case in point is the cover of Shadows of Valentia. Alm is with his sword, a fighter, while Celica is praying, looking much more passive. I wonder what would have happened had the game switched it up, with the woman being the more aggressive while the man is gentler.

With the brief introduction of the Champion characters in Breath of the Wild, I’m finding that they also follow typical gender tropes. While I personally haven’t met all of them in-game yet, plenty of Internet sources have given me a glimpse of the Champions’ personalities. Mipha and Urbosa are common female tropes, being the gentle, soft-spoken healer and tough, action woman. Daruk appears to be the jolly, father figure and Revali is the arrogant bad boy.

Mr. Panda actually made a comment on the Healer Tropes regarding how White Mages in Final Fantasy games are always female, and how he’s waiting for the day that they can be male as well. Something that I believe Fates did right was take off the gender-restricted classes, such as having a male Pegasus Knight and a female Fighter. It’s a step in the right direction to help combat the more common gender tropes found in video games.

There are always exceptions, of course, and I understand that gifting every video game character a full-fledged developmental arc within the game would be a bit time-consuming. However, as a gamer whose favorite element of a game is the story and the characters, I would like to see more characters having their personalities be based on their thoughts rather than their genders.

What kind of common gender tropes are in your favorite games? Any examples of games that break the normal tropes?

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Healer Tropes

Double Jump Kris MiiIt’s another Monday, and how I wish I could just continue to submerge myself in video game worlds, like Breath of the Wild. There are so many characters to meet there, from all the named NPCs to those who have a more direct role in the story. Yet, even with how unique everyone seems, there still seems to be those who fall into tropes and cliched formulas…

205px-botw_mipha_artworkOn our journey throughout Hyrule in Breath of the Wild, we recently reached Zora’s Domain, learning a bit more of the Divine Beasts and the Zoras role in trying to fight against Calamity Ganon 100 years in the past. The adorable Zora that we saw in the trailers was Princess Mipha, one of the Champions who had controlled one of the Divine Beasts to aid Princess Zelda and Link. From the Zora elders, we’ve learned that Mipha had been a kind, gentle healer.

While Mipha looks adorable and I’m sure I’ll love her character whenever we fully meet her in the game, I was a little exasperated at her following the typical healer trope in video games. Healers are, generally, small, female, and cute. Their main personality trait is either shy or cheerful.

The past few Fire Emblem games followed the same formula with the younger sisters of the main character — Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn has Mist, Awakening has Lissa, and the Fates trio have Sakura and Elise. While I thought their characters were fine and I liked them, I feel as if the healer characters following these tropes aren’t very memorable.

I preferred the healers who could not only heal but also pack a punch, who may have had a gentle bedside manner when treating wounds but also weren’t shy in calling their teammates idiots for taking unnecessary risks.

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Like Mirabelle and Brady from Awakening, ones who had sass with their class and a few different facets to their personalities. Jakob from Fates was another I liked, one who was loyal to the main character but didn’t take any lip from any other character. Princess Peach (rather, Princess Toadstool as she was known back when) as the healer in Super Mario RPG was fantastic as well — she heard about the trouble in the kingdom, wouldn’t take no as an answer in joining the party, and kept everyone healed while also tossing bombs at their opponents.

The trope works in most cases, of course, otherwise it still wouldn’t be around today. But I would much rather have a healer who breaks the tropes, a healer who uses most of his/her powers healing his/her own wounds, a healer whose staff breaks not from using healing spells but from walloping enemies on the head.

Are there any overused character tropes in video games you think could use some switching up? Any favorite tropes that you want to see more of in games?

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Friday Favorites: Fire Emblem Classes

Double Jump Kris MiiHello everyone! Happy Friday!

This week’s Friday Favorites post is all about my favorite character classes from the Fire Emblem series. The Fire Emblem series shares many fantasy character classes with other RPGs. What kind of classes are your favorites?

Dancer/Singer.

Although not the most popular, I have found myself using the Dancer and Songstress classes more often with Awakening and Fates, probably because these classes aren’t as passive as they used to be with the ability to use weapons. They’re quite useful in allowing other units to move again and, if you raise up their levels enough, they can be formidable on their own.

Beast Units.

Beast units were those characters that are able to shapeshift into animals with a great deal of attack power and defense, if not as much magic or resistance stats. In Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, these were the laguz — cat, heron, raven, hawk, tiger. Taguel, the rabbit shifters, were in Awakening, while Fates introduced the Kitsune and Wolfskin classes for foxes and wolves respectively. They were definitely a new twist to the roster of classes for the series!

Sky Knight/Wyvern Lord.

Mounted units are always fun, and flying is even better! The varied weapons that the flying units are allowed to use — axes, tomes, bows, staves, lances — is as awesome as their range of movement.

Sniper.

Judging by my last Friday Favorites with items from the Legend of Zelda series, you may have guessed that the character classes that allow characters to use bows are some of my favorites. One-hit K.O.s and ranged attacks are a fantastic combo!

Master Ninja/Rogue.

Thieves, rogues, ninjas… The kinds of classes that allow one stealth and the ability to pick locks for doors and chests were always my favorite. They generally get high critical hit rates and decent luck stats, allowing them to miss being hit while killing their enemies with one strike.