The new update can’t salvage the sinking ship that is Pokemon Go

Feature, Game reviews, Uncategorized


Pokemon Go’s festive holiday title screen 

Despite its recent update, it is too little too late for Pokemon Go. There. I said it.

Yes the game now boasts new content, but month after month of pointless updates with no significant change/additions means Pokemon Go is simply no longer appealing to its core demographic.

Flashback to summer when generation 2 couldn’t possibly have come out soon enough. Fans were aching for Gold & Silver generation Pokemon at the peak of the game’s craze in July and August. September would’ve been ok even. But December? Your audience is too far gone Niantic. Catching the same Pokemon over and over has gotten incredibly stale in the months following the game’s release in July. Gotta Catch ‘Em All, but then what?

On December 7 Niantic released a new update with meaningful content. Only the update doesn’t give players generation 2, yet. Fans are instead treated to baby Pokemon—who really serve no purpose other than filling up a Pokedex and look cute—and for a limited time only, a novelty Santa hat-wearing Pikachu.

But what exactly are baby Pokemon? They are essentially devolved forms of existing creatures as introduced circa Pokemon Gold & Silver. For instance Elekid becomes Electabuzz and Pichu evolves into Pikachu. The update gifts us 7 of these baby Pokemon: Igglypuff, Magby, Elekid, Cleffa, Pichu, Smoochum and Togepi.

Here’s the catch: the new Pokemon need to be found as eggs at Pokestops and then hatched.

Although walking 5 or 10 km to hatch an egg in winter conditions doesn’t sound too appealing does it? Unless you live warm climate, of course.




One of the biggest additions is the game’s tracking system which now had been updated to show players exactly where Pokemon are located.

Oh, and players can now transfer multiple Pokemon to Dr. Willow. Convenient, but it’s nothing to get excited about, at least not in December.

Generation 2 Pokemon will rolled out over the upcoming months, so says Niantic. The hype surrounding the game’s latest update had many believing we would get the next generation of pocket monsters. No word on those legendaries either.

Trading remains non-existent. Battling between two players is still not possible. This is a far cry from the game Niantic displayed in their advertisement, an echo of promises never materialized.

After the Halloween and Thanksgiving celebration events, fans can expect or rather are demanding a Christmas update with increased XP and bonuses. It’s still early and an announcement should be coming sooner than later. Events like these won’t necessarily have fans rushing back to the app but its better than nothing.

Admittedly, Niantic’s Pokemon journey was bound to have a short shelf-life from the start. As fun as Pokemon Go was initially—and in warm weather—the game was clearly not made to last. A novel concept, it was truly a flash in the pan. Now that Pokemon Sun and Moon are out, those who still hang onto Pokemon Go are few and far between.

It was the app of summer 2016 hands down, no contest. Kids were playing, your neighbour and your grandma were seeking rare and elusive creatures like Dragonite and Lapras. Pokemon Go has gone from being a worldwide phenomenon to “you still play that game?” almost overnight.

Even if Niantic somehow manages to come up with a massive update it will still be too late. Understandably, Niantic operates under a small crew but it’s becoming harder and harder to defend the game.

At this point, it’s hard to believe anything could salvage the rapidly sinking ship that is Pokemon Go.


Costumed fans heroes of Toronto Expo





Over a period of four days from September 1-4, costumed heroes, Trekkies and families felt right at home at the latest edition of Fan Expo Toronto.

The fans were the real heroes of what was a supercharged weekend full of celebrities, Q & A sessions, photo-ops, merchandise booths and various activities. Despite its numerous celebrity guests, Fan Expo is all about the fans, communities and people who unite them.

Fan Expo Toronto is Canada’s answer to the American Comic-Con. Although Comic-Con Toronto exists, it has yet to reach the magnitude of Fan Expo. The comic-con scene is a phenomenon that has seen its stock rise in the last decade. It is no longer solely about comic books and instead expands to celebrity guests, movies, video games and offers an incredible outlet for exposure and product placement.



Overhead view.

Once subject to mockery and ridicule, such conventions now play host to thousands of fans every year. Attendees dress up as their favourite characters from colourful universes and established franchises dear to the hearts. Some call it dressing up, others know it as cosplay.

Fan Expo Toronto has grown to exponential proportions since it’s debut in 1995 as a humble comic book convention. The Metro Convention Centre has hosted the event since 1997 when it reached an estimated figures of 3800. Forward to 2016 where its attendance was projected to be over a hundred thousand [source: It’s a place where comic books, video games and anime juxtapose, and one where celebrities and fan meet.



Volunteers kept a vigilant eye on the merchandise

The main attractions of the weekend included comic book giant Stan Lee—Lee was a popular guest with previous announcements that the 2016 edition of Fan Expo Canada would be his last— Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame and Star Trek Enterprise Captain William Shatner among a plethora of other guests.


Here’s just a few things that happened at Fan Expo:
•93-year-old Stan Lee’s last ever Canadian appearance.

•Sony displayed its new virtual reality headset.

•Eb Games held a Q & A and autograph session with former WWE/WCW Goldberg.

•Various panels were held with celebrity guests such as Mark Hamill and cast of Star Trek.

•Gamers got a taste of upcoming video games before their release in specific booths.

•Artists performed sketches and sold art for a fee.

•An abundance of merchants sold everything from comic books to character-themed weapons, Pokemon plush, mangas and much more.

•People in attendance could touch a rock that had been on the moon at the Royal Ontario Museum booth.

•Justin Trudeau was immortalized as a comic book character.

•Countless pictures were taken with various cosplayers, a vintage Batmobile and a giant Pikachu.

The festivities weren’t limited to what happening in the Convention Center, however. The Fan Expo also held events outside the venue such as a retro 90s after-party at the Orchid Nightclub and a Pokemon Go Lure party near the south building main entrance.




The event didn’t quite go without flaws, however. Maybe, just maybe, Fan Expo Toronto wasn’t prepared to host this many fans. Delays and confusion were a recurring theme at the Metro Convention Centre leading to criticism throughout the four day-long event. Attendees turned to social media to voice discontent over last-minute detail changes, scheduling conflicts and cuts.

The Stan Lee merchandise table, for instance, was a classic example disorganization and lack of communication. The booth was swamped with autograph-seekers who were met with apprehension from Fan Expo volunteers as they had the daunting task of maintaining order and safety. Some patient fans were turned away and told to come back the next day. Others were asked, less than kindly, to buy tickets elsewhere and move away from the fire safety zone. To its credit, the Fan Expo twitter account was very active and did its best to solve problems.

Fan Expo Toronto 2016 put forth a celebration of fandom that spread across thousands of smiles, young and old, seasoned fans and newbies. The event is truly an enduring testimony of pop-culture’s long and ever lasting appeal.

We can’t wait to see what the 2017 edition will bring.



Worthy companion piece to Pokken Tournament

Game reviews, Uncategorized



The Pokken Tournament Pro Pad in all it’s glory.

When it comes to playing Pokken Tournament, this is the controller I like best. I’ve played with the Gamepad and pro-controller as well, but the Pro Pad is the clear winner. It’s vintage arcade-style made for arcade games and in that sense, I’m not blown away but it works quite well.

The D-Pad leans in deep and nicely. The buttons are big, thick and highly responsive. I like the big L and R buttons on top of the controller however it’s taking some getting used to the LZ and RZ being on the front. It has a very simple design which works to it’s advantage overall.

As far as the feel, it’s light, comfortable and a nice size. A little bigger than l expected but a good size nonetheless, it feels sleek for an arcade controller.

In my opinion, because of the materials, it feels more like a Playstation controller than anything Nintendo-related. It’s not a bad thing, just observation.

The cord is not all that long. My TV is fairly close to my couch but because my Wii U console is on a higher standings surface, I have to bring it to the ground. Otherwise the wire dangles in front of the TV which is inconvenient.

If you’re buying you should know what you’re getting. It’s an effective controller that makes the game better in multiplayer mode. Of course, it all comes down to preference in controllers. This is my controller of choice for Pokken Tournament and if you really enjoy the game you should invest the extra $25 for the controller. Just note that buying more than one of these is pointless as multiplayer is two-player only and requires one player to use the Gamepad. 4/5 stars.



Close up :classic arcade-style controller

Nintendo uses smash hit, it’s super effective!

Game reviews, Uncategorized


Pokken Tournament, Bandai Namco-Nintendo, Wii U, 2016.

It’s finally here.

There’s been a lot of talk about Pokken Tournament ever since it hit the arcades in Japan in summer of 2015. From trailers and available footage, the game looked like what is essentially a supercharged version of Tekken (I always thought the name of the game was a play on Tekken Tag Tournament).

This time the player fights as Pokemons in an arcade style instead of the traditional turn based-approach that’s been a mainstay of the video game series. Nintendo announced a console version would be released on the Wii U in 2016 and at last, it has arrived. Pokemaniacs who have been can now rejoice as they put their hands on a copy for the Wii U.

Let me start by saying how incredibly gorgeous this game looks with it’s stunning graphics. The visuals are magnificent for the Wii U. The environments are and attacks look splendid. The cartoony-style graphics work like a charm on the Wii U once more. The cut scenes and mega attacks look splendid.

The controls are very fluid and easy to master. As is usual per fighting games, there are different combinations you can learn. Each Pokemon has it’s own set of moves that makes it unique. That’s why it’s fun to play with different Pokemons because no two pocket-monsters have the same moveset. For instance Pikachu and Pikachu libre are much more different than you might think. Pokemons like Gengar, Machamp and Chandelure all have their quirks that make them a blast to control for different reasons.

The gamepad works pretty good and has the added benefit of the screen but l feel Pokken Tournament is best experienced with a pro-controller or the game’s arcade-style controller. I’m very partial to my pro-controller for a lot of games, but since Pokken Tournament is an arcade game, the exclusive controller is the simpler and brings the most fun. It’s quite comfortable and comes with a super long cord. Please note that the controller won’t work with other Wii U game (I tried).


Pokken Tournament controller Pro-Pad boxed.


A closer look at the game’s exclusive controller.

In Ferum league you try to earn the championship as you go around fighting in an open-world, trying level-up your squad as you do so. This story mode provides a few hours of solid entertainment.

There are 16 total Pokemons to play with:

Blaziken, Braixen, Chandelure, Charizard, Garchomp, Gardevoir, Gengar, Lucario, Machamp, Mewto, Pikachu, Pikachu Libre, Sceptile, Shadow Mewto, Suicune and Weavile.

The Amiibo card included with the game unlocks Shadow Mewto.


Shadow Mewto in all it’s glory.

Then you have 30 “assist” Pokemon who can be used at any point during combat as aides to help you. Interestingly, the assist Pokemons come in groups of two. They are:
Snivy and Lapras, Emolga and Fennekin, Frogadier and Evee, Jirachi and Whimsicott Mismagius and Ninetales, Farfetch’d and Electrode, Togekiss and Rotom, Dragonite and Victini, Croagunk and Silveon, Parichisu and Magikarp, Cubone and Diglett, Magneton and Quagsire, Espeon, Yveltial and Latios, Rashiram and Cressilia.

I feel Nintendo missed an opportunity to make Pokken Tournament one of it’s best titles in a long time. It’s a great game, make no mistake, but a few additions would have elevated it and cemented it’s status among gamers.

Firstly, multiplayer only supports two players at a time which is disappointing for those of us hoping for a similar experience to Super Smash Bros. A four player all-out Poke-fest war would have been a dream. I understand that it would have been difficult, but l don’t think it would have been impossible. Multiplayer mode also lowers the screen rate from 60 frames-per-second to 30 fps, a significant drop when it comes to visuals.

Note that it also necessitates one player using the Wii U’s gamepad. As it stands, multiplayer is tons of fun and will no doubt offer countless hours of one-on-one fighting. It’s still hard for me to shake off the feeling that four-player multiplayer would have brought this game to a whole new level.

The comparisons to Tekken ring true but Pokken Tournament takes further steps. It takes a great fighting game and concept and expands on it. It has quickly become one of my favourite Wii U and Pokemon game. If you own a Wii U and love Pokemon or fighting games, I highly recommend you give it a try. Other than multiplayer being only two player, the game hits the spot in every possible way. I was pleasantly blown away! 9/10 stars.