Sunday, March 20, 2016

Big Cubes, and small setbacks.

I had been getting better at big cubes of late - not like actual better, just better for me. For 4x4x4, I'm under 2 minutes once in a while, and for 5x5x5 I'm under 5 minutes nearly half the time now. I finally felt like I could take another swing at my 7x7x7, because of those improvements. For 2x2 to 5x5 it takes me somewhere in the ballpark of 6 times whatever the WR is. (Here's a new WR on the 5x5x5 by Feliks Zemdegs.)

By that logic, I should be able to get my 7x7x7 time down to around 15-16 minutes - my best previous time is 37 minutes and change. Here's another one from Feliks, this time on the 7x7x7.

It's not even like I was sure that it was going to happen, but I just feel like I need to be in the right frame of mind to make progress and do well. The bigger the cube gets, it reduces the number of times you can practice it in a session, and I have to say that I haven't practiced 7x7x7 that often at all. Part of it is that I get nervous about pushing those little stickers around with my hands when I'm turning the cube, so maybe I'm going to have to think about finding a stickerless 7x7x7 at some point. I don't think I want one of the pink ones though, the colors aren't high contrast enough for me.  I'm sure that the other part of it is that my 7x7x7 is a V-Cube and some of the newer cubes have a better mechanism than the V-Cube does.

But, this morning, I was really ready to do it, and got 1:47 in AND POPPED OUT A CENTER PIECE! Frankly, I'm a little bit amazed that I was able to get it back into place without major disassembly.

I started typing this once, and thought that it was going to be about failure, but decided that I had to do it again. I just re-scrambled from the partial solve for several minutes, took a deep breath, and started the 7x7x7 again. It was 27:12.21. Certainly it wasn't 15 minutes, and I'm sure I burned a few minutes making sure layers were correctly aligned so that I didn't pop a center piece again like last time. Hey, it's 10 minutes better than my previous, so I'll take it.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Initial Pokkénalysis

So yesterday, Pokkén Tournament was released for the WiiU. We picked up our copy around dinnertime. My older son and I played a couple of matches before either of us knew what we were doing, and then my older son went through a bunch of the single player material to get an understanding of the battle system. Here's the character roster, with a few comments here and there where applicable.

  • Blaziken - Blaziken is a tall, powerful fire/fighting type Pokemon. He reminds me of a big furry rooster. He is able to break through an opponent's defenses with normal moves, but he has a few moves that cause recoil damage (damage to your own character) if they miss.
  • Braixen - Braixen is a fire type who looks like a fox carrying around a flaming cotton swab. Braixen has a lot of projectiles, but not as many as the next character.
  • Chandelure - Chandelure is a ghost/fire type that looks like a chandelier, and a lot of people's early choice in this game because of its ridiculous ability to churn out projectile after projectile. (My older son says he's "spammy".) Tekken games didn't involve projectiles very often, and some of the ones that did were very slow startup. It should prove confusing at first for most opponents in Pokkén to deal with all of these projectiles until more of the metagame is developed.
  • Charizard - A lot of people probably know Charizard because of his inclusion in Smash Bros. While he looks like a big orange dragon, so far his strength in Pokken has more to do with shutting down his opponent's attacks than being directly aggressive.
  • Garchomp - Garchomp is literally a land shark.
  • Gardevoir - We haven't played as this fairy/psychic character yet, but we can say that the computer is not that good at living up to the name. It wasn't guarding nearly enough of our attacks in the single player mode.
  • Gengar - Gengar has some creepy attacks. What do you expect? He's a ghost type.
  • Lucario - Another fan favorite from the Smash games series, Lucario seems well-balanced, but I only used him once.
  • Machamp - Machamp is a large four-armed fighting type. He only has a few ranged attacks, but is able to power through his opponent's ranged attacks easily to get in close where he can do more damage.
  • Mewtwo - Mewtwo needs unlocking first.
  • Pikachu - Pikachu is another popular choice in this game, both because of pure popularity and because he seems to genuinely be a solid character with a balanced moveset.
  • Pikachu Libre - At first I though this was a pretty silly choice, but my Pokémon knowledge is not quite as deep as my older son's. There are hundreds of Pokémon, and while Pikachu is rather popular, I wasn't sure why they had to build a second character variation, when it seemed like they could just have additional costumes for the characters to pick from. I mean, wasn't there Pikachu cosplay in Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire? Then, when you go and look it up, it turns out that Cosplay Pikachu is a different subspecies, and is only female.  The tip of the tail is black and heart-shaped, unlike a male Pikachu's pointy yellow-only tail, and a female Pikachu's yellow heart-shaped tail. My older son also reminded me that if they specifically wanted a luchador, in keeping with Tekken's inclusion of King, they could have picked the somewhat less popular Hawlucha. Pikachu Libre has a very strong (cheap?) "Double Team" move that makes it temporarily unhittable.
  • Sceptile - Sceptile is a grass type that looks like a tall lizard with a plant for a tail. We haven't quite figured out exactly what he's good at.
  • Shadow Mewtwo - Shadow Mewtwo is the character that you can unlock early with the amiibo card, but is also unlockable normally if you complete all of the Ferrum League. He's the boss of the game.
  • Suicune -Suicune, a dog-like creature with two tails, seems to have a lot of ranged moves which may prove difficult to get past.
  • Weavile - A dark/ice character, Weavile is fast and grumpy looking. Don't get clawed!

  • We haven't played everybody yet, but a few things seem pretty clear. The Tekken system of the buttons corresponding to limbs does not apply at all here. The only thing that seems to be the same as Tekken is the round fixed size arena and the sidestep and throw commands.

    We were worried that two-player was going to be somewhat choppy, because of the system having to render two instances of the game but we didn't really feel it.

    There are still a lot of other Pokémon in the game as support characters, but we don't have all of them unlocked yet, so maybe we will have to save that for another time. I'm sure that we will discover even more about the game after playing it for a while.

    Also - there's a Splatoon Splatfest today, so if you're not busy playing Pokkén, get out there and ink some stuff! (Don't let my older son catch you standing around at the spawn AFK, either!)

    Friday, March 18, 2016

    It's Pokkén Day! (But still too early.)

    My older kid is pretty excited for Pokkén Tournament, which comes out today for the WiiU. It's a fighting game, much in the style of Namco's Tekken, but using various Pokémon instead of Tekken's usual cast of martial artists. Unlike Street Fighter, which is played in a 2-D plane with a mostly fixed camera perspective, Tekken and Pokkén are usually played in a round arena and the camera swings around perpendicular to the characters, and sidestepping moves is an important defensive technique.

    He's certainly a lot more excited about this than about St. Patrick's day, which from his perspective seems to be about wardrobe infractions and green beer. By comparison, Pi Day seemed to have a lot more import, since we gathered around a computer, ate Key Lime Pie, and played quizzes on Sporcle.

    Sadly, he will have to wait until I get out of work today to play Pokkén, since I'm picking it up from my local Gamestop on the way home.  Preorder customers get an amiibo card that gets you the Shadow Mewtwo character available for use right away. (Presumably there's a complicated method to unlock him otherwise.)

    He's got the day off, so he may spend some of it playing The Legend of Zelda:Twilight Princess HD in the meantime.