Friday, 25 July 2014

First Impressions: Pixlemon (Minecraft Mod Pack)

Well, what can I say? A merging between Pokémon and Minecraft? (I'll just let that sink in...)

But seriously, this mod is amazing. When it originally came out, some years ago, it only contained the original 151 Pokémon and ran an old version of Minecraft. Now (thanks to the tireless efforts of many modders), the mod contains 649 Pokémon (Kanto - Unova) and runs on Minecraft 1.64. And these Pokémon aren't small adaptations to existing mobs but full polygon's rendered (almost) perfectly both graphically and mechanically.

The reason I say almost, is that some of the Pokémon (especially after evolving) lose their colours and turn fully white. A way to fix this is just to exit the game and load it up again but it is annoying. Also, (I'm not sure if this is just an attempt at baby or younger Pokémon) but some of the Pokémon are smaller than other members of their species.

The game starts with you being introduced to the Pokémon world before you get to pick a starter from a choice of 15. These starters are from Kanto through to Unova and for the first time ever, you can pick any of them! You then set out into the world... and wish for some linearity. Or at least some potions to start with. I mean, seriously, getting out into the world and instantly losing your Pokémon in the first battle and being unable to heal it is annoying. One way to fix this is to farm some Magikarp, as they can't damage you due to only learning splash, but be careful not to battle one that's too high leveled as they can learn tackle. It would also be nice to start with some Pokéballs but, alas, it was not meant to be. I would recommend spawning in 64 Golden Apples, so that you don't have to bother with the Minecraft hunger side of the game for a little while, as well as 5 Potions so that you actually have a chance at surviving long enough to get to the Pokémon Centre.

Battling is also great but it has a few things that, if changed, would make it much better:
  1. Stop the camera spinning! Seriously, I know that it's done so as to simulate the battle sequences in the actual games, but due to it being on Minecraft and to such a scale it doesn't work. For example, the camera will occasionally spasm when it hits a tree or building or you will lose view of your Pokémon as they are knocked out of the camera's range.
  2. Attack animations would be nice. While it's great that the modders have added all the moves and stats to the Pokémon, it would be nice to see them properly battling. It wouldn't be too much of a problem but, due to the fact that the Pokémon actually roam the land, seeing your Pokémon getting flung away after a flamethrower or a scratch attack without any difference in animation breaks the immersion slightly.
Other than these issues, the battling mechanics are really well done. You have the usual menu, with the Fight, Items, Pokémon and Run buttons, as well as the sub menu's when you press these buttons. If you press fight you can choose a move, like in the main games, and then the opponent chooses a move as well before the attacks start. It's then that the dedication to the main series shows. This is because all the stat's and moves are there and in working order (including EV's and by the looks of things Natures and IV's as well. Woo!). It's all very impressive, really. As well as wild Pokémon, trainers roam the land and you can battle their Pokémon as well. Also, as a cool little extra, the wild Pokémon will also battle between each other.

Healing Pokémon is more annoying than it could be though. This is because it is quite hard to make Potions (you can only make basic Potions as well, everything else is found in bonus chests) and you don't start with any (unless you take my tip and spawn some in). So, the only way to heal is through getting to a Pokémon Centre (which are randomly generated) or by using a bed (which only heals at night). To heal your Pokémon, you have to right click on a Healer (yep, no Nurse Joy to help you this time). You can make a Healer but it is very expensive and can't be picked up again once placed (it just turns into an aluminium plate when mined with a pick axe. The Silk Touch enchantment has no effect on the item). For these reasons, I would recommend finding a Pokémon Centre as soon as possible and setting up base there, at least until you are a high enough level to go exploring.  

Then you've got catching Pokémon. This mechanic is where you see the Minecraft roots in the fact that you actually have to make the Pokéballs yourself! This, while great fun and brilliant for immersion, is very time consuming. The reason for this is that you have to find Apricorns (which grow on bushes around the world), cook them, get some iron ingots, make stone buttons, make disk's, make an anvil (this is a special Pixlemon anvil, not a Minecraft one), make a hammer, make lids and bases by hitting disks on an anvil and then put them all together. The actual material cost is: 3 Apricorns of various colours (makes three disks), a stone button (one stone block), 11 iron ingots (three to make three bases), 2 pieces of coal/7 wooden planks (to smelt the iron, 8 cobble stone (for a furnace), 4 wooden planks (for the crafting table, five wooden planks and two sticks (for the hammer) and two wooden planks (for the sticks). If you use all of the created lids and bases then you get three Pokéballs. However, the catch chances of the main series are also implemented in this game so make sure you stack up on some resources. One of the most annoying things that happened to me while playing the mod was finding that the three green Apricorns that I'd finally found, couldn't be used to make a Pokéball of any type without another colour of Apricorn as well. Luckily, I then found a pink Apricorn bush which can be used to make a Pokéball (specifically, the Love Ball). All Pokéballs have their in-game extra effects as well (for example, an Ultra Ball is better than a Pokéball and a Dusk Ball works especially well at night). 

Wait a second, I haven't actually talked about how you catch a Pokémon, have I? Well, you can either throw a Pokéball at the Pokémon, if you're feeling lucky (or if you have a Master Ball), by right clicking it or you can do it the normal way. By this, I mean by battling the Pokémon (you enter a battle by throwing your Pokémon at the opponent Pokémon by pressing 'R'. Press 'R' again if you want to return your Pokémon to their Pokéball as long as you haven't entered a battle). Once you have, eventually, caught a Pokémon, you will be able to cycle through it in your party and use it in battle. As I've touched on briefly, Pokémon can also level up and evolve, thereby increasing their stats, learning new moves and changing their physiques. You can check the stats in the inventory by clicking the Pokémon.

Well that's as far as I have gotten so far but it looks like held items, ride-able Pokémon (through fly and surf), gym battles, legendary Pokémon, the Pokédex and PvP among other things are in the game. Overall, I can't wait to play through this game more! Most of all though, besides the amazing achievement by the modders, it shows how good a Pokémon MMORPG would be! Get on it GAME FREAK!

PS: Satamer and I might be starting a competitive playthrough of the game on the YouTube channel. Comment what you think and be sure to watch it when it comes out! 

PPS: here is the link to the download page which, in turn, has links to the individual modders:

Goodbye for now, Harry

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