Pokémon League Badges

In celebration of the new Pokémon games, I have set about recreating all 40 of the Pokémon League badges, from Kanto to Unova.

There are a few which are not as good as the rest, and for me, the Sinnoh row stands out as the best. I am releasing them under a non-commercial share-alike license, so if you want  a T-shirt of them, feel free to buy yourself one from Vistaprint or similar. The first one is free. I’m not publishing the SVGs yet, but they will follow. Here, have a look at the quality of the PNG coal badge. Here is the zephyr badge, and the original artwork.

My sister and I are really enjoying Pokémon Black and White! A blog post about that will follow soon.

Have a nice day. :)

Pokémon Synchronisation Server

Recently, I have gotten my sister all mixed up in that darkly addictive universe that the kids call “Pokeemans”, coincidentally a topic which I blog about alarmingly frequently. She is 29.

Now, we are playing Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen version at the same time and (hopefully) speed, allowing us to battle and trade at regular intervals. To co-ordinate this effort, I took it upon myself to put my fingers to keys and write some PHP.

Pokémon Synchronisation Server represents the sum of my efforts at this. It is specialised to us, but is still a landmark as the most complex thing I have achieved with PHP. Since the game will be over in the far future, and the page gone or transformed, here are some pictures of how it stands as I look at it today. Click an image to enlarge it.

The publicly viewable index page:

The edit page, after having entered the password:

It’s quite limited in some ways, and the interface is sloppy; I’ll admit to that. I would have liked to have an [Evolve] button and such, but this way was reasonably simple, does the job, and took me the shorter half of an evening. As such, I’m very happy with it.


Stupid Suggestions

I think Pokémon is great, for the most part. I just finished the league in HeartGold, with a play time of 30:49 over 3 weeks, but already, there is talk of the next installments in Japan: Black and White.

At first I deluded myself with how fresh they looked, and listened to the insidious talk that they would revolutionise the game. That will not happen, on reflection: Game Freak will stubbornly hold onto their precious metagame like their firstborn son… their onlyborn son, in fact.

“Digimon is a Pokémon rip-off” is the popular opinion. I always thought it was OK, because it was like Pokémon, but wasn’t Pokémon. That’s important; why can’t that holy grail of kids’ RPGs — the first and best monster game — be a little bit more Digimon, or a bit more… *sigh*…. Telefang? Digimon changed its whole plot every season, and sure, it’s rubbish now, but it really peaked around Season 3!

I guess they’re content with just swimming in their yen-filled, diamond-lined pool while women dressed as Lopunny dance on pedestals made of remastered precious materials.

Half Term and Pokémon HeartGold

Half term has arrived, which I find annoying. I have more work to do than during term time, more games to play, extra expectations that are not school or game related, and no professionally allocated time slots in which to make sure I do these things.

I am really impressed with HeartGold. I have long held that “Hearl” and “Diamong” were the worst Pokémon RPGs to date; soleless graphics, naff music, bad character design, unimaginative world map, too many bad features, and worst of all, no fun. The new Gold really corrects this, for the story is as immersing as ever it was, with the added dynamic of walking alongside a Pokémon both in-game and in real life, thanks to the free Pokéwalker pack-in.

Which brings me to the free Pokéwalker pack-in. It is a pedometer with a ludicrously high-resolution 3-tone screen. On it, you accumulate ‘watts’ by walking (or drumming, if you are cunning enough to attach it to your bass foot. [I accumulated “4000 steps” on a set of 8 songs]) which you can then spend on catching rare Pokémon on the device itself. There is no tamagotchi element, thank goodness. When you uplink it back to the DS after your epic 12000 step day, your Pokémon is awarded a level or two, you get to keep the items you found, and the Pokémon you caught. Your DS also tells you a story of what your walk was like, only with full colour and nice animations which is… cute (in the “don’t try anything cute” way).

Also, I’ve started playing Transcendence 1.0 which is amazing, really. These things do not help with what I probably should be doing. Ah well.

Dodgy Foreign Pokémon Cards

It was Leon’s surprise birthday party yesterday. I got him a premium Minecraft account, which he had kind of been expecting. I had to be there from 3.15pm til about 10.30pm, due to playing in the band… exhaustion set in. I was awoken this morning at 10.30 by my 2-year-old nephew coming up the stairs with Mum, as he shouted “Timewakeub uggle sdeeban! Time wake upp uggle sdeebannn!”

Hee hee.

Anyway, last summer, we went to Rhodes, an island off Greece. Once home to the Colossus, now home to many, many shops full of fake Pokémon, Yu-gi-oh, and Duel Masters TCG cards.

In the largest market shop in Lindos, there was a huge display of just such cards. Some of them look very genuine, and others look very fake. Below is a small portion of a vastly reduced image. I took one sneaky photo at 7 megapixels, and left. Click the preview for full-size image, which is 567kb:

Fake Pokémon and Yu-gi-oh cards

So: some are proper deck boxes (Unseen forces) with all the relevant copyrights printed on, and some are complete Malaysian mockups, with zero-punctuation blurbs on the back loosely based on some awful non-canonical league. There were also baskets full of booster packs. The prices are a fraction of what you would pay for the real thing in this country… €4 for a full deck box, as opposed to £8, for example.

Out of curiosity, and because of the price, I bought some as research:

  • The small deck boxes in the (lower middle) foreground of the small image above also contain little bottletop-like counters with a device for firing them at each other, which is quite cool. The cards themselves are terrible quality, and feel like the 150gsm card you could buy at Staples. They are laden with mistakes and fakeries.
  • The booster packs are missing cards usually, and one pack is more or less the same as the next. The cards are better quality.
  • The “official-esque” deck boxes feel very nearly right. The cards are almost genuine quality, but the serious giveaway is that they use the wrong energy icons and have occasional misspellings. I think one box lacked a card, too. Actually, now that I think about it, the decks inside were wrong for the box, didn’t contain a card guide (for obvious reasons), and had a conspicuous number of rare cards.

Overall, I absolutely don’t regret buying them. It was a really interesting excercise, the metal counters were quite original and unexpected, and the decks were playable. Mum and I played 2 or 3 games while we were staying there!