The above link goes to my first episode about this map, which goes public on April 2nd at 10:00 am EST. I played the demo version in 2017, and fell in love with what you had created back then. To be able to play this map in full is so much fun.
I understand why you made the Youtuber's Edition, but I am playing the original map with the story in full. I want the chance to see every detail, and fully absorb the work you and your team put into this. It's incredible how well you modeled this map off of the Nintendo games, but also gave it your own style.
There are many things that I appreciate, and I am going to bullet point them:
You designed Pokemon, rather than using ones from the Nintendo games. The only Pokemon I've seen that resembles the ones in the official games is Arceus, and you implemented it quite well into the story.
Particles. The way you use particle effects to show the different Pokemon abilities, like health absorption, appearing/disappearing, status effects, and other events, are lovely. I'd say more but, I'd spoil the story if I did.
Dialogue. These characters have impressive conversations, and so much depth in what they say! Their relationships, back stories, emotions and agendas/goals come through in their speech so well! I am very attached to each character. Like when Prof. Cedar refers to Timicin as "Timmy". It's obvious they've known each other for a long time. I really enjoy the dynamic between Kaylene and Prof. Cedar, as well. These two have a very interesting bond, one that's a mixture of conflict and unconditional love. The fact that you took the time to include that is really brilliant writing. As a writer, I'd have a blast working on a story with your team ;D
There are certain things about the details in the environment that I am still losing my socks over. Like the boulders behind the main character's house. The flowers, the playgrounds, the parks, the market carts, the construction equipment, etc etc etc... None of these things were directly necessary to the plot, but to create that atmosphere and make the story more lively, you added them in anyway. Thank you for doing that.
The challenges. My favorite thing about the official Pokemon games has always been the grind. I like being challenged, and having to be strategic. Being able to model my Pokemon's movesets to suit a particular strategy shows how much time you put into this. There are certain moves that many players hate, like the stat moves that they think aren't worth it because they don't deliver HP damage directly. To date, my favorite moveset for one of my favorite Pokemon, crobat, is fly, roost, toxic, and confuse ray. Go use this moveset in online competitive battles and you'll understand why I like it so much. Starting a battle with a couple of very damaging stat moves can set the tone, and then the odds are in your favor. Being able to do this with the Pokemon you designed, says a lot about the work you put in.
I also appreciate the fact that you created a vanilla map that looks modded but isn't modded. This is a fun and unique thing for me to have on my channel, because it pre-dates datapacks, and pre-dates the 1.9+ era of Minecraft. For me, and the general style of my channel, this is a new and exciting adventure
My only "criticism", if you can even call it a criticism, is that the way the NPC's turn around sharply to talk to the player are a bit creepy. Especially Timicin. I remember when I played the demo in the normal FOV, and being startled by how he suddenly turned around and was right in my face! It's hard to get fluid motion in Minecraft, and was probably harder in 1.8.8 than it would be these days, so I get why they do it, but goodness, it still creeps me out. I'm pretty sure that's not even fixable, and I wouldn't ask you to do more to this map after everything you've already done. But for future maps, maybe it is good to keep this in mind
OK I finally got around to playing it and actually (finally!!) finished it.
Review in spoilers (don't look unless you've played. I know I'm a few years late and nobody will probably ever read this but here we go)
Overall it's very impressive how completely and faithfully the pokemon battle system was recreated alongside a bunch of completely new never-before-seen pokemon and an original story inside an original region which fully shows Minecraft's capability for builds in three dimensions - something no regular pokemon game has ever managed to achieve (idk if sword and shield do, i haven't played them. Even then they were released only last year ). The builds were all fantastic and featured a wide variety of themes - from the sprawling cityscape of Monolith city to the cult-like arches of Palisade to the desert-theme of Lazinar city and the deep depths of Ursire chamber.
The music is also all amazing as well and always fits the situation they are used for.
I also found plenty of easter eggs (such as different YouTubers' heads being used for the NPC's - I spotted Logdotzip, DanTDM, Mumbo Jumbo, two Grians, and BDoubleO)
With the pokemon, I really liked how every new pokemon was completely unlike many regular pokemon and how some of them (like the starters) were designed to be like Minecraft mobs. They also had a great variety in type coverage - almost every pokemon (or their evolution) is dual-typed meaning it is pretty easy to get good type coverage.
Although it did kind of suck that krillbard/calyx/santrikos didn't learn any decent attacking moves until level 50 (was stuck with only water gun for like 20 or 30 levels).
FYI, my final team consisted of Santrikos, Gruntrot, Viginoro, Nymphador, Giltine and Terragon. Other pokemon I used included Specixel, Sodler, Sonfargio, Circigringler and Grapnel (who was way less powerful than the stats in the spreadsheet said he would be for some reason. Probably too many HP EV's from Provender [see below])
My biggest criticisms are mostly with the balancing.
Considering the amount of work that must've gone into creating this map, it's surprising that, in my opinion, that the game balancing was honestly horrible and sometimes frustrating (certain areas of the game peaked in difficulty while others were an absolute breeze).
Here's a rough outline of my experience:
- I played the YouTuber's edition, where the first required fight is against Kaylene who has some level 9 and 10 pokemon, but it's not clear that you're supposed to level up before fighting her because the first grass patch is off to the side where you could miss it if you're not looking.
- The first gym leader has six pokemon, most of them over level 20, which is honestly insane, considering you only have level 7-9 wild pokemon to grind on. I know the vs. seeker can be used to grind off of that trainer in Verdure Nature Reserve but he has a bunch of level 21's and even they can't be easily beaten. (I hate Trumps so much. Not just because of his name). Even on the YouTuber's edition (which has greatly increased XP) it took me ages to grind all my 'mons up to a high enough level to take on the gym leader - I hate to think what it must be like on the regular edition.
- Then my pokemon were completely overlevelled for the trainers in Route 16 and 15 - often twice their level. It was nice that things were finally super easy but considering how hard things were before it felt uneven.
- Plus, with the next FOUR - count them - FOUR gym leaders, my pokemon were always high enough level to take them on and I beat them all first try, as well as the other fights against Kaylene, Melissa and Jason. The only time I ever really needed to grind at all was whenever I caught a new pokemon and had to level it up to the rest of my team's level.
- Then, after the fifth gym leader, the Tempest Admin did beat me (mostly due to terrible confusion luck) but then when seeing what was beyond and coming up against Mathers, the Team Tempest leader... who had a level 75 legendary who outsped and one-shot all my team (who were in their 40's). Another huge surprise, so some grind was needed, so I grinded everyone up to level 60. It wasn't as bad this time because of this one trainer in Atramen town whose Provender gave over 12k experience per defeat. It was still annoying, but I managed to take it down (and the level 100 encounter who came back literally straight after for seemingly no reason). As a result, my team was all overlevelled against the last three gyms and I never had to grind again (not even for the pokemon league. By then their levels were almost catching up and the pokemon league was respectably difficult but I still beat it on the first try).
In honesty I liked the challenge of being forced to strategise against Mathers' giltine (It was why I caught Nymphador since I figured out he is double-weak to Fairy type, so Nymphador's Thunder Wave and Draining Kisses + Viginoro's Moonblast = Dead Giltine. Most regular pokemon games honestly aren't that difficult at all) but, like I said, while a lot of it was unbearably hard, a lot of it was too easy instead.
TLDR: Too much grinding needed to beat first gym leader and Giltine, little to none needed for anywhere else in the game.
I thought it was quite nice how some of the gym leaders were incorporated into it, particularly with the third gym leader, where you arrive in Atramen Town, then Team Tempest shows up and your mum gets kidnapped/killed/something, and then you're booted straight into fighting the third gym leader afterwards to "prove yourself" or something. (Note: When I say "some" I mean it, the sixth, seventh and eighth gym leaders had basically nothing to do with the story).
Also, there are only two rival battles against Kaylene in the whole map, and the second one is only just before the second gym leader. There possibly should have been a few more sprinkled out here and there, since that is what the rival is supposed to do. And maybe a few more against Melissa and Jason as well (not counting the fight against them at the beginning in the non-Youtuber's edition, there is only one for each of them).
I do feel like the story involving Team Tempest ended too quickly though - it would have been cool if Mathers had managed to retain control of the giltine and you had to get to Terragon before Team Tempest did in like a big race, then after there would be like a final showdown (kind of like in Gen V's Black and White with Zekrom and Reshiram). Or if Team Tempest got Terragon before you could, so instead you have to catch Arceus (why else would he keep appearing to the player?) and then beat Mathers using both Giltine and Terragon :D, but instead what REALLY happened was that Mathers lost the giltine when he came back with the level 100 one and then is never seen again. And after you get the opportunity to catch the wild Giltine, Melissa dies for no reason and Jason ends up in jail. (and Terragon is just found somewhere else in the Ursire Chamber with no story or context behind it). Kind of anti-climactic, if you ask me.
As a result there was basically no story in-between the seventh and eighth gym leaders and the pokemon league. It was just go there and fight them all.
TLDR: Team Tempest story arc is anti-climactic and not enough rival fights
Yes I spent way too much time criticising but this map was overall very fun and stayed true to the pokemon style of gameplay while trying new things that regular pokemon games don't often do. Plus the very fact that this was pulled off - Pokemon in vanilla Minecraft - no mods required! - in of itself is absolutely incredible, even if some minor balancing issues exist. Nothing is ever perfect, and this map is definitely worth playing. (Just make sure your PC is good and use Optifine)