Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia Updated Hands-On: Putting Out Forest Fires

We check out the latest entry in the Pokemon family tree of games for the DS.

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add a new page to this storyPokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia is the second game in the latest spin-off from the decades-old Pokemon juggernaut. The Ranger games take an action-oriented approach to the classic "catch 'em all" Pokemon formula and cast you as a human out to keep the world safe with the aid of various critters. This time out, you'll find yourself in the Almia region, which offers an expansive landscape for you to explore. We had a chance to try out a playable demo at Nintendo's recent Media Summit and were pleased to see that the game is turning out to be a solid follow-up to its predecessor.

The playable demo dropped us into a mission that had us going to the Vien forest to help put out a forest fire and help the native Pokemon. The action played out in the standard third-person top-down view that's a staple of the Pokemon games. As in the previous DS games, the second screen contained a map and assorted useful information. The biggest tweak to the action is the refined and more-forgiving capture system using the touch screen. You're not penalized as harshly for lifting your stylus as you try to draw a circle around your target. You'll be able to continue your circling and capture your quarry even if you lift the stylus. Once you've captured your Pokemon, they'll follow you around. Some of the Pokemon you capture will offer you perks as you explore; for example, you can ride a Doduo or use a Blastoise to put out fires that block your way. Your Pokemon can also assist you in battle; for instance, you can use trigger Pokeassists, which let you tap any of the Pokemon in your posse for a one-time attack in battle. As always, a Pokemon's elemental affinity affects how useful it is against a particular foe--water attacks are more effective against grass, grass is more effective against water, and so on. The downside is that once you've tapped one of your critters for an assist, it leaves the party.

The visuals are on par with those in the original Pokemon Ranger game, albeit with what looks like a few more special effects here and there. The art style sticks with the bright, moderately detailed look of its predecessor. The assorted Pokemon look sharp and have distinct personalities, and their special abilities are nicely showcased as you play.

The audio provides a solid complement to the action and features a comfortable mix of familiar effects for the Pokemon and their special abilities. In addition, you can expect bouncy tunes to accompany your helpful actions.

From what we've seen so far, Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia should please Pokemon fans. The addition of the Pokemon from Diamond and Pearl to the menagerie and the refined controls keep the gameplay solid. Pokemon Ranger: Shadows of Almia is slated to ship this November for the DS.

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MAILER_DAEMON

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[QUOTE="JodyR"]

With what Dracula mentioned, how can we notify you all if we primarily communicate through the forums and private messages? I was originally told that they would be down temporarily for a moment or two, and that's typically really fast. I communicated this in a thread in this board yesterday. However, knowing that they would take it down for 3 hours wasn't mentioned until around 4ish yesterday and by then it was already taken down.

I think the best solution for times like these is to have a moderation email distribution list. That has been a requested item for almost 2 years now. However, maybe this circumstance that happened yesterday will escalate the original request.

[/QUOTE]I think part of the problem is that the devs have gone completely silent. Teivan or Vince would always update us on what was going on not even a year ago, but now we have to hope that you guys get told and post in here about it. :? Why did the devs stop posting?
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caddy

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Yeah, everything apart from the remaining glitched reports seems to be working fine now. Although, it would be very handy to get the official word on this to save us guessing. *Hint Hint* :wink:

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cell_dweller

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cell_dweller  Moderator

Email list would be great. I check my email all the time. On topic, there are a few of the bugged reports still in the queue, but I just handled like 4 moderations, and they all seemed fine.

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caddy

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[QUOTE="JodyR"]

I think the best solution for times like these is to have a moderation email distribution list. That has been a requested item for almost 2 years now. However, maybe this circumstance that happened yesterday will escalate the original request.

[/QUOTE]

Yup, that would be pretty handy for situations like yesterday where are common mode of communication (this site) is out of action.

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solidruss

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[QUOTE="JodyR"]

I think the best solution for times like these is to have a moderation email distribution list. That has been a requested item for almost 2 years now. However, maybe this circumstance that happened yesterday will escalate the original request.

[/QUOTE]

That would be fantastic!:)

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JodyR

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With what Dracula mentioned, how can we notify you all if we primarily communicate through the forums and private messages? I was originally told that they would be down temporarily for a moment or two, and that's typically really fast. I communicated this in a thread in this board yesterday. However, knowing that they would take it down for 3 hours wasn't mentioned until around 4ish yesterday and by then it was already taken down.

I think the best solution for times like these is to have a moderation email distribution list. That has been a requested item for almost 2 years now. However, maybe this circumstance that happened yesterday will escalate the original request.

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Dracula68

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Some things were taken down to try and fix the site like forums, user videos, polls, pm's, user images, etc. It was supposed to be for 2-3 hours but since I wasn't here last night not sure how long it actually was.

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GabuEx

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[QUOTE="daqua_99"]

What I'm leading to is that within the next year or so they are going to knock down the store or move the store. The financial thought for them is that 'it's going to be replaced, so lets just do a quick and cheap repair to let it last until it does'. I'm not saying that's what they are doing here, but if the forum system is going to be upgraded in the next few months then I can understand the reasoning behind the decisions recently to try and make the existing 'make do' until it does. This is me assuming that the forums will eventually change to meet the rest of the site.

[/QUOTE]

Well, if they have a big upgrade planned, then all they really have to do to avoid breaking things is to just do absolutely nothing whatsoever to the public side of things and keep all of their changes local. :P I mean, that's probably the worst part: I don't know what we're gaining from all of these broken features. Things get broken, but no one seems to have any clue what for. Without explanation, it feels as if things just randomly fall apart for no reason whatsoever.

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daqua_99

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[QUOTE="GabuEx"]

I'm not so sure about that. At Microsoft, we have very stringent quality gates that have to be passed before we make public anything we've developed locally, in order to ensure that nothing we've done has broken any other functionality. I've been to a number of other sites that involve features similar to what we get here at GameSpot, and I've never seen anything on the same scale as what I've seen at GameSpot. The glitchy moderation reports are just one piece of the pie; the other things are completely visible to anyone on the site.

After the complete meltdown that took up the bulk of today, I'm no longer convinced that it's something that couldn't be theoretically preventable. Things just seem to break way too much, and not only that, things seem to keep breaking, with the exact same errors making themselves manifest again and again. The repetition of broken features after they get fixed the first time is a big part of what makes me feel this way.

[/QUOTE]

You know, this place seems a lot like where I work, Coles. They replaced a brilliant-working fruit wrapper because it was 7 years old with a new one which is more dangerous and less workable. They spent $5000 on an ice machine that our department uses as a drink cooler. Our airconditioning keeps breaking down every two months after being fixed.

What I'm leading to is that within the next year or so they are going to knock down the store or move the store. The financial thought for them is that 'it's going to be replaced, so lets just do a quick and cheap repair to let it last until it does'. I'm not saying that's what they are doing here, but if the forum system is going to be upgraded in the next few months then I can understand the reasoning behind the decisions recently to try and make the existing 'make do' until it does. This is me assuming that the forums will eventually change to meet the rest of the site.

PS - As with my work, I don't necessarily agree with the end result of this financial philosophy, but I do understand the reasoning behind it

[QUOTE="GabuEx"]

I'm not saying that they're not doing their best, but a group of people doing their best with rigorous procedures in place to avoid regressions, as well as with adequate resources to ensure their application (both financial and human-based), will inevitably do better than a group of people doing their best with nothing of the sort.

[/QUOTE] Oh I 100% agree there
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GabuEx

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[QUOTE="daqua_99"]

I'd say that it probibally happens anywhere. It's just that we are mods that we find out about it.

[/quote]

I'm not so sure about that. At Microsoft, we have very stringent quality gates that have to be passed before we make public anything we've developed locally, in order to ensure that nothing we've done has broken any other functionality. I've been to a number of other sites that involve features similar to what we get here at GameSpot, and I've never seen anything on the same scale as what I've seen at GameSpot. The glitchy moderation reports are just one piece of the pie; the other things are completely visible to anyone on the site.

After the complete meltdown that took up the bulk of today, I'm no longer convinced that it's something that couldn't be theoretically preventable. Things just seem to break way too much, and not only that, things seem to keep breaking, with the exact same errors making themselves manifest again and again. The repetition of broken features after they get fixed the first time is a big part of what makes me feel this way.

[QUOTE="daqua_99"]

I reckon that it is bad that it does crash like this, but I think they are doing their best. Aren't they supposed to be working on forum upgrades to make it look like the rest of the site ... maybe they would fix some of these problems.

[/QUOTE]

I'm not saying that they're not doing their best, but a group of people doing their best with rigorous procedures in place to avoid regressions, as well as with adequate resources to ensure their application (both financial and human-based), will inevitably do better than a group of people doing their best with nothing of the sort.

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daqua_99

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[QUOTE="GabuEx"][QUOTE="solidruss"]

That would be awesome, but I wouldn't hold my breath for explanations...

[/QUOTE]

Oh, I know, I'm not expecting anything. :P I just want to voice my stern displeasure with the way that things seem to be run in the developers' camp at GameSpot, as, quite frankly, I get the sense that there are some serious procedural issues in that corner. I have quite frankly never been to another site that has fundamental portions of it break with the frequency seen at GameSpot, and I think something really ought to be done about that. I really don't think it's good enough to just say "oops, looks like we broke it again, give us some time to have a fix ready" over and over.

Are the devs underpaid? Are there not enough of them? Something has to be amiss here.

[/QUOTE] I'd say that it probibally happens anywhere. It's just that we are mods that we find out about it.

I reckon that it is bad that it does crash like this, but I think they are doing their best. Aren't they supposed to be working on forum upgrades to make it look like the rest of the site ... maybe they would fix some of these problems.

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GabuEx

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[QUOTE="solidruss"]

That would be awesome, but I wouldn't hold my breath for explanations...

[/QUOTE]

Oh, I know, I'm not expecting anything. :P I just want to voice my stern displeasure with the way that things seem to be run in the developers' camp at GameSpot, as, quite frankly, I get the sense that there are some serious procedural issues in that corner. I have quite frankly never been to another site that has fundamental portions of it break with the frequency seen at GameSpot, and I think something really ought to be done about that. I really don't think it's good enough to just say "oops, looks like we broke it again, give us some time to have a fix ready" over and over.

Are the devs underpaid? Are there not enough of them? Something has to be amiss here.

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solidruss

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[QUOTE="GabuEx"]

What I'd really like is just a brief explanation of what happened and of what steps are being taken to ensure that it doesn't happen again in the future. It'd be fine and understandable if it was just a one-off thing, but the way that the same things seem to keep getting broken over and over makes me wonder if there couldn't be some better practices put into place to ensure that checkins don't break stuff.

[/QUOTE]

That would be awesome, but I wouldn't hold my breath for explanations... (I'm on your side on this, don't get me wrong)

I just want basic info... we all saw there was a problem earlier today... Tech decided to shut down the forums to get this thing fixed... let us know. That's all. Let us know. Don't have us log in only to find the forums are down.. and that's all. Sure we can go ahead and bother Admins via messaging to ask what's going on, but why not some kind of central messaging system? If we don't check it, then it's our fault, but honestly being in the dark as to what's going on is not only counter-productive, it's frustrating...

If it's still that hard, at least communicate with the mMods... we can then communicate to the other groups as to what to do, what to say, and how to act towards other users.

It may seem like a trivial thing, but it really isn't

*end rant*

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GabuEx

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[QUOTE="solidruss"]

I just moderated a few posts and it looks like things are working again.

I really really wish GameSpot Admins would communicate these things to us and not have us try to figure out these things on our own... It would take a few minutes for a mass Moderator PM, it's not hard, and it would save a lot of grief. If it actually is a hard thing to do, then why and how can we change that?

A PM or email to all of us telling us the forums will be down or something would be very helpful as well.

Anyways, from what I'm seeing things are back to normal, at least at first glance.

[/QUOTE]

What I'd really like is just a brief explanation of what happened and of what steps are being taken to ensure that it doesn't happen again in the future. It'd be fine and understandable if it was just a one-off thing, but the way that the same things seem to keep getting broken over and over makes me wonder if there couldn't be some better practices put into place to ensure that checkins don't break stuff.

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solidruss

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I just moderated a few posts and it looks like things are working again.

I really really wish GameSpot Admins would communicate these things to us and not have us try to figure out these things on our own... It would take a few minutes for a mass Moderator PM, it's not hard, and it would save a lot of grief. If it actually is a hard thing to do, then why and how can we change that?

A PM or email to all of us telling us the forums will be down or something would be very helpful as well.

Anyways, from what I'm seeing things are back to normal, at least at first glance.

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LOEAnubis

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[QUOTE="mjcowley"]

Quick! Ban it!

So forums are up after a little break. Any news if things are fixed?

[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE="SYS"]I cannot allow you to do that mjcowley. Insert suspension. User = mjcowley. Time = Indefinate. All better now. [/QUOTE]

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mjc

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mjc  Moderator

[QUOTE="LOEAnubis"][QUOTE="Jerell_rast"][QUOTE="GabuEx"]

And there appears to be a blank post from no one whatsoever immediately above this post.

[/QUOTE] Now THAT's scary:(.[/QUOTE]

Yeah, have you tried to quote it?

(QUOTE="SYS")(/QUOTE)

Looks like the system is trying to reply... HAL?

[/QUOTE]

Quick! Ban it!

So forums are up after a little break. Any news if things are fixed?

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LOEAnubis

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[QUOTE="Jerell_rast"][QUOTE="GabuEx"]

And there appears to be a blank post from no one whatsoever immediately above this post.

[/QUOTE] Now THAT's scary:(.[/QUOTE]

Yeah, have you tried to quote it?

(QUOTE="SYS")(/QUOTE)

Looks like the system is trying to reply... HAL?

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Jerell_rast

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[QUOTE="GabuEx"]

And there appears to be a blank post from no one whatsoever immediately above this post.

[/QUOTE] Now THAT's scary:(.
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GabuEx

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Also, in attempting to post this topic, when I first hit the submit button I got taken to a page saying "Invalid topic". I had to hit Back and try again two more times before I actually succeeded in posting it.

EDIT: And there appears to be a blank post from no one whatsoever immediately above this post.

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GabuEx

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First there was the moderation bug that re-surfaced, then there was the editing issue, and I've now received a PM from one of our iMods that I thought I should bring to attention:

[quote="nocoolnamejim"]

Just sending this to a couple of mods I know.I seem to have lost my ability to post. I write posts and submit them, and they don't show up.This may be a symptom of the problems identified on the iMod board, but if for some reason I seem...MIA...for a bit, this is my official mea culpa explanation.

[/quote]

In addition, video uploads seem to be broken, and in checking Jim's PM I noticed that the whole "blank PM" bug seems to be back again, as well as the thing where it shows you as having an unread PM in your inbox when you don't.

I've been here for about a year and a half now, and I have quite literally never seen the site as broken as it is right now. :?