Becoming the champion of the Pokémon League was never enough. This difficult feat is what every trainer strives for, but it’s not an ultimate goal; it never was. In each generation of the Pokémon series, defeating the Elite Four and taking your rightful place as top dog of the region is just opening the door to even more. But what else could there be to do? Sure, one could conquer the Battle Frontier or even EV train a Pokémon team to perfection. One can frolic in new areas, battle more trainers, trade with friends, and unlock secrets. That’s all just child’s play. In order to truly become the greatest Pokémon Master of all time, one has to take the challenge and catch every single Pokémon. This is what I have set out to do, and this is my chronicle.
Catching all of the Pokémon in the National Pokédex is one of the most grandiose and momentous tasks in any video game I can imagine. It’s only gotten harder by the generation as even more critters are introduced, with the current number standing at a whopping 649. That’s quite the far cry from the original 150 that players were convinced that they had to catch in the late 1990s. I’ve actually tried to undergo this task before and failed miserably.
The year was 2007, and I had a shiny new Pokémon Pearl Version in my hands. I was a starry-eyed 14-year-old with a plan. I was going to accumulate all 493 known Pokémon up to that point using everything at my disposal. I culled together my catalog of Game Boy Advance Poké-paks, and even a copy of Pokémon Colosseum. The Generation II Pokémon were few and far between at this point, and some had to be obtained through incredibly convoluted means. The only way to get Ho-oh and the Johto starters was to respectively complete Colosseum‘s story mode, and finish your Hoenn Dex in Emerald. Yikes. But I thought I could do it! I tried catching Pokémon for all of about two weeks before I threw my hands in the air and moved on.
And that’s not even all of them…
2011 came around, and with it another new generation. I thought of reliving my old dream with Pokémon White Version, but the task just seemed too daunting, too consuming for me to attempt. However, I did start tracking all of the legendary Pokémon, and by the end of Spring I had caught every non-event legendary from the first four generations. And then my catching went dormant once more.
But now here I stand, living proof that dreams never die. Dreams as big as catching every Pokémon don’t burn out, the flame just goes down and flickers, only to once again return as a fiery blaze of passion! At the beginning of August 2012, I begun this great quest again. This time the stakes are higher. I have set out to not only have every single Pokémon in the National Dex caught, but to have a living Pokédex. I shall have an instance of every species of Poké-kind within my PC boxes of my White Version! Why not just have all of them recorded? Why a living Dex? Because it’s better than just having a number by your trainer profile. It’s about commitment, dedication, and strength. It’s about having an awesome feeling and looking through a PC box and seeing greatness. Each professor throughout the years didn’t entrust me with a starter Pokémon to just fight and record numbers. They wanted me to grow as a trainer and as a person! And I will! The road has been tough these past months, but I am already more than halfway through this incredible goal.
Behold, the first box of my glorious collection!
I decided early on to tackle the Pokédex one number at a time, starting with Bulbasaur. Luckily, I own almost every single Pokémon video game ever released and have many friends who are also aspiring trainers, so I was able to get copies of starter Pokémon quite easily. Catching one Pokémon is the easy part. It’s getting every evolutionary line that’s the hassle. For creatures with multiple evolutions, I had to raise one up to the highest form, and then breed it once for each lower form! That means for Pokémon with three stages, I had to hatch not one but two eggs and evolve one of them. I did so much running up and down Skyarrow Bridge. So much running.
Legendary Pokémon also presented a challenge. I couldn’t simply track one of these guys down and throw a Quick Ball. I stocked up and captured legendaries from the Game Boy Advance games, original DS titles, and current Gen V games. I’ve used Pal Park and Poké Transfer more times than I can count, and by this point I’m growing tired of the fact that Game Freak insisted on making us play mini-games to transfer over Pokémon. Seriously, why not just allow a straight transfer like with a link trade?
Speaking of trading, I’ve done an awful lot of that as well. Pokémon that require trades to evolve are particularly annoying just because of the amount of time it takes to do so. I can put a level 1 Pokémon in front of my party against a level 60 and do the switch trick so it gets half the experience and have it evolve from a battle that lasts less than a minute. With the trade, I have to sit and watch Pokéballs bounce around in space for a few minutes, and then watch it return! I tried to knock out the guys that required trading early on so that I didn’t have to waste so much time on them later.
Almost there! But this doesn’t track living dex completion.
So, where does that leave me now? As of this writing, I have obtained 551 different Pokémon. However, I have only completed my living Pokédex up through the very beginning of Generation IV. I have an instance of every single Pokémon up until number 395, hurrah! Each subsequent box I fill gives me great of satisfaction knowing I’m that much closer to my ultimate goal.
I’m still working on completing the living Pokédex, and I intend to publish a full report of the experience once I’m finally finished. The release of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 looms over me as I slowly inch forward. There have been times when I’ve gotten sidetracked from my goal and not worked on it for a week or two since I began this journey. Will I be able to resist playing the new Pokémon games until I finish my Dex on White Version? Probably not. But I shall not give up completely. Never again. I’m taking the old Pokémon slogan to heart: Gotta Catch ‘Em All!