Round Table: Living in a Pokémon World

A special discussion of the Pokémon franchise from three very different trainers.

By Nintendojo Staff. Posted 06/28/2012 10:00 3 Comments     ShareThis

Pokémon Adventures character group artwork masthead

The Pokémaniac by Joseph Nelson

Allow me to get nostalgic for a while. The Pokémon series was not the first game I ever played, but it was the first I ever lived. That’s not to say I went around collecting animals and making them fight each other (though I do have a ridiculous amount of pets; seriously I’ve lost count). What I mean is, even though I’ve played games all my life, it wasn’t until I was completing my Pokédex in Pokémon Blue that I actually had a game take over my life. I may have been only ten (and the same thing has happened since with the likes of Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Metroid Prime, and most recently, Draw Something), but something about exploring such a diverse world, with an abundance of bizarre faunae, with the aim of collecting and cataloguing them all and their evolutions made me feel a little like Charles Darwin (I was an odd child, don’t ask). I was whisked away into this magical land, and trying to explore it all was such an exciting prospect to me that I had to play it at all hours. I took my Game Boy to school, but everyone else in my class was more into the Trading Card Game and the cartoon. I had those too, but they would never measure up to the thing that started it all.

From the very first moment, when Professor Oak asks me what my name is, right up until the very last entry in the Pokédex is filled and you have to make your way to the Game Freak offices in Celadon City to get your Diploma, the magic is injected into every pixel. It’s something I can’t really explain, but even though you’re basically following a set path in terms of gameplay, you still have so much freedom in terms of how you play it. You can fiddle about with TMs and HMs, make your Pokémon learn and forget different moves, and of course, there will always be the certain members of your squad who end up being your favourites and the ones you use more in battle. Add to that the trading element, and the fact you have to trade in order to fully complete the game, and you have the reason why Pokémon is so special to so many people. Yes, there are games these days that try to do the same thing, but Pokémon was one of the first franchises that managed to perfectly execute the balance between exploration, co-operation, competition, and collection. You could play to either battle or collect, by yourself or with others, and forgoing any of these would not hinder your gaming experience.

Pokémon Red/Blue Screen Oak
Is it just me or does Professor Oak always look angry?

People often complain that the franchise has gone stale. In my opinion, it hasn’t. Sure, it may not have changed its premise much, but as the old adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The major shakeup of the series happened around Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, but for me it was a little bit jarring. The decisions to completely overhaul the Pokédex and dispose of the day and night system were too much of a jump in terms of features, and it was something that almost drove me away a little bit. So yes, as fervent a believer I am in the Church of Arceus, I too have had moments of doubt. This was a case of that which was not broke being fiddled with, which had bad results. By the time of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, these were doubts were allayed, as the new features that were so different were now seamlessly combined with those from Generation I, as well as with new features.

So while the series has had its moments that left me cringing a bit (I refer you to various iterations of Drifloon’s Pokédex entries), and its starring cast has expanded rapidly, the Pokémon series has managed to keep me entertained not only for its new features and gadgets, but also because it has remained true to its origins. The magic is still there, and while I’ll be the first to admit I’m probably over-romanticizing it a little, I will always be eager to leave my hometown to set off on a new Pokémon adventure, no matter how old I may be.

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3 Responses to “Round Table: Living in a Pokémon World”

  • 177 points
    AceIcarus says...

    Me i started with the first and second gen games but technical limitations kept me from doing much outside completeing the game. then came the 4th gen. with wifi i was able to enjoy the whole pokemon experince and platnum gave me great new trading options. with 5th gen the pokemon game was the best of all but i was unable to get into the greater pokemon comunity hopefuly i can find a group with black and white 2

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  • 102 points
    Hawthorn says...

    I find myself in an odd position on the series – on one hand, I love all generations across all platforms, I’m neutral, though my favorite is, by far, Sapphire/Ruby/Emerald.

    Diamond and Pearl represent a crossing-over, round, boring generation. Yes, it looks better, yes, it is advanced, yes, I am neutral, but Diamond and Pearl have more new Pokemon that evolve from previous Pokemon and one-part-of-a-line Pokemon then any actual new evolution lines.

    Red, Blue, and Yellow – the American releases of Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow – leave me in a conundrum, due to conditioning by modern technology.

    The Pokemon system back then was simpler with less Pokemon. At the same time, somehow, due to lack of color and lack of size of screen, performing – using the system is infinitely harder and more complex. It is easy in Black to use the system, yet I find it difficult to use it in Red.

    It’s a consequence of modern times.

    As a mostly-neutral Pokemon fan (I do recognize the existance of Generation III/IV/V, yet am also a fan of I/II) I look forward to the next generation of Pokemon.

    Though, as a final note, I began using the Pokemon series with Gold. It introduced me to Pokemon. Before Pokemon, I wasn’t in to video games at all. Now, I wonder how I made it by without them for nearly five/seven/eight years. Pokemon Gold will always have a soft spot in my heart – I still have the original cartridge of it, though the save file is not the one from all those years ago.

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    • 102 points
      Hawthorn says...

      Basically, I can’t side with any fan – some only say there’s 251, while others say they hate Red and Gold.

      I’ve always recognized each generation by what I call “the main game” of the “dominating color.”

      In Generation I, Red is the ‘main game.’

      In Generation II, Gold is the ‘main game.’

      In Generation III, Sapphire and Emerald are the ‘main game/s.’ I didn’t like FireRed and LeafGreen.

      In Generation IV, Diamond/HeartGold is the ‘main game.’ I still don’t like it, though.

      In Generation V, Black/Black 2 are the ‘main games.’

      Despite my personal preferences, it is impossible to deny every Pokemon game is fun.

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