An ode. Sort of. Kind of. Maybe.
Lately, my post output has been flagging a bit, and I’ve found myself less inspired than I was earlier in October. Part of this is due to the fact that I’ve been slaving away at grad school applications (blech), but I must confess that it also has to do with the fact that I’ve been spending a lot of time playing Pokemon LeafGreen.
I got my copy of LeafGreen back in August, and I fiddled with it off and on, but since about mid-October I’ve gotten increasingly involved with playing my way through it. It really was a great move for Nintendo to develop and release an update of Red and Blue/Green – I love re-exploring the world of those games and getting to see all the little ways in which they’ve updated and/or changed things. Its downright addictive. And its also awesome since after I did everything in my copy of Blue, I found myself disappointed with the fact that there really was nothing left to do with the games – I had all 151 Pokemon (I got Mew at a special event), I had all the badges, I had defeated everyone (including the Elite Four about eleven times), and I’d leveled a lot of Pokemon past level seventy. I had loved Pokemon Blue, so it was pretty disappointing to find that it was basically over.
I got Pokemon Silver when it came out, but I didn’t enjoy playing it as much as I played Blue, and when someone stole it from me before I’d even cleared a third of the game, I was angry but not sad enough to put down the money for a used copy or something. After that, the newer games never managed to interest me, as the addition of more and more Pokemon made the games seem more and more daunting to complete, and less and less fun to play through. I was also in high school and worrying over getting into college at the point that Ruby and Sapphire surfaced. I’d stopped watching the show when I was fifteen.
And so my Pokemon exile began. I’d turn on my Gameboy Color once or twice a year to poke Blue and see if it still worked. But I just couldn’t get into it at all.
My interest didn’t re-surface until well into college, when one of my friends started playing an emulator version of one of the games. When we all went on fall break together, he spent the entire time sitting in the living room playing Pokemon! The primary opinion was that he was crazy. I agreed, but I remembered my experiences with playing Pokemon fondly enough that I ended up downloading the emulator version of Gold. Much later, I downloaded LeafGreen, which I hadn’t even known existed! I felt so excited as it downloaded – finally, I’d get to ‘re-play’ Blue, but with better graphics and everything! Awesome!
Months upon months later, I shelled out for a copy of the game itself. What a good decision! And it wasn’t even at all expensive, since I bought it about six years after the game first came out. And I re-appropriated a Gameboy Advance for myself from my younger sibling for $0. It is missing its battery cover, so you have to be careful to not accidentally shift the batteries at all (otherwise, it turns off), but nothing beats free!
I am now contemplating buying Pokemon Emerald. I’d really like to get HeartGold or SoulSilver, but I don’t want to have to go buy a DS (although the original DS can now be bought used for about $50). I’m feeling a bit leery, though, as Emerald ups the difficulty level by adding in so much new stuff that isn’t present in the older games and remakes of the older games. Like I said before, part of my waning interest in the Pokemon games stemmed from how complicated they started getting. I’m not a gamer at all; the kinds of video games I like are the one which don’t require a ton of thought since I like to relax when I play video games. I’ve got enough I have to do in my life, I don’t really want to worry about how to accomplish things in games, too. This is also why I own an SNES and have no interest in bothering with anything more recent – I love those point-and-shoot games! I just like to mow down zombies/werewolves/vampires/whatever and not have to do anything but that. This is also why I used to play Medal of Honor online all the time; the only point of it was to kill as many others as you could and avoid getting killed much yourself. No larger goals at all.
Anyway, the fact remains, though, that I have never enjoyed a video game as much as I’ve enjoyed the Pokemon games. They aren’t so simple that playing them is wholly mindless, so I have more fun with them than with the first-person shooter games that I prefer when I’m tired. At the same time, they aren’t so difficult that I find myself frequently frustrated while playing them. Are there tasks that do inspire frustration? Yes (the legendary Pokemon, the Safari Zone, etc.), but they are fairly limited in nature.
I think, too, that the combination of collecting Pokemon and fighting with them is more engaging than those games where one is trying to find the magical items and engage in combat with various characters, too. The evolution system really adds to the experience, along with the learning of different moves as one levels up their Pokemon; it encourages one to want to level up their Pokemon in order to see what new moves they get, and also to get their Pokemon to evolve. Magical items tend to be more static in nature than that.
Pokemon Red and Green/Blue have spawned a lot of spin-offs in addition to sequels, with games such as Pokemon Ranger, Pokemon Pinball, and Pokemon Trozei! for just a few examples. However, there is one spin-off that I would really love to see: a version wherein one plays as a member of Team Rocket. This idea first occurred to me when I was about eleven or twelve and playing my way through Blue. I even picked out a name! Pokemon Purple. I told my friends allll about it – I had it really planned out and everything. I wanted so badly to write Nintendo a letter to suggest it, but even back then I was never the kind of kid who thought you could write letters to companies saying, “I have this awesome idea!” and have anything actually materialize.
Of course, its pretty obvious why there is no Team Rocket version – given Pokemon’s target audience, I doubt it would go over hyper-well. I can envision parents going crazy because Pokemon is inspiring criminal behavior. I knew kids who weren’t allowed to watch the TV show or play the video or card games at all because their parents thought that Pokemon came from the same folks as Dungeons and Dragons did, and therefore would lead their kids into devil worship. Or something. Probably the real issue at hand was that the Pokemon evolved. GUYS, POKEMON WANTS YOU TO HATE GOD AND WORSHIP THE DEVIL! THEY EVOLVE!!!!
(I think that’ll have to become its own post one of these days.)
Anyway, here’s the obligatory point in this kind of post where I force you to see which Pokemon I have in my party at the moment. I finished off Team Rocket in Saffron City, and then beat Sabrina, a couple of days ago, and now have just been leveling up and catching new Pokemon. My Pokemon were all much lower levels than Sabrina’s, so now I’ve got a bit of work to do before I can challenge Koga in Fuchsia City, which in turn I want to get done so I can finally use Surf out of battle and go get Articuno on the Seafoam Islands.
- Gyarados, level 36
- Pikachu, level 36
- Vulpix, level 36
- Kingler, level 36
- Jynx, level 36
- Jigglypuff, level 37
I started out with Squirtle, but I finally switched it out for Kingler, since, quite frankly, Wartortle’s stats really weren’t very good. Kingler also can use a lot of HM’s, so its good to have in the line-up. Gyarados has ridiculously good stats, Jigglypuff is an HP monster, Vulpix is the only fire-type so far, and Jynx also has really good stats. I’m not thrilled about the Pikachu, but the electric-type options thus far are pretty bad – Voltorb is pretty limited, and although I evolved my Evee into a Jolteon, I really wish I’d opted for Flareon, as Jolteon’s attack set and stats are bad. But just a few more levels and I can evolve Pikachu into Raichu, which I’m dying to do (Vulpix has a few more levels before I commit to evolving it to Ninetails, but Vulpix has better stats than Pikachu does by a long-shot).
By the way, my favorite Pokemon is definitely Jigglypuff. This is mildly embarrassing to me, as they are so cute and are pink in color, not at all the kind of thing I normally feel comfortable expressing a like for. I mean, honestly, I wish I could just tell people that my favorite Pokemon was Groudon. That’d be a lot more bad-ass. Of course, if I insist on using a Jigglypuff the whole way through the game, that’s kind of bad-ass, too, since they aren’t really seen as a terribly good choice for a party choice past about the half-way point. I’m going to evolve it to Wigglytuff at level 44 when it learns Hyper Voice, since that’s the last good move it learns.
Ok. Now I’m either going to go back to playing LeafGreen… or I’m going to proofread my writing sample for my grad school apps. Decisions, decisions.