Pokemon is Awesome

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.

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23 Responses to Pokemon is Awesome

  1. chikorita157 says:

    If you can tell by my username, I was a big Pokemon Fan when it first started with the very first games. Pokemon is what got me into Anime and it continued ever since.

    Even though I don’t really watch the anime anymore, I still play the games and enjoy competitive battling with other people.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I used to operate under the username ‘lunar_jigglypuff’ about four hundred years ago and elsewhere on the inter-tubery. My account got hacked, it was such a massive bummer, I loved that username.

      When I played Silver, I selected Chikorita, which was honestly pretty strange since I like water-type Pokemon best out of the types you can start with.

      I would love battling other people, but I don’t know anyone who has the games any more, nor am I willing to get the DS and do online battling. Ah well.

  2. Baka-Raptor says:

    Pokemon was my starter anime, in sense. It didn’t lead me directly into other anime, but it made me curious about checking some other ones out when I saw commercials. The first eps I saw were from the tournament. It worked out well, since I’ll watch anything in tournament format.

    I played Blue on an emulator after watching a lot of the anime. It’s a cool game, and a great concept, but it’s far from my best gaming experience. When you’re going through certain areas/gyms, and you have a good type matchup for that place, you exploit the hell out of it. I remember blasting through the fire gym with my blastoise. It’s not really fun when you can get past an area by using the same attacks over and over again.

    I tried playing Silver, but all the unfamiliar pokemon turned me off. Haven’t payed much attention to pokemon since.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I did like the newer Pokemon in Gold/Silver, but the new Pokemon in the later games were a turn-off to me. It just seemed like with each successive addition that the little creatures got less and less inspired. And now there’s something like 600 of them… geez, 600? I’ve really gotta catch that many of the little fuckers?

  3. nazarielle says:

    Oh man I loved Red & Blue. I forget whether I completed the full 151 Pokemon on my Red or Blue, but I had both and two Game Boys in order to trade between my games and get all 151. I haxT to get Mew, cuz I was too lazy/scared/young to go to any special event and get it. But I played those two to death. I never ended up playing the Emerald and Ruby and Sapphire or whatever the GBA ones were, but I did play Gold & Silver a bit. Never really got too much into them though. I guess, like you I felt like it was just too much to try to do it all over again and then add in another 100 more Pokemon to get.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I had this little sticker book in which I could keep track of which ones I’d caught and which ones I still needed. I was so excited when I completed it, although there was no sticker for Mew.

      My approach in playing now is a lot different than when I was younger. I honestly don’t really care if I complete the Pokedex, since there’s just too many and I don’t know anyone I can trade with for version exclusives. I try to catch all the ones in the different areas on the game as I enter them, but I’m more concerned with getting the ones I like and with just beating all the other trainers, getting badges, and doing things like kicking Team Rocket’s butt.

  4. Shance says:

    I loved Crystal more than any other game, because it introduced a very interesting and formidable opponent in the form of the trainer in the Red/Blue/Yellow series, which is the trainer that simply goes by the name “Red”. I would do level grinding for my Pokemon, study Red’s attack patterns and tactics for his Pokemon, and I could do it a million times because he’s that awesome.

    It’s good to know that a lot of people still find Pokemon awesome despite not being in the target age demographic.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I borrowed Crystal from Blockbuster when it came out since I’d heard you could select a female character when playing, which was pretty exciting to me. I liked the improved graphics on it versus Silver, and I just thought it was a superior version to Gold and Silver overall, but not enough to plunk down the $40 or so which it cost.

      Red also appeared in Gold and Silver. He was a more interesting opponent than Gary Oak/Blue, or, as I named him, Douchefag.

  5. 2DT says:

    I never watched Pokemon or played it in any way, shape or form, so posts like these are interesting for me. It’s like a great rallying point for everyone in western fandom.

    • Yumeka says:

      In that case, have you ever considered playing one of the games one day, just to see why such a variety of anime fans love them? =P Even just for ten minutes…

      • 2DT says:

        But I can’t stand video games. 😉 Ten minutes is probably about all you could force me to do before I just HAVE to get up and do something else. Well, we’ll see– hand me a DS with a cartridge in it and I’ll try it, at least.

      • adaywithoutme says:

        Honestly, I don’t like most video games, but I do like the Pokemon games.

        If you feel like failing to be a law-abiding citizen, you can torrent the emulator versions just to try them out and not have to shell anything out.

  6. Yumeka says:

    Great post~ I always love reading posts about fellow fans whose hearts were touched by Pokemon ^^

    I’m sure you probably know that I’m a huge Pokemon fan. I never once lost interest in the games since I first played Red in 1999, and since then I’ve been buying all the new main series games on their U.S. release dates (though for Pearl and Black, I also bought the Japanese versions).

    I know all the new stuff that’s been added in the GBA and DS games can be intimidating, but I would have to disagree with you and say that I find them much more fun =D (coming from someone who’s played all of them). Since you’ve already played the 1st and 2nd generation games, the new stuff in Emerald shouldn’t be too ridiculously hard for you to get used to compared to someone with no Pokemon playing experience jumping right into it. And if you decide to get a DS and get into those games, you can not only transfer your Emerald pokemon into them, you can battle/trade with fellow fans like me online ^_^ The online capabilities are one of the best things about the DS games.

    And a Team Rocket spin-off game would be awesome too. They were always my favorite characters in the anime (though Black and White have some interesting villains too).

    • adaywithoutme says:

      At this point, I am willing to try Emerald, although I’m trying to hold off on buying it until I’ve got a better source of income than I do at the moment. I’m sure I’m going to cave on getting the DS at some point if only so that I can play HeartGold or SoulSilver, as I’m dying to. This way, I could also kick my cousins’ butts since they are the only people I know who play Pokemon, but they live on the other side of the country. Haha, and maybe yours, too.

      I’m interested in Black and White if only because of the seasons feature. Changing seasons! So cool! But it’ll probably be a very long while before I even think of getting one of them, even considering the fact that the American release isn’t slated to hit the stores until sometime next spring.

  7. Shinmaru says:

    I remember when Pokemon came out when I was in middle school (fuck, old man moment, let me recover real quick), and a few special friends of mine had the game … whereas I didn’t because I didn’t have a Game Boy, haha. I got so desperate to try the game out that I paid one of my friends to let me play it for a weekend. (Yeah, I was dumb LOL)

    Gold/Silver were my big Pokemon games since I actually had a Game Boy Color when they came out. Never did beat ’em, though, since I am notoriously bad at completing games … but I’ve been trying to rectify that lately after getting Pokemon HeartGold. (I’ve got seven out of eight Kanto badges. Just need to beat Gary (SORRY BLUE LOL) and level grind like mad so that Ash (WAIT RED LOL) doesn’t beat the fuck out of me. All of my Pokemon are at Lv. 50 and above right now, and he could still probably kill me. Damn you, Red. 😦

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I got a Pokemon Blue and a Gameboy Color bundle for my eleventh birthday. They had a special at the store, I saw it, and I’d been watching the show for a little while, and I told my parents that that was all that I wanted for my birthday. I was so freaking excited about it!

      Uwa, I want HeartGold! But, like I said, I don’t have a DS, lame. I’ve got six of the eight Kanto badges in LeafGreen now, though; my Pokemon are all in the low 40’s level-wise. I just finally got to evolve my Pikachu and Vulpix which made their stats about eighty times better than they were (fucking Pikachu had such shitty defensive stats). My rival has the best name ever – D.F., short for Douchefag. I am sooooo mature.

      I have now attempted to catch Articuno three times and failed miserably each time, shutting off the entire system as I have bitterly bitched out the damn thing. Fucking legendary birds, ugh.

      • Shinmaru says:

        Haha, I named my rival FUCKASS (yes, in all caps, that’s how I much I hate the bastard), so I’m as mature as you.

        Catching the legendaries is really easy in HeartGold because like half the Pokemon have these natural effects that cause paralysis/sleep/whatever if they’re physically attacked, so it’s easy to inflict status effects on the Pokemon you want to get. There are also various special Poke Balls that get stronger under certain conditions (my favorite are the Dusk Balls — strongest at night time).

        Catching legendaries might be a bit TOO easy now, haha. I remember that trying to get Ho-Oh in the original Gold was like trying to fight Moby-Dick; this time, I still had to reset five times, but it’s because I kept accidentally killing Ho-Oh. >_>;

      • adaywithoutme says:

        I’m excited to think of new and wonderful names for rivals in upcoming games. I’m thinking I may go with Dipshit. I would like to use Fartface, but that’s too long, unfortunately.

        Yeah, that’s the problem! The damn thing faints so fucking easily, but at the same time it just won’t stay in the freaking Ultra Ball even when its HP is about one or two. And Sing and Lovely Kiss just won’t work on it. But I’m bringing a Weepinbell and a Snorlax next time, gonna try putting it in la-la land using Yawn or Sleeppowder, hope it works…. Paralysis didn’t help at all.

  8. glothelegend says:

    First of all, the Red Version is the best, and the greatest pokemon to ever have in any lineup is Clefable, because it can learn FUCKING EVERYTHING. My Clefable would know shit like Thunderbolt, Bubblebeam, Mega Drain, Swift, Body Slam, Mama Said Knock You Out Punch, Blast-fucker…..the list goes on, Clefable kicks ass.

    Besides that, Blastoise rules the planet. Of course, I would rename all of my pokemon. Blastoise was Torlaps, Clefable was Smee-Smack (what a fucking retarded name, I know, but at the same time, an awesome name). I got Yellow version for a present at a time, and all I can say is thank God I didn’t spend money on it, it was pretty much exactly like the Red, except worse.

    I can’t remember which game I got a mew in, it might have been both somehow, but I did it. God I was great.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Wigglytuff and Clefable are pretty comparable in terms of both stats and learning abilities. I had a Jigglypuff that I refused to evolve which knew Blizzard, among other things. Obviously I should’ve just evolved it, but I didn’t really like Wigglytuff, so I didn’t.

      I rename most of my Pokemon, but I hate how you can’t change the name of Pokemon you get in trades, so you’re stuck with stupid nicknames for them like Tangely or Zynx. I named my Kingler ‘Rangoon’ as in crab rangoon. My Jigglypuff is ‘Doughnut’. The other ones don’t really have great names (my Raichu is ‘Spade’), but I can’t come up with anything better right now.

      Other nicknames:

      Venonant: Uggles

      Uh, yeah, I forget any of the other good ones I used. I named a bunch of them food-names.

      • glothelegend says:

        Uggles is an awesome name. I like to actually make up names from scratch. Something like Naglenern would be cool (just made that up as I typed it, and probably going to name some pokemon that name.

        I had a Nidoking and a Nidoqueen and I think I named them something like Penisaaur and Slutasaur, so I could tell which was the male. They weren’t really dinosaurs, but whatever. Then I never used them again.

      • adaywithoutme says:

        Seriously? Not ‘Vadgasaur’?

        As for dinosaur-style Pokemon, they’d totally get ‘Creepasaurus Rex’ if it would fit.

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