Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gotta Catch 'em All!

This is going to be the most serious blog written about Pokemon by someone who isn't a virgin.

Pokemon was released in North America on September 30th, 1998. I had just turned 11 and I was fascinated. Before I managed to get the game myself, I studied the original 150 (we hadn't discovered Mew yet) on the internet and in my friends' strategy guides. Nothing fascinated me more than these creatures.

Then, Christmas Day, I ripped open my packages, desperate to find my copy of Pokemon Blue. After being disappointed by lack of Pokemon underneath my Christmas Tree, mom comes out from the other room with two packages that "Santa" forgot. Chris and I unwrap our copies of Pokemon Red and Blue, respectively.

It was so perfect. Growing up, Chris loved the Red Power Ranger and I loved the Blue Power Ranger. I always used the Blue Yoshi and Chris always used the Red Yoshi. I liked the Blue Beetleborg and Chris liked the Red. Even worse, my second favorite color was Green, the Japanese equivalent to Blue.

Everything about that game was exciting. I almost shit myself when I caught my first Magikarp, that's how excited I was about everything. Every little thing in that game caught me by surprise.

By the time Gold and Silver came along (Oct 14th 2000) I was in 8th grade and a seasoned Pokemon Professional. Johto threw new challenges at me that I never expected; new pokemon, new world map, and new badges. I had to evolve my strategy.

Unfortunately, by the time Ruby and Sapphire came along, it had become very... trite. No longer were the new Pokemon designs intriguing, but they were becoming more and more... unnecessary. There were still some favorites, and I loved that the terrain was more varied and the towns unique.

By the time Diamond and Pearl were released, I had the formula down. Gimme my Pokedex and send me on my way, already!! I knew what I had to do, and was at the Elite four within a week.

I certainly didn't mean to give you my entire history with the franchise, but what I'm trying to get at is that I'm part of the original generation that Pokemon was targeted for. These games were made for me.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I have every right to feel how I feel about the series, because I was part of the demographic it first targeted.

And, like any decade-long fan of the series, I have a series of complaints and gripes.
In no particular order:

<> Okay, for starters, what is with the Pokemon world and gotdamned Electric Rodent Pokemon!! With the addition of Emonga for Pokemon Black & White, we're up to SEVEN.

I mean what is the point of this even?! FIVE OF THEM ARE PRACTICALLY THE SAME GOTDAMN POKEMON. Not a SINGLE one of them is devoid of little circles on their faces. It's also not improper to assume that there will be an evolution to Emonga, giving us the possibility of another one or two more electric rodent Pokemon. There's no need for this! This, in and of itself, is proof of a lack of originality within the staff at Game Freak.


Speaking of unoriginality, I've noticed another trend in the Pokemon world. If it's not some kind of an electric rodent, then it's gotta be a MONKEY! I mean, EVERYONE LOVES MONKEYS, AMIRITE?! At least they're all part of an evolutionary line, unlike all of the Pikachu knockoffs. And yes, it's arguable that Slaking is a sloth, but he has more in common with the apes than he does his clearly sloth-like pre-evolution, Slakoth.

But wait, isn't there something missing? Oh, that's right! The whole reason I'm adding this portion in - The August 22nd Pokemon Sunday in Japan just revealed a new Pokemon, Yanappu:


OH WAIT! Don't forget! We've also got Hihidaruma!

It's like they just throw elements together with animals. "Monkey... fire... FireMonkey?!" "Don't we have a Fire Chicken and a Fire Pig and a Fire Horse and a Fire Puppy and another Fire Puppy and a Fire Slug and a Fire Turtle and a Fire Fox and a Fire Dragon and another Fire Monkey already?" "Did you hear me? I SAID FIREMONKEY!"


{}There are some Pokemon that were given completely unnecessary evolutions. For instance,

What is the point of evolving Lickitung??

There's a big deal made in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl that "maybe only perfect Pokemon don't evolve. That's why Dialga and Palkia don't evolve, but other Pokemon do?" That doesn't mean you need to take Pokemon that are already pretty nonsensical on their own and giving them an even worse evolution!

That brings me to my next evolution complaint,

{} Why were there some Pokemon that didn't evolve?

If we absolutely needed an evolution or baby form of Pokemon like Tangela, Lickitung, and Jynx, then why are there no evolutions or pre-evolutions for Pokemon fan-favorites like Farfetch'd or obscure Pokemon like Smeargle, or unnecessary, clearly imperfect Pokemon like Pachirisu? Seriously? Pachirisu, a Pokemon found almost immediately in the games doesn't evolve?! But they felt the need to add on evolutions to already stable evolutionary families, like Ryhorn/Rhydon, Magby/Magmar, Elekid/Electabuzz, Magnemite/Magneton, etc? Those Pokemon bring me to my next gripe,

{} Complicated Evolutionary Families

In order to add on to some evolutionary lines, Game Freak / Nintendo decided that instead of reasoning "uhh... you couldn't evolve it because we hadn't thought of that Pokemon yet..." they instead rationalized that the Pokemon world just hadn't figured out how to evolve it yet.

For instance, you can evolve Sneasel into Weavile at night if it's holding a Razor Claw.

Wait, what?

That's... oddly specific...

Surely there's no other Pokemon like that, right?

Lickitung evolves into Lickylicky when leveled up while knowing the move Rollout. Evolve Gligar into Gliscor at night while holding a Razor Fang. To evolve Porygon into Porygon2, trade it while it holds Up-Grade. Trade it again while holding Dubious Disc to obtain a PorygonZ.

The list goes on and on. Which brings me to my next topic...

<> Something that's bothered me for a while now is the new emphasis on battle instead of catching all the Pokemon. I suppose catching over 500 Pokemon has become a pretty daunting task, but it's almost unfair to the Pokemon at this point. Later on, I'll go into Pokemon that I've deemed pretty much useless, but thanks to the emphasis being detracted from "Catching 'em All!", the novelty Pokemon are basically ignored. I can't imagine a single person that purposefully catches a Nosepass. I, personally, don't even bother with Geodude or Zubat anymore. I mean, what's the point? Catch one Geodude and you've caught 'em all.

<> Can you honestly say you remember this Pokemon?

What about this one?

What about these?

That's fine, I didn't remember them either.

Now that there's over 500 of them, they're becoming very forgettable. Thanks to Generation IV being fresh in our minds, we can barely remember Generation III anymore, and as time as gone on, there's less and less Pokemon from each generation that I think "Oh man! I can't wait to catch and train so-and-so!" Sure, I have a few from each generation. I'm always excited to get a Wartortle and a Dragonair. I fight to get my Mareep as soon as I can so I can evolve him into an Ampharos, and Quagsire has never failed me. Despite a lack of attack strength, I love the evolutionary line of Ralts, and I sped through SoulSilver as fast as I could so I could beat it and get my Shinx.

Unfortunately, it seems as though GameFreak ran out of ideas for many of their Pokemon, or didn't give some Pokemon enough unique characteristics, movesets, or battles involving them in order for us to remember them.

{} As a sidenote, the new games are not going to feature any Pokemon outside of Isshu's Regional Pokedex until you get the NationalDex. Though I find this is a great way to strand veteran players outside their comfort zones, it makes me incredibly sad that I won't be able to have a Shinx for a long, long time.

{} I could focus for a while on the Legendary Pokemon, but I feel like a lot of what I have to say has already been said. It's kind of strange that you can basically capture and train GOD. It's strange to think that back during Pokemon Red and Blue the most powerful mother-fucker ever was Mewtwo. Now, Mewtwo is Sunkern in comparison to these Pokemon that created Time and Space. And what kills me is how are these Pokemon who created everything only like level 40? I would expect a bit more out of our creators. Dialga and Palkia created time and space. Azelf, Mesprit, and Uxie created emotion. Giratina rules over the nether world. Arceus created the entire universe. And the newcomers, Reshiram and Zekrom possibly created Arceus. Granted, Mew is the ancestor of all Pokemon and Celebi can travel through time, but creating the thing that created everything ever? That's pretty badass. What the hell does Ho-oh do other than fly around and look pretty? Man, fuck that.

<> Okay, I actually like the story, despite how repetitive it is. 10 year old boy trains Pokemon and saves the world. It's kind of interesting though, seeing as how in Generation III and IV you literally save the planet from destruction (in Generation III, you prevent Team Aqua from covering the world in water and Team Magma from covering the world in earth; in Generation IV, you stop Team Galactic from destroying our world and creating a new one, presumably full of Glameow and Purugly.) However, it always bother me that you then have to prove yourself to the Elite Four. Like... dude. Just made sure you all didn't die horrible deaths. I think y'all owe me at this point.

It'll be interesting to see what stupid stuff Team Plasma comes up with. I assume they'll be equally as ridiculous as Team Galactic, but hopefully with a little more spice and flair. I hope I'm actually a little bit afraid of them, instead of my usual tactic of plowing through them like a lawnmower on warm summer day.

Though that makes me curious - why is
no one surprised to see a 10 year old get his first Pokemon and become a complete Pokemon Master within a week? There are people in these games who've been training for years and years and years and you knock them out after your third day training. That's, I suppose, a downside to being a veteran - everything comes easily.

Okay, I think it's about time to wrap up this blog. I might do a Part II later, but I'd like to add a disclaimer to the end of this one. I think Pokemon is the most amazing and innovative Video Game series of our time. Nothing will ever surpass it in terms of originality and addiction value. I will be buying the new generations sometime next spring. (who's hoping for an early release date?!)

I am in no way, shape, or form a purist. I see a lot of really interesting changes coming up in Generation V and I'm so excited to play through my ELEVENTH Pokemon Journey. That's right, I've played through Blue, Yellow, Silver, Crystal, Sapphire, Emerald, LeafGreen, Diamond, Platinum, and SoulSilver.

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