I will admit to exaggeration in this article’s title. However, that does not take away from the fact that I think the original 150 Pokémon are some of the most unfairly glorified staples in gaming. There are many reasons to love many of them, but to state – as I so often read on the internet – that “you can never beat the original 150” is a flippant falsehood soaked in nostalgia.
I do not deny the importance of Pokémon Red and Blue. I understand that is where so many nerds – myself included – found their love of the series. Every pocket monster was new, the excitement of collecting badges and fresh members to add to the team was new, and the series deservedly became a phenomenon. Part of that was the cuteness and uniqueness of the Pokémon designs, I am aware.
However, the series was such a success that the fans became intimately familiar with the original set of creatures and when it became clear that Pokémon Silver and Gold would be introducing another 100 monsters, fans freaked out. Myself included.
Granted, the first wave of additions are probably the most bland of the current set of five generations, but at the time it seemed to be proof-positive that there was no need to add to what was obviously working for so many.
However, Generation III changed everything. While the games are the weakest in the series, the new Pokémon really stood out. Great designs and cool type combinations were commonplace for the new group. As a result, two of my all-time favourite designs emerged from Generation III. That is about when I noticed that the newer dragon designs were infinitely more badass than the goofy looking Dragonite who looks more like a friendly neighbour with a beer belly than the final evolution of a set of three dragons.
I kept this opinion to myself for a long time. I felt like a character in the classic story of The Emperor’s New Clothes. I could not be the only person who noticed this, could I? Why did everybody rush to defend Dragonite? Maybe my eyesight was off.
But as the years wore on and the percentage of my life as a Pokémon fan snuck past the 50% mark, I decided to take a hard look at the designs that had over quadrupled in size since the beginning. I realized that – indeed – some of my most-loved designs were from the original group, as Kadabra, Rapidash, and Seadra also made the cut for some of my all-time favourites. But perhaps the original list was not sent from Heaven. Perhaps it was like all the others with its own set of hits and misses; timeless designs coupled with forgettable duds.
It ended up being more of a touchy subject than I imagined. People who fell off the boat as Pokémon fans or even as gamers still post the occasional meme to their social networking pages that proclaim the original 150 to be the best accompanied by heartfelt comments to the effect of “LOLZ, yeah! The new ones are DUUUMMM”.*
Longtime fans of the series are not quite so bad. They tend to be excited about new designs and will readily discuss new favourites, but also tend to be just as quick to qualify their opinions with “but nothing beats the original 150”. Because of the obvious subjectivity of so much of this, I understand that some people really will prefer the first batch. However, I believe it has become something of an unspoken rule that it is an opinion that all fans should adapt.
Well I have finally had enough. I am the child pointing at the naked Emperor. Muk is a really, really boring Pokémon, Voltorb is lazy design, and Exeggutor is down there with Vanilluxe for worst design ever. Although, to be honest, Vanilluxe wins/loses that contest; whichever is worse.
Nostalgia will always play a role in a gamer’s favourite series, but rarely have I seen it as prevalent as I have with Pokémon. Pokémon Ruby came out nearly a decade ago, so it is not the novelty that makes Generation III one of my favourites. Pokémon White is the most recent game, so it is not nostalgia that makes Generation V right up there with III for me.
I challenge my fellow Pokémon fans to allow themselves to have their own favourites. If Generation I still comes out on top, all the power to that, but I will never buy that Metapod is cooler than Victini.
Plus, come on, Generation I has zero Dark Pokémon. Zero! Of the best type!