Editorial: Poképpeal

Hey there PokéPurrs. Pokémon is hardly a new topic here at Lusipurr.com. Hell, even scrutinizing the appeal of the massively successful series is something that has been done here before. But guess what? I’m Ethan ‘Ethos’ Pipher, the General Editor and Co-Founder of this glorious corner of the internet. I am drunk with power and I will write about Pokémon if I bloody well want to!

Seriously. I've lost more Pokémon games than most people have played.
Anybody want to give me their copy?

The topic comes to my mind for a few reasons. The first being the most obvious: Pokémon Black and White 2 are due out in a few short weeks and ho-boy am I ever excited. I used to own near ten copies of different Pokémon games and while I have never sold a single one I do not know where any of them are anymore because of moves and lending and general negligence. This means that my usual habit of playing a Pokémon game on my handheld when I have nothing else to play is not a possibility. And that means that when I was at my local non-GameStop store, every used copy of every version of Pokémon tugged at my “impulse buy” cord. It is one of the reasons I barely go to this store anymore. It is a great independent shop with an excellent used game selection at better prices than GameStop would dare to think about.

However, a weak will and no money is not a good combination for browsing such a gamer paradise. It was extremely difficult to resist buying three different Pokémon games. I was able to do so solely because of the very close release date of Black and White 2. In fact, the only reason I was even at such a place was because I looking for a used N64 with my girlfriend who was looking to replay some of her childhood favourites. Because she’s a long-time gamer and she has more Zelda cred than me, I am always surprised to remember that she is not a Pokémon fan.

Although on the surface it appears to line-up with her general distaste for RPGs, I think that Pokémon is a rare series that tends to transcend the genre. Many RPG lovers do not care for Pokémon, and it also tends to be the one RPG series that non-RPG gamers will be drawn to. This made me try to remember what attracted me to the series in the first place.

I WONDER IF HE'LL USE ONIX
This asshole is back for Pokémon Black and White 2

I was certainly not a RPG fan at that point. In fact, Pokémon Blue was the first RPG I properly played. Even now at my most “gotta catch ’em all” phase, it is not the main draw for me, so it certainly was not at the genesis of my love either. Perhaps it is the wonder of knowing that there are dozens (and now hundreds) of unique creatures to discover. Perhaps it is the simplicity of the mechanics that grow more complex the harder one chooses to look at them.

Perhaps, like Zelda, it tugs at the notion of childhood adventures. A common way to poke fun at Pokémon is to point out just how young the silent protagonist tends to be when he or she sets out on his or her journey. Sure, from a realistic standpoint it is irresponsible to let a 10-year-old child loose into a world of wild monsters and evil corporations. However, as a child, these are the sort of adventures a young mind will conjure. Tackling problems that nobody would expect a kid being able to overcome is a great fantasy for a budding nerd. Tie that with themes of friendship, perseverance, and exploration and it becomes easier to realize why the Pokémon series resonates so deeply.

The wonder is so well-captured in each title with such a wealth of possibilities and mechanics that even with very few surface changes after fifteen years, it is a series that hardly ages. It is why I never get sick of new releases despite replaying old titles almost year-round.

The thing I constantly hound my girlfriend about is that she has only spent a very small time with the games. I feel like she has not had a true exposure to what is so captivating about the world and mechanics. However, I know that there are gamers who have given the games a fair shake and share the same apathy. So once again I ask you, LusiMons: what is it about the Pokémon series that either makes you filled with joy or indifference?

5 comments

  1. I played Pokemon Yellow back in the day and caught all the Pokemon that could be caught in that single game and through trading, I completed the original pokedex with all 151 Pokemon. It was a fun, albeit simple game, even for me back in the day. I also enjoyed Pokemon Stadium for N64 a lot. Being able to bring my beloved pokeymans to fight friends in glorious graphics (back in the day, though I still think they look pretty good) was awesome. After that, I lost interest for a couple of years and then when I checked out Pokemon again there were like 300 something of these critters, then I blinked and there were almost 500. Now I understand there’s almost 700, and looking at some of these designs, the number is kinda comical. The gameplay also doesn’t grab me anymore, I know Pokemon is serious business and all, but despite all the additions and balances done to the formula, it doesn’t play that different from Pokemon Yellow (don’t kill me).

    At this point, I don’t think I’ll ever get into Pokemon again. I don’t look at it with disdain but it is just not my cup of tea.

  2. I think the Zelda comparison is probably very apt. Zelda was supposed to have been inspired by Shigeru Miyamoto’s childhood adventures in the forest outside his house or vacation home or something. The wonderment and excitement and what have you.

    As far as Pokemon goes though, I played three minutes of Pokemon Yellow (GBC, right?) when I found my sister’s GBC in storage and gave it to her when I next saw her. It looks like a fun, classic series, but it just missed me by a few years to bring me into it. (I’m 30. I don’t mean that as a slight to anyone else, it’s just the PS2 SMT games came to my notice and grabbed me, along with FFXI, at the time Pokemon games grabbed other people, so I never got into it.)

  3. My only history with Poke-uh-mon was playing Blue on a GBC. It was ok, but nothing very special. That GBC would be, and largely has remained, my only exposure to handheld gaming. So perhaps something about the nature of the game turned me off in favor of bigger console style experiences.

    At any rate, I think my indifference to the series comes largely from the fact that it is a handheld game and that I have little interest in that sector of gaming.

  4. @Mel – that makes sense. I look at the people who love Pokémon, and they tend to be long-time handheld fans.

    @Epy – Well you’re right and wrong about Yellow playing the same as the current titles. And I’ve brought it up before, but I think the designs of the creatures have been consistent. There continue to be excellent designs and there continue to be laughable designs as there have been from the original 150. Maybe 700+ is a little silly from a “collect them all” perspective, but that’s never been my agenda with the games. Plus, although there are so many to collect in total, it’s still a similar number to the originals that the player encounters in the main quest.

  5. @Ethos, Epy I’ve said several times before that one of the things I feel is the series’ greatest strengths is how it changes just enough between games. Sure, Black/White play similarly to Yellow, but there are a lot of differences as well. The splitting of the Special stat, the addition of Dark and Steel types, the addition of abilities, the physical/special move split, making TMs permanent items…

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