Pokemon has become easily one of the quintessential gaming franchises. After gracing shop shelves for over 20 years, the world without Pokemon and Pikachu not being part of the global lexicon is a distant journey back in a TARDIS or Delorean. Yet, maybe this year will see Pokemon finally hit its peak (hopefully not!), with all the information we’ve received about the latest games; Pokemon Sun and Moon, Game Freak have gone out of their way to make the seventh generation the best instalment to date.
Throughout my gaming career Pokemon has been a mainstay, giving light to my love of JRPG’s and easily cementing my fixation with Nintendo hardware. Having the luxury of compliant parents has also been a massive benefit, thankfully they had the foresight to see Pokemon gracing my Gameboy as something I would adore. However, gaming isn’t a solitary pursuit and I am not the only gamer-shaped by the power of Pokemon.
Now trying to cover the Pokemon franchise in around 500-600 words is extremely difficult, seeing as I’ve ready wasted a third of my word count. Yet I’ll try, focusing on the aspects of the main series that helped to shape the gamer I am today.
Now you cannot talk about Pokemon without discussing the primary goal of your adventure… So you battle the gym leaders (search for shinies), defeat the evil team (search for shinies), defeat the Elite Four and then scrape a victory against the Champion, then you stand upon the imagined podium knowing full well that you are the very best and didn’t have to ‘catch ’em’ all (probably didn’t catch any shinies either). Yet all those hopes and dreams can’t be achieved without catching and training the titular Pokemon.
The creator of Pokemon Satoshi Tajiri was inspired by his childhood pastime of bug catching, and while not all Pokemon are bugs, catching is essential to the game. Pokemon maybe cute and often cuddly, but one thing is true they’re not particularly fond of being captured (once wild Pokemon reach level 10, standard Pokeballs start to feel like a waste of money). While luck plays a massive role, catching Pokemon becomes easier due to an assortment of Pokeballs: Pokeballs, Great Balls and Ultra Balls, simply set the standard of the capturing arsenal.
However, capturing Pokemon isn’t as easy as Pokemon Go would have you believe, often throwing a Pokeball at wild Pokemon will see them bounce out without a second thought. That’s why you’re nifty starter comes in handy, weakening your desired pray, getting that HP bar into the red before jumping into the menu to contemplate your ball of choice is the much over taught and prescribed technique to capturing your future allies. The simplicity of the mechanic is mesmerising; beat up, throw ball, capture, yet somehow the experience is constantly rewarding and never old.
In the Pokemon games catching and battling go hand in hand, yet the feature I’ve loved since its inception: Pokemon breeding, completely changes the game. While for many this means, imprisoning a Ditto in a day-care centre and breeding multiples of Pokemon to ship out via Wonder Trade or Global Trade System. Yet Pokemon breeding truly allows Players to become Pokemon trainers. To train the very best Pokemon requires patients, determination and dedication. You have to learn about EV and IV training, as well as egg moves and egg types. If catching and battling Pokemon is the simplest aspect of the franchise, breeding and this enhanced version of Pokemon training (when every battle counts) gave birth to Pokemon’s competitive scene and turned a child’s pastime into a serious hardcore e-sport.
The Pokemon games on a basic level are simple and easy to jump in and play. They also allow more hardcore Trainers to search the depths of the mechanics making a deep experience that inspired a long-lived and constantly groundbreaking e-sport.
Yet, what truly makes Pokemon special is the story and the journey all Pokemon trainers are taken on. The Pokemon universe has a deep lore, which tells a beautifully interwoven story about friendship and discovery. The Pokemon Train On shorts, put that journey at the forefront of the series and rightly so. I’m lucky enough to have younger siblings and Pokemon has given me an easy way to bond and share with them. Whether teaching them to read the dialogue and Pokedex or helping them defeat a gym they just can’t figure out. The Pokemon franchise creates a wealth of experiences both shared and individual. And those stories are what makes Pokemon one of the most important game franchises in the world.
Now, why will Pokemon Sun and Moon be the best Pokemon games so far? Simply because every generation previous has always outdone the last!
(184 words over word count…not to shabby!)