Let me tell you a story about Pokémon.
For reasons still unknown to myself, I got it into my head a few months back that I wanted to play Pokémon White/Black, the newest games in the ever popular franchise. I played one of the first generation Pokémon games via emulator many years ago but completely shied away from the series ever since. Constant mention of the series’ unwillingness to evolve (no pun intended) may have had something to do with that but, nevertheless, I maintained from my initial experience with the series that they were solid RPGs and enough time had passed since I last played a Pokémon game that I didn’t think I would bemoan the fact that I would be potentially playing the exact same game.
I bought and quickly dove into the White version of game and I was enjoying it a whole lot. I chose Tepig as my starter because his final form is so badass and, though some of the underlying structure in the game was rather familiar, I was having a great time with the game. Catching Pokémon, leveling up Pokémon, beating Gym Leaders, it was good, solid JRPG fun. Somewhere around the 20-25 hour mark though, I slowly started to realize that I was becoming fatigued. The game wasn’t trying to do anything different and I felt I was just repeating the same thing I did during the first hour over and over.
That feeling of repetition subsided but never completely faded as I carried the game to completion. The game’s storyline wasn’t anything to write home about either so there was little satisfaction in beating the final boss. I still felt I was just going through the motions. Upon completion of the main storyline, a previously inaccessible and relatively large area of the map becomes available as do a ton of Pokémon from previous games. The amount of post-game content is quite tremendous actually and the game really opens up at this point as you’re free to tackle things in any order you want. I didn’t know how long I’d be playing the game after this but I was certain I wanted to at least visit every area in the game.
Being that the structure of the post-game stuff was less rigid and that I could take things at my own pace, I once again started to genuinely enjoy my time with the game, perhaps more than during those first few hours even. With so many new Pokémon available, hundreds of which I had never seen before, the proverbial “catch ‘em all” was starting to become a bit of a compulsion of mine. Much like the better RPGs out there, I was turning into a victim of the infinite “just one more thing before I quit” syndrome and my sessions were getting progressively longer. But I knew eventually I would catch all the Pokémon available in my version game and I had already come to terms with the fact that some Pokémon I would simply never have. At that point I figured I’d be ready to give up on the game for good. Or so I thought.
I think something changed once I decided to venture into trading. I went to the Global Trading Station (GTS for short) and was taken aback by the ease with which trading takes place. I popped my trading cherry with GTS Negotiations wherein you and a random person put three Pokémon on the line each and, via simple emoticons, decide on which you want to trade or not. Trying to find that one Pokémon that the other person is looking for in exchange for the one you desperately want was actually fun and I got many of the very Pokémon I never thought I’d have this way. I moved not too long afterwards to regular GTS where you can be very specific with what you want and/or are looking for. Suddenly, “catching them all” was truly in my grasp.
I suddenly felt like I was part of something bigger and I realized that I was catching Pokémon and leveling up Pokémon just to able to trade them afterwards. I started to spend a lot more time on various Pokémon websites and wikis and I even got a Pokédex app for my iPhone that I constantly reference. I was seriously beginning to become invested in the world of Pokémon. One day, I was looking through one of these various sources of information and I came across a mention of “Pokémon Gray,” the presumed name for the inevitable 3rd game in the 5th Generation series, and I immediately thought “you know, if there are some new Pokémon in there I might just get it.” That’s when it hit me: I had fallen into the abyss. I understand why these games are consistently popular and profitable. I get it now.
There are still plenty of things I haven’t tried in my version of the game (online battles and breeding chief amongst them) so I’m still unsure as to whether I’ll be getting Gray or not. At 80+ hours in, I don’t know how much more I’ll be playing the game either but, honestly, I don’t really see myself putting it down anytime soon. For what it’s worth, it’s still surprising to me how every single aspect of Pokémon services and centers around the eponymous creatures. Even the archaic conventions of 90′s JRPGs just make sense in the context of the game and so much of it just wouldn’t work any other way. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Pokémon was kind of ahead of its time.
But anyway, I really get Pokémon now.
I just wish I’d never traded my Galvantula.Posted on April 20, 2011 in Video Games |