15 August 2013

Das Pokemans

Deadmau5 said this about dubstep, and it almost perfectly mirrors how I feel about Pokemon. To give a little background, I was entering college when Red & Blue came on the scene. All my friends were into it. I'd seen the show and the movies, which I liked, albeit I prefer Digimon as far as the shows go. One of my favorite mangas is the Pokemon one by Toshihiro Ono, which I think is one of the best renderings of the world outside the games proper. As far as those go, my experience begins and ends with Blue (more on that in a moment). The only other Pokemon games I've bothered with have been Snap, Pinball, and Puzzle League, all ancillary titles. Here's basically how I feel: 

I don't hate it for the concept. That's all fine and dandy. It's a very well-crafted world with a solid premise absolutely bursting with appeal. The movies and the manga flesh it out nicely and really help with the immersion, between the colorful characters and surprisingly rich lore to what's in essence a very simple RPG. 

I don't hate it for the fans. I actually love it for the fans. At the risk of sounding like a total parent (which I'm  not in the slightest) or some kind of chaperon, Pokefans are the most well-behaved and friendliest fandom I've ever come across. If there's any sort of elitism or snobbery, I've never run afoul of it. Even Whovians have that massive quasi-generation gap between people who've loved it since the classic series (or that middling, limbo phase between 1989 and 2005 thanks to videos, books, and TV specials) and those who came following the revival. I guess it all goes back to that appeal I mentioned before; there's something for everyone to like and love liking. Sure, some of the memes and parodies are a tad annoying, and some people who play the card game can be a bit manic, but they're raindrops in the ocean. I can let them go. I wish Portal fans could be more like Pokefans. I wish Bronies were more like Pokefans. Even D&D nerds could learn a thing or three from Pokefans. 

I simply dislike the core gameplay mechanic. I think I've briefly mentioned this elsewhere, so I apologize if I repeat myself. Somehow, the very idea of collecting monsters to fight for you strikes me as an incredibly lazy piece of game design. I know that sounds completely ridiculous and I freely admit it. I fully deserve to be raked over the coals for painting the games with such broad strokes. I'm not pretending to have any sort of expertise on game design or RPG development, that's simply the best reason I can think up to account for my boredom. That's what it boils down to for me. After hours of playing through Blue, getting a few badges and exploring some towns, all I could think was, "I am not having fun." and instead turned to more involving adventures like Final FantasyStar OceanMonster Hunter, Samurai Warriors, and XCOM. I'm not saying the Pokefans who enjoy the core series of games are stupid or juvenile or lack skill or have bad taste. That is not the case at all. It is simply not my cup of tea. I suppose you could say that after all the buildup between that awesome world and those enthusiastic fans, the games just didn't hold up. They have an attachment to those games that I can understand and relate to, but cannot share. 

While I have promised a very good friend that I will give one of the latter day entries like Diamond/Pearl or Black/White a chance to see if I may feel different with those tweaks and mild alterations, I feel comfortable saying it's not likely. On the whole, the only Pokemon game that I'm genuinely interested in is the Mystery Dungeon series because they're roguelikes, arguably the most commercially successful ones ever made, and that's a genre that I find wildly fascinating
There is also the issue (which partly led to that conversation) of not having any Nintendo hardware that can play any of those games, though I'd been weighing the pros and cons of springing for a 3DS. 
What we settled on is to try and go down the dark and twisted path of emulation, specifically the GBA because that's the era of Pokemon games I'm most likely to get into. I also intend to abide by the "code of emulation ethics" and get a physical copy of the games to have. They're easy to find and some places practically give them away (and down the line I may luck out on a Micro or SP or Player for my Gamecube). After shopping around, in addition to Mystery Dungeon Fire Red, I'll pick up a Sapphire cartridge. Why Sapphire? Well, it's a translucent blue cartridge named for my birthstone, why wouldn't I settle on that one? Makes a dandy keepsake. 
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