Pokémon: why nothing else will ever do after the first 151…for me

Posted: June 24, 2011 in Pokemon, The Caveman

I want to start off by giving a shout out to 90s kids.

See, we had it good. Our TV shows were some of the best, our cartoons were some of the most entertaining, and we were the first generation to really grow up in a digital revolution. Our parents had MTV, we got the Internet. They had new wave; we got boy bands and Britney. Our dads had Pong, we got Tetris. And the list goes on. We had it good.

But what really I have to say made my childhood was Pokémon. Yes Power Rangers was fun and the animès were good (Dragon Ball, Gundam, Recca, Samurai X…you name it), but Pokémon is what I have to say made my childhood awesome. Think about it. If you had a Gameboy back in the day, you were forever playing Super Mario, Tetris or whatever random game on that huge gray block of a gaming device that nowadays would make airport officials think you were carrying a bomb. And those games were good.

But they weren’t Pokémon good.

I actually remember the first time I picked up Pokémon Blue and found out what it was all about. I read this crappily layouted instruction manual that showed told me what the Pokémon world was about and I have to say…I bought into it. The promise of a portable adventure with pixilated creatures with magical attacking powers sounded like too much fun to me. See, we weren’t old enough for D&D or other quest games yet, [maybe not even any of the existing Final Fantasies (do note that this was before FF7)] but this seemed like one of those things that we were up for, that I was up for. So I went around playing the game on my Gameboy for months. I was trying to grab that elusive Pikachu in Viridian Forest, evolve my Charizard, catch them legendary bird, and this post cannot go on without mentioning the use of that conflabbed link cable to battle and trade with friends. It was good while it lasted, and even after defeating the Elite Four, the quest continued. You still had to grab Mewtwo, you still had to complete the set…and that never really got old. I can’t tell you how many times I cloned an Eevee or pwnd my friends with my Charizard, but I can tell you that it never really got much better than that.

Well that is until Pokemon Yellow came out.

By that time, the animè was a big deal. The movies were a big deal. The cards, the mini figurines, the piles and piles of Poké junk that accumulated because we couldn’t get enough had all become a huge deal. We all wanted to be Ash Ketchum, and Pokemon Yellow gave us that chance. We started with a Pikachu that wasn’t annoyingly difficult to catch, the same way Ash did. It gave us a more structured story and actually made us feel like we were living his adventure, which is what most of us wanted to begin with. We got the chance to pick up the three starters and in the end have Charizard and Blastoise on our final line up for the Elite Four (if we worked hard enough to evolve them). And if you did things right, you could pick up all the old Pokemon from your safely kept Blue or Red version saves and just destroy all your friends without even trying. All was right in the world.

But the hype died down for me after that. I stopped caring so much about the new ones. Yeah I played Gold and Silver, but they couldn’t match the fun. There was too much going on by the time they came out with the day and night functions, not to mention a hundred new Pokemon. I mean…sure it was fun, but it was different. These new guys couldn’t match up to the ones I knew and relied on. Typhlosion could never match Charizard, ever. Hondooom (though bad ass) was no Arcanine. Even the gym leaders seemed to be bigger wusses than the original ones! And that is where I began to fall out of touch with the franchise. I skipped out on Gen III and all of the subsequent new batches because they just never felt the same. I refuse to even touch the much ballyhooed Black and White versions, no matter how highly acclaimed they are. Although, I did however play the remakes of Fire Red and Soul Silver for kicks, and found myself quite satisfied.

The problem lies in the fact that Nintendo/The Pokemon Group decided to evolve. You can’t blame them. It’s what everyone does, be they a Metapod or a business franchise. They needed more characters, more creatures to make themselves look like they were progressing. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The only problem was that decline in quality. The thing is, for me, I’ve never felt the need for the other four hundred plus (or whatever number we’re on now) that came after the originals. They didn’t make sense. A lot of them were just redone versions of existing Pokemon, most of which were horribly designed and looked so much more ridiculous. I don’t care about another normal/bird type that looks like a rehashed Pidgey. Give me a Pidgey, I’ll make it work! But the creators/game designers changed the look, gave it new moves that do the exact same thing Pidgey does, and changed the name. Us older players know that. We can see that there’s been major rehashing lately, or really lousy character design, all of which was built for a new generation of Poké kids…not kids who actually know what a Cubone looks like. I may sound old when I say this, but we older fans deserve better. We built this baby and should get more creatures that are simply unique and amazing. There wasn’t enough of that as of late, just because these kids with cash are gonna get what they want. AND BESIDES, the reason any of these kids with their 3DSs enjoy what they have now is because kids like us played these games like we were gonna rule the world.

Pokemon changed and there is nothing I can do about that. But every now and then I find myself going back to that game (be it on an illegally cracked version for my DS or some emulator I downloaded). It’s still as good, and  still brings a smile to my face every time I get that Charmeleon to evolve. It all really boils down to what individuals like, and love. I find that my heart belongs to those first few freaks of nature that made me realize how good this pop culture phenomenon was.

Nothing beats the originals. Nothing can ever beat the originals.*

*Save for maybe those legendary freaks of nature that you can get from Nintendo events.  They are just f-ing scary.

——

Article by: The Caveman

Artwork by: Frillion

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Comments
  1. I CAN TOTALLY RELATE. :)) It was totally hit and miss with the later generations but nothing tops the original!

    • Frillion: That’s true! but personally, I think it started to decrease in quality starting with the Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald versions. I also find it annoying that they just rehashed the original games but creating slightly better graphics, and few mini games/extra content. But we can’t always get what we want…

  2. Samantha ong says:

    True.. Nothing beats the original. I didn’t even bother with the pokemons after 151.

    • Frillion: There will always be a place close to my nostalgic heart for the 1st 151 Pokemon. I had my first Pokemon game (Red of course, my sister had Blue) as a gift from my parents who came from the U.S. after that fateful day, I couldn’t get my hands off from the gameboy even to eat! and I had Pikachu stuff toys of different sizes too.

  3. Em says:

    IMO the formula may have stayed the same but the pokemon games have gotten better throughout the years (with the exception of black/white). In all my years of gaming, i have never seen a competitive jRPG similar to that of pokemon.

    much to everyone’s disappointment. Pokemon is not about “catching them all” but rather raising your very own pokemon for competitive play. Once you get through the cuteness factor of the game, youll come to realize that there is more to pokemon than cute little pocket monsters, the real fun of it comes from battling

    • Frillion: I have to agree that the Pokemon character concepts for Black and White were half-baked in terms of appearance and originality. They’re starting to lose the “look” that makes Pokemon, Pokemon. (Especially Gothita the cos player goth girl Pokemon and that trash bag Pokemon…of all the things to conceptualize about!) But nevertheless, I still played the Pokemon Black because I can never get over the Pokemon spirit within me.

  4. Lance says:

    The black and white version has more of a story I think…even though the game is mostly about a 10 year old catching monsters to beat lunch money out of other kids.

    There’s also Yamask who is described in the Pokedex as a Pokemon who used to be a human many years ago. It bears a mask of its former human faces and cries at night at what it used to be. They’ve made a Pokemon that used to be a human that experiences the existential horror of being a child’s plaything.

    Well, so the design has gone out the window. But yeah, the game’s evolved to make the breeding of Pokemon for battle easier. They have a guy that checks a Pokemon’s best IV’s in the train station, and the inclusion of Battle Tower and the Battle Subway (wait, seriously?) are proof of this.

    Still love the game and the franchise, but yeah, Machamp and all the first 151 guys were still the best! Enjoyed Black/White thoroughly though.

  5. Caveman: Lance, it really is unfortunate that they make all these Pokemon nobody ever bothers to care about/for (hello Porygon 2), but it got too out of hand after the second gen. I mean there’s a frikin Coelacanth ripoff in there at some point. My point is, if they developed more story to it and developed the existing rosters of 251 in gameplay and graphics…shit…things could have gotten really fun 5 years ago. Imagine if they had a Monster Rancher style to it, sans the seasonality, for breeders? Or if they turned Pokemon Stadium into something so much more epic? A lot of the people who let go because of Pokefatigue might not have done so.

  6. Arvy says:

    This is a really awesome post you got here and I totally agree with you. Nothing beats the originals. Though I wish we can have a game that lets you start off in Pallet and then leave for the other regions after beating the elite 4. Without compressing the Kanto region like they did in pokemon silver :))

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