Reviews: Pokemon

They've milked this cash cow dry

I'm grateful to the franchise, its kept Nintendo afloat during dark times, ensuring we get new Metroid, Mario and Zelda games, can't thank it enough for that, but its gotten to the stage where I can't see Pokemon surviving another three generations.

Pokemon today is an exhausting experience, it takes more out of me, the player, than it gives back.

Now I LOVE Generation 1. Yes its aged horribly, but for all its flaws, quirky and questionable design choices, and godawful cumbersome user interface, it still retains a certain undeniable 'charm' a 'spark' that is unmatched. My greatest source of anguish is that we never got a full-on proper 3D RPG Pokemon game on N64, and never will. The closest was 'Snap', 'Stadium' and 'Hey You Pikachu', which are draining, gimmicky and quickly become tiresome. I'm tempted to condemn Nintendo and Game Freak alike outright as lazy developers for not capitalizing upon this potential.

Pokemon is in danger of suffocating itself by expanding and expanding to the point where it becomes monotonous. Its already unnecessarily complicated and time-consuming. Haters are gonna hate for me saying this but - the true rot set in with Generation 2. It introduced crazily-rare Shiny Pokemon, genders, additional stats, breeding, eggs, evolution prerequisites, holding items and "legendary hunting". And it just kept going downhill from there.

As of X and Y, there are now 649 Pokemon. Are you kidding me? That's insane. The individual values, natures, etc are almost impossible to keep up with.

Pokemon is now in desperate need of a radical overhaul. It needs to be rebooted with the original 151 Pokemon, Game Freak ought to focus on its strengths, return to its RPG roots in making the world feel truly alive. The badly-written filler anime should not look interesting by comparison.

Yeah, they've still got it

Ah, Pokemon. I can still remember cracking open Pearl version, ready to discover just what the world can throw at me. I've always loved exploration and animals, so Pokemon was, to me, just about everything I loved condensed into pixels. Walking into every grass patch to see just what crazy mon would jump at me never got old, and figuring out the best way to defeat certain opponents with certain Pokemon always made me feel triumphant no matter how many times I did it, or how much of a Curb-Stomp Battle it was. It's gotten to the point where I've never gotten a single Pokemon up to level 100, since I'm always raising so many different mons at once. The game was the true spirit of exploration, pure and simple. And it still is. If it ain't broke don't fix is the concept at Pokemon's core, and nearly every bad feature will get fixed. Dragon types dominating the metagame, while poison types fade into obscurity? Well, here's a new type to get poison types new use, and stop people from winning by doing nothing but spamming outrage. Some of the Pokemon are cool looking, but underpowered and rather useless? Well, here's a new method of evolution to give them the stats they've always deserved! And I don't actually mind the frankly vast amount of new mons. It just means that there's always something new to discover, always new secrets ready to be unleashed. And the 3D games are amazing. Their sprites are so vibrant and expressive, it gives both the people and the Pokemon a life they've never had before, and the gorgeous environments just make me even more eager to see the region. The characterization has gotten a lot better, which I whole heartedly support. Before, the lack of actual personality made the plots feel impersonal, like I was surrounded by cardboard cut outs that I'm expected to care about. Now, I actually care about the plots for what they are, and I'm no longer treating everything as nothing but a new way to get new Pokemon to add to my arsenal. Defeating the Big Bad feels like an achievement, not just another roadblock to my mon catching quest.

Some people will say that the new gens are garbage, and that's just how they feel. But to me, it's a big adventure with no end. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go level up my Malamar.

The Pokémon anime

Like many children did in the late 90s and early 2000s, I loved Pokémon. However, unlike many other Pokémon fans, I actually didn't start with the games. In fact, I've never played Red/Blue - my first Pokémon game was Diamond. But, I still had the anime to enjoy as a child, and I adored it. The cards? Meh, they were okay, even though the actual trading card game confused me.

The anime of the late 90s/early 2000s (the first two generations) was pretty good. It wasn't TV gold and was never meant to be. It was just a colourful, kid-friendly anime cartoon with oodles of action, adventure, jokes, heartwarming moments and cuteness, and its characters were actually pretty interesting and memorable. I still fondly remember the old anime, and occasionally watch it if I find it on YouTube, and listen to the soundtrack if I feel nostalgic. But of course, as time went by, the anime went downhill. This was expected, but I cannot deny that the animes of Generation 3 and 4 do have some pretty good episodes. Do they touch the Generation 1 and 2 animes? Oh, no. But they weren't bad, especially thanks to the improved animation which made it look fresh. Ash's new voice actor starting from Gen 4 was a bit of a shock, and I prefer his old voice by a long way, but they could have done worse.

But now, let's face it. The Pokémon anime is absolutely awful nowadays. I don't actually watch the modern anime, but I have seen various clips/trailers, and I've read reviews about new episodes too. Firstly, Ash has devolved into an intolerable weirdo who cannot seem to understand that his Pokémon journey has become so mind-numbingly pointless that it would actually be better for him if he were to stop and just get a job. Episodes are so recycled nowadays that finding a modern episode that isn't recycled is like trying to find Atlantis. His partners are never interesting anymore, just the same old side characters who are nowhere near as funny as hothead Misty or hopeless romantic Brock, and Team Rocket is now the blandest villainous team ever, destined to always fail because the writers refuse to let them actually win. Why don't they just quit after over 500 failed attempts?

It's all been done before, and better, but because new kids arrive, they just have to keep making episodes. And it will always be the same. The same characters, episodes and situations.

An eternal childhood

My first handheld Pokémon game, Pokémon Emerald, was given to me on my actual tenth birthday. I've never put the series down since. Pokemon is such a vast world to get lost in, it amazes me not one review of the whole series was written 'til now in 2013. There are countless wonderful moments to enjoy and treasure and so many cute little critters to love, I don't even know how to fully express it in words. May Pokémon live long and prosper for eternity.

The degradation of Game Freak

Recently, a whole lot of stuff's been going down, and I can't really say I care for it. But rather than go on an aimless tirade, I'll just say this:

Remember when Gen II introduced two new types to give more creativity and to balance Psychic? It's been ripped off via Fairy, a Pokemon type made to nerf Dragon, but now threatens the entire metagame.

Remember when Gen III introduced abilities that did stuff like give immunities to status effects and attack types? Well, now Gen VI is reworking the type chart so as to weaken Fairy's counters.

Remember when Gen V showcased a bunch of cool Pokemon that everyone wanted to try out, and ended up being very useable in the metagame? Well, the new Pokemon all look weird, and none of them save Sylveon look particularly useful.

And remember when Shaymin and Kyurem got new formes? They've decided to exaggerate that with Mega Evolutions, which mean the metagame will suffer absolutely.

My point is that Game Freak no longer cares for their players. All the new reveals about Pokemon XY are nothing but shock value milking. No doubt this means the end result will become more Base Breaking than one could possibly imagine.

I implore you, internet, if you don't want companies that treat their fans like idiotic money cows, I suggest we stage some sort of Internet Counterattack and change the industry for the better.

And yeah, yeah, I'll probably be deemed a troll or an Entitled Bastard for it, but I'd rather pay $60 for pure quality than $40 for compromise and DLC. -Greener

PS: As an addendum, I know I will end up buying it and liking it, but there's no law against setting standards as to what constitutes as a good game. I'm not calling for a boycott, I'm calling for the reaction to Mass Effect 3's ending.