Game Description: In Pokémon Blue/Red, your mission is to collect all 150 Pokémon. To collect all 150, you'll need to train each captured Pokémon. Once they evolve, each Pokémon gains power, which can be used to defeat and capture other Pokémon. Along the way, several skilled trainers will challenge you to Pokémon duels. To win the game, you must defeat them all. Keep in mind that some Pokémon are rare and won't be found in your game. To get all 150, trade Pokémon with your friends using the Game Boy Link Cable, which allows the transfer of Pokémon between Game Paks.
The video game industry's answer to the Tamagotchi craze, Pokémon plays like most traditional RPGs with one notable exception. Rather than wiping out endless hordes of monsters for fortune, glory, and (of course) experience points, Pokémon encourages captivity over annihilation. So much so, that collecting, trading, and training the stubborn little pocket monsters make up the heart of the game. Theoretically, it sounds like a perverse electronic version of the Beanie Babies/Furby viral culture that has swept the nation. But in practice, the game proves to have more substance and legs than your average passing fad. Tapping into the object-collecting proclivity of our inner-child, Pokémon (while not designed by Shigeru Miyamoto) is a Miyamoto-esque experience in the truest sense.
I was totally engrossed in the complex dynamics of the Pokémon microcosm. While the game on the outside is visually primitive (sporting 8-bit sprite-based graphics), the gameplay inside is fully realized and rich in depth. There is an endless amount of specifics to be learned and remembered about the 150-plus Pokémon and the world in which they reside. Fortunately, the game's intelligent execution doesn't allow too much to be thrown at the player at once. The adventure proceeds progressively, allowing the player to naturally absorb the game in its entirety. What stands out most about the design is the amount of freedom and customization given to the user. It allows players to essentially fight, train, and develop favored Pokémon while discarding and trading others. This is what makes the game truly engrossing. Pokémon stands as a testament to those who believe in gameplay over graphics; a 2D oasis in a 3D desert of video games.
I agree with Chi about the Miyamoto-esque experience provided by Pokémon. It turns away all conventions of the industry. There are no naked women, no hulking heroes, and no smart-mouthed mascots. You are encouraged to simply play. Have fun and enjoy yourself at your own pace. If you're not a good player, it doesn't matter. Pokémon isn't a game of skill so no one is left behind. This is a totally refreshing break from the monotony of the shoot and destroy content that has saturated the industry.
And let's not forget the social by-product of playing this little gem because, in hindsight, it's really phenomenal. There are 139 Pokémon unique to each gamepak. To get the other 11 Pokémon and beat the games, owners of the Red game pak must trade Pokémon with owners of the Blue game pak and vice versa. It forces the kind of interaction that opponents of video games have always said electronic games deter. It also taps into the player's competitive nature by encouraging them to build up their favorite Pokémon and competing it against a friend or classmate's. Players who come across rare Pokémon can keep them and show them for bragging rights or trade them to others helping them through the game. Pokémon proves that interaction between youngsters can be promoted through video games and not stagnated the way naysayers would have you believe.
Destined to invade the playgrounds, baseball cards and Pogs will have to make way for Pokémon.
Younger players will love trading and fighting their Pokémon with others.
3D mavens who relish their textures and polygons will not so easily go back to simplistic 8-bit graphics, but that's their lost. T
he remaining "old-school" gamers will enjoy all the innocent fun and nostalgia. Just make sure you know at least two other players with whom you can trade with because the game is designed so that certain Pokémon are unattainable without trading. And finally, don't be surprised at the amount of time you'll find yourself devoting to this addictive little cart!
When I escorted my two 10-year old nieces to see Pokémon: The First Movie (for the record, that's not my excuse, I wanted to see it for professional reasons [again, that's not an exc—oh forget it! I wanted to see it because I *gasp* like Pokémon and was curious. Happy now? But the part about taking my nieces is true.]), I honestly didn't know what to expect. I mildly catch the show every so often and I'm not only surprised by the generally positive and upbeat nature of the show, but I'm also impressed by the quality of translation and dubbing job that 4 Kids Productions have done in porting the anime show (I'm an old school otaku where back in my day all we had were fan subs and Xerox-quality transcripts). And when the curtain came up, all the hundreds of little tykes shut their yappers (just kidding!) and Pikachu's face blared on the giant screen, one memory shot into my head, Transformers: The Movie.
Every so often, much to the glee of corporate conglomerate$ looking to $queeze every last dollar out of consumer$ by inventing new ways to keep us entertained (and ultimately distracted), something manages to capture the hearts and minds of a youthful generation, be it Power Rangers or Pokémon. For my generation, and a limited time (offer not a guarantee), it was Transformers; those square dudes that popularized the whole-turning into other crap or combined to even bigger crap-fad. At the height of Transformers' popularity, the powers that be $ought to capitalize beyond the nationally syndicated TV show, die-cast toys, and happy meal endorsements by releasing a motion picture. Corporations love it because motion pictures tap into a mainstream market with the potential to gro$$ millions of dollar$ in revenue. Fans love it because a big-budget movie symbolically signals an acceptance by the mainstream society and, thus, means that they no longer have to be hide their 'geeky' enthusiasm. All of a sudden, the fans are the ones who are 'hip' and in the 'know.'
When I first saw Transformers: The Movie, I was in pure ecstasy. Everything I had grown to love about the TV show (Optimus Prime, those lovable Dinobots, Soundwave's nasal voice) were all present, only better. It wasn't just the sheer size of the projection screen, but a bigger budget meant higher production values. The artwork was more detailed, the animation was slicker, and the acting was superior thanks to the voice talents of Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, and Orson Welles. The sound effects were booming due to movie-quality bass and that was further enhanced by the Rock 'n' Roll musical numbers that accompanied nearly every scene. I was in total awe when Optimus entered the early fray and single-handedly wiped out numerous Decepticons before squaring off against Megatron. I was blown away when Blaster Master let loose his own 'cassette' (you know, those square things we used to record music on) soldiers on Soundwave's pack of metal midgets. I was shocked to see the film actually incur casualties (Wheeljack R.I.P.). Then, of course, my jaw totally dropped when Unicron, revealed himself by transforming from a planet into (surprise, surprise) a giant robot.
What was the aftermath? The Autobot formerly known as Hot Rod (now Rodimus Prime), Springer, and Ultra Magnus quickly shot up on my list of must-have toys. Then there was stickerbook that featured screen captures from the movie that became popular with all the kids. I spent endless hours collecting, buying, and trading the various stickers in order to complete a full set (I never did get those 3 'rare' ones). Then after a few months, there was the VHS tape that I rented more times then I can count. Of course the TV show carried on with episodes that picked up right were the movie left off (albeit with much shabbier animation), which I continually watched (and watched and watched and watched…) with a renewed interest.
Anyway, flashing back to present day, where I'm now watching *ahem* Pokémon: The First Movie and I'm getting a sense of déjà vu. Seeing a larger-than-life sized Pikachu splattered across the screen is surreal in itself. The artwork and animation quality is improved over the TV show (though only by a bit since the show's imagery is typically simplistic). Then there's the jamming soundtrack only instead of blasting guitar-rifting tunes, I hear bubble-gum pop for a generation hooked on Britney Spears and N-sync. Instead of Unicron trying to engulf the universe, we get Mewtwo trying to annihilate the earth. Instead of a shimmering device called the Matrix saving the day in Transformers, we get a shimmering ancient Pokémon called Mew coming to the rescue. Wait a minute…I think I'm beginning to see a pattern here.
Forget about even trying to judge the film on artistic and cinematic merits (there are none by default), but even as a geek/otaku/fan, I was pretty disappointed with Pokémon: The First Movie. With the exception of the opening title sequence with Ash dueling against another trainer while an 'improved' version of the Pokémon theme played in the background and the earlier scenes involving Mewtwo's origins, the rest of the movie lacked any sense of 'coolness.' There weren't any scenes that matched the exhilarating ones that I mentioned earlier in Transformers. The final climax in Pokémon was decisively drab and besides failing at being climactic, it was also incredibly preachy (even by made-for-children standards).
So after the movie ended and all was right with the Pokémon universe again, we exited the theater house. I watched my nieces and hundreds of other kids clutching their free (yeah, free after paying an unbelievable $9.00 per adult admission) Pokémon collectible cards they received and I wonder what will be their aftermath? Will the new Pokémon introduced in the movie become high priority on their Christmas wish list? Will they continually try to add more cards to their collection and try to acquire those oh-so rare ones after spending countless dollars? Will they try to buy the home video, which will be priced-to-move during whatever holiday season it will no doubt coincide with? In the midst of my mental pondering, my thoughts turned inward, I wonder whatever happened to all those craptacular Transformers toys and merchandise that I accumulated during that time? I should probably dig it up from somewhere in the closets of my parent's apartment because Lord knows they'll probably make me a fortune on Ebay. After all, why should the corporations be the only ones raking in the dough?