A Little Perspective From Tom Church

I’m guessing those of you who enjoy a good playthrough of the handheld Pokemon games are looking forward to the release of Pokemon and Y. I suppose I sort of am, but I’ve really largely left off on recent Pokemon games since Heart Gold and Soul Silver came out in 2009 (I’ll start explaining some of this nonsense to those who are looking for the ‘nutshell’ part of this article shortly). The new starters and legendaries have been released in the form of concept art, and the game has been announced as a 3DS-exclusive game. This really detracts from my situation because as it is, I waited to buy a DS until I found one at a garage sale for $5 and I really don’t think I’ll invest upwards of $150 to buy a whole new system.

Let’s start talking about Pokemon now.

A lot of this will come as old news to you guys, but I hope I’m keeping it fresh and I also hope that most of you appreciate this recap like I do. The Pokemon franchise is my generation’s livelihood. I could talk or hear about this stuff for centuries. I guarantee that in my old age I’ll be submitting quietly to intense dementia and whispering these tales to myself: how Pokemon started and how it ended, or perhaps how it never did.

Pokemon began with a manga series, as well as an anime television show, about Ash Ketchum/Red, who lived in a sort of Asian alternate universe where Pokemon replaced animals. Pokemon is an English-shortened version of what translates from Japanese as “Pocket Monsters,” due to the fact that these Pokemon could be captured in Poke balls and kept on a belt. That’s pretty much common knowledge.

Ash trains and uses these Pokemon to fight, which is radical. It sounds a little scary, but the Pokemon never actually die. They just faint. There’s no blood and when they pass out there are little ‘X’s over their eyes, and their tongues hang out and all. It’s a kids’ show.

The games and the trading cards followed the series. The games were a huge success. The Gameboy and Gameboy Color had only recently come out as the first handheld video game systems ever, and so when Pokemon Red and Blue version came out in both Japan and America around year 1998, there was a huge consumer influx. They basically became the best games you could ever imagine buying. Yellow followed Red and Blue; it was basically the same game except for certain changes, namely your starter being a Pikachu (Ash’s anime Pokemon), as well as your Pikachu walking behind your character for the entirety of the game.

Pokemon Gold and Silver were released in America in 2000. They were also huge hits because they’d introduced an entirely new ‘generation’ of Pokemon. The first generation had 151, and the second added another 100 making it 251. Also, the region changed from Kanto to Johto. The way the Pokemon were introduced was through regional changing, which still applies today; whenever new Pokemon are to be introduced en masse, a new character and region are created allowing the player to probe all the new stuff. It’s genius and awesome.

If you’re new to all this and you’re still following me, I commend you. So at that point there were two generations. The first consisted of Red, Blue, and Yellow versions. All three were based in Kanto. The second generation was based in Johto and consisted of Gold, Silver, and then Crystal, which was released as a overarching-type game as yellow was. It was very similar to Gold and Silver, however this was the first game in which the player could choose to be a girl. I’m sure this secured a much wider audience.

Generation III was released in 2003 on a new platform: the Gameboy Advance. This platform was superior because it had backlights. Up until that point you had to play with a screen that was super, super dim and it was awful. The Gameboy Advance could play both Gameboy Color games (Generations I and II of Pokemon) and also the newer Gameboy Advance (GBA) games: Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire. These games were based in the Hoenn region and brought the total Pokemon count to 386 (with 135 new ones). Later, Emerald was released as a third Hoenn game in 2005. By that time a new platform had been released, the Gameboy Advance SP. It was basically the same thing but, for the first time, people could charge their Gameboy instead of having to buy batteries for it.

Also to be noted were the games Leaf Green and Fire Red which were released in 2004. These games were basically remakes of the original Red and Blue versions, but added many new and awesome features and updated the Pokemon. These are actually considered Generation III games, as they are remakes with huge differences from the originals. These two and Gold and Silver were my personal favorites.

We’re up to three generations, eleven games, and three platforms. Damn.

The Nintendo DS came out in 2005 as well, but it took two years for the release of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, which were the first Pokemon games for the new platform. They were based in the Sinnoh region, and added 107 new Pokemon, bringing the games up to 493. A third game, Platinum, was released in 2009. These three games are considered Generation IV.

Also in 2009 came another remake couple: Heart Gold and Soul Silver for the DS remade the original Gold and Silver and were welcomed gladly, because for many people this was their all-time favorite generation, updated and made new again.

Pokemon Black and White were released in 2010, and were then followed by Black 2 and White 2 in 2012. I have no clue when it comes to these games. In all honesty I have not played any Generation V games, nor Pearl, nor Diamond. I’ve heard very good things and very bad things.

And lastly, we have X and Y, which are the whispers of Generation VI.

I hope this helped and/or was interesting. Next time, I’ll talk about why it’s fun, and why people have been playing it without exhausting it for like, a decade and a half.

aestheism, not atheism.


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