A Little Perspective From Tom Church

I am always completely thrilled with the Pokemon games–whenever a new one is released I get all hot and bothered. Sometimes I’m prevented from playing them due to lack of money and appropriate handheld device, and that is saddening, but the fact is that I’ve never lost faith in Pokemon after all these years. There are groups of people that will tell other people that “Generations 1-3 are better than 4 and 5” or “Generation 1 was the best, the rest are bullshit.” Those people are [censored]. They are [, generally speaking, people who are well-accustomed to said generations, who have not played through Generations 4 and 5 and have not gotten to know and admire the new and unique Pokemon these games have to offer. I myself prefer Generations 1-3, but I will never be found completely shunning the newer additions to the series due to silly reasons like ‘the newer Pokemon are shittily designed.’ The same arguments can be made about Generations 1-3, I promise.]

 

The fact is that Pokemon’s dynamics are ever-changing. And people who fail to keep up with them are too easily deterred. Some would rather dismiss the new games because they are too foreign, and that’s just a shame.

 

The Pokemon games have progressed exceedingly well. The basis of the game was incredible to begin with, though: a wide range of Pokemon to be caught, raised by gaining experience in battles with other Pokemon, evolved and basically refined into kickass, unbeatable monsters. I mean, they gave you 151 to begin with, and on top of that no Pokemon is the same as any other Pokemon even if they’re the same species. Statistics vary, even moreso in later generations because the Pokemon gained ‘natures’ which influenced their stat gains as they leveled up.

 

Also very impressive is the game’s use of TMs, which are short for technical machines. These are game-changers because they allow Pokemon to learn moves that they would not normally learn; certain Pokemon can learn certain TMs. For example, Squirtle the water-type can learn Water Pulse, which is a powerful advantage in battle, especially at lower levels. But there’s no way a Charmander (fire-type) would be able to learn it. Just like a Squirtle can’t learn Flamethrower. It makes a lot of sense, mostly.

 

Pokemon gyms with gym leaders have always been awesome. The gym leaders are the boss battles of the game–trainers can be relatively challenging, but they’re mostly used to effectively level up your team of six Pokemon. Gym leaders are harsh and are normally very challenging, especially when you’ve got a team that’s poorly suited to go up against a leader. If you go up against an electric gym with only water- and flying-type Pokemon (which are both weak against electric), you’re completely screwed unless you’re a great, great deal higher in level than their Pokemon are.

 

Speaking of battling, a great addition to the game was rebattling. The earlier games were very flawed because once you beat a trainer, they could never be battled again. Their money dried up, their Pokemon would never be used against yours again. They simply stood there, only talking to you when you talked to them. It stayed this way in Gen I, but in Gen II there was a ‘phone’ addition to the player’s gear that allowed trainers to call the main character when they were ready to battle again. It was tedious to run and find these trainers, and it was also hard keeping track, but it was something. In Ruby and Sapphire the phones were subtracted, and the trainers were catalogued in a Pokenav application that showed a little red square next to the trainers who were ready to battle again–but this was very infrequent and a little frustrating when you needed to go and level-grind.

 

Fire Red and Leaf Green employed the Vs. Seeker which gave the player the power to ask nearby trainers for battles whenever they wanted. This was the most useful of all rebattling methods. I was impressed.
With the introduction of more Pokemon comes way, way more battling methods and team combinations. Many newcomers build a one-sided power-team that is basically a couple, if not one, strong Pokemon that do/does all the battling. The rest are HM slaves, or Pokemon that are in the party that have one purpose: to learn moves that enable the main character to go new places. These are moves like Hidden Machine 03, Surf, which allows the player to swim with their Pokemon across the water; or HM02 Fly, which allows them to fly on their Pokemon to towns they’ve visited before. These teams can honestly turn out very well–I beat Sapphire many times using only a starter Pokemon for battling. They end up leveling well beyond what the other trainers’ Pokemon are because they’re getting all the experience from battling, experience that should be shared among the whole team. I’ve fought the Elite Four (final battles against four very powerful trainers and a fifth–the champ) using a level 70 Swampert that killed all of the level 40s and 50s. It was great.

 

Since I’ve been playing so long, I like strategizing a bit more. I like trying to keep my whole party of six at the same level, so that I can have a team that balances out. This means that whatever Pokemon I’m up against, I’ve got at least one Pokemon who can kick its stupid sorry ass. If I have a Venusaur (grass) and I go up against my rival’s Charizard (fire), I’m screwed. But if I can swap Venusaur out with, say, a Golduck (water), I can destroy the Charizard. If he then throws out an Exeggutor (grass) that can easily kill my water-type Golduck, I throw out an Arcanine (fire) that takes care of his grass-type, etc. It’s actually very easy to figure out what kinds of Pokemon you’ll need to achieve a team like this, and there are many possibilities.

 

I’ve just started over my Heartgold version and I’m pretty psyched; I’m gonna have a really kickass team.

 

-Thom
aestheism, not atheism.

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Comments on: "Pokemon Gameplay In A Nutshell" (5)

  1. […] to actually play the games, I’ve done my best to describe the gameplay involved in Pokemon here, and subsequently […]

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