It was 1998: an era filled with strange fads like Furbies, Tamagotchis, and Beanie Babies. In comes Pokemon, which was an even weirder concept to my adolescent 6th grade brain. I first heard about Pokemon through my friend at school, who swore it was the best thing since sliced bread. If I had gone off my friend’s description alone, I would have never played it because he made it sound dumb.
But once I saw it with my own eyes, I was instantly hooked. Catching strange creatures and exploring a vast world by way of an interesting and refreshing RPG framework had me intrigued to say the least. I HAD to buy it, and it wasn’t long thereafter that I got my hands on the Red version. Having the Blue version, the same as my friend, would have been a waste, right?
The first generation of Pokemon titles were released way back in 1996 (in Japan) and have since spawned seemingly countless mainline and spinoff titles. Personally, none of the generations after the first really grabbed my attention for long though. Perhaps it is because my tastes changed or that I went away from handhelds for quite some time after the GBA era. Call me old man or nostalgic if you like, but there was something special about those first generation games that just really got me going.
The original 151 Pokemon were quite varied, but easily recognizable only after a short time with the game. The majority of the Pokemon, at that time, looked their part as well, meaning Rock Pokemon looked like they belonged in that category, etc. That is something I feel has blurred a little bit as the Pokemon bestiary has expanded, but I digress. The first generation of Pokemon is my proverbial, rose-tinted glasses filled lawn, and you can get off it if you don’t like it!
Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Eevee were announced yesterday and, obviously, people are freaking out. Depending on whom you talk to will get you different reasons as to why though. It appears to be a fresh, modern take on Pokemon Yellow, complete with the original Pokemon from that era of games. The graphics appear to be a fresh coat of paint on the already established Pokemon look and feel, which is satisfying.
While I have concerns about how random encounters will be handled (i.e. will we actually fight Pokemon, or are they going to be handled in the same vein as Pokemon GO), I have hope that they will not let this staple mechanic slide in favor of a mobile gimmick. Trainer vs trainer battles appear to be intact, so no worries there. I should clarify that I don’t mind the actual catching mechanics of GO being used, but I want to weaken the wild Pokemon in the same classic way before the actual catching comes into play.
My biggest fear is the Pokemon GO implementation. While it’s really too early to draw concrete conclusions, there are conflicting stories on the Internet regarding this feature. Some say that the game should be a complete, confined experience regardless of whether you dabble into the mobile app side of things while others fear the worst. I can’t imagine that they will screw this up though. I know that many people (including myself) enjoyed Pokemon GO for what it was, but others just didn’t care for it at all (or longed for something more complex). I understand the need to implement it to an extent due to the sheer popularity of Pokemon GO. Just let that be a completely optional system to an otherwise full experience to the game. Don’t get weird with this game, Nintendo; you already have Labo as an outlet for your drug-induced ideas!
Regardless, I will be picking this up for sure. I spent countless summers (yes, SUMMERS, not hours) playing the first generation games in my youth, and I appreciate that they are attempting a throwback to a long-forgotten era of Pokemon games that I absolutely adored back then. I am not a nostalgic purist though, and welcome changes and additions if they don’t break the overall experience in any way. I have a feeling I will love the makeover, and am really looking forward to the co-op feature especially (so that I can play with my wife). Really, she needs something other than Zelda to play, as she’s closing in on 400 hours there (try and beat that, nerds)!
What are your thoughts on the announcements? What was your first Pokemon game? Do you think they will finally put something of substance underneath that blasted truck in Vermillion City? Let me know!