With ‘Pokemon Go’ looming on the horizon (who isn’t stoke for this?), I thought we’d take a look back for Throwback Thursday on the game that started a generation on a self-destructive path of completionism: ‘Pokemon Red and Blue.’
I’m sure you’re wondering why we classify this as Science Fiction and the answer is easy. The whole game is based on the premise that you can capture animals, transport them in tiny balls that surely defy the laws of physics, and involves an antagonist that wants to the harness the power of Pokemon to take over the world. Sure, it’s scientifically dubious sci-fi, but it’s sci-fi nonetheless. Plus, the villains in the future want to do all sorts of dastardly sci-fi villain things like change the planet’s eco-system, or create an entirely new universe… with the power of Pokemon… because that makes sense.
But let’s just talk about ‘Pokemon Red and Blue,’ and its implausible story where a mother willingly sends her child out alone in the world to capture animals that could very well kill him/her. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, he/she uses those creatures to battle other creatures in a way that we as a society seem to pretend doesn’t sound a lot like dog fighting. It’s fine. It’s Pokemon. They are meant to fight. I mean, why else would they have super powers like breathing fire and putting things to sleep if not for us to use them against other Pokemon?
Anyway, the main character goes out into the world, defeats different gym trainers who have literally been doing the Pokemon thing for much longer than the main character to be the very best (like no one ever was), and somehow topples the evil Team Rocket and their genetically mutated Pokemon along the way. It’s a pretty harrowing journey for a 12-year-old actually. You have to dodge ghosts, fight giant rare birds, purposelly sacrifice pokemon so you can bring out your big guns and smash the gym trainers, and take on the most bumbling band of criminals, all the while your frenemy, Gary, comes and fights you after every freaking boss battle. Dick move, Gary. Dick move.
Even today, the very simple game play and turned based system is addictive, but imagine it when we had slow internet and the only thing keeping us entertained in the car was a Gameboy. We played those games for hours, and made friends depending on who had Red or Blue (each game had different types of pokemon and the only way to catch them all was to trade). Of course, I still never got the Persian I was after because everyone I knew bought Red… But whatever. I’m not bitter about it.
Okay. I’m pretty bitter about it, even though I captured it in a later game… which is frustrating still because they keep adding more and more Pokemon. I think catching them all is a myth, or maybe an opiate for the gamers. Maybe we’ll never notice how every game is pretty much the same because there are new Pokemon to capture.
‘Pokemon’ took a simple concept of dog fighting magical creatures and made it one of the most addictive games of the century. There are a lot of old games that people try and go back to play, but find it doesn’t live up to the memory (Sorry Xenogears, but no matter how good your story is, the graphics do you no favors), but I gaurantee you can pop some AA-batteries into your Gameboy, pull out your Red or Blue cartridge, and have just as much fun as you did when you were younger.