The concept of Pokémon games are incredibly simple, thus making them very accessible. As I’m sure everyone knows at this stage, you play as a nobody who embarks on an adventure to become a Pokémon Master, by catching gaggles of the furry little feckers, and making them do battle to with other adorable cunts. These basic RPGs have a certain charm that I simply haven’t seen in any other series of games.
Battles are the main event here, and will suck away more hours of your life than you’ll probably ever admit. These too, are simplistic. Once again though, this is all part of Pokémon’s charm. If pokémon were in fact real creatures, I’d imagine battles would be highly illegal and disturbing situations, where two (or sometimes four) highly trained animals rip each other apart. But they’re not real, so it’s grand, and the animal’s rights folks can calm the fuck down. Battling works on “triangle systems”, if you will. By this I mean that there are usually three types of pokémon that counteract each other. Most of this is common sense- Water beats fire because it would work like that in real life, fire beats grass for the same reason, and grass beats water because… eh… Well because it has to form a triangle. That’s why!
Although most of your time will be spent in battle, that’s not really where Pokémon excels. There’s something else that’s captured my heart while playing through these games- the creatures themselves. With each knew game bringing new pokémon to the field, it’s kinda hard to get a total head count of how many species there are at the moment. So I’m gonna take a wild stab in the dark and say about fifteen billion! Each one with their own distinct personalities and charm. Most start off fairly cute, and evolve into something a bit more badass. From the fragile Cherubi to the mighty Entei, or the adorable Pichu to the ugly-as-ass Garbador. Each feels worlds apart from the last, and with each game packing well over 100 of them, there are whole lot of them to meet.
Being able to nickname every single pokémon that I catch allows me to form a bond with them. They feel like they’re mine. Not simply sprites on a screen, more like pets. If I catch one at a low level, I get to watch him grow from a tiny animal into a huge beast. And yes, I feel somewhat proud when they evolve. So ridiculously proud, in fact, that I send pics of their evolution to my girlfriend. Just the same as I feel somewhat upset when ones gets knocked out in battle and must be rushed to the nearest Pokémon Center. I feel like it was my fault that the little guy is in pain. I feel like I should have been more responsible. And so, just like I teach him moves, he teaches me to be more cautious.
Now, I’m not saying that they’re my best friends in a world we must defend, or any of the other corny lyrics from the cartoons theme song that’s now suddenly suck in your head, but there is definitely a bond between player and pokémon. It’s a feeling that I’ve never really gotten from any other game. I might sit silently for twenty minutes after catching a new pokemon, trying to conjure up a good name that not only suits him now, but will still hold the same weight once he changes into a fully grown force of destruction.
Once I plant those simple seeds, the pokémon and I grow closer. I’m his trainer, and he works with me. Not for me! With me. We work together for mutual gain. I think the whole idea may play up to a maternal instinct in some way that’s buried deep within everyone. The idea of taking care of something small and fragile until it’s old enough to fend for itself. You then become friends on some level, and continue helping each other out. It almost becomes symbiotic in a way. Both of you become so attached that one couldn’t continue on your journey without the other’s help. You’d quite simply be lost.
The Catholic Church seems to have a spot of trouble with the idea of Pokémon. Who’d have thunk it, eh? It views them as demonic entities of some description, and claims the games promote black magic through the players who control these battle hardened monsters (they’re probably not too hot on the whole “evolution” side of things either). Personally, I believe that’s a totally fucking ignorant view on the games, and
There is little or no way that I can see even the smallest hint of evil within this franchise. In fact, if the world was a little more like the one we see within these games, maybe it wouldn’t be such a violent and terrible place. If I ever have kids, I’ll be passing them these games as soon as they’re old enough to read their way through a RPG, because a vision of a world where hurt is pretty much replaced with beauty and friendship seems like a great place to let a child’s mind run wild. I’m almost 30, and I’m unashamed to admit that I love the simple release of spending time in Pokémon’s warm embrace.