So Pokémon is now 20 years old. It’s kind of hard to believe that we’ve trying to catch them all for the last two decades. As someone who’s wanted be the very the best (like no one ever was) since I got my little hands on a Gameboy and Pokémon Blue, it’s crazy how much things have changed. Back in 1998, the world was much simpler, and there wasn’t anything quite like Pokemon before. Its combination of video games, television (and eventually movies), and card trading created a perfect pop culture storm that swept up countless kids who wanted in on the craze. There was a point when a lot of kids from my generation stopped playing. There was even a time when I briefly fell off the bandwagon myself, around Gen 3 I think it was. But in the end, when Diamond & Pearl were released I was sucked right back in. Even with Generation 7 coming this year in the form of Pokémon Sun and Moon, I know that I will be picking up a copy.
I guess there are numerous reasons why I still play Pokémon. For starters, it’s an example of a game that at first glance is incredibly simple to play, but complex when you get into it. While I don’t spend too much time farming for shiny pokémon or breeding to maximize a specific Pokémon’s IVs (Individual Values), there’s a that you can do beyond the basic mechanics that the franchise has made famous over the last 20 years. But, it’s that core mechanic of training, capturing, and battling that still keeps me playing. I guess I could thank Pokémon for introducing me to RPGs, the genre that I consider being my favorite in video games.
In addition to the mechanics, the variety of Pokémon is also a huge selling point for me. While it might have gotten a little out of hand in the last couple of generations (I’m looking at you Garbador), there’s still something exciting about seeing each new generation and what new Pokémon are in store for us. Everyone one has their favourite species or type (Grass-type for life), and that’s part of the fun.
But, I think that main reason I keep playing is the nostalgia. Even with each new instalment, I’m still reminded of moments of me in second grade, like trying to figure out the pros and cons of evolving Eevee into Jolteon or Vaporeon (sorry Flareon fans). No matter how much the games changes, certain elements never do. You’ll still have three starters whose types are fire, water, and grass. You’ll still have eight gym leaders to fight, and Pokémon league to win. And you’ll still have some legendary Pokémon to capture, who will have probably created the world in some way because that’s the direction we’ve gone in. There’ll be enough changes to make each game different, but more than enough of the same for it to be like home. It’s a phenomenon that has defined a generation of gamers that even if they stopped at Gen 2, can still talk about their experiences fondly with fans who are still playing.
This also means that if I ever have kids I can introduce it to them to a franchise that has evolved (pun not intended) while staying true to its roots. Though, how I’ll introduce them to what will probably be 1000+ different species of Pokémon is beyond me. That’s a lot more than 150. All I know is I’ll teach them, and they’ll teach me.
Gotta catch ’em all.