Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pokemon SoulSilver Log: Part 1

I bought "Pokemon SoulSilver" last week, and since its a rather long game, I'm hoping to begin another one of those extra long playthrough adventure things.  Only this time its going to be for a game that I actually like.  Don't worry, I'm not going to update every day.  Maybe once a week for the month or so I'll be playing this game.

But before all that, I must first tell my story:

I've had a torrid love affair with Pokemon for just over twelve years now.  It happens to be one of the very first video games I ever got into seriously, and my very first RPG ever.  But there was more to Pokemon than just a game.  It was a culture.  It was a lifestyle.  It was the closest thing to a religion that I have ever believed in. Me and every other grade schooler in all of western civilization were part of the Pokemon Movement.

Yeah, there were games, but there was also the TV show, which happens to be the first anime I ever saw.  Did spend years watching it, waiting for Ash and Misty to realize them were in love?  Was that just me?  And there was a trading card game, which happens to be the first and last card game I ever bothered with.  And there were movies, and we all went, didn't we?  While our Moms fell asleep from the mediocrity of those terrible movies, we sat back in religious ecstasy, throwing popcorn at the screen and giggling like the school kids we were when our favorite Pokemon came on screen.  Remember the Burger King toys?  Remember getting Grandma to burn like thirty bucks on a cheap 24 karat gold Poke Ball we just lost on the car ride home?  Truly, there was something to all that.  Something magical.

Steadily, however, Pokemon died for me.  First to go was the card game.  I know every child in the late 90s had to have gotten at least one pack of Pokemon cards.  Unfortunately, nobody actually knew how to battle with Pokemon cards.  What the heck did the elemental cards do?  What's the point of a Potion?  How many cards can you use?  Did we care?  No!  It was all about collecting stuff.  And I'm not a very good collector.  After playing just one round of Pokemon card battling, I immediately got bored and took out my GameBoy Color Link Cable to have some real fun.  As of this moment, my entire extensive collection of Pokemon cards (even my rare naked Misty card) is in some guy named Niko's basement.

Next to go was the anime.  It was stupid from the beginning, and we all knew it on some level.  There was no real plot, no real enemy, no real danger, and no good reason to watch.  What the anime tried to do was recreate the true experience of the games, to the expense of making a serious plot.  Pokemon is, in its most fundamental level, a community experience.  You certainly can beat the games all by yourself, but you'll never catch 'em all, you'll never get a good battle challenge, and you'll never feel the true enjoyment of these games until its done with a group of friends.  The anime tried to boil down that experience, but failed.  Yeah, its cool to see your favorite Pokemon in full cartoon life, but there was just no soul to it all.  You can't make community experience of sharing Missingno and Mew rumors into a non-interactive storyline, no matter how good.  And Pokemon the anime was not good!  The only thing that I particularly liked, even from the start, was the relationship with Ash and Misty.  The sort of back and forth "I'm not going out with him!" childlike mentality was a nice long arc you could follow along to its inevitable conclusion (they kiss)... which never happened*.  I haven't watched this show in years, but I do know that Ash has since had like two other Misty replacements, neither of which will ever go anywhere.  The show will continue endlessly, entertaining a small age demographic before they realize too "this show sucks".

At some point, I just stopped loving Pokemon as much.  There were other games to play.  I stopped drawing my own Pokemon regions in my notebooks.  I stopped designing my own Pokemon like "Mewthree" and "Charvenustois".  The world had moved on.

The games too, unfortunately began to die out for me.  "Gold and Silver", I feel, were the heights of the Pokemon experience.  After that, things began to sour.  "Ruby and Sapphire" gave me this crazy feeling of a reboot.  It wasn't a sequel anymore:  none of the old locations, characters, or enemies were back, or even mentioned.  Only half the Pokemon I had known and loved for years now were available initially, the rest were these new and weird monsters I had never seen before.  At this point I honestly was not following Pokemon all that much except for the games, so I couldn't amass an encyclopedic knowledge of every new one before the game began.  The Elite Four was replace, Team Rocket was gone, I couldn't revisit old regions like "Gold and Silver" had allowed for, things just were restarted.  It was still the same game in every fundamental fashion, but all these little details were shifted around.  We're rehashing the sound ground, yet removing a lot of things I had come to enjoy.

Even so, a few years later I did do my best to catch all 350 or whatever the insane number was by that point in my "FireRed" version.  That wasn't my most exciting summer, was it?

When "Diamond and Pearl" came out, I decided that this time I would actually look over the entire new generation before getting the game.  Only one problem:  they were all terrible.  Ugly, Ugly, Ugly.  There was maybe two in the whole bunch that I'd even consider owning**.  Piplup look cute, but then he evolves into this terrible, monstrous thing called Empoleon.  Others were these horrible evolved forms of Pokemon I had known and loved for years.  Rhydon, what happened to you?  Oh my God, Electabuzz, what have you become??  Eww...  Why in the world would I ever want to play this generation?  More importantly, it was following the "Ruby and Sapphire" standard of simply restarting everything without being a real sequel.  There's nothing to enjoy here.  So I never got it.

Instead, I eagerly awaited the remakes of "Gold and Silver", the best that Pokemon has ever been.  And now that I have them, I'm happy to see just how much the Pokemon world has changed.  Your starting party member follows you around now.  Its a minor thing, but it makes it feel so much more intimate.  They also redesigned the entire world, so that each town now has its own individual look, feel, and background music.  The world of Pokemon has never looked so alive.

At the moment I'm training up to beat Jasmine with my four Pokemon team.  I went with a Chikorita as a starter this time because I've never actually started with a Grass-type.  Then I caught a Mareep because it was just about the only Electric Type nearby.  Next up was a Vulpix because I love that Pokemon.  And finally I made a Vaporeon to both have a strong Water-type and to get across the ocean.  At the moment I've acquired a Feebas from my roommate's "Diamond".  I'm working to one day make it a beautiful Milotic.

What will my final team look like?  I have no idea.  There are so many options.  So many choices.  But that's the true wonder of Pokemon:  freedom.  So join me in my quest for freedom as I take my next step into the larger Pokemon world.

You're going down, Jasmine.  Just because you're cute that doesn't mean I'll go easy on you.

* If only Rumiko Takahashi of "Inuyasha" and "Ranma 1/2" fame had been brought in to write the anime, things would have been different.  Yeah, the love arc would have been dragged along for a decade, but it would have gone somewhere!

** Those two, interestingly, are Eevee's new evolutions.  Especially Glaceon. I also like Luxray.  I did like Lucario, until he started kicking my ass in Smash Bros.  Now its over between me and him.  Shaymin's second form is pretty cool too.  The rest are all rubbish.


  1. How.. How DARE you call Buneary ugly.

    But yeah, Pokemon has gotten sour. There's speculation that Generation 5 (I'm guessing called Bronze, Platinum, and Jade) will be the last, tying up every lose end of the games. The amount of Pokemon will be well over 600, so the oversaturation might be too much for people to handle.

    I mean, if this goes on, what will Generation 10 be like? What gem stones are left to be named after? How can you fit over 1200 Pokemon in a single game, and who would be crazy enough to get them all?

    Maybe Pokemon's envitable passing might be a good thing.

    Also, nice job on getting to Jasmine in a week. It took me a week, as a kid, just to beat Whiteney's Miltank.

  2. Ruby and Sapphire were my favorite games, mostly because they "rebooted" the thing. Hoenn made sense, unlike Kanto. I liked Johto, but it was way too strange. Then Sinnoh seemed to just have scattered the towns at random, and placed too many lakes in there... I'm just about to get HeartGold right now!

  3. i am getting my grubby mitts on Heart Gold when I can and I love Cyndaquil so will be going with him. I like the part where your pokemon follow you :) sorry i'm not being profound today i'm just tired...

  4. I JUST got HeartGold the day before yesterday, and I haven't been able to play it too much but I loved Crystal, so I'll love this, I know.

    My favorite games/region is actually Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, or the Hoenn region. Although it was a reboot, the regions were so much fun to explore! And Hoenn holds all my favorite Pokemon, such as Mudkip, Swellow, etc. Diamond and Pearl were terrible for me, but then I bought Platinum, and I loved it! Don't ask me why, they're essentially the same game but I hated the original two. Platinum ruled.

    Johto has always been my second favorite region, and I'm having a blast with HeartGold. I don't know yet if this will knock Emerald Version out of its place for being my favorite Pokemon game of all time, but it'll definitely be a close call either way.

    I'm going to have to find a way to get my hands on a Mudkip. It's my favorite Pokemon ever, and I had a battle team on some previous games I'd like to build again from new.

  5. Gold and Silver were easily the best games of the franchise, but I also enjoyed Sapphire, just because it was a game my brother and I would sit down and play every night after school on my Gamecube. I was actually given Pearl as a present, played it for about three hours, and then just put it in my bedside draw, where it's sat for the last two years. I thought about getting Heart Gold, but I'm not sure if it's worth the price tag (I remember when new video games were twenty five dollars. That's how much I payed for Final Fantasy VII on the day it was released).

    From what I hear, the next "generation" of Poke'mon will break the long-used formula that's been used since Blue and Red and actually focus more on an individual story with trading and link-battling only bonus content. It's also supposed to have five starters and take place in another new region, but then again, rumors of a more story-driven Poke'mon have been around since Yellow was announced ("It's gonna be just like the show! You're starter will be Pikachu! It's going to have colors!").

  6. Pokemon 2000 was a fucking awesome movie (just saying), and the Anime was great until, like the Hoenn Region Saga.

    On the subject of the games, Emerald was my personal favorite (the third generation is WAAY underatted), simply beacuse Raquayza was badass.
    My first game was Crystal, and that was the game that got me hooked into pokemon for ever.

    I REALLY want to play HG/SS but I dont have the DS (I went the way of the PSP). So mabey this summer I can get a job or something to scrap enough money for one.

  7. @ Xepscern: Platinum already exists. It's sorta like the Crystal and Emerald versions for the Diamond and Pearl games.

    Me and Pokemon have had a on-off relationship for years. First came my cousin's Red version, which I confiscated for weeks, crying in rage at why my bloody machoke won't evolve (how foolish I was). Then came Gold and Silver, of which I largely missed out on because my Dad's a stinge. After that, Digimon came out, which I knew was but a cheap knock off of pokemon, but even so, pokemon became largely forgotten. At least until i realised that digimon was crap, so I went back to pokemon. And then the Yugioh craze erupted, and so poor pokemon was put in the back corner again. After that fad died, I never really got back into pokemon as I had before. I still played the games (I actually really enjoyed Sapphire and Emerald), but not with the same enthusiasm as before.
    I'm getting Soul Silver in a little while, so hopefully this will be enough to kick start our love affair.

  8. What excitement :)! I haven't owned a Pokémon game since Gold, and I can't say I was ever any good at it. After that, I never got into it again, and I can't see the appeal. Time to randomly survey people on the IRC.

    I did play the card game with my cousin a few times (I had more than 120 cards at one point). What's with all the flipping of coins? I never got into it. 'Course, now I play another trading card game, so...

  9. Buneary, is that the one that looks exactly like a human woman and a bunny took a ride on Dr. Seth Brundle's (Brundlefly) teleporter?

  10. @Master Thief: Was Poke'mon 2000 your favorite of the movies? I always hated that one, because Brock wasn't in it much and the antagonist sucked. I personally liked the first movie the most, but the one with Entei (I think it was the third) was also good.

  11. @Drake, ha, my favorite movie seems to be one of the most hated, it's the Destiny Deoxys Movie. It was one of the last movies before 4Kids lost the rights and switches to Pokemon USA, which ultimately resulted in the change of the voice actors, leading out of the epicness that Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn, and into the crap that was Battle Frontier, and(with but few exceptions) Sinnoh.

  12. @Blue, I'm guessing you mean Lopunny, which is Buneary's evolution. This is Buneary:

  13. Piplup? Cute? You are gravely mistaken sir. The penguin with a bulbous head the size of its own huge ego is ugly.

    I have actually been playing these games since I was four. Back in the days of Red and Blue, it was how I learned to read. And I think I've pretty much owned every game in the main series since that point due to my unhealthy obsession with it.

    Ah, the cards. No clue how to play, but those cards were the most glorious things to me in my childhood. Bringing a Charizard into my second grade class, priceless.

    Admittedly the series has gotten old. I gave up the cards and the anime a long while ago. Once they replaced Misty, I was through with it. The annoying spike ball of doom she carried around almost ended the series for me on its own.

    Cutest pokemon ever: Feebas. Or maybe Delcatty.

  14. Diamond and Pearl did have some ugly evolutions for pre-existing Pokemon, but at least Porygon got a cool new one. (Porygon-Z)

    Also, I see you are a cool kid like me who picked Soul Silver and Chikorita. Although, I must admit that through 6 gyms so far Chikorita has not been much help.

  15. @Wee187: I remember watching that movie with my little brother on TV once. It wasn't that bad, compared to some of the other Poke'mon films, like Poke'mon The Movie: 2000.

  16. Am I the only one here that uses his starter pokemon almost exclusively throughout the game?

  17. Oranejo, I'm beginning to agree with you. I'm already planning out Meganium's replacement. What's a better type than Grass? Ice?

  18. BlueHighwind, what kind of pokemon trainer gives up on his starter?

    You dont bail out when the going gets rough, you supposed to be with him through thick and thin.

    Well, thats at least how I see it anyway, your supposed to hold a special bond with him.....what the hell am I talking about, this is a video game >.<

  19. @MasterThief, if you don't think video games can't have immense mental impacts on you, you haven't played them enough. Or I'm just being an idiot, but yeah I agree with what you're saying. I'm at the moment only using two Pokemon(I have trouble keeping up the grinding for 3 or more) and although I'm using my starter, Once I can get my hands on a Mudkip(probably once I finish up Johto and before I begin Kanto) I'll be using it much more than my starter. Whether my starter will be part of my final party, I dunno.

    Hey Blue, Log #2 coming anytime soon? I'm really looking forward to it. xD

  20. Ahh yes, Pokemon. I'll always remember the day when I bought my game-boy colour (my only working handheld console to this day) and chose Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages over Pokemon Crystal. I do not regret the choice to this day.

    My problem with Pokemon, is that it's the same thing over and over. The only one I ever beat was Sapphire, and I will admit I did not enjoy it due to it being pretty much the same thing as the previous ones, just with better graphics and minor features.

    I skipped out on the Platinum series and this new one as well, due to not having a ds, but even if I had one I'd still hate it. It's hard to explain really...the only "fun" pokemon game I played was Colosseum, just fighting my friends over and over again. Those were good days.

    Still, I'm interested in what you have to say about it. Good luck.

  21. 20 Comments! That's one goal I never thought this blog would reach!

  22. @YKProductions: The key to avoiding the dullness of the Poke'mon games is to only pick up one game per generation (like, play Blue, then Gold, then Sapphire (skip remakes), and then any of the new ones).

  23. I have owned every main series game and the 1st five movies. I don't what it is but I can't stop playing the games.

    As for the movies my fav was 4ever I don't know why but I love the way celebi sounds in the movie.

    As for the show I stopped watching when they changed voice actors in the battle frontier arc.

    Now my 1st game was Red and started with charmander. My fav 3 are 1)Crystal 2)Emerald 3)Platinum. My fav types are Water and Ground and my fav poke who I can't hav a team without is Swampert.

    I got HG at launch and I couldn't put it down. Started off with Totodile b/c Cyndaquil is a gay version of Charmander and don't get me started on Chikorita. Completed it in 3 days the most trouble I had was the battle with Red.
    My endgame team was:
    Staraptor (can't stand Pidgey or Hoothoot)

    Sorry for the essay just talk to much. In summary HG/SS are as close to the original games we will ever get.

    P.S I owned the Pokemon Trading Card Game for the Gameboy and I liked it. Pokemon Snap was Awesome.