After four days, these are the first words I am typing (not really, I had to edit them, but it was true in the rough draft). I tend to write far more often then never, as you might imagine. So why did production come to a stop? Pokemon of course! It’s always the Pokemon (except when it’s SimCity or Rune Factory or Advance Wars or…). It has all been so dark the past few days. I am writing this now, as if I woke up from a drug binge, or am recovering from some debilitating illness. For several days the most important thoughts in my mind sounded something like, “Do I really need another dragon type on my team? Maybe one that could learn a fighting attack. Although if I can bring in a dual type fighting/lightning, then I can switch out my Eelektross for my Gallade and have two fighting types. Are there any fighting/lightning types? Better do some research…”
I remember last playing Pokemon White months ago when it had first been released. I defeated the Elite Four, saved all the Pokemon from Team Plasma, and then some. I didn’t accomplish everything though. A Pokemon Trainer’s work is never done. I moved on to fresher gaming pastures relatively soon after defeating Pokemon White, and was free from it’s spell. At least, until a few days ago.
It all began when I was feeling particularly ill one morning. Too sick to climb out of bed and hop on the computer. Too withered away to even stare at the television. I slowly rolled over, and in the darkness I could see the dim blue power light of my trusty DS by my bedside. I reached out for it, and suddenly the bright glow and rocking bicycle music of Pokemon White lit up the room. I lied in bed and began playing. It took a moment to get a grip on where I was in the Unova region, and what I had yet to accomplish. Suddenly the original time with the game began to flood back in. I was raising a new team. I had eggs to hatch. I had battles to fight. I had to buy some revival herbs. I had to play Pokemon. In an instant I had become entangled in the six hundred and forty-nine tentacles of the latest Pokemon game.
I have tried to ‘catch them all’ on several non consecutive occasions. Each time I placed a Pokemon cartridge into the current portable Nintendo system that is currently on the market, I have been consumed by it. There was the classic red, and many a tale can be told of that, then there was my return to a world long forgotten when I bought Pokemon Diamond. This journey into the land of Unova marks the third time I have devolved into a blathering PokeManiac.
Friends were abandoned, responsibilities shirked, and thoughts of non Pokemon related events dropped to an all time low. Any responsibility that couldn’t be avoided, was done methodically, and in a way to incorporate the most repetitious aspects of Pokemon. Chores like laundry and eating became tests in multitasking. Tests I often failed as my food often went cold and/or uneaten. Although, I’ll mention that my shirts came out as colorful as ever, in case you were worried about the laundry.
My mind easily made the transition back into the daily routine of things. I hit up Amanita on her PC and grabbed the Pokemon I wanted. I stopped by all the daily events, read the animated sign between routes to search for Pokemon, and fumbled my way through a handful of battles. With my reintroduction to the games mechanics now over, it was time to be the very best.
Like being the best at many other things, it all began with some research. I pulled up Bulbapedia by typing the name of a random Pokemon into Google. Soon my browser was bursting at the seams with tabs of innumerable varieties of Pokemon, along with move descriptions, abilities, and a few random maps of Unova. My Pokemon fueled Euphoria left little time for anything else. Days were spent searching for the perfect group of fighters, though I didn’t EV train them, because that is a load of BS. My days were divided between reading, training, battling, hatching, raising, and outfitting a ragtag team of fighters culled over generations of Pokemon games. As epic as that all sounds, it actually comes down to pressing the same sequence of buttons repeatedly for a few hours. There is nothing quite like the thrill of holding the up button for ten seconds, followed by pushing the down button for another ten seconds.
When a game requires a heavy dose of repetition, and then I do what is required, over and over, I forget whether I am actually enjoying the game or not. I am still playing it, sure. I can’t stop playing it. Am I enjoying playing it though? It’s difficult to quantify, to say the least. There are enormous lulls in the action that can be a chore, but at the same time, destroying someone with a team of Pokemon you raised yourself is definitely gratifying. Of course, you do lose sometimes, and that isn’t fun either.
A weeks worth of writing was lost to these pocket monsters. Not to mention hours of playing Driver: San Francisco, and Kirby’s Mass Attack, two articles I should have presented you fine readers with some time ago. Even at work I was pulling up the PokeDroid app on my phone and imagining other great teams I could build after the one I was currently raising. All the while in the back of my head, I was well assured that putting this much effort into the game is a complete waste of time and resources. Despite such notions, I continued to flip open my DS at every opportunity and grind my way to the top. Through the years I have learned that my mind can focus in on one subject or game with an unquenchable obsession. It’s nice when that obsession is the intricacies of medical science, but not so much when it is the variability of stats in imaginary creatures who are born with different natural moods and abilities.
Unlike other addictive games like Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon, there is a real passion that comes with Pokemon. It’s something I can feel proud of, not like how many fish I’ve caught, or how many tomatoes I’ve planted (although I am proud of that stuff too). Simply put, a desire to be the greatest. To be a Pokemon Master. The slogan is “Gotta catch ’em all!” not “Gotta catch most of ’em!” A nerd lives and dies by the Pokemon team he raises. I didn’t hide a Gameboy in my backpack, and risk having it confiscated by a teacher while I battled opponents during lunch just to send out a level 28 Exeggcute. Unacceptable. A team consisted of six Pokemon, always including the one I started the game with (I always go with Grass starter, if you must know). These Pokemon would go on to be a well rounded and unstoppable force I captured, trained, and traveled alongside, and nothing could stop us. Not Team Rocket, nor the Elite Four, or even the most powerful Pokemon in Kanto. I’m not sure if these feelings I have stem from a healthy viewing of the anime alongside the original games, or just my own brain filling in the blanks of another sporadic storyline. What I do know is that in 1996, Satoshi Tajiri and his company Game Freak, alongside Nintendo, combined to release a powerful combination of collecting, trading, and battling that has yet to stop being compelling fifteen years and several portable game systems later. Not even in pinball or toy form.
Luckily (at least in this case), the force of my obsession is tempered by the finding of new things to feel passionately about. So I have since pulled myself from the intoxicating beast that is the Pokemon franchise. At least long enough to write this article. The Pokemon team I trained still remains between the levels of sixty and ninety. There are many an unhatched egg sitting in Amanita’s PC. Not to mention, my Pokedex is far from full, even the regional one has some gaps in it. It may stay that way for a while, but likely not forever. The siren song of Pokemon is always singing seductively in my ear. Hopefully I can maintain my sanity long enough to fight through the deluge of releases over the winter months. Though, depending on the level of content in Pokemon Rumble Blast (which releases October 24th for the 3DS), I may find myself once again enamored by the hundreds of beasts that we call Pokemon. I hope I can get a few more articles written before then.