Hi, I’m Steve, and I’m addicted to Pokémon.
It may have come to your attention that I’ve been keeping pretty quiet on this site of late. And by “of late” I mean almost a year without posting a damn thing. To be honest, I’m surprised Dante didn’t take away my publisher status! Where did I go? What did I do? What exciting new stories do I have to tell? Well, I was on an adventure. My aim? To be the very best, like no-one ever was…
I’ve been a Pokémon fan almost since the very beginning. From my very first monster (Squirtle) nearly 11 years ago, the franchise had sunk its teeth into my mind and refused to let go to this day. I may not watch the TV show any more, nor do I collect the cards, and I only watch the movies ironically, I swear! But the games? That’s a different story. I’ve been engrossed in them from the start, and while I am by no means an expert, my reputation is such that at the game store where I work I’ve become known as the “Pokémon Professor”. Over the course of the last year I have spent well over 200 hours playing either Soul Silver or Black, which is 40 hours short of the time I spent on Sapphire alone! What is it about this so-called kids’ game that caused me to devote so much time to it? Hopefully I’ll be able to explain it now, as well as speak in its defence against the cynics who have long-since disregarded the series.
Pokémon: It’s serious business!
First off, let’s address one of the most common criticisms of the series. The one that gets me laughed out of most ‘mature’ gaming conversations: “Pokémon is just a children’s game.”
This baffles me every time I hear it. Why is it considered as being solely for kids? Plenty of people my age play it, people who were there when Red/Blue first hit the shelves. Hell, I know people twice my age that still get a kick out of it! No matter how you approach this argument, it doesn’t add up. A lot of kids play it, you say? A lot of kids play FIFA, CoD, Halo and Rock Band. It’s marketed towards children? Check out this quote from co-founder of developers Game Freak, Junichi Masuda:
“…our main goal was to make [Pokémon Black and White] really fun for players who had never played Pokemon before. But we also wanted to try and have players from the past, who hadn’t played in a while, come back with this generation. So we were really targeting both – the new and lapsed players. We wanted as many people to play the games and enjoy them.” [IGN]
If you’re one of those “lapsed players”, and if we assume the minimum age for being able to fully appreciate a game such as this is around 7 years old, you would have to be at least 18 years old to be part of the target audience for this series!
I guess the only other related argument you could use in this vein is that it’s a game about collecting cute little monsters and play-fighting with them. Okay, sure there are cute ones:
But there’s plenty of weird, ugly, or just plain wrong ones too:
In short, Pokémon is not (and arguably never has been) exclusively “for kids”. The game is played world-over by fans and newcomers young, old and inbetween! A franchise like this just would not survive without bringing the older generations along with it every step of the way, no matter how many youngsters are buying into it!
Next time: Fire > Grass > Water > Fire. Is the gameplay really that simple? Or does Pokémon have an in-game technical edge to it that makes even the most hardcore of RPGs hang their collective heads in shame?
Thanks for reading! Please post comments, suggestions and feedback below!
-Steve ‘The Hylian’