Pokémon games are one of Nintendo's best-selling ideas in the history of video games. Trying to find a kid who doesn't love, or at least know of, Pokémon, would be a difficult task. It seems strange, then, that so many of the actions involved in Pokémon games are really, really messed up. There are so many things you have to do to beat a Pokémon game that would be illegal, or at least really terrible in real life. From Pokémon Yellow to the latest versions of the game, every Pokémon game has required players to do some messed up things to gain rewards.
The worst part is not that these strange and terrible aspects of the game exist, it's that you are actually rewarded for doing them. It isn't as bad as more adult games, like Grand Theft Auto, which rewards you for murdering and stealing cars, but it's still pretty bad, especially for a game marketed towards kids. You might not remember or think about some of these Pokémon features. It's easy to brush them away and focus on the fun parts of the game. However, when you really think about what goes into winning a Pokémon game, and what kind of behaviors are rewarded in the Pokémon universe, it seems pretty messed up, to say the least.
15 Wild Animal Abuse
Pokémon battles with Trainers or Gym Leaders is awful. It's glorified dog fighting and, overall, is a messed up way to succeed. The only thing that might be worse is also animal abuse, but in a different capacity. Every time you wander through the long grass, you end up fighting and abusing innocent wild animals. Some you knock out just to level up the Pokémon you already took rom their homes and basically enslaved. Other Pokémon, you beat down until they're too tired and hurt to resist your Pokeball. Some of the Pokémon are hard to find in the wild. When you think about it, you are tracking and injuring endangered animals for your own gain. Doing that in the real world would be high on the list of "most messed up things ever."
14 Pimping Out Your Ditto
Ditto is a strange Pokémon. It's pink, blobby, and has creepy little beady eyes. It's even rumored to be a failed clone of Mew, which is a sad origin story. The redeeming thing about Ditto, though, is that it can turn into any other Pokémon. This is handy in battle, because Ditto can copy the moves of the opposing Pokémon. Ditto has a darker, more sinister use though: he makes a great stud. See the problem yet? Ditto is a prized breeding Pokémon, because if you drop Ditto off at the breeder, it can breed with Pokémon of any egg group, and the egg will always belong to its partner. This is a great way to get cool Pokémon, but you are also taking advantage of poor Ditto, the only Pokémon in its egg group. Who knew that pimping out an innocent animal could be so rewarding?
13 Since When Is Fighting Little Kids A Good Thing?
Fighting little kids is messed up, right? It seems like it should be easy for everyone to agree on that point, but the Pokémon universe has a different view of things. One of the most important parts of a Pokémon Trainer's journey is picking fights with kids sometimes kids even younger than the trainers themselves! Who in the right mind would think that battling little kids who still have to wear floats in the ocean should be rewarded? Well, you do get rewarded for that— with money, which you also take from children. Somehow battling Gym Leaders doesn't seem nearly as bad as basically bullying children out of their lunch money. Even your "arch rival" Gary has asthma, and you still battle him every chance you get. That's a pretty messed up way to get ahead.
12 Hunting Endangered Animals
Hunting endangered animals in the real world is usually illegal, and always awful. Now, imagine some rich people decided to create an amusement park and fillet with endangered and rare animals. Then, imagine they invited people to come, pay a fee, and go in to hunt down endangered animals with no consequences. Well, in Pokémon games, that's called the Safari Zone, and it's somehow totally OK. So, not only are you tracking down wild animals and sticking them in balls, training you to do your bidding, you're also paying for the awful opportunity to easily hunt and catch the rarest Pokémon. That doesn't even take into account the fact that you're expected to specifically injure and trap legendary Pokémon that have been free for all of time.
11 Don't Leave Your Pokemon At "Daycare"
The daycare for Pokémon is a weird place. What kind of daycare lets their charges "make eggs" together? That's a whole different problem, though. What's really messed up is that you know what your Pokémon are going to get up to at daycare and you still drop them off there— on purpose! Catching Pokemon is already weird, but catching specific Pokémon for the sole purpose of breeding them together is seriously demented. The work that goes into matching genders, egg groups, and Pokémon types is convoluted, but what it really comes down to is you dropping off your pets to breed with each other, so you can get cool new Pokémon and ditch the old ones. This is a strange, unnecessary addition to an all-ages game that will have some kids questioning the birds and the bees (or the Pidgeys and the Beedrills).
10 Pokémon Encourages Underage Gambling
This isn't one of those "video games are evil" arguments: Pokémon actually encourages the in-game kids to gamble throughout the game. Not only are you basically dog fighting with Pokémon to beat other players and win money, but gambling in other ways, too. In fact, in some games, you can visit an actual casino. You insert your own coins into the slot machines and hope for a big payout. Just like real gambling, though, sometimes you lose more than you win. Many parents were rightfully concerned about young children being exposed to high-risk activities in the game, and the Game Corners have been removed from recent Pokémon adventures. In recent games, you can still enter the battle castle to win money. Prize fighting seems more dangerous than harmless slot machines— maybe parents should be more concerned about that.
9 Forcing Children Into Vigilantism
What's even more messed up than sending a kid on an unsupervised journey? Well, making that journey as dangerous as possible is a pretty good start. Not only do Pokémon games chuck little kids into strange situations and make them go on Long journeys, battle Pokémon, and fend for themselves sin the tall grass, but there are also some seriously dangerous situations. In the real world, the chances of a child being forced into vigilantism are slim, because it's really messed up. Are there really no competent adults in the Pokémon world that could take on organized crime and spare placing random kids in the direct path of danger? There is no way to win without taking on enemies like Team Rocket or Team Plasma and saving the entire world.
8 Hey, Friend! Wanna Trade?
Playing Pokémon games on the GameBoy was awesome, especially with the addition of the Link Cable. Remember the first time you traded Pokémon to your friends? Completing your Pokédex by switching Pokémon is fun. It's an important part of the game, too. Some Pokémon can only be evolved though trading. When you think about it, though, it's pretty messed up. At the core of the Pokémon trading system, it's obvious that the whole idea is messed up. You are basically using animals as currency, buying and selling with no regard for their lives. Trading Pokémon cards away to get that coveted shiny Pokémon is one thing, but selling off Pokémon to get what you want is seriously weird. Who thought that was a good idea?
7 It's Basically Dog Fighting
Having Pokémon seems cute and all, but having a Pokémon is not like having a goldfish (even if it's Magikarp). Collecting Pokémon, training them, and evolving them is a lifelong mission. It would make sense that your mission would be to take care of the little guys and do nice things for them, like not battle them to the death. OK, so Pokémon don't really die in battle, but in the real world, adopting wild animals and then forcing them to injure each other is frowned upon, to say the least. Every time you battle a Gym Leader, all six of the Pokémon on your team are probably going to faint and end up at the Poké Center. That's not just messed up, it seems downright evil. In the Pokémon games, though, you get special items, money, and bragging rights for pitting helpless animals against each other.
6 Breaking And Entering
Breaking and entering, yet another illegal activity encouraged and rewarded by the strange world of Pokémon games. You can break into nearly every house you find, even if the owners aren't home. For randomly wandering into private property, you get fancy new items, money, advice, and more. If everyone broke into strangers' houses and expected free stuff and conversation, it would be absolute chaos. It's not just houses you have to break into, either. You get ahead in the game and get rewards for all kinds of questionable entries. You have to sneak into museums, take items from companies, and infiltrate enemy bases. You even have to find ways into museums, monuments, crime scenes, and sunken ships that can't possibly be legal. In the Pokémon world, though, anything goes. Try these stunts in the real world and you would be arrested, but in Pokémon games, you're rewarded.
5 Let's Destroy The Rainforest!
Running around the Pokémon world isn't easy. Sometimes things get in the way. Ledges make no sense, rocks have to be smashed, and of course, trees need to be cut down. Wait, what? Yep, these games force you to cut down little baby trees in order to continue on your insane Pokémon journey. You have to use your Pokémon to do it, too, absolving you of any personal guilt or sense of responsibility that would come from using an axe like a normal person. Of course, great things come from destroying innocent saplings. Sometimes you get something as simple as an extra Poké ball, which is probably a lot less valuable than the life of a tree. Other times, you just need to get rid of a tree to get to a path. Apparently walking around is never an option.
4 Stop Stealing Food
In Pokémon games, you don't really have to eat. Unless you're playing a game like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, your Pokémon don't have to eat either. The only benefit to food is eating berries and Pokéfood that increases abilities or stats. You can buy the berries, of course, but you don't have to. You can find berries growing all over the place! The problem is, they are usually in other people's gardens. That soft, loamy soil has to come from somewhere, right? The world of Pokémon apparently thinks it's a great idea to encourage people to steal food out of other people's yards. Sure, you can plant a new seed. But you know you're just going to go back later and pick those berries, too, so it never really evens out. Don't get caught trying to do that in the real world!
3 It's Dangerous To Go Alone!
Not only do Pokémon games encourage kids to leave their homes and go gallivanting around the world finding Pokémon, but they also glorify the danger that goes along with it. There are nice marked paths to some towns, but we all know that getting places in the game can be tough, especially with Pokémon in the way. Who in the right mind would send a kid into a dark cave full of Zubat, especially when it's abandoned or under construction? That's a terrible idea, but caves are some of the most rewarding places in the games. You have to go in to get certain Pokémon, track down enemies, and n find certain rare items. Caves aren't the worst of it, either. Flying Pokémon from city to city, wandering into volcanoes, and heading into unstable underwater wrecks are just a few examples of terrible, dangerous situations that hold hefty rewards in Pokémon games.
2 That Belongs In A Museum!
In Pokémon games, you are required to perform all sorts of strange tasks and errands in order to succeed in the game. Sometimes you have to be an errand boy, running packages and letters between towns (whereas the mail system?) and other times, you need to track down specific items in order to get valuable rewards. That doesn't sound too awful, but some of the items you are charged to find should definitely not be in the hands of a child. Why scientists and other adults are tasking children with the job locating things like ancient artifacts and fossils is beyond understanding, and it's messed up that part of the game includes destroying things that should be kept for scientific and historical reasons. Next time you try to evolve a legendary Pokémon out of a fossil, try to remember that fossils are important artifacts, not toys.
1 Should You Really Be On Your Own?
Running away from home isn't a great idea, obviously. In the real world, cops would be tailing ten-year-old kids who left home to go on "adventures." In the Pokémon world, things are a little different. People treat pre-pubescent kids traveling alone like it's no big deal. Parents and scientists, who should probably be in charge of making sure kids stay home and go to school or something, are actually encouraging little kids to ditch their parents and hit the road, with only the company of a weird little animal. The Pokémon world rewards kids for making this terrible decision, even though it's incredibly dangerous. You can't win the game, build your Pokédex, or battle Gym Leaders (another bad idea, really) without setting out on a lonely journey. Congratulations Pokémon, on encouraging 10-year-old kids to leave home.