Like a lot of you good gamer gals and guys, I’m one of the OG Pokémon fans. I received my copy of Pokémon Blue for my eleventh birthday, for the chunky-ass house brick sized Game Boy I’d just been given the Christmas before. I loved the holy hell out of it, and Charmander was my first true love. I’d have had many lizard/human mutant children with it if the world were ready for such a union.
The point I’m trying to make: Pokémon was the first franchise in gaming that I was truly passionate about and invested in. And here’s the real kicker: I still absolutely am. Seven generations of the games in, pushing thirty years old, I’m still one of those tiny, ugly-ass little sprites of a trainer at heart (I’m totally a Bird Keeper, that little spiky-haired dude holding the birdcage, because I know you were desperate to know).
Is this wrong? Should I have long ‘grown out’ of the iconic RPG series? There are many who would say so. They’d see a businessman playing Pokémon on his commute and mock, like the mocking mocksters of mock that they are. But why exactly? Let’s play devil’s advocate, and take a look at 15 Reasons You Should Be Embarrassed For STILL Loving Pokémon.
15 Red And Blue Are Twenty Years Old
That’s right, friends. It may sound like one of those Do You Feel Old Yet? Facebook posts, but the original titles were released in 1996. It’s odd, but the whole song and dance Nintendo made of the series’ big 2-0 last year made me feel ancient. You know how it is with The Simpsons, how people say it’s been running on sad, sad fumes for quite a while now? For some people, there’s an air of that about the Pokémon franchise.
Nobody rests on their laurels quite like Nintendo do with their big name series. Granted, of course, Pokémon isn’t Nintendo-developed, but there’s a sense of that same spirit about the games for some. ‘But they’re all the same' is a gripe I’ve heard time and again about Pokémon.
14 Many Sun And Moon Players Now Are Younger Than The Series Itself
There’s nothing explicitly wrong with this. It’s natural. If we were talking a long-running children’s TV show like Thomas the Tank Engine or Barney the Dinosaur, of course its fans will all be older than the show itself. Unless Thomas has a huge following among 33+-year-olds, but I’m not inclined to believe that.
With all of that said, this whole situation does make me feel ever so slightly uneasy. If you’re a mom or dad, have you ever thoroughly humiliated your child by trying to act cool in front of his/her friends? Damn right you have. It’s in the job description. For an older Poké-fan, you can sometimes feel like Bob Hope when he used to dress up as The Fonz from Happy Days.
13 There’s No Mega Snorlax Yet
Some injustices are just too much to bear. Too damn far. Too outrageous. McDonald's still don’t deliver, for one (it’s 2017, guys, get your asses in gear for Thor’s sake). The food on takeout leaflets looks about a million times better than the actual final product, thus suckering you into buying horrible, soggy craptastic. Apple still hasn't come up with a tablet that lets you punch certain Internet-dwellers through wi-fi.
More egregious than even these things, there is no Mega Snorlax. Damn it, Game Freak. That was a golden opportunity, right there. Sure, Pulverising Pancake is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, I’ll give you credit for that, but still. I’m one embarrassed fan. A moment of silence for all the forgotten ‘mon who so desperately deserved some mega recognition.
12 A Lot Of Nineties Fads Have Died Out
Now, I was born right at the ass-end of the eighties, which means I remember very little of the decade. Really, this classifies me as a nineties child, and man oh man do I remember everything. Most of it —let’s be frank with ourselves here— sucked ass.
When I was eleven or twelve, yo-yos were a thing. Yo-yos were the thing. Every single child at my school had one, would play and showboat with them at every break, we even held assemblies where we’d show off our tricks. Then there were Pogs. Don’t pretend you don’t remember Pogs. In my little world, these things were just as big as the Pokémon phenomenon that would sweep the world a year or two afterward. Do you still see kids playing with yo-yos? No, you don’t. You see them playing with smartphones. What gave Pokémon the gift of immortality?
11 Little Kids Playing Pokémon Go
Talk of Pokémon and children playing with smartphones can only lead us to one thing: Pokémon Go. Most of us at least dabbled in the blockbuster all-conquering app when it released last summer, and numbers have sure as hell leveled off since then. Even so, there are still the diehard faithful who continue to play, or at least bust it out of a fairly regular basis when they remember to (that’s me, right there).
I had one early encounter with a family while out on the Go that’s stuck with me. A little girl and her parents were searching the area for Pokémon, and asked me what I’d found and where. It was a few moments’ exchange, but I was left with a conflicted feeling of how cute that the game’s bringing people of all ages together versus well they have a kid, what’s my excuse? Maybe I’m just paranoid.
10 Repetitive Competitive
Pokémon players ‘of a certain age’ (as moms who are just turning sixty and refuse to admit it like to refer to themselves) are often really in it for the competitive side of things. If EVs, IVs, Pokéruses and Power items are your bag, I’m looking at you.
In just about every video game with a competitive scene, there’ll be a certain meta. A character will reign supreme, another will rise to counter them — you know how this stuff works. With Pokémon, though, and its standard VGC (Video Game Championships) tournament rules, this is even more of a factor. There’s a very limited number of hugely powerful must-haves in the format, and you’ll see them on every damn team. Remember the bad old days of Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre dancing around each other? Fun times.
9 You’re Mostly Bullying Children Throughout The Story…
There are a couple of reasons that so many games feature extensive character creation options. Firstly, so you can make your choice of a mutated, distorted, makes-Shrek-look-like-Zac-Effron nightmare. Secondly, so that you can make yourself.
I always quite enjoy the latter, myself. I like being able to empathize with the main character I’ll be spending a lot of time with, and crafting them in my own likeness helps with that. The trouble with this sort of thing, in Pokémon’s case, is that early on, you’re relentlessly beating on trainers who are just little kids showing off their prized caterpies. As an adult, I’m not really a fan of this at all. Being a huge a-hole to children isn’t really my thing.
8 …And Throughout Online Play
We all have fond memories of our favourite Pokémon to battle with back in the day. I think we all had the same Charizard with Ember, Flamethrower, Fire Spin and Fly, and one almighty unstoppable mofo he was too. My personal bae was the Peck, Ice Beam, Blizzard and Fly Articuno I used to stomp the Elite 4 in Blue. That was power, right there.
We all had to start somewhere, is what I’m getting at here. You’ve got to learn how competitive Pokémon battles work. Otherwise, you’re the little kid playing Free Battles on Battle Spot. You know him, the one with the 6 legendary Pokémon with craptacular level up move sets. Free Battle, of course, is the place to screw around, but you never quite know whose hopes and dreams you’re crushing into the mud.
7 The Grind! The Grind!
Pokémon Diamond and Pearl were the games that finally got me into true, competitive, BS-misses-and-general-hax-that-costs-you-entire-tournaments-through-no-fault-of-your-own battling. It’s not a coincidence that this was also the Pokémon generation in which I actually managed to max out the play time counter. Why? Because in the name of Hades’ hairy man-plums, there’s a lot to learn.
In more recent generations, Game Freak have added subtle little nips and tucks to make breeding and training less soul-destroying. It’s still a long and tedious process, though, but it’s necessary to get into the scene. If your team of regular-bred ‘mon go up against a veteran battler’s squad, all six of which have been ‘roided up like Chris Boulder-Punchin’ Redfield from Resident Evil 5, they’re going to have a bad time.
6 Either That, Or Hacking-Amundo
Today’s gamers, as we all know, often don’t do so well with the whole ‘patience’ thing. They know what they want, and they want it freaking now. In fact, they’ll bitch at you on Internet forums and send death threats to your entire family if they don’t get it sooner than now. With that in mind, following on from the last point: A lot of Pokémon battlers don’t want to put in all of that time. Hacking, with third-party devices like Powersaves, is rife. Breeding, shiny hunting, and all of those shenanigans can be swiftly bypassed with a few cheat codes, and it’s super difficult to tell if they’ve been used. Unless they’ve hacked something really blatant, like a Pokémon in a ball that it can’t actually be caught in. It’s a sad state of affairs.
5 There’s… An Ice Cream
There are a certain breed of Poké-fans we like to call Genwunners. These are the guys and gals who insist that Pokémon is long gone, lost its luster sometime around when The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was finishing its run. The reason for this, they claim, is the lack of variety in the Pokémon designs.
The original 151, we’re told, were the pinnacle of Pokémon engineering. Classics, never to be forgotten. Like a fine wine, the sexy likes of Geodude —the rock with arms— apparently improves with age. Obviously, this makes everything that came later look much worse by comparison. Some of the later Pokémon are certainly uninspired, but enough to make us feel embarrassed for still being a fan of the series? That depends on who you ask.
4 The Story Is STILL The Same
As I say, the accusations of laurel-resting are nothing new where Nintendo is concerned. They have a long and proud history of "if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it." When it comes to their core IPs, it’s only lately that they’ve started to take real steps out of their comfort zone, with the likes of Breath of the Wild.
Game Freak, too, have been guilty of this. When it comes to the central experience of the Pokémon titles, the story, it’s hard to argue that the same formula’s been in place for twenty years. Sun and Moon’s Hawaii-inspired setting and Island Trial system was a bit of a shake-up, granted, but it was hardly a huge paradigm shift. We’re thinking outside the box here, but with our noses still pressed right up against the box with a gormless expression on our faces.
3 The Nostalgia Is Strong With This One
Nostalgia, as we all know, can be a dangerous and ball-bustingly powerful force. As youngsters, the gland in our brain that senses if something is utterly craptacular or not hasn’t quite developed yet. As such, we’re much less discerning. The next time you look back at photos of yourself from back in the day and realize what an utterly ridiculous a-hole you looked with that hair — you’ll know where the fault lies.
The same concept applies to video games. One of my fondest memories of the genre involves all the time spent with my beloved Altered Beast. I tried to play today, and realized it was actually a horrible ballache that should be buried in the desert with all those unsold copies of E.T for the Atari. Did you buy the recent Virtual Console re-release of Red and Blue? I can’t help but wonder if we’re still riding the wave.
2 You Could Be These Guys
Now, I have no qualms with indulging in a little nerdery. Our nerdly sides need a bit of nurturing every now and then, like our feminine sides. That’s what I’m told by my partner, anyway (and any excuse to enjoy my guilty pleasure of wanky Tom Hanks rom-coms on LifeTime TV is a-okay with me).
Sure, I’ve been to comic cons and such. Several times, in fact. I’ve seen grown men cosplaying and admired them. That’s the sort of guy I am. But we’ve got to draw a line somewhere. This? This is straight up beyond the pale, right here. If you’re this sort of Pokémon fan, you should most definitely be embarrassed. I’m sure you’ve made a life decision or two along the way that you could probably do with re-evaluating.
1 Pokémon Is, After All, A ‘Kid’s Game’
Nintendo has always been the family-friendly funsters of the gaming world. They’re all about wholesome, harmless, primary-colours-out-the-wazzoo cutesy fun times.
There’s a difference, though, between Barney the Dinosaur’s Horribly Crap Adorable Borefest and Super Mario. Down Nintendo way, E for Everyone is actually all about accessibility, games that are truly for everyone instead of just kiddy titles. There is a reason that you’ll see all walks of life playing Pokémon Go, after all.
Even so, there are still people who will judge. People who will dismiss these titles as kiddy, immature and just plain bad. There are always people with this sort of mindset, very anti-Nintendo and their consoles, and woe betides you if you tell them that you’re a Pokémon-loving twentysomething. Still, maybe take a step back and evaluate why you love what you do.