Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It Doesn't Matter If My Pokémon is from Blue Or Black

Recently, I've hit a lull in writing for this blog. So I went to the wonderful world of Twitter (the Pokémon world has something similar called Pidgey-er) to ask about what I should write about. One guy suggested talking about why people hate on the second generation. I was taken aback; how can anyone think little of Gold and Silver? I might have taken this a little too personally because second gen was my favorite, but then it hit me. Every time a new generation comes around, there are always haters. You got people who claim that the "first 150 were great and everything after is just garbage." Then you have those who claim that through better stats and typing that the newest Pokémon are better. And then you have everyone else in between who greatly favor one generation and completely bash on the rest. But why? At the end of the day it's Pokémon! Every generation has their fair share of game mechanics and Pokémon that make it awesome in its own respect.

So let's start with the first gen games, Red and Blue. These games set the precedent for what trainers could expect with Pokémon. Catch creatures in the wild, collect the eight gym badges, stop the evil team, defeat the Elite Four and become the champion. A big complaint about these games were that the Pokémon looked creepy in comparison to later games. To be fair, this was before the look of Pokémon were fully established. By Yellow, the sprites looked pretty normal and a lot like their show counterparts. But there's still that charm that comes from Red and Blue's grotesque sprites. These oddly disproportionate sprites might look weird, but they have attitude.

 Another complaint is that Red and Blue had more glitches than you could shake a Farfetch'd's stick at. Again, these games were the first. For the most part, game series improve overtime. I'd even argue that the glitches in Red and Blue are fun to exploit. Everyone and their mother at one time or another used the Missingno. glitch to duplicate items. With so many glitches in the game, lies like the ability to catch "Pikablu" or Togepi were believable. It's actually quite possible to catch Mew, but the glitch takes some serious work to pull off. The gameplay of Pokémon has been polished over the years, but it's still fun to mess around with glitches in Red and Blue.

Don't catch it! You'll game will become %$*q"%2{ 

Honestly, I can't see how people can complain about the second generation. Gold and Silver took the original formula and made vast improvements. First off, Gold and Silver were direct sequels to the originals. So not only did you get to collect the badges in the Johto region, but you also got to collect the badges in the Kanto region. That's 16 badges in all! What's even more cool is that the final battle is against the original trainer you played as in Red and Blue. Time was also a big factor in this game. If you played at night, wild Hoothoots would appear instead of Pidgeys. With 100 new Pokémon, two new types, the introduction of held items, new methods for evolution, shiny Pokémon, breeding, a chance to rebattle trainers and so much more, Gold and Silver added so much to make Pokémon better. I honestly can't find a reason why people could complain about this gen. Maybe they didn't even try it? It's a shame really, they've missed out on one of the best Pokémon games. 
The most epic battle is about to unfold

And now we get into the 21st century with the launch of the third generation. Out of all the games, I think Ruby and Sapphire received the most hate. For one thing, there was no backwards compatibility between the previous generations and this one. While it was somewhat of a letdown, it makes perfect sense once you see how vastly different the game mechanics changed. For one thing, IVs or individual values of a Pokémon increased from 0-15 to 0-31 (up to this point they were called DVs). Other attributes such as gender and shininess were calculated through a different set of numbers instead of being reliant on IVs. This led to the possibility of getting a shiny female starter, which was impossible in the first two generations. The third generation also fixed the clunky PC system. Instead of saving everytime to switch a box, you can just scroll through boxes until you find the Pokémon you're looking for. The third generation overhauled the system to make Pokémon games easier to play.

The biggest improvement that third gen brought was in respects to battling. I already mentioned how IVs increased in range, but the effort value system allowed further customization of a Pokémon's stats. Basically, how you train a Pokémon can increase certain stats. There are plenty of articles online about how to EV train, so I won't go into further detail here. There's also the addition of natures which gives a further boost to a Pokémon's stats. A Modest Alakazam is better than a Adamant Alakazam because a modest nature boosts Special Attack (which Alakazam uses) while an adamant nature boosts Attack (which Alakazam doesn't use). And of course, who could forget about abilities! Abilities are special attributes that a Pokémon has that give them an edge in battle. A Pokémon's ability is a major part of strategy in competitive play. Your Gengar has a nasty weakness to Ground? It has Levitate so it can avoid hits from Earthquake! Need to patch up Gyarados's weaker defense stat? It has Intimidate to automatically lower its opponent's attack. Natures, Abilities and EVs have made Pokémon a more competitive game. Without the third generation, this couldn't have happened. That's why I like to refer to Ruby and Sapphire as the "fathers of modern competitive battling."

Oh yeah, and third gen was the first to remake older Pokémon games. If that doesn't convince you that third gen was awesome, then I don't know what will. 
Third gen game mechanics with first gen scenario and story? Yes please!

Now we move on to the not-so-distant past with the fourth generation of Pokémon, Diamond and Pearl. I personally love this generation mainly because this was when my brother first got into Pokémon. Besides family bonding, fourth gen brought great changes to the table. For one thing, fourth gen introduced the Physical/Special split of moves. Before, moves were classified as either physical or special based on their type. Now, moves are either physical or special depending on their own classification. So what did this mean? Hitmonchan could finally use the elemental punches effectively, Moltres could now use stronger flying moves, Arcanine could bite things with Thunder Fang. You get the idea. Basically, Pokémon gained movepool diversity. You'll notice that back in earlier generations, movepool coverage was pretty limited. Pokémon were lucky if they could use their STAB (same type attack boost) effectively. You could say it's super effective! ....All bad jokes aside, fourth gen did a great job in giving Pokémon a boost. This was also when I started playing Pokémon competitively.
Arceus commands you not to bash the fourth generation!

The DS was a warm welcome for Pokémon games. With the DS's internal clock, time was reintroduced in the Pokémon world. Furthermore, the touch screen made it easier to select attacks, switch Pokémon and use items. Granted, the way Diamond and Pearl organized the now limitless bag was kind of clunky, but Heartgold and Soulsilver cleaned up the interface. 

An easier interface to navigate
Speaking of HGSS, they are possibly the best games around. With the original story of the second gen and the gameplay mechanics of the fourth gen, HGSS put the best of both worlds together. I simply LOVE these games; there's no other way to put it. If anything else, the fourth gen should never be bashed simply because of HGSS.

So now we're here in the present with the fifth generation of Pokémon. Just a year ago, Pokémon Black and White hit shelves in the U.S. and Black and White 2 are coming later this year. Like every other generation, this one is greeted with the same old "eww, new Pokémon are ugly! I like the originals!" Really? If Nintendo only kept the original
 Pokémon without adding new ones, what's the point in making new games? It always surprises me how Nintendo can still make creative creatures, and the fifth generation is no exception. In fact, I might be inclined to say that fifth gen has some of the most creative Pokémon around. They went crazy with the type combos this time around. Steel/Grass, Ghost/Fire, Bug/Electric, Dark/Fighting, the list goes on and on. While fourth gen added movepool diversity, fifth gen added type diversity. It was a smart move to only have new Pokémon catchable until after you completed the main story. It gave time for me to appreciate the newcomers. I have to admit, it took me awhile to accept the new Pokémon. But I'm glad I gave Black and White a try.
What's not to love about Scrafty? It's a straight up gangsta!
The fifth gen is still going strong with the inevitable release of Black and White 2. Now I can go on and on about all the awesome features like the story being a direct sequel, fighting old gym leaders from past games, catching wild Eevees, new forms of Pokémon and all that. But instead, I'll show you why the fifth gen is awesome with an animated trailer. *Note: turn on captions for English subs.

This sums up my feelings on Black and White 2 in six words:

Really, every generation of Pokémon has been great. While it's understandable to have a favorite gen, it doesn't mean that every other generation besides it was terrible. It has and always will be an entertaining video game series, no matter which version you play. No matter if it's Black or Blue, I'll always love Pokémon.

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