Wednesday, 28 November 2012
This is the first post for me. I should say something.
I grew up on the Pokémon games so there’s a certain amount of nostalgia that keeps me coming back for every new outing. Still, though, I can never seem to be able to shake the reluctance to cancel a Pokémon’s evolution partway through, I always get a weird sinking feeling that something horrible will happen, and I just can’t do that to these friendly pixels.
Up until recently I haven’t been able to play the games to their full potential, only being able to finish the main single player stories – which were never actually really all that inspired - and then dabble somewhat in online communities until University gets really busy and the game gets shelved. But now with the coursework part of my degree done, and the semester over, I’ve got more time to keep up with it. I just needed people to play with.
See, where the games really shine is found within their competitive gameplay, either with super serious players, or more casually between friends. The point is that it’s great when you can play with other people. It’s gives you the opportunity to execute your plans and strategy that you’ve probably spent a lot of time developing and thinking about, against someone who is doing the exact same thing in order to kill your dudes. Don’t let them, kill theirs first! And, of course, it allows you to witness the despair of your opponent, and to drink deep the sweet nectar of their sorrowful defeat. You know, friendly stuff.
My brother decided to pick the game back up after a few years’ hiatus, and my girlfriend finally agreed to give the games a try, so I bought her a copy of the latest one alongside mine. Bless her, she jumped right into the game and was hooked. She really took to what I think is the best part of the game. Not once has she sent out a parade of motherfucking Jigglypuff against me, expecting their adorableness to save the day through friendship and song. Instead, she tries her damnedest to crush me into a paste and make me feel bad. It’s awesome.
I play Pokémon because the games have a complexity and depth that I think a lot of people tend not to give it credit for. It’s really an RPG with hundreds of potential party members, each with their own strengths, and weaknesses, which determine their viability in certain strategy. There’s even individual character differences that means that two of the same pokemon may actually be quite different from each other. On top of that, there’s also a system of invisible statistics that a particularly ambitious player can manipulate, which introduces a whole part of meta-game into play. I have not braved this rabbit-hole though, as doing so takes a turn from fun and casual to super duper fucking serious business time. I’m not so into the game that I’m ready to take that plunge, as it will probably end with me gazing upon the face of madness, while it gazes back, urging me to blink first. Just thinking about the amount of hours involved makes me shudder. Nostalgia can only get me so far, here.
Despite my fondness for the game, I always feel like some kind of abhorrent beast when I venture into the local market place, brush past a fellow shopper walking out with his copy of the latest Call of Duty, draw back my hood, press the required amount of money into the vendors hands, and then clutch my newly acquired game of Pokémon protectively within my talons whilst I skitter off to the dark place from whence I came.
I feel their eyes.
Maybe it’s just me?