There’s a very vocal group of dissidents badgering the Pokemon company right now every time they announce anything regarding the upcoming Pokemon Sword and Shield. Personally, I am not remotely bothered about the limitations surrounding the upcoming games, rather I am just looking forward to playing a new Pokemon game, regardless of what is or isn’t in it.
Waiting to play a game and judging it on its own merits after the fact might seem like a bizarre concept, but it’s a hill I’ll chose to die on. Because let’s be real, every Pokemon game has its faults. Like every Pokemon game also has its strengths. So, I thought I’d spend a little time looking back at pointing out what I thought were the best and worst things about each Pokemon generation since the beginning.
This, is going to end up being in two part by the time I finish, I can already tell:
1st Generation – Red/Blue/Green:
The Best: My first social game
Pokemon Red was the first truly social video game experience I had with anyone. When it came out in the Europe in late 1999, everyone was playing it, and thanks to the handheld nature of the Gameboy everyone had it on them at all times. The numerous decision points in which you could only pick one Pokemon of a selection, or the version exclusive monster between the versions.
It made trading, battling and erasing a sibling’s save file a social experience I’d never had before with any game. Being late for school because I was trading my with my friend to get his Flareon to complete my Pokedex outside of the school gates is a memory that has stuck with me to this day.
The Worst: The Bugs
Not the bug types, Although making bug the psychic type’s only weakness and then having not good way of exploiting that fact was kind of a dumb move. I mean the many glitches in the game that broke everything. MissingNo. Item Cloning, capture rate weirdness, the focus energy bug, the Toxic/Leech Seed exploit and save corruption.
The first games were riddled with bugs and glitches, even if you didn’t realise it you were dealing with them. I knew a few people who destroyed their save files from abusing the Mew tricks and MissingNo. bugs. There’s No worse feeling than losing a hundred hours of progress through a programming error. Or realising the time you’d spend levling up your team was pointless when your friend was just cloning rare candy.
2nd Generation – Gold and Silver:
The Best: Bringing Balance
There are a lot of things for me to praise when it comes to the hotly anticipated follow up to Pokemon. But really, the thing I probably appreciate the most, even more so in hindsight, is how they rebalanced the game and made it… well, less broken.
Aside from tightening up all those bugs, they split the special stat into two and added both dark and steel types to the game. All in efforts to balance it and stop psychic types from being the dominant, all consuming force that they were. Plus, we got useable bug types with actual bug type moves. And some actual dragon type moves. The type chart suddenly became less of a formality.
The Worst: The Game’s Pace
Levelling and traversing through the game in Gold and Silver is an unholy hell of grinding. Much more so than any other game in the franchise. Routes are small and trainers are few, giving you very little time between towns and gym challenges. Additionally, wild Pokemon always seem to be up to ten levels lower than the current challenge within the game requires.
So if you catch something late, I hope you’re prepared to do a hell of grinding. The cause of this was most likely the addition of Kanto as an explorable region after the league. It screws up the levelling curve and makes the first part of the game too brief, all in favour of arriving at a very empty and devoid of things to do Kanto region. Which is still full of grossly under levelled wild Pokemon to battle.
People say they want a game with all regions in it, this game is an example of why that might not be the best idea.
3rd Generation – Ruby and Sapphire:
The Best: The extracurricular activities
Gen three might be my favourite set of games of the bunch. At least in terms of nostalgia and how much I played them at the time. The thing that sticks out to me the most about Ruby and sapphire is just how much there was to do outside of battling.
Pokemon eventually became much more than simple battle monsters, and the 3rd gen added so much to play with outside of that: Secret Bases, contests, collecting trainer stars, ribbon collecting. It became a trend with mixed results going forward, but there is little bad about the stuff in gen 3, it’s all interesting and really one of the high points of the franchise.
Maybe I was the right age for it, or maybe everything that came after just felt like a gimmick in comparison, but it’s difficult for me to find fault in anything about the 3rd generation. Speaking of which:
The Worst: Too much Water!
Haha, I kid, I kid.
The Worst: The Regi Puzzle
This is more of a nit pick than a genuine issue. As I think there a very few weak points to these games. But that braille driven puzzle for the Regi trio was baffling to my 13 year old brain. I didn’t even recognise it as braille. So, when looking on the proto-internet for all the dubiously sourced secrets of Pokemon Ruby. The method for getting Regi’s felt like one of the most fake guides out there.
Like the ones that tell you how to unlock sonic in Smash Melee by playing one million games. I mean, the need for Wailord and Relicanth in certain team slots seemed like such an arbitrary and random requirement that I couldn’t believe it was genuine.
But low and behold, that’s how you get to the Regi trio of legendary Pokemon. A lot of effort for a bunch of pretty lack luster Pokemon in the long run.
This is long enough as it, so as I predicted, this is going to be split into two parts. Check back tomorrow for the rest of the games, that become increasingly easy to nit pick.