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Narrowly Avoiding Pokémon Fever

by Andy Goergen - September 24, 2012, 12:54 pm PDT
Total comments: 5

I guess you gotta start somewhere.

It was not until I saw a poster at my local Sam Goody store (where I worked a summer job) that I understood how big Pokémon had become. I knew that gaming magazines were talking about it, but I was out of the loop in the summer of 1999, and had never, to that point, owned a Game Boy.

The poster said “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” and had a small picture of every Pokémon from the game that was hot at the time (probably Yellow). I wasn’t too sure what to make of it. Wasn’t Game Boy effectively a dead platform? How was it that something could be new and hot on a system so close to the end of its life?

Nintendo released Pokémon game after Pokémon game, and I continued to meet each iteration with puzzled indifference. Some snarky gaming magazine had told me that Gold was just a remake of Red, with new creatures; thus, wasn’t Fire Red incredibly redundant? How many times could they release what is ostensibly the same game, and have people go crazy for it? (Please don’t ask me that same question about Super Mario Bros. I have no answer.) Every time they released a new game, I thought “Well, they’ve milked this as far as they can go” but it keeps on going.

I finally broke down and tried the game out when Pokémon Diamond and Pearl came out for DS in 2006. I picked up Pearl and played it for several hours, getting to a part of the game that required I spend time mining underground. I thought it was okay (though incredibly dated), and I eventually put it back down. After some time, it went into the pile of games that I brought to GameStop every so often for trade credit. I assumed that was it for Pokémon and me.

When I joined NWR in 2009, I realized that as far as Nintendo fans went, I was just about the only one who did not go gaga over Pokémon. Not coincidentally, I was one of the oldest members on staff. It became clear to me that I had missed the craze by just a few years, and if I had still been early in high school, and had a Game Boy when Pokémon hit big, I would have been sucked in too. I knew this because several people whose opinions on games I had held in great regard were suddenly reduced to crazy people when Nintendo announced the 15th and 16th games in the Pokémon series, HeartGold and SoulSilver. For months, it would be the craze of not only the NWR podcasts that I was participating on, but also other gaming podcasts featuring people who had otherwise minimal interest in Nintendo products. How have I managed to avoid this incredibly powerful drug?

In a few weeks, Nintendo will follow up the smash success of Pokémon Black and White with Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, the first direct sequels in the history of the franchise (Think Final Fantasy X-2). I am being tasked with the review of Pokémon White 2, meaning that I am going to dive into the series in the deep end – with little baggage and even fewer expectations. I am going in with a clean slate, and will try my best (even more so than my brief dalliance with Pearl) to enjoy a Pokémon game and see if I can fall under its spell. I do not think I will be catching them all, but I might just catch Pokémon fever.


CaterkillerMatthew Osborne, Contributing WriterSeptember 24, 2012

I look forward to my angry responses when the review goes up!

If it makes you feel better, a seasoned Poke-veteran will be reviewing the other version.

RasSeptember 25, 2012

I've been playing games since the seventies.  I love Nintendo.  And yet, I've never once played a Pokemon game.  Nothing against them, I guess I was similarly out of the loop when they first came out and then figured I'd missed too much to get in on it.

IssunZXSeptember 25, 2012

Heh, I guess I was in the perfect age bracket to get sucked into "Pokémon fever" back in the day; it was the tail-end of elementary school for me, so as a kid it was REALLY easy to get sucked into. I sorta felt I outgrew it when I started high school. The third generation of games didn't really interest me, and the anime introduced characters I never had much interest in at the time. But then I hit college and Diamond came out, and started me back into the craze again, and I've never looked back.

I guess what's kept me playing more than anything over the last five years or so (and I was foaming at the mouth when Gold/Silver remakes were announced; even when my interest waned, the second generation was still the best the series ever was to me... still is), is just how simple and fun the games are. Even if it's largely the same game every time with a little twist or new add-on (you mentioned Mario), something about starting a new adventure fresh, exploring a new region, taking down a local crime syndicate hellbent on world domination, and meeting (and possibly reuniting) with friends new and old, just makes me excited to play them every time. There might be a bit of a nostalgia attachment to the franchise, but the games themselves have never totally bored me. I'm looking forward to B2/W2 to continue the story of the first games and see what changes have occurred in the region since the end of the first set of Black and White.

Also, I know it's nitpicky and all, but I wouldn't say Black 2/White 2 are the first direct sequels in the franchise. Gold/Silver were that to the original games, as the story takes place three years following the defeat of Team Rocket and largely follows up with the organization trying to rebuild itself on a massive scale. And then there's all the changes that happen in Kanto during that time. I guess B2/W2 just get the honor, because it's the first main series game to have a numbered sequel though. I appreciate your perspective though, and it should be interesting to read a review from someone who's not as into the games as others here.

S-U-P-E-RTy Shughart, Staff AlumnusSeptember 25, 2012

Just don't be this guy


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