Pokemon Go

I honestly didn’t think Pokémon Go would be as big as it is. I didn’t realize it would be mentioned on major news outlets, so all I can say is kudos to Nintendo/Niantic/Game Freak (or whichever entity/entities developed the game) for quite possibly creating a Pokémon renaissance twenty years after the original games came out in Japan.

I have not played Pokémon Go, and I have no intention of doing so, mainly because the idea of wandering around with my head glued to my phone is repugnant. I do think that the game could be great for kids because it will encourage them to get out of the house, get some exercise, and possibly meet new friends while trying to become “the very best, like no one ever was.” (However, parental supervision is obviously a necessity.)

In a way, the new “augmented reality” genre of the game reminds me of the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, where animated characters are superimposed into real-world landscapes. Only now with Pokémon Go, you can harness the power of these cartoonish images and have a truly interactive experience with other players, thus erasing the stereotype that video game players can be found only in dark, grungy basements. It’ll be interesting to see what other augmented reality games or programs are developed in the future.

Have you played Pokémon Go? What do you think?

Pokemon Sun and Moon

If you follow video game news at all, you have been well aware (probably to an annoying degree) that Pokémon Sun and Moon are on their way to U.S. players and that the three starter Pokémon have been revealed.

So we have Rowlet, which appears to be an adorable (and very round) Flying/Grass-type owl. There’s Litten, a black and red kitten that’s obviously Fire type (some people are hoping that it will end up as a Fire/Dark type). And then we have “derptastic” Water-type Popplio, which looks like a comical circus seal.

Honestly, if I do buy the game, it’ll be two or three years after it’s initially released, and it’ll probably take me another two or three years to actually finish the game. But if I had to pick a starter Pokémon at this stage, I’d probably go with Rowlet because I like owls and the addition of Flying to the Grass type might make Rowlet more useful than Grass types in previous games. My second choice would be Litten, but that seems to be everyone’s favorite, and I personally never choose the Fire type. I usually choose the Water type in every game, but Popplio’s design doesn’t really appeal to me. If it took on a dual type later in the game, that might make it more worthwhile, but… for now, I’ll go with Rowlet.

We don’t know much else about the game at this point, beyond that there is character customization, which is always nice but never crucial. It takes place in a setting that looks like Hawaii, but settings have never been critical to me as a player. The variety of different Pokémon in an area has always been the main factor that keeps me playing the game, so I’m hoping that these new additions to the series have lots of adorable and powerful Pokémon!

Twenty Years of Trying to “Catch ‘Em All”

After a bunch of serious posts in a row, I figure I might as well write about something silly.

So everyone’s raving about how Pokémon Go might just be the next best thing in video games. It’s so huge that it got a commercial in the Super Bowl. (But that might have been because the Pokémon franchise is turning 20 years old today. I have no idea. I didn’t watch the Super Bowl.)

Pokémon Go is supposed to be an “augmented reality” (how is that different from virtual reality? I’m not sure) game in which you catch, battle, and trade Pokémon on your mobile device. Different areas in your real-life world will contain different wild Pokémon, which supposedly encourages people to exercise and walk all over (or at least spend a lot of money traveling to exotic locations) in order to find and catch their favorites.

And then Pokémon Sun and Moon are coming out later this year (around the holidays). They will probably follow the pattern of the traditional Pokémon game, which has not changed since 1996: you play the role of a 10-year-old kid who gets his first Pokémon and goes on an epic adventure to defeat a group hell-bent on destroying the world and to capture and train every Pokémon.

I still remain a devoted Pokémon fan and will continue to follow the franchise for the rest of my life, even though I will most likely not buy every single product that comes out. Pokémon Go doesn’t appeal much to me, and if Pokémon Sun and Moon aren’t radically different from the usual RPG formula, I may skip them, or buy them two or three years after they’re released, like I’ve done with all the recent Pokémon games.

The real reason I still carry a torch for Pokémon is most likely childhood nostalgia. My brother and I used to play the card game and watch the TV show all the time. I formed a bond with pixelated creatures on a Game Boy Color screen. There was nothing quite like the excitement of ripping into a booster pack of Pokémon cards and pulling out a new holofoil (well, today, it would be pulling out a secret rare—back in my day, they didn’t have those).

Anyway, long live the Pokémon franchise, which has brought many kids joy over the years. Train on!