Pokemon, a story of a divorce

Various parts of my gaming life has been occupied by Pokémon. I remember my first game, Pokémon Yellow emulated on a PC (naughty naughty) in which I raised a level hundred Scyther. That made safari zone (barely) worth it. And I remember playing Pokémon Stadium on friends Nintendo 64. After that came a break. I think levelling that Scyther was my goal, and once I got that I moved onto other things. Namely Playstation One and PC games that weren’t emulations. Still, a love Pokémon was instilled at that point and my time with it was fondly remembered.

Skip forward a few years. Me and my sister’s then boyfriend now husband bought game boy colours for a bit of fun, complete with Pokémon Yellow. That lasted for 169 hours and featured a level 80 something Butterfree that had 7 or 8 Elite Four victories under its belt (I got attached to the little guy and never had the heart to dump him). He also had both Psychic and Confusion in his move set. I didn’t know much about move sets at this point. Zapdos came along for the ride as well, along with an Alakazam. I was back in the game. And it felt great. Like reconnecting with an old friend, or rediscovering a lost love. Pokemon Gold followed not long after (were upon I cheated the Elite Four and traded all my strong guys from Yellow), then Ruby and Emerald before heading off to Platinum. This might be my favourite in the series, just due to the epic run up to the Spear Pillar and the surreal space of the Distortion Zone. As is the natural order of things Black 2 followed up and I still loved the series. And then along came Y.

It was in 3D! Pokémon, on a hand held in full 3D! This was also the first Pokemon game that opened up breeding and EV training to the masses. A change which I took full advantage of. After a somewhat rocky start on line (winning the first 2, then getting hammered through the next 9) I figured out where I was at, got a handle on move sets and gradually became good at the game. Not “good, considering” even, but actually good. It felt great.

I had my favourite Pokémon of course. A Scarfmence, a Gavantula called Thor. Two different Mega Blastoise’s (one with focus blast and one with ice beam). An Infenape wearing a choice band, a Pistol Shrimp called Django. There was a Roserade unleashing Leaf Storm every other turn or so, a Confagrius who walled for days and a Renuclious who saved one match all by his lonesome. And an Mega Mawile called Loki. There are others I am missing but all of them came together to make my time online so very special. I got to 100 wins with a winning percentage of 67.4. Life was good.

I was watching Pokémon none stop on YouTube as well. When I was walking around outside I was thinking about move sets. I was enraptured. But, something happened upon reaching 100 wins. It felt like I had climbed the mountain and to climb anymore seemed like a struggle more than anything else. So in an effort to keep the magic going, I set about breeding a new team. I could breed pretty well (3 hours per Pokémon if I remember correctly). But then I had to do the EV training, then level them and then test them as a team. And if one bit didn’t work I would have to breed another one and start the process again. This started to stack after a while.

What compounded all of this, and started the downward spiral was the fact I didn’t have an outlet. All I played was Pokémon. No other video games. I had tried some others but I always came back to Pokémon. And so when frustration set in, it had nowhere to go. It built, and built. The snapping point was a Treecko. I never got it right and after hours and hours of bike riding to hatch eggs at the exclusion of the rest of them game, I had to leave. I couldn’t stay.

The closest I can to describe the closing months of Pokémon and me being together, it was like being in a loveless marriage, or a failing relationship. It doesn’t work, no one’s happy but no one involved knows anything else and so it’s a case with staying with what you know even if it’s a place devoid of happiness, joy and soul. That’s why I clung on so long. It was the only real video game I had known for 2 to 3 years.

Omega Ruby came out not long after the break up. With Mega Salamence, my favourite Pokémon. I played it for 46 minutes. It was the last game I pre-ordered.

I bought Shovel Knight soon after. Chrono Trigger followed. I loved video games again. Now I’m on Bloodborne (the greatest game), Horizon Zero Dawn and Journey. There will be more. I love the hobby again.

Looking back, I have my regrets. I should have put the game down when it was becoming a chore. I shouldn’t have focused on getting everything so perfect. I should have focused on having fun. But, I don’t know if I could have fun without that perfectionism. Learning about breeding and training was like opening Pandora’s Box. The base game is too formulaic and boring yet the effort to be good just stopped being worth it. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere. I just wish it hadn’t gotten that far.

Yet, I don’t regret the time I spent with the majority of the game though. The online play was great and I had some great battles. Scarfmence’s first sweep, Confagrius holding a Mega Pinsir to deliver a Will O’ the Wisp that sealed the game and Thor just thundering anything moved. The one time I switched in Infernape on Mega Blastoise predicating an Ice Beam and getting it right. The fact I got frozen was just unlucky. There were other moments as well. So many good ones. It’s just a shame through my own failings it all ended so badly. And I can’t go back. Sun and Moon hasn’t interested me, and after things like Bloodborne, it’s hard to go back to Pokémon. Farewell sweet prince.

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