I’m no stranger to the world of Pokémon. I’ve played all of the mainline titles at least a little bit, though I’ve only properly completed a couple of them. It is a love/hate relationship that has formed over years of Nintendo managing to print money, while releasing essentially the same game several times over. Of course, the Pokémon series has changed, albeit very slowly. Like continental drift, it moves at a sloth-like pace, where you can leave and return without seeing much in the way of substantial change. Going from generation one directly to the present, Pokémon is a wildly different beast, even if the core game itself remains familiar. The last game in the series I completed was Diamond and Pearl, released fairly early in the lifespan of the Nintendo DS. While I enjoyed it at the time, I had felt like Pokémon had grown tired. After completion, it was shelved and eventually sold.
I took some time off, but still ended up picking up Pokémon Black on release day. While I put little time into it, I saw that it was finally doing something a little different. After looking at my backlog for much too long, I decided it was time to man up– I was ready to take the Pokémon challenge once more.
With the game data wiped clean, I set out on my new adventure to collect the eight gym badges and challenge the Elite Four. It was a quest I was very familiar with, but I finally felt ready to give it another go. My continued dependence on portable platforms has made it far more enjoyable this time around. After obtaining the first two badges, I started getting that sinking feeling where I realized that this was just another Pokémon game, and parts of it were going to become a tedious grind. I had to push forward, because I knew if I got over that initial hump, everything would be wonderful. When I finally crossed the long bridge into Castelia City, I knew I was right. Maybe Pokémon had some new tricks up its sleeve after all?
Now I find myself wandering what feels like a sprawling city, and I feel right at home. Pokémon Black has managed to bring me back on board, as I’m rife with feelings of nostalgia for the original 151 monsters. I’ve got wanderlust for this tiny digital world, and I want to see all it has to offer. Sure, the quest might not be all that different, but Pokémon Black looks the way I imagined that world to look when I played my copy of Pokémon Blue on my “Play it Loud”-era GameBoy. These cockfight adventures with these cuddly creatures have never been the most detailed, so my brain always filled in the blanks. Now that there are less blanks to color in, I’m seeing my memories become validated. This is how I chose to remember Pokémon, and I think I made the right choice.
I’m now eagerly anticipating Pokémon X and Y, hoping these will bring more changes to help liven up the series. Pokémon may be a slow, lumbering beast, but it is still a lot of fun to play. With two badges under my belt, I’m ready to see where my adventure is going to take me over the next couple weeks.