Catch Em All
By: Connor Lenahan
If I was able to drive before 2012 then I would have done what I did this past Thursday night long ago. At midnight on Thursday a glorious moment came. This changing of the date to November 21st meant that I could now legally buy Pokemon Omega Ruby at the GameStop a short walk away from my room here at Boston University. Had it not been for the whole “I was 8 when it came out” thing then I would have done the same thing for the original, Pokemon Ruby, when it came out in 2002.
I have been a fan of Pokemon for as long as I can remember. Seriously, given that I was born in 1994 I do not have conscious memory of a world without Pokemon. I have far from anything wrong with this either. Pokemon has been good to me. Very, very good.
Pokemon Gold came out on October 14th of 2000. I broke my right femur on October 8th of 2000. The universe was trying to tell me something – it just happened to pick an exceptionally weird way to do it. I remember playing Pokemon Gold as a kid and loving it. I still hold true to the belief that Pokemon Gold is the greatest video game I have ever played. Seeing as the only competition for this title would be all three Rock Band games, every Madden from 2005 on, myriad other sports games, and every other Pokemon game to ever exist there aren’t exactly many challengers for the throne. But what I loved then and still love now is the fact that this game took forever.
For those unfamiliar with the plot line of Gold, here’s the cliff notes version – You fight your way through the new area, Johto, and all the new things before returning to the area of the original game/television show, Kanto, and beating that area as well. To this day Pokemon Gold (and the subsequent remake, Pokemon HeartGold) are the only games in the series to expand the narrative beyond their own area. Even the six year old version of me appreciated this. I still do now. That is why I have two Game Boy Colors in my room, each with a copy of Gold in them, to this day.
But what became important about these games as a whole through Gold was that they were an insanely fun way to pass the time. I am restless by nature. I cannot keep my mind focused on the same thing for too long without averting my eyes elsewhere. Pokemon is most likely the greatest exception to this rule, and I’m including driving. Because of the storyline involved and the chance to always be doing something of importance in the game, it is entirely possible to log over 100 hours of game time without it seeming excessive.
The plot of the games is to not only beat the story but to catch them all. Do you realize how fucking hard this has become? In the original games there were 151 to capture. Given that one, Mew, actually was impossible to capture without jumping through more hoops than a circus performer on an annual basis this was far from a possibility. Now? There are 719. That was not a typo. There are 719 Pokemon. I am deeply in love with the games, but ever I can barely name over 500 of them if given a photo. The original three games, the ones I likely know the best, account for only 386. I’m no math expert, but that is a frightening ratio.
What I love after playing the new game for a few hours over the past two days is that the series consistently finds ways to be interesting even when directly rehashing a story that I beat in third grade. I realized over the summer that I was not alone in loving Pokemon as our BU Men’s Basketball team was playing it all against one another via an iPhone app. I allowed Eric Fanning to borrow my 2DS and Pokemon X, the latest new game from 2013. over the summer up until a week ago thinking he would play it sparingly. I grabbed my DS back from Eric just over a week ago in preparation for Omega Ruby only to find that he had logged almost (meaning off by less than ten minutes) 80 hours of playtime and caught 438 Pokemon. This is a man who plays basketball at the second highest level possible of anyone (save for, obviously, the NBA) and he still caught more than 200 more than my career best all while dunking on people in practice on a semi-regular basis.
All this serves to say is that I am far from alone in my love for Pokemon. This was compounded by the hundreds of nerds, one of which was proudly me, at GameStop at midnight to begin training again. Given, this coincided with the release of the latest Super Smash Brothers game, but alas, many were Pokemon fans all the same.
I had asked my brothers and friend Matt Gronsky recently about who their dream team of Pokemon was. All had interesting responses, but they were all wrong. That’s because my dream six is the best in history.
Pikachu makes the team because of obvious reasons. If you’re making a dream basketball squad and do not include Michael Jordan then you are an idiot. Same applies to the world’s favorite electric rat. Dragonite makes it for being adorable and destructive. He looks cuddly, but as any Pokemon fan can confirm, he is a war machine. Gengar makes my team because he is evil and I like to be semi-villainous in Pokemon games. Ho-oh makes the game because he is front and center on the cover of the greatest Pokemon game to ever exist. Ampharos makes the team because he has been a key contributor to every single time I have beaten Gold. Sometimes he is a valuable #5 or #6, others he is a primary threat. Always he is awesome. Latios makes the final spot because he’s the Pokemon I am most excited to catch in Omega Ruby.
What makes me even more excited is the knowledge that the game came out just before two big holidays. This creates a large amount of time I can and will spend on catching as many Pokemon as possible, including the six above. Then I will battle and beat my brothers because that’s how I am. Again, sometimes it’s fun to be the villain when the story explicitly dictates that you are the hero.
I’m a nerd. I admit that. This article is a glorious admission of it. But like many other things I have written this year I value the things that have been with me through it all. Pokemon has been valuable to me during every stretch of being in a cast I have ever had to deal with. Six to eight weeks with nothing to do, unable to leave my bed. What do I do? Pokemon. It has been very good to me. Therefore, I want to be good back to it. This is, once again, my chance. If you’ll excuse me, there are badges to be won.