A couple of weeks ago, many people around the world were excited for the long awaited release of Pokemon X and Y for the Nintendo 3DS. According to entertainment website neontommy.com, the sixth generation of Pokemon games sold at a rate of over 70 percent in the first two days of sales.
Some might wonder about the significance of the Pokemon video game franchise, and there is one word that can be used to describe this “epidemic”: nostalgia.
However, though nostalgia may be the reason to purchase new installments of the Pokemon saga, the well-planned and executed evolution of the series will keep you playing — something many game sequels get terribly wrong.
If you were born in the 90s, there was a pretty high chance that you owned one of the original Pokemon games that were released in 1998 for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color. When I was five years old, I received a Game Boy Color and Pokemon Red Version for Christmas. There is no other Christmas gift I remember from my childhood more than that game.
Since the release of the original trio of games, there have been five more generations of colored versions of the Pokemon game including the newest one. I have owned, to this day, a game out of every generation except for the newest one.
Some say the game has not changed a bit and that all you do is run around, catch Pokemon, battle gyms and take on the Elite Four. These are major motifs for any player of these games, but the way you play has changed immensely over the years. As we have grown up over the years into mature adults, the Pokemon gaming franchise has grown with us.
I remember when I was six years old, and to trade Pokemon with a friend, you had to use a tiny cable called a GameLink. The newer Pokemon games allow WiFi and infrared trading. This technological innovation synergizes with the game, making it work better.
All too often games in an evolutionary stage try to use new technology because they feel they have to in order to stay relevant or because the developers believe just having it will make the game sell better. This was exemplified by “Test Drive Unlimited 2,” which had a failed attempt at an online multiplayer feature that caused the overall quality of the game to plummet.
There is also the practice of EV training, which is a strategic method to train your Pokemon against opposing wild Pokemon that will boost certain statistics. For example, if you want to boost the speed stat of your Pokemon in Pokemon Black, get ready to battle several Basculin. This fact shows that the franchise is not just child’s play any longer.
However, despite the added opportunities and strategic planning involved in the game, it still proves to be the same fun, child-like addiction it once did. When I pick up a Pokemon game for the first time, I still play for hours, like most that still want to cling to one of the few socially acceptable ties to childhood.
Unfortunately, my funds are insufficient to buy the game now, so I will wait for Christmas to ask for the game once again. And in a gaming world where “Duke Nukem Forever” soiled any nostalgic tie to the franchise, when I open the new Pokemon up under my family’s Christmas tree, I will still be as exuberant as I was when I received my first copy 14 years ago.