[EVERYTHING CONTAINED IN THIS IS OPINION AND SHOULD BE TAKEN AS SUCH]
Five generations in the making, the video game portion of the Pokémon franchise is vast and beautiful spanning over continents and painting a wondrous picture of mythical creatures and hidden deities. However, each one of these generations brough something new to the table and evolved the game and the gameplay as time elapsed. I, personally, have played at least one of every single generation and remake of past generations. The only games I haven’t played fully though are Pearl, Platinum, Black, and SoulSilver, however I feel that the amount of time I’ve spent on the others qualifies me to talk about just what made each generation good, and what made them a little less than good.
First off there was the first generation, which some know as the chromatics generation. It consisted of Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow and set the pace for all other Pokémon games to come. Leading the way with an intense turn-based battle style, the chromatics gave us a peek into the wondrous world yet to be revealed. Toting what I’d like to call the best starters to be offered to date, the infamous Prof. Oak sets us out on our journey with Charmander, Bulbasaur, Squirtle, or Pikachu depending on the version. Aside from the normal gameplay mechanics and semi-deep storyline, the chromatics brought far more to the table with odd glitches and secrets such as Missingno. and M’. Another thing that i personally loved about the “days of old” was the fact that the bug type was super effective against poison. I don’t know; seems oddly fitting . . . Anyway, Victory Road and Cerulean Cave still plague my nightmares with the hellish visions of me going through them for my first time. And who can ever forget encountering Mewtwo with his level 70 awesomeness? What about Zapdos? Articuno? Moltres? Legends, and their first encounters, still drift around fondly in my memories. I don’t know, but five seemed like the perfect amount of legendaries for a game to me. Not the way they’re over-doing it now. Wrap + Toxic combo for Tentacruel is definitely something that should be mentioned if talking about chromatics; that and the way the psychic type bloody dominated the metagame.
Sure the chromatics had so much to offer, what with being the pioneers of a story that would span over a decade, but they definitely were not the most pristine diamond in the mine. (That’s not a pun, swear.) the first thing that comes to mind is the internal battery problem that the orignal cartridges suffered; causing hundreds of hours of data to be lost to pretty much anyone that owns the game for longer than 4 years. And who can say honestly that they’ve never encountered some of the crazy glitches that can run amuck and possibly even ruin save games. Now this is may be just me, but the Sleep status in the game rubs me the wrong way in that generation. And while we’re on the subject of battle mechanics, critical hit ratio shouldn’t be governed by the speed stat. >_> No one liked Persian when Slash made crits every turn. You should be able to wake up and attack; something that Game Freak caught quickly, thankfully. That leads me to our second segment:
The metallics came out shortly after the extraordinary success with Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow and toted the wondrous titles of Gold and Silver. And shortly after that came a similar installment but with more to it known as Crystal. Right there Game Freak did something right, alongside also letting you choose to be female (just ’cause I like to be a girl). Sure, it’s an obvious ploy to get more money out of a generation already done, but the third installment in the Pokémon games has now become a standard; unveiling whole new sections of gameplay in realms you already thought stuffed. Alongside having an amazing storyline for it Johto brought with it my favorite melodies in the video games with each of the cities and towns having a oddly distinct sound that still plays in the back of my head. The cover of night also saw itself make a cameo with the new generation having a night and day mode that also kept time. This allowed for certain Pokémon to become even more unique, and others to become more elusive. With tweaks to an already pretty solid system of battle, the metallics fixed critical hits and also allowed now for Pokémon to hold items. I personally feel that this generation had a very good system in place where all moves had plausible usage and almost any Pokémon could find itself easily on a team. Stall teams came into existence with combos such as Toxic and Protect, and other Pokémon became clerics of sorts with moves like Heal Bell. Who in all of Pokémon fandom could forget the unveiling of Lugia and the first time that your friends uttered it with excitement? Alongside all of this crazy nonsense there’s still the introduction of shinies and that ridiculous Battle Tower (that I still don’t think I’ve beaten) in Crystal. And OH MY GOD remember Red? Level 81 Pikachu . . . I was so envious my first battle with him. Alongside ALL of this there was also *breath breath* Shadow Ball, Ice Punch, Endure, breeding, Pokérus, waterfalls, whirlpools, epic dogs that ran around the map, weather effects in battles and like fifty million extremely awesome other things.
To be utterly honest, I didn’t find much wrong with the metallics. The battery problem with saving still existed, and of course certain glitches still occurred from time to time, but there wasn’t much to detract from its greatness. One thing I did hate just from personal experience was: SkarmBliss. If you know what that term means, then you may either agree or disagree entirely, but with an entire metagame revolving around two Pokémon it was so mad boring. >_> I also did dislike how easy the Elite Four seemed to be. I mean, I realize there was the added challenge of Kanto to sort of compensate, but it was just far too easy. If the Elite Four “updated” after you finished Kanto, that would’ve been perfect. This was also the only storyline where I felt the villain organization (Team Rocket) seemed almost forced.
The third generation, sometimes referred to as the gemstones generation, consisted of Ruby, Sapphire, and then later Emerald. With this new generation came the introduction of a menagerie of new mechanics and ridiculous new world to explore. The first thing that most Pokémon fans probably noticed was the introduction of natures, and the way they affected every little thing by just that amount. Entire teams started to become centered around this new addition, and creativity and team building saw a very nice increase with the release of this generation. A brand-new feature with battling was unveiled too, allowing for players now to partake in 2v2 battles with two Pokémon on each side of the field. This generation was also the first to have version exclusive legends, but the later Emerald version allowed for players to bask in the glory of catching all of them. Guys, I don’t know about you, but the whole concept of the Regis and their odd omnipresence and mythical storyline also hits a soft spot with me. I think they’re one of the coolest “species” of Pokémon that exists to this day; Regigigas included. I think this version paved the way for modern battling, allowing for the most solid and complete battling system without overdoing it with some of the items/abilities/moves that the newer generations have brought in. The Battle Frontier in Emerald was awesome, just by the way.
But oddly, even with all this, I feel that this generation too had some cons to it. The first thing that I noticed is that the game just straight up felt different than the previous two. I suppose it had plenty to do with the graphics, but I can flat out say that I did not like this generation in the beginning. It was only recently that I grew to appreciate it more-so. Another thing I disliked was the music for it didn’t seem as enchanting, and nowhere near as catchy as the previous two generations; even with better sound quality. I found that the expansion on the Game Corner was needed but not well handled with the newer gambling methods seeming almost boring and monotonous. For some reason, the renaming of the berries also annoyed me. I mean, I know it was necessary, but it just upset me for the longest time. And finally, the introduction of the Intimidate ability infuriates me. I hate that ability with a passion. Mainly because of the added animation when entering battle with wild Gyarados and the like. >_>
It’s hard to say whether or not this is truly my favorite generation. What with the stupid number of new legends, and the almost absurd concept of introducing actually gods into a game. But something about the first time I played through Pokémon Diamond really brings a warm feeling inside of me. The fourth generation of Pokémon brought with it Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and later Platinum. Utilizing the DS’s new gaming capabilities, Game Freak truly outdid theirselves with the beauty of this game. The battle and world animations, the music, damn near everything was solid. And who’s to blame me for still having a crush on the female protagonist? *nosebleed* This generation also saw a ridiculous increase in competitive battling with the introduction of using WiFi internet connection to allow for quick and easy access to a large database of other players. The GTS allowed for easy and regulated trading, which in turn allowed people to finally get the Pokémon they truly wanted a lot more easily and efficiently. I also found it astounding the way Game Freak really stepped up the difficulty of this game with me actually losing against the Elite Four many a time before finally beating the game and allowed onto the rest of the game. Which leads me to another point: the game just seemed so long. I feel like just the story plus the elite four took me over 15 hours which is normally quite the amount for me when it comes to a Pokémon game, and not to mention the amount of gameplay available afterwards. The introduction of a new method of obtaining shinies (chaining) I thought was also really cool; mainly because I find it really skill based, but that may just be me. The ridiculous amount of attention payed to the battle mechanics allowed for an amazing competitive experience to flourish which allowed for a ridiculous amount of team combinations of tiers to come to existence.
So, just what is wrong with this game? Well, there was that “acid rain glitch” and not to mention that prior to getting the Running Shoes, I felt that the game moved so damned slowly. The battle animations do get kind of tedious, even when they are set to “off.” I have to admit that some of the Pokémon in this game seemed almost like a recycled version of a past one, but I let it go considering it wasn’t entirely the first time that Game Freak did that. (Quagsire and Whiscash anyone?) And I don’t know, but some moves just seemed unnecessary albeit kind of cool. The whole concept of Team Galactic rubbed me the wrong way too . . . something about weirdos with green haircuts wearing white tights just bothered me, I guess.
And finally comes the most recent of the installments: Pokémon Black and White. With this generation came some of the most interesting additions to the Pokémon games. First off, the graphical quality of these games was very well done with Game Freak paying exquisite attention and really showing that they cared about the game and how it looked. The animations of the moves, however tedious they may be, really showed the prowess of the move, and the in-battle animations of the Pokémon added new life to the characteristics of Pokémon. I also loved how many “odd” Pokémon were released with this generation where the characteristics of some of them becoming almost extreme and unbelievable adding a level of surreality to a game that was attempting to do without it. I also have to admit that I am absolutely madly in love with Hilda (the female protagonist) and N. Just to throw that out there. The design of the gyms and the towns in this game was also taken to a whole new level of unbelievability with certain ones being absolutely jaw-dropping. I’d also like to note that this generation also had a very noticeable difficulty level and that the AI was definitely tweaked to be a little more ruthless and cunning with better moves being implemented for each new challenge presented. Dreamworld and all of its additions was definitely a plus. The Elite Four and all the nonsense that ensues is just as crazy for anyone who wasn’t had the chance to play through. You shan’t be disappointed.
However, there were things that left me just that with this game: disappointed. I don’t know exactly why, but playing this game almost felt like a chore at times, and I found myself having to grind constantly and at other times struggling to get passed this place or that place, having to make fifty trips back to the local Pokémon Center. The design of some Pokémon I just cannot stand even though I did mention that a lot were ridiculous. (Deerling and that Patrat thing make me livid.) The incorporation of the new 3v3 battling style is unnecessary in my eyes and it make battles that do occur like that ridiculous and slow-paced. The addition of absurd amounts of abilities changed up the metagame for sure, but certain ones have come to dominate it, and even in turn have caused certain version of Pokémon to be banned outright from a standard tier of play. Oh, and do tell what the use is of having so many damned legendaries in one generation? I mean, sure - it’s cool, but it’s really over-doing it in this case. Three of them are just the same sprite slightly altered anyway >_> If Game Freak continues with that pattern, we’ll see 20 in the next generation.
My personal favorite generation is the fourth and Black and White are boring. Pokémon will continue to expand and with each new generation there will be new pros and new cons; I highly doubt we’ll see a perfect generation, but Game Freak just may be getting close to it.