I grew-up playing Pokémon Red and Blue on my Gameboy Colour, even HeartGold and SoulSilver, and eating stupid amounts of crisps in order to collect the tazos. I have figurines, plush toys, and Pokémon cards, but the Poké-verse itself has exploded into quite a complicated, expansive, and immersive world, which – to my deepest regret – I have to say is simply to big for me to keep up to date with nowadays.
The disclaimer here is that Pokémon will forever be my nerdy fix. I watched the anime, I can recite certain episodes, and I have a general idea of majority of the Pokémon that exist. But ask me to name every evolution of every Pokémon, and how best to breed EV-values and tutor moves, and I’ll look at you with a blank stare.
I think Satoshi Tajiri had to somewhat succumb to the likes of Digimon, one of Pokémon’s greatest competitors, and other technologically-inclined kids shows, such as Transformers or Power Rangers. The move from more flora-and-fauna- like creatures, to manmade, robotic designs never sat well with me in the Poké-verse. It almost corrupted the illusion and magic of what Pokémon was for me.
And things like Rotom becoming the Alolan Pokédex in Sun & Moon‘s anime don’t bug me too much (although the child in me longs to see the return of the traditional flip-up Pokédex, which so closely resembled my first cellphone), the likes of the Regi-series Pokémon somehow don’t fit into my idea of the Poké-verse. Mew and Mewtwo were about as far as I was willing to go in science’s influence on Pokémon.
And yeah, the move from your simple red-and-white Pokéball was bound to happen. All the new Poké-gadgets are – in my opinion – ever-so-slightly overcomplicated (isn’t this a kids show…?), but I really do think that Pokémon felt obligated to keep up with the trends in technology in order to keep their audiences interested. How else do you keep a 5-year-old playing on their iPad engaged with your product, right? Hmph.
Nevertheless, Pokémon has indeed managed to find new and innovative ways to integrate technology in recent years. The Pokémon GO app is an engaging experience, but doesn’t “mechanise” the Pokémon themselves; rather, it uses new science to augment the actual gameplay, and I really fell in love with the move to recreate the original-151 using this virtual reality, smartphone-guided experience. It didn’t complicate the game, and doesn’t require you to understand how this animal is appearing on your screen in front of you to enjoy. That’s a cool complicated. That’s the kind of complicated I can deal with.
However, all things said and done, Ash and Pikachu – even with their newest, debatably “fresh” redesigns – will always be the power-duo we know and love, and they will continue to find rich adventure and intriguing new Pokémon in their never-ending quest to catch ’em all.
Pokémon may have gone over my head in the last few generations, and I can’t say I like all of the Pokémon ever created, but it certainly hasn’t died. I will still, without fail, squeal like a little child when I see any “new” being released in the Poké-verse, and I will always feel unbelievably proud when I beat the Elite 4 to a pulp – even if it’s for the 147th time.