Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Choose You

            I want to be the very best. Like no one ever was. To catch them all is my real test. To train them- that’s my cause. Do you feel uplifted? I know I always do. Those words make my heart sing. And it sings the song of Pokémon. I submit to you, reader, that Pokémon is the best video game franchise to ever grace God’s green earth. Whether you judge quality by financial success, reviews, or good ol’ fashion childhood memories, Pokémon’s got them all.

This screams "quality"
            First, Pokémon’s financial success. Now, monetary gain does not strictly mean quality, as evidenced by the fact that Lil’ Wayne is a platinum selling artist and Stephanie Meyer has been on the New York Best Seller’s list multiple times. But a game franchise without any sort of financial pedigree would be mighty suspect. Pokémon is an economic giant in many ways, some quantifiable, other not easily laid to charts.
            There have been five unique Pokémon generations, totaling in 19 separate Pokémon role playing games. Games do not get made, or even greenlit, without some signals of financial success. This success for Pokémon is humongous, totaling in $25 billion. And that is just for the role playing games, the traditional Pokémon experience. As we all know, Nintendo is very open to using a game’s grand name on many different products. Who could forget classics like Pokémon Pinball, Pokémon Snap, the carefree picture taking game, and Pokémon Stadium which cuts to the chase and allowed players to battle their friends face to face.
            But something as great as Pokémon is not relegated to only video games. I haven’t even dropped the biggest bombs on ya’ll yet- the TV shows and the trading cards. Boosh. The cards and show are so tied in with original franchise that when asked which came first, many people, including self-proclaimed Pokémon fans like myself, have trouble answering that question. Were the game and cars exploiting the TV show’s success? Or was a video game simply the best way to express the spirit of the cards? Neither. The game was such a huge success that it not only caused its medium to succeed (Game Boys were considered irrelevant as a gaming system before Pokémon) but it transcended the medium entirely, spreading to trading cards, and both the big and small screen. Hit movies spawned from a TV show which had spawned from a video game. It’s like the Vh1 dating show machine had spread to imaginary monsters. Although I still hope that New York is an imaginary monster and not a real person.
I choose you, Syphilis!

            This financial success did not exist in a vacuum. The games’ quality was the driving force behind this money making giant. People needed a game that could be played anywhere; on the bus, at lunchtime, pooping, maybe even while driving. That last one isn’t recommended but it is doable. Believe me. What? I was in the Elite Four and I had work to go to. I think that’s responsible of me not to be late. But what’s better for a game to be played anywhere in our world, than by creating a unique and exciting world to suck players in? By creating a world, the world of Pokémon as Professor Oak would put it, it revamped sales of the Gameboy and DS to new heights.
            Enough about money. What other ways can we quantify the quality of these magnificent games? Now, despite my protests, it is impossible to deny that Pokémon is marketed towards mainly children. What are some things you think when I say children? Hyperactivity, ADD, and maybe brutal honesty. Also an unwillingness to take baths, but that’s irrelevant. An adult’s attention span is an average twenty minutes. That means that an average adult can focus on one subject for 20 minutes before getting bored and moving onto something else, like reading Facebook instead of finishing the blog post you’re writing. But children have an even shorter attention span. Conservative estimates put it around 15 minutes. So a game marketed towards little buttmunches with attention span of 15 minutes was a major seller. The average length of Pokémon games are around 10 hours when played quickly, and more like 20 hours for a normal person play-through. In order to keep children’s (or college student’s) attentions, Pokémon must be doing something right.
            But maybe I’m arguing from the wrong place. Pokémon doesn’t come from the head but from the heart. I’m sure everyone has positive memories of Pokémon whether it is watching the show just after school on weekdays, finally catching that Electobuzz, or trying to figure out just how you play that damn card game. If you don’t have anything like this in your memory, I’m not sure we can be friends. When I think Pokémon, I think adventure. The joy of getting that level 5 Squirtle, Charmander, or Bulbasaur is like no other experience in video games. After selecting Squirtle, you strap on your Pokédex and leave your small hometown in yah reahview as you strive to bigger and better things.
Always Squirtle.
            Pokémon, in essence, is a lot like life. Four years times two semester each year equals eight sets of college finals. There are eight gym badges. Coincidence? Most certainly, but that is just the unintentional greatness of Pokémon. The party you build says a lot about yourself too. There’s the scary kid who gets the job done, the under-appreciated greatness, the friend you’ve had from the start but can’t quite let go even though their time as passed, the jock, the famous and popular kid, or your best friend who has always been there, thick and thin.
            Pokémon is better than life in many ways. 1. Who wouldn’t want to ride on the back of a fire-breathing dragon to work? 2. Replayability. Pokémon is great because you can replay it an set a new path for yourself at anytime you’d like. For instance, say you used up your weekend typing a blog post no one is going to read about a children’s game. You can’t undo that, no matter how much you may wish for it. But in Pokémon you can just be glad you didn’t save after you accidentally kill Articuno, and enjoy the battle again.

"Totally named my rival Pooptit"
            Pokémon means a lot. It will probably be the game I play with my nephew. Our generation will be in nursing homes, reminiscing over how hard it was to beat that damned Lance, or possibly just watching over someone’s shoulder as they play through the game again, 80 years after it came out. It’s also important because of the impact it had on American culture. Numerous movie, a TV show, trading card games, and countless knockoff games all contribute to our generation’s identity. What would the 90’s be without cards to trade? And I know I’m not the only one who brought his Gameboy to school to trade. So to sum it all up, Pokémon is the best game franchise ever due not only to its staggering monetary gains  but also thanks to addictive and inventive gameplay, and its ability to create a soft spot in everyone’s heart. So remember. 
Always Squirtle
You teach me and I'll teach you,

Mick Dickinson

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