Log in or sign up to comment
50 Comments
Posted by Mikazukinoyaiba

Only noobs don't see the changes that were introduced in each generation of pokemon or think they were insignificant. 
 
The 4th generation definitely was very significant for the competitive scene, what with Wi-Fi, Power Items, and of course in the Hg/Ss remakes the Power Items now being used to pass on IVs making both the EV training and IV breeding process [i]very[/i] accessible. 
 
Also don't speak for "pokemon veterans" because frankly, you're not. You may have played the old games, but as someone who was playing Red/Blue back in elementary school and is still playing the game I frankly wouldn't like if it Pokemon was just like Red/Blue, all you did was catch and raise pokemon you thought were cool and traded with your friends, and when you battled them everyone kept using the same legendaries or starter pokemon. 
 
Yeah that was real fun 
 
Nowdays people use strategies, make good strong movesets, and raise their pokemon to fulfill specific tasks in order to counter a specific threat, EV training and IV breeding has given the game a lot of customability  while also being a very rewarding process for a job well done. 
 
Best thing about pokemon, you can play it however you want. If you want to just catch them all, you can, if you just want to battle, you can, if you just want to play in-game and have fun, you can.

Posted by Brendan

Pokemon is like any long running kids entertainment.  It's not meant to grow up with you, it's always meant to be there for the kids whose age you once were.

Posted by Orange

Well written post, my friend. Pokemon Blue and Silver are where my memories lie... and like you, I don't want a single second of my time given back to me. Those were gaming memories that I will never want to forget.

Posted by Bass

Who are you to say that pokemon white/black is not for me? I have played at least one game in each of the generations (I did not play the hg/ss, although I sort of want to now that I have played most of white). Guess what? Pokemon is still pokemon, and that's totally rad. 
You may have determined that pokemon is no longer for you, and that's fine. However, I have no allegiance to the original 151 pokemon (although I think their designs were generally better than newer ones). The fact is, Gamefreak has put out the best pokemon game yet. My personal favorite improvement is the improvement on how quickly the battles move (Diamond/Pearl battles really dragged on, which was really frustrating).  

Posted by nintendoeats

I hear a lot of people complaining about the lack of innovation in Pokemon, but I have yet to hear anybody suggest what they could actually do. I agree with OP, these games are not for us...because there is no real way to make Pokemon games for us. We had fun with the formula, now its a new generations turn. I'm OK with that...I just wish that Nintendo would stop getting paid to make the same frigging game every year or so...

Edited by Daniel_Newton

Don't fix what's not broken. 
Nintendo sells millions of copies each time they release new Pokémon games. I'm pretty sure the people who want the games to stay the way they are out-weigh the ones who want big changes. 
If they were to have a separate series of Pokémon games going off in a different direction, I'd be all for it (I guess the Pokémon Ranger games count) but I want the main series to stay how it is. 
 
Also, the Pokémon games are surprisingly complex if you dig deeply enough, anyone who thinks these games have stayed the same since red and blue isn't looking hard enough. 
 
The turn-based battle system is what defines a Pokémon game. That's not going anywhere.

Posted by Skald

I'll still try every fourth Pokemon to come out. 
 
Just because.

Posted by DystopiaX

Every time a new pokemon game comes out I tell myself I won't buy it, i'll just be burned again. Usually I'll play through to the final league once and "beat" it, and then I'm done. Every time I think that it's a waste of money. I keep doing it because I owe a large part of who I am to Pokemon. 
 
wait what? 
 
No, actually I do, because the first videogame I ever touched was Pokemon Blue (telling about my age right? lol). Basically one of my mom's friends' son installed a Gameboy emulator on the family PC and pokemon was one of the games. First videogame ever, and I was fucking hooked. I must have played that shit for hundreds of hours. I consistently played that game, if not on a daily, at least a weekly basis for fucking years. It's a testament to that cheap ass keyboard that came with the computer that millions of spacebar presses later (spacebar=a button on that emulator, I would smack that shit constantly to get battles to move faster) the thing still works and feels great. Pressing that damn spacebar is one of the most nostalgic feelings for me, everytime I get a keyboard I wish the keys felt like that (hopefully when I pick up my overpriced 100 dollar mechanical keyboard it'll have the same feel lol). That game got me hooked into gaming, and here I am now, several thousand dollars poorer, making a post on a gaming site where I've made 2k+ other posts before, and it's not like this is the only gaming site I go to. Truth is, I owe a lot to pokemon cause I wouldn't be here now if I never played that game. All my friends are gamers, wouldn't have met them either. pretty much all of my other interests stem from talking to a gamer who happened to like that thing, so I could have turned out to be a completely different person. 
 
So yeah you're right. Pokemon hasn't changed, I still haven't bought Black or white yet, and I don't think I will (I will.) But I can't hate on a game for hooking younger/newer gamers cause I still have fond memories of that game and who knows, they might be sitting here 10 years from now typing their thousandth post on a gaming website too. 
 
...damn this sounds hella corny, lol, but goddammit I love me some pokemons. Actually I got a couple friends who are still hardcore into pokemon, they trade and battle each other and everything. We have a joke that during lunch pokemon will always come up (and it always does). It doesn't change, I wish it would, but it's still a freaking great experience.

Posted by dankempster

Wow, that's a LOT of comments! Thank you all for posting, I feel humbled to have attracted this much of an audience with this entry. Usually I'm lucky if a blog breaks five comments. 
 
Now to try and reply to everyone without @-ing you all! Here goes... 
 
To those of you who have played and loved every successive generation of Pokemon since the franchise began (and Video_Game_King), I apologise if this blog seemed way off the mark to you. As inflammatory as the title probably made this blog seem, I promise it wasn't my intention to try and tear the franchise away from you and tell you that you can't have it anymore, like some old comfort blanket. The Pokemon games are still good games, lack of innovation be damned. I myself am still a big fan of what the franchise offers. In spite of the major sense of deja-vu I'm enjoying my time with Emerald, and if I had a DS, I totally would have bought either Black or White by now. This blog is more aimed at the people who aren't happy with the games staying the way they are, those who seem to crawl out of the woodwork with every new Pokemon release and demand change. My point is that Game Freak aren't looking to provide the changes that those people want, because the primary aim of each new generation of Pokemon games is to bring a new young audience to the franchise. 
 
To those of you who've returned to the franchise with Black and White after a long hiatus (and there seem to be quite a few of you), I can empathise completely. I actually experienced the same thing when I picked up a copy of Diamond a few years back. Before playing it, I hadn't played a Pokemon game since Blue, and it was great to return to that universe after such a long break. In a lot of ways, I think that break almost puts you on a level playing field with the new crowd of players - while I carried some first-generation bias and a faint recollection of type advantages into my Diamond playthrough, a lot of what I experienced felt new to me. In a lot of ways, it recaptured some of the magic and mystery of my first time playing Blue, and that's because in many respects I was once again a newcomer to the franchise. Had I gone into Diamond as a seasoned player of all three previous generations, I definitely would have enjoyed it, but I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much as I did. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy your time with Black and White, and I hope that the experience manages to recapture that feeling you had playing Pokemon all those years ago.
 
To those of you who think Nintendo and Game Freak need to innovate and take the franchise in a new direction, I can still empathise with you as well. In my time on these forums I've seen some concepts and ideas thrown around between users, and I've liked the sound of more than a few. One of my personal favourites was an 'open-world Pokemon game' in the style of a Bethesda RPG - the ability to go anywhere at any time, encounter wild Pokemon in real time, and effectively shape your own Pokemon experience in a much more unique and personal way. As much as I like the sound of this idea, though, I know it's never going to happen. Pokemon is the way it is because it's constantly reaching out to a new audience with every iteration. Most of the people playing Black and White aren't in their late teens and early twenties, with years of cumulative gaming experience - they're ten-year-olds embarking on their first RPG adventure. Just like we did all those years ago. I encourage you to either try and overcome this hurdle and enjoy the games for what they are, or to accept that the franchise has run its course for you, and let it serve the same purpose for a new generation of players.

Posted by Underachiever007
@JJWeatherman said:

" Well written, but I don't agree.  :P  You should definitely play White and Black. They're great games.  I've been playing Pokemon as long as anyone else. I remember carrying my purple GB Color around the store and having other kids ask me, "which version is that?". Since then I've played each generation and never gotten tired of it. I often don't finish games, but I always found myself not only finishing Pokemon games, but going back for more. Yes, the original games will always be king for anyone that played them, but by no means are the new games "not for us". I'm not tired of the formula yet.  Just my opinion. "

It's pretty much the same for me.
Posted by Hizang

I have played through and completed Blue, Red, Yellow, Silver, Platinum and Soul Silver, and Blue, Red, Yellow and Silver I've completed a ton of times and I still am having alot of fun with Pokemon White. I am not tired of the Pokemon formula, If its not broke, don't fix it. Infact all of the new stuff like the Pokealathon, musical, sports I hate the inclusion of those. Double battles are cool but triple battles kinda go over my head. But the whole concept of start of with one weak little Pokemon and then slowly but steadily build up a impressive team that just get stronger and stronger is way appealing to me still.  
 
My issue is soon there going to have to stop, because do we really want at one point 1566 Pokemon in a game?
Posted by HandsomeDead

I understand where you're coming from and it's reached the point where, if you're into pokemon, you're into pokemon but is it really our fault that a game hasn't changed its formula, almost at all, in decades?

Posted by IIChristian89II

am i one of the few that has loved every pokemon game?

Posted by LiquidPrince

This was an enjoyable read. Very well written. I agree that anyone who grew up with the original 150, will never love the other generations quite as much.

Posted by Trebz

Great blog. It brought a lot of good memories and nostalgia to mind and it had a damn good point. A lot of my childhood is deeply rooted in Pokemon, like the races I'd have against my neighbor (we'd both start a new game at the exact same second and check in on our progress every day), the heated discussions with school-friends on which Pokemon were the most awesome or where we could find them and the times when we'd simply huddle around one lucky/unlucky kid with a Gameboy and watch him try to catch Suicune or Rayquaza or Lugia. That isn't even mentioning my TCG-collecting and devotion to the anime. 
 
Anyway, I remember the GB crew discussing  this on the Bombcast, and it's absolutely true. I found my magic in Crystal, Sapphire and LeafGreen; let all of the young'uns of 2011 experience that same, modern magic. I still enjoy the new Pokemon games, although not as fervently as I used to (possibly because it seems like I'm the only one out of my friends who still enjoys it , and you really need people around you to play with in order to keep it interesting) and I accept that. 
You have to admit, though, GameFreak sure are a bunch of clever bastards if this really is their intention.

Posted by Thordain

Over time I've warmed up to a large part of the generation 3 and 4 pokemon (Though fuck spiritomb. Who's idea was it to make a spectral dinner plate pokemon?) and having gotten 7 of the 8 badges and seeing over 100 of the new pokemon, most of them aren't bad. I think the pokemon battle system is a damn tough one to innovate on because you have to convey so much information in order for it to be pokemon. As someone who was only 5 years old when red and blue came out, as someone who holds nostalgia of the greatest kind for pokemon Gold, I think these games are a fine experience for anyone to lose themselves in pokemon again. I've kept myself from looking things up and finding out what type of pokemon evolves into what because I wanted to recapture some of that nostalgia and so far it's working alright. Maybe this won't be another pokemon Gold for me but it's still a damn good experience.

Posted by Sweep

I completely agree, each new iteration of pokemon is for a new generation of players, not a new generation of consoles or games. It's making the franchise accessible to as many people as possible and despite not being particularly fresh or innovative it remains a fun game with a high level of quality and great production values. 
 
Great blog dank!

Moderator
Posted by drac96

Pokemon Veterans not liking this might be the wrong way to phrase it. Most likely if you've played and liked all the other Pokemon games there is not a whole lot that's going to stop you from enjoying this one. People use the nostalgia argument way too much. I'll agree that I think the original 151 Pokemon are the best, but it doesn't make the new games any less appealing. The point of Pokemon is collection and battling. There are now many more Pokemon to collect and many more types to battle making the original concept stronger. The games don't drastically change, it's just that little things are added to try and perfect what they already have.  I don't get why people are expecting sweeping changes to this franchise. It works fine the way it is and it makes Nintendo money.
  
Also

Edited by Gerhabio

Only pokémon games I played were the original Red and Fire Red, I loved them both but I think that's it for me. Like you said, it's difficult not to have an allegiance to the first 151 pocket monsters since that's what you knew first. 
 
Oh, Pokémon Colosseum was pretty great, though. I've always wanted to just outright steal pokémon from fools and that game fulfilled my fantasy. Fuck yo' pokéballs, this here is a goddamn snatchball, bitch!

Edited by keyhunter

Different people different goals.
As far as I'm concerned the most important thing about pokemon is having all the pokemon. And having them all on one cartridge. The latest iteration of pokemon's cartridge. As long as there are pokemon to capture I will play pokemon. And as long as my current gen pokemon game doesn't have a complete pokedex I will play pokemon. And even more importantly, competition. After catching all of them I'll go on to create a bunch of gimmicky teams and abuse them online until I get bored or new pokemon games come out. Totally don't give a shit about anything else. The game could be a 12x12 square of grass and a pokemon center and I'd still buy it and play it for 250 hours. I'm sort of a whore when it comes to this franchise. I recognize that it totally sucks and is for babies. But I can't stop. I had a look into my handheld games drawer the other night to begin the process of getting all my previous gen pokemon onto the current one and realized with all the time I've spent playing on each of those cartridges I could have completed two full years of apprenticeship or something useful.

Posted by Scribbly

Interesting blog, lots of good points and observations. I chuckled at the thought of Pokemon Chalk and Cheese versions... I bought Platinum for cheap and liked it a bit, but Pokemon Red is my game... your point stands magnificently.

Edited by JJWeatherman

Well written, but I don't agree.  :P 
 
You should definitely play White and Black; they're great games. 
 
I've been playing Pokemon as long as anyone else. I remember carrying my purple GB Color around the store and having other kids ask me, "which version is that?". Since then I've played each generation and never gotten tired of it. I often don't finish games, but I always found myself not only finishing Pokemon games, but going back for more. Yes, the original games will always be king for anyone that played them, but by no means are the new games "not for us". I'm not tired of the formula yet. 
 
Just my opinion.

Posted by Disgaeamad

Dan, I thought you knew better than to trust the Giantbomb forums' opinion on a non-FPS game.

Posted by Malakhii

As a person who hasn't played a Pokemon game since Gold/Silver I'm really enjoying Pokemon White. I knew what I was getting into though, that it would be a similar experience with some new tweaks, so maybe the managing of my expectations helped. 

Posted by Enigma777

A pretty obvious observation... 

Posted by dbz1995
@RockmanBionics said:
" That's what I love about Pokemon games, I get older, they stay the same age. "
This sums it up for me the best by a landslide (or should I say ROCK SLIDE)
Edited by wolf_blitzer85

 Master ball sixth slot go!
I played the holy hell out of Blue version, pretty much having the game completely memorized. Finishing the pokedex first (legitimately of course) and then playing through again and again with a healthy stock of rare candies and master balls (still had to play through a bit of the game to take advantage of our friend shown in the pic). No wild pokemon was safe from me. I was a goddamn walking pokedex. My friend had Red and we battled constantly when I got that fat ass link cable for the OG gameboy.
 
I'm also playing black and sure it is definitely a departure from what the game used to mean to me, but it still sure as hell is pokemon. And it's a really good one at that. I mean it's fun seeing these new crazy pokemon figuring out how I can murder them more efficiently out in the wild. Oh yeah and I'm not sure if it was in past titles, but holy fucking balls is that EXP share thing the most goddamn amazing thing ever to happen to this game. Never again will I need to have a level 8 Ponyta leading my team in an end game situation.
 
Anyway, it does definitely seem like this is for a new younger generation, and my 12 year old self would have been fucking freaking the shit out if I saw this game in action. I'm still blown away with all the different balls, I have been out of it for a long time.
Posted by DrRandle

I couldn't disagree with you more. I've been a longtime fan of the series, and this newest game is the best iteration yet.
 
One one hand, yes, it is very similar to the original series. Surprise, it's a sequel. There's nothing wrong with a safe bet, and if it ain't broke, don't try and fix it. I personally enjoy that the series has tried to step to  the side and build from the ground up with new Pokemon, a new region, and some more complex villains.
 
The animated sprites look awesome, the connectivity has never been this smooth. Aside from some interface issues and a few poorly named Pokemon, I think this really is the best game. This game is exactly for me.
 
All I see from these comments is that the first generation is the best, which is a rubbish thought. Certainly it was the most new, being the first. And certainly I have just as many fond memories with it as you do. But the fact is the menus are better, the battle mechanics are better, the graphics are better, the continents are better. Kanto was a boring pile of roads, and Johto was only better in that it let us visit the changes made to the boring pile of roads. Hoenn was a far more interesting region to visit with tons more nooks and crannies relating more to real world and mythological locations (the Sunny Day in a cave in a lake in Hoenn is a reference to Amaterasu, the sun goddess).
 
I can understand pining for your days of youth, but stop taking it out on every new Pokemon game that comes out. They can't just keep remaking red and blue (lord knows I'd love it if they did, but they need to let that cool a generation or two between remakes).

Posted by Venatio

Well it's never been for me

Posted by ShadowKing7

That was a good read, well done.  Yeah, that sounds pretty much right that each new Pokemon generation is meant to attract new kids to playing and while most of us around from the beginning will still get the new games (although I haven't played since Gen 3 since I don't have a DS), even though they are still good games it won't provide the same experience and wonder as when we were kids and just starting on the Pokemon craze.
Posted by Lunar_Aura

It hasn't been for me ever since the TV episode when Ash gave away his just evolved Pidgeot. 
 
There will always be only 151 pokemon for me. Yellow is the best version (this is not for debate, it is fact).

Posted by Evilsbane

First off, no fanfare? Its been Pokemon non-stop for weeks, its just now dying down because most are done with the game.
 
I have been having fun with Black but yea, please Nintendo just make a fucking console game you greedy bastards, No it prob won't make as much money and yes it might end the franchise, but at least you could say you tried instead of milking it for two decades, you had a good idea its WAY past time to take it to the next level.

Posted by JackSukeru

That's what I love about Pokemon games, I get older, they stay the same age.

Posted by SethPhotopoulos

No fanfare? 
Everyone I knew and then some, people from elementary school to college, were in that gamestop getting their Pokemon pre-orders.  People thought I was crazy since I picked up the ultimate edition of Origins.  People young and old love that game. 
I do think that its not made for us anymore but that isn't stopping the people that were alive for when red/blue hit from buying and enjoying it.

Posted by babblinmule

I dunno, Ive played every portable Pokemon game and Black and white is probably the most fun ive had with a new game since Gold. If youve got some friends who are going through it at the same time as you (cueing random trading and battling), it really is a blast with the new multiplayer options.

Posted by DoctorWelch

I know EXACTLY what I want from a pokemon game. I want them to stop making new pokemon before the damage gets even worse and then put the damn thing on a console. The first generation of pokemon/games is the best, but i really dont mind the second generation of pokemon/games because obviously they were gonna make new pokemon someday and the games were a fairly good improvement. My problem is everything from there is just complete and utter trash. I would love it if they just sorta forgot everything after the second generation and put all those pokemon in a new console game, but because that is asking something that will never EVER happen, all I really want is them to completely stop making new pokemon and make a console game with all of them in it.

Posted by ICryCauseImEmo

It's Pokemon, grab a friend and catch them all thats what I do and I enjoy it. Yeah it has been the same formula for 15 years but thats to be expected from Nintendo. They recycle just about everything; but why change something that works? I love it and i'll continue to probably buy them as long as I have another friend to play with.

Posted by Nasar7

You said it. I remember fondly my time with the original Red, but I wouldn't dream of touching any of these new ones. It's like a gaming rite of passage, and afterwards you move on to bigger and better things.

Posted by probablytuna

Very nicely written. Personally, I feel that Gold and Silver was when Game Freak was at the top of their game. It is sad to see that they have not innovated as much as they did since then, but that does not diminish their role in providing some of the most important memories in my childhood.

Posted by LordXavierBritish

Every Pokemon game remains accessible to new players but adds a lot for the hardcore players that dig deep down into the competitive aspect and keep coming back. 
 
It's fucking genius is what it is. Game Freak has created a perpetual money machine.

Edited by MattyFTM

I really don't know what I want from a pokemon game now. I've played every pokemon game since Red/Blue (apart from Black/White) and I'm done with the series in its current form. I know there are differences, but the core experience has remained the same, and I feel like I've bought and played the same game 6 times and I'm finished with that game now.  
 
But what makes pokemon so appealing is the simplicity of it. If Nintendo were to reinvent the franchise to create a new game to try and please pokemon veterans, that would probably lead to added complexity, and I don't think those games will have the same appeal as the original pokemon games. I just don't see myself enjoying another main series pokemon game ever again. They can either keep making the same game over and over, or they can change what made the games appealing in the first place. It's a lose-lose situation for existing fans of the series.

Moderator
Posted by AndrewB

Yup. Sadly, I'm only now realizing this. Or at least, I'm only now getting fed up with so much of the same-old-same-old that is the Pokemon series; a series with a lot of potential, but one where innovation comes second to shoving out a new game every year and roping in a new crowd, evidenced by the way every game treats you as if you've never played one of these before to the point of anger at not having any option of skipping the "tutorial" moments of the game. It's been a long road, and I've a shameful collection of Pokemon games to frown over, but my own Pokemon journey is probably over.

Posted by RobotHamster

I've been playing Pokemon since red and blue and I think that the games are still really good. Of course we would all like for some inovation and to see something new from the franchise, but Pokemon has a great formula and at its core is really fun to play.  I still consider the first ones to be some of my favorite games ever but thats mainly for nostalgic reasons, the newer games are basically the same fun game with new stuff to do, more Pokemans to  catch and is visually more appealing.

Posted by CptChiken

This is really well written. 
And i completely agree with the skins comparison... and just to let you know, skins has been complete shit since the second season.  
 
The last pokemon game i played was gold, well i say that but i have just completed fire red, which i dont count because its just the original red but in colour. 
There are just far to many pokemon these days, i thought that 150 was alot, but now there must be 500 or so right?

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Yep. That's pretty much it. Minor mechanical and superficial changes aside, the core gameplay of Pokemon is still 15 years old and it shows. But, as you said, it's not for us. It's for the kids who weren't born when you and I were totally stoked about Pokemon Red/Blue. However, that really has only become apparent since FireRed/LeafGreen came out and were for the most part, the exact same game (same with HG/SS) as the game they were a remake of, which helps that case even more.

Posted by Video_Game_King
Crap! Its influence has touched you, as well! Just because a series of games is staying the same does not mean that the series is getting worse. It's around the same quality, damn it! If I liked Pokémon Red/Blue, then I might like Pokémon Black/White. Do not project your own boredom onto a series like that!
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

I was too old to jump on the Pokemon craze (I think I was fifteen or sixteen when the first ones came out?  Crap, I'm old), but since I've invested into just about every other insane Japanese game out there (Disgaea, I'm lookin' at you, bub), I'm not entirely sure what hasn't made me bite the bullet on a Pokemon game.  Maybe it's that stigma from childhood, that playing Pokemon games at my age (then AND now) is a bit silly.  But more and more, I think I might bite the bullet and try one of these games out.

Moderator
Posted by Romination

This is a very well written essay, wow. 
 
I think personally, the disappointments in the lack of innovation comes mostly from Game Freak promising that they'd built it from the ground up and were trying to innovate. Really, all that came out of that were seasons (which are mostly aesthetic changes) and triple battles (which the game's director admitted was to introduce an element of luck- which is kind of against the point).  
 
The thing is, though, I still love the core enough to play through another generation where those changes we expect didn't come. Maybe it's a sort of Stockholm syndrome, where they throw me a cracker in the forms of battle animations and an actual story to the evil team, and it makes me love it even more, but I've stayed with this since the beginning and I see no signs of me slowing down. Black and White are very well-done games, and if you like Pokemon, you'll like them, but you REALLY have to like Pokemon- otherwise, you're probably burned out anyways. 
 
I'll definitely keep my fond memories of the old ones, but I'll also forge ahead and make the most out of the new ones.

Posted by GlenTennis

I dunno. It's nice to go back. I haven't played one since Blue, and I got Black a couple of days ago and love it.

Posted by dankempster
 You were honestly expecting drastic changes?
Just over a week ago, Nintendo dropped the fifth generation of Pokémon games into our laps. Released with fairly little fanfare (from what I've seen, anyway), Pokémon Black and White were supposed to mark a fresh start for the franchise. A new region to explore, new Pokémon to catch, and most importantly, new gameplay elements to revitalise what has, for most long-time fans of the series, become a rather stale experience. While I don't own a copy of either Black or White (largely on account of not owning a DS), I have been following most of the forum chat here on Giant Bomb over the last week or so. The general consensus seems to be more or less what I expected - it's more Pokémon, both for better and worse. Most disappointment seems to come from the fact that the expected gameplay changes haven't materialised. You're still taking the same ten-year-old avatar from rookie trainer to Pokémon League Champion. You're still picking one of three starters from a pool of Grass, Fire and Water types. You're still collecting gym badges, battling, breeding, and doing all those other activities you've come to expect from the series. In short, people are effectively playing the same game yet again. 
 
 It may be prettier, but pretty déjà vu is still déjà vu
A lot of complaints have been directed towards the Pokémon games, notably since the release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire all the way back in 2003. Those games were set to mark a new chapter in the Pokémon franchise - coming to a brand new handheld in the form of the GameBoy Advance, I think a lot of people were expecting some serious upgrades to the Pokémon formula to go with the hardware shift. The team at Game Freak had already proven themselves capable of innovating and updating the formula with Pokémon Gold and Silver three years previously - the second generation of games introduced Pokémon breeding, the day/night cycle, a more involving narrative, and one hundred brand new critters to catch and train. It's no surprise that Ruby and Sapphire were considered minor disappointments on their release. Not only did they fail to bring innovation to any aspect of the series' gameplay, battle system or narrative structure, but it actually took a step backwards by removing the day/night cycle and reducing the scope of the game (back down from the sixteen badges of Gold and Silver to the now-standard eight). Since then, Game Freak have attempted to appease players with wave upon wave of new Pokémon, but the core criticisms remain unaddressed - the Pokémon franchise is stuck in a rut, and stubbornly refuses to try and get out of it.
 
 In my girlfriend's eyes, this is what Pokémon is...
By complete coincidence, the last few days have seen my flat turn into a hub of Pokémon-based activity. I've just picked up a long-neglected copy of Pokémon Emerald - I've yet to beat a third-generation Pokémon game, and now that my essays are over and done with, I'm whiling away a lot of my free time with it. Sure, it's a lot of fun, but as a seasoned Pokémon player, I can't help but feel an ever-present sense of 'been-there-done-that' while I play. The formula is over-familiar, the battle system feels dated, and I'm not warming towards any of the brand new Pokémon. As I plod on through Emerald, my girlfriend is also playing a Pokémon game - Pokémon Platinum on the DS, specifically. She's never played a Pokémon game in her life and you know what? She's absolutely loving it. The flow of the narrative is unpredictable and exciting because she's never embarked on a Gym Badge Challenge before. The battle system is tough but rewarding, because she doesn't know the advantages and weaknesses of every type by heart. The new fourth-generation Pokémon are simply cute, because she has no allegiance to the original 151. It's a totally new experience for her, and she's enjoying every single second of it.
 
 ...and this is what Pokémon will always be to me
Watching my girlfriend playing Pokémon Platinum reminds me of my first experiences with the Pokémon franchise. Much like most of you here on Giant Bomb, I first dipped my toes into the waters of Pokémon with the first-generation titles - Red and Blue. I remember getting my GameBoy Pocket with a copy of Pokémon Blue for Christmas, after constantly pestering my parents for it because everyone else in school was obsessed with the games at that point. As a nine-year-old, it was an incredibly deep and involving experience for me. I got completely swept up in the flow of the narrative, eager to win those Indigo League badges and put an end to Team Rocket's nefarious schemes. I spent hours exploring uncharted areas, catching new Pokémon and training them up into formidable fighters. I remember catching the fabled Zapdos before any of my friends - to this date, it remains one of my proudest gaming achievements. I even remember schoolmates turning up on my doorstep with their copy of the game and a link-cable so we could trade version-exclusives. Pokémon Blue stole hours of my childhood, but I wouldn't want a single second of that time back.
 
Here in the UK, there's a popular TV programme called Skins. I don't watch it personally, but I've heard a lot about it. The programme is a drama that focuses on groups of teenagers and young adults, and is aimed at that demographic. Every couple of series, the cast of the show is completely purged and the writers start over. New actors are brought on, and completely new stories are created around them. While the name of the show remains the same, it might as well be called something completely different. The mindset of the writers, as I understand it, is that new series aren't meant to appease old fans. They're meant to attract a new audience and allow them to adopt the new characters and scenarios for themselves. Ask somebody who watched Skins three years ago what it meant to them, and you'll get a completely different answer to the one you'll get if you ask somebody who's watching it right now. Watching my girlfriend having so much fun with Pokémon Platinum is making me think that perhaps Game Freak are attempting to do the same thing with Pokémon - each new generation is not meant to keep us old fans happy, but to attract new fans to the Pokémon experience and present them with something totally new and fresh.
 
So, to Pokémon veterans, I say this - Pokémon Black and White are not for you. When Pokémon Chalk and Cheese versions are released on the 3DS in late 2014 (yep, I'm calling it), with no drastic gameplay innovations to speak of, they will not be for you either. Pokémon is not for you anymore. It's provided you with your own experience, whether that was Red/Blue, Gold/Silver, Ruby/Sapphire, or even Diamond/Pearl. You've had your Pokémon adventure. You've got favourite species and types, you've mastered the intricacies of the battle system, you've foiled evil schemes and made a name for yourself already. Now it's the turn of a new generation of players to get lost in their own Pokémon adventure. It's their turn to fall in love with a brand new cast of critters. It's their turn to experience the highs and lows of being a rookie Pokémon trainer, just starting out on the road to becoming Pokémon League Champion. Hold on to your fond memories, and give them a chance to craft their own.
 
 
Dan 
 
--- 
 
Currently playing - Pokémon Emerald (GBA)