There seem to be quite a few anniversaries happening these days, and this week is no exception, with Pokémon celebrating its 20th. Bearing that in mind, we thought we'd ask you about your favorite Pokémon game. So what is it? Did you start playing back in the 90's, or is your favorite Pokémon game one of the later releases? Whatever it is, we want to know!
As always, here's the USgamer team with their answers.
I’m not an OG purist by any means. I had a great time with Pokemon X and Y, and I’m eager to see what Game Freak has in store for Sun and Moon. But Pokemon Red was so interesting and new when it came out -- especially since I got in on the ground floor -- so I’ll go ahead and choose my very first Pokemon game as my favorite.
I got Pokemon Red on its launch date, or somewhere close to it. Whereas all my friends exploited the game’s myriad glitches to catch rare Pokemon (which they then leveled up by cloning Rare Candy and stuffing it down their monsters’ gobs), I did everything the hard way. That included catching a Dratini in the awkward Safari Zone and evolving it into a Dragonite. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you’re on vacation with your parents.
OG Pokemon was also quite popular amongst the geeks in my high school (and my high school had many geeks), so we did lots of lunchtime trading. I ran into difficulties with the trading process when I realized I’d given all my Pokemon irrelevant nicknames. Pokemon Red had no Pokemon images to indicate exactly what was in your box, so people eventually stopped trading with me when they’d ask for a Growlithe and I couldn’t remember if I’d named mine “Stupid,” “Smelly,” or any of the other dozen sour adjectives in front of me.
I found Pokémon completely intolerable until the DS came along — the repetitive, slow-paced gameplay demands a stop-start play-in-tiny-fits rhythm that the DS perfectly facilitates with its ability to enter sleep mode by flipping down the lid at any time. Even then, my admiration of the series' frequently creative character design was balanced by the grindy monotony of the game itself. I ended up playing something like 150 hours of Pokémon HeartGold anyway, though. And it's all because of that accursed Pokéwalker.
The Pokéwalker that came with HeartGold and SoulSilver were inspired by the standalone Pokémon Pikachu LCD pedometer from the ’90s, but this one had much greater utility: It would count your footsteps toward progress in HeartGold by communicating with the DS's infrared port (which, I'm pretty sure, was the only thing anyone ever used that poor, neglected input on the system for). You could take your less-beloved captive critters out for a stroll in the Pokéwalker to power them up and find goodies that you could transfer into the game. If I'm remembering right, there was even a proto-Street Pass function that allowed you to "meet" other players' Pokéwalker prisoners…
Anyway, it just so happened that the Pokéwalker came along while I was focusing on staying fit by walking. So its step-tracking function encouraged me to be more active and remain fit by finding excuses to become a pedestrian… which was handy, because my wife was pretty sick around that period and I didn't otherwise have time to exercise. A year later the 3DS came along and I switched over to its built-in pedometer function (for which the Pokéwalk undoubtedly was a prototype, all the way down to the in-game bonus features you earn through physical activity). Then I moved away from a city where walking is a convenient and pleasant way to get around, and now I'm fat again. Oh well. The Pokéwalker will always remind me of that wonderful window of time in which my lifestyle, my work, my hobby, and my health all intersected in a happy and healthy way, though.
I'm the wrong person to ask about Pokémon games. The closest I've ever got to playing one is watching Kat stream it the other day. I've just never felt compelled to try out any game from the series - the turn-based gameplay isn't in my wheelhouse.
I've played most of the Pokemon games, but for the life of me, it's really hard to pick the ones that I'd feel are the best. there's just a long line of Pokemon games, a slow evolution towards what we're playing today. So I'll just pick the latest Pokemon I remember with any specificity: Pokemon Black and White 2.
Pokemon overall is this weird mix of nostalgia and the slow addition of new features from other games. It makes sense, because Game Freak doesn't really have to innovate too much and to be honest, it might be a detriment to certain facets of the series moving forward. Blade and White 2 hit the nostalgia aspect quite hard this time around, which was good because we're far enough out on the early games for that to actually hit.
Add in the fact that there's just so much stuff to do in the game. You have a ton of Pokemon to collect, the Pokemon World Tournament, the weird Pokestar Studios, and the elite four, who you could tackle in any order. It just felt really approachable, but with a ton of content. In contrast, I don't really remember X/Y or Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire at all.
It's honestly a toss-up between Pokémon Emerald and Pokémon Black 2/White 2. The former introduced the Battle Frontier - an incredibly tough series of challenges perfect for advanced players. Essentially, it let you chase 16 additional badges, all of them very difficult. Add in the way that it expertly combined the Team Magma/Team Aqua story from Ruby and Sapphire, and I still consider it the definitive Hoenn game, even over Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
Pokémon Black 2/White 2, meanwhile, gave me a new appreciation for the Unova region, which I had initially found rather disappointing. A lot of that was to do with the introduction of wonderful features like the Pokémon World Tournament - a nostalgia-laden series of battles against old gym leaders and champions - and a Hollywood-like area where you have to complete certain challenges to film a movie. With its tremendous array of extra challenges, awards, and in-game achievements, Black 2/White kept me busy for quite a long time.
Honestly, there's something to love about most of the games. Red/Blue introduced us to the world of Pokémon; Gold/Silver furthered the story while returning to Kanto; Diamond/Pearl had my favorite region - the snow-covered Sinnoh - and X/Y introduced 3D graphics and customizable avatars. But after all these years, Emerald and Black 2/White 2 remain at the pinnacle for me. Pokemon Sun and Moon will have to offer a lot to match those two games.
When Pokemon began its American invasion, I became an early adopter in spite of the potential for social stigma. In 1998--at least in my neck of the woods--video games had yet to achieve their official "cool" status, and most of the friends I'd regularly game with eventually abandoned their controllers for a pastime more likely to get them laid. Still, for the sake of not attracting even more bullying, I kept my interest in Pokemon a secret and played through the entirety of Red on my bedroom TV (thanks to the Super Game Boy). Nintendo's monster-hoarding RPG clicked with me, but as a JRPG addict in love with some of the more complex games of the 32-bit era, it couldn't help but feel a little too simple.
By the time the second generation of Pokemon rolled around, I had just graduated from high school, meaning the impetus to conform to any Catholic school social norms had been completely swept off the table. And I'd be willing to credit this guilt and anxiety-free atmosphere for my love of Pokemon Gold if the game itself didn't make so many substantial improvements to the crusty old originals. Where Red and Blue seemed to be barely holding together at times, Silver and Gold feel a lot more solidly built--most likely because the hellish development cycle (so I've heard) of the originals gave Game Freak a real learning experience. There's also a much-improved localization, a real-time clock--a feature I absolutely love that's rarely returned--a reasonable amount of new Pokemon, and the amazing bonus of Pokemon Red/Blue's entire world as the post-game content. (We can thank the late Satoru Iwata for that little trick.)
Maybe Gold just hit me at the right time--I can't really say. But I do know that it's been impossible for me to make much progress in a Pokemon game since I finished Gold nearly 16 years ago. That could be for the best, since I really don't need more 40-hour RPGs in my life, but I'm honestly hoping a future game will grab me like Gold did--especially now that I'm in my 30s and living a shame-free lifestyle in my lair of nerd crap.