Pokemon!

So, yeah, I’ve got Pokemon Black now. So far I’ve got some manner of doofy water-seal-clown thing, an adorably heroic dog, and a cat who appears all but worthless. I haven’t actually had much time to play it — only an hour or so — so I don’t have a great sense of what I’m looking at yet.

It occurs to me that adults who play Pokemon can basically be divided into three classes. First, you’ve got the group who only needs to play one Pokemon game every ten years or so, because that’s as long as it takes for the games to become substantially different from one another. This is the group you’ll hear decrying the games as “all the same” and “needs to innovate”.

Next, you’ve got the hardcore battlers, who need each new game for the updates they provide to the battle system. This is the kind of player who is willing to really dig in and study the numbers, and regards the main quest as mostly a prologue.

Then you’ve got people like me (or maybe just me, I have no idea) who regard the main quest as a worthwhile endeavor in and of itself. I acknowledge that Pokemon doesn’t radically reinvent itself with each new game… but I don’t think it necessarily needs to. In addition, I think it’s fallacious to argue that the games are “all the same”. They’re similar within their basic framework, yes… but within the series you’ve got some casts that are better than others, some stories that are better than others, some regional Pokedexes that are better than others, some world design that’s better than others (both aesthetically and in terms of being fun to negotiate — Hoenn is famously strong on the former but weak on the latter), some battles that are better than others. It does each generation a disservice to tar them with the same brush — you might as well criticize Mario for jumping and saving princesses.

The problem as far as this blog is concerned is that you really have to be a ways into the game before you can speak with authority with regards to aspects like the game’s type balance and leveling curve, so it’ll be a while before I can really register my thoughts. Right now it’s just “Welp, I’ve got rivals, a starting Pokemon, and some weak trash Pokemon that will be in my PC within five hours.” Not the most compelling writing in the world, for sure.

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2 Responses to “Pokemon!”


  1. 1 PapillonReel May 14, 2011 at 3:08 am

    For what it’s worth, I felt the game really handled the balancing curve pretty well, especially w/r/t how they introduce the Pokémon types – the way they introduced the various types was very deliberate and well-thought-out this time around.

    Oh, uh, SPOILERS for the following paragraphs by the way. Just in case you want to keep yourself completely blind for your first play.

    B/W start you off with the usual Fire/Water/Grass as usual – this covers the rock-paper-scissors nature of the elemental types and sets up the basic framework for what’s to come. The first type you find after the starters are all Normal-type, establishing them as the baseline; none of the trio hits it SE, and Normal doesn’t hit them back. Then the game introduces Psychic- and Dark-types, establishing Dark’s dominance over it as well as Psychic’s all-around neutrality. Then you catch an Electric-type and Flying-type in the same go, both of which tie back to your starters in a big way – Electric is strong against Water and Flying and resisted by Grass, while Flying hits Grass-types hard, After that you catch Rock- and Ground-types, which are strong against Fire, and then Fighting-types (which prove that Normals DO have a weakness after all, as well as completing the trio with Psychic and Dark).

    And so it goes down the line, the game introducing one or two new types with each area and using prior knowledge a player will have picked up to let you deduce their weaknesses and resists. And once you’ve covered more than half the chart? The game then starts throwing dual-types at you, and the learning curve starts anew. It’s a little different from earlier games in the series, where, while they did a curve somewhere along those lines, it never really was as defined as it is in B/W. The fact that the regional dex this time around is ridiculously diverse doesn’t help either; no single type dominates and every one has a good Pokémon or interesting dual-type going for it.

    Anyway, go post in the PokéChat threads. Your presence has been sorely missed!

  2. 2 PapillonReel May 14, 2011 at 3:12 am

    “The fact that the regional dex this time around is ridiculously diverse doesn’t help either; no single type dominates and every one has a good Pokémon or interesting dual-type going for it.”

    How the hell did that “doesn’t” get in there? Ugh, lern 2 grammar, Pappy.


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