Sunday, September 15, 2013

Evolving Your Pokemon Gameplay

Pokemon is envisioned as the game that far too many people have spent far too many hours of their youth playing. The nostalgia holds strong within our hearts when we hear of the new games that will be released. It makes us unsettled. We begin to ask ourselves questions. Will it be as good as the first/second/third generation?  Will there be new features? Will the new Pokemon just be reskins? The main question that will be asked is simple. Will it be as fun as it was when I played it at the ripe age of 10? The answer, unfortunately, will probably be no. When we are younger, we are much more creative and see things as greater than what they actually are. Our minds roam as the stories wander. We don’t question the biases or the realism or stop for a second and think “Why should I have to walk ALL the way back through that cave just to get an item? What a waste!” We just do. We go with the game, delve into the story, and dissolve into the Pokemon world.

Pokemon was also released when the first in-color portable gaming systems were becoming more mainstream. It was new technology that our young eyes hadn’t seen before. It was fantastic, amazing, and we didn’t even bat an eyelash when we used flashlights to play the game in the dark. Now technology has advanced as we have grown. We are now accustomed to playing with back-lit longer-lasting portable devices with 3D screens and more easily interact-able games with graphics that rival real life.

Playing the old Pokemon games just aren’t quite the same anymore. They can get a bit tedious and boring. They seem too easy and a bit meaningless. Who cares if the Pokemon faints or gets poisoned? It just adds another boring trip to the boring Pokemon Center to talk to the overly-friendly Nurse Joy and pray to Arceus that you won’t accidentally press A and have to go through the same, droll process all over again.

Pokemon: Hardmode throws all that traditional humdrum style of Pokemon out the window and launches Taurus feces at it. Pokemon: Hardmode is not a new game. It is the process in which Pokemon is played. You start with any Pokemon game you have, but you give yourself rules. The most famous rules come from The Nuzlocke Challenge, a webcomic about the creator’s adventures back to the original Pokemon games with a twist to make them more interesting. The rules are simple to follow, but are guaranteed to rip your heart out.

The first rule is easy, you have to catch the first Pokemon you encounter in an area and cannot catch anything else. The second rule makes it a bit harder. When a Pokemon faints, you must release it and it is declared dead. You are very limited on Pokemon and will end up running from many fights because you don’t want to lose your newly caught Zubat. To become one with your Pokemon, it is highly recommended that you give them a name. Instead of possibly losing Zubat, you are now risking Bobette’s life.

As rules go, they are meant to be broken. The point of Hardmode is to make the game a challenge to you. It’s to get you attached to the story and your Pokemon as you experience a journey that is unique to you. Mix up your playthrough, add new rules and remove some. Make the game a game that you want to play. Make it so that you can delve back into the story that you remember from your youth, and do it in a new way.Before you know it, you’ll be rushing to get to the once-annoying-and-still-sort-of-annoying-but-useful Nurse Joy when Weedle poisons your precious Pidgey, Shiva, on your way through Viridian Forest. You’ll be crying when you didn’t make it in time and you have to release or “bury” your dead teammate. You’ll remember the personalities of all your Pokemon and all the battles they fought. You’ll remember that time you fought your rival and nearly lost Gregory, your Bulbasaur that has been with you since the very beginning. Every battle fought and every item you get will mean something. Each Pokemon that joins you will become a friend. All of the emotion that you used to feel when you were a kid will be there. It will be in a different form, and it will certainly remind you why Pokemon is such a great game.

Hardmode stays true to its name no matter how your rules go. The game gets hard emotionally and strategically. You know that you need to beat the Elite Four at some point, but right now your main concern is not losing another Pokemon. Not today, not tomorrow. You couldn’t bear to lose another. Your party isn’t strategically powerful against them, but they are your teammates and they mean the game to you. Hardmode does make the game tough, but it makes it worth playing through five more times with a Mankey jumping on your back.

Take a chance, try Pokemon: Hardmode. But know this: once you go Hardmode, you can never go back.

Pokemon games on ebay | Amazon


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