Back we go to the first generation of Pokémon. I knew that somewhere out there there was a 151st pokémon. I didn’t just want to beat the Elite Four and conquer the Unknown Dungeon. My goal for beating the game is the goal the game sent me out on: completion of the pokédex. How Professor Oak could have forgotten his own directive at the end of Victory Road, I cannot say. Thus, to beat the game, I must find that elusive Mew. One problem: I live in Maine.
Being in the upper-right corner of the United States imposes a distinct disadvantage on all of Maine’s citizens: Nothing comes here.
Frequently, the only place in all New England which *might* see touring concerts, traveling shows and the anointed official Nintendo Pokémon events was Boston. Being without any vehicle or license of my own then, that was that. No Mew, no finishing the game. Sure, I might have somehow convinced one of my parents to take the only day the event was going on off from work, drive me four hours down to Boston, wait for me to do one thing for a video game, turn around and drive four hours home (or a 20-hour round trip to the Pokémon Center in New York on any old day), but I use words like “might” very loosely.
This would be a phantom that questioned my enjoyment of an otherwise fun game. For a time, I lamented my oft-impugned geography, but later I merely blamed Nintendo for producing a game which could only be completed if it just so happened to feel like letting me. Remember this for later.
Eventually, my cousin’s Glorious Game Genie of the People allowed me to catch a (hundred) Mew(s) in the grass west of Cerulean City with the magic code 151-91A-___. For those of you who are fans of pattern recognition, the number 151 in that code is coincidental and does not refer to Mew’s pokédex number.
Pokémon Red was the only game in which I ever completed a Pokédex. The Game Genie was out of the picture before I could land a Celebi for Silver, though I don’t know if it even worked on Game Boy Color games.
The third generation fared far worse. No Deoxys, no Celebi (again). I did eventually get a Jirachi when I discovered a used Pokémon Colosseum bonus disc in my favorite mom-and-pop video game store for $17 — a steal compared to eBay. Nintendo finally wizened up and started giving away more of these “Only when/where we feel like it” pokémon by using nationwide retailers; I received a lovely third-generation Mew from Toys ‘R Us. However, I was greatly disappointed the event did not distribute Mystical or Aurora Tickets, so I would have to rely on the Game Cube games to get Ho-oh and Lugia and was STILL out of luck entirely for Deoxys. To this day, I’ve had no opportunity to collect either ticket. Again, without the other super-legendary Pokémon, what reason did I have to bother going through XD for the sole purpose of capturing and transferring Lugia?
At this point, I decided that was that. When the DS generation of Pokémon hit, I took a pass. Even when the Platinum edition came (those who know me know the very mention of the word “platinum” would be a great temptation… it’s a thing I got from playing D&D), I held strong and refused. I would never again partake in a game that I could only finish at Nintendo’s arbitrary whim. Even those I know who did keep playing grudgingly agreed the concept was as detracting from the experience as it was outdated in execution.
The inevitable return
Although it should have been obvious after the success of Fire Red and Leaf Green, I was surprised when Heart Gold and Soul Silver were announced. My favorite editions would be coming back with a facelift and vast amounts of under-the-hood improvements.
Crap. Crap. Crap.
They got me.
And if I’m going to pick up Soul Silver, I might as well play Platinum, right? Just like Fire Red and Emerald?
This is going to be exasperating.
So, in much the same way I left the game and came back the first time, I will again return to Pokémon. Despite driving me away by teasing me with things I can’t have, it drags me back in by reminding me of the good times we used to have.
Do I need therapy?
I wrote both parts of this retrospective on Friday. That Sunday, I bought a copy of Pokémon Platimum. When I did, the Gamestop employee was kind enough to tell me I had missed the fourth-gen Dexoys giveaway by more than a year. Not quite the omen I wanted to start with.
After going home and opening the case, I found a nice little pamphlet which told me how to get a Secret Key over the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection in order to unlock new abilities for Rotom. Okay, let’s jump in and do this. I played through, got Mystery Gift unlocked and went after my Secret Key.
Apparently, I needed more badges because Nintendo Wi-Fi connection instead used Member Card. Not so super-effective.
Wondering what just happened, I went back to the old standby of pokémon research, Serebii, to discover Nintendo kindly stopped handing out Secret Keys in May. Further, had I bought the game a day later, I would have been out of luck on the Member Card (and Darkrai) too. The day I come back to the series, the reasons why I left are shoved in my face. You’re doing it wrong, Nintendo.
This is going to be exasperating.
It’s now 2015. As part of the blog-wide push to change all old images and internal links from their Moveable Type addresses to their WordPress addresses, I have been working my way through all my old posts.
In this day and age, Pokémon Black and White … and Black 2 and White 2, have been released and I refused to play them. Then, the 3DSs first forray, Pokémon X and Y came. I still did not bite. Finally, the inevitable next set of remakes came: Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. While you might think that I’d be fooled three times by remakes, think again! My memories of the third generation were far less fond than of the first two (especially the second). I’ve had no trouble staying clean and am in no danger of turning in my five-year chip, except to get a six-year one.