I feel like there is this huge phenomena that I completely missed the boat on. Even though it was my generation that brought the Gameboy to the world, and I can remember getting one in 1989 it was never a primary console for me. It was that thing I played when I was on a trip, or more often my younger cousin played when he was visiting. For him the Gameboy was totally a primary means of gameplay, but for me… it was more novelty than anything else. The battery life was pure shit, so it was not like you could actually take it anywhere for long periods of time without a large stock of AA batteries to fuel it.
Additionally it made everything you played look spinach green. There were various big name titles that came out like Metroid II that provided an experience that did not exist on the bigger consoles…. but by that time I had the Super Gameboy and the ability to play these games in pseudo color. While I bought a Gameboy Advance and later a second hand Gameboy SP they were still more novelty devices for me. As a result I feel as though I almost completely missed one of the biggest crazes to ever hit gaming.
I was already well into the working world when the whole Pokémon insanity happened. It was one of those games that I knew existed, but since I didn’t really play Gameboy much, I had never actually experienced. My first entry into the world actually happened when the card game was released. Before it really blew up, it had become something that the card gamer folks dabbled in at my local game store… and I had a starter deck and a handful of boosters. It was a charming little game, and it played rather quickly as compared to Magic: The Gathering that could often times drag on for ages.
I did not really encounter the Gameboy game until much later, when I played Pokémon Blue on a Gameboy emulator. I found it a charming game, and quickly became addicted to capturing these little critters, but the experience ended there for the most part. I don’t think I ever actually beat the game. Once the novelty wore off I was back to playing my JRPGs on the PlayStation, and traded Pokémon for Jade Cocoon. I likely would have stayed disconnected from the Pokémon experience were it not for MMO games and often times being one of the oldest folks in the raid.
A large number of the gamers that I play with on a regular basis are one full generation younger than I am. As a result… Pokémon was a huge deal for that group. I can remember talking about WoW Pokémon with a small measure of disdain when it was originally announced, but mostly because I really did not get what is so fun about it. However when it was released I went from antagonist to addict in no time. In fact for the first several nights after the release of Mists of Pandaria, I wandered around doing nothing but battle pets. I have always been a pet collector in MMO games, but being able to do something with them… made the whole experience that much better for me.
The thing is… this also made me realize that this madness called Pokémon totally worked on me. I began to feel like I had missed an entire experience. Over the last few months my inner circle of gamer friends have been prepping for the release of Pokémon X and Y, and while at the time I didn’t think much about it… the closer it got to release the more I wanted to participate this time. I have not owned a Gameboy since the SP, and have completely missed the DS era. As a result I missed a number of games that I still want to play. So I feel like I have a significant backlog of games I want to play for it.
However the big title on the horizon that I would have had to play… was Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. A Link to the Past is one of my favorite games of all time… I put it very close to Castlevania Symphony of the Night… the game that is likely my all time favorite. I was always a fan of Legend of Zelda, spending countless hours beating the first one. However, Link to the Past was that game that really proved to me the raw power of the Super Nintendo. I picked up a copy on my way home from getting outpatient sinus surgery and I played the hell out of it as I recuperated. When I heard there was a sequel coming to the 3DS I knew sooner or later I would end up with the console.
Taking the Plunge
Much to the frustration of my wife I am sure… last night I took the plunge and picked up a black/black 3ds XL and Pokémon Y. My immediate group of friends have been keeping the X and Y thing pretty balanced so I could have gotten either. Basically for me it came down to the fact that I would far rather have a crazy red and black flying bird with three hands… than some kind of blue faerie antelope. Other than that… I really could not tell you the difference. I played the absolute crap out of the game last night, and spent most of that time catching Pokémon and then trading them off using the crazy wonder trade system.
This has to be the coolest feature I have found so far. Basically since the 3DS is an extremely connected device, you can place any Pokémon you do not want up for trade, and receive a Pokémon that another trainer does not want. Essentially it is the whole, one mans trash is another mans treasure concept… and while I am sure at later levels you mostly get things you have no interest in… starting out I found it to be the source of many Pokémon I was interested in. I oddly enough ended up with quite a few interesting and potentially rare ones mixed in with the dross.
I still feel a little overwhelmed. Having never really played a Pokémon game… there are so many things that have changed since my brief experience with Pokémon Blue. Luckily I have various friends that serve as an almost encyclopedic tome of knowledge about all things “pocket monster”. They have been helping me out immensely especially in evaluating which things are good and which things are not so good. I feel like I have a couple of decades of research to do before I even feel like I have a slim grasp on what all is going on. I am now a proud member of the 3DS era, so I can now add a “friend code” to the long list of other social identifiers I have.