Gotta catch 'em all.
It's a tagline. It's a challenge. It's a school of thought. It's a way of life. And it's the definition in the purest form of my OCD with collecting things within video games. Sure, it didn't start with Pokémon (I have the coins in the first Mario game to thank for that), but the very first Pokémon games - Red and Blue - exacerbated my digital hoarding tendencies and cemented the obsessive compulsive behavior of trying to collect everything in games that I still fight to this day.
Let's start with a trip down memory lane before we get into the new hotness, shall we? When Red and Blue came out, the first Pokémon games to come to North America (two years after Japan, mind you), I was just starting the 10th grade. My cousin actually introduced me to them, who was a couple of years younger than I, but I immediately fell in love. The idea of an entire world filled with fictional yet still somewhat realistic animals that you had to find, catch, raise and battle against others was fantastic. But honestly, the challenge of finding and catching them all drew me in hook, line and sinker.
I remember how frustrating it was just at the beginning, having to pick one of three starters, as I worried the other two wouldn't be able to be found and caught in the wild. This of course led to the purchase of data cables to trade with others to get the ones needed checked off on the list. And when I realized some were exclusive to the color game that you had, I about lost my mind. Everyone seemed to have Red, for whatever reason, so when a kid with a Blue came around, it was like finding a lost treasure.
The thing with Pokémon is that everyone seemed to see it as a "kiddie game," which made it hard at my age to like it so much. There was a cartoon that was phenomenal that I would watch every day, but it always felt like it was my own guilty pleasure, afraid to let anyone know I was watching it. While normal kids my age were sneaking around trying to watch porn or dabbling in drugs, I was sneaking around with Pokémon. Whether it was wrong or not, justified or not, I always felt like I would be persecuted for my enjoyment of Pokémon.
So I kept it to myself. It was my dirty little secret.
When the Pokémon movie came out, my aunt asked me to go with my two cousins to the theater to watch it with them, acting as the responsible, older cousin. The thought of being caught at the theater with my younger cousins watching Pokémon by friends or peers scared me senseless, so I declined her request. She ended up bribing me with cash, and because I secretly wanted to go anyway, I turned it into a win-win situation. Before the movie started, we went to Burger King which was in the same parking lot as the theater, for dinner. We only went there, as I found out after the fact, because in the kids meals they had Pokémon toys that my cousins wanted, mainly so they could pretend to be Pokémon trainers. At their age, it was totally acceptable. For me, I just had to roll my eyes at them and pretend to hate everything about everything Pokémon.
But man, that movie was awesome. In a totally cheesy, should never really be considered "awesome" kind of way.
Long story short, I grew up being afraid to embrace my appreciation and admiration for Pokémon Because of that, I stepped away from the series for a very, very long time. Sure, I played a couple of the spin-off games, like Snap!, pinball and such, but I always tried to stay away from the core games. That was until I bought my first 3DS when it launched. There were no good games at all at launch, and I think I picked up Street Fighter just to say that I had a 3DS title. So to supplement the lack of games, and to actually make use of the system I just bought, I picked up Pokémon White, the newest Pokémon title at the time. I played through it and enjoyed every second of it, but I felt a bit of disconnect with it. Also, I was judged in my own house for playing it, mocked and belittled for wanting to play a "kid's game like Pokémon."
Fast forward to the present. Finally, us Pokémon fans have what we have always wanted: a good looking Pokémon game, with 3D Pokémon character models and full on battle animations. When X and Y were announced, I knew right away this game would be mine. And thankfully, I no longer have to feel judged or mocked for liking Pokémon I'm free to fly my geek flag and play the kiddie game I've loved for so long, without fear, finally.
I picked up Y because, well, Y's are sort of my thing. Also, I had no interest in the deer-looking Legendary Pokémon of the X version. I went to twitter and everyone seemed to be leaning towards the X version as well, so I felt compelled at that point to go the other direction. When I went to the stores, however, the Y's were all sold out. There were plenty of X's everywhere, but I had to go to three different stores before I was able to find a copy of Y. Take that, Twitter!
Anyway, this game is amazing. It truly is everything I have always wanted from a Pokémon game. Thankfully it doesn't take too long to get started, and you are out and about searching for Pokémon to capture quicker than any other game in the series I can remember. Once I got to that point, I couldn't stop walking around, searching for wild Pokémon to capture. In the four hours I spent playing the game, I only have the first gym badge, but have over 30 Pokémon in my Pokédex. My starter Pokémon is level 20 already, and my team is looking pretty solid and balanced for where I am in the game.
Yes, picking a starter Pokémon was a difficult process once again, as it always is, but staying true to form, I went with the fire element again. What through me for a loop, however, was when I encountered the Professor and he gave me the choice of one of the three original starter Pokémon to keep! Normally I would have went Charmander, but since I was already rocking a fire based guy as my go-to Pokémon. I panicked and ended up choosing Bulbasaur. If I could have a mulligan, I would probably go with Squirtel, because really, anybody who is anybody knows that Squirtel and the Squirtel Squad is where coolness originated. But, as they say, c'est la vie.
Now I just need to find some friends to start trading with, because not having those Pokémon I didn't choose will cause the collector in me to freak out endlessly until they are safely in Pokéballs, in my possession. Gotta collect 'em all, as they say.
Speaking of which...
If Near Field Technology, or NFC as the kids call it these days, is the way of the future for gaming, well, count me in. Just don't expect my wallet to be as enthusiastic about the path I'm heading down.
When I first heard about this game, I knew I wanted it. You see, when Nintendo first revealed that the Wii U GamePad would include NFC technology, with the ability to read things with NFC in it directly from the revolutionary controller itself, the very first thing I thought of was how amazing a Pokemon game with NFC figurines (a la Skylanders) would be. Trust me, I have witnesses who can attest to this bold prediction of mine.
I mean think about it - a Pokemon game which would sell gangbusters anyway, combined with the hot new phase of collecting figurines, and Nintendo could practically make money. The theme song specifically explains the tagline and motto of not only the games, but the franchise itself: "Gotta collect them all!" Now imagine that motto with a game like Skylanders or Disney Infinity, but in the Pokemon universe, and it's a match made in heaven. So again, when this game was first announced, I was already invested before it hit the shelves.
And then the unthinkable happened. I had second thoughts about what I was going to actually be investing in. I worried that maybe I had hit my limit on what I could conceivably and reasonably invest in. I worried that I was ready to collect them all for all the wrong reasons. Lastly, but maybe more importantly, I balked at the notion that GameStop had exclusive rights, as I despise the notion of being pigeonholed into shopping somewhere by force if I want a particular thing, especially with something like this.
Well, I'm proud to say that my will is weak and I have no self control, as I went down to GameStop and picked up Pokemon Rumble U the first day it was available. Actually, I didn't buy the real game there, just the download code, which was a first for me. Why would someone buy a download code from a store instead of just downloading it from the console's online store? I guess credit card fear is the biggest reason, but for me, it seems completely redundant. However, this time I'm glad I did.
With the purchase of the code, I got a free figurine, which normally run $3.99 each. It wasn't just any random figurine, but a special edition Kyurem, either black or white. That part was random. I ended up getting the very last one they had available to give away, which if you're wondering, I got the black one. I thought this was an awesome gesture, but I wasn't done there. Oh no. I didn't go all the way down to the store to buy the download code for a free figure. That was just dumb luck. No, I went down there to buy the figures, of course.
And this is where Nintendo went a completely different direction then their NFC successors, and decided to make each purchase a blind one. Yes, that's right. Each character you buy comes in a sealed Pokeball, which you can't see in to, thus not knowing what figurine you're actually buying. These things are small and cute, and the four dollar price point seems fair, but collecting them all is not an easy thing to do when you can't see what you are buying. This is similar to the Power Discs that Disney Infinity implemented, but those things are just accessories to the characters to the game. You can actually see the characters you buy, because they don't want you to collect multiple ones. Again, Nintendo bucks the trend set before them to do their own thing. No surprise, if you ask me.
Even though their are only 18 figurines to collect, you will eventually end up with duplicates of Pokemon. Because of this, I didn't jump head first into the collecting of figures, and only decided to buy three on my initial store run. After playing the game, and experiencing the thrill of opening up Pokeballs blindly, I want more. But first, let me at least explain the game.
It's an arena-combat based game, where you battle digitally-created toy Pokemon in confined battle arenas, with bosses finishing each level. You can select one Pokemon of your choice, along with three AI controlled teammates, from a team of Pokemon you collect from picking up Pokeballs in combat, along with the NFC characters you swipe across the GamePad to send them into the game. Each creature has their own level and XP meter, along with different attacks and abilities. Each level has specific challenges to go after, although you don't know what they are until after you beat the level first, which provided replayability for the completionist in us all. There isn't much skill involved at all, just attacking and moving around until the battle is won. Of course, it gets harder as you go, but the game isn't designed to be super difficult, just super fun. And super addicting.
And it does a great job at both of those.
So much in fact, I can't wait to make my way back to GameStop and buy some more Pokeballs. Do I have a problem? Yes, I probably do, but hey, at least I enjoy my problem and it doesn't hurt anyone else. Besides, it makes for some great blog posts, don't you think?
Looking back at last night's blog post, I realize it was a train wreck. A complete disaster, if you will. I really don't know what came over me, but I realized while I was writing that it sucked, but reading it again, I think the term "sucked" is being awful grateful.
My thoughts were scattered all over the place - maybe because I was more focused about writing about a movie about games than I was the game about the movie about games. Or, maybe I just suffered from spontaneous writing fatigue. Can't say for sure, but hopefully I can SNAP out of it long enough to get a much better blog up tonight.
I would like to apologize for that disaster last night, to anyone who had to read that garbage. But I would also like to apologize for not taking advantage of an obvious opportunity to play my first Nintendo 64 game on the 64th day of the blog project. DUH. Didn't even cross my mind until today. I think I am already starting to plan in the future that the present day opportunities are slipping right by me. So, to make it up, I decided to play an awesome Nintendo 64 game, and one of my personal favorites ... Pokemon Snap.
Now, I can't say that I ever imagined that this game would be the first 64 game I played for this year long project, but that's the beauty of what I have created. The unknown, the mystery ... and not just from you, the reader, but even for myself. Actually, I was inspired to play this game after I posed a question on twitter. I asked if anyone could guess what franchise my next "Week Of..." series would cover, and Chris (@HolyHeadShot) from EverydayGamers.com guessed a slew of franchises, all of which were good guesses, but wrong.
One of the names he dropped, however, was Pokemon, and while that series hadn't even struck me as a possibility, I checked and we are now entering the 6th generation of Pokemon games with the announced Pokemon X & Y games later this year. And since the 4th generation had two sets of games, Diamond & Pearl and also HeartGold & SoulSilver, it is very possible to do a full week of Pokemon games just using the base, standard games (spin-offs, like Snap, don't count). That's crazy to think, that as long as they have been around, does it really feel like there have been 7 different sets of Pokemon games?
So, with my mind on Pokemon and Pokemon on my mind, I decided to whip out Pokemon Snap and give my photographer skills a test.
Yes, the game is still super-easy and anything but complicated. Yes it is still an awesome collection of the old-school, first generation Pokemon that we all know and love. And yes, I freakin' love this game. I can't remember how long after it came originally did I play it, but I remember going back through over and over again trying to get that PERFECT shot. What a blast to not worry about dying, not worrying about puzzle solving ... just taking pictures of amazing looking Pokemon.
I feel like this game has been the gold standard for games using a camera to take pictures, whether the entire game is based around it (Endless Ocean series for the Wii) or just using it as a tool within the game. And while there are much better looking camera games since Snap, this one still has a special place in my heart. The first generation of Pokemon are so memorable, thanks to the groundbreaking Red & Blue (and eventually Yellow) games, the cartoon series, the trading cards and everything else that capitalized on the Pocket Monsters phenomenon. This game was really the first time we got to see the Pokemon in full 3D, and it was amazing. Anyone remember finally catching the surfing Pikachu on camera for the first time? Yeahhhhhh....
Anyway, I enjoyed playing this game all over again. It's a game I like to go back to every now and then, just because. And seriously, if there was EVER a game that was way before its time, this is it. Tell me this game wouldn't be absolutely perfect for the new Wii U system? Seriously, just take this game, HD it up, add some more features, throw it on a Wii U disk and I guarantee this struggling system will start flying off the shelves. I GUARANTEE IT.
Of course Nintendo won't do it, though. They apparently don't like money. Or making good decisions. Or doing the obvious actions to obtain success. They insist on doing it the hard way. More power to them, but there is a legion of Pokemon fans, old school and newer adapters of the series, that would kill for an awesome Wii U Pokemon game. Just saying, Nintendo ... just saying.
So there you have it. My first Nintendo 64 game. And that "My Week Of..." I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that starts Monday. Be ready for another epic week packed full of one game franchise.
Also, on a final note, I am tossing the idea around of taking on suggestions for games to play, and if possible, taking the recommendations and turning them into a blog post. Maybe one a week, maybe one or two a month, I'm not sure yet. And I wouldn't ask for really hard to get, obscure suggestions either, but just something to be more interactive with the readers and keep things even more fresh around here.
I'm hoping things like that would prevent posts like my Wreck-It Ralph blog to ever happen. But sometimes, the tsunami just can't be stopped.
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Games played for project : 365