It all started with Pocket Monsters Red & Green in Japan. Pokémon was a craze in Japan, and that craze soon grew well into international markets with Pokémon Red & Pokémon Blue for people in North America. The storyline was simple – you’re battling all these gym leaders for the badges and on a quest to be a Pokémon master (similar to the Anime of the series). The idea caught on and the two versions marketing idea originally the inception of Nintendo was something people were loving. You could trade Pokémon between the two versions, and it was entirely a craze for its time.
I remember when I first had both of them – I felt like the world was endless in this franchise. But something I never understood was why Pokemon could not follow you outside of their Poke-Balls. The whole concept seemed a bit flawed to me and did naturally take away from my child-like wonder of the game’s world.
Flash forward a few months later to find out that a new version was being released and specialized for the Gameboy Color: Pokémon Special Pikachu Edition aka Pokémon Yellow. This was the game I was personally waiting for, and it made me very excited to hopefully see more Pokemon come out of their poke-balls and truly make the anime many people knew and loved to come alive. Unfortunately with the advent of Pokémon Gold & Silver almost 1 year later in 1998 did not show promise to me. It evolved though in many other ways: it added second generation Pokemon, Dark & Steel Pokemon types, equippable items, a color palette suited to the Gameboy Color and all the glory of the Johto region from the series. It was fun, but I was missing the flair of Pokémon Yellow and having my Pikachu follow me everywhere. I felt it lacked some sense of authenticity.
The third/fourth generations saw Pokémon Ruby & Pokémon Sapphire for the Gameboy Advanced released and Pokémon Diamond/Pearl in 2006 for the Nintendo DS. Neither of these games brought back what Pokémon Yellow brought by integrating the anime so closely. Many others felt the same but we kept on buying these games because they added newer Pokemon, enhanced the graphics every single time, and tried to balance the game with more nuanced features that were glitched in the past.
The fifth generation came about in 2011 (nearly 5 years later) with Pokémon Black and White (along with the sequels in 2012) for the Nintendo DS and expanded the Pokemon arsenal but also brought about something even more cool: the Pokémon World Tournament where players could battle masters and gym leaders from other regions that were featured in past games. It also brought about graphical improvements but that feature of Pokemon following you outside of their poke-balls was still missing nearly 10 years later.
Now we’re in the sixth generation, and the evolution of Pokémon has remained largely the same. It follows a formula that is tried and tested. Why an incredible feature was taken out such as Pokemon following you throughout the game still remains a mystery, but Pokémon X & Y along with Pokémon Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire shows that a newer great storyline that follows the same concept, and a solid improvement in graphics and additions of online features is clearly where Pokémon should be heading. The game sells incredibly well as a solid piece of handheld video-game worldwide with excellent graphics while improving on its features but still I feel things can only get better if Nintendo focuses more on the aspect of Pokémon as a community franchise. What I would love to see and what the games really need is the Pokémon Yellow feature brought back and a way for them to continue to evolve into something exceptional – where we can not just battle with players online and trade with them – but hopefully one day truly be connected and be able to play together in cooperative play through future systems.
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