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Pokemon, Gotta catch ‘em all

I love the Pokemon series, this is a simple statement of fact. I bought a Game Boy Color at some point in 1999 after I’d started working for Electronics Boutique (which would later become Game) and Pokemon Blue was one of the first games I got on the system. I think it was largely because there was a bit of a fuss about it as it’d been out in Japan for a couple of years prior to the UK release.

It was a pretty simple game, you had to catch Pokemon, battle with them to level them up and fight gym leaders to earn badges to be able to take on the ultimate in-game Pokemon trainers, the elite four, in order to become Pokemon champion. Obviously, you had the trading card game and cartoon in Japan by the time the game hit the UK so it had become something a bit special.

Nintendo was a little crafty as they released two almost identical games in red and blue, with the only difference being that certain Pokemon were version specific and to get them you need a link cable and a friend with the opposite game to you to be able to trade them. They then followed this up with Pokemon Yellow to capitalise on the popularity of the cartoon, same game as red and blue but you started with a Pikachu this time.

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The most prominent change in the GBA releases was the introduction of double battles

I’ve got each of the generations that have been released and they’ve all followed a similar theme with each iteration, though this was changed up quite a lot with the recent Sun and Moon and their follow-ups Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Where the gym battles were replaced with island challenges and it proved to be a refreshing change. I also made it my mission to collect all the DS and 3DS games as well as all the virtual console just for the hell of it (and also to start collecting Pokemon to transfer over to the new Switch game due out next year).

In terms of collecting and transferring Pokemon, Nintendo has made it pretty simple, there is the Poke Transporter for getting Pokemon from older games and the Pokemon Bank for storing them before moving them to one of the 3DS games. This is something of a masterstroke from Nintendo as after a 30-day trial you have to pay £5ish a year to use the bank, it’s a very savvy move.

The Switch entry will be something of an oddity in itself as it’ll be the first main entry in the series that actually gets released for Nintendo’s main console rather than a handheld. Previous main consoles have had spin-off games like Pokemon Stadium and Pokemon Snap, decent games in their own right but lacking in the substance of the main entries. That being said I very much want a sequel or HD re-release for Pokemon Snap.

Pokemon Ultra Moon represented a personal achievement on my part. it was the first time I’d completed the in-game Pokedex by catching all the Pokemon. I’m very glad the game doesn’t have the national sex in it which would have all 800 plus Pokemon to catch. I got obsessed enough as it was completing this without having to factor nearly double the number in, I think there’s a good chance I’d have lost my mind.

In terms of being able to trade in the new games you essentially have 3 options, local trade via wireless which more or less works the same as the old link cable method. GTS, where you can search for specific Pokemon in exchange for specific Pokemon (and some people are mental and want a legendary Pokemon in exchange for a Metapod or some other flag) and the third option, is Wondertrade where you send a random Pokemon and get a random one back, it could be good or it could be utter chaff, you won’t know until it arrives and it can be quite entertaining.

This brings us not very neatly to Pokemon Go on mobile phones. It’s proven to be quite popular and it’s not hard to see why as it’s a way of playing a simplified version of the game that allows you to make progress while walking around. My personal view is that it’s a poor substitute for the real thing given the lack of skill involved and the lack of variety in terms of Pokemon available to catch at any given time unless you’re prepared to do a fair amount of meandering around.

The first Switch games due out are Lets Go Pikachu and Lets Go Eevee which while looking interesting it has set off a few warning signs for me. It seems to be an amalgamation of the normal games and Pokemon Go so I’m worried about it being limited, and it has a degree of link up with Go which means I essentially feel compelled to be playing that again in order to make the most of this link so I’m naturally irritated by this. They’ve also produced a peripheral for the game which comes with an in-game Mew which vexed me somewhat as Mew is my favourite Pokemon, it’s like they can see into my soul.

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Mew comes pre-installed on the PokeBall Plus accessory

After that, we have around a year for the proper entry on the Switch which I have high hopes for. I’m hoping that there’s going to be something similar to Gold and Silver where once you completed the main game it unlocked the gyms from Red and Blue. Potentially a game with a new region to start with that maybe lets you go back through all previous regions until you’re the ultimate Pokemon champion. It may not shake down anything close to like that but a man can dream.

In the meantime, I’m going to pass the time waiting for the new game by more than likely playing a little on the older games to make sure I’m fully ready, and maybe watching some of the films and anime and probably buying some kind of Pokemon merchandise. I wouldn’t say that I’m obsessed as such but it’s definitely a close run thing. Many would probably disagree with my assessment, but those people are bug catchers.

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