The Nostalgic World of Pokémon (Ryan Rotella)

When I got Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire from my parents last Christmas, I was surprised. I didn’t ask for it; in fact, I hadn’t picked up a Gameboy of any kind in at least 5 years. Davidson’s time-draining combination of a rigorous workload and a buzzing social life makes playing videogames an inefficient, occasional luxury (except when you play for them class, thanks Dr. Sample). I decided to dedicate time to this Pokemon game because I wanted to re-examine a series that took up so much time in my childhood. I am not exaggerating when I say that I played Pokemon everywhere growing up. I played it when I ate breakfast, waited on the bus, sat on the bus, sat at dinner while eating too much bread, you name it, I was playing a Pokemon game (usually Blue or Sapphire). I had to be pried away from my GameBoy Advance SP often, just so my parents could socially interact with me. I inhabited the world of Pikachus, Caterpies, and Gyradoses daily, trying so hard to be the very best like no one ever was. So, with any video game HD remake, I wanted to step back into that world through a nostalgia-filled commodity and find out why this game took such a strong hold on my young life.

But then I got bored pretty quickly into this game. I remembered that literally every mainline Pokemon game (that is, ones made for Gameboys that weren’t dungeon explorers) is essentially the same thing. I choose a character that’s either a boy or a girl, I have a rival, I choose a starter, I say goodbye to my mom, and I venture off into the world of Pokemon and gym battles. The only differences in the games are different items, different Pokemon, and better graphics. There are some competitive stats that get added throughout the series for the serious, online competitive players, but I never cared about that when I played. In this remake, there are no new Pokemon at all. By definition, it’s the same Pokemon from the original Sapphire in an updated game. I moved through a prettier, 3D animated Hoenn region with running shoes automatically on this time around, and it was nice…for like 20 minutes. I was walking around and playing the same game I already knew. I will say the turn-based mechanic of fighting and managing Pokemon is still addictively fun. Pokemon, with its customizable four move set and item management, has a very unique take on combat. That and its art design have made it into the success it is today and might be the reasons I loved these games so much. Each battle was an achievement in strategy and management with cool creatures, even if it was essentially animal fighting. I, nor most other 10 year-olds, typically don’t pick up on the animal-fighting bit because we didn’t know it existed and the cute fantasy of Pokemon masks the gruesome reality of animals maimed and killed for idle sport. So you could say the nostalgia has worn off greatly, but I still appreciate the fun I had in this weird, uber popular game. As with most media rooted and marketed in nostalgia, I don’t regret playing the remake of a game that made me happy, but I’m really glad I don’t anymore. I can’t really enjoy making wild creatures my possessions and fighting for my glory and image as a masterful trainer while sitting isolated staring at a screen for hours on end anymore. Thanks, Davidson, for giving me a life and making sure I never see the world the same way again.

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