Pokémon Black: My First Day As A Pokémon Trainer
I’ll be honest, I missed the Pokémon craze. Instead of growing up with malcontent, abused monsters that had a one word vocabulary and spent most of their time locked up in a small round ball, I grew up with overly energetic teenagers that wore different colored ninja outfits who felt the need to yell noises with every action they took during battle. They also spoke to a floating head that called itself Zordon who I’m convinced was a bit of a racist. C’mon…the African American guy is the black ranger? The Chinese girl is the yellow ranger? The Powerpuff girl as played by Amy Jo Johnson was the pink ranger? Then Rita Repulsa would throw her staff at the Earth and make whatever Battle Beast action figure she was playing with grow, forcing the Power Rangers to call upon their spirit animals to activate a fifteen minute transformer sequence, which then allowed the creators of the show to loop the main music sequence about four times.
I’m a gamer. I’m passionate about this hobby. I collect and play board games. I collect and play video games. In light of all of this, I have never played the series that swept (and addicted) the nation in one foul swoop.
I had to see what all the hype was about. So I went and bought Pokémon Black for the Nintendo DS. Pokémon, quite simply, is a collectible monster game. They battle each other using different skills and elements like fire, electric, water, and so on and so forth. You can breed these monsters and combine skills from two separate Pokémon into one that may end up being better or worse than you expected it to be. The math behind all of the battles and statistics are staggering. Your goal is to catch all the Pokémon you can, adjust your line-up on the fly, and level them up to create the ultimate fighting team.
Pokémon games have reached many different video game systems, dating all the way back to the Gameboy back in 1996 (Japan) and 1998 (US). It’s RPG style made the game long and the sheer number of monsters you got to collect and fight with, coupled with multiplayer link-ups, made the replay value incredibly high.
With that said…holy cow is it boring. Allow me to recount my first day playing this game…either I’m playing it wrong or it gets better down the line.
I started the game in some place called Unova and began speaking to his guy named Professor Juniper. I got to pick my gender and chose a name. “Leonard Nimoy” was too large of a name due to the character limit, so I opted for “Brocoli.” It happened to be what I was snacking on at the time and with this more veggie, less real food diet I currently have myself on, I tend to find humor in things that aren’t really supposed to be funny. I’ll be fine once the dementia and delusions of grandeur begin to fade.
I met two in-game friends and was prompted to pick my starting Pokémon. This was it…the moment of truth. My very first Pokémon. Which one would it be?
First there was Snivy, a grass Pokémon, that looked like what you’d get if you forced a snake, a duck, and Gilbert Gottfried to mate. It apparently has a leaf on its tail that it can use to collect energy by means of photosynthesis. WTF? Next!
Then there was Tepig, a fire Pokémon, which I believe is the demon spawn of a rabbit and a pig that happened to have a career in the WWF. How else can you explain what looks like spandex underwear and a mask? Unless he was once a superhero whose superpower was to forget to wear a shirt and pants?
Finally there was Oshawatt, a water Pokémon, that I just wanted to punch in the face. If you took DNA from Gargamel (the villain from the Smurfs) and pumped it into Hello Kitty’s reproductive tract, you’d end up with an Oshawatt. It’s wreaks of science that clearly wasn’t meant to be.
So I picked myself a Tepig, the least offensive out of the three, and was conflicted about what to call it. The logical choice was “Bacon” or “Hamburger” but that would have reminded me that the celery stick I was munching on tasted like milk that was left behind a radiator ever since World War II ended. I opted for “Celery,” because irony is funny.
So then my friends battle me with their new Pokémon, which takes place in my room…remember that…it’s an important plot point. I have two abilities, “Tackle” and “Tail Whip.” It’s a fricking fire pig…why can’t it shoot flames from its snout? I guess I’m not leveled up high enough for that. I’ll break here while I let the Pokémon enthusiasts explain the reason for this in the comments below.
Okay, so after spamming tackle, I apparently won. My room is trashed (Aha! Plot point comes full circle!) but my “mom” says that she’d clean the mess for me. That so wouldn’t have been me, just sayin. That kid would have been scrubbing floors for a decade…after I reported the Pokémon to animal control.
So I went and got some free Pokéballs from Professor Jupiter or whatever his name was and received a tutorial lesson on how to catch Pokémon with them. I was directed to follow my friends to Route 1…I guess the budget didn’t allow for actual street names. Along the way I run into my first wild Pokémon, a Lillipup.
Lillipup…I guess a dog who’s head got caught in a large jar of glue and decided to rub its face all over Foghorn Leghorn. Anyway…my tackle ability saved the day. I had just defeated my first wild Pokémon, que the “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” theme song.
Next I ran into this psycho chipmunk called Patrat. Finally, a Pokémon that looked somewhat dangerous. Sharp teeth? Check. Psycho eyes? Check. I had to capture one, so I did. I named him “Almonds,” because that’s what I was currently snacking on at the time. It seemed to fit…I guess. Chipmunks…Acorns…Almonds…close enough.
From there on out it was downhill. Every time I went into battle it was to kill Lillipup or Patrat for the hundredth time. It’s not like I had any new moves to try out either. Tackle…Tackle…Tail Whip…Tackle…Tackle…Blah!!! I made it to the second town where I learned how to heal my Pokémon and this person named “N”…who the hell names their kid “N”…challenged me to a Pokémon duel. This Pokémon cat thingy wipes the floor with me, so I went back out to where I was in the forest and proceeded to grind more levels for “Celery” and “Almonds.” After thirty more Patrats and Lillipups, I saved and turned the game off and haven’t touched it since.
It was just too repetitious to be any fun, but if the game gets better, maybe I’ll change my mind. I suppose I could capture more Pokémon and name them more obscene things to get momentary satisfaction, but then I’d have to level them up too. Really though, who wants an epic level six million Pokémon named, “Herpes?”
On the other hand, I have to keep in mind that this is an RPG. Traditional RPGs are meant to be grindy…I remember spending a crapload of time beating up slimes in Dragon Warrior on the NES. Perhaps games today have spoiled me and pushed forward my need for instant gratification. Perhaps I will give this game another try.
There you have it folks, my first day as an official Pokémon trainer. Go on, be jealous. I won’t hold it against you.
Have you played Pokémon Black or White? If so, what did you think?