In the first of our new series comparing the old and well-remembered video games to brand new ones, Rachael O’Connor talks about Pokémon and the changes it’s made along the way.
Remember being in primary school when the Pokémon craze first started? Everyone watched the show, but there was only a handful of lucky people who had their own GameBoy and the prized possession of the legendary Pokémon Red, Blue or Yellow.
People would gather around them to watch them play on the tiny screen with the 8 bit graphics and tinny music, and for a little while, those people were revered in the playground.
Those days were fairly short lived though, when some new craze started and Pokémon was deemed “for babies” and it was very uncool to still be invested in it.
However, the Pokémon franchise will turn 20 next year, and while many of us feel nostalgic
towards it and count it as a huge part of our childhoods, the games are still going strong with a brand new generation of children growing up alongside it - although their experiences with the games are very different to ours.
The graphics in the new games are insane compared to what they used to be (Pikachu is practically unrecognisable when compared to its first appearance in Pokémon Red & Blue) and there are nearly 500 more Pokémon than there were when the games started out.
But the biggest difference between our childhood and theirs comes with the introduction of new technology that allows people to trade and battle with people across the world. When we began, you had to go out and buy a link cable so you could attach it to two GameBoys and stand right next to each other to play in multiplayer- which was awesome, but when other people became disinterested in the games you were left with no one to trade or battle with.
Kids today are lucky enough not to have that issue, even if they’re the only Pokémon fan in the entire country they can play away with people thousands of miles away.
Battle sequences in 1996 and today. Another thing that’s changed the world of gaming is just how easy it is to get tips and hints from people who have completed the game. These days, if you’re stuck on something a quick Google search will bring up hundreds of answers. Most games have a complete walkthrough guide on Youtube or some other website, meaning the crazy rumours that used to dominate the playgrounds are practically non-existent. Anyone remember the rumour that you could find Mew under a truck, or that there was a secret legendary Pokémon called Pikablu?
Little things like the memories of the rumour mills being in overdrive is part of what keeps a lot of people who played games like Pokémon as children invested in the franchise to this day. It might seem weird to some that a bunch of adults still play games that were originally intended for children, but things like Pokémon Pub Quizzes means that adults who grew up with these games can mix their adult lives with the genuine fun of the games that they love.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping a part of your childhood close to you, especially if it’s something as fun as these games. It’s weird to think that in a few years, the 3D graphics and online multiplayer will seem as retro as the black and white 8bit we remember from the original games. I’m looking forward to when they come out with first-person virtual reality, and the kids of that generation will be in disbelief that people ever used to play the games on hand-held consoles.
If you used to play Pokémon as a kid and are feeling slightly nostalgic, all the original games are available to download for free via emulator- but if you’re feeling adventurous, the newer games for the 3DS are genuinely good!
There are obviously new aspects to the games, but they still retain the characteristics that made us fall in love with the originals in the first place, and that combined with the quirks of new technology means that the Pokémon franchise is one that can appeal to all age groups. Go on, do it - you know you want to.
Photo Credit: Twitter @Pokemon