A Blast to the Past

Staff Writer: Logan Haines

From the franchise that took the world by storm in the late 90’s came the next installment of the Pokémon universe, Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee. Created by the inspirational mind of Satoshi Tajiri in 1995, the franchise centers around fictional creatures known as “Pokémon”. Ranging from small and cute to hulking and ferocious these unique animals carry with the untold powers beyond anything possibly imagined. As the Pokémon Trainer it is your job to catch them all and “be the very best like no one ever was.”  When the first games, Pokémon Red and Green (released outside of Japan as Pokémon Red and Blue), came to the market in early 1996 it took the world by storm. Since then Pokémon grew to become the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, as of March 2017 collecting over $70 billion in revenue. In addition, the Pokémon franchise also holds the world’s top-selling toy brand and trading card game. One more cherry to top of the list is a feat no man should look down on, spawning the most successful television video game adaptation, arguably one of the hardest performances in tv. The cartoon has over 20 seasons and 1,000 episodes spanning over 120 countries.  

Tajiri first thought of Pokémon around 1989, with a different concept and name, when the Game Boy was released. Tajiri had an unworldly fascination with collecting insects and he made it his mission to share that same passion with the world. In the first installment, colloquially referred to as generations or gen for short, there was merely 151 original species of Pokémon. Now as Tajiri’s drive grew, so did his vast bestiary, and the universe now has over 800 species of unique mythical, magical creatures. Each game was also set in its respect region, masses of land comparable to countries, that all have specific Pokémon to their name. In Red and Blue the player is introduced to the Kanto region, named after a geographical area on the island of Honshu, Japan, and the first 151 species. Red and Blue were released for the original Game Boy, a black and white, 8-bit, handheld device. At the time the idea and look were revolutionary, and society fell in love with messes and amalgamations of pixels loosely defining imaginary creatures.

wild encounters Pramath

Pokemon wandering about in the wild. Photo Courtesy of community poster Pramath

Now in Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee we return to the nostalgic Kanto region to take those first steps once again. It is exciting times for Pokémon fans as a former student of Woodstock High school, Chase Freeman, put “I can’t wait to get my hands on this game!”  Following suite with some of the newer remastered versions of games, the Kanto region has never looked better in delightfully crystal-clear HD. Released solely for the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo and Game Freak, co-owner and creator of Pokémon, have utilized the full capabilities of the Switch console system to breath an original game experience for the fans of the Pokémon franchise. Taking concepts from their widely popular mobile phenomenon Pokémon Go and coupling them with brand-new mechanics the games exude that aura of nostalgia and childhood euphoria while capturing the attentions of fans with a different feeling experience. Games Radar had this to say about the recent release, “Pokémon Let’s Go is a superb surprise, a fully-fledged Pokémon RPG with interactivity that brings the series to life in a way that’s never been done before.” 

When Pokémon Go wondered into the market it introduced the idea of AR, or augmented reality, capturing technics. In the world of Pokémon trainers use devices known as

charizard gamnesia

Your player flying on the back of a Charizard. Photo Courtesy of Gamnesia

pokeballs to capture these creatures in the wild. In most of the games the system was you wonder through a spot of “tall grass” and suddenly intense music blares and the screen shifts then you find yourself in a battle with some agitated wild beast. You would send out your trusty Pokémon companion to fight with the wild one and when it gets tired enough you throw the pokeball at it and it would be captured, hopefully. Pokémon Go through all the known rules about collecting Pokémon out the window. Instead of battling in the wild with a creature you don’t know is going to attack you, instead you wonder around in the real world and a map on your screen shows you where roughly you are and the Pokémon around you. You got to choose if you wanted to “battle” each appearance of a Pokémon, because it’s not battling anymore. Using the front facing camera on smartphones and intuitive AR programs a player can see the Pokémon in the world as they see it, and instead of pitting your pet against a wild animal, you just kind of lob some pokeballs at it until it decides to give in. Not as glamorous or entertaining as original Pokémon, but a new way to explore the world around you. 

Game Freak took the newly founded concept of Pokémon capturing and thrust it into

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Eevee garbed in officer clothes. Photo Courtesy of the Pokemon Company

their game designed around grinding on wild Pokémon to gain experience. When first announced the idea seemed hard pressed and difficult to incorporate, but lo and behold they found a way. In the same vain as Pokémon Go there is no more wild battling, instead you use the handy dandy Joycon to physical throw Pokeballs at the Switch in hopes it lands just right enough to get that capture. From this ALL your Pokémon gain experience capturing wild Pokémon, instead of the usual one involved. There is a barrage of bonus and combos one can achieve to gain even more experience. Now this was received with mixed reviews from the community, but Game Freak won us back with the biggest fantasy of all Pokémon fanatics out there. Taryn Cox, Woodstock High school Alumni commented, “I’m surprisingly more in love with the game than I ever thought I would be.” For the first time in Pokémon history, the creatures are wondering the plans with us. Out in the wild plains, the bustling forests, and mysterious caves, you can physically see the Pokémon walking about in their habitat and choose the ones you want to encounter whilst weaving and dodging around those you wish to avoid. Even more good news is your favorite Pokémon companions can follow you around, and some you can ride on theirs, soar across the sky, or surf on the majestic seas. The amount of interaction in a small digital world is overwhelming and shouldn’t bring as much giddiness energy as it does. Furthermore, depending on the game version you buy, your character gets a partner Pokémon which can be Pikachu or Eevee. This partner will ride on your head and shoulders wherever you go, and you can dress them up in outfits obtained by exploring the region, generally performing small favors for people. Through the menu screen you can play with, pet, and feed your partner berries to grow your friendship and in tune

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Pokeball Plus Joycon. Photo Courtesy of Nintendo

their strength. Immersion intensifies with the addition of Pokeball Plus, a style of Joycon shaped like a Pokeball that can be used to play the game, now you feel like you’re in the forest, furiously tossing balls at that evasive Bulbasaur you need to complete the Pokedex. The amount of attention, refinement, and immersive adaptations made in the remastered Pokémon Red and Blue are so impressive and mind boggling you can’t help but feel the immense excitement brought about from childhood memories, and Nintendo Life, online media informative on all things Nintendo, agrees exclaiming, “Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! are beautiful reimaginings of a video game classic, updating a 20-year-old game in ways which make it infinitely more accessible and user-friendly for a modern audience, while keeping the magic first discovered all those years ago.”

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