We were out shopping on Sunday. For some reason my wife asked me to come along and for equally inexplicable reasons I said yes. I do not like wandering around the mall “shopping” and begin to behave like an 8 year old in making up games and distractions to pass the time. This, in turn, annoys the crap out of my long-suffering wife, so clearly neither of us was thinking straight on this call.
But as we made our way through the electronics section of Target, my daughter went over to the Nintendo section and spotted the new Pokemon X and Y games.
She actually seemed both surprised and excited to see a new Pokemon game out. I knew it had shipped. I still get email updates from Nintendo and was aware that the new games were releasing world wide this past Saturday. I just hadn’t said (or written) anything about it. (Keen and Graev have some posts about the new games.) But I have to admit I have been interested in the game.
Pokemon used to be one of our things.
My daughter was attracted to the game a long ways back, when we saw a Nintendo DS on display at a store with Pokemon loaded up. It was colorful, the basic functions were immediately comprehensible to her, and the idea of capturing little pets and making them battle held an attraction for her. She was into bugs and dinosaurs and animals when she was that age. (Now, however, she screams bloody murder if there is a moth in the shower with her.)
Of course to play Pokemon you had to buy the hardware, a Nintendo DS. That was the stopping point, until we were about to go on a trip and my wife gave me the mandate to go buy one to keep our daughter entertained on the plane for five hours. So I went out and bought a pink Nintendo DS Lite along with LEGO Star Wars, Mario Party DS, and Pokemon Diamond.
I could have skipped the first two. We spent the whole trip playing Pokemon. My daughter was in kindergarten at the time and needed help reading some of the text in the game… this was before she had been trained by World of Warcraft to skip all quest text… so I spent a chunk of that time reading the game text aloud to her. That was a bit of a chore for me, but got her motivated to read.
The game was such a success that a couple of months later my wife bought me a cobalt blue Nintendo DS Lite and my own copy of Pokemon Diamond and we were off.
We played through that together, went on to Pokemon Platinum, and really hit our peak during Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver. We were wearing out Pokewalkers everywhere (and cheating a bit using physics and LEGO). There were mishaps and tragedies and meddling cats, but we were into it. We went to the Pokemon regional championships, played with Pokemon Ranch, and in went to the Pokemon Black and White tour when it showed up at a local mall. I even caught ‘em all, nabbing all 493 Pokemon that were available in the series up to that point.
But then Pokemon Black and White came along and we were not quite as interested. In part that was because we had played so much Pokemon up to that point. We might have been a bit burned out having burned through all the predecessors on the DS, plus a couple of the GameBoy Advance versions, which also ran on the DS Lite.
Then there is also the fact that all Pokemon games are very much alike at some basic level. You start out in the world as a youth, you meet some Pokemon expert, you get your first Pokemon, and you head out into the world to catch Pokemon, battle gym leaders, and eventually take on the regional champions, all while battling a rival and some oddly dressed organization bent on evil. And all of it takes place in a world completely obsessed with Pokemon and where all conflict is resolved by Pokemon battles.
After a few runs through that, you might get a little tired of it.
And then there are the special features each game brings to the table. My daughter and I used to enjoy playing together in the underground in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. It was a shared environment you could link up in on WiFi. We were also fond of the Pokewalker and the way your lead Pokemon would walk around with you in HeartGold and SoulSilver. In Black and White the key features were the graphics, which were improved, 150 new Pokemon (groan), and a lot of online WiFi connectivity (like Global Link) that did not really click with us. Neither of us finished Black or White and we never bothered with Black 2 and White 2. (Which I still think were dumb names.)
Finally, there were just other distractions. Other games to play, other things to do. My daughter was growing up and little things like Pokemon were no longer quite so important. So we have not been playing Pokemon for quite a while. I would say that we are at least two years past the last time either of us played with any read drive.
But the memory of those times, of playing together, of figuring out where to go next, of catching and trading Pokemon, that all remains. And I think some of that came rushing back to her when we were standing there at the counter looking at the new Pokemon. She was gushing a bit when she asked, “Can we get it?”
I had to tell her we could not.
While Pokemon X and Y have the usual range of features and even a slick way to transfer your old Pokemon over to the new games via the internet (assuming you have them all in Pokemon Black or White) using a feature called Pokemon Bank, there was a problem.
Pokemon X and Y are the first versions of the main line of Pokemon games that are exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS generation of handheld gaming devices. Our Nintendo DS Lites are now pretty much obsolete. When Nintendo stops shipping Pokemon on a platform, it is done.
There certainly seems to be some hunger for a version of Pokemon on the 3DS platform. It is on track to be a big seller, moving 4 million units on its first two days. The top Pokemon games of all time are Pokemon Diamond and Pearl which together move nearly 18 million units.
My daughter had an immediate solution to this problem, which was to buy new hardware!
I have clearly failed to instill any sort of sense as to the value of money in my daughter.
I had to tell her that wasn’t going to happen either. At least not right then. Something like a Nintendo 3DS is a Christmas/Birthday present (or maybe a going on long trip present) and not something we just buy on a whim while at the store on a Sunday afternoon. Even the more moderately priced Nintendo 2DS, about which I am a bit dubious given what I have read (turns out it has just one big LED panel for both screens), falls outside of the impulse buy price range in my opinion.
My daughter’s response was in the “Oh well” range of emotions. She didn’t seem all that put out by it and I somehow doubt that a Nintendo 3DS is going to make it to her Christmas list. And if it did, I think she is more interested in Animal Crossing: New Leaf than Pokemon.
So I suspect that we have had our time with Pokemon.