Attention Parents! With the recent release of Pokémon Go, I’m sure a lot of you are asking yourself a lot of questions. You are in luck, because I just so happen to be a parent, lover of nerdy culture, and a Pokémon player! I am here to introduce you into the world of Pokémon, and hopefully answer a lot of the questions that you have.
Now before we begin, I know what a lot of you younger parents are thinking. Yes, this is the same Pokémon that you remember as a child. Both the game and the cartoon are still going strong after 20 years, with no sign of giving up anytime soon. For every one of us that grew out of it, there were two younger kids waiting to discover this franchise for themselves, and an older player who never stopped playing the games.
Let me start with the most basic question. What is a Pokémon?
From the simplest standpoint, a Pokémon is a creature that inhabits the Pokémon world. They are animal-like beings with elemental attributes that are put into battles by the player character (most of the times called a Trainer), in hopes of making them strong. Pokémon take on many shapes and sizes, some based on animals from our world, some based on mythical creatures and legends, and some odd ones that are designed to look like living versions of inanimate objects we are familiar with.
So then, what is this Pokémon video game like?
Glad you asked! The video has you playing as a 10-year-old kid. In this world of Pokémon, it is on your 10th birthday that you start your very own Pokémon journey. This includes collecting all kinds of Pokémon, entering them into your Pokédex (more on that later), battling other characters along the way, competing in battles with Gym Leaders, earning all 8 badges of the region, taking on a villainous team, and becoming the Pokémon Champion after winning the Pokémon league of your game’s region. While I’m sure that all seems like a lot to take in, let me break down a few points of the game into a more detailed description.
The Franchise as a whole is so much more than just a video game at this point. After 20 years on the market, we have seen an extremely successful card game, a cartoon that is been on almost as long as the video games has been out, as well a TONS of merchandise! It is hard to think that anyone living in the world at this point has not at least heard of Pokémon (even if you know nothing about it). The most recent spin-off of the classic franchise is a smartphone game called Pokémon GO! Using the classic Pokemon of the original games, and pairing it up with exploration of the real world! This game has seen a rebirth of fans of the Pokémon franchise, and in all honesty, was the inspiration for doing this article.
Pokémon Trainers? 10-year-old kid? So this is a little kid’s game?
In my opinion, far from it. Although throughout the many games your main Player Character, know as a Pokémon Trainer is a kid, the game’s ultimate goal is about forming bonds. Whether that be with the Pokémon you command or the players you interact with, I think there is a lesson in that for all ages. Sure, the main focus of the game is to attract kids around the age of 10 and encourage them throughout these games to seek out partnerships and friendships (I will discuss this more later). In the end, it is a game that is fun and fulfilling for anyone, of any age, that wants to play.
Pokédex? What the heck is that?
This one is a lot more simple than it sounds. The Pokédex is a digital device that the Trainer you are playing as carries. It catalogs all Pokémon that the player comes in contact with into. If you battle against a certain Pokémon, it gains a little bit of information about it, versus if the character catches the Pokémon, it will add a complete bio with stats on that specific Pokemon. It is basically a digital field guide to the Pokémon world that your player character is tasked with filling up for the Local Pokémon Professor (A Character in game that your player comes in contact with, more on these characters later.) Think if it as the Pokemon Index…Pokédex .
Did you say “battle?” So is this a violent game that I should be worried about my kid playing?
Well, in all actuality, it depends on what you want your child exposed to. This game is not exactly your typical battle game. There is no blood and gore. Pokémon don’t bleed and really make little to no physical contact with each other. They are shown on screen using elemental attacks that have an advanced “Rock, Paper, Scissors” type system to figure out what moves hit, how well they did, and how much of your opponents hit points (or health) gets depleted from the attack. Don’t let the idea that they have health scare you either; when a Pokémon’s health gets to zero it isn’t dead, it merely has fainted from the fatigue of battle. You go back and forth between the two trainers in the battle until one side has no more Pokémon capable of battle (You are allowed only 6 Pokémon on your team at a time for these battles). The one still standing is declared the winner.
The elemental battle system is really cool, especially if you have any interest in Science. There are 18 “types” that Pokémon can be, and most Pokémon can even be 2 of these types. Some are strong to others, some are weak to others, and some don’t even affect each other at all. The simplest of these is Fire, Water, and Grass. Grass is strong to Water, Water is strong to Fire, and Fire is strong to grass (makes a lot of sense if you think about it). These are some of the simplest to understand, and some of them are rooted in science as to what types they are strong and weak to, but some are just things you have to know to be really good at the game.
Who/What is a Pokémon Gym Leader?
A Pokémon Gym Leader is 1 of 8 special Trainers who run a Pokémon Gym in the fictional world your game takes place. The Gyms are a series of battles, all themed around a certain Pokémon type, which start out easy and get harder as you reach the Gym Leader. Their battle tends to be, and should be, the strongest battle. After defeating each one, you are given a badge to show you have accomplished defeating them. Once you have received all 8 badges*, you are granted entrance into the Pokémon League. This is where you must battle the Elite Four (4 of the games strongest players) all in a row without stopping to heal/rejuvenate your Pokemon. Once you have accomplished this, you battle the game’s current champion, who once defeated, you take his or her place!
*an item who’s only purpose is decoration, and to get you into the final battle of the game, so I will not be dedicating a whole section to this
Who/What is a Pokémon Professor?
A Pokémon Professor is a guide character that is introduced at the beginning of the game. For some fun reason that no one knows, all of the Professors (we get a new one each game) are named after Trees. Professor Oak is the most famous of these professors as he is the first one. The Professor is the person who sends you on the quest to complete the Pokédex and gives you your first Pokémon, called a starter Pokemon.
Why do they always release two games? Is this just a money ploy?
While I’m sure there is a money aspect to the idea of having two versions of the “same game,” the idea, like I said earlier, is creating a bond. There are different Pokémon in each game, unobtainable in the other version they release (Example, the original games were Red and Blue, Growlithe was a Pokémon you could only get in Red, while Vulpix was a Pokémon exclusive to the Blue version). The idea is to find friends that are willing to trade with you. Originally this was with a physical cable that you had to connect two Gameboy devices together, encouraging people to make friends in the real world. Although this idea has evolved with online features now in the game, the idea is still based on the idea of making friends inside and outside of the game.
Two versions of each game? How many games are there?
Pokemon Games are set into what are now known as generations. Each generation of games is compatible within itself. Also, Nintendo has also given the players ways to transfer Pokemon from previous games to help players complete their Pokédex’s easier. I will list all of the games below, but don’t be intimidated. Almost every generation (starting with the third) has had a “remake” of an older game for the fans (marked with an * below), to allow them to keep playing their classic favorites on the newer game systems. All of the Titles are called Pokémon, followed by a color or symbol. I will only list what follows the word Pokémon for easy reference.
Generation 1 – Red, Blue, and Yellow (there was also a Pokémon Green in Japan)
Generation 2 – Gold, Silver, and Crystal
Generation 3 – Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Fire Red*, and Leaf Green*
Generation 4 – Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, Heart Gold*, and Soul Silver*
Generation 5 – Black, White, Black 2, and White 2
Generation 6 – X, Y, Omega Ruby* and Alpha Sapphire*
(Recently Announced) Generation 7 – Sun and Moon
* Denotes Games that are remakes of previous titles in newer forms
Last Question, and this is a big one….How many Pokémon are there?
As of the end of Generation 6, there are 721 Pokémon. Generation 7, of which the games will be out November 18th of this year, will introduce new Pokémon to add to that number. We won’t know how many that actually is until we get much closer to the game.
Well, there you have it! The crash course introduction to the world of Pokémon. I hope, from one parent to another, that you gained some knowledge through this, and find it easier to talk to your kids about the friends (both in and out of game) that they have made in playing Pokémon. This article just covers the main video games in the series, and I am sure I will be back one day to discuss other types of ways to play this franchise, but that will be for another time.