Format: Game Boy Advance Genre: RPG Developer: Game Freak/Nintendo Released: 2003
I was inspired to write this post after reading this comment by shush plz on game number 12, Doshin the Giant. Mr. plz rightly asserts that just because a game is accessible for all ages doesn’t make it a “kids’ game”, which leads me to my case in point: Pokémon Ruby.
I was initially put off playing the Pokémon games because of their “kiddie” credentials, but I eventually bought Pokémon Ruby on the recommendation of a friend. The cute graphics certainly suggest that Pokémon is “for kids”, but this is far from the truth – beneath the twee presentation there’s some rock-solid gameplay. Although the game is pretty easy to begin with, you soon find yourself engrossed in the complex resource management and micro-manipulation that’s essential for creating a champion herd of Pokémon.
Oh, and did I mention that collecting Pokémon has roughly the same level of addictiveness as a packet of Jaffa Cakes dusted wth heroin? I initially approached the game with a heavy amount of cynicism with regards to the whole business of Pokémon collecting, but after a while you find yourself getting totally sucked in – all of a sudden, finding a new Pokémon acquires the same sense of excitement and achievement as passing your driving test while drunk, or unearthing an ancient chest full of dirty photos of Cleopatra.
This game had me totally hooked – pretty much from the moment I picked it up I found that I was carrying my GBA everywhere, and I’d use every spare minute I had to search out some of the rarer specimens. Towards the end of my Pokémon marathon I recall a sobering moment – it was when I realised that I’d spent the best part of an hour traipsing around in the same patch of long grass in the hope of finding a particularly rare Pokémon, and it was about this time that I thought I’d really better stop playing this damn game and read a book or something instead.
That’s the trouble you see – although you can “complete” the game by defeating the final boss, you’ve never really finished it until you’ve collected all of the hundreds of Pokémon, but this involves a great deal of aimless wandering and random battles in the hope that one of the rarer beasts will pop up. At some point, for the sake of your own sanity, you have to just call it a day and admit to yourself that you’re never going to “catch ‘em all”.
I’m very tempted to get one of the new Pokémon games for the DS (Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl), but because there’s now a grand total of 480 Pokémon to collect, I’m worried that these games could finally push me over the edge (or at least put a massive dent in my reading time).
If you’ve yet to work out what the Pokémon phenomenon is all about, I thoroughly recommend you pick up one of the Pokémon games with all due haste – but just make sure you have plenty of spare time first.