Returning To Pokemon

It feels good to be playing Pokemon again.  When I beat Pokemon Diamond last weekend, it was the first Pokemon game I had finished since Blue over 10 years ago.  I played the hell out of Blue when it first came out and have a lot of good memories from those times.  Since getting transportation to get somewhere to get rare Pokemon was out of my reach, I remember using a Gameshark to get a Mew.  I also remember the countless trading and battling I did with people back when I used to go to summer camp.  Anyway, I barely played through Yellow and Silver was as much experience as I had with the second gen.  I only made it to the first few gyms when I played Silver back in the day.  I tried to get back into it later last year, only to have my copy of that game die on me.  Rest in peace, game cart.  It was the last Game Boy game I had to finish to beat my collection, but I wish it didn’t have to go out that way.  I skipped out on the 3rd gen altogether, so I know nothing about Hoenn.  I picked up Diamond when it came out in 2007 and Platinum when it came out in 2009, but barely played either one.

Until now.  What happened with my 4th gen games in the past was like with any other given game, I got distracted by others and left them to collect dust.   So last month came along and I had just finished Final Fantasy VI Advance.  I didn’t know what to play next, so I do what I usually do: consult the Fortune Cookie on the Backloggery.  I opened it and it told me to play Pokemon Diamond.  I knew this was going to happen.  So I started playing, and going against what I usually did in the past, went with a Fire starter (Chimchar).  I had to refresh myself on certain things about Pokemon, but once I got past that, I was ready to go.

So much has changed in Pokemon since the 1st gen and yet so much has remained the same.  A whole bunch of new Pokemon have been introduced since then.  I’m always going to prefer the 1st gen Pokemon above the others, although I like most of the 2nd gen Pokemon enough so that it’s right behind the 1st gen.  Sure, some of the Pokemon from this gen look good, but I don’t really care about the rest of the others.  I think the reason why I enjoyed Platinum so damn much was because it featured so many Pokemon from the older generations.  It really helped me enjoy Platinum, even though I started it right after Diamond.  Some Pokemon are still amazing after all these years, especially Gyarados.  I still have to build up my party strong enough to take on the 8 gym leaders, the Elite Four, and finally the Champion.

Yet there have been a few things that have changed since the 1st gen.  Pokemon can now be two types, meaning that certain types are stronger than others.  Items are now organized into categories.  Poke Balls go into Poke Balls, Potions go into Healing Items, Old Rod goes into Key Items, and so on.  It’s probably the biggest improvement over the original games.  Pokemon can now be entered into Contests, so if you want to do something other than battling, you can do that.  I never bothered with it though.  Also, Pokemon can now hold items that do different things, like heal it or give it the ability to run away from any random encounter without fail.  There are a few other things that I’ve forgotten at the moment, but I’ll leave it at that.

I started Pokemon Diamond around the beginning of this month and took my time getting used to the current generation.  It was rough at first, but I soon got used to the game and managed to do just fine.  The gym leaders were fairly easy given that I picked the right Pokemon for the right fights.  Then came the Elite Four.  My god, they’re a lot tougher than I recall in the earlier games.  While I might have rolled right through them in Blue, I couldn’t say the same about Diamond.  I had my ass kicked right and left and then got demolished by the Champ.  Eff Lucario and his ridiculous damage capacity.  I had to do some level grinding to learn the moves I needed and level them up so they wouldn’t get killed quickly, yet I still had a hard time with the endgame.  When I beat Diamond last week, it was the first Pokemon game I had finished in over 10 years since Blue.  I’m proud to say that.  Because of some balance and pacing issues, I don’t think I’m going to return to Diamond.

I could have easily taken a break from Pokemon after Diamond, but I wanted more.  It was for that reason that I started Pokemon Platinum right after finishing Diamond.  I ended up beating the game last night, just one week after being done with Diamond.  Am I glad I did it?  Hell yeah.  It took everything from Diamond and Pearl and made it even better.  Environments and places have greater detail to them, Pokemon sprites are now animated, and the pacing of the main game has been fixed.  No longer do I have to walk an unnecessarily long distance to get to the 3rd gym this time.  A lot of Pokemon from older games make an appearance in Platinum, which makes me a very happy person.  The Elite Four fight is a lot more fair this time, at least the first time you fight them in Platinum.  Their levels have been lowered, meaning I wasn’t forced to do much grinding this time.

Compared to the 40 hours it took me to get through Diamond, it only took me 20 hours to get through Platinum.  Except for the first gym or two, I did not have to do any level grinding at all.  I caught all the Pokemon I used early on and went out of my way to avoid as many random encounters as possible.  My reasoning for this is because I can always get more experience from Trainer battles.  Besides, I believe that wild Pokemon exist in some of the longer areas like the top of Mt. Coronet and Victory Road just to wear you down and to make you waste your PP on them.  I also preferred to not switch out Pokemon during battles or to give one Pokemon Exp Share.  I would keep a Pokemon in battle until it passed out.  If that happened, another Pokemon would get the Exp.  It was everything or nothing.  It was for this reason that my Pokemon leveled up at a faster rate than they did in Diamond.  It helped that a lot of Pokemon I used in this current generation had some amazing move sets.  One of my Pokemon could be some 10 levels lower than the one I could be fighting and given the right moves, I’d KO it like it was nothing.

The thing about Pokemon is that there is always more stuff you can do once you beat the main game.  You can go for the National Pokedex and there’s always catching all the Pokemon out there.  In Platinum, you can fight the Elite Four + Champ again, this time at a much higher level than before.  Great, so they’re even tougher than before.  When I played Platinum, I think I went through the main game by only catching around 30 Pokemon.  That isn’t a lot.  Out of those, I picked four that I focused on leveling up.  You see, I’ve always been more of a fan of having 4 strong Pokemon in my team than trying to focus on all 6 at a time.  There are new areas to explore, but I’ll save that for later.  I wanted to get through Diamond and Platinum in time to get ready for HeartGold and SoulSilver when both get released in America.  Unlike Diamond, I plan on returning to Platinum.  I think the only reason I would go back to Diamond is to transfer some of the few Pokemon I liked in that version.

Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t get too far into Silver last year.  As much as I like the game, it does show it’s age.  Of course, there’s the tiny Game Boy screen.  There’s the Pokemon storage system, which I had totally forgotten about until Sobou pointed it out. I was looking forward to going to Kanto once I finished Johto, but once I found out how much of a letdown it was, I’m even less motivated to play the original Gold and Silver.  At least both games have the final boss fight with Red.  I went ahead and looked at how the fight with Red was handled in the DS remakes.  They upped the ante.  In Gold and Silver, you fought Red inside a cave.  In HeartGold and SoulSilver, you fight Red on top of a mountain in the middle of a snowstorm.  Now that’s awesome.  Weak move sets in the original versions meant that I couldn’t get away with the moves I had in the current generation.  Then there’s the issue of trading.  Gold and Silver were made in a time when people actually used Link Cables, so trading and battling with other people is out of the question.

That being said, I’m really looking forward to getting either HG or SS.  I haven’t decided on which I’m going to get, although I should soon.  I mean, their release date isn’t too far away.  I hope I can take my time with either game and enjoy it along the game without having to worry about rushing to the end as soon as possible.

Before I end this blog post, I would like to thank Sobou for helping me get through some of the tougher parts in Pokemon Diamond and Platinum.  His advice helped me a lot especially during the Elite Four + Champ and I think I would have had a much tougher time otherwise.  I’m always up for battles, so as long as I have the time and can get a working wireless connection, I can work something out.

It feels great to be back into Pokemon.

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~ by WanderingMind on February 21, 2010.

3 Responses to “Returning To Pokemon”

  1. Nice post, but Gold and Silver will always reign supreme.

    I’d gladly pick up a port of Gold/Silver where I could obtain all the pokemon with a save file that would never die, than HG/SS

    The new games are quite nice, but they’re excessive in content, but lacking in heart.

  2. I have the feeling that had I played through all of Silver back in the day, I would have a different opinion now.

  3. […] Covered in a previous blog post. […]

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