Pokémon still strong
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 00:10
At the dawn of the 20th century, multiple Japanese entertainment properties were all the rage among children–from “Naruto” to “Yu-Gi-Oh,” from “Hello Kitty” to “Hamtaro” and from “Dragonball Z” to “Digimon.” Each of these fantasy sagas grabbed the hearts and imaginations of children (as well as the agitation of parents) not only in Japan, but stateside as well. While each of these franchises had its time in the limelight, by 2013 the general public has dismissed each of them as nothing more than a passing fad.
However, there is one franchise in particular that has stood the test of time, and whether it’s 1998 or 2013, it is still by far the most popular of them all:
It’s almost unimaginable to think that the first “Pokemon” video games “Red” and “Blue” were released in America 15 years ago. In the span of time since then, those games began what is now a multi-billion dollar entertainment franchise. Today, the “Pokemon” anime series and trading card game are still running strong. With more than 240 million units sold, “Pokemon” stands as the 2nd best-selling video game franchise in history, trailing only Nintendo’s own “Mario” series.
Last weekend, the most recent installments of the main “Pokemon” RPG series, versions “X” and “Y,” were released and have reportedly sold over four million copies worldwide within two days of their release, hardly a surprising figure considering any given pair of main series “Pokemon” games have sold a minimum of 10 million copies combined.
However, versions “X” and “Y” go far above and beyond what any single pair of main series titles has offered since the release of “Gold” and “Silver” in 2000.
For the first time, we are presented with fully realized 3D CGI graphics in a main Pokemon game. But the titles go far deeper than that.
Attempting to fully realize the series as the competitive behemoth it was always meant to be, battling has been fine-tuned to levels never before seen. Online gameplay is simpler and more accessible than ever. New additions to gameplay including super training, mega-evolved Pokemon and spectacular aerial sky battles have added a level of deep competitive strategy the likes of which has never before been seen in the series.
One of the biggest criticisms of newer “Pokemon” games is that there are now too many of the creatures, the problem being that due to creative fatigue many of the designs of recent “Pokemon” creatures have been uncreative and downright stupid (for example, Vanillite, a Pokemon that looks like an ice cream cone).
Wisely developer Game Freak has included less than 70 new monsters, bringing the total to 718. This is the smallest expansion in series history in an effort to focus on gameplay. Quite honestly, I would be just as excited to play the title if there were no new Pokemon at all.
While it seems that “Pokemon” will always be enjoyed by children, “X” and “Y”’s numerous gameplay improvements show that the series still has plenty of surprises in store.