Gamer's Piece: A real 'Pokemon' MMO?
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 22:10
One thing about the “Pokemon” series has never made sense to me: why the games aren’t more receptive to multiplayer. Since games in the franchise have been released on more Internet-capable consoles like the Wii and 3DS, it doesn’t make sense that every game remains focused on single-player, with only cursory multiplayer like Wi-Fi trades and battles. If Nintendo made a “Pokemon” game whose gameplay is online-enabled, they would practically have a license to print money.
How do I know this is possible? I have proof. An intrepid gang of European gamers have created “PokeMMO,” available at PokeMMO.eu, which is exactly what it sounds like: a fully functioning massively multiplayer online game that just so happens to be derived from the Game Boy Advance’s “Pokemon Fire Red.”
Launching “PokeMMO” requires some computer knowledge and some law-skirting, but it’s nothing major, and it’s actually deceptively simple. After downloading the game’s files, it asks you to find a ROM file of “Pokemon Fire Red” capable of running in a Game Boy emulator, which takes five seconds on Google, and paste the ROM into the “PokeMMO” files, then open the executable file. After that, everything’s set up and logging in to begin the adventure takes seconds.
How does it play? Exactly like any other “Pokemon,” only now there are dozens of other people running around the map. The base quest is still the same, though a lot of features like the Elite 4 and move effects are either missing or broken. Considering the game’s in its alpha playstate and it’s free, with updates coming, this is more than excusable.
When it comes to the multiplayer aspect of “PokeMMO,” it’s just as simple as installation. Right-clicking on another character near you brings up a menu, with options to duel, trade, or chat with them. You can also make friends and block people. The online server that runs the game takes a lot of stress, as I haven’t logged in at a point when it wasn’t being “highly used,” but you won’t see too much lag; almost every battle, matchup and screen transition is fast enough that you won’t notice the exception.
Unfortunately, it has to be mentioned: the game isn’t exactly 100% legal. Nintendo could take offense to the game’s use of ROMs, since they’ve sold millions of copies of “Fire Red,” but they haven’t tried litigating with the numerous ROM-sharing websites currently on the Internet. It can be presumed that, at least for the moment because the game is free, the massive company won’t drop a “cease-and-desist” on the “PokeMMO” team. If anything, they should all be offered jobs, as they’ve taken a game nearly a decade old and turned it into something incredible.