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Friday, April 23, 2010

New VS Old... is Pokémon getting worse over the years?

This is a common topic I keep hearing about on a group I've joined on Facebook. There seem to be two factions, people who hate the new pokémon games after Red and Blue... and those who do not. I, obviously, belong to the latter. I think that every new pokémon game has expanded the game in some way as well as kept it relevant. Since I am for this side I am going to explain that point of view and welcome anyone who wants to argue for the other. (I'm not going to argue for or against Contests or Pokéatholon as these are optional side quests and if you don't like em... don't do 'em... that simple.)

First of all, many people in the "old school" have the main argument that 150 pokémon is enough and that more makes things too complicated. My counter-argument for that is this: If there were only 150 then the game wouldn't have had the longevity it does now. Filling the Pokédex in the old games only requires a couple of days, and if you own both versions... not even that long. Also, when it comes to battling, I remember the old days... I remember everyone's team was pretty much the same. Just about everyone had thier starter, Gengar, Alakazam, Rhydon, Gyarados, and Mewtwo. Sure there was some variation, maybe swapping Gyarados for Lapras or something... but the point being... it was VERY predictable. Fun for a while, but things needed to be added.

Thus Gold and Silver (and later Crystal) were added as sequels. They introduced new game and battle mechanics as well as better graphics. The addition of Eggs and Held Items increased the customization ability for your pokémon. Now you could breed your pokémon to know moves it couldn't normally learn as well as attach items to make it more effective in battle. Another problem that Red and Blue had was the vast superiority of Psychic types and by adding Dark and Steel in these games, Psychic was balanced out. As with any different part of the world, the animal and plant life was different as well as the mythology. If you think about it, Kanto (the region from Red and Blue), has NO mythology. The legendary birds Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres are legendary based on thier rarity, but without the back story made for them in the 2nd pokémon movie... there is no backstory for them. As for Mewtwo, it isn't legendary in the since it's lived for ages as some of the new legendary pokémon. It is legendary because it was created by science and is more powerful than even Arceus in some respects. The legends of Johto, however, actually have a story behind them: The Legend of the Burned Tower. Same for Lugia in the Whirl Islands, but to a lesser degree. These stories are meant to widen the world of pokémon and make it more believable.

Shinies are often brought up as something "old schoolers" don't like. Thier argument is, "if they are so rare, why do we need them." Well, you don't need them, you want them. That's two different things. Shinies are for bragging rights (and Gold and Silver straight up gives you the chance to get a Shiny Gyarados). A lot of games have lofty goals that, while unrequired, we strive for as bragging rights. For example, on XBOX 360 the game Resident Evil 5 has an achievement for 50 points that requires you to block a bullet with your knife. That is VERY hard to do. However, there are methods to get shinies easier. In Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum the item PokéRadar can attract them, reducing thier 1/8000+ ratio to a mere 1/200. Not only that, it shows you where in the tall grass they are.

Ruby and Sapphire (and later Emerald) continue to broaden the world of pokémon in a similar way. Now, I will admit I was sad that it wasn't compatible with older versions.. but when FireRed and LeafGreen were released, along with Colosseum, it wasn't as bad. Catching the pokémon I had before again was a pain, but exploring new areas was fun. Again, the Hoenn region has it's own mythos and animal/plant diversity as well and it introduced more legends. As Gold and Silver had it's phoenix legend in the form of the Burned Tower legend, Hoenn had the legend that Groudon had saved the region from a horrible flood and Kyogre had saved the region from a terrible drought. With the addition of Emerald we get the back story of Rayquaza, a dragon with the ability to qwell the weather abilities of the two titans Groudon and Kyogre should they ever meet to do battle. The other legends of Hoenn include Latios and Latias (which have no back story so it's assumed they are legendary due to thier rarity) and the Regis (Regirock, Regice, and Registeel). The Regis represent the progression of human technology (which is why they look robotic). Regirock represents the stone age, Regice the ice age, and Registeel the steel (or bronze) age.

Battle changes incule the addtion of 2 vs 2 battles (which were in the anime long before due to Team Rocket), abilities, and natures. "Old schoolers" tend to not like this either. First of all, abilities have been around since the beginning of the Pokémon Card Game in the form of Pokémon Powers. The video games just copied that concept. Abilities are nothing short of great when it comes to revamping some of the older pokémon. Take for example Gengar, in games before Ruby/Sapphire it was weak to Ground since it was half Poison. This makes little sence as Gengar is a Ghost which in the anime is shown floating. Now with it's Levitate ability, it is immune to Ground.. as it should be. Natures also seem to be hated for some reason. Natures are only there to help people who raise thier pokémon to fight competively. If you don't, then just ignore it.. but before people like me would have to raise a pokémon to 100 to determine if it was really good for what they wanted it to do (for example be a fast Aerodactyl). Now, I can get an Aerodactyl and if I see a nature like Jolly, I know it will be fast or if I get an Brave Tyranitar I know it will have high attack. How is this bad?

Finally we come to the latest gen: Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum (and Heart Gold/Soul Silver). These added the ability to play against your friends worldwide via Wifi connection. I personally love this because as I have grown and moved away from many of my friends who play, but I can still play against them over wifi. I also have made friends overseas (namely Germany and Japan) by discussing trades with them on message boards. Battle-wise not much new was added in the department of mechanics outside of Characteristics which are just flavor text that give more insight into your pokémon's personality and what it's good at. For example, an Aerodactyl that's Jolly (nature) and Likes to Run (characteristic) is going to be very fast. This addition only further helps training pokémon, and like natures if you don't care to raise your pokémon competively then ignore it. D/P/Pt did add more legends than previous regions, but the legends of Sinnoh are more indepth than previous regions, as it is a creation of the world myth I'm not surprised.

Basically, the Original One (Arceus) was born within a churning sea of Chaos. To bring order to the Chaos it created Dialga to rule time, Palkia to rule space, and Giratina to rule the Distortion World where the laws of time and space do not reach. Giratina, being rebellious, angered Arceus who banned it to the Distortion World alone. Then Arceus created Azelf, Mesprit, and Uxie to counter balance the power of Dialga and Palkia and to foster determination, emotion, and knowledge in a young human race. There are other legends in Sinnoh, but they do not relate to the creation story. Cresselia and Darkrai are legendary in that they are pokémon able to influence the world of dreams, Cresselia positively and Darkrai negatively as this creates a balance. Heatran is simply a rare pokémon that is said to inhabit the large volcano north of Sinnoh. Finally Regigigas is the king of the regis from Ruby and Sapphire.

If you go anywhere in the real world, there will be mythos.. usually different than mythos from where you are from. The pokémon world mirrors this in both mythology and animal/plant diversity. I think the main problem with the "too many legends so no one is a legend" argument is that 1) "old schoolers" don't understand there are degrees of legendary and 2) that many mythos stories contain many legendary figures. Also, there are only roughly 30 legends out of 493 pokémon. That means that only about 0.06 of pokémon are legendary. In most competitive circles, pokémon determined to be overpowered (or "uber") are banned from play so they don't really affect gameplay. As for the levels of mythos, think of it this way.

Most polytheistic (multi-gods... think Greek Gods) societies have a god for everything. Pokémon is very similar. Pokémon I would deem as the God Level (those with powers similar to Greek Gods) would include:
  • Arceus (the creator of pokémon)
  • Dialga (God of Time), Palkia (God of Space)
  • Giratina (God of The other side/ Death)
  • Azelf/Mesprit/Uxie (God of Spirit)
  • Groudon (God of Earth)
  • Kyogre (God of Sea)
  • Rayquaza (God of Air)
  • Ho-oh (God of Rebirth)
  • Lugia (Spirit of the Ocean)
  • Regigigas (God of the Forge/ Technology/ the Colossus)
  • Cresselia (Ruler of Dreams)
  • Darkrai (Ruler of Nightmares)
Demi-god level is similar to figures like Hercules. They are legendary due to thier great strength or abilities granted to them by the gods. Mewtwo is in this category as well as Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, Entei, Suicune, Raikou, Registeel, Regice, and Regirock as well as Latios and Latias. Demi-gods usually have close ties to gods either being sons or daughters ... or in some instances simply being created by a god.
  • Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres fall under the Rule of Lugia based on the 2nd movie but it doesn't seem like Lugia created them so much as just rules over them in an attempt to keep them in balance
  • Entei, Suicune, and Raikou where brought back from the dead by Ho-oh in the story of the Burned Tower
  • Regigigas created the Regis according to it's Platinum dex entry
  • Mewtwo is a special case in that it is "uber" legendary based on it's strength, but it represents science more than mythology so it doesn't fit in my God pokémon level rather it is more or a Demi -God (or maybe even in the next cateogory after this one) that in many respects are greater than the gods themselves (ex: Hercules.)
  • Dragons are often thought of as legendary, so Latios and Latias being the only Psychic Dragons makes them Demi-God level.
  • Manaphy also falls into this level as the Prince of the Sea, suggesting it's lower that Kyogre and Lugia. Phione, which is only availible by breeding Manaphy may fit here as well, but it's not really legendary.
The rest are what would be considered to be crypto-creatures. Animals which have gained legendary status due to thier extreme rarity or lack of evidence to thier existance. Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster as well as aliens are real world examples. People believe they exist, but evidence is lacking. Pokémon that fall in this category are: Mew, Celebi, Deoxys, Jirachi, Heatran, and Shaymin.
  • With the discovery of Mew, the 151st pokémon, in Red and Blue it was said that Mew was thought to be the very first pokémon. We know now that's not entirely accurate, since Arceus is said to have created all pokémon.. so what is Mew in relation to other pokémon? I looked through all of Mew's dex entries, and it turns out that NONE of them reference Mew as the first pokémon. It simply states that Mew contains all of the DNA seen in other pokémon which is why it can learn every TM and HM. This means that Mew isn't the first pokémon, but rather a proxy which contains all of the genetic information for pokémon. This would mean that Mew was created early on by Arceus. Stepping out of the mythos, Bulbapedia states Mew is actually the first pokémon name to be tradmarked so in that sence, Mew is the first pokémon.
  • Celebi, the time traveling pokémon, doesn't have much role outside of being the protector of the Ilex Forest.. with Celebi in other regions not sharing this role (for example the Shiny Celebi from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon). It seems that based on this, Celebi is simply a rare and unique pokémon with the ability to traverse time. It also seems that this ability affects Dialga negatively as in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon it is shown that Dialga doesn't like anyone fooling with time like Celebi does.
  • Jirachi is similar to Celebi in that it has one unique ability, but doesn't really govern any part of the natural world. In Jirachi's case, it can grant wishes. However, this ability is extremely limited as it only can grant wishes within a 7 day period and if it is particularly hard to grant, Jirachi immediatly goes to sleep and doesn't wake for 1000 years.
  • Deoxys also is a Ru/Sa/E legend with not a lot of back story, in fact it's only rare due to the fact it's a very strong alien pokémon with the ability to shift it's forms. Alien isn't a distinction that Deoxys started, however, as it has been said that the Clefairy evolutionary line are from the moon. The only difference is Deoxys' alien origin has been confirmed, but the Clefairy one hasn't.
  • Heatran, one of the final legends I will talk about, is said to have created the large volcano north of the Resort Area on D/P/Pt. Although this has been said, it never has been validated so it's more word of mouth than fact. It's possible that Heatran simply live in the volcano rather than created it. Shaymin also doesn't have much back story except it is said to have filled Floaroma Town with flowers by using it's ability to suck in pollution.
Personally I will continue to buy pokémon games as long as they continue to make them. Any opinions? (All legends pic by SonofOdin.)

20 comments:

Jeff said...

I agree that the new games are good in their own regard. You really can't compare the new games to the old ones in regards to technology.. so if you take away the technical upgrades and just look at the story and replayability... they are all pretty much the same. Saying one is better and all the others suck is splitting hairs.

I also agree that having more pokémon is cool too. For you old school guys, just cause they are in the game doesn't mean you have to use them. Just buy gold and silver and catch only old pokémon and stop your whining.

I like this article by the way. Comparing legends to greek gods works perfect. I looked up greek gods on wikipedia. There's 14 gods that people always think of... but then there's a ton of others too. I counted at least 30 sea dieties (gods/demigods) alone.

Anonymous said...

This was a f****** awesome post. I really love people who can make real world connections to video game stories. Subbed.

Anonymous said...

http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/History_of_the_Pok%C3%A9mon_world

This is a mythos put together to explain all of the "legendary" pokemon, an interesting read to say the least.

Anonymous said...

WHAT ABOUT SHAYMIN!!!!! LOL

alonso_sal said...

I just have one word to describe this article...AWSOME!! It's very cool that you put together the legendaries to look like greek mythology! i used to be an "old schooler" too! But when i read this article it actually made sense!

I aslo have to ask you, where do i find the trading forums that you use?

FossilJockeyMG said...

We used to have forums on the blog, but no one used them. Because of that, we've shifted to just relying on the Facebook page's discussion board for trades. Just click the link in the left toolbar and "like" the Team KO Blog. Then you can post on the wall or discussion board of that page to trade people.

Anonymous said...

i think that people started to dislike the new pokemon after generation 2. generation 2 was incorporated very well to the first generation. generation 3 onward were more like a reboot of the entire series, with many of its material being based on the first 2 generations. i guess what people didn't like was the feeling that they were trying to replace the older pokemon by creating new ones with similar characteristics. for example, zubat was replaced with woobat, machop with timburr, sentret with zigzagoon, and so on.

FossilJockeyMG said...

I've never thought of it as replacement I guess. I'm believe it's ok to have more than one bat or rodent in the world, but I do see your point. Anyhow, if it were true replacement you'd expect all of the replacements to be the better versions, but that isn't really the case. For example, the Zubat like is more physically inclined than the Woobat line. It's like they have different niches, just like real world animals do.

FossilJockeyMG said...

Also- you say Sentret replaced Zigzagoon? You do realize by that definition, that Sentret was a Rattata replacement? Every gen has a little normal rodent. If every game just had Rattata as the early game rodent and that's it... it would have gotten real old.

Anonymous said...

Im almost seventeen, i loved pokemon when i was a kid, i spent countless hours playing it on my gameboy color and going insane over the cards. Im on the oldschool side ( red,blue silver,gold exct). i like the older ones more just because of all the great memories they give me, i mean that was like my whole childhood. and i think thats why theres this controversy in the first place,because of people like me like to hold onto memories of easier times. its soothing

FossilJockeyMG said...

I've been playing since the games first came out, so I understand the nostaligia... but I'm also a big fan of the improvements they've made over the years. I remember in Red/Blue Aerodactyl (my fave pokemon) couldn't even learn a single Rock type move! Now, it can learn several.

FossilJockeyMG said...

I'm not saying it's bad to be nostaligic. That's fine by me. What ticks me off is when I see tons of hate towards new pokémon and the reason is because "the first 151 (or 251 depending on who you talk to) are the only real pokemon." It's rather hypocritical when people who like the old games, who were likely taunted at least a little in school about it, to all of a sudden taunt people who like the new ones. As far as I know, there's no rule against liking whatever it is you feel like. I like Garbodor. I recognize most think it's ugly. In fact, I think it's ugly. That's why I like it. There are tons of ugly animals in the world. Don't believe me? Click here. I like it because it is what a Poison type should be, something gross!

All in all, if your nostalgic, then fine no prob. As long as you don't give me crap when I say like all of the gens we won't have a issue.

I wonder if other games have this issue? Do people who prefer Halo say that it's the only real Halo game and that Halo 2 and Halo 3 don't exist in thier mind simply because they don't like it?

cynicismisc-collapse said...

heres my deal, ever since the old games Pokemon have become worse and worse, the Pokemon themselves i mean. charizard? squirle? they are believable Pokemon, i can imagine seeing one. however i cannot imagine seeing a frilly strange appendaged animal thing that looks like it came out of a test tube. my point is that they need more Pokemon to to look like mother nature could actually make it!

FossilJockeyMG said...

Wow. That has to be the most unintellegent thing I've heard yet. You can believe in Pokémon like Charizard and Squirtle because they look natural.. but not the new pokémon because they look unnatural? First of all, several gens have Dragons and Turtles. If you like a gen because of the pokémon that look "normal" then maybe you should take a look at the fact most are obvious plays on animals we have in real life. Let's look at Carracosta from the Black and White. Obviously a sea turtle, more specifically an ancient sea turtle archelon (look it up).

Additionally, you apparently have NO IDEA the crazy animals which exist on our very diverse planet. In fact, there is NO IMAGINABLE WAY for pokémon, regardless of how many games they make, will ever be able to match the biodiversity of our planet. You want to see some weird real life animals? How about the
Gulper Eel Pic from NatGeo which the pokemon Huntail is patterned after.

I bet you if you give me ANY animalistic or plant based pokémon I can tell you what REAL organisms they took inspiration from. Just because you no nothing of biology doesn't mean odd animals don't exist.

Anonymous said...

A few things:

1) "Old school" Pokemon= the first two generations, not just R/B/Y.
Some people also consider gen 3.

2) In the first generation, not everyone had a predictable team. In fact, Gengar an Alakazam had to be traded to get, so for people who didn't have a link cable, it was impossible to get them.

3) Just because you heard a few people that don't like shiny pokemon doesn't mean that EVERY old schooler dislikes them.

4) Abilities are hit and miss (some good, some bad); but again, just because you know a person or two that hate 2 vs 2 battles doesn't mean EVERY old schooler hates them.

5) You did your math wrong. 0.06% would mean that only 6/100 of 1% of pokemon are legendary, when there are 6% of legendary pokemon.

6) It's stupid that you based your argument on legendaries. The main problem is we keep paying $35 for Nintendo to throw the same crap in our face. Nintendo needs to make a game with either: more gyms (like in G/S/C, which had 16), or it should be based on the series (include towns/areas like Orange Islands).

FossilJockeyMG said...

In response to the previous post:

1) If you read the first couple of sentences I was referring to the two factions in a particular facebook group. Not everyone. In fact, this particular group of people are now commonly referred to as "genwunners", however I wrote this article 2 years ago before this term had spread throughout the internet.

2) I did mention there was some variety, but I'd still say I can better predict what will be on someone's team when there are only 150 options version 493 options (which is how many there were when I wrote this).

3) Again, this was an argument vs the members of the Facebook group. I was countering something that was said THERE so my statement is valid. I never attributed this to everyone, just the "old school" faction in this particular Facebook group.

4) See previous...

5)I didn't do the math wrong, but I did typo so good catch. I said that roughly 30 pokemon were legendary, which would be 0.06 of all currently described pokémon. 493 x 0.06 = ~30. Therefore, I put in a percent sign.. but actually it shouldn't be there. Typo. I'll fix it.

6)Again... arguing against a topic that was in a Facebook group. Read sentence one. In the group the biggest argument against new games was adding more pokémon, and thus more legends. I was counting that argument.

Anonymous said...

You seemed to have miss interpreted the feelings of "old-school" Pokemon fans. Or at least are only arguing against the views of fundamentalist morons. You're argument against the points was well thought out, however the points you argued against aren't the views I have seen. When I say I'm an old school Pokemon fan, I mean I love that they are coming up with new things, but I feel they are just using the success of the old games, along with it's intense fun and playability to phone in these new titles.

My points:
1) Less creative.
The newer games have gotten decidedly less creative in Pokemon they create. Though not always the case, most of the original 150, or 250 and even hoen had very creative designs. In pokemon black we have an Ice cream cone, a candle, and a cog. It may just be my opinion but it seems unlikely that a pokemon would exist that was obviously heavily influenced by man-made objects. You can use the argument that voltorb and a few others are the same but that doesn't make it any less ridiculous.

2)Less realistic
Times are changing, violence is looked down upon and people have taken to coddling their children more. While this isn't Pokemon's fault and they have to remain successful to make money but a large group of people that play Pokemon are older, at least in their teens. If you remember the old games, Zubat's pokedex entry specifically said that it drank blood, as many others showed that they were dangerous creatures to be respected, and a little bit feared. As the generations continue they seem to be changing every "realistic" back story to these Pokemon. A small quip I realize but worth noting.

3)More hand-holding
This one just seems unnecessary The older games barely had a tutorial of any kind and most people had little trouble learning the ins and outs of the game. I have no quarrel with the help menu there for your convenience, but the cut-scenes are getting longer and they take an unacceptable amount of time to explain how to play the game.

4)Shinies
I have never honestly heard someone complain about these, I thought they were a cool addition and did their best to solidify the uniqueness of each individual and at the same time gave you something to strive for, I agree that this is a stupid argument.

5) Legendaries
Ah legendaries, coveted by many who play for their rarity and power. My issue is not with these new beings or the myths associated with them, my issue is only with the ridiculousness of the myths. Like you said, each region has its own myths on the beginnings of the world, however none of these creatures of legend have similar legends. If you go to a different country, they will have myths on what made the world, and they probably won't be similar, while it could be argued that only one Pokemon could make the world and it was groudon, you would have to ask, then why don't the other regions mention it at all? This, admittedly is also a small issue, but it seems like the in-game world would be more relatable if each land had more myths and myths that coincided with each other.

As far as the inclusion of new lands, new stories, and new creatures. This isn't a bad thing... but it should be handled respectably. It feels like these new games lack a bit of the soul, and the true love of the franchise the original games had. Capturing that spirit again is what most "old-school" Pokefans want.

Anonymous said...

My only problem with the new gen is some of the pokemon that they have come up with are like they werent trying. A trash bag pokemon & an ice cream pokemon? Come on

Anonymous said...

I think this article is great! Before i read this, i would refuse to let Arceus be the "creator", mew took that role, but after reading I changed my mind, i agree with you.
As for the new games, I like all of them, but it feels like the people who think of new pokemon are running out of ideas (regarding only to Black and White).
I also think that the character designs are too weird. I think the kids who play pokemon don't care about "giant hair"(black2 and white2).

FossilJockeyMG said...

July Anonymous: The pokedex entries are still dark from time to time. Read Litwick's Dex Entry. Also, you say that designs are less inventive (you even mention Litwick) but then you say I can't pick on the uninventive designs from older games (voltorb). Seems your splitting hairs. As for more time spent explaining the game.. a lot of games have more tutorials. Here's the thing, the longer you (or in this case Gamefreak) work on something.. the more you want to explain it so everyone gets the full enjoyment out of it. Go play the Zelda on NES and then on the Wii and tell me it isn't exactly the same in terms of an increase in tutorials. Also, you want overlapping myths? Play any of the DS pokémon games all the way through. The myths overlap. For example, if you send over Arceus (a Sinnoh pokémon) to HeartGold/SoulSilver (Johto) you will get some myth overlap with the Ruins of Alph... or if you go talk to Prof. Oak after beating HGSS you will get information about Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza existing in both Johto and Hoenn. So yea, there's your overlap. I can understand people who are "old-school" fans want to recapture their childhood.. but here's the thing: they are playing with blinders on. I'm 27. I've played the game since Red/Blue. I'm here to say it's only getting better. I know when my little girl is old enough to play she can have her favorites from her newer game and I can teach her about the older ones as well. That added with the fact we can trade around the actual world makes it a whole lot better than when I was young and filling the Dex meant either finding a few friends who played or buying an extra game.

Sept Anonymous: See Voltorb, Grimer, Magnemite, Diglett, etc. Sorry not everything meets your standards as a work of art. I believe Karen said something about trying to win with your favorites. If those aren't your favorites, don't bother with them. I think Jynx looks dumb. So far I have never raised a Jynx, and outside of having one for my dex... I've never really bothered with her at all.

Nov Anonymous: I don't think they are running out of ideas. I just thing their ideas are different that what people have come to expect. Here's the thing, sometimes pokémon have strange designs. They always have. Pick out the ones you like and move on. If you dwell on the few you don't, you'll never fully enjoy the experience. As for character designs, pokémon's art style is anime... it was bound to happen that we'd have big hair main characters. I'm suprised it took this long.