By Serenity Cruz
Instead of taking interest in games that are popular among the teens like Fortnite and Call of Duty, I take a huge interest in the classics. Specifically, that’s the Pokémon franchise. Honestly, the four-year-old me wouldn’t even know what Raichu, the cute electric mouse was, But even at four, I had admiration for the cute creature. It was the brightly-colored creatures on the cards that have drawn me into Pokémon. But now, I have immersed myself so deeply within the Pokémon world that I give lectures to the uneducated players about the competitive scene of Pokémon. How in the world don’t you know what “Trick Room” does?
Before I knew what Pikachu or Pokémon were exactly, I was fond of them. I wasn’t very impressed with Pikachu at first, but I grew to like this chubby-faced being. The full deep dive didn’t start until fourth grade, the year before the pandemic hit. That was through the amazing world of the Pokémon Trading Card Game. At that time, Pokémon cards started to gain popularity again and many of my friends had them. One of my friends helped me start my card collection. He was kind enough to give me some of his cards to start with and from there I gained some more friends and trading buddies. You could imagine how much attention I got when I had the full art Mega Charizard Y, full art Mega Mewtwo X and Y, and Mega Rayquaza in my hands.
Soon, I started to draw Pokémon, beginning with Eevee and its evolutions – with only pencil and paper. No coloring pencils at all, just a pencil and a black gel pen for outline. So many of my drawings looked lifeless with the lack of colors. But I’ve made countless pieces of art. Do I have one favorite Pokémon that will never ever change? Absolutely not! But throughout the different drawings of Pokémon I’ve made, I keep coming back to Eevee, Goodra, Lycanroc, Mew, and Hisuian Zorua. They’re on the cute side of the Pokémon spectrum, and have very friendly personalities.
When the pandemic hit, my dad let me play Let’s Go Pikachu and later got me Pokémon Sword while he had Pokémon Shield. I liked these, but my favorite Pokémon games are the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series and Pokémon Legends Arceus. During this time period of social isolation and loneliness, however, I didn’t really have anything to do so I started to find some Pokémon-related activities to do and that is when I got into Pokémon Sword and Shield competitively.
When I think about it, the first thing Pokémon taught me was math. The math in the games is more complicated than you may realize. Calculating your Alolan Ninetales to have enough bulk to take an Ivy Cudgel from a Hearthstone adamant nature maximum physical attack Ogrepon and make sure it outspeeds a timid nature maximum speed or speed booster energy Flutter Mane to hit a “Blizzard” is extremely difficult and takes a lot of time. And even if you don’t know exactly what that means, you can see there’s a complexity to it. Probability also comes up when there is a chance your Pokémon could survive an attack. Ranges also come into play with there being a certain amount of damage your Pokémon could do to your opponent’s Pokémon due to the high roll and low roll rate of damage. You have to think about it, strategize about it, kind of compute it in your own head.
Pokémon has also taught me about the art of storytelling, and about the problems people go through. The example I want to share is from recent The Teal Mask downloadable content. There, the story and Kieran’s character development are such amazing examples of thoughtful plotting, with more being teased during an amazing cliffhanger. Then, there’s the story of Arven, who you meet at the start of your journey in the Paldea region. He seems like a jerk in the beginning. He despises Koraidon/Miraidon, gets sour at Nemona when she asks if he is the son of Professor Sada/Turo, and has quite a bit of an attitude from the get-go. This starts to change when Arven becomes more open towards the player after defeating each of the five titan Pokémon. After defeating a third titan, Arven will finally tell you why he is collecting the herba mystica; to heal his severely injured partner Pokémon, Mabosstiff. At that point, I was moved: Arven had a reason for being sour.
By helping Arven heal his Mabosstiff, that jerk-like attitude fades away to reveal his true emotions so to speak. Arven went down to Area Zero to find his mom/dad but his partner got severely injured. Not even healing items and Pokémon Centers could do anything about it. Additionally, the player got to know that he rarely saw his mother/father and they never answered any of his calls because they were busy with researching Koraidon/Miraidon and all the other Paradox Pokémon. Arven became resentful, and hatred abounded until he finally found out that his mother/father had died. Arven was left in disbelief and grief.
From Arven’s story, I’ve learned one important thing: that we never know what happens to a person that affects who they are and how they think. Kieran’s story is so moving, and Kieran is one of the only characters in the franchise that I can connect with on a deep personal level. What he has gone through, I have gone through on a similar level as well.
In the end, Pokémon is more than just a “children’s game,” as some people say. Many game players, even adults, all over the world enjoy Pokémon because the stories can be meaningful and there’s almost always something different to soak up. I have always had, and most likely always will have, my eyes glued to Pokémon. I thank my dad for that. I thank the good stories, too. I can’t wait for The Indigo Disc DLC to drop in December to see what’s next.
Over 95% of the reviews and essays on NYGameCritics.com are created by our paid student interns and mentors who have taken our classes. Donations help support our incredible student writers.