Pokemon Records pt.2
Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 12:59PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Genre, Pokemon, Variation

"The new generation isn't as cool as the old generation." We've all heard statements like this before whether directed at generations of people or generations of Pokemon. Sometimes these statements are followed by valid arguments. Many times, however, the supporting reasons rely on vague notions of "cool" and feelings of nostalgia. When challenged such arguments fall apart. One of the best parts of having access to a critical language for articulating your feelings is that you might teach yourself something about yourself. And in the process, you'll most likely dig deeper into an issue than ever before. 

Human beings don't do very well with new situations or new material. We've been known to ignore new information, resort to highly inefficient methods of trial and error, or utterly freeze in the face of a challenge we've never conceived of before. Because we use long term memory and muscle memory for so many of our daily functions, it's no wonder we generally have a very strong attraction to the familiar. Sometimes, this attraction is felt as nostalgia. Rather than go through the somewhat numbing and insecure stages of learning the new, sometimes we'd rather just hold on to the past. Furthermore, our emotions can disproportionately affect our memories. Seeing a bad movie with a good friend can influence us to think quite fondly of the movie upon reflection. 

The only way to see clearly is by breaking down your emotions, thoughts, and experience based on some simple or objective criteria. The following is an evaluation of the fictional creativity and aesthetic values of Pokemon through all 5 generations. That's all 649 Pokemon. If you haven't seen them all by now, consider this as your spoiler warning. The four categories are as follows:

Some Pokemon may represent multiple types. The following is an image with all 649 Pokemon. Seeing them all at once is the most effective way to observe any changes across generations. 


 Click to enlarge. From veekun.com




Judging mainly on Pokemon appearances, according to my numbers each generation of Pokemon has a very similar distribution of Pokemon types. Still, just seeing the numbers isn't enough to change many players' opinions, me included. At least, I held certain opinions in the back of my mind until I took a much closer look at all 649 Pokemon. It turns out that I didn't really know all the Pokemon as well as I thought. I didn't even know the names of a few of them. If each Pokemon is a creature designed to represent some kind of animal, plant, mystical idea, or otherwise mainly through the function of battling, it stands to reason that the best way to thoroughly understand each Pokemon is by battling with them. You can either catch, raise, and battle with each Pokemon or researching them. In other words, a Pokemon's fictional role is mostly defined by its functional role in the game's design space. As long as people judge Pokemon by how they look, they're practically judging a book by its cover. 

Now, I have a great appreciation of all Pokemon generations. Though I'm particularly fond of the first generation, I'm not overly so. Sure, there are some Pokemon that I think are ugly or poorly designed compared to others. But over all, I think it's good to have some Pokemon that I don't like. Before reaching this point of acceptance, I had to do a lot of research. The following are some of the issues I had to resolve. 


If you think all 649 Pokemon aren't creative enough, then you should check out some of the Pokemon that fans have created. This video contains many. It's clear that these Pokemon are generally modeled after a few basic types. 


In part 3 we'll look at Pokemon Black/White. How has it evolved as the 5th game in the RPG series? What's the established formula? How does the game story mesh with the Pokemon fiction?

Article originally appeared on Critical-Gaming Network (http://critical-gaming.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.