Like most of the other articles discussing the past, I have a special place in my heart for Pokemon
. On my birthday, I received a purple translucent GameBoy Colour
and Pokemon Gold
, along with a little black backpack to keep it all in.
I never, ever left the house without that backpack.
Pokemon of course, is incredibly successful. Some would say that it even created its own genre. In Genre and game studies: Toward a critical approach to video game genres
, Thomas Apperley examines how video games are organised according to genre; claiming that doing so prevents video games from being examined as their own media form. Rather, he claims that video games are compared to other forms of texts such as film and literature. Here I will examine some features of genre according to the Pokemon series, and how they have (or have not) changed over time. I own Pokemon Blue, Gold, Ruby, Leaf Green,
, so my discussion will revolve around these games; Pokemon’s
both distant and fairly recent past. Despite all of these games containing the same basic, central mechanics, the whole series is of course incredibly popular. As Apperley notes, ‘the expectation is that the stability of genre will be tempered by innovation; this innovation may be technical, not necessarily stylistic’. The Pokemon
series of games has experienced innovation both technically and stylistically over five generations of games since 1996, allowing the majority of its audience, including myself, to be satisfied. Firstly, as for technical changes, the Pokemon role-playing games have been released on Game Boy, Game Boy Colour, Game Boy Advance,
and the Nintendo DS
. Each new release has displayed an increase in the quality of the output, in colours and screen size. The DS was the biggest step forward, featuring a touch screen and microphone input. More recently, the 3DS allows for three dimensional functionality.
However, I do believe that technical changes are not the most important aspect of the games. Pokemon is an interesting series to me, because of how the gameplay has stayed fairly uniform over time, with only minor changes. However even small changes seem to be deliberated over, as if Nintendo wasn’t sure whether they should be kept or not. For example, consider the day and night differences in Generation Two, which were taken out in Generation Three and reintroduced in Generation Four. This seemed an odd decision to me, as in Generation Two Eevee gained the ability to evolve into either Espeon or Umbreon depending on the time. Furthermore, it just was an impressive extra feature that facilitated immersion! Why would they take it out? Especially when events such as the tide changing in Shoal Cave in Generation Three would have benefited from some visual differences between day and night. I never really found many answers to these questions, but I certainly wondered about them, even as a child.
Slowpoke's Well as seen in Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, A Shadow of a Drought, and the Trading Card Game.
When applied to the Pokemon series, Apperley’s game genres provides an interesting example of how innovation can alter a video game, and how the series relies on intertextuality to establish the legitimacy of its game world. Even my simple examples of how I viewed the games as a child validate this; focusing on how each game differed, and how they connected with the animated series. Regardless of the changes to the series, each game always returns to an established setting and story built into the franchise. The Pokemon game series certainly overtook my childhood, and like many, as an adult I am finding that it still captivates me at times; it will certainly be interesting to see if the games change dramatically in the future.
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