Getting Into Gaming: Pokemon Leaf Green
I, like so many others, grew up in a generation where small, strange looking Asian creatures with supernatural powers were a relatively common occurrence on TV and for some, overwhelmed pretty much every aspect of their lives. Whether it was for the cuteness, the badassness, the collectableness or possibly even the story line(?), Pokemon is something which almost everyone who grew up in the 90s knows about and almost indefinitely loved, even if only for a little while!
My parents were never much into the technology/gaming scene, so my experience was limited to the TV show and Tazos, which I collected religiously for years and still have tucked away in a box in my room. I actually didn’t even know there was a game, let alone games until my first year of varsity! I tried to play a little bit of Yellow at one stage, but I just didn’t have the patience back then to play properly and so I gave up shortly after reaching Mount Moon, or ‘the place with all the (insert every expletive you can think of) Zubats’. I think my exact words, when asked why I didn’t want to play any more were “but, it’s just so boring!” To be honest, I had always preferred Digimon anyway…
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But I don’t think I could have justified completing this series without giving Pokemon another chance, especially since my boyfriend and his friends are kind of hardcore about it! I did, however, make it very clear from the beginning that I was not interested in trying the nuzzlocke challenge or EV training or any such thing, and that I would play the game my way, no matter how boring or ‘too easy’ it may seem to them.
So I started out with Bulbasaur, because I had always really liked it in the show and Prof. Oak said it was easy to look after. I really, REALLY wanted to try to catch one of every Pokemon I encountered and for ages I was doing really well, until the Nintendo emulator crashed and I lost all my saves and had to start the whole thing over again. By the way, I named my nemesis Geki because I got tired of trying to navigate the keypad at 500% speed and that was the worst of the given names on the list.
On the second run-through I chose Squirtle, because I just couldn’t face the reminder of all the progress I’d lost. I gave up on collecting all the Pokemon and instead just tried to find the most useful of each type, and sometimes I just caught ones that are my favourites. And playing that way gave me a much greater sense of achievement, because honestly, collecting things is pretty easy if you’re patient enough, but collecting discerningly made me feel like I was really being quite clever about it all! I was crazy proud of myself when I found Pikachu hiding in a corner of Viridian Forest and learning the strengths and weaknesses of each type was incredibly satisfying in the Gym Fights… Why yes Brock, I did just bring down your level 14 Onix with a level 11 Mankey! Come at me bro!
I must admit that I took a lot of offense when I was told that my two-hit KO was ‘not very effective’. I’m pretty sure that if the guy is unconscious, my attack did exactly what it was meant to do! I mean, of course I know what they actually mean by ‘not very effective’ but, still! He’s unconscious, I win. End of story! No additional comments necessary.
I even made it all the way to the other end of Mount Moon without giving up! Granted, I was the most paranoid, and ran back to the Pokemon Centre the moment more than two of my party had their health in the yellow… But the point is that I kept playing! And managed to level up a Sandshrew from level 8 to level 12 in time to hand Geki’s ass to him on a fancy platter, just outside of Cerulean City!
I didn’t manage to get as far in the game as I would’ve liked because of the somewhat inconvenient loss of all my previous progress only a few days before I had to write this, but I still feel like going back and playing more. I guess in this case I’m also a bit of a graphics snob, because having everything in more than five colours definitely made the game nicer to play! I’m still not sure I understand the mad hype around the games though. To me they’re really all just the same game with progressively better graphics and occasionally they throw in a beauty pageant to keep it fresh, and I’m not ever going to play it in challenge mode because I wouldn’t even put that much effort into a game I loved. But the game was good fun and occasionally the random (possibly unintentional) sense of humour would catch me completely off-guard and leave me giggling for a good few minutes. Brock’s laugh (Fuhaha!) and the “I like shorts” guy were particular favourites!
I really did enjoy it a lot more than I did three years ago and I will very happily keep it on my laptop to play when I need a short break from work or when I’m having a lazy day and don’t feel like doing anything too stressful. I think it’s actually a notable strength of the game that you can choose to play it hardcore like my boyfriend and his friends do, or more casually like I do and neither one is right or wrong, or better or worse. It caters really well to different skill and interest levels and that is something I really didn’t appreciate when I first tried it. Kinda makes me wonder how much else I’ve missed out on in the past three years!