Thursday, June 24, 2010

Looking Forward: Generational Rot

Looking Forward: Generational Rot
Editorial by Pat Hessman
Details on the 5th generation of Pokémon have leaked out at a steady pace ever since Pokémon Black and White versions were announced in April. We’ve been titillated with the promise of a new region, revamping the in-game battle displays, new options for trading and battling other plays online, and graphical advances unlike anything seen before in the handheld main series.
Yes, I didn’t mention the obvious one.
Anyone who doesn’t assume the single most anticipated aspect of a new generation is the new monsters is delusional. Pokémon has been and always will be about the titular creatures, they are the first and last 493 (a number about to dramatically increase) words in the franchise. Settings, forms of media, and presentation all change; but it will always be recognizable as Pokémon if the pocket monsters are present.
This brings me to my point: judgment of the newly revealed Generation V Pokémon as they slowly are revealed and how it’s often unfair.
I’ve been a lifelong fan of this franchise, ever since the days of Red, Blue, and Yellow. When Gold and Silver loomed overhead, most diehards rejoiced. The incredible collection of 151 was getting a 100-monster expansion, new things to train, new things to conquer, and new things to collect.
For us, it was a godsend, but to outsiders, it was something that started as ridiculously large getting more ludicrous. My stepsister told me at the time, “There’ll be 500 before you know it.” Generation II came and went and we all loved the Johto Pokémon.
Then the divisions began. Ruby and Sapphire versions were released, and 251 swelled to 386. Some loved the 135 Hoenn Pokémon, while other fans began criticizing the designs as either unoriginal or becoming too extreme compared to the simplistic designs of Generation I. At the same time, the natures of the Legendary Pokémon were elevating as well. No longer were they simply exceptionally rare and powerful creatures, we were now approaching deity status with gods of Land, Sea, and Air who supposedly shaped the Earth eons ago. One of my friends, in regards to Duskull, said they were now coming to resemble the gritty and extreme designs of Digimon. Even to this day the Generation III Pokémon still have left a bit of a bad taste in the mouth of gamers, as any mention of Ruby and Sapphire on a forum will still ignite flamewars.
Diamond and Pearl versions increased the number to a whopping 493 species, and brought more controversy over designs, and more debate about the ‘best’ generation. The monster designs were getting as complex as ever, and in the eyes of some, a creative low point (look no further than the endless bile streamed by the fans at Bidoof). Criticism was directed at complex Starter Pokémon families (all of them having unique typing, Infernape aside), seemingly lazy/unnecessary additions to evolution families (Porygon-Z, Probopass), and legendary Pokémon that now ruled Time and Space, even having the Creator of the Universe being something you can catch. We cried they went too far and ran out of new ideas, and we wondered how they’d go from there.
Enter the 14 revealed Generation V Pokémon. Aside from the legends and starters, we’ve seen a chinchilla, a pair of gears, an electric zebra, a strange sand crocodile, and a mad fire gorilla. Already some people hate the new designs, and some love them. Some love Zoroark; some consider him a lame, dark Lucario. The bile cannon have been aimed at the starters, too. One poster I saw was horrified at the thought of starting his Pokémon journey with a pig, while others (including myself) embraced the concept wholeheartedly. Some think the sea otter Mijimaru is adorable, while others roll out the oil spill jokes. And don’t even get me started on that smug snake Tsutarja. As for the Legendary Pokémon Reshiram and Zekrom, they seem to have a Yin and Yang theme. Are they going to be above Arceus somehow? Some fans love their unique typing, while one commented that Pokémon had “broken the Yu-Gi-Oh barrier” with the design of these two.
Personally, I always welcome more species of Pokémon. Each region makes the world larger, and the Pokémon residing there characterize them more than any cities or people. If Pokémon are supposed to be the game world’s equivalent of animals in our world, wouldn’t it be logical for there to be possibly even thousands of species of them in the entire world?
As the months draw closer to Black and White’s releases in Japan, more and more new Pokémon will be revealed. No matter how original or terrible the new monsters will be in the end, there will always be those who claim this newest batch is the worst. There will always be the haters; there will always be those who join Facebook groups loudly proclaiming there are only 151 Pokémon. Decide for yourself what you think of them.

Creative Commons License
Looking Forward: Generational Rot by Patrick Hessman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at


  1. I saw this on Bulbapedia and I agree with you 100%. I look forward to more of your blog posts!

  2. I just read this on Bulbapedia. I totally agree with you. People are never satisfied with the new designs, but personally I love them. I mean did you see the new eagle Pokemon? There's only one word to describe it--epic! But back to the point, I think the Generation II Pokemon was more complex than the original 151. Complexity is just a sign of time and progress. Those who oppose, will just remain in the past while the Pokemon franchise continue to garner new fans.

  3. I agree with both of these comments. I really liked your article on Bulbapedia.

    I was going to go say that in the forums, but found a lot of what makes me hate going to the forums. Luckily I checked out your blog and found the article here too.

    What I don't understand is why the "I only love the original _______" people don't just stick to that game. They don't need to hurl their overstated negativity at Nintendo or anyone else. They can just play the original. Or why don't they write their OWN sequel? You could make a lot of different arguments for these questions, but the real reason is just that people whine about stuff. Some people just really enjoy it. I for one think we should just ignore them. If they don't have anything constructive to add (which they largely don't) we should all just move on. You can ALWAYS criticize something if that is your aim. Instead we should look for the good in people and products and seek out the best. That is why I think I'll always play pokemon, It is simply the most fun series of games that I have found.

  4. Excellent article! Gotta say that I also agree. (I was kind of wondering just how you kicked your Mystery Dungeon addiction, seeing as how I can't fall asleep without playing it... Also it's the only of the Pokemon games I have.)
    Your writing style is a joy to read, as are the blog posts themselves ^_^
    Thank you so much for sharing!