Losing the will to continue.
Approximately a month and a half ago, I penned a feature expressing my optimistic hopes for the new Pokemon Sun and Moon. To be sure, these iterations of the storied franchise include some of the most significant improvements within a Pokemon game – ever. Each of these additions, in fact, has furthered progress made in improving the series as a whole. And while the narrative in Pokemon, like most in the series, is weak – almost pathetically so – usually the monster catching aspects could keep me involved for quite some time. This time was different, however; something in the cog of this Pokemon just never spun.
As I continue to struggle with the realization that I may never enjoy another Pokemon title, I have to consider the arduous journey that brought me to this point. What has caused me to fall so out of love with a franchise I adored as a child and one that is still fervently loved by so many? I’ll say it upfront: Pokemon Sun and Moon are not bad games. There’s a lot to enjoy with each, as there probably will be with every iteration hereafter. So what is it? I have a few theories to offer on why I see Pokemon in decline.
The Appearance of World of Final Fantasy
As I’ve grown older (I’m a solid 28), I’ve become to seek out strong, story-driven experiences. Gone are my days of Call of Duty (though I still enjoy the occasional round of Titanfall 2), replaced by a steady diet of RPGs and narrative-heavy games (to be clear, Call of Duty never captured more than a month of my spare time; I’ve always been a fan of RPGs). In October, World of Final Fantasy released in America, giving gamers a new opportunity to experience monster catching in the beloved Final Fantasy saga. And, as a fan of the series, I was extremely excited.
But what World of Final Fantasy does better than any Pokemon game is craft a powerful narrative. While the basis of World of Final Fantasy is to capture a younger audience of gamers, it also serves as a legitimate side entry into the Final Fantasy name. Telling the story of Lann and Reynn, two siblings with the power to capture Mirages, as they try to find their mother and fulfill the crimson prophecy, World of Final Fantasy delivers a dark tale through and through. Filled with numerous plot twists and an impelling overarching narrative – one that stretches through to the post script – the game left me desiring a sequel.
Even its monster capturing techniques kept the game interesting, though slight limitations held it back from being something truly special. In order to capture a Mirage in World of Final Fantasy, you had to meet certain capture conditions. Whereas in Pokemon, you merely had to reduce the health of your enemy and maybe utilize a special Pokeball, World of Final Fantasy required you to, for example, deal massive damage in one attack, inflict Mirage-specific ailments (poison, sleep, etc.), evade an attack, and so on. The process, if continued, could lend a very heavy hand to the game’s success.
Nostalgia Ran out With Red
Outside of the fantastic World of Final Fantasy, I have to wonder why I don’t particularly enjoy Pokemon. My second theory is that, as a child, I only played up to Yellow. Last summer, I purchased Fire Red for GBA, and I absolutely loved it. That love is what pushed me to pre-order Pokemon Moon. But Pokemon Moon, like Y, didn’t excite me anywhere near the level of Fire Red, and I have to believe that my nostalgia drove my love. Unfortunately, it appears that my nostalgia ran out with Red. Truly, I feel like the loser in this situation. I know that I loved Red as a child and Fire Red as an adult, and I really felt like I was getting back into Pokemon. But the truth is, I think this may be my last Poke-rodeo.
Can there be a future?
I hope that something will click for me. My family and I go on the same vacation every summer, so perhaps I can rekindle the same magic that my last trip maintained. The best part of road trip vacations is that handhelds are really the only means of entertainment. With an approximately five hour drive ahead of me and nothing else to keep me entertained, I may be able to successfully return to the Pokemon world.
But while I’m on the topic, and to close out this particular feature, I ask for suggestions on which Pokemon games to play; which are the best and why. I look forward to hearing from you all, and my Pokemon probably hope so, too.