(You don’t) gotta catch ’em all
When I was a kid growing up on Pokémon, I thought that the way I played was the only way. Of course, with a few years on me and multiple generations to work with, I’ve opened my mind to the various different ways that gamers experience the brilliant world of Pokémon. These are the best four ways I know of to play any of the series’ installments. Keep reading to find a play style that suits you or for a good challenge the next time you play.
This is my preferred way to play, especially when experiencing a new generation. Essentially, you collect as many Pokémon as you can as you move through the game. That doesn’t mean picking up the weird Pokémon that you hate for unfair reasons (I’m really judgmental about Pokémon appearance), but it does mean catching just about everything else.
Benefits: You get to have and train all of the Pokémon that you’ve ever wanted. Forget choosing, just grab everything and go. I also find this method is useful for comparing relative strengths and weaknesses between Pokémon with type similarity. Is it better to roll with a Butterfree or a Vivillon? You can find out which works best for you from experience.
Challenges: Having a lot of Pokémon is nice, but training them all is a pain. If you’re willing to put in the extra man hours, you’ll end up with a PC full of beasty companions. In the later generations, training a lot of Pokémon isn’t too hard, since any Pokémon that appears in battle gets full experience instead of a fraction like in the older games. Still, it can be rather tedious to switch all of your Pokémon in and out. If you like to speed through the game, this probably isn’t the method for you. Keep in mind, though, that it’s perfectly fine to cut some Pokémon out as you go.
The six-man team
For me, this is the classic method of play. I used to sit down with a book of Pokémon and map out my team. To be clear, this method means picking six Pokémon and sticking to them the entire game. That means you want to be careful about the typing and abilities of your Pokémon. You also don’t want the majority of your team to only be available late game.
Benefits: Having only six Pokémon enables you to grow close with your team. You’ll learn what combos work best and what situations each of your team members excel in. Plus, this way saves you a bit of money on Pokéballs, which you can use instead on potions, revives, rare candies, and TMs. You’ll also save a bit of time avoiding the PC swap outs.
Challenges: You really have to do your research to succeed in this method of play. Map everything out ahead of time to know when you’ll be able to acquire each new team member, what they will bring to the team, and what they are weak against. You don’t want to end up with a whole team of defensive players who can’t deal out damage (although that could be an interesting challenge in itself). Also, having only six Pokémon available to you means that a fair deal of them will have to take on HM moves such as surf and strength. This can hinder a Pokémon’s move set if you aren’t careful. Be sure to plan accordingly.
The nine-man team
This is like it sounds: a lot like the six-man team but with three more in the crew. You may have a core six and three alternates that you train alongside the rest and use when they are most needed.
Benefits: This gives a bit more flexibility to the ideas present in the six-man team while providing many of the same benefits. You will still become very familiar with each of your Pokémon, but you’ll also have more tactics available to you. Where a six-man team might have a type that it is particularly weak against, your three-man extension can compensate for that.
Challenges: Similarly to the six-man team, you will need to do your research ahead of time. You’ll have to spend a bit more time at the PC switching Pokémon in and out. You’ll also have to anticipate your needs for certain battles and situations ahead of time so that you can be sure to bring the right assets.
The one-man team
This is one that I have never personally tried, but I’m hoping to give it a go someday. You get one Pokémon to play through the game with. Now that is a tiny bit misleading, since you will need to have some side Pokémon available for HM moves, but they aren’t to be used for battle (no cheating!).
Benefits: This is a hard one. The main benefits lie in the joy of novelty and challenge. Of course, one thing to consider is that this single Pokémon will be getting all of the experience from trainers and gym battles throughout the game. Whichever Pokémon partner you pick will get strong and fast, probably remaining levels above the competition.
Challenges: The most important thing to consider here is versatility. You don’t want a Pokémon that has many type weaknesses or few type advantages. You particularly don’t want to find yourself with a Pokémon who has no tools against a Ghost-type Pokémon, just as one example.
One Final Tip
Always play with a friend! No matter what method you choose to utilize, it’s always fun to have someone moving through the game alongside of you. It’s good to have someone to show off your team to. Plus, winning every now and then is a nice confidence boost and gives the game lasting enjoyability. What better way to bond with your Pokémon than to destroy a live opponent?
My go to Pokémon partner is my brother. We’ve played literally every generation together since we first got our Gameboys. Our battle system has grown more and more advanced over time. These days, we meet up every two levels for a battle, and once every ten levels for a tournament–our last one had me up until two in the morning.
The buddy system is especially viable these days since you don’t have to sit face to face with a wire between your handhelds in order to play with a friend. Thank you, internet connection! There’s no excuse–build your team, be social, and have fun.