Haven’t I already caught them all?

I remember that first time loading up the original Pokemon Red on my original Gameboy, watching as the two now famous beasties battled each other on the opening screen. I remember the joy of choosing Squirtle (and committing to Squirtle every run thereafter) and watching him grow in strength and evolve. As recently as last month, I found a Pokemon Red strategy guide from 4th grade, replete with check marks next to each Pokemon I captured. And there, I smiled in nostalgia, perfect visualization of my childhood bedroom and my friend, Kevin, together searching for Pokemon. That was when my world was filled with naivety.

Now? Well, I know that I’ve learned, and through knowledge I’ve grown my intellect. The hypocrisy in all facets of the world leave me speechless, and I’m dumbfounded at the pure ignorance of every side of every argument I’ve ever heard. Hell, my angst has even begun to spread into the video game industry, where I’ve written a hard piece on the pandering of developers and the fuel for success (hint: it’s about money, not art). Pokemon has become one of the least interesting franchises in my opinion for various reasons, most of which are simply personal preferences.

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Yes, I’ve begun this feature deep within a dark place, but I promise you that light awaits. I write this article for the purpose of expressing my tempered excitement. Pokemon has a long and chronicled existence filled with innovation, stagnation, and reiterations. But for me and my hiatus – dating back to Pokemon Yellow (this was the last title I played until I recently purchased Fire Red) – Pokemon Sun and Moon mark the re-emergence of my anticipation. Why? I’m not sure.

Pokemon Fire Red grabbed my attention and rekindled my childhood. After all, it’s an updated version of the game that filled my younger years with bliss. Over the summer, it commandeered my vacation car time, and I logged far too many hours in the short weeks I played it. Before the end of the vacation, I pre-ordered Moon. But here’s my ultimate challenge and question: Will I become as enthralled with Pokemon Moon as I was with Fire Red, or did Fire Red only succeed based on nostalgic value alone?

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To that, I can’t answer specifically; I won’t know until I’ve played Moon. What I can offer are reasons why I may enjoy Moon more than I may believe. Throughout the lifespan of Pokemon, the franchise has stayed alive by updating and rehashing tired gameplay and graphics. While the series hasn’t perfected its craft yet, it has tapped into an extremely addicting ideology of gameplay that captures young audiences and holds most of them for decades. For me, a veteran of RPGs with a growingly impatient pallet with the genre, Pokemon Moon offers the most significant upgrades in the series in quite some time.

Let me mention, however, that I have been pretty successful at lingering in the shadows of knowledge regarding the content for Pokemon Moon and Sun. I do this for a few reasons; the first being that, in staying blissfully ignorant, I can fully enjoy the entirety of Moon without spoiling any plot piece or Pokemon evolution; the second being that I enjoy discovering new Pokemon, so the last thing I want to see before playing is the set list of new Pokemon.

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I hope that Pokemon Moon and Sun can rekindle my love for the Pokemon franchise. After the financial success but longevity failure (in my opinion) of Pokemon GO, a new shade of jade blanketed my heart, darkening my  Poke-vision. As such, will Pokemon burn and whimper like an ember in the wind, or will it find a lasting place in my heart like its origin? Time can only tell, and with the game in hand this upcoming Friday, I shall soon have the answer.

How do you feel about the direction(s) the Pokemon franchise has taken? Do you believe Sun and Moon will continue the trend of success, or do you, too, question the redundancy of a franchise spanning well over a decade? Much like the questions that linger about Final Fantasy (XV in particular) for me, I tepidly await the 18th of November.

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