An Adult’s Primer Guide to Getting Back into Pokemon

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Alright let’s check our attitudes at the door and get this out of the way now: Confess to yourself right now that you’re still interested in Pokemon. Admit it. Now. Ok. Alright then.

Despite the inclusion of five new generations of weird monsters, mega evolutions, and a couple of new element types the fundamentals of Pokemon remain intact. The creed of ” Gotta catch ’em all!” still applies in full forces, along with the unspoken rules: subjugate all  and humiliate all foes. Ever been Trap Room-ed?

Wait, I thought there were only 150? Well now there’s 720 (and counting).

Seriously? Is Pokemon still this big a deal? Yes.

So what’s still so interesting about these games? Competition is what keeps Pokemon alive throughout all these years. Despite the simplicity of its paper-scissors-rocks styled fights the sheer amount of moves, team combinations and breeding possibilities means an almost infinite amount of team combinations. Not to mention Nintendo routinely runs official tournaments with varying themes. The latest is the upcoming Pikachu Cup: an all electric-type tournament where if Pikachu is the most commonly used in the tournament, a specialized Pikachu will be sent to participants. The rules are stupid but the effort is there. This is also not to mention global live tournaments also hosted annually by Nintendo. If you were inclined to take the game that seriously, there is a prize at the end of that road.

I want to attempt the insane task of collecting them all. What then? If getting your ass kicked online in all likelyhood by either Japanese children or 27 year-old American men isn’t your thing, collecting is thankfully just as addicting as brutalizing.

Aside from roaming the in-game world for these little bastards, you will also need to rely on trading with other real-life trainers to fill your checklist. Online trading is extremely fun if you play your cards right. For starters, the feature called Wonder Trade is the best new feature modern Pokemon games has provided. You can trade whatever you want to a cloud network where you will be set up for blind trades. You’d be right to predict a boatload of shitty low-level pokemon coming your way, but I’ve personally obtained lots of rare monsters thanks to mystery benefactors. It’s the lowest risk version of gambling around, specially designed for children.

Along with blind trades players can utilize the Global Trade System (GTS) to find specific pokemon. This system only works if you are offering something popular, or are very specific about what you want since looking for fair trades on GTS is akin to getting having your weird doujinshi fan-fiction coming to life. Just kidding. But seriously, if you’re writing that shit please stop it. If you don’t know what that is, please don’t look it up. Trades tend to be of the lopsided variety, where every listing at least contains 20 demands for rarities and legendaries monsters.

Cool, but I’m, like, a busy person? Why should I care? The best argument I have is that Pokemon is the perfect portable game. Truly it’s the only reason the DS and Nintendo’s portable lines still exist. It’s easy to jump into but enormously difficult to master. You could spend weeks just trying to craft a statistically-perfect Charmander that will grow into an angel of death, in an attempt to assemble the perfect team. That’s also to say there is no such thing as a perfect team, since everything has a weakness, but whatever.

It’s that level of strategy that keeps older gamers coming back. It distills the simplest elements of RPGs and makes it digestible in bite-sized portions. This is something that could easily be played on trains, on planes, and yes even in automobiles. If your quest is to become the best fighter, online competition is like your disappointed step-dad that tells you to your face that you’re not good enough but will become furious when you stop trying. You might be able to beat a few scrubs but the serious trainers out there will floor your punk ass.

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Alright, I’m sorta interested. Which one should I buy? The latest game is Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire which was released last November. It’s a remake of 2003’s Ruby & Sapphire utilizing 2013’s X&Y engine. It has the most features of all the games and is the most online capable. It has most of the best elements of X&Y, though X&Y is much kinder (and shorter) for beginners.

If your appetite is to go retro, the Gameboy Color’s Gold/Silver is widely considered the best generation by gamers  who likely refer to their DS’ as Gameboys. As for older DS games, Black/White and Diamond/Pearl were largely forgettable. Soul Silver/Heart Gold versions are solid remakes of the original Silver/Gold and are (again) arguably the best of the generations. It is very grind heavy and slower paced than the newer games, but I suppose you can’t rush classics.

Can you trade somehow between past generations? Like DS to 3DS? Or older ones like from the GBA to the 3DS? It’s a complicated answer, so the short answer is no. The long answer is yes, but with a number of annoying stipulations. Many of which require you practically own the entire Nintendo DS family line. Or you could hack the game, which is a tried and true method. But that’s frowned upon. Especially by Pokemon’s game servers which (sometimes) catches frauds then ban cartridges that produce them from online participation.

If I can’t catch these damn monsters on my own, how can I get them? Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire are the best entries for this. You can utilize two wonderful apps: Wondertrade and GTS. Wondertrade is a blind trade randomizer. You offer up whatever pokemon you want and it’ll be shipped into holding online. You’ll instantly engage in a random trade. I’ve personally gotten extraordinary rarities like event pokemon and shiny variants this way by way of merciful benefactors. GTS, on the other hand, can be a pain in the ass to work with. Even for common pokemon, there are countless players online who clog listings demanding impossible trades. Mewtwo for a regular Pikachu? Fuck you dude.

Charmander and Slowpoke at the Park final

Will I ever catch them all? In all likelihood you never will. A select 16 are only obtainable through official distributions from Nintendo themselves. Of which happen seldom in North America. The rest you’ll have to barter for either through friends directly or (more likely) strangers online without any direct means of communication (which is for the best).

These games are too easy. Yeah, the newer games got faster in tempo. Leveling up and grinding cash is almost effortless in X&Y, while cash is always tight in ORAS. The original games were grind fests where all fights more boiled down to barreling through gyms at high levels. Nowadays types and specific stats count more than levels. The remakes of generation two are probably the biggest of all the games, but also among the toughest. They also included dozens of legendary from past generations.

However if the games overall are just too easy for you (because let’s face it, they aren’t exactly THAT complicated), fans have developed custom rules they impose on themselves to toughen the game. The more popular of which is to turn the game more rouge-like by making pokemon knockouts count as permanent “deaths.” Pokemon KO call for the release of that KO’d monster, while trainer KOs call for a total restart. But like every game ever, how you choose to play is always up to you.

What tips do you recommend so I don’t get my ass kicked? There are some things to keep in mind when trying to make actually good teams. The first of which is just mess around and toy with different pokemon. The lamest looking are often the most deceptive hiding extremely valuable moves. Not to mention trying different pokemon gives you an idea of what you want in a team and what sort of strategy you can build off of that. Sure you could try to bludgeon your way through most of your opponents, and it might works a couple of times, but eventually the same plan get seen through.

Once you’ve found the pokemon your looking to use create the best version of them through selective breeding. Breeding gets complicated but it’s a necessity if you’re going to take people on online. And with each version comes different ways to breed efficiently. There are tons of sites out there offering tips about breeding, but here’s one that offers the very basics (the author assumes you’re using ORAS). I’m not going to get into detail about IVs, EVs, hidden abilities, natures and all that other shit. We’re just starting out here.

Sites like Serebii.net and Bulbapedia are useful when figuring out what you need. Especially Serebii.net which is updated with Pokemon information like evolution conditions, overall stats, and event-only pokemon releases on the regular. Smogon is considered the defacto home of serious competitive Pokemon by a pretty large community. Plus much of their information is rock solid too, offering strategies and pokemon combinations if you’re looking for guidance. Plus its site is really cool, try messing around with its Attackdex page.

Ok, looks easy. Shouldn’t have too hard a time. Sure, when you’re sitting around reading spreadsheets and tables. Until a single pokemon comes along, picks you up by your dumb-ass pocket protector, and slaps the shit out of you while recounting its enchanting evening with your mom. In seriousness, get ready to lose. A lot. Pokemon’s fanbase is very, very dedicated to winning. Meaning to become the best you’re going to have to invest a disgusting amount of time into the game.

So what do you think? Ready to get started again?

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