Sunday, January 24, 2016

But I don't wanna catch em all!

With the Japanese 20th anniversary of Pokemon quickly approaching it's difficult not to hear about all the memories and fervor the series has given throughout the years. Being from the states we had to wait almost two and a half years later to receive these games, but boy do I remember it fondly. Pokemon Red was one of the very few brand new games that I ever bought myself, ever. I scraped together money from chores and asked my Mom if she would pick me up a copy from her work, using her work discount. When she brought it home I was ready to dive in to a brand new experience, a brand new world and what I had yet to foresee, take part in what would become a worldwide phenomenon.

One thing I need to say right now is that Pokemon is often looked down upon as being a kiddy game, which wasn't the case with the first two series. What drew me into the world of Pokemon was my freshly budding love for RPGs. Only a few years prior did I acquired and complete Final Fantasy, my first ever RPG, and that gave way to many, many more experiences with RPGs. So with the added aspect of collection things, battling and raising things, Pokemon quickly become an experience I had to dive into!

At the time Pokemon was becoming popular it seemed as if they were mixing many of the top pop culture ideas; Tamagotchi in the raising aspect, and RPG elements to battle monsters you've just caught. What was a sixteen year old kid to do? Pop that bright red cartridge into his black Play it Loud Gameboy and get lost in the world of collecting and battling, which is exactly what I did.

This also caused me a bit of an issue with my then girlfriend, who, looking back, seemed a bit needy for all my attention to be put on her and not playing Pokemon. This lack of attention culminated in her asking to borrow my (complete in box mind you) copy of Pokemon Red and never returning it, ever. All that time spent and all the Pokemon I had were lost. It wasn't until nearly 11 years later that I bought another copy of Pokemon Red. I sadly have to say I still haven't completed the game.

It was also a more recent time that I bought a copy of Pokemon Gold and Silver as well. Becoming more familiar with the batteries being dead in them, I replaced the battery in Pokemon Gold and gave it a good go all the way to the final boss, which had me so frustrated that I just left the game alone for so long that the new, exceedingly cheap battery replacement died too, losing all that data. I still haven't completed Pokemon Gold yet either.

It seems as though the twenty-teens (2010s) were the years I would acquire Pokemon as within a matter of a 3 years I bought Pokemon Red, Blue, Gold, Silver and I even found a copy of Pokemon Emerald! Finally, I was moving up to the big leagues. I had arrived at the third generation of Pokemon and I was ready to see what I had been missing out on, as by this time the fifth generation was out and well established.

What I found was a massive disconnection within myself with the series. Playing through Pokemon Red again rekindled that fire that I felt all those years ago. Starting a new save with Pokemon Gold lit a completely new fire within me that built upon the fun that Pokemon Red started, but when it came to Pokemon Emerald, I felt numb. I didn't feel anything.

The passion for the first two generations was still there, and still is, yet with Emerald the graphics were better, the game was much brighter and it just felt like a thrown together mess. A cash grab that was reaching too far and should have been cut off long before it got to this stage. You can change the color of the cartridge, you can change the title, you can change the story and add a few elements but for me Pokemon Emerald just feels like it's not pushing the series in any new direction.

 Maybe I'm an old fuddy-duddy and I don't quite understand Pokemon beyond generations 1 and 2. I would be open to exploring Fire Red, Leaf Green or even Heart Gold and Soul Silver, just to see if the revamped versions of what I like are any good. Perhaps that would unlock the door to understanding the new generations, but for now I'll stick with my two generations of Pokemon. I'll catch all those Pokemon and fill out those pokedex, but until I see any reason to move forward, this is where I'll stay.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Emulation and Me.

I've tried my best to make it clear that this blog is about my passion for collecting not only video game consoles, accessories and so forth, but the video games themselves. When the subject of emulation and ROMs crop up I face it straight on by giving an answer that most people can't quite wrap their heads around. In modern society it seems as if the majority of people either think left or they think right, and there is no middle ground to be had, which I strongly disagree with. Do I support emulation for the sheer sake of using them instead of the original hardware? No, but I don't see them as evil ways to rip off hard working game designers either.

Emulators were first brought to my attention about 1996 maybe 97, as a means of playing old games, and yes even back then, even with NES games being a dime a dozen, they were still not readily available around where I grew up. Mainly I would play Super Mario hacks or some fun variation of a NES game that I already owned. One thing you always heard when it came to ROMs was that legally you couldn't hold on to a ROM for more than 24 hours unless you owned a physical copy of the game, which is partially why I am the way I am today.

While my Wii is soft modded and loaded with an SD card of ROMs and emulators, I choose the middle ground that so many people just can't seem to find or understand. I use emulators and ROMs as a way to test and see if I want to own a physical copy of a game. I'm not saying that this is unique to myself, I'm sure it's not, but it seems in the majority of cases in-which Emulation and ROMs come up people either think they're evil ways of ripping off a company or an alternative to the original hardware and software for any given system.

Even though I've been a gamer for over half of my life I still don't know every single detail about every single game ever released, and this is where emulation and ROMs help me greatly. Often times I'll hear or see something online that brings a game to my attention that I've never heard about before but may want to try out. Instead of rushing to ebay, Amazon or to a local used game store and trying to track one down in the best condition at the lowest price, it's just easier to emulate the game for a little bit and see if all the hassle would even be worth it.

Obviously I don't emulate any disc based games, as I find it easier to just watch a Let's Play on Youtube and see if I feel the excitement of playing that game myself and making my own decisions while playing it. I also can't deny that I use this to experience games I could otherwise never obtain, something such as Little Samson or translated Mother 3. I even own a few Famicom games that I wish I could understand, yet they're all in Japanese, so it's much easier to find a fan translation to play through.

I believe emulation has its place within the video gaming spectrum. Some may demonize it, others may depend on it, but I feel that it could easily be used as a tool to spark interest in a very fulfilling hobby. Think of ROMs more as a demo of a game, or a trial play through. If you download a demo to your console and don't like it, you delete it and forget about it, but if you liked that game you play the demo to it's completion and then start tracking down a copy of the game itself.