Thursday, September 23, 2010
The Pokemon Empire
And I was totally part of their target audience, who played the video games, collected the cards, and watched the TV show. For a period of time, my brother and I received our allowance in the form of a pack of Pokemon cards. (Looking back, man were we nerds.)
Each pack of Pokemon game cards came with ten cards, including one rare card, and remember how cheated you would feel if that rare card was a stupid Energy card or trainer help card rather than that holographic Charizard you were holding out for? Whenever that happened, my whole Saturday would take a nosedive. What a waste! And I would lament having to wait all the way until next week to get a non-sucky pack, rather than an Energy card and my three-thousandth Weedle card. Pokemon has the ‘mystery’ factor when you purchased a pack, unlike Pogs, for example.
Also unlike Pogs, I did know how to play the trading card game, and it was a bit more complex. It involved attaching energy cards to your Pokemon in order to ‘attack’ and ‘damage’ your opponent’s card. Status changes (poisoning, putting your opponent to sleep, etc.) and trainer cards helped you to emerge victorious. The rules were fairly numerous, but relatively easy to grasp. Looking back, the trading card game really was a good game.
The video games were fun, too, and this is also where Nintendo’s brilliance really floors me. Because there are currently four ‘different’ generations of video games, which is basically the same quest with minor differences in the storyline and new Pokemon. In each generation, there are three different games (For example, Generation 1 in the US was Red, Blue, and Yellow), which are EXACTLY the same but with different Pokemon found in each version. That way, Nintendo tries to get you to purchase all three.
And now, the most nefarious part of Nintendo’s scheme, in my opinion: When they’re between generations, in order to make more money, they just RERELEASE old versions with better graphics! FireRed and LeafGreen were remakes of Generation 1, and soon HeartGold and SoulSilver, remakes of Generation 2’s Gold and Silver version, will hit the shelves. Nintendo is, basically, making double the money on the SAME GAME. (And yes, I know that these versions also have slight differences to reflect the updated canon of the Pokemon universe, but still! Same game! SAME GAME!) And people would buy them! People who had Red version would shell out the money for FireRed, just because it looked better!
The verdict? Pokemon was actually a great card/video game series until Nintendo went absolutely crazy and expanded the franchise to extremes. I guess I can’t blame them—if people are willing to buy Pokemon pillowcases, why shouldn’t they make them? However, the sad thing is that the video games seem to be the center of the franchise now, when it definitely used to be the card game, which I thought was really a fun game. I guess the relative simplicity of the card game can’t hold the attention of kids today, who are always looking towards the cutting edge.
Next time, I’m going to tackle that freaky little android that haunts so many of our dreams—FURBY.