By Ian Vandaelle
It’s been 15 years, more than 200 million games sold and more creatures than most can count, but Pokemon is still going strong, both in our hearts and our hands. The epic journeys of trainers worldwide continues with this past weekends launch of Pokemon Black and White, which has introduced another 156 Pokemon that will confuse anyone who can remember when there were only 151 of them (let alone who remembers the old “Missingno” trick.) So come, take a stroll down memory lane and reflect on how far we’ve come and see Ian’s highly suspect list of the best and worst.
GENERATION 1 (POKEMON RED, BLUE AND YELLOW):
Ah, the good old days in Kanto. Back when debates raged on about who was better: Squirtle, Charmander or Bulbasaur, or whether you could catch a Pikachu in Veridian Forest. The screen on the old Gameboy Colour wasn’t backlit, meaning that finding Articuno in the Seafoam Islands was damn near impossible to do in the evening or god forbid, in the car. It was a simpler time, a time when Eevee only had three possible evolutions, there was only one Porygon and you had to choose between Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee at the Dojo. A more elegant time, when the only Pokemon with genders started as Nidorans, you wanted to punch Lt. Surge and his stupid hidden switches and you had to discover who the hell was running the Pokemon PC.
BEST OF THE GENERATION: GENGAR
Gengar was near impossible to hit, grinned like the Cheshire Cat, had strong attacks and was cool as hell. ‘Nuff said.
GENERATION 2 (POKEMON GOLD AND SILVER):
The world grew a little bigger in the second-generation as the new continent Johto was introduced, along with 100 new Pokemon, a day and night system, Pokemon who apparently grew junk and started making eggs and specialized Poke Balls. They stuck with the tried and true Grass, Water and Fire starter Pokemon, the resident Poke-expert still can’t figure out if you’re a boy or a girl and your rival is still a jerk. There were 16 badges to collect this time around, you could fight your old protagonist on top of a mountain (which seems somewhat dangerous) and there was a big gold bird in a burntout tower. You even got to chase legendary dog Pokemon all over the world, like some kind of sick dog catcher holding a deep vendetta against your quarry.
BEST OF THE GENERATION: TYRANITAR
Tyranitar is essentially a dinosaur made of rock. It weighs 450 lbs and can cause earthquakes.
GENERATION 3 (POKEMON RUBY AND SAPPHIRE):
I hated these games. There, I said it. They were the low water mark of the franchise. Yeah, there were 135 new Pokemon introduced, none of whom are worthy of mention here. The world became smaller again (only one continent) and time apparently ceased to exist. The villains were eco-terrorists, for god’s sake. They wanted to change the climate of the region for no discernibly sane reason, and for some reason a 13-year-old was the only one who could stop them. I realize that, apparently, there is no police presence or discernible legislative system in these settings, but COME ON. Fortunately for the franchise, Ruby and Sapphire introduced double battles, allowing trainers to fight 2-on-2. This is the only saving grace.
BEST OF THE GENERATION: SHARPEDO
The name says it all. This is a shark-torpedo crossbreed. Is there anything more awesome?
GENERATION 4 (POKEMON DIAMOND AND PEARL):
Pokemon made its triumphant return in the fourth generation, thankfully putting eco-terrorists on the back burner, though the new villains wanted to destroy and recreate the world, which was weird. These games also introduced something Pokefans were always afraid of: new Pokemon designs started to run thin, as 107 new monsters were introduced, many of whom made no sense at all. These included the grinning Venus fly trap Carnivine, the three-faced honeycomb monster Combee and what appears to be a miniature hot air balloon with eyes, Drifloon. This generation also introduced an underground world, which confused everyone and has thankfully been abandoned, as no one picked up Pokemon to wander around underground.
BEST OF THE GENERATION: LUXRAY
It’s a Thundercat. A thundercat with awesome electric attacks and a mean growl. Thundercats are go!
GENERATION 5 (POKEMON BLACK AND WHITE):
This generation introduces something odd and a little unsettling. The “villains” seem to actually be good guys. Team Plasma is a group that seeks to free Pokemon from human oppression and tries to stop people using them for fighting. They’re trying to shut down the equivalent of a million Michael Vicks. And they’re the bad guys. Uhh, okay then. Black and White attempt to show the duality of man and nature (or so they claim) and the whole place is based on New York. It also adds 156 Pokemon to the stable, many of which are as dumbfounding as the previous generations introduction. There’s even one that becomes a progressively larger ice cream sundae, and another that seems to be entirely comprised of garbage.
BEST OF THE GENERATION: LIEPARD
Just look at those eyes. They positively drip with disdain. Plus I haven’t played the game, so judging the best Pokemon is difficult.
THE TRUE POKE-ABOMINATIONS
Yes, that’s an ice cream cone that can apparently be used in battle. How getting your opponent’s fingers all sticky became a battle plan is beyond me.
Spoink is what children’s nightmares are made of. A pig that has lost its legs in a tragic farming accident and is forced to bounce around on its tail, silently wishing for death. To make matters worse (or perhaps better for the poor little guy), if it stops bouncing, it will immediately die.