With the release of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon due in November this year and with the promise of yet more Pokémon added to the game and a new and improved storyline, it is worth taking a few moments to just appreciate that this massive franchise isn’t going anywhere.
I reviewed Pokémon Sun when it was released last year and I must admit; I was very impressed with the direction that the developers had decided to take the franchise. They tweaked the format ever so slightly and now it is a more enjoyable, less linear gaming experience.
Pokémon hit the world almost two decades ago (I was 11 years old when Red and Blue were released on the Game Boy) and ever since it has gathered an insane amount of momentum that is rarely seen from a gaming franchise. Red and Blue are now available to download on the Nintendo store and when I play it now, I realise just how solid that game was.
In a nutshell, the premise of the Pokémon series is a simple, yet oddly addictive one. You travel around and collect little creatures using a special ball, train them up and pound other trainers in the process. The object of the game is to defeat the gym leaders, beat the Elite Four and fill your Pokedex.
The series has spawned a television series, trading cards, toys, and models and Pikachu has become one of the most recognisable characters from any game in history. Plus, the recent phenomena of Pokémon Go has not only helped bring the franchise back into the limelight, but has also reinvigorated the love of the series for some of the older generation.
But why is Pokémon such a success?
When you look at the series and pull it apart, the success of this series can be attributed to a number of different reasons.
The first and most obvious is the simplicity of the game itself. Any age group can pick up this game and play it. Although it is not for everyone, it’s a game that has effectively been designed for all ages. Now, I will openly admit that these games have an element of grinding that people find off-putting, but you don’t even realise you are doing it. Instead, you are focused on catching that elusive Pokémon you have been trying to find for six hours, or figuring out a strategy to pound the gym leader that has been giving you a headache.
Another reason why this game is as successful as it is may be down to the fact that you must a basic understanding of tactics; catching and training certain types of Pokémon in order to take down some of the other trainers. While playing these games, I quickly learned that having one beastly Pokémon isn’t going to do me any good.
The trading card series was one of my first hobbies and I remember my parents paying me in booster packs, not money, for the chores I did around the house. I had thousands of the damn things, and although they have either been dumped in the tip or given away, some of the rarer cards are fetching huge sums of money online.
Pokémon is really the business plan that each gaming franchise needs to mimic if they ever want to reach the heights that this series has. By creating these creatures based on real-life animals and throwing them into a game, they have created a series that can honesty be classed next to Zelda and Mario as Nintendo’s flagship series.
Like it or love it, Pokémon isn’t going anywhere, and now with the Nintendo Switch storming the market, we can expect Gamefreaks to release their biggest game yet.
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