Pokémon’s Particular Nostalgia

Pokémon’s Particular Nostalgia

It’s hard to replay the old Pokémon games in their original hardware because the batteries they use to store game saves are dying. My Pokémon Red and Gold versions wouldn’t retain a save for more than a few hours the last time I tried to play them.

But it’s even harder to play them because they’re just getting so dated. The problem here isn’t the graphics, but the menu and battle systems. The original Gold and Silver were enough of an emprovement over Red and Blue that I can still play them without it feeling too clunky or dated.

Those were very worthy sequels, improved in all the right places, and they legitimately built upon the world by adding a whole new region to it and setting it right next to the old one (a trend that I wish more of the installments had followed).

The newer games are so much more polished and fluid in a lot of ways, some visible on the surface to players, others not so much. But enough has remained the same over fifteen years and half a dozen or so iterations that they still evoke the same nostalgia of “playing Pokémon,” even in the context of a new adventure filled with places and monsters that I don’t remember.

This makes Pokémon’s particular nostalgia stand out as fairly unique and interesting. Out of the games that I’ve played, it’s the only one that I can think of, that has retained that consistency of experience in all of the right places, even as it evolves.

Some gamers don’t like that because they want a game that’s entirely new every time. I’m more interested by the idea that if I pick up a new game in ten years to play it with my hypothetical children, it’ll still feel familiar to me, and there won’t be a learning curve that keeps me from playing along.

That’s hard to do. But I think that one of the things that Game Freak has done really well as a company is give people a shared experience that is easy for a lot of people to relate to regardless of their backgrounds, similar to reading a series of books or watching a television show.

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