Why Pokemon Is One Of The Greatest Video Game Franchise Of All Time
Gaming franchises are the supporting skeletal structure that the fleshy meat of the medium drapes itself over. Every year the clamour for new games is only fractionally focused on fresh titles, with the bulk of all feverish excitement instead directed at the latest instalment of an old favourite.
Balance Of Story And Freedom
If you were of the correct age and inclination to buy the second generation of Pokemon games – Gold, Silver, and Crystal – then chances are the little clock that greeted you on loading your save eventually crept over the 100 hours mark. In fact, it probably went over the 200 hour mark as well, or 300 if you were an only child whose parents preferred to drive on holiday instead of flying (shoutout to my mother).
That’s nearly two weeks of solid gameplay without the trouble or inconvenience of sleeping and feeding yourself. Ask yourself how many other games even have the potential for people to invest that much time into them, whilst maintaining a constant level of engagement. It’s not many.
The story is about as big as you can get for an RPG on a handheld, but the longevity of the title is nothing to do with playing the core plot to its conclusion – you can do that in a few days. What makes it unrivalled in its field is just how much of the game opens up to you at the completion of the story. Whole new areas of the map, specific events to catch even rarer Pokemon, the ability to breed virtually anything you want; the world that you’re now the champion of becomes one of gaming’s all time greatest sandboxes.
Recently, more games have tried to experiment with, simply, letting you play after you’d finished. After the main quest in Skyrim you can still needlessly horde pots and the guards have a few new lines of dialogue. Big woop. When you finished Gold and Silver you got to board a train and go back to play Red and Blue again just for the hell of it.
That’s right, Nintendo gave Pokemon players an entire other game for free as a reward for finishing the one they paid for. Destiny are charging players for emotions and ammo.
For every Mario there’s a Sonic, for every FIFA there’s a Pro Evo, for every COD there’s a Battlefield, for every Elder Scrolls there’s a Dragon Age, for every GTA there’s a Saints Row. For every Pokemon, there’s a… nope, still nothing. Nothing that offers the same experience, nothing that tries to steal the same audience, nothing that delivers a creature-driven adventure with micro-management, battles and collectables at the core of its gameplay.
A few games have tried – the initial launch at the turn of millennium saw pretty stiff competition from the subtly-titled Digimon – but the few titles that have gained any traction have fallen flat for a number of reasons. Enchanted Arms offered a lot of similar features, but failed to create the sort of world that would have been the platform for a long-running franchise, where as Dragomon, Battle of Beasts and Monster Squad have all attracted critical acclaim in the last few years but been restricted to comparably tiny audiences.
The key point here isn’t that Pokemon is such a great franchise because it’s got no competition, it’s that Pokemon has no competition because it’s such a great franchise.
For nearly 20 years now, as so many other great games have come, gone, become retro classics and then been revived and gone again, Pokemon’s been a constant source of adventure and escapism for entire generations of gamers. Here’s to many more, and (at least) another 20!
Source – Whatculture
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