Feature: The Bond Of a Pokémon - PodcastvsPlayer.com

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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Feature: The Bond Of a Pokémon

It's a strong, memorable part of a persons life, whether it was from the originals, or the latest incarnation, but it's a moment you never forget;
Your starter Pokémon.

I remember being sat in my kitchen, firing up my GameBoy, my friend Anthony sat at the other end of the kitchen table. Pokémon Red booting up on my GameBoy, Pokémon Blue in his.

I knew before I'd started which Pokémon I would be choosing, and as soon as I selected the Poké ball and that weird sprite appeared, I knew I'd made the right choice. Charmander chirped his 'growl' and I was happy.

As I traveled the region of Kanto, I found myself becoming attached to Charmander, with every battle he won I'd want to actually praise him, whilst the ones he lost, I'd worry how far the nearest Poké-centre was.
As you start the game at just a Level5, fights can take quite some time, but as your exp, grows, you cant help but feel a little proud of your little Poképal, a bond that's always going to continue through the game.
And that's where the clever bit reveals itself.
No matter what Pokémon you encounter and capture, your starter Pokémon is your favourite, your go to guy, the one you can rely on.

And thats where I think Nintendo hit the idea of Pokémon right on the head. You care about your Pokémon, especially your starter. Your first Pokémon is the one who's seen everything with you, been through all the hardships you've faced, saved you when some of your lower level Pokémon have sadly fainted. He's stood by you, and you're thankful for it.
The amount of time you've poured into making your starter stronger, reliable, has been time that you've found yourself bonded to the point of frustration.

You see, when you pick your starter Pokémon, your rival will choose his depending on element advantage (fire-water, water-grass, grass-fire), so no matter all the battles youve won, everytime you face your rival, you know that there's a good chance his starter will beat yours. That's not always the case, but when you lose, you feel angry, sad, but you don't give up. You weigh up his team against yours, and come up with a strategy; with your starter playing an intricate part.

The battles are playing in the standard RPG form of turn-based attacks.
As your Pokémon grows, it will go through a change known as evolving. You can prevent this from happening if you wish, but some attacks can only be learnt in their evolved forms. I opted to allow Charmander to evolve, from Charmander to Charmeleon, all the way through to Charizard. As did my rival, who ended up with a Blastoise (Squirtle>Wartortle>Blastoise). 
From Left: Charmander, Charmeleon, Charizard

From Left: Squirtle, Wartortle, Blastoise

 Obviously, your choice changes from game to game; Pokémon Yellow (based on the Anime series) see's you starting with a Pikachu.
My Gold/Silver starter was Totodile, the water Pokémon, as did my friend Davy.
As I started Silver (now in colour!) I felt the same feelings all over again. Totodile was my companion, and I knew we'd be seeing this adventure through to the end. Well, at least until I evolved him.

From Left: Totodile, Croconaw, Feraligatr

It wasn't until Pokémon Diamond/Pearl, that I became so attached to my starter Pokémon, Chimchar, that I didn't want him to evolve. Yeah, he was this cute fire-type monkey, but he seemed so much more characterised than my previous starters. I did end up trading to get another Chimchar, but that was because I wanted Infernape, which my Chimchar actually out-levelled on certain occasions, plus, it felt pretty good having both Chimchar and Infernape in my team.

Who's A Cutey

Pokémon is a game that stands out. It's aimed at children, as is the anime, the movies, the trading cards, but it appeals to adults in an entirely different way (well, except me, I'm a pretty geeky kid at heart). Pokémon proves that it's possible to care, almost love an entirely made up creature. A creature that you have raised, something that's helped you, fought for you, almost died for you. Your starter Pokémon are the special ones. The ones that make the journey worth taking, worth wasting hours and hours on. 
And you know what? They deserve every single second you care to give them.

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