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The Best and Worst of Pokémon

Posted on October 15, 2013 AT 12:21pm

When a new game in a long-standing series comes out, it always gets me thinking about their predecessors. With Pokémon X/Y out now, I can’t help but think about my favorite entries in the monster collecting series. Equally as tempting, is thinking about the most disappointing generation for me. While the best and worst in a series as consistently fun as Pokémon is really just nit-picking, join me for a moment while I explore both ends of the Pokémon polarity of quality.

My Favorite Generation -

It would always be easy for a new game in a series to simply offer you more of what you’ve already experienced. For the most part, Pokémon is not that series. With each new generation, you’ll find some gems that either subtle or overt greatly enhance the players experience with the game.

After having such huge success with Pokémon Red/Blue it would have been easy for them to simply create a new region, craft some new monsters and call it a day. That’s not the route they took when developing Pokémon Gold/Silver. Along with all of the aforementioned, and expected, changes for a sequel in the series, they actually looked long and hard at the game itself and made some huge changes that worked towards shaping the series in the future.

Additions to the game like: day and night cycles, held items, breeding, shiny Pokémon, Steel and Dark types and specialized pokéballs all helped to evolve the original experience in meaningful ways. Each of these features shook up the original formula in such a way that it felt like you were playing a game that was completely new, but still familiar. The sheer amount of new and significant features in the games, in my mind at least, has yet to be equalled by any game I can think of from either this or any other series.

Add to that, the inclusion of one of the best end-game surprises ever included. After beating the elite four, you can then travel back over to the Kanto region, from the first game, and collect all eight of the badges over there. Essentially this gives you a whole other game to complete once you’ve finished the original campaign. It’s also exciting to see what all of the characters from the first game have been up to in the years after. Even years later playing the DS remake of the games, Pokémon Heart Gold/Soul Silver, the magic was still there and it was able to make my choice easy for my favorite generation.

My Least Favorite Generation -

Perhaps being overshadowed by its predecessor, this generation not only failed to innovate in as dramatic a way as I wanted, but actually removed features. After adding so much to the series in Pokémon Gold/Silver, the third generation had some pretty large running shoes to fill. While still managing to be fun games, Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire simply didn’t add enough to make it seem just like more areas and monsters.

This is not to say that nothing came of this new generation, in fact it was quite the contrary. Double-battles, abilities and natures all made their debut in this game. The real surprise came when they actually removed features like the day/night cycle and the ability to import monsters from previous games. Thus creating a new game that should be steps forward, but in some ways felt like steps backward.

The other thing that rubbed me the wrong way with that generation, and this was just my experience, it felt like much more unattainable to capture all the Pokémon in the games. Part of this was just that the number had reached an all-new high, but with a few legendaries only being available as bonus content, it felt a little unfair. Since then, the addition of online trading, introduced first in Pokémon Diamond/Pearl has alleviated some of that, but at the time the task of catching them all felt out of my reach.

All that being said, I still enjoyed my time with the generation 3 games and played through the whole thing. It really just comes down to the fact that Nintendo set the bar way too high before and couldn’t innovate nearly as much on a series they’d added a great deal to not all that long before.

Where Do We Stand Now -

Now that I’ve gotten some hands-on time with Pokémon X/Y, I can already tell that it’s one of my favorites in the series. Yet again, they’ve taken a long hard look at the series and added a host of great new features to the series. They’ve also refreshed the look of the games with a breathtaking new graphical style which breathes new life into the previously two-dimensional series. I’ll have to wait until I’ve finished the game to be sure, but I really feel like this could be my new favorite.

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