By Becca Mander
Like every good franchise, Pokemon can seem inexplicable to the outsider; to the alien who has just landed and has laid eyes on two twenty year olds shouting at each other over what would appear at first glance to be a children’s card game. It would take a while to explain to that alien that this is a card game full of logic and intrigue, hiding behind a mask that is peppered with cute characters that give that childish allure. It would take longer still to teach that alien the mass appeal of Pokemon. But we insiders, we pride ourselves in knowing all about it.
However, I’m not ashamed to admit that there are a couple of things about Pokemon that I just can’t get my head around, particularly in the video games; if we’re being specific, the earlier ones. Let’s see if you know what I’m talking about.
The increase in price and effectiveness of dropped items on the floor as the protagonist progresses through the game is a superficial concern; Potions and Pokeballs can be randomly found on the floor near the beginning of the game because, of course, that’s what rookie trainers carry, and rookie trainers begin and the beginning, naturally. But what puzzles me is why people obsessively seem to drop expensive items like Ultra Balls and Full Restores left, right and centre. The protagonist never seems to drop any of his/her items (unless of course you ‘toss’ things manually, blowing a big wet raspberry to the environmentally friendly folks). Who are these clumsy wanderers? And what’s with the invisible items? I’m all for acknowledging that some items could be considered to be hidden behind bushes or under those little pixel flowers, but who goes up to a bush to (deliberately, it seems) drop an item out of sight? And what about those plain stretches of grass/road that ‘conceal’ an invisible item? It all seems very magical. Don’t get me started on why they’re all shaped like a Pokeball.
HMs and TMs
I love that you’re able to teach moves to your Pokemon this way. I would much rather force ‘Psychic’ on my Espeon now than waiting till it reaches the dizzying heights of level 64. But when I look at the TM sprite within my bag, I see that it appears to be a compact disc-like object. How on earth are Pokemon learning anything from these? I like to think that maybe they have a hidden disc drive that the trainer simply opens up like an Apple Mac. Maybe the protagonist carries a CD player at all times, and the Pokemon learns the moves through a sort of Rosetta Stone-style ‘listen and repeat’ process, although it appears pretty much instantaneous during the game. Some tinkly music and there you have it, an Espeon with a fully-functioning ‘Psychic’ attack. How convenient!
Breaking Going into people’s houses
Not many people lock their doors in the Pokemon world, so feel free to trespass till your heart’s content. In the earlier games, some folks even leave (Pokeball-shaped) items on their tables that you’re encouraged to walk in and take. These houses only seem to have one or two rooms, as well. The contents of these mainly comprise a fridge, a window, a sink, a bookcase, a TV and a table with a mug on it. Upstairs, you might get lucky and find a rug. No toilets, though. What awesomely compact little lives these NPCs seem to lead.
They don’t sleep, get ill, get hungry, or need to relieve themselves. They don’t shower, wash, clean their teeth, or even brush their hair. They must stink – and this isn’t unique to pixelated Pokemon people, either. You never see Mario do any of this stuff,
So these feisty critters have been burnt to a cinder by both flame and lightning, drenched in water, had their brains frazzled by psychic assault and accosted continually with every type of punch and kick. They’ve been poisoned, paralysed and frozen in a block of ice, and then crammed into a tiny ball. Pokemon, I salute you sincerely, for how you manage this without eating, dying or catching a wasting disease I would love to know. That machine in the Pokemon Centre must truly be a feat of modern engineering. I’d also really like to know why the only virus you can catch makes you even stronger. You amaze me!
None of this stuff matters in the slightest – they are simply some of the puzzling quirks surrounding the Pokemon video games. After all, aren’t they meant to be a wonderful way to escape from reality? You couldn’t do that if you had to worry about guiding Brendan to the nearest Poke-WC every time nature called.