Pokémon: Mewtwo and all that remains

I have to admit there’s something of an oversight in my last post. Given that I was facing opponents stronger than my own pokémon, why don’t I just catch some of them? Then I’d have pokémon just as powerful as what I was facing.

Mainly it’s just habit. Throughout the game, I’ve been trying to raise the strongest pokémon I could, and that means catching them at low levels and raising them by hand.

Also, my ultimate goal wasn’t just to successfully face the random encounters in the Unknown Dungeon, but rather, to face and capture Mewtwo, the single most powerful pokémon in the game. I didn’t really know if I could face him. Sure, I had the Master Ball, but would it be enough? What if I threw it and missed? Maybe I would have to put him to sleep first, like I did for the Legendary Birds.

Anticlimactically, this turned out not to be the case. When I finally reached the end of the dungeon, the fight was over with a single lob. Huzzah! Mewtwo is mine, and is now named Adrian. As a result, there is nothing left in the game that poses any difficulty. Completing my pokédex to the extent that I can is just a matter of spending the time to fill in the gaps.

Some of the remaining types can be caught, but a few must be evolved. The strange thing is, even in the cases where I can just stride into the Unknown Dungeon and catch an evolved form, I have some inclination to evolve a pokémon that I already have. And I think this is because I’m playing it on a Gameboy.

You see, as I see it, there are two basic modes in which you can play a game. (You can certainly cut it finer, but generally speaking, regardless of what else you’re doing, you’re operating in one of these two modes.) Either you’re playing the game for a particular experience, or you’re playing it just to pass the time. I’d compare these two modes to seeing a movie and going for a walk: one can complain that a movie is too long, has too much “padding” or “filler” material in it, but it’s hard to imagine saying that about a walk through the woods, where spending time is the whole point. These modes correspond roughly to “core” and “casual” games, and also to what I’ve termed “challenges” and “activities”, but not absolutely: you can have a goal-oriented game with challenges in it that’s still played mainly in the pastime mode. In fact, that’s what I’d argue that Pokémon is. And it fits into that role mainly just by being played on a Gameboy, the archetypal pastime platform.

2 Comments so far

  1. Lefty on 29 Dec 2007

    For some reason, classifying “walking through the woods” as primarly done to pass time made me think what some of the great Romanticist-era poets would think of that..& then of pokemon in general…anyway, since the ‘cut it finer’ link gave me something to read for a bit, here’s something for you to read for a (very brief) bit!
    Lord Byron Comic!

  2. Carl Muckenhoupt on 30 Dec 2007

    The phrase “pass the time” doesn’t really capture what I mean, I suppose: walking in the woods isn’t just something you do because you’re bored. But I can’t think of a better phrasing offhand.

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