I love Pokemon. The more I play, the more I find I enjoy it. But playing through White Version (yes, I’m linking back to that review again) has me seeing the real limitations of the series, not from a gameplay standpoint or a graphical or sound quality perspective, but rather from the world of Pokemon itself. The majority of the people that inhabit every region are fairly inept at living their lives with any semblance of intelligence. It’s staggering how regularly you encounter dunces on the road of Pokemon. Don’t believe me? Here are Five Aspects of Pokemon That Make No Sense.
5. The Scientists Are Morons
In the real world, the majority of scientists strive to better the world through experimentation, research, and invention. We have phones and medicine and basic knowledge thanks to the work of scientists. But in Pokemon, every single scientist is focused on one thing and one thing only: How does this relate to Pokemon, or how can it eventually relate to Pokemon? Pokemon are studied so exclusively that it’s sickening. Disease? Meh, we can probably cure that with Pokemon tears somehow. World hunger? Can’t we just figure out how to make Pokemon feed us? Every scientific breakthrough is reliant on its relation to Pokemon. Naturally, the most respected professors are scientists like Profesor Oak, a Pokemon researcher. Yet in every single game, Oak and his regional equivalents always hand a Pokedex to a 10-year-old and say, “Go find information about every single Pokemon ever…which happens to be about 150 or something.” The Kanto region is located East of the Johto region, a region that contained another 100 Pokemon that Oak had apparently never heard of. That means that either the scientists are too stupid to turn their head to the mountain regions to their left, or no one has thought to invent a region-to-region telephone. “What? You got Pokemon over there, too? That be all crazy, yo!”
4. The Terrorists Wear Kiddie Gloves
Each new generation insists on hinging the game’s plot on a group of terrorists hell-bent on snagging rare Pokemon, specifically the Legendaries of the game, for no reason other than to rule the world…or something. But despite all their resources, each organization is brought down by none other than a 10-year-old kid with a Pidgey. Why is it that every single encounter with Team Rocket/Magma/Plasma/Whatever consists of a henchman spouting some line like, “You’ll never stop our might,” then a Pokemon battle where you find out the majority of henchmen only have like two or three Pokemon, all the same species or type (usually Dark or Poison because those are “evil” I guess), and when they lose they just yell “No way, how did you beat me?” In the real world this is what would happen: “Hey kid, get the #&%@ out of the way! (Sound of gunfire)” Seriously, these are the bad guys of the world, and yet they have no concept of a gun? Just look at Blastoise! Dude’s got two big ol’ guns mounted to his back! The idea’s right there! I mean I suppose if the scientists haven’t even invented guns yet I can’t blame the terrorists, but losing all your Pokemon in a duel doesn’t mean a rock to the skull wouldn’t be just as effective for getting your way.
The evil plans also seem absurd, even in the world of Pokemon. Take Diamond Version. The terrorist organization wants to capture Dialga, the Pokemon god of time, so that they can control time. Control time. Thankfully they’re defeated and instead Dialga is captured and placed in the hands of…a 10-year-old child. And no one else has a problem with that?
3. The Gym Leaders Don’t Understand Pokemon
Considering the world of Pokemon is hinged exclusively on Pokemon, you’d assume that the Gym Leaders of each town would be the most experienced and skillful trainers in the region, correct? I suppose that’s true, but only because everyone else tends to be brain dead. Regardless, every time you enter a gym, you face a few Gym Members before coming up against the Gym Leaders themselves. These should be the end-all beat-all Pokemon battles where your only hope of winning is hard dedication to the craft. Instead, every Gym Leader battle can be won with the simple knowledge of type advantages. Facing a Grass-Type Gym Leader? Oh, one Pokemon with Flamethrower can take care of that. Water-Type Gym? Thunderbolt’s got you covered. Rock-Type? Surf that sucker. None of the Gym Leaders even have a full roster, instead having between two and four Pokemon of the same type. Even the stupid 10-year-old kid has a full roster by the type he reaches the second Gym. Are the Gym Leaders so inept at their own sport that they haven’t bothered to go snag a Rattata as insurance? You know, just to balance things properly? That’s like a Little League team playing against one Major League player. It doesn’t really matter how good that one guy is, he’s not going to be able to beat that entire team by himself. However, a lot of the ridiculousness of the Gym Leaders is explained by the next point on this list…
2. The Pokemon Live According To The One Main Trainer
No matter which game you play, there is one constant: The wild Pokemon’s levels will be comparable to the levels of your training. This means that by the time you’re near the third major city and have level 18 Pokemon, the wild Pokemon leading to the city are all around level 18 as well. No beginning Pokemon trainer starts in a town surrounded by level 80 Pokemon for some reason. Beyond that, every other character lives their lives according to the path that this one seemingly insignificant 10-year-old child will take, allowing his progress to advance perfectly on schedule. He’s never going to meet a trainer in a city whose Pokemon are 20 levels stronger than every other trainers’ Pokemon, nor will he ever encounter another trainer with a full party except for his rival.
The Pokemon themselves tend to do their best to help the new 10-year-old trainer reach the top of the league as fast as possible. How? By placing themselves by type-advantage right next to the city with a gym that’s weak to their type. Heading into a tough Electric-Type gym? There’s a good chance you’ll find some Ground-Types living nearby. In White Version I discovered that the Gym Leader of the second gym specialized in Normal-Type Pokemon. Low and behold, two different species of Fighting-Type Pokemon, the only type with an advantage over Normal-Type, were living in the grass right next to the town just waiting to be caught.
With the way the world of Pokemon works, it’s not so much that the 10-year-old kid is so special as the rest of the world has decided to make things incredibly simple on him. All of this is possible due in part to the last reason…
1. No One Has Any Other Hobbies
One of the greatest aspects of the real world is the diversity of cultures, languages, tastes, ideas, activities, etc. You can travel from city to city experiencing a whole range of sights and sounds, meeting fascinating people every step of the way. This isn’t the case in the world of Pokemon. Every single character, no matter how big or small, is obsessed with Pokemon. No one can have a conversation without mentioning Pokemon in some way. Even complete strangers are compelled to tell you every little thing about their life as it relates to Pokemon. “Man, it’s raining today. Did a Pokemon use Rain Dance or something?” “My wife left me. Maybe I shouldn’t have said she looks like a Jigglypuff.” “Aren’t you just sick of hearing about Pokemon? Not me though, I love Pokemon. They’re my favorite.” It’s entirely unrealistic that everyone in the world is fanatically of one mind about Pokemon. People in the real world like animals, but not everyone walks around talking on and on about why they think lions are just super cool. At least, not usually.
What confounds this dedication to one subject and only one subject is the lack of any real skill behind the training of Pokemon. As mentioned before, Gym Leaders don’t know how to make a balanced team, random trainers never figure out the importance of stocking a full team, and no one has seemed to hear of traveling abroad in order to catch more exotic Pokemon from far away lands. The only person in the entire world who “gets it” is the 10-year-old kid who the world has decided will inevitably have the best chance of succeeding, going a long way to emphasis the importance of where you’re born and the opportunities that opens to you (being born in Pallet Town is seriously like being born into Old Money).
Pretty much, Pokemon is one series above any other that exemplifies the adage of “It’s fun to visit but I’d sure hate to live there.” The world, despite being filled with fantastical creatures, is pitifully boring. The people who inhabit it are idiots. Even the most interesting parts of the world can only really be interesting for so long. Once you catch your tenth Legendary Pokemon, it sort of loses its charm. I’m perfectly content visiting Pokemon through a portable screen every so often, but it can stay right where it is in the fantasy realm.
Of course, that’s just me. Perhaps you would have no trouble loving the world of Pokemon every single day of your Poke-filled life. Leave a comment and tell me why that is. Or leave a comment and tell me another reason why you’d hate living among the Pikachu. You might as well start talking about Pokemon already. I mean, it’s not like we have anything better to talk about.
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