Game Analysis: Pokémon Pearl Johanna Ohlsson [email_address]
Introduction I’ve played Pokémon Pearl for this term but when coming to the point of analysing it I’ve come to realise that Pokémon as a whole is much more interesting. Therefore this may be viewed as an analysis of Pokémon as a phenomena and specialising on Pokémon Pearl . For my generation Pokémon has been something to grow up with, kind of similar to the Harry Potter series. The games has continually been released in Europe since I was ten years old (that’s 1999).
Introduction We will be looking at the different generations of Pokémon games, the gameplay , cheating , collecting and Pokémon as a casual game . Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri says he got the idea of Pokémon from his childhood interest of catching and collecting bugs. The core of Pokémon is collecting and battling, which I will return to later.
Generations Pokémon Red, released 1999 Europe Pokémon Crystal, released 2001 Europe Pokémon Ruby, released 2003 Europe Pokémon Pearl, released 2007 Europe
Generations The different generations consists of 3 games each, the first generation consisting of Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow, the second of Gold, Silver and Crystal, the third of Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald and the fourth Diamond, Pearl and Platinum. In each generation there is very little difference, only a slight change in the story and what Pokémon are catchable but between the generations the whole story differs, the worlds are different (each generation takes place on a different “continent” of the Pokémon world) and foremost the population of Pokémon differs, more Pokémon are invented between each generation making it a must to have the latest game.
The gameplay As I have said there is two main objectives of Pokémon, the first being collecting. Collecting Pokémon can be done in many different ways and is the most time consuming part of the game, at least if catching them all is something that interests you. I will be talking more about easier ways to collect and the human behavior of collecting later.
The gameplay The second objective is battling. You have a team of six Pokémon and winning against other Pokémon makes your team stronger. There is a lot of strategic choices to be made here and this makes Pokémon a game which is deep and enjoyed by elite players in both schoolyards and official tournaments. Because of these two different objectives Pokémon can be played by a variety of different types of players.
Cheating As it says in Salen’s and Zimmerman’s Rules of Play there is games that is so hard that they seem to be designed to be accompanied by some kind of guide or walkthrough. Pokémon is not hard to play per se, but for hardcore gamers who wants to ”catch ’em all” online guides are almost a must. Online there is quite a few sites where you can check out for example where to find certain Pokémon etc. My personal favorite is www.psypokes.com .
Cheating In the latest generation of games, Pokémon Pearl among them, there is functions such as a step counter and a friendship checker. The step counter would be worthless if it weren’t for the online guides were you can check out how many steps it takes for a certain egg to hatch. The same for the friendship checker, friendship is a value mostly used for Pokémon who evolve through a high friendship value. This indicates that the developers approve of online guides or at least is aware of their value to players. ” Pedometer”, step counter ” Friendship checker”
Collecting My personal hypothesis on why Pokémon is so popular is that it speaks to our instinct of collecting. Why do we like to collect then? I believe it is the human way of making order out of chaos. We collect and sort even in our language, coming up with terms for all things.
Pokémon as a casual game Pokémon was originally created for Japanese children who does in modern times not have much time on their hands because of cram schools. I have personally not thought of Pokémon as a casual game before but have found that many of the characteristics in Pokémon is shared by casual games.
Some things are less casual though, such as these:
Both the console and the games are quite expensive
There is a story in Pokémon which engages deeper play
In my own experience the players does not consider themselves “casual”
Conclusions Pokémon might be so popular because of the element of collecting, or perhaps because of the multiple objectives of the game, which opens up for a wide variety of players. The casual play may also contribute, but the game is not only casual but contains a much deeper play full of strategic choices for more hardcore players.