I started playing Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire on 3DS last night because idk. I never been a big Pokemon fan or anything. I remember my first exposure to the phenomenon was a couple of friends had gotten obsessed with Red/Blue in my senior year of high school (1998) and had brought in their Game Boys to trade their little monsters. As a side note, this is kind of fascinating to think about - as I was leaving my GB in my backpack back then as well for spurts of Zelda: Link's Awakening in study hall or lunch. This was a full decade after the little handheld had launched! Anyway, for whatever reason I was too cool for Pokemon, but was reintroduced to them a year later when I girl was dating was obsessed with the TV show. She was a vegetarian but kept making me eat Happy Meals at McDonald's so I could get her the little Pokemon toys they were promoting at the time. Again, I was too cool.
Some years later when the DS entries in the series were all the rage, I decided I'd give the games a go. I settled on Pokemon: Yellow since it was a sort of refined take on the original Red/Blue games; plus it started you with Pikachu; plus the yellow cartridge was friggin' cute. And so I played it for a while on the Gamecube's Game Boy Player and I had a really good time. I had the official guide to ease me into things and I was impressed. And then that was it. My Pokemon curiosity had been satiated. I understood why folks liked the games, but had no interest in checking out others.
As you are probably well aware, there's a new Pokemon game on Nintendo Switch now. It just came out. And it's (virtually) a remake of Yellow. So I was PUMPED. I had a Pokemon game on pre-order, y'all! My wife thought that was weird, but I insisted I'd changer her mind once it came out and we could couch co-op it. Pokemon: Yellow! On the couch, or portable, but mostly on the couch! Like I originally played it. And then came the waggle. You can tell me all day that the motion controls are cool, or that if you play it handheld it kinda works. But dudes, once it was announced that I could not use the Pro controller on Pokemon: Let's Go, I cancelled my pre-order.
But with the game out on shelves, I still have an itch. Watching all those people playing it on kiosks at the Nintendo World Store last week really gave me an urge to catch some Pokemons. So I used some store credit and decided I'd order one of the 3DS entries. I figured one of those titles would be recent-ish enough to give me a feel for how the series has progressed. (I had originally intended to get the DS remake of Gold or Silver, but those prices!). I settled on Alpha Sapphire - a remake of one of the GBA games - because frankly, I thought that the colors in the title felt more mainline than X or Y or Sun or Moon. Plus, Sapphire is a shade of blue... so I don't know. I like blue.
I've only played a little over an hour so far, but I like it. The visuals are really lovely, actually. I started out with the Mud... ugh, I'm so bad with names. Seriously. In a game with hundreds of names, I'm not going to be good at telling you names. But he's the little green four-legged one that's a water Pokemon, y'know? And I leveled him up to 7 so far, and caught another level 5 wolf-looking one. I found a level 7 or 8 thing in the wild, but then forgot to catch him and knocked him out instead. Dammit. I need to remember to catch em! But yeah, having a good time so far. Seems like a good game to unwind with before bed.
I played s'more Alpha Sapphire, and I've got five Pokemons on my team now. I got the thingy that allows all of them to gain experience even if they don't battle, so that helps. They're all mostly around level 10 now, and a couple of them have evolved. I'm having a good time. Got my first badge, and have now made my way over to a little island.
I'm definitely enjoying Alpha Sapphire way more than I figured I would. I had a busy night, but once I had downtime I plopped down on the couch. My wife put on Elf, and I went Poke-hunting. I beat the gym master on that little island town in the southwest of the map. Again - bad with names/too lazy to Google. So now I've got two badges. I found myself a fishing pole, and then headed off to another village to deliver some parts to a scientist working on some sea exploration thingy. The plot's... not really important to me here.
Before I left that town there was something about a Pokemon beauty contest that sounded awful silly to me. But I figured, eh, I'll see what it's about since I stumbled upon it. So I entered, won, and received a "Cosplay Pikachu," rounding out my party to a full six. I admit, I could have had a sixth hours ago, but I haven't been all that diligent about actually catching these things, haha. Anyway, as a dude whose previous Pokemon experience was having a blast with Yellow, it was really really awesome to get a Pikachu. And this little bastard's wearing a leather jacket, ha!
I'm not really sure where I'm headed next. Is there even a critical path of main 'quests' to complete or is it really just a matter of earning each badge in whatever I order I happen to do that?
I'm 13 hrs into Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, which to be honest, I'm almost surprised I'm typing that. Nothing against Pokemon, I've just never been super interested in the series. But holy shit, I'm actually having a lot of fun. I do think that a big part of it is that I've been very busy recently, so an RPG that is extremely linear and has rather simple combat is just very appealing to me at the moment. I think there's times when my brain wants big gigantic "do whatever you want" worlds like in Skyrim or BOTW, and right now my brain just wants comfort food that isn't overly complicated. I've now tackled six gyms and am on hot pursuit of a missing submarine. Good times!
Okay, in order of how much I tend to use them...
My starter is a Swampert who I've had since the beginning of the game (originally a Mudkip). He's got a water attack and two rock attacks outside of his basic attack. And he's usually my go-to for most basic battles. I think he's hovering just under level 50 right now.
I have a 'cosplay' Pikachu that I won in a beauty contest. Leveled just behind Swampert. She's got three different electric attacks and a basic.
Beutifly is cool. The rest of these are probably like ten levels below Pikachu. Beautifly has a couple of wind attacks, and a life-drain/restore thing.
Latias I got from someone in a story quest. She has a Mega Evolve or whatever but I don't even know what that does. Haha. Does it literally evolve her for good, or is it something that is specific to a battle?
Slaking evolved from the Sloth looking thing that I just thought was funny looking. I basically never use him, but instead have him hold some of the TM's that are useful for navigating the overworld.
The sixth slot is sort of a revolving door because honestly, like 90% of my battles involve the top 3 that I listed. I think right now I've got a Mightyeena in there.
I think I've beaten the big major story beat in Alpha Sapphire as I've caught that big aquatic Poke' on the cover art. Forget his name. Begins with a K. It was actually sort of anticlimactic... there was this huge cut scene showing how epic this moment was and I just threw a Master Ball at him and *poof* it was over. Haha. Anyway, everyone tells me that I've saved the world or whatever and now I can either go off and complete my Pokedex (totally not me), or can go compete in Pokemon League. I did finish out the 8th and final gym for good measure. Anyway, have I effectively 'beaten' the game now having gone thru the main story, or is there a credit roll after beating the Pokemon League thing? I'm currently on my way thru Victory Road.
Well, damn. I ended up having way more fun with Alpha Sapphire than I figured I would. I'm a fan of turn based battle systems in RPG's, so there's that. And sure, this is linear and fairly easy in comparison to most, but it was also really fun and cute and chill to play. I never needed to look at a map or walkthrough online to know what to do next. And the game let me decide if I wanted to just rush through the story or take my time 'collecting em all.' I'm more of a main quest kind of dude, so I focused on that. But it gives the game a lot of replayability to go back and do the post game stuff or just keep collecting. It's neat.
Since I've never really paid much attention to the series, I decided to do a bit more research and realized that while there's like thirty Pokemon games out there, there's essentially just seven mainline games with much of the releases being updates or remakes of those seven. So that's kind of cool. Maybe in the (near) future I'll get around to exploring a game from each generation then.