Finding Your Joy in a Plethora of Pokemon

With the release of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet just months away, I’ve been staving off my excitement by playing Pokémon Sun. To date, I have not completed a single Pokémon game. Like most 90’s kids, I grew up knowing about Pokémon. Although my brothers were gifted main line Pokémon games, I only played Pokémon Snap and some tile game with Gen 2 Pokémon. I started really getting into Pokémon after Pokémon Go came out. While I’ve played Let’s Go Eevee and Sword extensively, I have always wanted to go back and play some of the older gens.

I played Pearl and White a little, but neither of them seemed to capture my interest for more than a few hours. I suspect the issue was that I didn’t connect with any of the starters or new Pokémon. Gen 1 starters are plastered everywhere, and I grew up with a poster of all the Gen 1 Pokémon hanging on my wall. It meant something to me to raise and Eevee or Psyduck, but catching Kricketot and Budew was kinda boring. That all started to change after I started playing Pokémon Unite.

I had seen Pokémon Unite for free on the Nintendo eStore a couple of times, and one day I finally decided to give it a try. Despite the introduction doing its best to make me feel like Unite was going to be the lamest game ever, I actually kind of liked playing it. My interest grew exponentially when I started to battle with my brother on the same team. Being able to strategize and complain about terrible teammates with someone else made the game incredibly fun to play. My starter on Unite was Talonflame. The more I played, the more I liked this Pokémon. I also became a Garchomp main. By brother would assist with Decidueye or Blissey. A few weeks later my husband suggested we start watching the original Pokémon anime series. The stage was set, so to speak.

I had a relatively small selection of Pokémon games to choose from. I decided to go with Sun, since I was familiar and enjoyed battling with Decidueye in Unite. I was finally enjoying an older Pokémon game (I know Sun didn’t come out that long ago, but I mean any game not available on the Nintendo Switch). What I wasn’t ready for was all the apprehension that came with playing the game. There are so many Pokémon to choose from. How do I know I have the best Pokémon in my party? What types should I utilize to have a well-balanced team? Do I need to do something special to get my Pokémon to evolve? What evolution do I choose for my Eevee, and what level should I evolve it at? I tried to find answers to some of my questions online, but I couldn’t really find the answers I was looking for. After pestering my husband with question after question and not getting satisfactory responses there either, I decided to take a different approach.

Instead of asking specific questions, I decided to ask the GiN Loungers themselves what advice or wisdom they could impart to anyone who is looking to get into Pokémon but is feeling a little lost at sea. They do seem to talk about Pokémon a lot, even if it’s not the focus of the podcast, and both of these guys have been playing Pokémon since Kanto. Check out a recent GiN Lounge that was all about Pokémon.

There was even an entire show devoted to Pokémon Snap. These guys really love Pokémon!

So, I started out with a call to GiN Lounge Co-host Vincent Mahoney. Vincent takes Pokémon love to a whole new level. He even wrote a seven-part series for GiN detailing the entire history of the game from the beginning until now. You won’t find a more well-versed Pokémon historian.

Vince reminisced that it was much simpler with the earlier generations. Back when there was only around 250 Pokémon and two regions, you could reasonably spend the entire summer catching everything and have a satisfying experience. Now, there are just too many options. People just getting into Pokémon may experience analysis paralysis or decision fatigue. Basically, having too many available options can lead to someone overthinking about what the best decision is, or there are just too many options to even start to consider what to choose. Vincent’s advice to combat this problem is just play the game to have fun. The game doesn’t care if you choose the best Pokémon for your team. Pokémon games are so easy to beat, it doesn’t matter who you use or what moves you learn. The game in no way punishes you for not playing optimally, so just do what you want to and have fun.

Neal had very similar advice as well. To quote, the game has a margin of error the size of Texas. IVs, EVs, and perfect breeding doesn’t matter. In fact, unless you’re looking to battle Pokémon competitively, you’re better off not even knowing what IVs and EVs are. There are dozens of different characteristics your Pokémon can have. Just think “that’s nice” and move on. Neal also advises that you shouldn’t feel bad if you have to or want to look information up. There are so many Pokémon that it’s literally impossible to memorize them all, know what levels they evolve at and how, and know what moves they learn. If you want to know who the best bug Pokémon in a particular gen is, just look it up. If you like a different bug Pokémon better, then use that one.

The advice and wisdom of the GiN Loungers’ boils down to one thing: just have fun. At the end of the day, Pokémon is just a video game. Why spend time on it if it’s all work and no play? Plus, you’ll most likely not have any issue playing no matter what Pokémon you use or what moves they learn, so why stress so much?

After talking with Vincent and Neal, I feel I’m ready to take on the Alola region with my Dartrix, Grimer, Slowpoke, Growlithe, Eevee, and Pichu. And there’s no second guessing myself. No concern about optimal type advantages throughout my party. No worries about if learning take down is better than keeping my current move set. Just fun with the Pokémon I feel like raising and battling with.

If you’re like me, and you’re still relatively new to playing Pokémon, let me know what your experience has been. Have you had any concerns or setbacks like I have? And if you’ve been playing Pokémon for a while, let me know what advice you have for newer players. Until the next time, stay cool, be you. Bye!

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