Never too cool for the Pokéball

At university, the phrase “gotta catch ‘em all” is the unofficial slogan for Freshers’ Week and tends to be the unfortunate result of incidents behind the back of nightclubs.

But count back 11 years to a more innocent time and the “Pokémon” catchphrase was engraved in to the minds of most eight-year-olds – and with new versions of “Pokémon Black” and “Pokémon White” set to hit the Nintendo DS in March, growing up just simply isn’t an excuse to ignore them.

The world of “Pokémon” beautifully captured the imagination of many young people – providing them with a vibrant world to explore, a challenging adventure and importantly the chance to discover over a hundred fascinating creatures to love and train, before making their beloved pets fight to the brink of death in battles that were like a socially acceptable form of dog fighting.


The first Pokémon games introduced a range of characters who would become familiar faces to a generation. Photo: Nintendo

With the amount of merchandise which comes in the forms of T-shirts, toys, CDs, movies, and of course, the card game it might as well have beencalled the Early Learning Centre’s “My First Consumerist Brainwash”.

The influence of the franchise is undeniable. The closing song of the TV show, “The Pokérap”, is said to have inspired a generation of musicians. Who can forget such major artists of the last decade like the Black Eyed Butterfrees, Jay Drowzee and Cee-Lo Goldeen?

There have been rumours that the card game could actually be played competitively and even had rules beyond needlessly swapping pieces of paper with fictional worth, but this has yet to be confirmed.

It might sound like nothing’s changed since the early days of Pokémon in Red and Blue, but that isn’t a problem. Besides, “Football Manager” and “Call of Duty” are just the same game released each year and people still buy those – and this series is actually good.

The last two games in the series, “HeartGold” and “SoulSilver”, included a “Pokéwalker” pedometer that allowed you to train your team by walking around – meaning you could pretend to yourself that playing games is good for you. Although regular trips to McDonalds can undermine this.

With a university work load it might not feel like the place to pick up something that’s so easy to sink hundreds of hours of practice into it, but you can easily apply the same skills to a game of “Pokémon” as you can a dissertation.

Both of them take an extremely long time with seemingly impossible task if you want to collect everything – with 649 creatures in total there’s too much to consider getting bored. Both will cause you to spend hours staring at a screen, so you might as well make it fun. There’s an MA available in The Beatles, so why can’t you have an encyclopaedic knowledge of which Pokémon can only be caught at night?

For what’s commonly perceived as a kid’s game, there’s an astonishing amount of complexity and mathematics behind it ready to be discovered and used… or do what most people do and just copy everything from Wikipedia.

It might seem Farfetch’d, but there’s nothing to Fearow by trying it again.

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