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I guess I just like liking things

Arranged in order of how much I've heard of each of them.

Arranged in order of how much I’ve heard of each of them.

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve never played a Pokémon game. That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy Pikachu, because, come on, Pikachu is adorable. How did I come to enjoy Pikachu when I haven’t played any Pokémon? Dude, Pikachu was everywhere for a while there. I think I even have a stuffed Pikachu somewhere.

I’m intrigued by the fact that I know so much about Pokémon without ever having played it. I tend to be a guy who knows a little about a lot of things, but I couldn’t tell you exactly how I came to know many of those things. I think in the case of Pokémon it’s a matter of cultural osmosis. I’ve seen GIFs and a few video clips and heard the Weird Al song and heard people use “I choose you, _________!” so many times that I’ve cobbled together in my brain how the game works. I’m sure some of it comes from the games and some from the show and some from people’s fevered imaginations, so it’ll be interesting to me to some day play one of the games and see how close I was. The closest I’ve come to seeing it in action is the beginning of an episode of The Norm Show where Ian Gomez was dressed up like Squirtle. For the purpose of this entry, I am not looking up anything other than the picture I’ve included here and the Weird Al video, and that includes how to spell any Pokémon names, so they will be mangled, I’m sure.

So here’s how I think it goes:

It’s a world where being a Pokémon trainer is the best thing ever, something to aspire to, but few are successful. Our hero, Ash (who doesn’t have a chainsaw hand, which is weird), wants to be the best Pokémon trainer, the best there ever was. In some way I’m unclear on, he’s able to get started on his path and he has to go to a Pokémon gym to train. Ash has to choose a starter Pokémon, and it doesn’t matter what he picks because nobody uses their starter Pokémon anymore once they’re able to capture and use other cooler Pokémon.

(Side note: I like to imagine Bill Cosby saying “Pokémons” with the S on the end. It seems like it would be fun to hear him say that. Pokémon (the word) is both singular and plural, though, I think, so it would be incorrect for Mr. Cosby to use the word that way, sadly.)

Pokémon are named after the sound they make, the ONLY sound they make. They can use parts of the sound they make, but usually only use the first part (“pika!”) or the whole thing (“pikachu!”). Pokémon each have a “type,” which is kind of like a class. They can be earth, air, water, fire, electricity, and any number of other things (but not Pop-Tarts, which is too bad, I think). Different types do better against certain other types, like electric types should do pretty well against earth types, because of grounding, but electric types would be really bad against electric types.

The main thing that happens is fighting. You run into a random Pokémon out in the world while you’re wandering, and if your Pokémon beats the wild Pokémon, you can capture the wild Pokémon (using a Pokéball, which is also where the Pokémon live when you aren’t using them, so Pokéballs must be kind of like the TARDIS, inside-space-wise) and start training it. There are also tournaments you can enter with your Pokémon, but you don’t capture the opponent’s Pokémon, you just defeat them.

The more you use and train a Pokémon, the more skills it can master, but it can’t learn more than four at any one time. If a new skill becomes available, the Pokémon has to “forget” one it already knows before it learns the new one, so hopefully it wasn’t like “Breathe” or “Remember its mother’s birthday” or something important like that. In a battle, Pokémon don’t die, they “faint,” which I’m pretty sure is code for “gets knocked out.” I kind of wish boxing used this terminology instead, as it would fun to hear about Ali making Frasier faint, because then you could imagine that maybe Frasier just swooned or was overcome by the vapors or something. And now I’m starting to think I don’t understand boxing very well, either.

There are two main goals in Pokémon: becoming the best trainer there ever was (accomplished by advancing through all the official tournaments) and catching one of every kind of Pokémon, which is very difficult because some of them are very rare. You keep track of which ones you have by using a Pokédex. There were originally 150 Pokémon, but now there are many, many more. My guess is at least 300. I guess scientists in the Pokémon world have either been very busy researching or (more likely) very busy fiddling with genetic material in the lab.

Along the way, Team Rocket is going to try and steal your Pikachu, even though there a bunch of Pikachus all over, so I’m not so sure why your Pikachu is so important. You will also meet a bunch of Professors (each one named after some sort of tree) who will teach you new techniques on training and capturing Pokémon.

By the time you have achieved both of the main goals, it shouldn’t be too much longer before the next game in the series is available, but don’t hold your breath for a fully-3D version (that isn’t Arena or Stadium) , even though that’s what everyone who has ever played Pokémon really wants.

(Side note: One of my favorite Pokémon is Snorlax, both because it is fun to say and because he looks so peaceful, lying there in the path sleeping and blocking your way.)

How close am I?

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