I love Pokemon. I grew up on the games and anime. I learnt the Pokerap. I owned the soundtrack to the first movie and I spent real dollars on Pokemon GO.
But as I started playing through Pokemon Sun this week, I noticed that the childhood whimsy was being overshadowed by something dark and more sinister — adult cynicism.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the game. I just can’t approach it with the same child-like innocence and joy of yesteryear.
Part of it is undoubtedly the by-product of becoming a world weary trainer. The idea of running through both Sun and Moon on a quest to catch hundreds and hundreds of em’ all is exhausting. To use an outdated reference from the great Roger Murtaugh: “I’m getting too old for this shit.”
Do I really want to spend what will inevitably be hundreds of hours grinding in the long grass for Pokemon that are lazy reinventions or seem to be inspired by a particularly bad acid trip at Burning Man? Maybe I should have gotten out back when Trubbish, an actual piece of garbage, came into being.
Aside from being a jaded monster, there are a couple of other things that I’m allowing myself to be distracted by.
It Can Be A Bit Dirty
Firstly, why is the professor tooling around in a lab coat and no shirt whilst hanging around young girls? I get that it’s the tropics and all, but some professionalism wouldn’t go astray.
He’s pretty fine, as far as video game gentleman go though. Professor Sycamore is out and Kukui is in.
Secondly, good lord some of the translations. Here are a few lines from a TV commercial:
“Fair suck of the sav! That’s a bewdy … This is the best thing I’ve ever had in my mouth!”
“Oh my gosh, it’s so sour! My lips want to clamp as tightly shut as the mouth of any Budew.”
It’s God Damn Dark
Project Pokemon (which is currently claiming to have been attacked by malicious users), leaked the Sun and Moon Pokédex entries ahead of release. Some of the entries are reminiscent of a horror title, as opposed to a kid’s game. Although disturbing Pokedex entries are nothing new, they’re really taking it to the next level this time around.
Here are just a couple of examples:
Frosslass: “When it finds humans or Pokemon it likes, it freezes them and takes them to its chilly den, where they become decorations.”
Mimikyu (also known as the one that wears a terrifying makeshift Pikachu costume): “Its actual appearance is unknown. A scholar who saw what was under its rag was overwhelmed with terror and died from the shock.”
Primeape: “It has been known to become so angry that it dies as a result. Its face looks peaceful in death, however.”
Bewear: “This Pokemon has a habit of hugging its companions. Many Trainers have left this world after their spines were squashed by its hug.”
Glalie: “Legend says that a boulder on an icy mountain absorbed the distress and regrets of a stranded mountaineer, giving rise to Glalie.”
Marowak: “The bones it possesses were once its mother’s.”
Palossand: “Buried beneath the castle are masses of dried up bones from those whose vitality it has drained.” Yeah, this terrifying thing uses mind controls on adults so they build it a sandcastle which it uses to trap and absorb the lifeforce of small Pokemon.
And let’s not forget that a bunch of Pokemon, including my beloved Psyduck, are in constant pain due to their powers. WTF is wrong with you, Nintendo?
It’s Kinda Shady
Like with previous titles, the world we find ourselves in seems to be built upon subjugation and exploitation of small animals. This is perhaps more apparent than ever as Alola is reminiscent of the tax haven that is the Cayman islands.
The whole place is run by the big Kahuna, Hala, who couldn’t look more like a mob boss on the lamb. And everyone is flushed with cash, including the small children. I was able to roll a character named Preschooler Oliver for $120. Another, Youngster Kevin, yelled “Let’s go, kneecaps!” before we started a battle. They’re all made-men waiting to happen.
It’s also incredibly suspect just how pushy everyone is about my becoming a Trainer, especially after a certain incident that marks me as special at the beginning of the game. Why do I have have a job at my age — I’m just a child!
Hala has taken a particular interest in me and I’m concerned about becoming a cog in a sinister, rare Pokemon farming ring.
And what about my Mum. There’s no explanation thus far as to why we packed up and moved to Alola. What are you running from, Mum?
What games have you ruined with your adulthood?