I’ve recently been talking to an old friend in the competitive Pokemon community, and I was surprised to find out that he and other people I knew from back in the day were still playing competitively. In fact, a bunch of them are going to the Pokemon Video Game Championships this year in Indiana, and though I definitely can’t make it, it’s kind of re-lit the fire in me to do something with Pokemon, especially when I’ve seen what he’s been up to.
Known in the Pokemon communiy as Fish, his team is the one on top, if you want to see some intense and exciting turn-based combat.
At the very least, I want to have a well-conceived team or two around in case anyone wants to battle me. I don’t know how long it’ll take me, especially because I haven’t even opened my copy of Pokemon Black yet, but I think it’ll be a worthwhile endeavor.
I definitely want to use Durant, as I’ve been waiting for an ant Pokemon since the original games.
Thinking back on my years of playing Pokemon, I began to reminisce about the original RBY era and its competitive scene. I talked a little bit about RBY-style battling here, but I’m not sure if my description did it justice in terms of how unique RBY battling turned out to be, relative to subsequent generations of Pokemon. RBY was the era where the only way to cure a status ailment was through the use of Rest, when every Pokemon could have all of its stats maxed out to their personal best. The result was a game where Pokemon were neither overly frail nor excessively defensive.
The best example I can think of is a scenario where one player is switching in a weakened Rhydon on a weakened, paralyzed Alakazam. Alakazam could have predicted a switch and thrown out a Thunder Wave to paralyze the incoming Pokemon, but because Rhydon is immune to electric attacks, it can effectively block the Thunder Wave and avoid its paralyzing effects. From there, a fight which would normally be won by Alakazam’s superior speed and nasty Psychic attack has a different consequence, as paralysis reduces Alakazam’s speed by 75%, well below Rhydon’s, and so now Rhydon has the first shot, and its superior attack does tremendous damage to Alakazam’s poor defenses, possibly to the point of knocking it out. But if Alakazam decides to switch out, Rhydon can throw down a Substitute for 1/4 of its health to take damage for it while it Earthquakes from a safe position. The permanency of paralysis is key here, as in later generations status ailments can simply be whisked away by the effects of moves such as Heal Bell and Aromatherapy.
RBY was by no means a balanced game in terms of diversity. Only about 10-15 Pokemon were considered viable for competition (barring Mewtwo and Mew, who were usually banned due to being way, way, way too good), but it had a certain kind of intensity that wasn’t quite present in later games, and it’s something I wouldn’t mind coming back, though I know it’ll never happen.
When people lament changes in sequels despite the fact that the original game’s system was the result of various limitations and oversights, I can relate to knowing that something is unreasonable and yet still feeling that it’s right. I’m not going to talk down the other generations of Pokemon Battling, though. There’s always a special place in my heart for that original 151, but I still look forward to having fun with a list that is now 646 creatures long.