As you know, I have been celebrating my childish love of Pokémon by posting a series of articles based on the wacky Japanese collect-a-thon franchise. This will be the last of my Poké-flavored features (for a while, at least) but I think it's the most important one of all.
Pokémon, as with all worldwide phenomena, grew larger than the sum of its parts. When the Gameboy game and TV show went global, the franchise gave rise to all manner of merchandise, spin-offs and news stories. Like everything that becomes a smash hit, however, not everything that grew from the seeds in Pokémon's wake was good.
In this presentation, I take you on a dark and twisted journey through some of the worst things that have come into existence thanks to Pokémon's success. This is, without a doubt, eight terrible things that Pokémon wrought.
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If you followed the games industry back in the late nineties, there's every chance that you knew of the potential harm in Pokémon before you even properly knew what Pokémon was. This was certainly the case with myself, when the first I'd ever heard of the game was a small news piece in a magazine that referenced a new Japanese show that was causing seizures. This show was, of course, Pokémon, and it was destroying children in its homeland before preparing the worldwide invasion.
Of course, a lot of the seizure "epidemic" is urban myth. While it's claimed that as many as 600 kids were stricken with epilepsy at the sight of a certain clip in the anime, in actuality only a small amount of children suffered an epileptic attack as a result of the show. 618 children are reported to have been rushed to hospital, and the negative press forced the show to be pulled for a short while, but it later transpired that a mere handful of the admitted children were actually treated for photosensitive epilepsy.
Regardless, Pokémon wrought epilepsy, and epilepsy is terrible.
2. Church stupidity
It should be written into law that if ever a craze becomes popular with children, a Church somewhere will condemn it, probably because they're afraid it'll make children stop paying attention to them. Pokémon was no exception, and as soon as certain pastors realized that Pikachu was more popular than God (because God can only learn a limited number of TMs and is worthless against Fire Types) they quickly moved in to put a stop to it.
Christianity, Judaism and Islam have all had their shots, criticizing what they perceived as "occult" themes. The Jewish group known as The Anti-Defamation League made Nintendo edit the Golbat and Ditto trading cards, claiming they promoted antisemitism for featuring what looked like a swastika on them. Amusingly, while Pokémon has been accused of antisemitism, Saudi Arabia went the other way, banning Pokémon because it believed (somehow) that it promoted Zionism.
Church ministers have come up with all sorts of crazy ideas about how Pokémon encourages Satanism and is a tool of evil. One of the best examples of stupidity in the whole "controversy" however was a certain school in Kansas banning anything to do with Pokémon because the creatures evolved in the game, which of course flies in the face of the Christian belief system and was perceived as "subversive content."
Naturally, not everyone of the religious persuasion is stupid (certainly no more than those who aren't) and not everybody decided to burn Pokémon games in the street like it was still the Dark Ages. The Vatican, for example, actually praised the franchise, stating that it was "full of inventive imagination," and that it had "no harmful moral side effects."
3. The PokéRAP:
I'd say more, but I think they've said it all for me, really.
Oh, and one more thing ... that's just one of several PokéRAPs ...
This could in fact be applied to any game of this nature, but I'm marking out Spectrobes especially because it actually had potential to be more than just a dire Pokémon rip-off, and turned out to be disappointing regardless. Essentially, Spectrobes is a game about hunting fossils and bringing them back to life so they become monsters that will fight for you.
Aside from having an awful battle system, if you really think you're going to get me screaming "wake up" into my DS microphone to bring a fictional monster back to life, you've been hitting the crack pipe too hard. The other big gimmick here was that you could collect physical cards with holes in them which you placed over the DS' touch screen. If you poked through the holes with the stylus, you would input a code onto the screen which unlocked extras for the game. A great idea, except for the fact that the game disappeared off the face of the map so it's unlikely we'll be seeing much more in the future.
Ultimately, it was just another piece of software trying to steal Pikachu's thunder, and failing miserably. It can be interchanged with any other wannabe title.
5. Snobby players:
Whatever game it may be, there's always going to be the usual crowd of elitist snobs looking to drain all the fun and life out of the experience. You know the type. They're the sort of people who say that Smash Bros. online is bad because you can no longer accurately predict the framerates needed to L-Cancel people's moves. They're the sort of people who even come up with things like L-Canceling in the first place.
It's worse in the case of Pokémon, because I think it takes a real bastard to boil down a cute, cuddly, dancing turtle and rend him apart until he's nothing but a mass of statistics and charts. Elite Pokémon players don't even see the Pokémon, they merely see a collection of numbers and fractions that are in the vague shape of a Bulbasaur.
Woe betide any players who pick the Pokémon they like instead of the Pokémon in the top tier. If you have the utter gall to show up with a Arbock in your team, you'll be laughed out of the building. A cruel and nasal laughter will haunt you for the rest of your shameful days, never ceasing, never quieting, just reminding you of the dark and wrathful eve that they let you show them your Pokemans. Pokémon isn't about having fun, it's serious business after all, and there's no room in this world for people who like Beautifly. Even if you maxed out his Defense EVs he'd be way too fragile to go up against a real Pokémon like Alakazam, you idiot, you massive IDIOT.
6. Pokémon fanfic:
Yes, we're starting to leave the less predictable submissions and move right into all the stuff you knew was coming. First up, Pokémon fanfic, a world inhabited by people who took the opposite approach to Pokémon snobs, and ran all the way to the other extreme.
But of course, I would not be so heartless as to leave you wondering what Pokémon fanfic is like, oh no. For example, here's a tiny slice of one of the many, many romantic stories centering around the anime characters of Ash and Misty:
Ash's POV, right before Misty appeared
*How can I get back at her? What does she really hate??? I KNOW! hehehe*
*Where is that stupid kid? I mean, sure I love him, and I've had a crush on him
for who know's how long, but he can be frustrating.* "ASH C'MON YOU STUPID
TWIT!!!" *Man I hate doing that...*
Meanwhile, Ash's POV
"Remember Ariados, keep above us and when I give the signal, drop in front of
Misty." Aria? (Why?) "ASH, C'MON YOU STUPID TWIT!!!" "That kinda thing for
starters. Dos (Ah).
"Well, Brock, where to?" inquired Ash. "It looks like Goldenrod is nearest.
How's that sound?" "OK/Sure." Ash and Misty said in unisen. After a while Ash
turned and looked at Misty. *Dang she's pretty. She can even be really hot at
times* Ash thought with a dreamy look on his face.
I'm not too sure of the ages of any of these fanfic writers, of course, but if you're a grown man and you're writing fanfic love stories between two cartoon children, then don't be surprised if you are never asked to look after someone's babies or animals. I don't think it's going to be a shock to anybody reading this that Ash/Misty romantic scenarios are the most fruitful and abundant fanfics of all.
Dear God in Heaven above.
7. Pokémon *erotic* fanfic:
Like the above, only with far more semen involved. Where there are people willing to write romantic stories about Ash and Misty, there will inevitably be people willing to write arguably "erotic" stories about Ash and Misty. I'm also not about to name and shame the fellow Destructoid writer who once told me he'd "bang the shit out of Misty," (he knows who he is) but I must confess I'm thoroughly disturbed by the whole sorry affair.
While I would love to provide you an example of erotic fanfic as I did for the normal (using the term loosely) stuff, I am not about to trawl the Internet for that sort of mischief. Make no mistake, I started to, but I got more and more paranoid about my hard drive as I did so. However, if you want an idea of the kind of stuff I'm talking about, this is something that Destructoid reader Vexed Alex once said in IRC that was stored for safekeeping until just such an occassion:
Fucking a Pikachu is amazing. I love how it shocks my balls when it gets wet. The water from it's vagina conducts the electricity. All the water collects on my penis head and oh my God!
I have it on good authority that the man who wrote that thinks about the detailed scenario every night. He even has a car battery which is inexplicably painted yellow. Well, inexplicable to his parents, at any rate.
8. Pokémon porn:
Yep, you guessed absolutely correctly. About as predictable as Portal topping a "best first person game" list, Pokémon porn is the icing on the Pokémon terror cake. It is, after all, the notorious Rule 34 of the Internet: If it exists, there is porn of it. Pokémon is no exception, for there are no exceptions.
Pokémon, however, is considered something of an anomoly in Rule 34. While with other porn spin-offs you are not supposed to be shocked or disgusted (because it's so predictable and obvious), Pokémon remains a true horror to all and sundry because porn exists for every single God damn species in the game. That's right, allegedly, all 493 current species of Pokémon are accounted for when it comes to pornographic representation.
This doesn't even touch upon interspecies porn, which isn't helped by the game itself. Thanks to the breeding sub-game which was introduced to Pokémon during the Ruby/Sapphire generation, the ability to mate incredibly unlikely creatures has led to such infamous phrases as "Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action," which of course leads one to the inevitable visual aids. Then there's the Pokémon-on-human stuff, such as Meowth giving Jessie from Team Rocket a look at his Pokéballs. Of course, anything involving Jessie on her own is perfectly fine, and to be encouraged.
If we want to get even more disgusting, remember the aforementioned Ash and Misty scenarios? Yes, perhaps we ought not to go there.
And that's that, the eight terrible things that Pokémon wrought. I hope you enjoyed this walk down the path of darkness. This is the last Pokémon article I'll be doing for the moment, so here's hoping the mini-season has been fun for everyone. I'm sure we'll have a second series in the future.