Pokemon is a franchise that I keep close to my heart even to this day because of its impact on my young life. As an only child with no Father and a Mother that had to work long hours to sustain our small family, it was Pokemon that gave me a strange, inorganic sense of companionship. I related to the young boy on the screen, travelling around the world with no-one but his trusty pets. It helped me deal with a lot of the trauma of my childhood and, in fact, still does so today. Pokemon Crystal, specifically, will remain my personal favourite Pokemon title to this day, it seems, not only because of its base excellence but because of the connection between myself and my now passed Father that it still represents.
Prior to the release of the second generation, my Father took me on a trip into Sydney City to attend a small but impactful convention that revolved around Pokemon and the upcoming video game releases. For the life of me I cannot remember its name, but seeing Gold and Silver for the very first time is a memory burned directly into my brain. Between that event and the release of Pokemon Crystal my Father had passed away, leaving nothing but memories in his departure. With Pokemon Crystal released but not yet in my possession, I made it a point to save as much pocket money as I could, with the direct intent of buying it for myself.
I eventually did receive the game that would ultimately become, in my own mind, a love letter of sorts to my own Father. I played through it time and time again, perhaps because I was simply obsessed and it was simply a great game, but I’d like to think that somewhere deep down within my consciousness it was because I was reaching out to something long lost. Memories of showing him a new Pokemon, its evolution, a new town, a new gym, all the things I had taken such pride in…I could no longer do, but I played on nonetheless, hoping that from wherever he now was he could see, and share the happiness that it gave birth to in me.
I have played the games of Generation Two, and their remakes, countless times now, and I feel as though I will continue playing them with a smile on my face until the day comes wherein which I can see him once again.
Pokemon Crystal. That is all.
Okay, so that’s not all, but it might just be enough. Coming off of Red and Blue, the second generation brought us a gaggle of new creatures to catch and a whole new world to explore. It was amazing. But then, as is the case for all games, it came to an end. We won, we beat the Elite Four and claimed Championship of the Johto region. The End. No more Pokemon, unless we wanted to delete our one save file. Except…a train ticket? Where else could there possibly be to explore? Kanto. Boy was that a moment.
Not only was Gen II a new experience, it allowed you to relive the original game, in its entirety. Pure excitement. Unexpected joy. A moment that defined the Game Boy Colour enough to warrant the purchase…that someone else made because I was a small child and devoid of income. It also should not go by the wayside that Crystal was the first Pokemon game that introduced a female protagonist, one who may have started my propensity for playing as female characters in RPGs. Combined with the additional Suicune subplot, Crystal definitely stands out to me as one of the best Pokemon experiences of my childhood, perhaps moreso than Gold that introduced a majority of these concepts…though it was still awesome in its own right and technically the first Pokemon game I ever owned. Cyndaquil for life!
Metal Gear: Ghost Babel
My favourite Metal Gear game is none of the main entries that broke the graphical and technical barriers on powerful home consoles, but rather one that delivered a miracle tactical espionage adventure within the 8 bit confines of the Game Boy Color. Metal Gear: Ghost Babel remains an achievement to this day, and an enthralling top-down action adventure that followed the blue print of the oft forgotten NES Metal Gear games. This right here is how game development used to be, squeezing even the most underpowered technology for all its worth to create magic.
Vibrant colours, an all star cast of memorable boss characters, amazing level design, and great use of weapons and gadgets, this 8 bit portable rendition of Metal Gear had all the qualities of the best games in the Metal Gear series, be it the PSone smash hit or even the much hyped production values of Metal Gear Solid 2. It’s one of the only two games I have played in my life that was simply impossible to put down until I had completed it. Despite Metal Gear: Ghost Babel having a save system, I couldn’t turn my Game Boy Color off until I had finished the game in my first and only sitting with it. Energizer batteries were great that way.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX
Most people wake up every single morning. It is a regular occurrence that many experience. So it is a question as to why a certain ‘Link’ and his awakening would be so enthralling. The answer might shock and surprise you. The answer is it it not him awakening it’s the Windfish andtechnicallyhewakesupbecauseofwhathappensattheendofthegame… but I digress.
The Game Boy Color was another chance for Nintendo to port their already successful games in their back catalogue and tweak them for audiences both new and old. In my case new. Such a venture led them to remake the Game Boy classic into Link’s Awakening DX. What does DX stand for? Deluxe? Dexterity? Dominatrix? Yes to all, I think. I haven’t thought to check because in my head it will always stand for DOUBLE EXTREME!
The main addition to the game was the full 1080pHD graphics. Wait, I meant colour. As well as adding a coat of paint they refined a few of the graphics and added an entire new dungeon that had puzzles and challenges based entirely on colour. This subtle addition added to the game without taking too much away from the original vision (apart from giving you one of two power ups that either made you super strong or super durable). The game itself was a classic with gameplay and a soundtrack that, no matter how tinny, could not be matched in quality. This game does take the Majora’s Mask route a little and has some bleak over (and under) tones.
Quite literally (spoilers ahead for a 20+ year old game) Link is inside the dream of a being known as the Windfish. I called him the sparkle whale because Google him. This means everyone you have gotten to know, including the sweet girl that saved you from drowning, is a figment of the Windfish’s Dream. So when you get to the last couple of bosses they are literally saying things like “Dude, I have to totes kill you ‘cuz if you wake this Sparkle Whale, like, everything stops existing and we all fade away… And I like existing, Bro!”. I may or may not have taken some artistic liberties with the actual dialogue, but that’s the cut and dry. You basically kill/murder an entire country of people, animals, and monsters because you played your music too loud and woke the Sparkle Whale. After all, the Zelda series’ writing is known for its realism!
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
When I think of the Game Boy Color, the memories of playing Pokemon Gold and Crystal immediately pop into my mind. They were and still are, in my opinion, the high point of the Pokemon series, and I cherish those games so very much. That said, the game that I really sunk the most hours into and had the most fondest of memories of for the Game Boy Color is none other than The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons.
Oracle of Seasons for me was like a jump back in gaming past at my young age. You may recall in my previous posts I commented about my history with The Legend of Zelda franchise. For me, Oracle of Seasons was a revelation, The Legend of Zelda games I loved so very much were now in the palm of my hands and I couldn’t have been more chuffed. I loved the mechanic of changing the season to solve puzzles and I especially loved the animal companions which were present in the game, I loved Ricky and Dimitri the most. I remember spending hours up hours under the covers playing this game with torch light upon my screen, staying up way too late on a school night. I wouldn’t change any of those memories for the world.