NOTE: Featured content image by Cachomon
Silverwolf: Hello everyone! Silverwolf here today to debate the most pivotal question of all time. What is the best Pokemon generation, and why? Believe it or not, neither myself, nor the esteemed Tarabisu, have chosen Gen 1 to defend. I’m of the opinion that Black and White (aka Gen 5) is the best. Please note that I haven’t played B2 or W2 yet.
Tarabisu: Yes, it’s true. Gen 1 is remarkable in many ways, and most will likely defend its place as the king of Pokemon games. It set the precedent and began what is an incredibly resilient franchise. But I’m going to take a different opinion and argue that Gen 2, Gold and Silver, are indeed the best Pokemon games, not to mention the incredible remakes on DS they were both honored with.
Silverwolf: Actually, had this conversation been a month ago I’d totally agree with you. Gold was my favorite for the longest time, and I absolutely LOVED Heart Gold. In fact, the only Pokemon generation where I got more than one of the games was the original Gold and Silver. Recently, however, I finally got my hands on a copy of Black and gave it a whirl and found that it gave me everything I wanted in a Pokemon game and more.
Tarabisu: Interesting. To me, Black, the version I chose, felt empty and soulless in comparison to other Pokemon games. It was like a stranger wearing a mask of a friend, trying to parade around as someone I know and like. Something about the atmosphere threw me off, perhaps. I will also note that save for a few rare gems, the Pokemon to be found in Black and White are some of the strangest and least Pokemon-y Pokemon I have ever seen. Thoughts?
Silverwolf: Well, the thing I liked most about Black (which I’ll refer to alone hereafter, though I’m sure it applies to White as well) was that it gave me a sense of discovery. All the Pokemon were new and unseen previously, the landscapes felt entirely different from the realms of the rest of the franchise, and the characters you met experienced far more exposition. That’s another positive of Black: there was actual plot. It’s not the most astounding or entertaining plot ever, but given that the target demographic is still much younger than we are, it’s no surprise. That said there’s still a lot of complex ideas explored in the plot. As for the new Pokemon I can actually name quite a few that I liked, and I can just as easily name an equal number of “weird” Pokemon from previous generations.
Tarabisu: That’s a perspective I can understand, and it’s entirely possible that I’m working my reasoning through the dictatorial lens of nostalgia. I will note that I have liked every generation’s Pokemon a little less since Gold and Silver. Not to say that I don’t like the Pokemon in Ruby and Sapphire or Diamond and Pearl, I certainly did, I just liked them slightly less than the last. But that slow progression jumped down with Black for me. Where there used to be a reliance on pastels and more simplistic animalistic features, now we have near neon shades with too much much unbalanced and downright dumb design choices. An ice cream cone Pokemon? Really? At least a few greats like Golurk make up for it, but I was generally not pleased with both the design and color palette of the newest Pokemon.
Silverwolf: When it comes to your gripe about colors, I’ll have to be honest and say I didn’t notice. Maybe I’m just oblivious to such things, but it didn’t stand out for me. That said, perhaps this choice was intentional to once again show how Unova is far removed from the other regions. It could be like how in the real world we find many bright colored and wild looking animals in the tropics, whereas farther away we find more mundane looking critters. When it comes to design, I’ll reiterate that earlier generations suffer just as much. In Gen 1 we had Tangela and Jynx, while in Gen 2 we got Sudowoodo and Snubbull. To be honest, I actually like Vanilluxe and its pre-evolutions, though when it comes to monsters like Stunfisk I agree that they look pretty dumb. Are there any other gripes you have with Gen 5?
Tarabisu: Bridges. There were too many bridges.
Silverwolf: I can’t argue with you there. I mean, every generation has something that’s overdone and annoying though, for Gen 2 I’d say it was the amount of grinding necessary in the 2nd half of the game.
Tarabisu: That’s a fair complaint. And I will argue that your earlier point about the Pokemon in Black and White being different is also entirely true. It’s possible I just don’t like them because they are different, not because there’s any objective flaw. Like I said, Pokemon is an extremely nostalgic game series for me and most of the reason I still play it at all is to relive the childhood experiences I had with it. Since Black and White break away from much of the convention in the franchise, I may dislike it simply because those differences exist.
Silverwolf: That’s a valid point. Also as I said earlier I love Gold and Silver, it’s just that Black and White offered me a new perspective on Pokemon that I feel was sorely lacking since I played Gold back at the age of 11. I think there’s lessons to be learned from game design as the Pokemon franchise soldiers on, and I very much appreciate that Game Freak tries to improve their games with each generation (though whether they succeed, of course, is a matter of perspective).
Tarabisu: I do hope the franchise changes. It’s entirely reliant on evolving in order to persist. I don’t want Pokemon to go away, and I’m certainly not as obtuse about my nostalgia as those who say that every Pokemon since the original 151 is terrible and all the originals are flawless. I don’t necessarily hate Black and White, I just wasn’t as drawn in because nostalgia may be the leading reason I play Pokemon at all. I don’t play competitively and I’ve never completed a Pokedex (although I got fairly close in Heart Gold). But to those like you in addition to those starting out with Pokemon now, the additions, tweaks, and design changes represent positive growth. It’s just not for me, and the fact that it may mean I’m outgrowing Pokemon is a very sad thought.
Silverwolf: Yeah, nostalgia is a definite driving factor for most people, myself included, of course. I think all we can do is sit back and wait. At least it seems Pokemon has yet to jump the shark, so let’s hold onto hope that Gen 6 can be the best of all. Anyway, that’s it for today, join us next time when another two writers go head-to-head in an exciting round of OBJECTION!
Tarabisu: It’s been fun. Stay children forever, dear readers. And don’t forget: anyone who disagrees with me is a communist. We out.