I’ve been trying to remember how I got talked into doing a collaborative Let’s Play with my e-mate/e-nemy Owen Grieve. It doesn’t seem like the kind of thing I’d agree to, but what the heck, I’m committed now. Week-by-week, we will be playing a bit and writing a bit until one of two things happens. Either Owen and I will surmount our adventure with friendship fully firmed, or I will reach through the internet and strangle him and this will just tail off and die ignored and unmourned, a bit like Demon Pigeon itself. Game on!
I’ve been thinking about that plan we had to do a letter series where we play though a children’s computer game together. I realised last night that the key element we were missing was the tedious expert/hapless virgin dynamic; also, that we would get more hits if we talked about a game that people actually gave a shit about. Therefore I am declaring the Pokémon Red/Blue letters series begun!
This most children’s of children’s computer games is probably my most-played game of all time – I clocked up over 1,000 hours in Pokémon Blue during high school, and my only paid writing job to date has been to distill a complete history of the franchise into a proper, grown-up encyclopedia article. If I am qualified to tediously overanalyse any game, this is surely it.
Pokémon is the story of a young boy who sets out from his parents’ house one day and befriends a growing menagerie of cute animals. The lessons they learn while travelling from town to town strengthen their bonds of mutual love and respect, and eventually some stuff happens and the boy is crowned as being the best at Pokémon. It’s a coming-of-age story in which the silent protagonist never actually grows up, but the charm of its naively utopian world masks some disturbing life lessons. I think it must be difficult for someone unfamiliar with the series to separate the games from the bloated global franchise they have spawned. Through these letters I hope to take you back to where it all began, before all the merchandise, cartoons and spin-offs, and explain the appeal of the most popular games on Earth.
Your very own Pokémon legend is about to begin! A world of dreams and adventures with Pokémon awaits! Let’s go!
Do you have the remotest inkling of what you have just done to me? I may despise you forever once this is over.
I will be in touch, soon. Rely upon it.
Wow! Amazing! Brilliant! Pointless! Join us next Friday for the first actual instalment of The Pokémon Letters!