Reasons why the new Pokémon game might save your life

Dan Bidikov, Editor-in-Chief

Health education and Facebook photo albums have revealed that the stresses of teenage life are so great, many high school students turn to restricted substances for relief.  While there is science supporting the claim that alcohol makes you feel good, it is buried by the amount of research saying there is a good chance it will kill you.

“Ugh,” said The Schreiber Times readership in response, “I don’t want another probably hypocritical poindexter telling me that I shouldn’t binge drink!”The world hears your groans.  And it sympathizes.  If you want, stop reading—ignore this plea for sobriety out of fear that you might reconsider your feckless desire to be cool and get a real hobby, become an individual, or (Yeezus forbid!) start reading for pleasure.

The world hopes, however, that you will read this and take its message to heart, leaving with the idea that perhaps the best method for escapism lies not in a can of cheap beer, but in a popular video game.

On Oct. 12, Nintendo released the latest installment in their Pokemon video game series.  The game and the 3DS platform required to run the software run at least a hefty $200.  Admittedly, this is more than a twelve pack, but it is much more enjoyable and (hopefully) easier to purchase.

It seems blasphemous that there is more satisfaction to be derived from a video game than a substance that has no choice but to release your endorphins.

However, after thorough consideration of the game’s pristine 3D graphics, 69 new playable characters in the form of Pokemon, and consistent-yet-inventive turn based gameplay, there is no question the new Pokemon game is a singularly entertaining experience.

Pokémon revolves around a youthful protagonist who sets out on an ill-planned journey to catalog and capture every species of fictional animal in the world.

Players of the newest version assume the role of the youngster and follow his (or her) travels around the well-designed region of Kalos, commandeering their own team of Pokémon as they are presented with wild and previously captured Pokemon belonging to “trainers” in combat situations.

Gameplay revolves around “battles,” and players direct their Pokémon to use techniques ranging from fire breathing to slapping with the intention of besting the opposing beast.  These battle situations are intellectually demanding and consistently gripping.  They require the player to stay on top of all of the different game mechanics and apply their knowledge.

A good battler will know their type charts and can easily make the distinction between physical and special defense.  A great battler will take their Pokémon to the competitive circuit, where an intricately developed metagame exists and a level of thought matching chess is required to play properly.

Dedicated competitive players use both their game cartridges and online battle simulators to showcase their skills.  Rest assured that this is, er, definitely not something that anyone on The Schreiber Times staff has ever done, let alone ignored editing articles to do.

No situation is more telling of psyche than the choice between capturing and killing a wild Pokémon. Players are defined based on which Pokémon they choose to train.  After a long enough time with a certain Pokémon under your belt, you will likely start referring to it as “yours.”

The bond between trainers and their Pokémon give the game an emotional value that is communicated well in three dimensions.

The game comes in two flavors, X and Y, each boasting their own set of exclusive Pokémon characters. Savvy players will immediately realize the power of the game’s built-in trading function and swap their version exclusive creatures with owners of the other game.

Pokémon X and Y make good use overall of the 3DS system’s built-in WiFi capabilities, allowing for trading and battling across the globe as well as new social features.

Pokémon is a striking audiovisual experience.  The soundtrack is fully orchestrated and rings nicely through the game system’s not-so-great speakers.

Unlike alcohol, Pokemon reminds us that even in our wildest dreams, we can’t always do what we want.

When one Schreiber Times staffer attempted to ride the ingame bicycle in an indoor environment, he received a stern reminder from one of the game’s elderly protagonists that it was too bold of a move.

“Dan!  There’s a time and place for everything,” said the wise Professor Sycamore, “but not now.”

Pokémon provides a release from reality that is healthily measured.  The game’s real pleasures come when the player behaves maturely.

While you can use your Pokémon for rides (an exciting new feature) and money (you earn cash for defeating other Pokémon trainers in battle), you ultimately cannot enjoy the experience unless you treat your digital friends with respect.

The best trainers are the ones who remember to keep their Pokémon in top shape and use all of them in battle frequently.  Likewise, the players who have the most fun will be those who get exposure to different kinds of Pokémon in different environments.

No expectations exist that one will stop consuming alcohol entirely after reading this article, but perhaps the next time one finds that one has already consumed a half dozen cans of beer and are debating the next one, the words of the Professor will echo in your head.

“There’s a time and place for everything!  But not now.”