287: Can't Catch 'em All

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John Funk:

Well, I don't think it's actually that much of a problem because it's not supposed to be the point any more. Nintendo hasn't used "Gotta Catch 'em All" in official marketing for at least two generations.

That smacks to me of KFC downplaying the word "Chicken" from their marketing due to all the phosphates and preservatives, or WoW dropping the "RP" from "MMORPG" when describing itself. In other words, they're addressing a perceived problem not through improved design, but by lowering our expectations of the product.

John Funk:

But as I touched on in the article, I'm also not sure it's inherently a bad thing. The fun isn't in *having* them, it's in trying to collect them.

Perhaps, but that still presents the problem of no payoff. The presence of the Pokedex in every iteration of the series, complete with unique blurbs and glaringly empty slots, is bait for the compulsive. (And I'd like to meet a pokemon fan that isn't at least a little bit compulsive.)

Also, I can't honestly think of any reason you would need 649 pokemon. With only 17 types, there's a maximum of 289 combinations, and even that's counting duplicates (like Flying/Bug and Bug/Flying.) It just boggles. Is there really that much difference between, say, a Charmander and a Charmeleon besides stats? Or the Porygons?

It should be "Gotta catch 'em all (if you're Japanese)".

Though personally I never tried to catch all of them. I think if I did that, I would instantly become bored and grow to hate the games. I mean, how dull must it be to just catch them all...?

It's because that Pokemon was a stage in my life that was so degrading and shameless in retrospect that I'd never, ever want to try it again. Not to mention shiny pokemon which you can get by either grinding for thousands upon thousands of random encounters to get just one, or you can cheat. Fuck you game, I'd sooner cheat. I'm not that enthusiastic over a goddamn palette swap.

Optimystic:

John Funk:

Well, I don't think it's actually that much of a problem because it's not supposed to be the point any more. Nintendo hasn't used "Gotta Catch 'em All" in official marketing for at least two generations.

That smacks to me of KFC downplaying the word "Chicken" from their marketing due to all the phosphates and preservatives, or WoW dropping the "RP" from "MMORPG" when describing itself. In other words, they're addressing a perceived problem not through improved design, but by lowering our expectations of the product.

John Funk:

But as I touched on in the article, I'm also not sure it's inherently a bad thing. The fun isn't in *having* them, it's in trying to collect them.

Perhaps, but that still presents the problem of no payoff. The presence of the Pokedex in every iteration of the series, complete with unique blurbs and glaringly empty slots, is bait for the compulsive. (And I'd like to meet a pokemon fan that isn't at least a little bit compulsive.)

Also, I can't honestly think of any reason you would need 649 pokemon. With only 17 types, there's a maximum of 289 combinations, and even that's counting duplicates (like Flying/Bug and Bug/Flying.) It just boggles. Is there really that much difference between, say, a Charmander and a Charmeleon besides stats? Or the Porygons?

I see it more as Nintendo acknowledging that this is an impossible goal and that it pretty much IS impossible to catch 'em all. It isn't a problem in design; it's the intent of the design.

I disagree that there's no payoff. As I said in the article, I remember when kids would download the exclusive event pokemon du jour and looked ecstatic. The payoff is in tracking down that one rare that you've been waiting for, not the rare and its friends.

At this point, you introduce new monsters because that's what the franchise does. You don't start a new generation without introducing a new cast of characters; some of which are meant to replace others and some of which aren't. I'm actually pretty pleased with B/W just because they're initially going ALL new cast - you won't be able to catch any of the old ones in the game (at first).

I tried my hardest a full years ago to catch them all. Spent an entire summer catching all 386 or whatever they had back then. Spent like 100 dollars altogether on like six different versions of Pokemon GBA games. The highest I got up to was 374, because the last nine were just impossible to find, it was hopeless. You actually needed to cheat to get them (since all the events were over).

To this very day, I have never owned a Celebi... EVER.

My 'dex on Platinum stands at 489 caught, the only pke who are missing are Celebi, Deoxys, Manaphy and Arceus. Before on Diamond I cheated but I went completely legit on Platinum, wasn't actually that hard to get all the pkes just took a long time. Damm those mystery events pkes though.

I just find 6 I like, catch them and stick with it. I only catch one if I never ran into it before, and I happen to run into it. I catch as many as I can, but that's it, and focus on my 6.

But still, what the REAL addicting thing for me is now there is a way to manipulate the stats of pokemon, and coming up with crazy strategies. Some moves you might never use in single player become essential in multiplayer. I swear, once you start going deeper into Pokemon, it starts coming closer and closer to resembling WoW. Including the addicting aspect of it.

I've said it before, I caught the 150 Red, all without cheating, and got my pokémon master certification. I did it without considering mew to be a real pokémon, like misingo or whatever. But after Red it just became ridicules way too many systems to get them. Because off all that I'm quite glad that black and white will have all originals, among other reasons.

I think you should be able to catch them in whatever version of the game you are playing. Having event only ones doesnt work, especially if they are in other countries. Not like, as a kid, you can travel to japan or america just to get a limited edition pokemon. Otherwise why bother collecting after your first 6 pokemon?

Cheating isnt really an issue. Maybe the fun was in trying to get all of them, but once you got them all then you have done it. What more is there to do? I guess thats why dreams are meant to be left unobtainable as they are broken when you obtain them.

I used to have the same problem. I don't even bother with Pokémon games anymore, and it's basically for the given reason: Either you really can't catch 'em all, or you have to cheat and cheating feels so pointless.

I got 151 Pokes in Red. No cheating. Attended an event in one of the many shopping centres (or as you Yanks call them. Malls.) and got him. I think the last one I needed was Persian.

It was bad even in the first generation depending on where you lived. Today everyone plays video games, but back then not many of us had game boys. Then again, it's not the only portable game multiplayer feature that assumes a more japanese density of people playing the same game.

Pokemon was a decent RPG with that mass appeal for us with OCD, but the event only ones leave the impression of a smile with a missing tooth. Sadly as far as 3rd gen I have got all the legitimate ones (up to 382) but haven't got the energy to try for the 4th gen. (though that still leaves the dex at 470 something).

I had the original 150. To me, Mew didn't count. He was an anomaly that only one of my friends had legitimately and everyone else bought for $5 from a kid with a gameshark and were pissed when they found out he gave them one who knew "cut".

I never quite finished my pokedex on silver. I came close, but I was missing the dogs because I got tired of the stupid chasing thing.

My friend and I bought ruby and sapphire together to collect them all but we never got anywhere close. We gave up on getting the older gen pokemon entirely and we lacked the patience to catch Latios and Latias because the chasing them through random locations without any clue where they were hadn't become any more fun than the last time.

When Diamond/Pearl hit, I simply lost interest. Evolutions became so complicated that they were impossible to figure out without a strategy guide. "I have to level up my pokemon near a special rock while it knows a certain move on the second friday of June but only if it's an exuberant female? Fuck it."

Battling was getting worse, too. The people I've met to battle play specially built teams of IV bread and EV trained pokemon. I keep seeing the same patterns and team builds and it just isn't any fun for me anymore. My friends and I never spent time calculating the most efficient ways to use each pokemon or looking up special builds online. Our teams were built for only one purpose: being awesome.

Funny this was posted; I just started playing fire red again. I grab whatever pokemon I can find that'll help me against the next trainer rather than try to catch 'em all.

John Funk:
Can't Catch 'em All

Pokemon pulls a cruel trick on its fans by encouraging them to "Catch 'em all!", but makes it nearly impossible for them to actually do it.

Read Full Article

It's such a hard line to walk, and I've personally found Nintendo to be one of the worst at it. This is unfortunate, as the rest of their work is better than average.

You want to make the highest achievements in the game something to be earned. It should require more of the player than just making it to the end, and a little bit of luck isn't a bad thing either to add some spice. But, on the flip side, using product tie-ins or real-life events to gate these achievements is problematic.

With the Gamecube, Nintendo tried (unsuccessfully) to force people to buy GBAs and cables in order to access some of the gated content in games like Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (GBA required for multiplayer) and Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GBA required for the "Tingle" content). It made these games feel incomplete for those of us that didn't have (or want) a GBA... and even if you did, that didn't mean your friends did. Price of admission: too high.

There are two forces at work here: making high-end content and achievements challenging (and thus rewarding), and providing incentives and rewards to players for buying into your company's other endeavors (be they games, devices, peripherals, or events). I find that the biggest problems occur when these two forces converge on the same particular in-game widget--as with the 'event Pokémon.'

Interestingly, Nintendo found a good balance with another game: Mario Kart Wii. The extra character Rosalina was unlocked for those players that had a Super Mario Galaxy save on the console--a clear product tie-in. Now, Rosalina wasn't in any way game-breaking, but it was an extra toward that sense of completion. But players that didn't have Galaxy could still get Rosalina if they won a bunch more 1-star ranks (or played enough online matches).

The reward for Galaxy buyers was a faster and easier reward, but it was still made available to others. Furthermore, it wasn't even limited to online or offline play--either could do it, with enough effort. There were, of course, some other characters and cars that could only be unlocked through online play. Pobody's nerfect.

What's most important, I think, is to keep that kind of gating away from central gameplay mechanics, like the Pokémon series' "catch 'em all" mantra. Even then, it's probably still best to make these things available to all of your players, just at a different, possibly higher 'price.'

The event pokemon drive the obsessive part of me that wants a complete pokedex nuts.

If Super Mario Galaxy had required you to go to a Gamestop between 1/9/10 and 1/16/10 in order to get the last three stars, (crazy, completionist-type) people would have rightly called BS. I'm not sure why pokemon gets a pass.

Catching them all is absolutely not impossible.

I have all 493 in my SoulSilver version. Not a single one is hacked or gamesharked.

It just takes time.

A lot of time.

.... And the ability to trade on Wi-Fi. : )

Trading RNG/Pokeradar shinies for legendaries = profit!

Or you could whip out your gameshark and make those blue version only bastards show up anyway. I didn't consider it cheating. Now catching a level 3 mewtwo at the start is most definitely cheating, and more fun :) I really miss gameshark :'(

The main reason I gave up on "catching 'em all" was the event Pokemon. At first, it was just Mew. Fine. Then Celebi. Whatever. Hell, even Jarachi were tolerable (mostly because it was easy), and I gave up on Deoxys.

Then they went insane in Gen 4. Shaymin, Manaphy, Arceus, Darkrai, Regigigas (let's face it, who ACTUALLY got it the other way?), and all previous event Pokemon at some point or another. And they even have a planned event Pokemon for Gen 5 already! Sure, it's easier with Wi-fi, but how about making it so that they're obtainable in-game without needing an internet connection?

Still, it is nice that there is online trading, but people are completely unreasonable about it. Most want a level 100 event Pokemon for just about everything, be it a version-exclusive, some other event Pokemon, or even a f***ing Zubat.

This I have a major beef with Nintendo. Most (if all) Nintendo games require the player to do things beyond the impossible. Super Mario Sunshine? Collect blue coins to trade for shine sprites. Big mistake if you happen to trade every 10 coins for a sprite separately. It's best to complete it by obtaining all blue coins and trade all in one.

As a former Pokemon player, I called it quits after the Pokemon names has risen to astounding heights of 400+.

All in all, Nintendo has been about being a completionist types people to grab them all. I collected all 120 stars in Super Mario 64, but I couldn't get all 120 shine sprites in Sunshine. Same goes for the trophies in the Smash Bros Melee and Brawl.

Couldnt you catch them all in Pokemon yellow ? You start off with a Pickachu and can get all three other starters thoughout the game. Hmmmff
And tbh I never really cared for catching every single one, just training up and awesome team of different varieties.

That bit at the end is why I really hate the way they just give them away over Wifi or at ToysRUs. Especially since now they are in the game, and you just need a special item. They never give you that item so you can go battle the Pokémon and catch it yourself. Oh no. You just get a different version of that Pokémon. I don't want you to just give me Arcues Nintendo, I want you to give me Heaven's Pipe so I can go to the Hall of Origin and catch him myself.

Gxas:
A very good read, Funk. Thanks for that. You make a good point in the fact that a lot of the collecting relied upon the promotions which rarely showed up in America. I still don't think I've seen a legitimate Shaymin. Hard to catch something when you don't even release it in the first place.

I have. That was actually one of the rare times Nintendo DID give you the item that lets you go find it and battle it. Nintendo actually has a lot of "events" over WiFi now that we're on the DS and they hold some in ToysRUs or GameStop now and then too. Still sucks though, I'd rather just do these challenges on my own without having to download an item or go to a store and just download the monster.

Mr. Omega:
Regigigas (let's face it, who ACTUALLY got it the other way?)

I did, and lots of other fans who had their RSE carts lying around still. Not terribly hard to use Pal Park...

Battenbergcake:
I get what you mean, i remember how giddy i got when i caught Groundon after 2 hours of persistently being smacked down, and having blown all my money on sweet rave parties and the company of fine women so on i had to caputre the damn thing with great balls.

Not actually important, but as Groudon is legendary only Master, heavy, dusk, timer/fast balls (depending on the game) have any bonuses. All other types you use against it become regular poke balls. Not that the game actually does anything to tell you this!

I have played every main game to date (including paired versions and the 3rd in each set) and some of the spin offs, I have to admit collecting pokemon especially new and interesting ones is pretty fun. I used to get the games with my brother and sister - the three of us usually got most pokemon traded between the versions though the event pokemon always eluded us so we usually had to rely on cheats but this became less and less used especially with the wifi events though in Diamond and Pearl I would usually cheat just to get the event item rather than the pokemon itself which felt like I was only compensating for the lack of events.

Most satisfying capture? A frozen Mewtwo in blue with a standard pokeball and a lot of time (as well as the down + B placebo effect)

I've played a game from each of the generations of Pokemon (not remakes or console games), but I don't think I ever caught them all, and honestly I like it that way. I've often found myself totally disappointed by RPG's that are nothing but a series of obtainable goals, where the game dictates when I should stop playing it. Usually the game ends before I'm fully satisfied, leaving me to either wait for a sequel or retread the same ground. At least with Pokemon I can continue to do new things as long as I want and quit only when I decide to, although the lack of innovation in this series is a big enough letdown.

Interesting tale, my flirtation with Pokemon ended when the cartridge I bought stopped working since it would no longer fit in my DS. I am assuming because I unknowingly bought a bootleg. I was not even close to complete though.

Honestly, I will say that I do like the idea of the multi-platform and multi-game transfers. See, I have fond memories of making parties of adventurers in early RPGs and then trasnferring them between games. In some games like the later Wizardries (Bane Of The Cosmic Forge, Crusaders Of The Dark Savant, Wizardry 8) there were items that you could onlt have if you found them in the previous games and transferred a veteran character over. You'd inevtiably wind up losing stats and a lot of your gear, but kicking around with say "The Avenger" from the first game in the triology in the last one was pretty awesome.

As I understand things, part of the fun of Pokemon for some people is to transfer their favorite monsters from one title to the next, a sort of favorite character or virtual pet.

Otherwise, I do understand the differance between the US and Japan when it comes to social conventions and gaming. Truthfully, I think it would help the gaming subculture in the US quite a bit if we saw more in the way of events, and long-term support of franchises and games that way. In the US is more about promoting a game until it sells and they make the money, and then moving on to promoting the next game, as opposed to having events and such that are arguably part of the entire experience.

Of course then again being an adult, it would also be nice if those events could also be for games played by adults, or at least older kids. I went to gamestop to download a Jirachi (which left with my cart) and was kind of embarassed in doing so. Getting two of the treasure maps from Dragon Quest IX events that actually happpened locally was a little less embarassing but still up there. Probably the characters all looking like bobble head dolls.

Personally, I never saw any appeal in trying to "catch 'em all". It's not like there is any exclusive in-game content or a real life reward for doing so, so I don't see the point. But then again, I am also a person who considers achievements to be a waste of time and those seem popular for some reason or another...

When it comes to Pokémon, the only thing I care about is getting six different types of Pokémon and then proceeding to smash the Elite Four and my rival in the face.

Is it even possible to have one of every pokemon stored in the pc because that seems like a lot more than it can hold.

i can't cach them all? nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Brilliant read, made me feel all nostalgic. It's quite a depressing truth too. I was obsessed by it in my time and even brought newer version for the sake of nostalgia but I just can't enjoy them anymore because it's so damn difficult to feel you achieve anything by the end of it.
There are far too many pokemon now :(

This is a great commentary! I've never completed a full pokedex without cheating; back in the Red/Blue days I did manage to get 150 and then we "duplicated" a Mew that a friend of mine had got at an event by doing some link cable voodoo. (In a sense this link cable voodoo was also a special kind of awesome.)

Kids everywhere were talking about a 3d pokemon adventure on the N64 and I'm sure if a decent one was released it would sell like crazy and probably shake the whole console market quite a bit. Sadly, all we got was Pokemon Stadium, in iself another of the games you could get pokemon from. All you'd get from completing the elite league was the opposite of the fossil you picked in that cave though, unless you disconnected your GBA connector thingie. I think it was possible to get the starter 3 in PS1. It was not a very great game though.

Then Gold/Silver came out and I got gold too. I don't remember how many pokemons were in the game, but I never had all of them. I did manage to voodoo myself a celebi though from another friend who had been to another event someplace. By this time the magic was still there, I still enjoyed playing Pokemon, and I think I made a sincere effort to get all of them, but I fell short by maybe 10-20 creatures...

Then Ruby/Sapphire came out and it just wasn't as fun anymore; I hastily jogged through the storyline, never really considering collecting all of the pokemon. Was it because I had grown up? Was it because the games had changed? Maybe both. After this I stopped playing Pokemon for a good while, but I recently picked up that Gold remake. I played it for some hours but I didn't even complete the storyline.

I kind of have a feeling this is related: http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html

Again, great(!) commentary.

I can quite honestly say that i never cared much for the whole "Gotta Catch 'em All" catchphrase. I was born in northern norway so i was pretty much screwed over from the start since not a single event has EVER occured up here.

I didn't hack any other game than Diamond, but to be honest i only ever felt any joy in catching the pokemon i needed to take down a tough opponent.

I caught pokemon after pokemon in order to build a strong enough party to take down the Set 8 Stargazer Colosseum leader in Battle Revolution for the Wii and that's one of the greatest pleasures i've ever had with the franchise.

Now that they still keep the whole "Gotta Catch 'em All" up with well over 600 pokemons i think i'll just quote Metallica to show how i feel about the series.

"Die, die, die my darling
Don't utter a single word
Die, die, die my darling
Shut your pretty mouth
I'll be seeing you again
I'll be seeing you, in hell
Die-die-die
Die-die-die
Die-die-die

just Die ah..."

Ulquiorra4sama:
I can quite honestly say that i never cared much for the whole "Gotta Catch 'em All" catchphrase. I was born in northern norway so i was pretty much screwed over from the start since not a single event has EVER occured up here.

What happened in Norway was that the Nintendo Magazine advertised that they would put Mew on your cartridge if you sent it to them. They also had a few events, but I don't think they ever had one where you couldn't send your cartridge to them. You might be too young for that though.

I never sent mine and I quite regret it.

It wasn't fair to bring Mew in as a case against catching them all in red and blue. Sure it was there, but it was never meant to matter in the slightest.

When the game was all but done, one of the creators put it in as a private joke, known only to pretty much himself.
It first appeared when someone got it using the missingno. glitch, instead of a kanghaskhan or an aerodactyl they got a mew. Word spread about it and people wanted it so eventually they just said "screw it, give them what they want" and made an event out of handing out mew since so many people wanted it and it was the only way to get it without the missingno. glitch. It didn't make a difference to catching them all since you got the certificate for catching them all if you catch 150, mew was just an Easter egg.

Celebi just followed that tradition on the 'just because' philosophy.

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