I have recently become addicted to Minecraft… again. No surprise there. A grown man spending so much of his free time on a single game is already pretty sad, especially when that game mashes up his most favorite things in the world: LEGOs and NES themed graphics.
Won’t us men ever grow up? Unlikely. So, what happens when we mash together another ingredient? What is something that we can mix into the recipe without the use of mystery meat? When a child takes up the hobby of mixology, they tend to get very creative or incredibly random. The mixing of video game ingredients are similar to cooking. You put in one of your favorite ingredients, and add something else that can magnify the flavor. This could be like turning peaches into peaches and cream. How about we go one step farther and turn it into a milkshake? This is exactly how I felt when I was introduced to Pixelmon, a Pokémon mod for Minecraft, and also a “legal charlie-foxtrot”.
Pixelmon is everything that you could hope for in a Pokémon game, with a few changes that can either help or hinder gameplay. All in all, the mod is insanely impressive. I expected it to be buggy and loaded with crashing issues like half of the other mods. You can go about on your path to be the world’s greatest Pixelmon Champion, just like the many Pokémon games since the releases of Pokémon Blue/Red/Yellow in the late 90’s. To make things even more interesting, one server I have become attached to has real gym leaders, all normal avatars of other people from around the world. While this isn’t convenient at all for new scrubs like me, it gives more of a sense of realism. I have to match up my schedule in order to acquire the next badge on my list. Otherwise, I can’t take my Pokémon past a certain level and will not be able to use them against that gym’s leader. Crazy, right?
While there are a lot of cool perks with this mod, there is still one thing that is driving me batty; The lag is just unbearable at times. I can get past it though because it doesn’t seem to be affected by the mod, but rather by the servers instead. Some servers run silky smooth and others are just unplayable. Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to redo some of the voices. Blastoise’s voice isn’t a great double. Just saying. Although I harp about the small things, it doesn’t take away from my true opinion of the mod, which is that it’s damn good. Period. As time goes on and more patches come, it can only get better.
I sat back an hour ago and pondered on my experiences thus far on Pixelmon. My thoughts dragged me back to the past when I was still a moody, teenage bastard. I remembered Pokémon Coliseum for the N64, and I also recall how it felt like more of an unfinished game. Instead of constant battling, why didn’t Game Freak make a fully 3D Pokémon experience? This was what I had been craving since I was seventeen, and Pixelmon was the rare candy that sated my hunger. I almost think that Pixelmon could be better than what I had imagined in many respects. I loved all of the extra features added into the game to match up past Pokémon elements. For instance, players have to pick apricorns of different colors to make your Pokéballs. You also have the option to buy your Pokéballs from other players or a shop if you don’t care about being frugal. After that, you need the ore to make the base for the balls. With the help of an anvil, you can create any kind of Pokéball (except the Master Ball) with your own hands. This is what made the game so addicting to me. Soon, I found myself performing my normal Minecraft digging habits. I enchanted myself a badass pickaxe, and went about harvesting the materials needed for a quest that is still far from over–unless GameFreak decides to create something of equal, or greater value.
I mention this because I am done waiting for GameFreak to make their move. In fact, I am going to scream at the top of my lungs and say “Bring us what we all want! We are all madder than hell, and our wallets are eager to spend!” Pixelmon nearly brought tears to my eyes when I first played it. You don’t have to depend on random battles for experience, rather you find the Pokémon yourself in the wild or, occasionally, in towns. This would be the first time that you can pick and choose between your battles.
The cute and catchable critters are mixed between smooth-bodied entities and blocky lego-monsters. Poliwhirl is the microwave shaped inbred cousin of the smooth and immaculate Poliwrath. If you think that’s weird, you should see them evolve. I think that Nintendo should take note to some of these ideas. Many of these servers have MMO elements added to them. An MMORPG Pokémon is exactly what Nintendo needs to make. I would pull my wallet out and seductively slide it into the pants of Nintendo executives if I knew that it would eventually get me the Pokémon MMORPG that I so desired. But I weep. After reading Kotaku’s story on Chinese fans begging for a release of Pokémon in their language, I decided to put up my own story.
While we are more fortunate than China’s fanbase, some of us feel like Pokémon could be made into something that could keep Nintendo on top for a very long time. Would it be hard to add game mechanics that work great in games like World of Warcraft? I can see players frantically harvesting XP with haste so they could be the first and only ones to own a certain legendary pokemon on their server. It would be like that one single asshole in World of Warcraft that owns Ashbringer (or another legendary weapon that has an incredibly low drop rate) and flaunts it off every day in Ironforge, except you replace Ashbringer with Rayquaza. This would bring real world tournaments to your own home. Most everyone would get-in on the action if they knew that there would be one of five Mews available to a public of possibly millions. Monthly subscription fees are nothing to a consumer like me, as long as the game is made well and presents the player with the addicting gameplay that is usually apparent with current MMORPGs.
Am I asking for too much? Perhaps. But, I am a gamer, and I spend my money on Pokémon products. Nintendo has recently piqued my interest with the release of the official Pokémon Trading Card Game for PC and Mac, and soon coming to iOS. ‘Finally’ my mind screams! I can spend my extra money on digital booster packs and play endlessly online against other players one day. I smile at this fact, because GameFreak and Nintendo are moving in the right direction with that title, although it feels ten years too late. But, I will continue to scream and moan between Pokémon games every year, and pray that it’s an actual Pokémon game and not some filler pork. My message to Nintendo is this: The only reason I don’t spend all of my time on Pokémon is because there’s just not enough Pokémon to fill up my time. There are very few titles I hold closer to my heart other than Pokémon, but they come every few years rather than every year (Zelda, Smash Bros.). By all means, I don’t believe that Nintendo is doing a bad job managing the portable sensation. Their normal recipe for success has yet to bring them ill tidings. I will always crave for a Pokémon experience that is plump in vision and everlasting in flavor, and will continue to buy every great title that comes bearing the Pokémon name.
Landon Luthi is an associate writer for MONG, and is the website’s most cynical nostalgia bastard! You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and occasionally to random Asian bath houses at odd hours of the night.