When we last spoke, I had just added Manaphy to my Pokédex and had another eighty odd monsters left to collect. It’s been a year, and progress as been slow but as of today I have just 28 left. Of the 58 caught over this time about 30 came in the last week due to a recent bout of motivation. Today’s update isn’t about those captures though, it’s about the sheer mental disarray these games have left me in due to their convoluted systems, open ended nature and emotional hooks. If I’m going to finish this job, and I must, I need to learn to let go.
The process of gathering all the Pokémon in one place is hard enough. I own ten individual titles, from four ‘generations’ of Pokémon games, across three hardware platforms. The most painful transfer is from the Ruby/Sapphire/Leaf Green titles to Diamond/Pearl/Heart Gold. Each game can only transfer six Pokémon per day via a time consuming, tedious minigame to re-catch them all in the newer titles. Thankfully a decade ago I had the diligence to slowly drain my Game Boy Advance games of their Pokémon with just a few stragglers left behind. The transfer from Diamond/Pearl/Heart Gold to Pokémon Black is less painful as there is no daily limit, but still involves a frivolous minigame with a meaningless and incomprehensible scoring system. There’s also a seemingly arbitrary restriction in transferring Pokémon knowing a HM move, which tend to be the Pokémon that I travelled with and have formed an attachment to. So these moves have to be removed by talking to the in game character who somehow has the ability to force Pokémon to forget their moves. After this I move them in batches of six to Pokémon Black with two DSes, one running in multiplayer download mode, and shooting them with a Pokéball armed crossbow. From here I can move them in batches of 30 to Pokémon Bank via another seperate app. I’ll spare you another 200 words and just share Nintendo’s official infographic for how the remainder of the games interact with Pokémon Bank.
Keeping track of all these machinations uses up enough mental energy but what really tips me over the edge is the way I keep flitting about between games, it just overloads me with mental clutter. I’ll boot up Omega Ruby, catch a few, then go back to Heart Gold and be distracted by trying to beat Red and always checking back to Pokémon Bank to see if they’re all there. I’ll forget about the extra critters I have stored on Pokémon Ranch and then spend 20 minutes realising that I synced all that data to the WiiU and figuring out how to get the DS to communicate with it. I then cross reference those against my Bank Pokédex. This isn’t just finishing a game, it’s completing an 800 plus collection strewn across ten games and ancillary support software. This might be manageable if Pokemon was a linear game but it’s not and with my brain that can’t just complete something and move on, I just leave all of these games in states of distress with incomplete quests, unorganised Pokémon in storage and general disarray. This in turn leaves me in disarray and I need to just empty all those previous games of their monsters and let go.
There’s some Pokémon who can’t continue their journey with me. Each game requires at least one Pokémon remain in my party and transfers can only happen from the in-game PC. For most games this is simply a matter of catching some worthless Bidoof and transferring the rest, but that’s not always the case. Pokémon HeartGold had a special event spiky eared Pichu, a unique trait she apparently picked up through excessive time travelling with Celebi. Professor Elm deemed her so unique that he informed all the nearby Pokémon Centres to not allow her to be traded, to keep her for further study. This was a neat way for otherwise compatible games to avoid displaying a sprite they don’t have. Rockstar Pikachu in OmegaRuby awaits a similar fate, the lone Pokémon remaining in the game, never moving with everyone else to Pokémon Bank and beyond, all because Game Freak didn’t make future games compatible with them. While neither of these critters were a mainstay in my party, holding neither badges nor ribbons, it will still feel sad to leave them behind. I hear somewhere in the code for Pokémon Sun and Moon is a box sprite for spiky eared Pichu, but despite all the time travelling with Celebi, this is one jump she can’t make.
Comepleting the Pokédex has been siting on my to do list since Ruby came out in Australia in April 2003. Fifteen years ago. Looking back, fifteen years ago is when the order of my life began to fray. This incomplete task has been weighing me down mentally all through high school, two university degrees, and now during my stalled, unemployed career. If you knew my academic performance you’d know I really didn’t need any ongoing mental distractions, and while I wont blame Pokémon, its certainly a significant contributor to the clutter in my mind. If I’m going to take on the next challenges in my life with the attention they deserve, I need to push through the Pokédex. I need to completely empty the old games of their Pokémon and sell the cartridges. I need to plan my approach for the last 28 and do it in such a way to mentally tie up the loose ends to feel satisfied. Once I finish this I can finally let go.