This post was inspired by a musing of a fellow blogger: “Gen 3 is the best Pokémon. I can at least understand those who argue for Gen 1, but anyone who tries to argue for any other is bonkers”, having an opinion that conflicted with his, (see title) I thought I’d give my two cents on the matter, especially as, strangely, this is a topic which comes up rather frequently in discussions with fellow geeks. I may as well put my thoughts in writing for reference at a later point!
One of the first reasons Gen 2 is the best Pokémon is that it introduced so many new things. Sure, one can argue each of the Pokémon games brought something new to the table but, the sheer number of news things this game introduced renders any competition obsolete. Off the top of my head it introduced: the option to play as a boy or as a girl, colour, (it was nice the whole game no longer consisted of nought but different shades of blue) the shift between night and day and the opportunity to catch different Pokémon during different times of the day, specialised Pokeballs, contests, egg-hatching and more. These various additions to the game improved the gaming experience substantially as, not only did it add a depth to Johto Kanto lacked, (apparently there’s no such thing as night in Kanto!) it gave the player something more to do than to simply train and battle Pokémon. I mean, who else spent hours and hour trying to catch a Scyther for the bug-catching contest only to be beaten by a Level 20. Metapod? And whilst many of the following games do incorporate these aspects, it was never as exciting to discover them the second time ‘round, ya’ know? Especially as one tends to be older with each game’s release, resulting in each consecutive game lacking in the same kind of magic anyway…
Another reason why Gen 2 is the best Pokemon is that it is far more interesting in terms of content than all of the rest of the games. Gen 2 explored the adverse effects humans can have on Pokemon in quite a dark manner. The game started off small, having Team Rocket steal Slowpoke tails, a relatively minor crime, (though perhaps not for the Slowpoke) before going on to the much crueller act of using radio frequencies to force Pokemon to evolve, the red Gyarados plotline. Now, even at a young age I could appreciate that Pokemon, a children’s game, was being quite ambitious, trying the convey the message the pursuit of wealth corrupts, and I still respect that ‘til this very day. Gen 2 was also the first, and only game featuring the mysterious Unown. Now, I really enjoyed the addition of the Unown as they thoroughly creeped me out. That’s something else you wouldn’t expect a children’s game to be, scary, but, the Unown and the surrounding Ruins of Alph were genuinely eerie as fuck, partly because of the strange, unidentifiable sounds you’d pick up on the Pokegear, partly because of the peculiar appearance of the Unown themselves and partly because, having never been intelligent enough as a kid to work out how to enter the different chambers inside the ruins, I was never able to fully learn what the Unown were and where they came from. These are just two of the aspects of the storyline I believe made Gen 2 shine, I could go on but, I fear that, at some point, I’d lose your interest!
Yet another reason why Gen 2 was the best Pokemon is that it is definitely one of the more challenging games. Whilst not as challenging as Gen 1, Gen 2 is yonks ahead of all of the other games in terms of its difficulty. Right, I should probably get this clear now, I despise games which spoon-feed you all of the answers, whilst I don’t think games should be difficult to the point they seem impossible, if they hold your hand throughout its entirety, telling you what to do at each and every turn, you may as well go watch a walkthrough and save yourself a good £30! To my frustration, I have found Pokemon games have increasingly begun to do this. In Gen 5 as soon as you defeat one person, another approaches you telling you what you must do next, infuriating. Gen 2, for the most part, does not do this. Whilst, as with all Pokemon games, it has a defined structure to its gameplay, you’re left pretty much to your own devices for the large majority of the game and it’d often take you quite some time wondering about, talking to people in order to work out how to progress which, of course, made the game’s completion infinitely more satisfying than any of its sequels. And of course, once you defeated the elite four you were given access to the Kanto region and the opportunity to eventually challenge Red, who was freakin’ impossible. Man, I don’t think I ever managed to defeat Red- he had something ridiculous like a Level 80 Charizard! So yeah, a much more difficult game.
So there you have it. I hope I may have converted a few of you non-believers into supporting the view that Gen 2 is the best, even if I haven’t I’m still glad I finally wrote all of these thoughts down- it’s been a cathartic experience, I’ve had a lot of nerd-rage against those who insist other generations are better pent up for a long time now!