After over 220 hours over the past three months, I can finally say I caught 'em all. What I am I talking about? Just the 490 different Pokemon in the most recent games in the Pokemon series - Diamond and Pearl. From Abomasnow to Zubat, my National Pokedex is complete.
My son and I have been active Pokemon fanatics since I first introduced him to the tv series in early 2000. This was before we had any games or before the phenomenom really hit full-tilt where we lived. At the start, it was just about this kid Ash who was travelling about, making friends, helping others and getting into battles with his funny little creatures. And the stories even had some moral lessons hidden into the mix so it wasn't so bad viewing. While my son connected to Ash, I really enjoyed the comic antics of the ever-present troublemakers - Jesse and James of Team Rocket.
It really didn't extend beyond the show until I gave my son my old Gameboy Color when I got a Gameboy Advance in the Fall of 2000. My son started us off with Pokemon Blue, the Americanized version of the popular Japanese game. We quickly found many of the elements from the cartoon show came directly from the game (big surprise - not; most of these cartoon shows these days are product tie-ins to other things). When a version called Pokemon Yellow came out, I decided to get that one for myself to play That introduced us to the first 150.
Every few years after that, new versions popped up for the game to expand the world. Pokemon versions Gold and Silver came next, adding another 100 to the mix. This worked out well: I got one version while my son got the other. And since you needed to cooperatively trade with others, it worked out well to have it all in one house hold. Next came versions Ruby and Sapphire. Again, more characters were introduced into the game and again the whole cooperative factor. Because these newer games only came for the Gameboy Advance, my son got to upgrade his system a bit. A few years back, they rereleased the original games with improved graphics and color for the Advance system in the forms of Leaf Green and Fire Red versions. Again, two way split. Tie-in games like Pokemon Collesseum and Pokemon XD for the Gamecube allowed by son to get his game fix in a more three-dimensional form, while the Pokebox software allowed for transferal of characters from the Gameboy games into the Gamecube games, and vice versa.
All of it came to a head this Spring. First came Diamond and Pearl for the Nintendo DS system. This most recent version took the same classic concepts but allowed for players to get all the monsters from all the games - all 490. First one had to complete the first 150 listed in the regional Pokedex, and then the list expanded out to all from all the various games together in the National Pokedex. The catch: you really needed the former games to get some of them. This required breeding of eggs, transferring from other games through the DS cartridge port, etc. It was a lot of work. Some of the hard to get ones required even using the Global Trading Station, a way in the game to use an Internet connection to trade with folks around the world. My son got one Pokemon from someone in Japan, then bred it to make an egg so I could have this hard to get one in my game too. I even did a trade on the GTS for one, with someone from Colorado.
And that's one thing I really liked about these games: the cooperative aspects. It wasn't just about beating down some monsters or leveling up or solving puzzles. It promoted teamwork. Being an only child, my son often looks to my wife and I to share some of his interests. This is one I could share with him readily; my wife's eyes glaze over every time he and I get so deep into discussions about Raichu, Feebas, Chimchar and the like (she says it's like we're speaking our own language at the time - when in some ways it is).
The other thing I liked is that when my son was first starting out it was a good way to encourage him to read more things. The game has text aspects to it - so you often have to pay attention to what the people you encounter are saying. It was a nice way to get him to do something he typically didn't like to do often. Also, through these games, my son realizes the importance of studying up and memorization. I can ask him what level a Krabby evolves into a Kingler or what fossil a Cranidos comes from, and he knows. I figure if he can memorize all this stuff, he shouldn't have any problems in school down the road.
So, having caught 'em all, I feel that little weight lifted off my shoulders. I can put this game aside for awhile, focus on other things, and still have that satisfied feeling of a job completed. Until the next game comes out, at least.