As I’ve gotten older, I’m become increasingly critical and jaded with respect to enjoying entertainment. My background is in screenwriting, and I’ve dedicated years to learning what makes a story “well-written”. While I do get enjoyment out of recognizing what makes for a higher quality work, and being able to intelligently discuss their merits with like-minded people, I often miss the simplicity of playing games or watching movies when I was a kid. I didn’t worry about subtext, theme, or proper character development. I just liked something because I liked it. Still, there are things that no matter how old, bitter, or jaded I get, I can’t help but utterly enjoy them.
After playing through Pokémon Ruby, I thought I was done with Pokémon. I had gotten older and Pokémon seemed to be something that would be left behind as I matured into adulthood. But then I bought Diamond on a whim, and I was sucked back in. The same thing happened with White and then again with White 2. By the time Pokémon X and Y were released, I stopped trying to tell myself I had outgrown the series, and would finally be done with it. I knew I would be picking up Y on day one.
By all accounts, I should be done with Pokémon. I have never liked RPGs that rely on you forming a party out of the random enemies you encounter, and the story has never been anything special. And yet, I’m drawn like a moth to the flame with this series. I get addicted to collecting and training the monsters I capture, and I smile and lap up every cheesy line of dialogue, or thickly layered sentiment that comes my way, and I think it’s because of the nostalgia I feel when I play Pokémon.
Playing Pokémon simply makes me feel like being a kid again. My most recent experience playing Y really drove that point home. Being the first worldwide Pokémon release, there were no movelists, item location guides, or anything of the sort available. Just like in the wild frontier days of Red and Blue, I had to discover these things for myself. My friend and I were in constant communication as we journeyed through the Kalos region, exchanging new discoveries, tips, and frustrations that we uncovered along the way. It was just like being a kid again, talking on the blacktop about the mysterious truck near the S.S. Anne, or the proper way to encounter Misingno.
As I mature and enter what seems to be and constantly changing and increasingly unknown future, it’s nice to know there are things that can still transport be back to a simpler time. Listening to Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen and feeling like the love of my life is out there. Watching Star Wars and getting inspired to take my “first step into a larger world”. Playing Pokémon, and remembering that no matter how cynical I become, there’s always that simple, idealistic part of me just waiting to be unlocked. Nostalgia is a powerful tool, indeed.