The Grass Menagerie
A certain individual who may remain nameless - an individual presumably without scruples or what one might term a conscience of human origins - suggested that I dust off the ‘mons, once more with feeling. Specifically: Crystal. In turn, I suggest that this “person", this rogue, this blackguard was fully aware of that game’s prodigious length, depth and Kanto-loving breadth.
This is all foreplay to the grand reveal that I have indeed been wading deep inside those hallowed algorithms. I am familiar with my beasts - I've always had a soft spot for grass types ever since my first starter - and they, in turn know me as their master. The physical dusting is also something of a metaphor, as the big N unleashed Pokemon Crystal onto the 3DS e-store not so many moons ago along with a whole bunch of improvements, not least the very real chance for western players to finally capture that most elusive of fairies in the wild wilds.
I have a longtime love for the Pokémon series, having first come to Blue on the OG Gameboy, one crazy, hazy Christmas morn’. Someone equally afflicted as I, wrote that to love Pokémon is to remember exactly what it is to be nine and a half years old. For me, it was twelve and I remember that bulbasaur in the same, vivid way as I would recall my first beer, car and/or lover. I travelled, battled and swore blind with the best of playground nerds. I went so far with the franchise as to get into collecting, swapping and stealing trading cards by bulk, concealed within the blackmarket folds of my winter coat. I still sometimes wear a bite guard to bed lest I grind my molars to dust, caught in the terrors of night, forever lost on Victory Road. I remember the mysteries, myths and downright theft of time by that one kid who’s uncle worked for Nintendo. I hunted for Missingno (with carefree abandon) and I never, ever found Mew under the truck.
So, having established that I have a particular flavour of bias, I trust you shall absolutely believe me when I tell you that the game holds up remarkably well. Sure, HeartGold and SoulSilver have quality of life stuff (like running shoes) that make them a little easier for a modern soul but for me, Crystal bought it all together for the first time, squaring their whole damned circle. And that scope? Man alive. It has legs like very few other things do nowadays.
The social stuff is nice. That being said, I remember the original Crystal being an insular, even meditative experience and I liked that. My ‘mons were mine, in my house, I touched no-one and no-one ever touched me. I was a rock or at least a very private pebble. There was no pressure with IVs, EVs or the like and I could dance like no-one was watching so I can do without all that, although I get why y’all might be glad for the platform. What future me is grateful for, is the ostensibly Fort Knox realm afforded by Pokébank over the Gameboy cart’s little watch battery.
I remember reading about this Seventh Circle contraption’s expiry date in some dusty little corner of the web, not having been aware that such a thing even existed, let alone contemplated its necessity for the continued survival of my ravenous crystalline menagerie. Needless to say, by the time I booted the ancient prism into life, they were long gone. Vanished into the suddenly opaque realm of spent electrical melancholy. There was almost certainly a sigh, complemented by only the most meagre crumb of resignation. There may even have been a single, solitary tear shed for their loss.
Not this time though. Not these hounds. These bitches can live forever.
JD - TACOCAT