I walk into a familiar town, flowers blooming everywhere I look. I remember the layout of the houses from the last time I was here – it must have been 15 years ago. I walk familiar routes, talk to familiar people, and smell familiar scents; pollen and honey. But there are two unfamiliar people. They must have moved here in the decade and a half I’ve been away. But when I go to greet them, something strange happens. They give me a fucking Jirachi.
I’ve talked before about the lengths I went to in order to try and get Mew in Pokemon Red and how Pokemon Go almost ruined that for me, and again I was just given one for walking into the third town of the game. Okay, I had to buy two previous Pokemon games to get them, but you can’t put a price on the thrill of finding a Mythical Pokemon. Well, you couldn’t. Now it’s somewhere in the region of £50 a pop.
It doesn’t help the case that Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl are incredibly easy games. Sure, Cynthia was a small stumbling block, but if the last battle of the game is the only difficult moment, what’s the point? Our reviewer Cian Maher got through the whole experience without losing a Pokemon until that point, which is trivial even for a game designed with children in mind.
Some of that is due to the original Gen 4 titles the remakes were based on. More of it is due to the friendship mechanics that help your Pokemon to withstand hits that would have otherwise knocked them out or shake off burns because they like you (both happened to me in my Cynthia battle, leaving my victory to feel underwhelming). But it could have been easier still.
Neither me nor any of my friends used the Mythical Pokemon we were given in Floaroma Town, but I dread to think how easily I would have swept through inconsequential gym leaders and Legendary battles had Jirachi or Mew been in my party – or both. Mythical Pokemon aren’t only supposed to be rare, they’re also powerful, and can ruin the fun of a playthrough if you use them from such an early stage.
But it’s not all about the power of these Pokemon, it’s how cheaply they’ve been implemented. Remember being jealous of friends who somehow got their hands on Eon Tickets? Rumours of events in Japan giving out Celebi seeming further away than Johto? Mythicals meant something when they were actually rare, and now they’re just a cheap trick to get kids to buy all the games.
This isn’t stopping either. Darkrai and Shaymin will be given to Pokemon Legends: Arceus players simply for owning previous titles. At least in this instance they’re saved for the postgame, but that’s besides the point. I don’t care about Mythical Pokemon because of some random proper noun attributed to them. The designs of most aren’t worthy of special treatment either – Appletun has a better design than Manaphy and I won’t hear otherwise.
I care about Mythical Pokemon because they’re rare. They were coveted on playgrounds across the country because they were only available to the luckiest or richest kids, or those with an Action Replay cheat machine. Sure, it’s elitist, but it evoked a sense of wonder in the Pokemon more than any worldbuilding or Pokedex entry could. Mythical Pokemon are still only available to rich players who can afford every game, but now we don’t even have to try for them. Celebi’s event in Ilex Forest and Deoxys’ Birth Island home create an aura of power around the Pokemon, enhancing their spirit and alien energies and whipping the player into an excited frenzy.
Maybe I’m just older and more jaded, but when I was handed a Mew and Jirachi within hours of booting up Brilliant Diamond, I didn’t feel elated or excited. I was disappointed. I thought, “here we go again,” and moved some of the most powerful Pokemon in existence – the very creatures I spent hours searching for, begging friends to trade me, and asking my parents for ridiculous weekend trips to Japan for – to my box.
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