Procrastigaming #1: Pokémon Yellow Version
Edited by Natasha Hayes and Matthew “Retrograder” VanDeZande
I’m just not good at video games. I enjoy them, don’t get me wrong. I have a really great time with most of the games I play. The thing is, I don’t play them well. I’m pretty terrible. I’m not great with shooters, I end up frustrated at puzzles, and I do everything but the objective in adventure games. More often than not, I’ll play a game for a while and have a blast, but I’ll never actually make it to the end. That’s what this series is about. It’s about all the games I’ve played and abandoned over the years because that’s a thing everyone’s done at some point, right?
I have a lifetime of unfinished games under my belt. Games I played for, like, a week and forgot about, then there’s some that I tried really hard to finish but never could for some reason (obviously the game was out to personally attack me but whatever, I don’t even like having fun anyway). I’m sure there are even some I’ve forgotten that I own, so it’ll be a real Experience™ checking the shelves for those.
But for today, let’s start simple. Let’s start at what is probably the beginning of my exceedingly mediocre handheld gaming career. That seems like the best place to start.
I first played Pokémon Yellow during the Christmas of 1999. Like literally every other kid who had that game, I did it over and over until I could make it through Rock Tunnel without bothering to go and collect the Flash HM. Until I could catch Moltres and then go on to the Elite Four without getting lost. Until I knew where all of those dropped items you can’t see were hidden — you know, the ones where you just tap “A” in front of a pole or fence and find a Potion for your efforts? I played Yellow over and over until I knew how to catch Mew, because he’s under the truck, right?
Man, times were fun when your only game guide was the school playground.
Here’s the kicker: it’s been seventeen years and yet I’ve never completed a Pokédex.
I’ve always felt that completing your ‘dex was the ultimate goal in any Pokémon game. I mean, it’s the tagline, right? “Gotta catch ’em all.” It’s not even that hard if you only count the regular, in-game Pokémon. It’s a totally achievable thing. Or, at least, it should be.
Here’s a list of the original 151 Pokémon who have evaded me to this day: Arbok, Nidoking, Nidoqueen, Wigglytuff, Persian, Poliwrath, Alakazam, Machamp, Golem, Mew. See? The only one on that list that should have ever been a problem is Mew. The ones you had to trade with a friend so they’d evolve are understandable, because I had to borrow my cousin’s link cable to trade anything at all, and even then I only really had the option at Christmas or Easter. But Nidoking? The game throws Moon Stones at you like crazy. Wigglytuff? Wigglytuff?
Look, I’ve never skipped a Pokémon game. It’s probably the only series I come back to time and time again. But it’s been seventeen whole years and my Pokédex remains incomplete. I mean, sure, the entire premise here is that I’m not good at finishing games I start. But not many people are, and the ones that do are usually doing it for personal pride or to see that sweet, sweet gamerscore rise. And let’s face it, I’m kind of on a roll here. Going back and attempting to finish any of these games I’ve never finished would ruin my current record of not finishing them.
A personal best I’ve held onto since 1999? Come on, as if I’m throwing that out the window.
Of course, Pokémon Yellow isn’t the only game of mine that remains woefully incomplete. It’s like I said earlier — I have an entire lifetime of them. Next edition of Procrastigaming I’ll tell you all about what’s probably my number one game and why, despite that, I’ve never made it to 100% completion: Crash Team Racing.