Archive for the Pokémon Category

The Pokéwalker: On Reflection

Posted in Pokémon on January 7, 2011 by kokairu

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and a happy new year. Well, the start of the new year is never happy… Christmas is over and being in the midst of winter usually means illness and general melancholy. Plus everything just seems to go wrong this time of year, for me anyway.

I hope you’re dealing with the horrible new year effectively, and have things to look forward to when the weather starts to pick up.

One thing I managed to achieve over Christmas was finally unlocking the last route on my Pokéwalker: Quiet Cave. The Pokéwalker is a simple yet amusing device: a pedometer that synchronises with the Pokémon Heart Gold and Soul Silver games, and, put simply, generates bigger and better rewards the more steps that you do. It certainly motivated me to walk more – every time I had to drag myself anywhere there was always some consolation that my physical efforts would contribute more towards my game. The number of steps taken generates a revenue known as watts, which enable you to find items on the device (3 watts) or catch pokemon (10 watts), which can later be sent to your game. The items and pokemon available depend on the ‘route’ that you’ve selected to go on – this is determined when you send a pokemon to the Pokéwalker. Routes can be unlocked by gaining a certain number of watts (this starts off at something small and winds up being 20,000 watts between the penultimate and final routes). With 20 steps needing to be taken to gain a single watt, it’s a lot of effort. I was walking 2 miles a day with the Pokéwalker since early April, and finally unlocked the last route on 29th December! Naturally, the final route contains the best rewards: rare pokemon Feebas and Spiritomb. Very difficult to obtain in-game, so I deliberately abstained from trying to catch them until this point. Once Feebas has received enough massages, it will evolve into Milotic and I will complete my non-event Pokédex on Soul Silver!

Overall, this was an ingenious idea on Game Freak’s part. Not only did it make me want to buy the game (the Pokéwalker will only work with a genuine cartridge, as it sends and receives information via an infrared slot on the cartridge itself), it sort of made me feel like I was still playing it while I was out and about getting exercise. Sad, I know, but like I said before, it was fantastic motivation to take as many steps as possible. Not that I never took shortcuts – the vibrations on my car worked nicely in tricking the pedometer into thinking I was taking steps, as did sitting it next to the fan in the hot weather (I found this one out by accident!). But I can say that most of my achievement was accomplished the old fashioned and intended way.

This meta element of Pokémon is something that, I think, a lot of game manufacturers could take into account. Yes, the contrast between the hard core exerciser and the computer game-playing couch potato is not quite as vivid as it once was, what with motion technology being applied to the major consoles now. However, in my experience at least, those games only have novelty value. The fact that the whole game revolves around exercise can put a lot of people off, too. I’ve spoken to an alarming number of people that bought a Wii Fit only to play it a handful of times and then abandon it in that handy place underneath the TV cabinet. It’s a fantastic idea, don’t get me wrong, but I found that the more entertaining activities on it were the ones that involved balance rather than actually burning calories and getting fit. Put simply, most gamers want to chill out when they play games, not exercise.

Pokémon, for those of you that haven’t played it, is a game full of rewarding activities and one that you can never really finish. There are so many reinforcing aspects of the game, from the satisfying noise that’s made from landing a super effective move on the opponent to the amount the non-player characters admire you as you make your way through the story. It always draws me back in for these very reasons, and I get the impression that other RPGs have the same effect on people: World of Warcraft, for instance. I haven’t played this game myself (it’s not that I have a life, I just don’t want to have even less of one than I do now), but it seems to fall under the same category. There is no end to the game, and as your character gets stronger by defeating opponents, the rewards come thick and fast. To introduce something similar to these types of game could work incredibly well – after gaining 10000,0000 watts, for example, players could obtain the Sword of a Thousand Truths. If a pedometer that was sensitive to faster strides and uphill walking/running was applied (the Pokéwalker, sadly, did not have this feature), then not only would addicts perhaps feel the need to get a bit of exercise, then they might actually feel better about being dragged away from the computer for a day out. Worth a try, maybe?

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I wanna be the best… I wanna be the very best…

Posted in Pokémon on September 26, 2010 by kokairu

I can’t believe I haven’t seen this until now