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Pokémon games are getting less weird

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It is a data miner who discovered that the Pokerus is not present in Pokemon Scarlet and Purple. In itself, this is a small detail. But it’s part of a trend in Pokemon games in general: over time they just become less weird.

The bizarre virus takes some explaining. Introduced in Generation II, Pokérus had less than a 1 in 20,000 chance of infecting a Pokémon. (In comparison, shiny Pokemon, which are specifically known to be rare, have a 1 in 4,000 chance of spawning.) And despite being billed as an infection, the Pokérus was actually beneficial.

To understand how, however, you also need to understand effort values, or EVs. Defeating an opponent in combat rewards between one and three EVs in a specific stat. But EVs are never properly explained in-game and rarely mentioned. This is because they don’t really impact the casual gamer. Battle a variety of pokemon and yours will grow in a balanced, if slightly mysterious way.

When things get competitive, however, electric vehicles become a useful tool. For example, all Pokémon have both a physical attack stat and a special attack. But their moves can only fall into one of these categories, and individual Pokemon usually have a natural affinity for one or the other. A pokemon cannot max out its EVs in every stat, so competitive trainers will focus on getting EVs in a single attack form to avoid dividing them unnecessarily.

when it first came out, Pokemon was a strange and mysterious thing

A pokemon infected with Pokérus used to gain double EVs, greatly speeding up the process. Players who legitimately wanted to obtain the strongest Pokémon possible would deliberately infect their fellow battlers with Pokérus before training them. Far from being an extremely rare occurrence, trading, sharing, and spreading Pokérus between players has become an integral part of the grind.

Removing it doesn’t really have a material impact on the game. Pokérus was a niche mechanic that affected a niche group of players. The casual gamer would probably never run into it, and even if they had a 1 in 20,000 chance, they probably wouldn’t notice any benefit. But for competitive players, games have gradually introduced more and more ways to get powerful teams, including easier EV formation. And players who want high-level battles don’t even necessarily need to go through the time and effort of raising and training powerful monsters in the first place: many use tools like Pokemon Showdown just faking things.

A screenshot of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

a:hover]:text-gray-63 text-gray-63 dark:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray”>Image: Nintendo

But the now-completed Pokérus story reflects a change in the Pokemon games overall. when it first came out, Pokemon was a strange and mysterious thing. Rumors spread Red and Blue, claims that Mew could be found hiding under a truck that anyone who heard Lavender Town’s music would die. And behind the rumors hide real moments of strangeness. You can use your fishing rod on statues as if they’re floating on water, some characters can disappear and allow you to break the streak, and glitch pokemon like Missing No haunt cartridges.

When Gold and Money happened and Pokérus was introduced, it fell into that same category – a weird, nearly impossible to replicate, potentially frightening thing that could happen without any real warning or explanation. But with time, internet and data mining, it finally became something well known. The exact percentages of its occurrence have been revealed, along with its mechanics and uses. It became a perfected technique for those who wanted it and a little anecdote for everyone else.

The same can be said for many Pokemonlong-standing oddities. The aforementioned shinies, for example, were once a rare and mysterious recolor that, again, most players wouldn’t see in a casual game. If they did, they might not understand what was going on, or it might become a symbol of extraordinary luck to brag about with friends. Nowadays, there are a handful of methods, tricks, and farming techniques to get shiny. You still need luck, but much less. It has mostly been replaced by perseverance and brute force.

The loss of sheer weirdness and happy surprises in games is a shame

The existence of these problems and the people working on them have, in turn, led to quality of life changes to reduce them. Eggs were a weird surprise you could sometimes find if you left a pokemon at daycare. But as eggs have become central to various high-end mechanics, including breeding competitive pokemon and obtaining shinies, they’ve become easier and easier to obtain. In Scarlett and PurpleRaising and hatching the eggs takes a few minutes if you have the right sandwich powers and can be done right from your picnic.

The same goes for friendship, a mechanic that makes certain pokemon evolve. There’s no such thing as luck, but it’s only vaguely hinted at in most games, with a single NPC somewhere in the world giving general answers as a clue. Without a clear understanding of how it works, a pokemon suddenly evolving after having it for a while and using it a lot is a brilliant surprise. But now that it’s easy to find exactly online How? ‘Or’ What to raise that level of friendship, it seems so PokemonThe creators of responded in turn, which made things much easier overall. In Scarlett and Purple, just a few sandwiches might do the trick. It might come as a surprise, but only because of how quickly it happened. No more waiting, traveling, battling, and truly getting closer to your Pokemon.

I loved Scarlett and Purple a lot, but the loss of sheer weirdness and joyous surprises in games is a shame – and not something I think the Pokémon Company can easily avoid. It was after all a data miner who discovered that the Pokérus is not present in Pokemon Scarlet and Purple. All of the games secrets will be revealed within days of release, and people will start optimizing to get anything with a small chance of spawning, from eggs to shards.

But this is no longer true for the Pokerus. It’s unclear exactly why it was removed, but it had already completely changed since its first iteration – not mechanically but socially. Where it was once strange, unexpected and inexplicable, this, and so much more Pokemonhas become understood, common and easily exploitable.

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