Generation IV: A look back

An inspection of the now three-year-old fourth generation
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  • Thursday, April 22, 2010

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This editorial has been written by TTEchidna. It expresses the views of the writer, not necessarily those of Bulbagarden networks.

Three years. Three long years. The length of time between the period of Generation I and Generation II, and the length of Generation II itself. Now, Generation IV has reached this, and we await Generation V...

It's time, now, to look back at Generation IV, to see how far we've leapt from Generation III, and what Generation IV brought to us.

Introducing only 107 new Pokémon, Generation IV was not as expansionary as Generation III was to the franchise, but this did not make it any less of a generation. No, indeed, I think it made it more of one. Generation III was all about the change of the series, a revamp that cost us compatibility with Generations I and II, but brought us so much. The true potential of the changes brought on by Generation III, however, could not be fully realized until Generation IV perfected them, much as the game mechanics introduced in Generation I were not perfected until Generation II.

At the beginning of Generation IV, one of the most criticized changes was the introduction of damage categories to moves, designating them to be physical or special depending on the move itself, rather than its type, and making all non-damaging moves status moves. Many saw this as an attack on their Generation III strategies, making Pokémon such as Sceptile and Blaziken "unusable". And while it is true that Sceptile's higher Special Attack stat was hurt by its lack of special moves, both were now able to utilize moves of types they previously could not more effectively. Sneasel, of course, is one of the most important examples of this. Always known in the TCG as a formidable opponent, so far as even causing Sneasel to be banned from play, in the games it had an incredibly weak combination of stats, typing, and learnable moves, with both Ice and Dark being considered special types, and Sneasel's Attack base stat of 95 far outclassing its pitiful Special Attack base stat of 35. Its receipt of an evolution in Weavile, as well, boosted its usability, though the item required for evolution remains quite rare and expensive at the Battle Frontier.

And while expansion of the number of evolution families was minimal, like Sneasel, several older Pokémon received new evolutions in order to make them more usable. Many of these, like Sneasel, were Pokémon introduced that did not evolve before, with Pokémon such as Aipom, Yanma, Tangela, Lickitung, Roselia, and Nosepass receiving new evolved forms, while several others, old favorites such as Magneton, Electabuzz, and Magmar, received new evolutions as well, completing a three-stage evolution family.

TMs also expanded, with many of my more favorite moves becoming available easily via the TMs above 50. Roost, with its healing ability, has made for several new possibilities with my Psychos team, including Honchkrow, Togekiss, and several others. Flash Cannon, given away by Byron in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, is an incredible move as well, with its usability by Magnezone and others removing their desperate need for a special Steel-type move. My old favorites, such as Psychic and Shadow Ball, also were made more useful, with the error of Shadow Ball, a Ghost-type (and therefore physical) move's lowering of Special Defense finally rectified after nearly ten years.

But these are only the things new to Diamond and Pearl.

Platinum pushed the Pokémon series further, bringing back a new Battle Frontier, as well as expanding the story of Team Galactic and pushing it into the strange antimatter void of the Distortion World. Here we had truly diabolical villains, not the failures we had seen previously in the hopeless Team Rocket who took over the Goldenrod Radio Tower in a last-ditch attempt to contact their vanished boss, Giovanni, or the ignorant and fanatical Team Aqua and Team Magma, whose seemingly good goals were misguided and ridiculous at their least harmful, and dangerously ridiculous at the most, such as wanting to cause a volcano to erupt to expand the land. No, instead we had a man with a mission. Hateful of the world, Cyrus was cold to all, including the player, and sought to rid himself, and then the whole world, of emotion by recreating it using the legendary Dragon trio. His grunts were ignorant and misguided, believing the lie they were told that they were helping the world with such terrorist actions as threatening Professor Rowan for his research on Pokémon evolution and going so far as to actually blow up a lake to search for the legendary Pokémon living there. Charon, as well, introduced in Platinum, had his own mission. A greedy old man, rather than wishing something benevolent and misguidedly causing harm, actively attempted to hold hostage the Sinnoh region, threatening to erupt Stark Mountain by stealing Heatran's Magma Stone.

Finally, Generation IV has come to a close with the two games I've been pestering everyone about for the better part of five years. Yes indeed, the remakes of Gold and Silver, HeartGold and SoulSilver. And while several of the changes from the original game may have angered me at first, such as the Tin Tower being now known as the Bell Tower, I am truly happy with these games. This was the reason driving me to hope that Generation IV would not end before them, and why I believed every day that it would not be over after Platinum, even though in Generation III the remakes came between the paired and third versions of Hoenn. If Pokémon ended here and now, I would be content.

But it will not. Generation V is on its way. And with this fandom as it is, I expect complaints, from both the rest of you as well as myself, until we get used to the changes Game Freak has implemented.

...and hopefully the next region's Game Corner won't be botched. Voltorb Flip FTL. Lemme buy coins.