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Can we catch ‘em all?: Generation IV

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{{Article|
type=opinionop-column |
picture=Prof_Carolina.png |
caption= |
sourcename= |
sourcelink= |
user=8bitbeccaRebecca Hernandez-Gerber |
userlink=User:8bitbecca |
tagline=Versions, remakes, and media archaeology |
{{CategorizeIn|Games|12|14}}
 
“The past is brought to the present and the present to the past; both inform and explain each other, raising questions and pointing to futures that may or may not be.” – Erkki Huhtamo and Jussi Parikka, ‘’Media''Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications’’Implications'' <ref> Erkki Huhtamo and Jussi Parikka, Introduction to ‘’Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications’’, edited by Erkki Huhtamo and Jussi Parikka (Berkley: University of California Press, 2011). </ref>
 
Unlike its predecessor, the {{bp|Game Boy Advance}}, the {{bp|Nintendo DS}} was a technical revolution. Released in 2004, it was the first portable console to employ dual-screens as well as the first to incorporate a touchscreen. For purposes of backwards compatibility, earlier models included a {{bp|Game Boy Advance}} cartridge slot (a feature discontinued with the system’s third iteration, {{bp|Nintendo DSi}}). With wireless communication and battery life double of its competitor, Sony’s PSP, the {{bp|Nintendo DS}} would eventually become the second most successful videogame system after the PlayStation 2. <ref name = “Forster, ‘’Game Machines’’”> Winnie Forster, ‘’Games Machines 1972-2012: The Encyclopedia of Consoles, Handhelds & Home Computers’’ (Utting, Germany: Gameplan, 2011). </ref>
Pokémon {{bp|core series}} franchise games have always used technology to promote a sense of communication. {{bp|Satoshi Tajiri}} explicitly stated that the {{bp|Game Boy|Game Boy’s}} {{bp|Link Cable}} inspired {{bp|Pokémon Red and Green Versions|Pocket Monsters: Red and Green}}.<ref> Anne Allison, ‘’Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination’’ (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).</ref> For {{bp|Generation I}}, then, {{bp|core series}} games held the promise of personal one-on-one communication through the platform’s abilities. This continued through {{bp|Generation II}}. In Japan, {{bp|Generation III}} was the start of a shift from limited, personal communication to global communication through the technical addition of wireless networks. Therefore, {{bp|Generation III}} can be see as the first indication that widening technical abilities influenced how the series’ core themes were interpreted.
 
{{bp|Generation IV}} continued to push forward this evolution of theme as a response to technology, but in this case the alteration is far more significant. Rather than focus on the platform’s abilities to connect game content, ‘’the''the games themselves’’themselves'' become the technical objects that allow communication through the platform’s capabilities. Dual slot mode is a technical ability native to the {{bp|Nintendo DS}} platform, but it is also a physical manifestation of the promise of communication inherent in this generation of core series games. What’s more, a player with prior knowledge through communication with older Pokémon {{bp|core series}} franchise games gains a privileged position over newer players, as they alone have access to the tools needed to fully take advantage of these technical communication abilities.
 
To expand on this point, a good place to start is an examination of how {{bp|dual-slot mode}} functions. The player inserts any of the five {{bp|Generation III}} cartridges into the {{bp|Game Boy Advance}} slot of their {{bp|Nintendo DS}} and a {{bp|Generation IV}} title into the {{bp|Nintendo DS}} slot. Once this is complete, a player is able to access Pokémon otherwise unavailable in the individual {{bp|Generation IV}} games. In many cases the available Pokémon are {{bp|version-exclusive Pokémon|version-exclusive}} to the {{bp|Generation III}} cartridge inserted at the time. What is fascinating about this process is the conversion of {{bp|Generation III}} games from ‘’content’’''content'' into ‘’object’’''object''. These are no longer video games to be cherished for their content but instead a dongle system of acquisition, a technological extension of the platform.
 
{{bp|Dual-slot mode}} is also a factor in inter-generational {{bp|trade|trading}}, which is a process aided by a media archaeological perspective on the data structures of Pokémon. In {{bp|Generation III}}, Pokémon were split into four twelve-byte blocks of data.<ref>http://www.ppnstudio.com/maker/PokemonMakerHelp.txt </ref> {{bp|Generation IV}} increases the total byte structure to one hundred twenty eight, divided into four thirty two-byte blocks.<ref>http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pokémon_data_structure_in_Generation_IV </ref> This is a significant increase of twenty bytes per block. In addition to the size increase, locations for data within these blocks are heavily altered. The DNA of Pokémon in {{bp|Generation III}}, when compared to {{bp|Generation IV}}, is largely incomprehensible. These are not the same Pokémon; they are distant cousins, at best.
 
Media archaeology can show us the technological reasons behind choices in content. It is a method of approaching media in such a way that creative decisions are understood within their social, technological, and cultural context. That being said, media archaeology cannot fully account for the symbolism found within the media it examines. For such an understanding, one must examine the games at a more textual level, one that considers the franchise as a whole rather than {{bp|Generation IV}} as a stand-alone set of games and versions.
{{bp|Generation IV}} is a midpoint to the Pokémon {{bp|core series}} franchise as it currently exists. More precisely, the exact center point can be found in the selection of final {{bp|Pokémon Champion|Pokémon Champions}} in {{bp|Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions|Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver}}. To face all the {{bp|Pokémon Champion|Pokémon Champions}} from all previous paired versions ({{bp|Blue (game)|Blue}} from {{bp|Generation I}}, {{bp|Lance}} from {{bp|Generation II}}, {{bp|Steven Stone}} from {{bp|Generation III}}) is to face Pokémon ‘’as''’as it was’’was''. With the inclusion of {{bp|Cynthia}} from {{bp|Generation IV}}, the player faces Pokémon ‘’as''as it is’’is''. This {{bp|Hall of Fame}} perfectly encapsulates the metaphor of the series remakes: here is the past and the present of where Pokémon stands. Now it is time to move towards the future.
 
Here we are. Here we were. Now, here we go.