Difference between revisions of "Can we catch ‘em all?: Generation IV"

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“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 Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications'' <ref> Erkki Huhtamo and Jussi Parikka, Introduction to ‘’Media''Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications’’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''Game Machines’’”Machines''”> Winnie Forster, ‘’Games''Games Machines 1972-2012: The Encyclopedia of Consoles, Handhelds & Home Computers’’Computers'' (Utting, Germany: Gameplan, 2011). </ref>
It is no surprise, then, that {{bp|Generation IV}} was not marketed as yet another Pokémon {{bp|core series}} generation. Development of {{bp|Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Versions|Pocket Monsters Diamond and Pearl}}, the first paired set of games for the generation, was announced near the end of 2004. {{bp|Junichi Masuda}} at {{bp|Game Freak}} stated his determination was to create “the ultimate [Pokémon] version.” <ref> http://www.gamefreak.co.jp/blog/dir_english/?p=89 </ref> More importantly, the company focused on utilizing new features introduced with the {{bp|Nintendo DS}} to revitalize the series, a focus that is critical from a media archaeological perspective. First, however, considering the official description of versions forms an important base for discussion.
{{bp|Generation IV}}, began with the Japanese release of {{bp|Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Versions|Pocket Monsters Diamond and Pearl}} in 2006.<ref> http://www.pokemon.co.jp/game/ds/dp/</ref> Renamed {{bp|Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Versions| Pokémon Diamond and Pearl}}, the games were released in 2007 first to the United States<ref> http://www.pokemon.com/us/pokemon-video-games/pokemon-diamond-version-and-pokemon-pearl-version/</ref> followed by Australia<ref> http://gonintendo.com/?p=16729#more-16729</ref> and Europe.<ref> http://www.pokemon.com/uk/pokemon-video-games/pokemon-diamond-version-and-pokemon-pearl-version/</ref> For the first time since Generation II, South Korean localizations titled {{bp|Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Versions|Pocket Monsters Diamond and Pearl}} were also released in 2008.<ref> http://www.nintendo.co.kr/DS/soft/PokemonDP/main.php </ref>
[[File:GenIVOfficialDiagram.png|thumb|Generation IV Official Version Tree]]
Media archaeology’s focus on media specificity can take on a number of factors, but in the case of {{bp|Generation IV}} the most critical factor to examine is that of platforms. Previously, in the {{bp|Game Boy}} line of systems, new handhelds replaced or usurped the position of previous platforms. <ref name = “Forster, ‘’Game''Game Machines’’”Machines''”> Winnie Forster, ‘’Games''Games Machines 1972-2012: The Encyclopedia of Consoles, Handhelds & Home Computers’’Computers'' (Utting, Germany: Gameplan, 2011). </ref> This was not the case for the {{bp|Nintendo DS}], which was marketed as a companion system to the older {{bp|Game Boy Advance}}. As such, the platform was built to use {{bp|Game Boy Advance}} cartridges as an extension of its capabilities through the {{bp|dual-slot mode}}.
[[File:Game-Boy-Nintendo-DS-Slots.jpg|thumb|Nintendo DS Dual Slot in Action]]
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''Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination’’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 games 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.
In this case, {{bp|Pal Park}} is a media archaeological manifestation of communication within a player’s own experiences. Moving from {{bp|Generation III}} to {{bp|Generation IV|IV}} is a one-way experience much as a player always moves towards the future, to the newest core series franchise game. The remakes, in contrast, exist in a limbo between generations, and as such allow communication backwards and forward from past to present.
Communication across time is a significant concept in considerations of {{bp|Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions|Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver}} and it is one that is also aided through a media archaeological perspective. Unlike {{bp|Generation III}}, where {{bp|Pokémon Emerald Version|Pokémon Emerald}} followed the remakes {{bp|Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen Versions|Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen Versions}}, these remakes are the end of the line for {{bp|Generation IV}} {{bp|core series}} titles. Examining the code of the two titles brings up unused data from {{bp|Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Versions|Pokémon Diamond and Pearl}}, as is expected, but also {{bp|Pokémon Platinum Version|Pokémon Platinum}}. In fact, nearly two thousand text strings relating to a debug mode appear and contain references to {{bp|Distortion World}}.<ref>http://tcrf.net/Pokémon_HeartGold_and_SoulSilver </ref> As this in-game area was found only in {{bp|Pokémon Platinum Version|Pokémon Platinum}}, it stands to reason that the basis of these two {{bp|Generation IV}} remakes is the third title in the generation. But why utilize this release schedule? Why place {{bp|Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions|Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver}} at the end of {{bp|Generation IV}}?
By 2006, Nintendo was already beginning development of a third {{bp|Nintendo DS}} model that would later be called the {{bp|Nintendo DSi}}.<ref>https://web.archive.org/web/20110714184418/http://www.nintendodsi.com/iwata-asks-chapter.jsp?interviewId=1&volumeId=1&chapterId=1</ref> Removing {{bp| Game Boy Advance}} compatibility was planned from almost the start of this process as a way to build a lighter handheld. To ensure fans would not be angry at the removal of dual slot mode, Nintendo agreed to support the {{bp|Nintendo DS Lite}} as long as a consumer demand existed for it.<ref>https://web.archive.org/web/20090501061452/http://www.nintendo.co.jp/n10/conference2008fall/presen/e/index.html </ref> It could be argued that these facts gave Nintendo quite a bit of incentive to remove a desire for backwards compatibility. Unfortunately, the universal popularity of the Pokémon franchise and inter-generational trading could be a significant block to ending support for a backwards-compatible model.
Three years passed between the start of development for the {{bp|Nintendo DSi}} and the release of {{bp|Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions|Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver}}. If media archaeology asks us to examine the technical reasons behind choices in cultural content, an argument can be made for using these remakes as a way to modernize older Pokémon {{bp|core series}} franchise games and distance the franchise from its older technological roots. Once again, older titles must work both as video games as well as media objects. In this case, a quote by {{bp|Satoru Iwata}} supports this dual existence as object and content:
“I think it would be incredibly exciting to see Pokémon HeartGold and Pokémon SoulSilver acting as methods of communication between the new generation of Pokémon players and those who played Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver ten years ago…I’ve got the feeling that, for the first time in a long time, this is a game that can bridge that generation gap.” <ref name=http://www.nintendo.co.uk/Iwata-Asks/Iwata-Asks-Pokemon-HeartGold-Version-SoulSilver-Version/Iwata-Asks-Pokemon-HeartGold-Version-SoulSilver-Version/1-Just-Making-The-Last-Train/1-Just-Making-The-Last-Train-225842.html>
Examining content alterations from {{bp|Pokémon Gold and Silver |Pokémon Gold and Silver}} to {{bp|Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver Versions|Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver}} expands upon this theme of bridging the gap. After all, bridges rarely go one way, and teaching is not always one-directional. For example, audiovisual content is always improved in core series franchise remakes. What makes these remakes interesting is the inclusion of a key item that gives players the option to switch from the original soundtrack to the new, enhanced soundtrack. New events are included immediately prior to encountering a version mascot, which is a feature first introduced in {{bp|Generation III}} but absent from {{bp|Generation II}}. Animated battle sprites and battle introductions, a feature first introduced in {{bp|Pokémon Platinum Version|Pokémon Platinum}}, also makes an appearance. Even small aspects such as fonts from {{bp|Generation III}} are included, shifting these remakes into hybrid objects that contain a multitude of audiovisual influences from prior core series franchise games.