During this Thanksgiving holiday, I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my dad. In the past, we had spent quite a lot of time playing together on various versions of Pokémon, but as of several years ago, that had pretty much stopped. This year, on account of the fact that an opportunity presented itself, I asked if he would be interested in playing through Silver (re-released relatively recently over Virtual Console) since I was playing through Gold. He was willing to do that (in addition to having the idea to work on some of the other versions we had collected over the years). The experience of helping him through the games provided an incredible amount of bonding opportunities for us.
For example, I can remember informing him about the Bug-Catching Contest. For those unaware, the contest consists of catching the best Bug-type Pokémon in the opinion of the judges. The score given to your catch is based on such factors as how much HP it had left when you caught it. If you manage to come in first place, you win a Sun Stone, a then-new item needed to induce certain evolutions, and unobtainable in the second generation except through this method. Dad was actually able to participate in the contest once (although, not winning it) before I gave him any information about it. Subsequently, I told him to focus on trying to catch either Scyther or Pinsir, since I believed that catching one of these (particularly Scyther) would give him the best chance of winning. It didn’t exactly work out that way. Either he would find Pinsir only for somebody else to have a better Pinsir, or he would find Scyther, only to lose to a trainer with…Butterfree (For those who don’t understand the significance of this, Butterfree is the final evolution of a rather common evolutionary line, as opposed to Scyther generally being rather hard to find). To the best of my knowledge, he has yet to win a single Sun Stone.
Another incident involved the use of the first-generation breeding system within the game. As an introduction, Gold and Silver introduced the ability to breed two Pokémon, provided they are compatible enough. I’m not going to get into the details of determining compatibility, because it can be a pretty complex system. Suffice it to say that if you can get a compatible enough pair, the resulting offspring (which hatch from eggs, presumably to avoid any uncomfortable conversations with parents) can know moves that they wouldn’t otherwise know, at least at the point in their development when you obtain them (level five). There’s also an NPC who desires to see certain specific Pokémon. Show him what he’s interested in, and he’ll reward you with an evolutionary stone. How do these things work together? Well, one of the Pokémon is interested in seeing is Pichu, the then-new pre-evolved form of Pikachu. In Gold and Silver Pichu is ultimately obtainable only by breeding (you can trade for it with a friend, but the nature of that means that somebody somewhere will still have to have bred it).
So, we go to one of the routes where it’s possible to encounter Pikachu (Dad hadn’t previously caught one), and spend what felt like so long failing to encounter it due to its incredibly low encounter rate that I ultimately resorted to using the Internet to see if it was the wrong time of day to encounter one. We finally do manage to catch one, and promptly place it in the day-care alongside a Ditto (a transforming Pokémon that is compatible with everything except itself and other species completely incapable of breeding). Unfortunately, there’s more to the equation then just raw compatibility. There’s also some separate operations that determine just how likely a compatible couple is to produce an egg, which influences how long it takes to actually get one. In the case of our arrangement, we may well have gotten the lowest possible chance for egg production. As such, after what felt like several minutes riding up and down the roads on a bicycle without any sign that an egg was ready, dad was declaring that the game had to be broken. Eventually, we did manage to get an egg. However, that’s not the end of the story. Eggs don’t hatch until enough time has passed, as measured by the number of steps you’ve taken while carrying the egg with you. So, that meant a little more time walking around before we were finally able to show the guy what he wanted to see.
Like I said before, it’s been a while since dad and I did anything like that. To some degree, it’s natural: people get older, time moves on, and you stop doing things you used to do, especially as you start moving into your own life. Still, thinking about all this now has reminded me how much fun it was when we used to lie in front of the TV years ago, working on Pokémon XD and Colosseum on the GameCube, and wondering just what it took to be able to obtain Ho-Oh. Memories like that are the kind that you really want to keep: fun moments with the people you love.