Why Pokemon And Everything Like It Are Still Relevant
Entertainment |  Source: L. Smith, Shutterstock

Why Pokemon And Everything Like It Are Still Relevant

Or at least, it is for mega-dorks like myself.

How could anybody possibly forget hearing the iconic theme song for Pokemon for the first time as a kid, or loadin' up that old Gameboy to play Pokemon Red or Pokemon Blue for the first time and being like, "Woah this is so sick, I'm gonna catch six Caterpie, I'm the best at this game. Wait, why did I lose this gym battle?" (Can't relate, wasn't allowed to play video games 'til Ruby and Sapphire were out, but I know some of y'all did this).

I distinctly remember the moment I was watching 4Kids and it came on for the first time. I was like, "WOAHHHHH, what is this? What is this yellow mouse thing? Is that a dragon?" I was sold. That was the beginning of the end for me as the Pokemon kid (another story for another time, though).

Rinse and repeat reactions with slightly altered character descriptions for Digimon, YuGiOh, Cardcaptor Sakura and Monster Rancher. I was obsessed with monster shows and games. It was bad. However, so was everybody else at the time, albeit only with Pokemon and YuGiOh, mainly (had I but a dollar for every kid who told me that it's time to "d-d-d-d-duel").

Anyways, you know how it went. We grew up, people lost interest, the diehards kept playing, and anything involving collecting monsters was quietly shuffled back into the shadows.

Or, at least, so we thought.

I've shamelessly played every core Pokemon game and watched it grow from "small child stops crime syndicate" to "small child saves world" and now to "small child saves world and other people." In the same way that Disney aggressively marketed to our generation and imprinted itself on us forever, Pokemon did the same thing, and similarly has grown alongside of us while still appealing to younger kids.

The plots are more complex, deal with more serious issues and things that we can relate to even as young adults. Not to mention that they had some killer marketing with Pokemon GO's popularity.

With that being said, it turns out all those other franchises I mentioned (except Monster Rancher, RIP) are still alive and kicking, too. Digimon was probably my second fav, and a sequel film series to the OG one, called Digimon Tri, started airing in late 2015. Naturally I watched it, and I... cried?

The original characters from the late 90s are about to graduate high school, and suddenly dealing with things that are relatable for our age group - not to mention the Digimon nostalgia hits hard.

Not only is it, like, teen angst, but the characters are suddenly so much more aware of and actually struggle with their actions and the damage they cause, which is such a change from everything just blowing up all of the time with no consequence in the original.

Side note: They also put out a PS4 game last year called Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth that was low-key my favorite game that year (and it's getting a sequel).

I won't go too deep into it so I don't continue this dweeb ramble for too long, but it's fascinating that these franchises that were so cool and important to so many kids has chosen to re-route and grow alongside of us, rather than simply try to stick to a younger demographic. It doesn't feel like anybody's trying to cash in on the nostalgia, either, but give something that the kid in us wants to see and the adult in us can appreciate.

They might not be at the forefront alongside of Pokemon anymore, but they're all still thriving and sticking with their fanbase the same way that Disney has.

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Entertainment |  Source: N. Leeper, Shutterstock

Dog Instagram Accounts You Need To Follow

Like, now.

I feel ashamed to admit this, but sometimes I find myself wasting hours of my life scrolling through Instagram. You can find so much shit on there, from accounts dedicated to a love of onion rings to accounts about bad taxidermy jobs.

Of all the accounts I follow, the dog ones are by far my absolute favorite. Here are some that you definitely should follow.

1. @Loki_the_wolfdog
This dog is badass! Loki's Instagram is full of pictures of him exploring the wilderness, camping and sledding.

I really don't know what to say about this. I just hope it makes you smile.

A post shared by Loki (@loki_the_wolfdog) on

2. @Marniethedog
Marnie is a 15-year-old Shih Tzu with a very long tongue. This pup was once homeless, but is now an Instagram star with 2.1 million followers and a loving family.

I'm oot n aboot

A post shared by Marnie The Dog (@marniethedog) on

3. @Mensweardog
This pup probably has a better wardrobe than you do, and if he doesn't, then he definitely looks better in his outfits than you do. This fashionista's real name is Bodhi.

Don't mean to sound conceited or anything but this must be one of my best angles ?? #fierce #lookbackpose #workit

A post shared by Menswear Dog (@mensweardog) on

4. @Burrito_the_corgi
His name is Burrito, and he is perfect.

Goofy pup #tbt

A post shared by Burrito? (@burrito_the_corgi) on

5. @Lil_rufio
Rufio is literally prettier than I am. He is a Pomsky, and his Insta is full of him doing typical dog stuff, but it is life-changing.

Portrait Mode

A post shared by Rufio Maximus Fauria (@lil_rufio) on

6. @Poochofnyc
I triple dog, black dog, white dog dare you to keep a straight face while scrolling through this cutie's account.

"Always believe in your selfie ??." #nationalselfieday ?? #hairinspiration ???? #agadorable ?

A post shared by Hello. My name is Agador ? (@poochofnyc) on

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Entertainment |  Source: L. Smith, Shutterstock

It's The One Year Anniversary Of "Pokemon GO"

Do you still play the game?

Exactly one year ago today, on July 6, 2016, the viral mobile app, Pokemon GO, came into our lives. It dominated our summer.

Everywhere you went, people were staring intently at their screens as they walked around town, trying to conquer the opposing teams and evolve their favorite Pokemon. It was the hottest app of the summer of 2016.

The game became especially popular among pre-existing Pokemon fans, myself included.

For college students, the game offered a new twist on the franchise we had loved since we were young kids, and offered a new way to explore our campuses as we searched for Pokemon and Pokestops.

Children, teens and adults all found something special in the game, as you could finally act like a Pokemon trainer in real life, and catch some of your favorite Pokemon games in augmented reality.

The app spread to people who weren't Pokemon fans already, and a worldwide craze took off.

The app didn't seem to stick with everyone, though. Glitches, somewhat repetitive gameplay, the start of the school year, colder weather and the constantly crashing servers were some factors that led many players to delete the game from their phones.

However, there are still many players left, which is evident based on the thousands of Chicago players who showed up to an official early anniversary event in Grant Park.

Those dedicated people are the ones who are celebrating the one year anniversary of this game today.

Who knows what Niantic and Nintendo might do to help players celebrate?

Past Pokemon GO events have included an influx of certain types of Pokemon, extra rewards and the appearance of an adorable Pikachu wearing a Santa hat. There's no word yet on if there will actually be an anniversary event, or what it might entail, but knowing this game, there definitely will be some sort of event, even if it comes a few days after the actual anniversary.

Whether or not you still play the game or not, you have to give it credit. Last summer, it got kids out of the house and into the fresh air as they walked around the neighborhood. It might have died down, but maybe this anniversary is just what the app needs to see another major spike in users.

Happy birthday, Pokemon GO. Here's to another year of catching Pokemon "in real life."

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Entertainment |  Source: K.C. Uthus, imgur.com

Why "Magikarp Jump" Does It Better Than "Pokemon GO"

The game that gives the lil fish some love.

At the end of May, Pokemon released a new mobile game titled "Magikarp Jump" for iOS and Android devices. Tamagotchi-like in nature, players raise Magikarp to, you guessed it, jump. Really, really, really high.

Players spend the game feeding their Magikarp, training and competing in "jumping leagues" against other Magikarp. What's nice about the game is that, unlike many mobile games, you can acquire everything without ever having to spent a cent of your own money. The Magikarp come in all kinds of patterns to collect, and throughout the game you can encounter different events that can help or hurt your Magikarp--sometimes permanently.

source: polygon.com

Nintendo has finally paid homage to the most worthless Pokemon of their own creation, and honestly, I think I love this vacant-eyed fish a lot more now?

Why is this game so much fun? Do Magikarp actually only eat berries? How do they train on sandbags? I have a lot of questions that need answers.

This is probably the most wholesome game the franchise has ever created, letting players raise a multitude of the fish Pokemon to give them worth beyond evolving into sea serpent-esque Gyarados. Additionally, your Magikarp is aided by a cast of Pokemon species you unlock along the way who cheer for you in your league competitions. Your Magikarp will express joy, sorrow and determination in adorable ways I never thought a fish could.

My heart grew three sizes bigger since I started playing this game.

This game does for me what "Pokemon GO" could not, which is one fundamental thing: give me a sense of purpose. Yeah, I could roam outside and try to catch 'em all and hold down gyms, but so what? That's not fundamentally different than other Pokemon games, and the gym concept in "GO" isn't exactly... compelling. You can't catch every Pok?mon on one continent anyways, which is kind of discouraging compared to the other games, where, to catch 'em all, you needed the sibling game to the one you were playing... which was only a store trip away.

"Magikarp Jump" has a clear sense of purpose for players, and provides them some wholesome fun with a species that is usually ignored. Additionally, you can beat the entire game and collect everything without even getting off of your couch. Certainly not as movement-inducing as "GO", but less discouraging to play. There's tongue-in-cheek events that you can trigger, and the game is very self-aware in its absurdity. What's not to love?

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Entertainment |  Source: L. Smith, Shutterstock, Masterball

What Happened During Nintendo Direct's "Pokemon" Segment

New announcements that we didn't anticipate.

Today, Nintendo Direct, the online home for Nintendo news, streamed its eight-minute Pokemon segment live worldwide. It announced a Nintendo Switch port of "Pokken", inspired by the popular "Tekken" series, featuring new characters such as Darkrai, Scizor and more.

What fans had long been awaiting, however, was confirmation of a rumor that circulated the internet of a Nintendo Switch port of twin games "Pokemon Sun" and "Pokemon Moon", speculating to be called "Pokemon Stars". Instead, Nintendo took us completely by surprise by showing clips of the "Sun" and "Moon" mascot legendary Pokemon Solgaleo and Lunala, looking like they've been fused with the third mythical creature Necrozma.

The male protagonist of the previous game also appears in the clip, though it is uncertain whether it is the same character. The games are titled "Pokemon Ultra Sun" and "Pokemon Ultra Moon" and will be available worldwide on the Nintendo 3DS on November 17th this year.

Finally, it was announced that there would be a port of "Pokemon Gold" and "Pokemon Silver" available virtually on September 22nd and will have support for the Pokemon Bank feature.

I'm not partial to "Pokken" and honestly don't care much about a port of old games. I'm very disappointed in the titles of "Ultra Sun" and "Ultra Moon" (come on, you couldn't do better than that? "Stars" and "Comet", maybe? I'm not the one getting paid for that, but I'm sure somebody could've done better). However, the premise of fusion similar to previous games (namely "Pokemon Black 2" and "White 2", also poorly named games), has me intrigued. I'm also kind of a sucker for sequels?

What happened to everybody after the events of "Sun" and "Moon"? I have to know. The stream also mentioned that previously unavailable species would roam in these games, which is awesome for anybody out there trying to catch 'em all.

Like it or not, Nintendo knows how to keep their fans on their toes, and these announcements totally caught me off guard. They gave old and new something to be excited about, which is hard to do for many in the game industry right now. Good stuff, Nintendo.

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Entertainment |  Source: N. Leeper, express.co.uk

A Major "Pokemon GO" Revamp Is Happening

Maybe it's time to pick it back up?

Ah, Pokemon GO. The great outdoors, flinging Pokeballs at Pokemon that appear on your phone screen in the great outdoors, walking six miles and getting wicked sunburn in the great outdoors... good times. Until the charm wore off, and it wore off fast. A trend that came and went, GO has struggled to keep people playing.

I've already talked about why I think Magikarp Jump does it better, but it just might be that GO has heard our collective complaints and decided that something has to give. The people need something new! Something interesting!

Their solution? A major update that changes the way gyms work as well as the introduction of raid battles. There's a lot that's changing, so we'll unpack this one step at a time.

For starters, gyms are no longer based on Prestige. Instead, it will be based on a motivation system. Pokemon in the gyms are given a heart meter, and every time they're defeated, their CP lowers and the meter (their motivation) depletes. When it runs out, they return to their trainer. Players who are on the same team can feed gym Pokemon berries to restore their motivation and raise their CP.

Gyms will be capped at six Pokemon, and you can only have one of each type in the gym (no more Gyarados and Dragonite-heavy gyms, bless). The Pokemon will appear in the order they were put in instead of going from weakest to strongest.

You can get items there now, too, as well as gym badges. Yes, that's right, gym badges. You can get badges by giving berries to gym Pokemon, battling and spinning photo discs, like with PokeStops, to get items from the gyms. The more badges you get, the better items and rewards you get. A nice incentive for any trainer, really.

Moving on to the raid battles, certain gyms will have an egg and timer above them. This means there will be a raid battle there, and what that means is that in either a private lobby with friends or with random players of any team, you can team up and work together as a group to battle a powerful raid boss Pokemon. You'll need Raid Passes to do this, which you can get once a day for free or for purchase from the shop.

If you win in five minutes, you can catch the raid boss, though you'll only be able to use Premier Balls that you acquire at the end of the battle. Use 'em all up? No raid boss for you. You'll also get other new items, like Golden Razz Berries or Rare Candies. There's also new TM items to teach your Pokemon new moves.

These will be released in beta soon, though a window hasn't been provided yet, and in regular update in the weeks following that.

Personally, I don't care about GO anymore. If this had come out sooner, perhaps I'd be more excited by it, but I think they really dropped the ball waiting so long to do this. I'm glad they offer items, badges and other rewards for battling gyms, but I'm still not convinced there's much benefit to putting Pokemon into one.

The raid battles themselves are really cool, and it's a good addition, particularly being able to team up with people from other teams. Valor working with Mystic? Unfathomable. Anybody working with Instinct? The world must be ending. Just kidding, just kidding.

It's definitely cool that they're incorporating more ways to work with and against other teams, I just... wish it meant anything to me anymore. I don't have the motivation to get up and drag myself out in the sweltering summer sun for this game.

I just wish they would work on giving this game a sense of purpose. I can probably yell into the void about it until it happens (if it ever does), but I just don't feel like there's a point to this game.

As a die-hard fan of the overall franchise, I of all people get catchin' 'em all. Believe me, I do. I've done it. However, it's hard to feel that motivation when exclusive Pokemon aren't just limited to another game cartridge, like in the classics, but entire countries that I'll never go to.

I think I just want a Pokemon League in it or something, or evil people whose asses I can whoop and get cool stuff in return. I don't know. I need a story mode, and maybe that's exactly why the game isn't for me. If you're into exclusively player versus player, this isn't a problem at all for ya.

That's fine, and I certainly don't expect to get my way, but I think that's part of what made the game lose its charm.

Anyways, enough of my rambling, don't let me ruin your Pokemon parade. If this game is still your thing, and you're out there stopping at every PokeStop and catching the lil' guys that spawn on your screen, then by all means, this is for you.

Get out there, take some gyms, get some badges and catch raid bosses. GO definitely still has some stuff coming out for the die-hard players, and loyal fans can reap the rewards.