This beautiful recap below of the first eight generations kicks us off:
References zoom past so check out this long Serebii forum post to see what you might've missed.
A Job Well Done (I Think 🤔)
Here I'll share the great parts of this project, what it meant to me, and other moments I've glossed over in previous parts - essentially a laundry list of closing thoughts.
The total coincidence that this project started on the 25th anniversary just adds that little shine. I opened the first part of this series with the utterly nostalgic trip of games, unique peripherals, and evolution of the series. When the video launched I watched with a lump in my throat realising how much time I've spent with the franchise and how much of my childhood was dedicated to it.
It was an utter joy to play at least one game representing every generation. Remembering niche facts like what Pokémon a random trainer will throw out, remembering route layouts, and seeing how much easier games are after understanding some of the more complex mechanics. Like I've felt all the way through: this project is dedicated to kid Niko.
The first 721 in the National Dex of Gen 6 (minus mythicals) felt like a grind. Getting from 10% to 50% felt like a minor eternity, but after that, the last 50%, and even the next couple of games, felt fast. On each generation's Pokédex completion I didn't feel an ecstatic sense of joy, but more a muted satisfaction. Akin to a quiet and private celebration of achievement. Finishing one game was like hitting a plateau, mentally preparing for the next hike but with a grounded sense of satisfaction by looking back at how far you've come. But by the end, I was knackered.
"I'm pretty tired. Think I'll go home now."
Though, the weight of the project and what it means to me, and kid me, gives me that enduring sense of understated achievement. Something like those who hang their dust-glazed, framed university diplomas in some disordered corner of the house - proud but downplayed.
Running the Numbers
The duration of the project wasn't that long in hindsight:
Started: 17:51 Wednesday 7 April 2021
Ended: 22:55 Thursday 22 July 2021
Total: 107 days
The below image serves as a rough timeline. It doesn't reflect when two games were being played at once (such as Alpha Sapphire/Y or the various Pokémon GO sessions), the time spent in second hand games, and it doesn't take into account some of the breaks I had, but it'll do:
While I'll still be playing around in Sword after this project for things like making a cool team for the Battle Tower or catching all the Gigantamax forms, my total runtime was 412:44:
|Let's Go Pikachu||7||18:31|
The actual project time would be higher due to:
- Time playing in the second hand games
- Pokémon GO
- All the time organising and researching
- Playing some of the games a little more for fun and screenshots
Looking now at the cost. It's 2021 and the world is gripped by pandemic. Retail therapy and having a project to focus on was a great boon. Having packages arrive at the door brought in sips of serotonin in the otherwise dark Autumn and Winter.
The total value of all the games I bought for the project in NZD:
White 2 is the estimated second hand price as the game was a trade for Monster Hunter Rise for PC. Prices don't include shipping costs.
|White 2 (estimated)||$110.00|
|Sword + Sword Expansion Pass||$149.00|
|Shield + Shield Expansion Pass||$149.00|
|Crystal (Virtual Console)||$17.00|
|1,200 PokéCoins (Pokémon Go)||$16.99|
|Pokémon Bank (1 year)||$8.50|
|Pokémon Home Premium (1 year)||$27.99|
Or around $600USD.
The above then contributes to my whole Pokémon collection, which looks like:
Or the above as a table and whether they were old or new to my collection as of this project:
|Crystal (Virtual Console)||New|
|Alpha Sapphire (eShop)||New|
|Let's Go Pikachu||Old|
|Sword + Sword Expansion Pass||New|
|Shield + Shield Expansion Pass||New|
|Game Boy Color (Clear Ice)||Old|
|Game Boy Advance SP||Old|
|Switch (Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee)||Old|
Not Getting Swept up in the Criticism
Gen 7 with Sun/Moon/Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon received a lot of criticism. A lot of it based on the number of cutscenes and how slow the game felt. I might've thought the same if I played on release but since it was a refreshing change of pace to my 200+ Generation 6 time, I didn't mind it at all.
Also a big fan of where the Sword/Shield games went. I think there's something to be said for being a laggard here - I missed the game launch groupthink criticism that swirls Reddit, Twitter, and any other internet forum. The experience I had with slamming one game then the next in quick succession left me little room to nitpick and gave me easy side by side contrasting of the good things the next game brought to the franchise.
New Pokémon Media
Back in the day, the anime, games, and merchandise were the ways to consume Pokémon and they were quite shallow. Through this I've been introduced to new forms of media that are less simple, less children focused. Sure we already have the very cool Original Stich attire - which I still need to order.
But then we have more grounded media. Less of the 23 minute cycles of...:
- Team Rocket does bad thing
- "Pikachu use Thunderbolt!"
- "Team Rocket's blasting off agaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiin"
...And more of the slices of life. I've talked about this new media in a previous post, specifically Twilight Wings. But here's one of my favourite examples; we'll look at an enchanting little story about a granddaughter and her grandparent's Slugma via the PokéToon series (turn captions on):
Or we have the slightly older Pokémon Generations. Which was a nostalgic look at all the Pokémon games at the time.
Brand new at the time of this post is Pokémon Evolutions, with what seems to be the new take on Pokémon Generations.
New Pokémon Snap was also released during Pokémon 25 and I enjoyed it. It was full of great renders of all these new species I had not previously known.
And even Pokémon Cards are back in. 2021 had incredible hype around it. You have streamers and Youtubers opening thousands of packs and getting thousands of views. Even making the news with in store fights.
Near the end of the project, a friend of mine tossed this into the conversation:
Also, I met someone recently who was telling me about their friend who was the biggest Pokémon fan of all time
And I easily trumped them with you haha
Same friend told me about Nuzlocke way back in the day too. He's helped me out a lot during this whole project, so a big shout out to my friend Levi Patel. He's a talented music composer and producer, and you can visit his website levipatel.com or check him out on Spotify.
Though back to the nerd comment, considering I've also attempted Pokémon inspired map generations, analysis of Pokemon cities, buildings and more I'm happy to wear this badge. Though... understated, and inside my blue vest...
Though in the turbo nerd pecking order I pale in comparison to Reddit user Link34629 who has a full shiny dex complete with shiny forms and shiny gender differences:
Really fun to be able to sit down and solidify these moments for my future self and a few of my friends who were there along the way. The posts themselves took about three months to filter down and write. This is the first bit of extended writing in years I've undertaken, and I even took up trying to understand better story telling - mileage may vary. With most of the posts glossing over the long catching sessions, it really felt like the old "one, two, skip a few, 99, 100".
Many scribbles in journals and "acquired" hotel pads of paper over the last few months reminds me of the rough planning and anecdotes throughout the project.
With good there's always bad (and vice versa); here you'll find some sources of frowns, gritted teeth, or shrugs. Perhaps you'll agree, or maybe you'll smile in pity to the obvious thorn that mythicals present? It probably wasn't healthy spending hundreds of hours playing Pokémon in a couple of months while also having a full time job and who knows, that may have contributed to some of the grumps below. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Those Damn Mythicals
Straight up the bane of this whole project. As of writing this I have 16 left:
- Zarude Got on 08/20/2021 via Pokémon movie distribution
Since I have the means to hack all games before Let's Go, I could've brought most of them in. In fact, I was thinking of doing that for the sake of having placeholders but as I got closer to finishing the Gen 6 National Dex I thought otherwise and decided to keep the gaps until they could be filled legally. Though it was fun experiencing the hacked-in in-game events for some of the above.
For Pokémon 25 I wish we had a mythical distribution like in Pokémon 20. But, as of writing this, Pokémon 25 isn't over and we still have Brilliant Diamond, Shining Pearl, and Arceus to come. We've got Manaphy confirmed and Arceus has to be in the Arceus game... right?
No Smeargle in Sword/Shield
I didn't even realise until I had finished the story. One of the heroes of the project and I couldn't even bring him for the finale. Gutted, I was so keen for it too.
Pokémon games are an investment it seems. Even used games of recent releases demand the brand new or higher price - it was totally unexpected and I didn't realise until I was nearly done with the first 600 or so. For the project I bought:
- Virtual Console Crystal
- White 2 (traded from a friend, ezz clap)
- Alpha Sapphire
- Omega Ruby
- Ultra Sun
- Ultra Moon
- Sword + DLC
- Shield + DLC
Sure, I didn't need White 2, but I really wanted to preserve my old teams and it cost me a copy of Monster Hunter Rise. A fair trade.
The Trade Up Minigames and Restrictions
I'm so glad I started in a generation that has mass transfer via Pokémon Bank because those minigames to move Pokémon between generations are awful. I'm pleased they're gone. Yeah I said it. For example, below is the tutorial I used to move Pokémon from Platinum to White 2:
Then we can go into the awful restrictions. Let's say you want to move Pokémon from Sapphire to Platinum. You can put both games into your DSLite and suck the Pokémon out of the GBA cartridge into Platinum. From here, you go to Pal Park in Platinum and play a Safari Zone-ish game to go catch the transferred Pokémon. Oh and you can only do six every 24 hours... Oh and if your Platinum cartridge is out of sync with your DS, it needs to sync then you have to wait 24 hours before even attempting your transfer.
Backing up Used Saves
Contrary to the order of the posts, hacking my 3DS actually came a little later in the project - just before I completed Gen 7 - because I was scared of having my Nintendo Online account banned. Though by this point I had broken down the second hand saves from Omega Ruby and Ultra Moon into their parts and assimilated them into my Living Dex. In retrospect, I would've liked to have preserved the memories of Kieran and KOBY too along with my own. I still have, just in their post-ravaged states.
Appendix A - The Whole Living Dex Roster
The data for Appendix A was mostly an export from PkHex based off my Alpha Sapphire and Ultra Sun saves after hacking my 3DS, though the Sword/Shield data is hand written. Hand written too was some of the HTML for the table and some modifications for updated rows.
This one is entirely me. I didn't really understand how good quick balls were until Sword/Shield. In short: quick balls have a 5x multiplier on catching while an Ultra Ball has 2x. You can see in Appendix A that my Ultra Ball usage became Quick Ball - in fact, hilariously, most Ultra Ball usage you see in Gen 8 are failed Quick Balls.
This one is me being fuddy. It took me a while to get a grip on the advantages and disadvantages of the fairy type, but the worst, most glaring thing I remember was Flabébé. I thought it was a grass type, turns out it wasn't and for the duration of the fight I couldn't work out what was going on. Only after I caught one did I realise my lifelong fairy frustration. Trying to sweep a team with a dragon only to come across an older Pokémon that is now part fairy (dragon doesn't affect fairy at all...), nearly getting swept because my team is weak to fairy and just forgetting what's good against it. (Honestly I don't mind it, but I'm still running into issues since it wasn't around when I was playing).
I just hate its design.
The following helped me through the whole project:
Pokémon wiki. Fantastic for a reference for (nearly) everything
Sometimes presented data better than Bulbapedia. Often had great raw numbers data in long reference sheet pages
- Pokédex Tracker
A fantastic resource to keep track of what you've got. This was how both my friends and I kept up with what was done and what was left. Via their Github I also took the spritesheet used for Appendix A - The Whole Living Dex Roster.
- Pokémon Postgame
A great website that compiles lists of all the things to do in a Pokémon game
For the Pokémon font text
- Tips on a Living Dex
A lot of timeless tips, like numbering boxes correctly, egg hatching ability, GTS, etc.
Save editing. This allowed me to export my save game data in order to create Appendix A - The Whole Living Dex Roster. It also helped me out in being able to take some screenshots I forgot to take then using Citra for 3DS emulation in order to get a crisp image.
3DS emulator. Allowed me to take my nice screenshots as well as be able to play my backed up saves via the ripped ROMs.
DS emulator. Allowed me to take screenshots of White 2.
- InsideGadgets GBxCart RW
I've written about this peripheral before but this allowed me to replay old events on real hardware.
While technically not anything to do with the Pokédex, it did help me create some of the key gifs in this series.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are over the horizon, and I look forward to living through Gen 4 again. I think I'll grab both copies as the Pokémon tax will probably exist into the future and I'm enjoying having a physical collection. For anyone in the far future checking out this post, the second trailer had recently dropped:
Then Pokémon Arceus. The second trailer for this game dropped during the same event and I'm looking forward to what newness it brings. With Pokémon able to attack the player, a new battle system, and of course new Pokémon and regional differences to catch. Manaphy, one of my missing mythicals, looks to be distributed via Mystery Gift at launch too!
If you've made it this far, thank you. It was a needed and warmly welcomed experience to bring Pokémon back into my life. Now that I've caught up, I'm excited to see what happens from here - whether that's new games, new Pokémon, or new forms of media. Thank you to my better half for setting me off on this journey and to my friends who put up with me drip feeding them statistics around how far I've completed the Pokédex.
See you next time.
Those damn mythicals...
Parts in this series:
- Making a Living Dex: Part 1 - A Lifelong Dream
- Making a Living Dex: Part 2 - It Begins With Generation Six
- Making a Living Dex: Part 3 - Preservation and Generation Five
- Making a Living Dex: Part 4 - Generation Seven, ”Alola!”
- Making a Living Dex: Part 5 - Generation Eight, Sword and Shield
- Making a Living Dex: Part 6 - Odds and Ends
- Making a Living Dex: Part 7 - Wrapping up the First 898
- Making a Living Dex: Appendix A - The Whole Living Dex Roster
- Making a Living Dex: Appendix B - Achievement Screenshots