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Sunday, November 4, 2018

My first Pokémon competition

I started playing Pokémon Ultra Sun on 18th of August 2018. At first, I was just playing it for fun, but at some point, I learned that people also play Pokémon competitively. I found out that there's a Pokémon Video Game World Championship which is held every year around August. This year, it was held in Nashville, Tenessee.

When I learned all this, I thought, "That's so cool! You could actually literally be the World Champion at Pokémon, like in the games and the Anime!" Of course I had to give it a shot.

And so I began to find out more about how to qualify for the World Championships, and basically, what you need to do is participate in official Pokémon competitions which can be at live events around the world, and also online competitions. This article gives an overview of what the Pokémon VGC (Video Game Championships) is about: https://www.pokemon.com/us/strategy/an-introduction-to-the-video-game-championships/

Fast forward to October, and there was an online Competition organized by the Pokémon company in conjunction with Halloween. It's called the Ultra Spooky Cup, and the rules were that you had to use Pokémon which fit the "Spooky" theme.

As a prize, everyone who participates in the competition and completes at least 3 battles would get a Shiny Mimikyu, so I thought I'd give it a shot, since I'd have nothing to lose, and I'd get a Shiny Mimikyu to boot.

And so I began preparing.

This was my first competition, so I didn't really know what I was doing, but I gathered that the basic steps would be to:

  1. Read the rules, know which Pokémon are eligible, know the format of the battles.
  2. Pick the main Pokémon I'd like to have in my team.
  3. Pick the other Pokémon that would complement my main Pokémon
  4. Acquire said Pokémon by catching them and breeding them to get the right IVs (stats), Nature, Ability, and Egg moves
  5. Training the Pokémon so they have the right EVs
  6. Level up the Pokémon so they learn the moves that I want them to know.
  7. Teach any remaining moves to them via TMs and Move Tutors
  8. Figure out what items to give each Pokémon to hold
  9. Acquire any items that I want to give my Pokémon, but which I don't have yet

How I got back into playing Pokémon

Recently, I decided to start playing Pokémon again. I don't really recall what triggered it, but I remember I was just in the bus one day, heading home from work, and I suddenly thought "Hmm, I haven't played Pokémon in ages! Let's download a Gameboy emulator on my phone and replay Pokémon Red".

As I played it, I recalled how much fun it was, and when I got home, I wondered if the new Pokémon games were any good. The latest Pokémon game I had played at the time was Pokémon Sapphire, which I played around 2008 - 2010 probably, and which I really enjoyed. And I had briefly played Pokémon Go when it came out in 2016, but it didn't have as many features back then, so I didn't play it too long.

So I checked online, and found that the latest version of Pokémon was Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, released on November 2017. So here was a really recent Pokémon game, not even one year old yet.

I went ahead and downloaded an emulator for the 3DS and started playing Ultra Sun on it. I don't have a  very powerful PC, so the frame rate of the game was atrocious! 1 minute cutscenes would take more than 3 minutes to play out, but I was absolutely loving the animations and that the game was 3D! It's come such a long way from what it was back on the Gameboy!

On the emulator, the gameplay stuttered, but I was so mesmerized by it that I played anyway, and eventually I got to the point where I could pick my starter Pokémon (It took waaay too long on my non-gaming PC). As usual, the choice was between a Grass Pokémon, a Fire Pokémon, and a water Pokémon. I've always picked the Water Pokémon as my starter in every Pokémon game I've played (Squirtle in Pokémon Red, Totodile in Gold, and Mudkip in Sapphire), but in Ultra Sun, the Fire Pokémon is Litten, which is such an adorable cat! And so for the first time, I picked a Fire Pokémon as my starter.

And then once I'd made my choice, the following cutscene played:
This scene totally stole my heart
This isn't my character or a recording of my gameplay, by the way. I took it from this Youtube video

And that is the exact moment I decided that I need to buy a Nintendo 3DS so I could play this game properly. And I did just that the very same weekend. Went out and bought myself a Nintendo New 3DS XL, a copy of Pokémon Ultra Sun, and that's how it all started.

Well, at least, that's how I started getting back to Pokémon. It all really started when I was around 10 years old and my parents got me a Gameboy Pocket with Pokémon Red. And I guess I've always liked Pokémon since then.