#Listmas2014: Pokemon LeafGreen has taught me a thing or three

Image by Flickr user aidanone* (CC)

The second half of this year has been, for me, all about Pokemon LeafGreen. After plenty of internal debate and more than a little help from my Internet friends, several months back, I decided to play LeafGreen, my first ever Pokemon game. I wish I could say that I’ve completed the game, but I haven’t…yet. (I’m really close though!)

Despite the fact that I’ve been playing video games for a while now and thought that I knew everything I needed to know about them, LeafGreen has instilled a number of importance lessons that I either completely took for granted over the years or, for one reason or another, just never learned. So here, for you and #Listmas2014, are three big take-aways that I’ve gotten from, of all things, a Pokemon game, proving that the world really does work in mysterious ways.

  1. The importance of strategy
    I don’t play strategy-based games. (With the vicious circle being that I’m not very good at them, therefore I never want to play them, and therefore, I don’t.) In my canon of games that offer strategic gameplay, such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age, I usually overlook this component entirely, preferring to go in with the heaviest weapon and inflicting the most damage I can regardless of everyone else. In LeafGreen, I learned the hard way that a non-strategic approach usually left me with a dead team. Not knowing anything about Pokemon types, when I started the game, I figured I’d just level up my starter (Charmander, as chosen by the studio audience) as much as I could. The non-plan worked for a while, but in I eventually discovered that, with some enemies, the level of my little dragon was meaningless, because they just beat him flat. At this point in the game, I’ll admit that I still know far less than even the most minor of Pokefanatics when it comes to types, but I’ve gotten better at understanding types and recognizing the need for entering battles with a particular strategy in mind. There are still moments when I fall back into old mindsets, forget everything I’ve learned, and get frustrated when my level 60+ Charizard dies after a single hit from a water-type, but they are becoming few and far between.
  1. The importance of having a balanced team
    This notion falls right in line with strategy and types, and its one with which I still tussle, even though I’m near the end of the game. When I started the game and the first several hours in, my team consisted of my starter and the first four Pokemon I captured. (If I recall correctly, Rattata, Caterpie, Weedle, and…Spearow? Maybe Mankey?) I imagine everyone starts like this to a certain degree, but it was some time before I figured that I needed to balance out the team better if I was to really succeed. So as I went on, I switched my team around, added new Pokemon, getting to know their strengths and weaknesses, until I settled on my current team (Charizard, Pidgeot, Victreebel, Snorlax, and Sandslash). And you know what? (I know you do.) It still isn’t balanced! Somehow I’ve gone this entire time with using some types – electric, ghost, fairy – and now I could really use them! But that’s the learning process. With lots of games now using AI to control a player’s team, it’s really easy to take your “teammates” for granted. They’ll just do whatever it is they do while you focus on whatever it is you need to do. In LeafGreen (And presumable all Pokemon games), that’s absolutely not the case. It’s easy for my lazy brain to overlook that I control my entire team and have to make up for its imbalances.
  1. The importance of spending versus saving
    I will freely admit that in games where “money” is given and required, I’ll almost ignore it outside of the first few hours of play. When I’m trying to equip a new character to a comfortable level, sure, money means everything. But at a certain point, when you start gathering money for anything and everything you do, from fighting to looting, it becomes an unimportant necessity. As I type this, my funds in LeafGreen are terribly low as I’ve not managed it properly at all, especially now that I’m through with most of the trainer (gym and general) battles. Now that I could really stand to stock up on potions and such, I simply can’t, and I’ve started going back to re-battle trainers using the VS Seeker. It’s a remarkably frustrating process, and one that could have been avoided if I didn’t think early on that money was going to be as plentiful as Zubats in Mt. Moon. Should I replay this game, or try another in the series, money management will undoubtedly be at the forefront of my gameplay.


  1. Hatm0nster says:

    A balanced team that can manage any situation is the end goal of any pokemon game. It used to be attainable, in LeafGreen it certainly is. In the new ones however, you’ll always have types that you’re more vulnerable to in general as opposed to others. That’s when the whole strategy thing comes into play I guess. Knowing who can switch into what, what pokemon of yours can endure against theirs, it’s such an involved system once you really start diving into it. I thought I knew pokemon before getting into X and Y. Nope! The second I ventured online was the second I learned just how much there is to consider when building a pokemon team. It’s absolutely staggering really!


    1. cary says:

      Playing this game has been a real eye-opener. What I thought was a simple fighting simulator has turned out to be much more complex that I ever imagined. No wonder the series has such a devoted following! And it’s interesting to hear that even seasoned players like yourself are still surprised by the games. It’s good to hear, and it makes me want to seek out more Pokemon games in the future. (Though, I think I need a break after LeafGreen…whenever I beat it, that is!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    #Listmas2014 is in full swing, as is my desperate attempt to complete Pokemon LeafGreen. While that bit might not be going very well, things are looking grand Listmas-wise! Here’s my first entry for the event, which is about…suprise! Pokemon LeafGreen. Sorry, it’s been on my mind quite a bit lately, most for reasons involving the difficult time I’m having beating it. (More on that in an upcoming Project 151 post). When you go to check out the post below, (which I just know you’re going to do…yes?) be sure to check out the other Listmas posts now up on United We Game. The event runs till 12/31, so there’s still lots of time to get in on the all the Listmas action!


  3. duckofindeed says:

    I, too, use the strategy of becoming ridiculously overpowered so that I can beat the crap out of any enemy I encounter. Most of the time, this works. But, I found in Final Fantasy 8 that it doesn’t, and now I wish I was better at strategy. I don’t know how I got through Pokemon Silver when I lack such an important skill. And I’m really cheap in games. I recently decided to play Zelda: Skyward Sword again, and I refused to replace Link’s wooden shield with an iron one before going to a fire dungeon because I simply wasn’t willing to spend the money on him. Long story short, my shield caught on fire and burned to a crisp, and I bought him an iron shield.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      By the time I faced the Elite Four in Leaf Green (for the final time – I recently beat the game. Yay!), I thought I was doing pretty good in the strategy department. And I did have in mind all the type vs. type stuff – so I managed to use the proper type most of the time. In the end, however, my strategy kind of fell apart, and I relied on my huge stock of potions to keep my highest level Pokemon alive (regardless of type). But with my strategy lessons learned, I’m now looking forward to tackling more games in the series. (Already picked up Pokemon Emerald!)

      In games with lots of items, I’ve gotten used to finding what I need from enemy drops or hidden treasure; so I often forget to spend money even if I have it! But sometimes, like you said there with Skyward Sword, it turns out to be necessary despite one’s frugalness. You just never know when your “money” will be really necessary. It always seems that when I really need to buy something, I don’t have the funds for it. So it’s become natural to hold onto money for as long as I can.


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