Welcome to a long post about Pokemon and an instant treasured father son memory.
Back in April the car was inspected and attention could now be placed on my wife’s birthday and Easter. We’re at the point of wanting to give gifts that are worth it for each other. My son loves so much pop culture already that he’s fairly easy to buy for. My wife and I have bought things for each other numerous times that end up sitting on a shelf. Her very thoughtful gift from two years ago, bluetooth headphones for podcast listening, have only gotten daily use within the last month. She bought me a CD for Christmas that I still listen to near daily. With this precedent set we began to discuss her birthday. Most of the ideas didn’t seem “right”. Meanwhile, there is my son over hearing talk about birthdays and he chimes in that Pokemon are good presents.
He’s in the middle of an intense Pokemon obsession. His parents have played the Pokemon GO app game for years now but that was where the story ended. Now though he has discovered that same game, other apps, the toys, the cartoons, the movies, and of course the video games. Much like every other 5 year old in the country he is obsessed with YouTube. The viewing will start with a Pokemon cartoon but then the playlist takes him into video game footage and thanks to that he became very aware of the Nintendo Switch game, Lets Go Pikachu.
This sounded like a great gift idea. A family gift, encompassing her birthday, my upcoming one, and Easter. Of course we couldn’t get a normal Switch, but had to get the one with Pokemon graphics and a couple of related extras. The game is put in (or rather, downloaded) and we began. My son names his character Ash, just like the cartoon, and Ash and Pikachu set out from Pallet Town to catch all the Pokemon and defeat all the other Trainers.
What none of us expected is how much of the game is a puzzle. Can’t cross this area unless you have this item, which is in another town, which you can’t get to until this person is defeated, and then double back. It has taken us weeks of playing here and there to figure out all the tricks and travels of the game. Many times throughout we had to return to the bane and boon that is YouTube to explain what we’re meant to do next. It got frustrating, there were times where every one of us had to walk away and give up for the night. But we kept trying.
All the time we know, thanks to not only the how to videos but also the history of Pokemon, that the legendary Pokemon Mewtwo appears at the end. He is a misunderstood Pokemon, possibly the most powerful of them all, and honestly as close to a god as a show for kids would allow. He’s been not quite the villain but the antagonist of the first Pokemon movie and the most recent Detective Pikachu plus all points in between. We had to solve every part of the game in order to gain access to the cave where he resides. Days and weeks pass. Finally one day it happens. We can get there. We all take a break, get ready for the end of the game, and come back. Six of our best Pokemon vs. Mewtwo. Here we go.
And we got destroyed in 2 minutes.
The strongest ones we had in the game, that had been leveled up repeatedly for weeks, all beaten by one shot each. Frustrating for his parents, but absolutely devastating for our son. We made sure to turn defeat into a learning experience. Let’s go back, train and do more in the game, then come back stronger. My son got impatient at times but every moment we reminded him that we want to try again his patience would return. Little by little we built these guys up enough to try again.
And we didn’t lose, but we didn’t win. Turns out not only is this the toughest battle in the game, but it’s also the only one with a time limit. I think we would have lost again but there’s no way to know. The time ran out and Mewtwo escaped. This wasn’t a triumph but it still acted as a reward. We still didn’t win, but we did so much better. He understood growth and improvement and that drove him to try again. Back to training.
We get even stronger and work as a team. While I was at work my wife defeated everything that needs to be done before Mewtwo. Game saved and paused, and here I come in after work to try. Me and my son, sitting there on the couch. Let’s try this again.
From the first hit we knew this would be different. More damage was done. We kept trying different moves, switching out Pokemon, being smart about what is used and in what order. Mewtwo is taking damage. Then he reveals yet another power and heals himself back to 100%. There was still time on the clock and Pokemon “alive” so we keep trying.
For those in the know, we used Charizard Mega Evolution Y and selected Flamethrower twice.
That did it. Mewtwo was defeated. We jumped and screamed and hugged each other. Both of us yelling “we did it! we did it!” The windows were open and if the neighbors weren’t sure before they know now this is the house of the biggest dorks in town. He was Christmas morning level happy. But it wasn’t over.
Now we have to catch it too.
Mewtwo is strong, without a doubt the strongest in the game. We tried the candy, various strengths of Pokeball, everything. Then my son in all his sponge wisdom told me to use the Master Ball. Big M on it. Should have seen it on the list. I select, throw it, it’s not a good throw and I think it’s all over for us. Little did I know this is the entire point of this ball. Just throw it, anywhere pretty much, and it’s a guaranteed catch. We got it. We finally got it.
There were no hugs this time, because my son leaped from the couch and ran through the house screaming in excitement. Yelling in my face, at the TV, at the poor cat. If he and his friends were old enough to have phones he would be yelling at them too. We had to call my wife at work. He was so proud. Even though a lot of this was mom and dad playing for him, the sense of accomplishment and payoff was there.
I don’t know what my son’s interests will be as he grows older but for every time he reaches a goal I want to be there. I want to experience this all over again for school, competition, award, anytime he levels himself up. And it all started with this cute little electric mouse.