After posting the latest ‘Did You Know Gaming?‘ on Monday, I decided to locate something that I had read a while back about Red’s rivalry in the original Pokémon games. In my search, I also found an interesting entry about the Pokémon war theory. So I decided to share them both here.
First off, the Pokémon war theory which is the shorter of the two:
You have no father, and your best friend is an orphan.
Children are journeying all around the world.
Your mother accepts you as the man on the house, making your own decisions.
An old man warns you of dangers around the corner.
Most people you meet are children or gym leaders.
Most adult men are either very old, or have a job related to the military or organized crime.
Hospitals and gyms are everywhere, but no forms of entertainment such as movie theaters.
LT. Surge: “Hey kid! What do you think your doing here? You wont live long in combat! That’s for sure! I tell you what kid, electric Pokémon saved me during the war!”
You now realize that there was a war in Kanto.
Your father died, and your rival lost his parents.
You are amongst the first generation of people to live in peace at post-war time.
Dark right? Well, just wait until you read about your rival’s life:
In the original Pokémon Red/Blue, when you encounter your rival in Lavender Town, he asks whether or not you know what it’s like to have one of your Pokémon die. At this point in the game, he no longer has his Raticate that he used in previous battles.Your rival battle before this took place aboard the S.S. Anne. Your rival’s Raticate sustained serious injuries from the battle…but, because crowding and confusion on the luxury liner, he was unable to make it to a Pokémon Center in time and the Raticate passed away. The real reason your rival is in Lavender Town to begin with is to lay his deceased friend to rest.
Despite all of this, your rival never outwardly tells you that you’re responsible for the death of his Pokémon. He hides his grief and instead channels that energy into the motivation he needed to continue his quest to become Indigo League Champion. The death of his Raticate effectively destroys your rival’s impish, childhood innocence. Although he tells himself that he doesn’t hold you responsible, he subconsciously holds a great deal of resentment towards you which further fuels his ambitions.
Tearfully swearing upon his Raticate’s grave to not fail in what he set out to do, he trains hard in hopes of becoming better than you…defeating you…and to eventually make it to the Pokémon League. Mere moments after he became Indigo League champion, he was defeated…by you. Although he fulfilled his promise to his fallen Pokémon, it was only for a painfully brief instant.
In the end, your rival is scolded by his grandfather while you receive the professor’s praise. During the course of the game, you steal your rival’s innocence, crush his dreams, and ultimately snatch away the love of his own grandfather. Oh, and by the way, your rival doesn’t have any parents. He’s an orphan.
The best part about all of this is that the subtext has always been there. Most people just overlook it when they’re playing a “kids” game.