This year the nation has been frozen with polarization, fear, violence, and terrorism. And Nintendo waited until six months in to give us “Pokémon Go” for iOS and Android.
Maybe it was a coincidence. Actually it probably was. But it remains true that the augmented reality game developed by Niantic was released in mid-July 2016, which is perhaps when our country needed it the most.
Even without considering the poor state of the union, the fact that Nintendo waited years to allow anyone to develop one of their brands for smartphones has been grossly overlooked. Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Super Smash Brothers, Star Fox, Animal Crossing… we could go on about all the franchises Nintendo has sitting in its vault, while developers salivate outside wishing they could begin to tap into the gold mine of mobile device gaming.
And out of all of their options, they chose Pokémon for first.
Some attribute the app’s popularity to millennial nostalgia and a surge of excitement for all childhoods of the ‘90s. Still, others say the game’s focus on physically walking around hunting Pokémon and luring players into the outdoors is the reason it’s revolutionary. But any real Pokémon trainer knows that the game’s strength lies within it’s creatures and their stories.
If anything can help us navigate the exhausting waters of 2016, it’s the Pokémon themselves. Out of the 150 in the “Pokémon Go” game, these aren’t the best Pokémon in any given battle, but they would be uniquely helpful in the bizarre world that is now our reality.
This poor guy is always holding his head like he just woke up from an terrible, awful dream only to realize that it’s all real. Sound familiar? But boy does he make lemonade out of lemons. When the stunned state of his perpetual headache becomes too severe, he releases the tension in the form of psychic powers. Come November, you’ll want a Pokemon in your pocket that can turn tension into mind control.
Perhaps we should all have this goal: Snorlax spends all of his days eating and sleeping, but mostly sleeping. In fact, he sleeps so hard that the only way you can wake a Snorlax is to first play a Poke-flute. The next six months are going to be loud and obnoxious. Sleeping through the whole thing may be the best option.
Jigglypuff is both a singer and a prankster. She uses her hypnotizing eyes and voice to lull other Pokemon and people to sleep. She can even adjust the wavelengths of her singing to match the brain waves of someone in a deep sleep. If 2016 were a movie, it would probably be a mash-up of “Inception” and the Pokemon movie, where you keep waking up dream after dream to a Jigglypuff messing with your totem, never knowing if you will ever really be awake again.
This little round black Pokemon constantly surrounded by purple haze is actually 95 percent poisonous gas. Gastly may be an odd choice for someone who is trying to become a gym master, but not for someone who is trying to survive six months that are beyond parody. Between their old abandoned building habitats and their mastery of shape-shifting and illusion, we know that Gastlys are resilient. Even if December ends in a meteor, you can probably bet that this body of fumes will manage to survive.
Ditto is an amorphous blob who has the ability to transform into any object, or even other Pokemon. But fair warning: if a Ditto tries to mimic based on memory alone, he might forget some of the details. This year we have lost a number of beloved musicians, athletes, and cultural icons. Ditto might be a great help in reminiscing, but maybe show him some YouTube videos first.
It may be cliche, and if he wasn’t on the list there would be outrage, but Pikachu has proved time and time again that he is a fiercely dependable companion. And if there is one thing that Pikachu understands better than any other Pokemon, it’s branding. Without any other really exceptional attacks or characteristics, Pikachu manages to hang out on his trainer’s shoulder or bicycle while all other creatures are locked away in their Pokeballs.
He forced his way into children’s school binders and Macy’s Thanksgiving Parades, quite literally becoming the face of his species. If you’re tired of #ImWithHer and Make American Great Again, Pikachu is here to help you sort through the social media chaos, but also just to look so cute that nothing else matters.
Some of these six you may have already caught, and others may be more rare. Either way, get outside and happy hunting!