Apology to a Grumpy Pikachu

As many of you may already know, I’ve put more than my fair share of time into playing through Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu since it released back in November 2018. At around 450 hours into the game, I have not only beaten the main story, and caught every Pokémon, but also caught the rare shiny colour variants of every single Pokémon, leveled half of those shiny Pokémon up to their maximum level cap, maxed out their stats, and beaten the corresponding Master Trainer NPCs that represent the theoretical best that Pokémon can be if trained properly.

I have spent hundreds of hours trying to wring every single drop of end game content out of Let’s Go Pikachu, but along the way I started overlooking perhaps the most important part of the game, that very Pikachu who I started my adventure with.

In Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu (& Eevee), players start their adventure with a Partner Pokémon, matching the title of the game. This partner Pokémon is unique in game for a few reasons; It’s given to you with maxed out IV stats, it can learn special moves that the species cannot normally learn, it spends the whole game traveling by your side, and it serves to help you get around the world. You can dress them up, pet them, and they act as your one constant companion through the game, whether or not they are a part of your competitive team.

Throughout the main story mode of Let’s Go Pikachu, that Pikachu was my best friend. I gave them a little mohawk and jacket, they had cute little blue sunglasses, and they had such amazing type coverage that they were a constant part of my adventure.

He even used to bring me gifts. He once tried to write a letter in mud on a leaf for me. It was impossible to glean any accurate meaning from, but I kept it in my inventory just the same.

The problem is, as I moved away from the story mode and started obsessively hunting for Shiny Pokémon, I paid Pikachu less and less attention. My excitement for the game centred around finding rare and unusual beasts, largely in areas of the game I already knew. I wasn’t taking part in many battles, and any travel around the world I did was functional rather than exploratory.

Every time I opened the in game menu to fly to a new location, I was in the middle of an obsessive gameplay loop I didn’t want to lose my flow with.

Every time, I ignored the prompt to play with Pikachu. I stopped paying Pikachu attention altogether.

The longer it went on, the more often I would open that menu to see Pikachu upset, angry, or throwing a tantrum at the fact I was ignoring her. The more that happened, the worse I felt, and the more I tried to skip through that dialogue.

My Pikachu had become a neglected Tamagotchi that I had to look at every time I wanted to teleport around the world on my Shiny quest.

This neglected Tamagotchi nature of my Pikachu has been going on for several months now, and I suspect I’m not the only person out there in this situation. If you’ve played as many hours of the game as I have hunting Shiny creatures, you’ve likely ignored your fair share of partner Pokémon unhappiness prompts. It’s easy to ignore, because after a while it becomes the norm. It’s not a real creature. It’s a virtual guilt trip designed to keep you in one additional gameplay loop slowing down end game progression.

Still, I felt increasingly guilty about ignoring this virtual electric mouse.

So, this morning, I made some time over breakfast and a cup of tea to play with my Pikachu. I petted them, I fed them berries, I even let them eat the really valuable and expensive golden berry variants. I gave her a new outfit, and I just spent some time paying her attention.

I know this is just a video game mechanic designed to elicit emotional connection through guilt at inaction, but I don’t care. I felt better for taking the time to make things right with the Pokémon that launched my hundreds of hours long quest.

Thank you Pikachu, and sorry I ignored you for so long.

Categories: Gaming