So since I’m really a one trick pony, I’m still talking about Pokémon. 🙂 Consider yourself forewarned. This isn’t REALLY about Pokémon, nor about PokéGo. This is about the fact that I’ve been delving back into my childhood through my Pokémon CDs and music. It’s been bringing back some interesting thoughts: of course Dratini is first when you choose dragon; there’s only 1 dragon line of evolution in the first 150…of course Mewtwo’s the best when you get psychic; have you ever played the game?…why in the world did you choose Geodude for rock? Or Caterpie for bug? Give me an Onyx or a Scyther any day.
But what really got me was something in a different song. I take you now to Viridian City.
The lyrics that really jumped out to me are these:
I left my home and now I see a new horizon
But one day I’ll come back to Pallet Town
Now, let’s think back to our first experiences in Pokémon Red and/or Blue. We awake, as it were, in our mother’s house. We go outside, maybe visit the girl living next door. We visit Professor Oak. And just as we start to walk into the tall grass, we’re pulled back to choose our first Pokémon. It’s all very classic, it’s very memorable. And yes, there’s that moment of “someday I’ll come back home and I’ll be a hero and the leader of the Pokémon League and yeaaaah.” But honestly, look at Pallet Town.
There isn’t much in Pallet Town. Your house, your rival’s house, Professor Oak’s lab. The only time in the game we’re made to come back is after you’ve beaten Blaine on Cinnabar Island, since when you sail away from the island, you end up in that little bit of water you can see in the picture. What do you do?
Well, I can’t recall exactly. Probably go see Oak, heal up at your house, and then immediate launch in the tall grass filled with level 3 Caterpies and Pidgies to head toward Viridian City again before veering to the Indigo Plateau. But that’s pretty much all you can do once you get there. There is literally nothing else to do in Pallet Town. It’s just a place for a low-level kid to start.
It’s just a beginning.
And it made me think about my own hometown, inasmuch as I’ve really ever had one. I’ve talked at length about how odd I consider the concept of home, but if I had to point to one place to call my “hometown,” it’d likely be Bemus Point, a tiny little town in western New York which is only really populated 9 weeks of the year. (Yay tourist traps!)
There’s not much in Bemus. A couple restaurants, a bar or two, a family-owned corner store, a library, a post office, some shops. (Sounds a bit like I’m describing a town in Animal Crossing now…) It’s right on a lake, so there’s a “beach” of sorts, though the lake’s always been kinda gross to swim in, so the beach isn’t always well-populated. And if you’re trying to make too much of yourself, there isn’t necessarily a lot for you in the town. Doctors, lawyers, farmers…lots of them. But for a kid looking to be an actor and an author…well, there just wasn’t anything there. Some friends, most of which I don’t speak to anymore. Even my family moved out of the area, and some of my favorite teachers are gone.
So what’s left in my Pallet Town, when Oak’s gone, Mom’s gone, and I don’t talk to Gary or Daisy anymore? A body of water and some memories. You have to move on too soon in order to find anything you can actually accomplish.
I’ve always found it sad in the game, really. I wanted there to be more. You’ve gone through so much–seven badges, countless battles, caves and dungeons, Team Rocket and mythical Pokémon. But nothing has changed at home. I can’t remember; does your mother even comment on how much you’ve done? Does Daisy make any mention of your on-going battle with her brother? Will Oak tell you anything other than how well/poorly you’ve been doing with your Pokédex? I don’t think so. (Granted, I’d check if I could, but my copies of Red, Blue, and Silver are all corrupted because I’m a dirty dirty Missingno cheater, buuuuut…)
So why, in the song, are we so determined to come back to Pallet Town? Particularly since if we’re being technical about it, when you next show up in Pallet Town you’re still a badge and a Plateau away from being a true Pokémon master? I’m not sure. Just to go home and show how well you’ve done, I’d imagine. The “real” town would be more interactive than the game version, since obviously your real parents don’t only repeat one phrase of dialogue every time you talk to them. (At least, I hope they don’t…) Maybe Oak says more to you. Maybe Daisy has a conversation with you. Maybe you get a parade. I don’t know. I will likely never know.
But it made me think.
Maybe someday I’ll come back to my own Pallet Town, and show the world what I’ve made of myself. Maybe.
What about you?