last night, I started playing pokémon blue kaizo.

pokémon blue kaizo is an intentionally punishing ROM hack for pokémon blue with the following changes:

you can find the IPS patch here if you're interested.

I beat brock last night after almost 4 hours of play time.

this was my team before my 1st attempt...

and this was my team immediately after defeating him (it was maybe my 10th attempt or so)

you never really had to know pokémon games' mechanics very well to play through them casually. as long as you had a vague sense of type matchups, and could intuit that moves with higher accuracy and higher power were generally going to be better, you could coast through pokémon games just fine. that was the mindset I had while playing the gen 1 and 2 games a child, so I never thought too much about how those generations differed from other games in the series.

when diamond and pearl came out, I would get into competitive pokémon training for a while and dive deep into the mechanics of the games, uncovering the meaning of IVs, EVs, STAB, evaluating what kind of role a pokémon plays from its base stats, and all of that stuff. gen 3 solidified what pokémon's mechanics would be going forward to the present, and that era of pokémon is where the bulk of my mechanical knowledge of the series stems from.

through that lens, blue kaizo is kind of a slap in the face to someone like me, who has mechanical proficiency in the newer games, but never bothered to revisit the substantially different older games. I'm definitely learning on the job, but it's also great to finally be playing a single-player pokémon adventure where mastery of battle mechanics is actually put to the test throughout the whole main game instead of something left to be discovered through multiplayer and in later games, postgame battle towers.

I've been frustrated by pokémon games since sun and moon, as I feel many quality of life changes have stripped pokémon of some of the elements that I feel made it distinct from other monster collection RPGs. while I've mostly stopped paying attention to the newer releases, blue kaizo has made me excited about pokémon again, because there's this whole world of brutally difficult ROM hacks for me to play through and deepen my appreciation of the older games with.