I like jokes. Specifically, I like ones that make me laugh. They don’t even have to be “laugh out loud” funny; they can be the corniest jokes in the world, and I would still love them, though my reaction might not make it seem that way. PETA seems to like jokes, too! That’s great! However, I don’t find their jokes all that funny. Just look at this list of jokes they’ve made:
- Super Tofu Boy
- Super Tanooki Skin 2D
- New Super Chick Sisters
- Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals
All these jokes have crashed and burned in ways I thought unimaginable. However, just recently, PETA may have made its worst joke yet. Enter Pokemon Black & Blue. Yes, that is the actual title of the game. I’ll even give you the description of the game:
For generations, Pokemon have suffered at the hands of their cruel trainers. Help PETA free Pikachu and his Pokemon friends as they struggle for Pokemon liberation!
There’s even a nice picture of Pikachu holding a sign on the left-hand column of the page that states, “I support Team Plasma.” PETA definitely did their research here; Team Plasma is the organization that is trying to liberate Pokemon from their owners. However, I have a bit of bad news for PETA: (spoilers) Team Plasma actually stole Pokemon from legitimately good trainers in order to create N’s tower.
With that bit of information out of the way, let’s focus on what’s really at hand: the problem of Pokemon battles. In all seriousness, Pokemon battles is a morally-engaging and somewhat complex topic, isn’t it? Though you have good trainers who treat their Pokemon with care and respect, the bottom line is that Pokemon battles take place, which means Pokemon take damage and injuries. However, a good trainer takes take of his/her Pokemon with love and respect. It’s up for debate whether you think Pokemon battles are morally wrong or right, with both sides giving legitimate reasons as to why Pokemon battles are either right or wrong. Regardless of where you stand, PETA clearly wants you to think that not only are Pokemon battles wrong, but so is the act of actually owning one.
On the game’s website, accessible here, PETA states that, “If PETA existed in Unova, our motto would be: Pokémon are not ours to use or abuse.” It goes on to state that “[Pokemon] exist for their own reasons. We believe that this is the message that should be sent to children.” That is a fair point, PETA, and I respect it. The only problem I have here, however, is how PETA attempts to convey that message, and that is my main problem with Pokemon Black and Blue.
The first thing you’ll notice is the distinct art style. If there was one thing I legitimately liked about Pokemon Black and Blue, it is the art style. The Pokemon in the game are clearly recognizable, and I like the general art style of the characters, which range from Cheren to Professor Juniper. The game features Pikachu, Tepig, Snivy, and Oshawott. However, PETA gave every single character a radical make-over in order to convey its message to the masses. Pikachu has a chain around the neck, with a chunk of the left ear missing. Tepig’s ears are missing, while Snivy sports a syringe on the head and a tag on the tail. Finally, Oshawott has no skin whatsoever, save for the skin on the face. Professor Juniper wears a bloodied lab coat, while carrying a syringe on one hand and a knife on the other. I won’t go more into the design for the other characters, but suffice it to say, kids should not be around Pokemon Black and Blue, if anything, due to shock value.
Instead of fighting Pokemon, you, as one of the four Pokemon listed above, fight humans. Yes, because the way to convey the message that Pokemon should never be owned and used in battles like a plaything is to electrocute humans with a Thundershock or physically hurt them with a Take Down. This makes no sense to me, but I continued to play the game to the end. Using a standard four-move set, with two “special” moves depending on the Pokemon you’re using at the time, you advance past awful, despicable humans like Cheren and Professor Juniper (I’ll let you find out for yourself who is the final human you go up against.) Well, at least whoever coded the game properly did so. When I pressed on a move, the Pokemon would use that move. Well done, PETA!
With the flash game being extremely short, there was no real lasting impact on me. All I did was assault four humans on my way to convey the message of Pokemon freedom to millions of others in the span of 10 minutes. I get that it’s a parody of Pokemon and that it’s a flash game, but if you want to tackle the moral issue of Pokemon battles and ownership, then dammit I should have learned something new, something not necessarily enlightening, but that made me think. This? This did nothing for me. If you want to tackle a serious issue, be serious about it. Don’t give me a Professor Juniper that looks like she barely escaped from a mental institution. Don’t give me the notion of spreading a message of Pokemon freedom and then show me Pokemon that can set a human on fire with an Ember attack. PETA, if you want to convey a message, convey the damn message. Don’t give me a half-baked piece of manure like Pokemon Black and Blue. This leads me straight into…
This was not, nor is, nor will it ever be, a fun game to play. Yes, at its core, the gameplay mechanics are much like any other traditional Pokemon game out there, but at least they weren’t conveying a very confusing and half-baked message. I find watching paint dry is much more fun than playing Pokemon Black and Blue. Hell, even watching grass grow is much more fun than playing this game. If a game tries to push some notion or idea at you, and it works, it’s fun seeing the result in the game. Here? With the idea already as flawed as it is, seeing the results of my “labor” were painful. As a Pokemon, in order to change the minds of humans, I beat them to a pulp using moves like Quick Attack and Water Gun? That makes perfect sense!
I’m just going to wrap this up here, because this game has me going insane. I’ve been playing Pokemon ever since Pokemon Red and Blue were released here in the United States in 1998. I’ve played every single traditional Pokemon RPG ever since. One of the problems some people might bring up the issue of “owning” Pokemon and making them battle with other trainers’ Pokemon. I can totally see how that is a moral issue that is up for debate, and I’ve taken part in one or two of those conversations. PETA’s response, on the other hand, is a failed attempt at settling that moral issue. Why would you want to convey the notion of Pokemon liberty and deny any notion of Pokemon battles when, in the PETA-developed game Pokemon Black and Blue, you play as Pokemon that attack humans?
I just don’t understand why this game even exists. PETA claims it’s a parody, but there is an extremely thin line to cross between parody and blatant copying. PETA falls more on the “blatant copying” side. The real purpose of a parody is to try and convey some coherent message, whether it’s funny or not that funny. Not only does Pokemon Black and Blue fail to be funny, but it also doesn’t have a coherent message. PETA, if you’re going to tackle the serious issue of Pokemon ownership and battling, you should come up with a much better response than Pokemon Black and Blue.
Still, putting Ash in that ridiculous outfit? Niiiiiiiiiiiiice.