The other day at work some friends of mine were discussing gaming, and one thing led to another and we were on the topic of MMORPG’s and Pokemon. I thought how awesome it would be if someone combined the elements of successful MMORPGs and combined it with the capturing, battles, and storyline of a real Pokemon adventure. While there are no high-budget cutting edge things in the works as far as I can tell (Unless you count that crap WoW monster fighting thing) I did find that someone somewhere is making a Pokemon MMO, titled PokeMMO, based off of the GBA version of Fire Red/Leaf Green.
If any of you remember playing Pokemon Red or Pokemon Blue on the old gameboy, Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green is the exact game, only with better graphics and released in color on the GBA. That in and of itself should be reason enough to try out PokeMMO, if only to live the adventure again at the comfort of your PC. But PokeMMO takes that world and brings it a step further by offering you the ability to play with and chat to other Pokemon fans while in the game.
The install process of PokeMMO is pretty straight forward. You start by downloading the client files from their site here and then go and find a ROM version of Pokemon Fire Red, which I found here. Extract the Pokemon ROM into the ROM folder of the client download, and you are ready to fire up the game. (Note, other versions of Pokemon, such as Leaf Green, do not work currently). Once installed you will need to make an account on their site, and then use that to log in.
You start the game out, of course, as the hero of the story who is fighting against your arch rival to become a great Pokemon trainer. Because it is an MMO, you have the option to pick your name, gender, hairstyle, clothing, and colors before going into the game. You wake up at your Mom’s house, explore the town, and are given one Pokemon by Professor Oak to start with and a task to obtain and collect various Pokemon on your Pokedex. Along the way you will need to visit other cities, battle NPC’s and trainers, and become a master pokemon battle dude…thing. As a stand alone game you can enjoy it as it is. But the joy in it being an MMO is that you can talk to and challenge other players, as well as trade Pokemon.
The game has many unlockable and rare items both programmed into the standard game and available on the “cash shop” where players can buy vanity items and some boosts. Some players are running around looking all badass while others like me are looking quite noobish. But as in any MMO, there will be the elite crowd, people yelling for trades, people talkin’ ’bout yo mamma, and a lot of questions in chat. Thankfully you can turn off different chat channels and deny any requests to battle pokemon. There is no real benefit or reward for battling other real-life players in Pokemon, but it is fun when you win.
While the game is still in “alpha” and not yet finished, there are many features implemented that really bring back that nostalgic feel of collecting and fighting Pokemon that I remember from my childhood. It is nice to see the whole game spread out in 1920×1080 on my monitor and to be able to chat with others and trade for those rare Pokemon. After a while, the graphics are not a problem, and it is nice to see a game that requires the use of one’s imagination to fill in the gaps for a great adventure. I haven’t gotten to the end of the game yet, and I am not sure how far beyond the main game the story goes or how they expect me to fill in the Pokemon that weren’t in the Red version, but from what I have played these past couple of days, if this is all there is to it, I really don’t mind.