Play Pokemon (and every other game) as early as you can

We've written about the benefits of being late to the party--why playing weeks, months, or even years after a game's release can bring with it a multitude of plusses. Many of those advantages come at a price, though. For one, you're inevitably going to miss out on the joy of discovery.

It's a point that's became particularly clear to me as I conducted my review for Pokemon X and Y. See, Nintendo has gone to great pains to keep most of the secrets of Pokemon X and Y under wraps. In order to play an advance copy of the game, I had to sign a lengthy non-disclosure agreement that restricted "spoilers"--that is, I had to stay mum about much of the game's story, and there were certain Pokemon and game mechanics that were also off the table.

Nintendo's use of the word "spoiler" struck me as odd. I've never thought of a Pokemon game as something that could be "spoiled." The narrative of the series has always followed a similar setup: you are given one of three starting Pokemon; you travel the world and battle eight gym leaders; you stop Team Rocket, or Team Plasma, or Team Flare or get the idea; you challenge the Elite Four and become the Pokemon League Champion. The narrative is so formulaic that it's practically impossible to ruin for pretty much anyone.

Now, for the past two weeks, not only was I one of the only people in the world who even had access to the game, but Nintendo's ironclad NDA kept the few of us who did have it from uttering the slightest peep. When I encountered a new Pokemon in the wild, I couldn't look it up to see if it had a good set of stats, or a cool-looking evolution, or even what type it was--the Internet didn't know. And you know what? I loved it. It's not the story I had to worry about spoiling, it was the Pokemon.

I felt like I was 10-years-old again, playing Pokemon Red on the playground after school. I caught Pokemon because I was curious what moves they would learn, or what they might evolve into--if they even evolved at all. When picking my starter, I didn't even know what its final evolution would be--at least back in the schoolyard I knew that my Squirtle was one day destined for Blastoise-dom. I realized that by looking up movesets and stat totals and evolution chains, I had been spoiling my Pokemon experience without even realizing it. I might as well have been firing up Wikipedia on the first episode of Game of Thrones and reading exactly when and how [redacted] gets [redacted].

Of course, not everyone can play games before they hit the store shelves, which brings me to my point: playing a game as close to launch and avoiding "spoilers"--be them delicate plot points or Pokemon movesets--can make for an entirely magical experience.

American gamers have a rare opportunity with Pokemon X and Y, thanks to Nintendo's simultaneous worldwide release, to play a game "unspoiled by the Internet." Back when Pokemon games had been available in Japan for months prior to their U.S. launch, there was no chance of a stone remaining unturned. And now that Nintendo's NDA has expired, everyone is free--both players with advance review copies and those snagging it from store shelves--to post whatever they please to the vast information receptacle of the Internet.

So play the game now, before everything has been discovered. As much as we might try to self-impose restrictions on, say, looking up how to get your Eevee to evolve into Sylveon, it's easy to miss out on the magic of discovery when the answer is just a quick Internet search away.

You know that kid at parties who talks too much? Drink in hand, way too enthusiastic, ponderously well-educated in topics no one in their right mind should know about? Loud? Well, that kid’s occasionally us. GR Editorials is a semi-regular feature where we share our informed insights on the news at hand. Sharp, funny, and finger-on-the-pulse, it’s the information you need to know even when you don’t know you need it.

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  • Katalist - November 6, 2013 8:43 p.m.

    Great article. I almost never play anything on release but I've gotten really good at ignoring completely everything about games I want to play. When I do play them, I just don't look stuff up. The information can be all over the internet, but if you don't look it up you can still enjoy finding it out yourself.
  • shawksta - October 13, 2013 4:59 p.m.

    Yup, which makes games like this on worldwide a better experience. I just hate it when a game is out in Japan for example and you know most stuff before it's out over here. I'm even lucky I managed to keep myself safe from Ace Attorney 5 spoilers, especially since I ruined myself on Edegworth 2 but I let it slide because Capcom's never gonna localize it.
  • liquidhouston - October 13, 2013 12:35 p.m.

    Agree with this article absolutely, this is the first time I've not been catching up on pokemon since RSE and that made yesterday about as magical as the first time I played Yellow and had no idea what any of this meant but was excited about the discoveries to be made :P
  • DarthPunk - October 13, 2013 9:59 a.m.

    I don't think I'll ever forgive pretty much the entire internet for spoiling the twist and all the jokes from Portal
  • dangomushi - October 13, 2013 9:32 a.m.

    All I know is Dobby dies. Or was it Dumbledore? Does Dumbledore kill Dobby? Totally agree with this article. I was impatiently waiting for RadioRadar the other night so I started to give your GTA Spoilercast a listen. I quickly shut it off because I'm not quite done with the game and I felt I was betraying myself. You guys do realize RadioRadar releases at like the weirdest time ever, right? All your driving buddies are probably done driving for the week. What I meant to say is, "thank you for the free entertainment."
  • Tronto13 - October 12, 2013 1:51 p.m.

    This is the best Pokemon generation in ages. I have enjoyed them all but X and Y just feel so different, whilst still being true to what makes the series so fun. From the big things like diagonal movement/3D world to the small things like getting XP even when you catch a new Pokemon. Also I feel they have nailed the Pokemon roster (so far) with the perfect mix of old and new, creating some awesome moments for example catching myself a Pikachu and being gifted a Squirtle (My first ever Pokemon way back when I played Blue for the first time).
  • veryweirdguy - October 12, 2013 1:34 p.m.

    Hah. I appreciate the intention of this article (and I pretty much agree with the sentiment!) but it's funny to see this, considering the Gamesradar front page currently has: How to get Sylveon in Pokemon X and Y Pokemon X and Y Mega Stone location guide Pokemon X and Y item location guide Complete Pokemon X and Y Pokedex Pokemon X & Y Gym Leader and Elite Four Guide Pokemon-Amie Affection Guide for Pokemon X and Y How To Teach All Your Pokemon To Fight Good Complete Pokemon Story Guide and Listen, Here's A Bunch Of Stuff From Pokemon.
  • larkan - October 12, 2013 3:31 p.m.

    That is hypocrisy at it's best. Of course, one could practice some self restraint to click on every article and wait for the price to drop in 6 months and buy both for the price of one.
  • GR_RyanTaljonick - October 12, 2013 1:26 p.m.

    Oh man, totally agree. This was my experience with Dark Souls, which I enjoyed infinitely more once I was forced into figuring things out since I was playing through a review debug build.

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