The last time I picked up a Pokemon game, I was in elementary school, and I hardly remember what it was like. It was a grungy, translucent purple Gameboy Color that kids passed around at the school’s after-school program to pass the time. And while Pokemon then didn’t affect me hardly at all, the fan-made Pokemon Apex has completely consumed my soul.
Growing up, my family didn’t play Nintendo games. Instead I was brought up on games like Silent Hill, Resident Evil and Parasite Eve. And the platformers like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon that I played religiously even had the occasional adult joke thrown in. So of course as I’m older, I’m going to stray from the child-oriented games like Super Mario and be consumed by games like Uncharted and Battlefield, with a plethora of adult themes. And this includes an avoidance of Pokemon games.
I didn’t understand the concept of Pokemon. As a kid when I played on that purple Gameboy Color, the combat system was weird. I just press buttons and the computer will decide for me whether there’s a hit or a miss? Where’s the fun in that? I didn’t see the appeal and coming from games like Silent Hill, there was no thrill in Pokemon—at least that’s what I thought. I did a story today on a fan-made Pokemon game called Pokemon Apex, and everyone was calling it the Pokemon game for adults. Adults, you say? So before Nintendo got a chance to rip away the heart of the game from the internet, I figured I’d download it and give it a try. Maybe an adult-rated Pokemon game was what I had needed all along. And maybe not.
Two hours into playing now and I can’t see to put the damn game down. For being a fan-made game, there’s a superb sense of mystery in the story, and the occasional F-bomb and other various favorite swear words help to remind me this isn’t the Pokemon I thought I knew. There’s a definite sense of horror in the gameplay, it’s so subtle yet so obvious and I love every second of it. Who ever thought there’d ever be an element of horror in a Pokemon game? Certainly not me. In very little text, I have grown accustomed to my character and really feel for her relationship with her BFF, Griffen. These characters, despite their tiny 2D appearance, have really grown on me. I’ve actually developed an emotional attachment.
And don’t even get me started on the new and heavy adult themes. It really adds this element of reality to the gameplay. This isn’t a mystical world where everything bad that happens gets bandaged up magically by a hero or heroine. No. There’s some heavy shit going on here with the protagonist and I’m sure there’s never been a more relatable Pokemon character before. Someone so 2D yet so real.
While I know Nintendo’s impending attack is inevitable, I really wish I could buy this game for 3DS. So I could have it and play it over and over forever. If Pokemon had been designed like this from the get-go, I’d be buying Pokemon games left and right. I think what got me most was the story and the character development. I love a dark story way more than your average person, so of course I’m going to immediately take a liking to this.
While this isn’t an official Pokemon game, I can officially say this was my first real experience playing a Pokemon game (one that I can remember, at least) and now I think I’m actually willing to give newer Pokemon games a shot. And hey, I even won my very first Pokemon battle in Apex. I might not be half bad when the time comes.
If you want to download the game for yourself, I highly recommend you do it quick for Nintendo swoops in and shuts it down. You can head to the developer’s website to do so.