Ash from the Pokémon anime has just won his first-ever Pokémon League Championship. It may have taken him twenty-two years, but better late than never. His recent victory reminded me of the first time I became a Pokémon League Champion in the Pokémon video games. It was a moment I will always remember. In the grand scheme of everything, winning a fictitious tournament in a video game is inconsequential. At the same time, it meant so much to me.
It isn’t the only moment from the Pokémon game franchise I fondly remember. The series has had many memorable moments scattered throughout all their video games. Who can forget the Ferris wheel scene from Black and White, or the moment that Lily stands up to her mother in Sun and Moon? These are all scenes from the games that fans remember, and have endured.
Top 5 Best Moments In The Pokemon Games
Since we are all still celebrating Ash’s recent win, I want to celebrate the franchise by counting down the best moments from the video game series. There are so many great moments, though I’ll only be counting the five that I think are the best.
Since I’ll only be focusing on five moments, here are some quick honorable mentions. The Delta Episode from the Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is full of amazing moments, particularly scenes that center on Zinnia. I think the highlight from the Delta Episode is when the leading trainer rides on Rayquaza, and head into space to fight against Deoxys.
AZ’s story of the Ultimate Weapon in X and Y is also a perfect moment. The story is told in a different artistic style than the rest of the game, making it feel unique. I’m also a massive fan of the Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum series, and I want to give a shout-out to the scene in Platinum where Giratina rises. It’s a creepy scene and shows off the graphic capability of the original Nintendo DS.
5. Fighting Against Red On Mt. Silver (Pokémon Gold and Silver)
Having the leading trainer from Gold and Silver face off against the leading trainer from Red and Blue is the stuff of fans’ dreams. The idea of facing against the primary Pokémon trainer from the original Red and Blue games was brilliant, and Gold and Silver played it off wonderfully. After defeating the Elite from the Johto region and collecting all sixteen badges from Johto and Kanto, the only natural endpoint would be facing off against the champion from the previous games. So the main character of Gold/Silver needs to climb Mt. Silver to confront the end boss of the game, the champion from the original games. The trainer name Red sits on top of Mt. Silver, and he has only one goal; to prove that he is the very best that ever was. Gold and Silver arguably ends on most epic confrontation in all of Pokémon history, one of which that has yet to be top.
4. Ferris Wheel Scene (Pokémon Black and White)
Without a doubt, Pokémon Black and White has the best story that the games ever had. Those games question the very nature of battling and capturing Pokémon. It is also the games that introduce the best antagonist in the franchise, a young man name N. There are a lot of amazing moments in these games that are worthy of being considered to be one of the best moments. The entire end scene is golden.
However, I decided to go with a more subtle scene. N chooses to take the playable protagonist up in a Ferris Wheel, where he momentarily talks about his viewpoints of the world and reveals himself as the leader of Team Plasma. The scene ends with them getting off the Ferris Wheel, N battling the main character, and later claims he will be champion. It is a simple yet effective scene. You learn more about N and understand his point of view. He doesn’t come off malicious as past evil team leaders. He genuine loves Pokémon. It’s a fascinating scene for one of the franchise’s best characters.
3. Lillie Stands Up To Lusamine (Pokémon Sun and Moon)
The length of the cutscenes in Pokémon Sun and Moon has become a somewhat controversial topic among fans. While some fans appreciate the fact that the story gets more of a focus, others felt that the cutscenes were more a hindrance to the game. There’s a particular scene on Exeggutor Island that many found too slow, and added very little to the overall gameplay.
With that said, I love the story of the original Sun and Moon. It was more character center than previous games, and the characters were likable. Since the main playable character needs to be a blank state for gamers to control, the character Lillie serves more like the main protagonist of Sun and Moon than the leading trainer does. Most of the narrative surrounds her conflict with her mother, and her desire to learn more about the mysterious Pokémon she has nicknamed Nebby.
She starts off shy, yet her entire character arc culminates when she confronts her mother, Lusamine, in Ultra Space. Lusamine has gone mad and has merged herself with an Ultra Beast, weird Pokémon that come from another dimension. Lillie and the main trainer travel to Ultra Space to rescue her, and it is in that moment that Lillie stands up to her mother and calls her out on her bad behavior. It’s another long cutscene in a game filled with long cutscenes, but this felt the most deserving. This scene makes Lillie a fully-realized character and makes her one of the most developed in the franchise. Unfortunately, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon decided to cut back on the cutscenes, including this one. While that may have streamlined the games, it also loses what made Sun and Moon arguably great in the first place.
2. Becoming Pokémon Champion (Pokémon Red and Blue)
I always get a sense of melancholy when becoming the Pokémon Champion in the original Red and Blue. That may be a weird feeling to have, especially since you’re supposed to feel good at that moment, but I have my reasons. As a kid, the original Red and Blue games were epic and filled with surprising turns. Giovanni as the final Gym Leader? Impressive. I didn’t see that coming in my first playthrough. My rival, who was the worst, beat me to become champion and I needed to defeat him again after I just had four of the fiercest battles in the entire game? Another great twist and I was only able to beat him by the skin of my teeth.
Then it was over, and I didn’t know how to feel. Suddenly Professor Oak shows up and takes me to the back. He then tells me that my Pokémon and I will get saved on the computer, and we will be remembered as champions forevermore. That is when I started feeling sad. I accomplished my goal, and there was nothing more I could do. Sure, I can capture Mewtwo or complete my Pokédex. However, the main story had wrapped up. I felt sad to finish it. There was no more to experience.
I also find the colorless graphics of the original Game Boy adds to the sobering. There’s something dreary about the way the original games look, and it adds to the whole melancholy I felt as a kid. I don’t think that’s a bad thing; in fact, I think the complete opposite. Being sad is not always bad, and the ending has left such an emotional mark on me.
1. First Time Entering Lavender Town (Pokémon Red and Blue)
Possibly a controversy choice for the top moments in the Pokémon games, yet I stand by it. If there’s one town from the original Red and Blue games almost all players will remember, it is Lavender Town. Lavender Town has stuck on players’ minds for decades. It is the only town to have a unique theme (the other cities have generic town music playing), and it has one of the darkest stories in the Pokémon series. The tower in the town has a graveyard for Pokémon, and you can fight ghost Pokémon in the tower.
Talking to some of the townsfolk reveals the story of a Marowak, sacrificing herself to save her baby. When you reach the top of the tower you can fight against the Marowak’s ghost, and free its soul. It’s a tragic story, and it doesn’t shy away about themes of death.
While I could specify the fight with Marowak as the best moment in the franchise, I’m choosing something else. My number one moment in the Pokémon franchise is when you first enter Lavender Town. When you hear the music for the first time, the iconic melody, you recognize there is something special with this town. Some fans have found this section unsettling in Red and Blue and out of place for the game. My argument is that was the point; it was meant to be disconcerting. The game wanted to ease you into a false sense of security before sucker punching you with unnerving themes of death and mortality. If anything, that memorable Lavender Town theme is more than enough to justify this ranking. The theme may arguably be one of the best tunes from the entire franchise and my personal favorite.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it is important to be sad sometimes. We shouldn’t have an inversion to sadness, and we should embrace it sometimes. I also think we should celebrate the work of arts that do make us sad. Only great pieces of media can draw that kind of emotion out of people, and if a bit of work makes us feel sad intentionally, then that should be something we celebrate.