What all the fuss is about? I love me some Pokémon! Pokémon is a great old-school RPG with a deep rock-paper-scissors combat system that puts the player in the role of a trainer striding through lush wilderness locations in search of wild creatures to scoop up, stuff into tiny cages, and use in pit battles against other animals for the sake of attaining badges. Oh… Yeah, I can see where that might be a problem. It’s quite easy to understand why Pokémon would be objectionable to people sensitive to animal rights issues and why parents would want an alternative to the popular game title.
Animal rights activist group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) issued a press release detailing their objection to the Nintendo’s latest monster battling title, Black and White 2. Moreover, they posted an alternative game experience, Pokémon Black and Blue.
"Games such as Pokémon send kids the wrong message that exploiting and abusing those who are defenseless is acceptable when it's not," says PETA Director of Marketing Innovations Joel Bartlett. "But with Pokémon Black and Blue, children can experience the great feeling that comes from saving others from harm."
In Pokémon Black and Blue, Pikachu battles his way through four Pokémon trainers to free their kept critters. The narrative explains the wrongs of the Pokémon tradition and draws parallels to our own world’s questionable practices. Character attacks have been delightfully renamed to support the theme. I must admit to be rather tickled to see Pikachu packing Group Hug along side its trademark Thunderbolt. Opposing trainers battle using similarly themed weaponry such as choke collars or vials of experimental liquid.
However there is one major problem (Well, two. The game is criminally short, even for a free Flash game): Pokémon Black and Blue is positively soaked in blood. Trainers brandish blood stained pitchforks and baseball bats, your team of liberated pocket monsters sport open wounds, and even the trees are erupting the red stuff for no good reason. Heck, even the game’s logo is plopped in a puddle of something that probably ain’t paint. While PETA did release a “kid-friendly version of the game”, it only changes the game’s ‘treasure’ video from a graphic depiction of animal abuse to one of children chatting about vegetarianism and animal rights. While this is a necessary change, it doesn’t go far enough in making the title child-safe due to leaving all of the game’s gory graphics intact.
It really isn’t hard to understand PETA’s objections to the Pokémon franchise. The popular activist group even went one step beyond the call of duty in providing a free alternative to Nintendo’s product. It’s a shame that, somewhere along the line, Pokémon Black and Blue went from an attempt to educate and inform to a blood splattered excuse for shock and awe. It is hard to imagine any parent, regardless of ideology, wanting their young children exposed to this content.
You can check out Pokémon Black & Blue (“kid-friendly” version) free online at PETA.org.