It has been ten years since I first opened this site.
And despite the Pokémon games going from monochrome Red and Blue to the dual-screen Diamond and Pearl, and despite the anime going from some 25 or 50 episodes to 570, there are some things that haven't changed.
An old shot of
While this site's content may be dated, the general message of it is still relevant. Just as back ten years ago, there are Pokémon that are over-used, and there are Pokémon that are under-used. There are Pokémon that are neglected, and deserve attention.
There's that, and the approach to the game has changed over all these years, and yet many things are still the same as they ever were. Back in the day, people used Pokémon that they felt were strong, or trusted to be strong based on their own personal experience raising that Pokémon. My Blastoise got me through the Elite Four, it must be strong, that sort of reasoning. My Seaking can take out any opponent, it must be strong. With the Pokémon Strategy guide only quantifying stats with vague graphs, the difference between four points in speed and five became somewhat subjective. How much faith you had determined how good you thought your Pokémon was.
This is not so much the case now.
Pulling apart the game's code has revealed the base stats of all Pokémon, the highest stats they can achieve. There aren't any more generalities in Pokémon, any mysteries. Everything has been quantified. I can say that my Seaking is a strong and capable battler, or believe it, but its base Special Attack will always be 65. The highest its Special Attack will ever go is 251. And there are Pokémon that far outclass it.
There are numbers now, solid and unchangable numbers for each Pokémon. Their base stats, top stats, hindered stats, neutral stats. Everything has been quantified, settled. You can compare top stats of any Pokémon, and see which ones are higher. And there is nothing you can do to change it. This Pokémon is just weaker than others, the end. That is all there is.
Why should anyone raise a Pokémon that's weaker than an alternative?
As always, Pokémon is, for some, a game of who wins and who loses. All this new information, this ability to custom raise a Pokémon in certain stats to do certain things, has increased the control someone can have over such things. It lets you know what Pokémon will often win, which Pokémon's stats are highest and strongest.
Pokémon are bred for specific traits or natures, trained to do specific things, and otherwise left to the wayside. For someone interested in competitive battling, in winning, using a Pokémon whose stats are objectively worse than an alternative makes no sense. Using a Pokémon that's nature isn't beneficial to how you're training them is pointless. Release, trade, keep breeding.
As always, things skew towards the powerful Pokémon, the Legendaries. The Pokémon that are high in one or two specific stats, like Attack or Sp. Attack. That can make use of a certain chain of attacks.
When you know the base values of a stat in your Pokémon, there is no faith. There is knowledge. You know that your Pokémon can do so much damage, take so much damage. You know exactly how your Pokémon stacks up against other Pokémon, and you know that believing that your Qwilfish is strong and brave will do absolutely nothing to change its actual abilities.
In a way, things are more transparent than they were before. There are no generalities to hide a Pokémon's weak stats. You know exactly what you're getting into when you raise a Pokémon like that. So why would you?
Four of my Silver
One of the things that hasn't changed about the NPLU is that the focus of the shrines, of everything here, hasn't been about winning or losing or stats.
It's about a connection to your Pokémon. About faith, like I mentioned. A belief that despite all odds, the Pokémon you love will not disappoint you.
That losing a battle will not disappoint you.
That seeing your Pokémon appear in battle, give its cry, bouncing up and down on your team, listed in the Hall of Fame, is enough. Giving it Lemonade, knowing its happy, dressing it up in contests, smiling when you see it, feeling better when you have it on your team, and believing in it, is enough.
I raise odd Pokémon. Some are odder than others. Blastoise isn't that uncommon, and Raichu used to be common, although not so much now. But I raised a Piloswine in Silver, when it had all of six moves. I raised a Sableye in Ruby and Sapphire that couldn't take a hit, and a Shedinja that was a roll of the dice everytime I threw her out. I raised a Chatot in Pearl that's practically made of glass.
In the competitive circuit, I'm used to losing. Much like Radic.
But it doesn't bother me, because in the end, I still have a team of Pokémon I love. I still smile when I see my Chatot hop around the screen, or when my Piloswine comes out into battle. I still draw them, write about them, and love them. Their stats are terrible, they'd never stand up in a true competitive match. I don't know enough about real competitive Pokémon battling to stand much of a chance.
But that's never really been what it's about for me.
There are some of us out there that get more pleasure and enjoyment out of envisioning ourselves in the Pokémon World, playing and interacting with our Pokémon. Forming that emotional connection to them, regardless of how their stats match up against others. Regardless of how worthless they might be considered by those who can tell you objectively how badly your Pokémon will do in battle.
There are some of us who have faith in their Pokémon, whether we know it or not, that our love for them will overcome other obstacles. Even when there's objective proof that's not true, still there are those out there who raise weak or pointless Pokémon simply because we love them so much. We love raising them, training them, battling with them, being with them.
That's what the NPLU is about for me. Loving something enough to refuse to replace it with something stronger, because winning isn't as important as how much you care about that Pokémon.
We all have something in common.
One of the most fascinating things about the Pokémon world is that everyone goes on the same journey, but they do it in their own individual way. Each person trains Pokémon, but each connection they build with their Pokémon is different. There are thousands upon thousands of stories that can be told about a trainer and a Pokémon, about the trials they faced, the conflicts they overcame. There are over 500 episodes of the anime after all.
Those stories are what interest me about Pokémon. Writing them, drawing them, but especially hearing them from others. About their journeys, about their precious Pokémon. What clicked with them, who stayed with them, who they refused to abandon for something better, because to them, there is nothing better.
For every loss, somehow one's faith in one's Pokémon becomes stronger. For everytime someone's Mightyena falls to someone's Palkia, there's a pride that comes with at least I raised a Pokémon I loved. No regrets.
It's something that I think we should be proud of.
It's something that I think shouldn't be lost.
So even though the NPLU can't offer the content of other large sites, or the exposure, or even the timely updates, it's still here.
Even if my updates are sparse and sporadic, and mostly consist of fanart or fanfic or music, it'll still be here.
As long as there is someone out there who raised a Swalot or a Cherrim or a Stantler or a Tentacruel with no regrets, the NPLU will still be here.