Rare Article: Cartridge or Simulator?

Hey, friends. Travis here. Last week I was talking about items. This week I'm not. That's because I have transitioned from writing "Item of the Week" to "Rare Article." Those of you who have been around the site for a while remember a time when Steve wrote an article of the same name that was a sort of variety article. "X of the week" style articles are great, and are arguably the best part of this site, but sometimes you want to see something that pulls a Rampardos and breaks the mold (Lulz C wut I did thar?).

So what will be different about Rare Article now that I'm behind it? Nothing really. Well, a different author of course, but I'm basically going to have the same goals Steve did back when. Without further ado, here's the first installment of the revived version of rare article.


Pokémon battle simulators are about as old as the game itself. Entire communities are based on these programs. Battle simulators allow the player to create a team and battle with other players online, without the need for a Pokémon game cartridge or DS. With fully customizable Pokémon that can start at level 100 with perfect EVs and IVs, why play the original game?

Well, as explained many times on It's Super Effective, only playing on simulators can lead to what some people call "Theorymon." "Theorymon" refers to reducing Pokémon down to calculations and prediction, in essence taking the fun out of it. Yawn.

It is in this area where the cartridge games shine. Who needs damage calculations when the highest level Pokémon in-game are twenty levels below you? If you want to use Blissey as a physical sweeper, go for it. That Rattata isn't going to care. The game makes any Pokémon viable in any way you want to play it. That's the beauty of the games. You train your Pokémon to perform how you want them to, and you are rewarded for it. That's one of the reasons it feels so much better to win with a trained team than a hacked one. Also, many players, myself included, get a lot of enjoyment from training a team from scratch. Starting with level 100's takes the fun out of that.

On the other hand, the cartridge games don't offer much of a challenge aside from the Battle Subway, and even that gets tiresome. The best way to increase the difficulty level is to play against real people. Naturally your first instinct would be to jump over to the wifi battling that is built into the cartridge. The only problem is that if you find that your team is lackluster, it's a lot more difficult to tweak it than it should be. If you decide that you want a Darmanitan with Sheer Force instead of the Zen Mode one that you have, you have to start from square one. Even the simple change of a held item requires the acquisition of the new item, and for certain Battle Subway exclusive items that can take time.

And so, I bring you the glorious of battle simulator. With the click of a few buttons your Darmanitan's whole set can change in a few clicks, let alone a simple ability. He can even be switched out with a completely different monster in a matter of seconds. That way you can get right back into battle and win the next round against a real person.

This makes you improve incredibly as a battler. After just a few months of playing on simulators I know a bunch more about the poggeymanz. I know how to counter a Ferrothorn lead. Therefore, I know how people will try to counter my own Ferrothorn, and I can act accordingly. I know that a nice little Ice-type Hidden Power on my Infernape catches most people by surprise, so I can take out Dragon-type Outrage users easily.

However, with that much prediction and reaction, some of the fun is taken out. As I mentioned above, I use Infernape on my Pokémon Online team. Aside from his stats I don't even like Infernape. I think he looks dumb. Torterra is totally a more pro-looking starter, but less viable compettively. Sure, it's fun to win, but too much calculated prediction can make the game nothing more than a colorful Skinner Box. Press button, get reward. Press button, get reward. Press button, get reward. Press button get re...

Sorry. I got lost in a Theorymon train there. I'm back. I think it's time to make some evaluations. First, we'll decide if a battle simulator is right for you. Is the main game too easy for you, or are you frustrated by the time it takes to make small tweaks on your team? Go with the simulator. Is raising your own team your favorite part of the game, and you don't care that much about battling? Go with the cartridge. Are you among the vast majority of Pokémon players who like a little bit of both? Go with both.

PS: I recomend you get the Pokemon-Online simulator. It's got the best interface, is highly populated, and has been updated with Gen V.