I don’t usually play MOBAs. The closest thing I ever got to one was Overwatch’s occasional MOBA leanings, and given recent events, Soldier: 76 and I are on an extended break. But I’ve been playing a fair bit of Pokemon Unite, and I dig it. I’ve gathered it’s a pretty simple take on the genre, but I love this world so much that it just clicks for me in a way something like Dota or League of Legends probably wouldn’t. That being said, my toxic trait when it comes to any character-driven game, whether that be fighting games or hero shooters, has surfaced within Pokemon Unite. I’m a Pikachu one-trick, and despite the begging and pleading of my friends, I will not learn a new character. You cannot make me.
This has been mostly fine. When I have a full five-stack of friends on a team, everyone just knows I’m gonna be Pikachu, wearing a sick hoodie and cap. My fit is to be respected, and my Volt Tackle is to be feared. As such, the team must build itself around me because I refuse any level of introspection that will result in tangible change. My friends ask, “Kenneth, what would it take for you to learn a different Pokemon?” To which I say, if someone puts in one of my other faves, such as Torterra, Houndoom, or Beautifly, then I’ll be glad to learn a new character. Hell, even Pikachu is the pre-evolved form of my actual favorite, because the Pokemon Company will never put respect on Raichu’s name.
Though my friends grumble and poke fun, none of them have ever told me that my choosing Pikachu has been detrimental to their enjoyment of Pokemon Unite. However, I have come to learn my enjoyment of the MOBA has become so strongly tied to the little yellow guy that, should I have too few friends online to fill a team, the character select screen becomes a race to press the A button quick enough that I lock in Pikachu and his sick hoodie before any randos have a chance to hover over him.
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And one time…I failed. I was suddenly looking at the available Pokemon realizing I knew fuck all about how any of them worked. I scrambled as the timer that would boot me from the game slowly ticked down, asking my friends who I should pick because my perfect, yellow, electric rodent child had been torn from my grasp like a baby snatched from the hands of his father. As if any of these other pocket monsters were worthy of beating up wild Pokemon and dunking points against the enemy’s team like Pikachu was. So I ended up choosing Cinderace. He was the only Pokemon available to me that I had any attachment to, as he was my starter in Pokemon Shield.
So I stumbled around as this soccer-playing rabbit motherfucker, all because this rando had stolen my mascot from me. I’ve covered their username from this screenshot, but I hope they know they’re on my blocked list now, and I’ll never forgive them for this crime.
[Disclaimer: Fanbyte is owned by Tencent, which also co-developed Pokemon Unite. Though the company has no editorial oversight with Fanbyte Media. Nor have any of its representatives had direct contact with this writer.]