Pokémon Crater closes after eight years
|This is an editorial by FabuVinny.|
About the author
FabuVinny is the the Europe Editor of Bulbanews, an administrator at Bulbapedia, and a global moderator at Bulbagarden forums.
The popular fansite Pokémon Crater was closed today after being open for eight years. The reasons for the closure were easy enough to understand. The webmaster is moving on in the world and doesn't have the time to maintain such a large project. While I have not been an active member for a few years now, I am still sad to see it go.
Pokémon Crater will always be special to me as it was my entrance to the Pokémon fandom and thus became a big part of my Pokémon heritage. Since I somehow managed to not find the online community during the fad days – to be fair, I wasn't as internet savvy as I am now – my exploration of Pokémon's presence on the web didn't begin until early 2003 when I twigged that "hey, since I got a GBA for Christmas I can play those games now." I soon discovered Pokémon Crater and ended up becoming a known figure on the forums of the time. When those forums closed, I looked for a new site to spend time at and eventually filled that hole with Bulbagarden.
So how did the site become so successful? Being based on one the most successful video games ever made must have helped for a start. The problem other such online Pokémon games found with this idea is that they were forced to stop working on them when they received a Cease and Desist notice from Nintendo. The reason Crater avoided this is probably because it wasn’t attempting to replicate the games the way those projects tried to. It was, in effect, Pokémon Lite. The game found an acceptable medium with its focus on turn-based Pokémon battles rather than simply reproducing the RPG experience in an online setting.
So, then, what is it that made this 'lesser' experience so popular? The fact that the game was based on one basic concept meant that the one aspect could be perfected for the new setting. In particular, the fact that raising Pokémon to level 100 was actually feasible meant that level grinding was actually fun. It only really got monotonous if you were attempting to get on the leader board for top 25 due to the required amount of level 100 Pokémon that was necessary to reach the top. This did not matter as it was possible to start out with easier aims such as getting the Gym Badges or just raising a favourite Pokémon. After I got all the badges, I came up with my own aim – getting a complete set of level 100 legendaries and shiny legendaries – and earned the sense of accomplishment from succeeding in it. Incidentally, that did actually get me in the Top 25 for a brief time when a glitch in the upgrade to version 4 duplicated them all! Good times...
As somewhat noted above, I was an active member of Pokémon Crater in 2003 and 2004 so I am more familiar with what got the site to version 4 than the additions in the later updates. One big aspect at that time was the message boards. Switching between the game and boards certainly helped to break up the battles while staying on the site. Sure, you could switch to any forum but your registration covered both the game and the forums so there was plenty of encouragement to use it. That the site survived for a long time without new forums shows that they weren’t a vital part in the success but, as they were my first home in the Pokémon fandom, I personally had plenty of reason to stay.
What really made the game special was the little things. The unique Pokémon, Dratinice, for a start. Then there were the preset trainers who are based on characters from the anime that added variety to the trainer battles. The ability to battle other members was also a much-awaited addition for good reason. The simple fact that every Pokémon was in there was a big plus and the different classes of Pokémon also added variety. I wasn’t around for Dark, Metallic and Ghostly Pokémon but even when I began the lone Shiny Scyther was a novelty. The result was the same successful battle system with lots of added bonuses and reasons to continue playing. Well, if you happen to want evidence of how sound that concept is then I use exactly the same phrase to describe Super Smash Bros. Brawl and that game is right at the top of my reasons to get a Wii!