If you’re short on Magic School Bus clips to feed your nostalgia trips, “Pokémon: Brown University” is here to bring you back to days of VHS tapes and Lunchables. After all, you’re never too old for Pokémon, especially if it comes with a
unhealthy dose of school love.
The game opens with Ruth greeting players as the new Professor Oak, and after leaving Keeney Quad with their first Pokémon, trainers are wandering a world of Bruonian puns. Gail is the first gym leader (poison and grass type), Gary is a hipster, and you better get HM03 before crossing Thayer because, let’s face it, it’s always flooded.
But the majority of chuckles come from the Easter Eggs scattered throughout the game, as College Hill and all its characters are recreated in pixelated glory.
PBU started as the final CS15 project of Matthew Reiss ’12. After turning it in, he and roommate Srihari Sritharan ’12 kept it as a pet project, working through winter break and bringing it from 5000 to 20,000 lines of code. The result was Pokémon gone collegiate to the tune of an 8-bit soundtrack.
The entire game is nearly complete (it’s always 80 percent done, Reiss joked). Reiss and Sritharan are ironing out the occasional bug, but game design is the biggest focus at the moment. All maps were created from scratch, and they’re busy populating their world with fratboy trainers and girls from Tech House.
Anyone interested in being reborn in the Pokemon world (let’s face it—that’s all of us) are welcome to do so, Sritharan said. Just illustrate the battle and avatar sprite versions of yourself and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reiss and Sritharan hope to finish polishing PBU before they graduate, and perhaps even start a second generation, Pembroke edition. But in the meantime, students are happy trying to catch the original 151 (which, by the way, is completely possible. Evolution through trading—the most god-awful tease in the original—has been removed).