The 2007 logo for Pokémon Crater
|Run|| 1999 - 2007 (as Pokémon Crater)|
2009- (as Pokémon Vortex)
|Date opened|| 1999 (Pokémon Crater)|
2009 (Pokémon Vortex)
|Date closed||December 1st, 2007 (Pokémon Crater)|
|Reason||Creator moved on with life|
|Creator|| Aaron (Pokémon Crater)|
Patrick (Pokémon Vortex)
Pokémon Vortex, formerly Pokémon Crater and often subtitled as the Battle Arena, was an unofficial online Pokémon game that was played with just a mouse. The site was created by webmaster Aaron in 1999 and received numerous updates throughout the years, reaching version 7 before closing on December 1, 2007. The site was recreated as Pokémon Vortex in 2009.
The basics of the game were based on the main features of the core series, particularly the standard turn-based battle system. Registered players could use the interactive maps on the site to find and capture new Pokémon species or battle against Trainers controlled by the computer or, in later versions, other players to raise the levels of the player's Pokémon more easily.
The biggest update to the site came with the upgrade to version 4 in August 2004. It allowed players to walk around the new maps and battle the members around them, though the actual opponent would still be controlled by the computer for a while. Before version 4.0, only one Pokémon would be used by each Trainer at a time in all battles. However, as of the latest version the aim of battles was to beat a team of up to six Pokémon, though switches were not allowed until either one faints.
A key aim of the battle arena was to get onto the Top Trainer's list. As this signified that the player was one of the top 150 (previously top 100 and formerly top 50) on the site, this was a very hard feat to manage. The main method of reaching the top was to have a lot of Pokémon all at level 100, though other factors such as the number of battles won also had an effect or gaining trades made.
Another aim added to later versions was the classic completion of the Pokédex. However, this was a more immense task than in the games as it only counted the Pokémon currently owned, not those that have been evolved or traded. In addition, separate forms counted as separate Pokémon. This included all the 28 Unown forms and the three cloaks for Burmy and Wormadam along with the additional four unique classes noted below for each species.
Before this aim was added, the Pokédex simply listed the four set moves that each species knew; a useful resource for a controversial aspect of the site. Eventually, the option to change movesets was added at a cost that varied between Pokémon. But damage varied upon the type of the move that the player was going to put on the Pokémon.
In-game money was also used to buy items in one of three categories. Healing items could be used to restore HP or cure a status effect in battle, though they were not used elsewhere as Pokémon automatically regained full health after a battle. Poké Balls came in four extents of effectiveness: Poké, Great, Super and Master. The Master Ball was notorious in earlier versions of the site for not catching every Pokémon, instead simply being a bit more effective than a Super Ball. Even afterwards, players were not limited to purchasing just one and, in another variation from the games, wild Pokémon could still be caught when their health dropped to zero. Finally, evolutionary stones were available.
Evolution had to be initiated by the player but could happen at any time once a Pokémon met the standard evolution requirements. Those that evolve by level could do so when they were at that level or higher. Those that evolve by evolution stone needed the necessary stone in the player's inventory, after which it would be removed. Any other Pokémon could simply be evolved from the moment they were caught.
The site had its own unique Pokémon, a Dragon/Ice Pokémon called Dratinice. Dratinice was the user name of one of Pokémon Crater forum's administrators, as well as Aaron's girlfriend. Dratinice originally evolved at level 100 - a level easier to reach than in the games - into the Dragon/Fire Pokémon Dratinire. A Dragon/Electric Pokémon called Dratilic was later added and the three Pokémon, commonly known as the "legendary Dratinis", became separate creatures that were not related through evolution.
In the store for Pokémon Vortex, for 1 billion Poké, are fan remakes of Celebi, Mewtwo, and Darkrai. The Celebi has more details and is called Eternal Celebi. The Mewtwo is just a Mewtwo with armor, and the Darkrai has a spiker collar, and is called Darkrown.
Until Shiny Pokémon were added, Shiny Scyther was a novelty on the site, as this was Aaron's favorite Pokémon. Prior to version 4.0, both Dratinice and Shiny Scyther could be found in a house on the maps at a specific time of the day. Afterwards, Dratinice could only be found in the wild, though it was very rare. Shiny Scyther was found in the same way as any other Shiny Pokémon, and so was just as rare.
Over time, four special classes of Pokémon were added: Dark Pokémon, Metallic Pokémon, Ghostly Pokémon and Shiny Pokémon. Along with new color schemes, each class came with their own unique attributes:
- Dark Pokémon
- These Pokémon have stronger attack power.
- Metallic Pokémon
- These Pokémon are immune to status conditions.
- Ghostly Pokémon
- These Pokémon can make an opponent flinch after an attack.
- Shiny Pokémon
- These Pokémon have more HP.
Total, to complete the Pokédex meant to catch over 2,000 Pokémon, as the player had to catch five versions of each.
As the revival of Pokémon Vortex was released, they created new classes in addition to the previous classes: Mystic and Ancient. Mystic Pokémon can scare the opponent (a status effect), and Ancient Pokémon have 25% more Defense. Ghostly and Metallic Pokémon were removed.
As battling is a core part of the basic Pokémon experience, the site provided a number of options for variety. Wild Pokémon battles were initiated by finding one in the maps. Up to version 3, each species was in a specific location that was found by simply clicking on a section of a map. However, from the upgrade to version 4 they were found randomly by pressing the direction arrows outside of buildings.
A much requested feature in the early years of the site was the ability to battle other members. This was added in two installments. Version 4 included the ability to battle the team of any member, though the opponent was still controlled by the computer. While this feature was kept, the opportunity for "live battles" was eventually added. These were begun by challenging another player on the maps or typing the desired opponent's user name on the Live Battle page.
The only statistic recorded for each individual Pokémon was their HP. Due to the lack of a speed stat, both Pokémon attacks happened at the same time. Situations where the last Pokémon of both teams fainted at the same time counted as a win for both Trainers.
There were a number of preset Trainers to battle against, including characters from the Pokémon anime. While these characters initially just got a separate page in the menu, they were later relocated to a house on the maps.
More important than these were the Gym Leaders and Elite Four members of Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh and Unova- the latter naturally being added when their respective games were released (though Kanto and its Elite Four were based on Pokémon Gold and Silver). The Gym Leaders could be faced in any order and at any time, though the levels progressed within each region's leaders to the extent that Elite Four members only had level 100 Pokémon. These battles awarded double money and experience and winning against one for the first time was awarded with a Gym Badge placed on the player's profile. In addition, defeating all Elite Four members earned players the privilege to use the map containing legendary Pokémon before it was scrapped after version 3. The player is also given the chance to battle 3 admins, and all the Champions. The Gym Leaders from the Orange Islands were also included in Vortex.
Alongside the game, the site had fairly busy forums. These were places to talk and get help about the game, as well as talking about Pokémon, like art and video games, and more general topics. The moderators, who usually worked with little interaction with Aaron, had a hard fight against spam, and were prepared to ban those who did not follow the list of rules. These forums were removed during the upgrade to version 4. In the anti-spam climate of the original forums, those who did post properly were noticed, and many were recruited to a private club, named Valthors by its creator, Vandurer. Three of the four forum moderators, including the most prominent, were among the members. However, with the major source of recruitment closed down, the activity level of club dropped significantly and it remained largely inactive until being officially dissolved in June 2007. A new forum was set up in March 2006 but this did not have Valthor influence.
On November 14, 2007, this message was posted on the site:
- In the ninth grade, I became fascinated with Pokémon. I bought all the games and played them over and over. When a friend who shared my interest moved away, I thought that it would be great to put a similar game on the Internet that he and I could play together. Through the years, he and I and thousands of our site viewers enjoyed my version of Pokémon.
- Soon I will be graduating from college. Life has its demands and responsibilities, life will be changing, and it is not going to be possible to maintain PokémonCrater.com. As a result I have decided to shut down PokémonCrater.com on December 1, 2007.
- Thank You to all the viewers who shared my interest in Pokémon and a special Thank You to those who contributed ideas and challenges through the years. It has been great.
Soon after the closure of Pokémon Crater, it was announced on October 2008 that the game was being rebuilt in the name of Pokémon Vortex Battle Arena. Set to start from the beginning at version 1 and feature the same functions as Pokémon Crater had at version 7. Pokémon Vortex was fully released as a public game in mid 2009 and set for update to version 1.8 early 2011.