Happy #PokémonDay 🎂🎁
Pokémon has been aggressively promoting #PokémonDay (a day I was not aware existed) on their social media accounts this past week. Once I saw the date (Feb. 27th), I knew it was all for the anniversary of the release of Red and Green versions in Japan in 1996. After that realization, I decided to celebrate Pokémon’s 21st birthday with a post about my love affair with a franchise built on delightful glitch-ridden Game Boy games from the 90s.
In the “Why Video Games?” post I laid out that the first game I got for myself was Pokémon Blue. I still have my original save file on the cartridge, although it’s been a bit corrupted by our good friend MissingNo. 100+ hours clocked and 138 Pokémon caught. For those dying to know, I chose Squirtle. (Fun(?) fact: Generation 6 (X&Y) was the first time I didn’t start with a water type.) I do wish I could see who I brought to the Pokémon league, but the MissingNo. glitch messes up the Hall of Fame. My first trip through Kanto was filled with the missteps of a 9-year-old. I used my Master Ball on a Ditto because that fucker had a stupidly difficult catch rate and I had (and have) an incredible affinity for a complete lack of patience. However, given that I just admitted to impatience, I actually trained every Pokémon I caught equally. As in, I took individual Pokémon out of the impossible to navigate storage system one by one and ensured they were all at the same level. I didn’t know any better, BUT I was able to make gym specific teams versus using the same few throughout the game. This was also a time where there were only 151 monsters to worry about. There are 802 now.
Speaking of MissingNo., once I learned about that glorious Cinnabar Island surfing glitch I made that sixth item slot my bitch. I maxed out Ultra Balls (no Master Ball cause that stupid Ditto was in it), vitamins, Rare Candies, AND I was actually able to catch the pokes of the Safari Zone (or as I’ve recently called it, the Pokémon Go of 1996). As with any kid who shows an interest in something, I began receiving allll the Pokémon crap. I was fortunate enough to be gifted Red and Yellow versions. In Yellow, I couldn’t get that stupid rat happy enough to get a Bulbasaur. I overcame this MUCH later in life.
Besides the game, I would wake up at 6 am to watch the Pokémon anime on the WB. The first episode I ever saw featured my favorite, Rapidash (it’s a fire-maned unicorn and the best). I got some of the trading cards, but the game completely baffled me (and, frankly, still does). Of all the Pokémon memorabilia I’ve been able to find and add back to my modern collection, I cannot find my Pokémon cards and a few plushes. I fear they may have gone the way of the donation bin .
Silver was my first game for the second generation, but I was able to get a copy of Gold and Crystal. Crystal may be my favorite entry in the series, mainly because you could finally play as a girl character, but also it’s the first and only Game Boy Color only cart, sprites finally moved, and the cart itself is beautiful. The female character’s, Kris’, only video game appearance would be in Crystal. She is replaced in the 2005 Gold and Silver remakes by “Lyra” 🙄. Kris makes appearances in one of the manga storylines and a few episodes of the anime… and then died! Well, not really, but she’s likely gone and will never return. I dream of a future Kris inspired tattoo...
I wrote about Pokémon, dreamed about Pokémon, wore terrible Pokémon branded clothing. Of course, this all changed thanks to terrible middle school kids and good ole peer pressure. Emulators would scratch the itch here and there, but I didn’t find the time (or the social non-give-a-fuckitude) to dive back into gaming or Pokémon until I was out of college and employed. For the first time in my life thus far, I had disposable income and free time. It was the perfect combination. I picked up a DS lite and a copy of White 2 in the Fall of 2012. Then a 3DS and SoulSilver in 2013, which held me over until X and Y came out in October. Around this time, a Facebook messenger group began between two of my best friends, an ex-coworker, and two people I have yet to meet to this day. This group has been active nearly daily since and we talk about everything from Pokémon to what’s going on in our lives to other nerdy shit. It’s one of my favorite things.
In the past two years, my retro-collecting ramped up. I began actively filling in my Complete in Box (CIB) Pokémon collection in 2015 and, with the help of eBay and Kill Screen Games of Asbury Park, NJ, I finished it in February 2016. I had my Pokéball tattoo done by Fast Ali in November 2015. To help ease the wait until Sun and Moon released, I decided to complete a living dex (having a copy of every monster in the series) in my copy of X. This was a taxing project that involved trading in from other games, trading online, level grinding, breeding, and list making. I accomplished that in September 2016. This past November I went to the midnight release of Sun and Moon and took off two days from work so I could play without interruption. It was a beautiful game with some fun additions to the series, but a lot of baffling choices as well. I haven’t quite finished the living dex in this generation (I believe I’m two legendaries away), but I did complete the Alola dex and get my shiny charm! I haven’t opened the game since ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I have no doubt I’ll get back into sooner than later.
I’m not much of a competitive battler or a breeder, but I love playing through the main story lines, trying to make a fun team, and, as if it wasn’t clear, I love to collect. The world, characters, and storylines are great to get lost in. Escapism at its finest 👌. I adore this franchise and can’t wait to see the next installation. Maybe the 21st year will be the year we see a full game come to a home console. Fingers crossed the rumors for “Stars” on the Switch are true!
So what about you nerds? Do you have a life long love affair with Pokémon or some other franchise?
Games I've put some time into... this obviously isn't comprehensive:
|Game||Hours Clocked||Pokémon Caught||Starter|
|Gen 1: Blue||100+||138||Squirtle|
|Gen 2: Silver/Crystal||? the batteries in the cartridges died||?||Totodile|
|Gen 3: Sapphire||? I gave away my original cart||?||Mudkip|
|Gen 3: FireRed||? Played an emulator that I no longer have the save file for||?||Squirtle|
|Gen 4: Platinum||? I never finished this one. I missed this gen when I “quit” Pokémon. I’m hoping for modern remakes. Also, my cart isn't working…||?||Piplup|
|Gen 4: SoulSilver||72:41||128||Totodile|
|Gen 5: White 2||191:07||509||Oshawatt|
|Gen 6: X||268:25||721 (living dex; complete for Gen 6)||Fennekin|
|Gen 6: Omega Ruby||65:25||290||Torchic|
|Gen 6: Alpha Sapphire||34:47||197||Mudkip|
|Gen 7: Moon||134:43||301 (complete Alola dex)||Rowlet|
- I have pre-ordered a Nintendo Switch and the new Zelda. Expect lots of coverage on all of that in the coming days/weeks!
- Pokémon is now 21 so that means we can finally buy it a drink! Look forward to a Pokémon game and beer pairing post. I’ll be spending the week doing some research ;). A thousand cheers to Elyse for this INCREDIBLE idea. Please check out her YouTube account. She is a delight.