I’m convinced that Pokemon ends up being a part of every kid’s life. I played it, you probably played it, and I have seen every one of my young family members playing it. Hell, I know a lot of people who still play it from geeky high school students to division one college athletes (apparently track & field athletes are some of the biggest nerds on the planet). It was definitely brought back into the public forefront with “Pokemon Go,” but everyone knows theres more to it than that. My interest did not get peaked by that game but instead by the flood of speculation and recently released information for the upcoming Pokemon Sun & Moon games for the 3DS. Now I personally don’t own a 3DS, but somehow this news has not only caught my eye but has also gotten me to look back over my past with the Pokemon franchise as a whole. So, with all that being said, let’s talk Pokemon.
Let’s start out by saying when I was younger I was an introverted geek and spent a lot of my time playing video games. Okay, I still very much am in almost every context, but that’s not the point here. I’d often be found in my elementary and pre-elementary school years with my Gameboy Advance or later my DS playing them without shame in public. At my older brothers track meets I’d even put blankets over my head so I’d be able to see the screen!
In hindsight I was really weird and cringey for doing stuff like that.
Anyways, it’s what I would do. “What game would I be found playing?” the unobservant of you may be asking. It would often be one of the variety of the Pokemon Games, of course! (I mean, this is a post about Pokemon. Why else would I include that embarrassing anecdote unless it linked in to the main topic!) The idea of being able to capture and train a large variety of monsters was amazing especially since my family didn’t have pets. Each time I picked one of the three starters provided in he main series games I felt I was making a new friend. Pokemon games were my affair in my marriage with life, and for that I will always thank her. I mean it. I mean Pokemon.
My first game was Pokemon Emerald for the Gameboy Advance. I remember my team very fondly! Actually, I just remember two Pokemon from my first play through. I chose Mudkip because it was the cutest looking one to me, and to a six year old that’s all that really matters.
I also remember my Breloom for some odd reason. I called it “Shroom” as I was completely original (for those who don’t know Breloom and it’s pre-evolution Shroomish were based on mushrooms) and I remember liking it even more so than my Mudkip! Mainly because Breloom was adorable while Mudkip’s final evolution Swampert wasn’t. Other than that I really don’t remember much from my early days of Pokemon playing. I know the games I played (Leaf Green and the original Mystery Dungeon spinoff) but other than that my memories are foggy. Even my memories of the fourth generation with Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, and Heartgold are for the most part not there. My earliest concrete reactions from a Pokemon game did not actually come from a main series game. It came from a spinoff in Pokemon Ranger.
When I recently tried to go back and play through Pokemon Ranger, I realized it was really bad. It was devoid of really any mechanics besides drawing circles around Pokemon to capture them, but for some reason I remember so much about my experiences with that game. I remember finding it fresh in exciting being able to have my own movements capture a Growlithe or a Pikachu. I felt my dexterity being pushed to the limits as I… repeatedly drew circles. Honestly surprised I didn’t get some form of carpel tunnel. Anyway, at the time it felt fun and cool running around with my Minun partner and drawing some goddamn circles. I had equally fond memories of the much better sequels in Shadows of Almia and Guardian Signs, but the original has a special place in my mind as being some of my most concrete memories in Pokemon.
I do remember one run in the mainstream Pokemon games, though. That run comes from my very first play through of Pokemon White from the fifth generation. It came out while I was an angsty and annoying sixth grader and I needed it to distract me from… honestly just being really annoying. All my energy that would otherwise be put into being awful was put into Pokemon. So much energy that I remember my exact team! First was my starter, my plucky and happy Tepig I named “Farrow.” Why that name? Because I looked up a word for baby pigs that wasn’t piglet.
My team was then comprised of a Pansage, a Seismitoad, a Swoobat, a Galvantula, and a Reuniclus. If you don’t know what any of those are then I’ll do a rundown of what they are based on: Grass monkey, toad monster, a bat, an electric tarantula, and a fetus. Don’t believe me on that last one? Just look at Reuniclus:
I loved this game. To this day White Version is my favorite Pokemon game because of how vividly I remember nearly every aspect of that game from the decent story, the fun new cast of critters based on things like ice cream and goddamn fetuses, and the epic legendary Reshiram. It got me into actually battling other people and brought me to the Pokemon Showdown website. For those of you who don’t know, that is a fully customizable online simulator of Pokemon where you can choose your Pokemon team, their moves, items, etc. By the way competitive Pokemon is actually a thing with worldwide competitions for money which is crazy to me. Back on topic, Pokemon White was my shit.
After that though, my interest in Pokemon faded almost completely. I played Pokemon White 2 once and found it okay, but when Pokemon X & Y came out I didn’t have a 3DS so I did not play them. After that I just stopped playing Pokemon games altogether. Not even the older ones I had once adored. They were locked in my nerd caves, wishing to see the light of day. My mind just shifted to different games. As I mentioned before I did not even get enthralled like many others by Pokemon Go for a variety of reasons.
With all that being said, I can’t help but follow the news about Pokemon Sun & Moon. They look amazing! The new Pokemon are fun, they’re adding new mechanics that look awesome, and they are changing up the formula of gyms! The nerd part of me (which is most of me) loves watching the trailers Nintendo puts out and seeing all the new stuff they jam in. Also they have an owl with a bowtie as a starter. That is amazing.
Who knows, I might even get a 3DS for these games. No matter what, these games remind me of something I used to love and very well may still love.