Yes, I know Pokemon 20 was actually on Saturday, but I was having a really shitty day on Saturday and spent upwards of eight hours lying in bed staring at the ceiling. I wish I was kidding. Happy Pokemon 20 to me.
For those not in the know, Saturday (February 27th 2016) marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Pokémon Red and Blue – the first generation of Pokémon game for the original Gameboy – in Japan. Once Pokémon crossed international waters a year later, it’s safe to say the franchise blew up. As the developers at Game Freak released new editions of the handheld game (moving between Gameboy, Nintendo 3DS and all the models inbetween), fans have been treated to corresponding series of animé, trading card games, toys and movies. Despite buying into the whole lot – thanks Mum and Dad – it’s undoubtedly the games that captured my imagination the most, and still do to this day.
On Saturday I spent a while reading through the comments on Pokémon’s official Facebook page, getting stuck right into the nostalgia that came flowing from users around the world sharing their stories. So, at the risk of sounding trite and predictable, here’s my own to add to the pile.
My first Pokémon game was Pokémon Gold. I received it on my 7th birthday, along with the Special Pikachu Edition of the Gameboy Color – something I was secretly chuffed about, because I’d been so jealous of my brother Jack’s see-through purple Gameboy Color and Pokémon Yellow he’d been given for his 8th birthday the Christmas before. Taking pretty much everything my big brother said and did as gospel as most 7 year old baby sisters do, I was so excited to have an adventure of my own to go on. I can even tell you that Totodile was my first starter!
I would go on to ask for Red, Blue, Silver, Sapphire and Pearl over the years, receive them all as Christmas and birthday gifts, but still never see a single gen to completion. Jack, however, completed every game he owned (Yellow, Crystal, Ruby. There are two kinds of child – those with attention spans, and those hopelessly without.) I’ve since beaten the Elite Four once, actually, with Pokémon Y, and I came damn close in a copy of LeafGreen that I’m still not sure how I acquired. Experiencing the Champion’s procession and seeing the credits roll for the first time was definitely a full-circle, embarrassingly emotional moment for me, even though I was 21 okay yes ssh.
My dad bought us the cheat books for Generation 1 (red/blue/yellow) and 2 (gold/silver/crystal) that you could pick up in Game, which told you exactly how to puzzle your way through tricky mazes, find which region the Pokémon you needed to complete your collection was hiding in and extra little tips. I’m not exaggerating when I say I spent *hours* perusing these. I read our Gen 2 edition so much the cover fell off – but as a result had every extra Berry, Pokémon Egg and Trainer phone number going.
Seeing as I’ve grown up with Pokémon, I finally took the plunge and re-bought into the Nintendo family with my 2DS (third-hand, mind you) last summer, because I was just too curious to see what X&Y could offer. While I bought Y, I convinced Polly to buy X and we sort of played alongside each other, fangirling over the incredible graphics, soundtrack and new features that have brought the franchise into a more modern setting without losing all the authenticity and the charm of those first games back in ’96.
So thank you, Pokémon, for everything you gave my tiny imagination to explore and enjoy. It’s been lovely and I’ll treasure the memories forever.
Until tomorrow (lol maybe),