The Resilience of Pokemon

I want to to be the very best…like no one ever was. To catch them is my real test. To train them is my caaauuuuseee! SING WITH ME!

I’ve been alive for three decades. There aren’t many things that I can say have persisted through all three of those decades. Pokemon is one of those things.

Do you remember the first time you saw an episode of Pokemon and thought, “Wow, that would be so cool if I could travel the world and have my monsters battle other monsters!”, with a singular goal of catching 151 unique mons?

I don’t actually remember thinking this, but that’s probably not too far from what young me had going on in his tiny head. Little did I know that this franchise would evolve (see what I did here) into one of the most timeless series since The Simpsons.

To give a better sense of the scale that is the Pokemon universe, if you took three days to beat every Pokemon game created thus far you would not finish within a YEAR. True story, fact check here.

The Early Years

At first, I only had the TV show to keep me occupied. Pikachu refusing to get in a Pokeball (stay strong little electric mouse), a few teenagers running away from home to collect badges and a bunch of trainers who felt the need to challenge anyone who crossed their path. Oh yea, and Team Rocket…

Photo credit: Pokemon Wiki

A couple years later, Pokemon Red and Blue came to North America. It was time to start my journey towards becoming the greatest Pokemon master who had ever lived. Naturally I chose Charmander, because, well, let’s checkout the other choices:

  • A blue turtle (Kotaku uses ‘science’ to prove that I’m wrong about who to pick)
  •  A green turtle-looking thing with a plant on his back (granted, I believe he is part dinosaur, so he gets a few bonus points)

No thanks. I’ll take the fire-breathing lizard who eventually learns how to fly.

I couldn’t even tell you how many hundreds of hours I spent staring at my small Game Boy screen. I must have put at least a couple hours into trying to catch an Abra. Seriously though, who approved having Abra’s only move be Teleport? 

Photo Credit: Quora

The card game came out around the same time. I didn’t get too into it, but I do have a vivid memory of finding out that my holographic Charizard card was a fake. So much sadness.

Mid-life

By the time I got to college, Pokemon wasn’t nearly as cool with the people I was hanging out with. They were more into drinking, playing more modern games, going to the dining hall, etc.

That didn’t stop me from downloading a Game Boy Color emulator to start a new run at some gym badges! With the addition of color to the game, it was like a whole new world!

Photo Credit: Free GBA Roms

Of course, I cheated a little bit this second time around. But why wouldn’t I? At this point, the internet had too much information for me to not start off with a slight edge. For those who don’t know by now, you can have two sessions of your emulator open and just trade Pokemon between the two game saves. Alternatively, you can follow this video to do everything right on your Game Boy.

I relived my glory years and didn’t even get made fun of too much!

With emulators at my fingertips, I took a chance at a bunch of other non-standard Pokemon games, including Pokemon Pinball, Pokemon Stadium, and Pokemon Puzzle Challenge. None of these were as fun as collecting/battling Pokemon but it was a nice change of pace from spending hours battling thousands of Pidgeys.

Present Day

Over the last few years, there’s been a step change in the level of complexity that Pokemon brings to the table. It seems like I blinked and then there were hundreds of new Pokemon! Can any of you name this guy?

Photo Credit: Game Informer

No? I didn’t think so.

Since moving to the west coast, I’ve played through Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Sun (I convinced my fiancee to play the opposite versions so we could eventually trade. We didn’t end up trading very often, but I still think it was a good idea).

I gotta say, I like what Game Freak has done with the series. They added things like bikes to make travelling faster, customization of Pokemon stats using berries, and even breeding Pokemon.

Some people might consider the additions to be too excessive. I appreciated that the complexity of the game advanced with the complexity of my tiny brain. Though, there are some parts that are still too confusing for me. Why are ‘friendship’ and ‘affection’ two different things?

There was also the Pokemon Go craze, with thousands of people flooding the streets/parks/lakes/everywhere to throw virtual balls at virtual Pokemon.

Photo Credit: ABC News

I was one of those people who would check online Pokemon trackers, sprint down the road to catch a Venasaur and make a dozen new friends who were rapidly swiping upwards on their phone screens. Now, I just check out the app a couple times a week when I’m bored…

My hope is that Niantic will eventually bring the promised trading mechanic to the game and allow people to battle each other. Until then, I’m just doing a little maintenance work on my account to stock up on throwables.

What Happens Next?

There are still a few Pokemon games that I want to try out. Pokken Tournament looks pretty cool. I downloaded the demo on my Switch several months ago but haven’t tried it out yet. I heard there’s another Pokemon game coming to Switch eventually. I may pay money for that.

Honestly, I could see myself picking up 6-10 more Pokemon games in my life time. I hope to be able to share this phenomenon with future generations! I’ll tell them about the time I beat the Elite 4 using only one Pokemon. Can you guess which one it was?

Who’s your favorite Pokemon? Leave a comment and prove me wrong about Charmander!

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