Tuesday, November 5, 2013

15 years of catching them all.

August 1997, I had just turned 15 and I had finally gotten something I'd been wanting for a "long time". No not a car, shit I still don't have one of those. No, I had just gotten my first Game Boy. It wasn't the big obscene grey brick that was the original GB, no, it was the smaller more colorful second iteration of the handheld. I had in my hands a sunflower yellow Game Boy Pocket, and it was awesome. When they came out in 1996, my brother Scott bought the silver one with the clear plastic case they'd re-use for the limited edition colors later on. So being the typical younger brother, I wanted it.. bad. My mom took notice and the next year for my birthday, I had it.

Hell, it still is awesome.

The only games I got with it was the shitty Empire Strikes Back game and Tetris, and I played the living hell out of them. I wanted more though, something of substance.


Fast forward to early 1998, I had just gotten into RPGs a few years prior and I was looking around for a Final Fantasy or something that was on the Game Boy, and was kinda surprised to find out there was a Final Fantasy on the GB. Though, it wasn't a real FF game, it was part of the Mana series of games (also made by Square). It was retitled The Final Fantasy Legend to appeal to American gamers. Square thought people in the states were dumb. THAT is another blog post though. So, even though it was the pre-internet days (for us) I managed to learn it wasn't a proper Final Fantasy game, soooo I kept looking.

In the August 1998 issue of Nintendo Power (which luckily, I had a subscription to at the time) I had found an mini-magazine insert about midway through the issue that was dedicated to this new monster collecting RPG called Pokemon. Being a Nintendo made RPG that was laid back and newbie friendly, it caught my eye immediately and was hot on my radar from then on. For six consecutive issues, was this cool ass strategy guide/comic about this new game I decided that I MUST have. I carefully separated each one from the magazine and put them in those clear plastic paper holders with the binder holes so I could go back to them once I got the game.

Nintendo Power sold me on a Nintendo game, go figure.

Knowing my own level o restraint I couldn't help but read the walkthrough anyway as the anime that accompanied the U.S. release of the game was starting to air on broadcast TV (a CBS owned local station for us). I was hyped to say the least. The show would come on of a morning before school in the early days and then switched to a mid afternoon schedule, and if I hurried home from school, I would catch the beginning of it, which I always did. To hell with social life, Pokemon is coming on!!

Season 1, Episode 1: "I Choose You".

Between September and and end of December, my hype levels for Pokemon waned as I settled in to a routine of watch the anime each day and reread the Pokemon Power every now and then. However, as Christmas came around, my hype levels maxed out again as I pretty much knew what I was getting. As I was unwrapping presents I came across an all too familiar shaped box. I tore into that fucker with a quickness, lol. I finally had Pokemon: Red in my hot little hands. I was so excited in fact that I ran into my room and started playing it without thinking about it. I heard everyone asking where I went to and finally heard mom yelling at me to get back in and finish Christmas with everyone.


For the next year or so (until I got my GB: Color), I had my GB Pocket with me all time, I was even taping episodes of the anime (I caught a rerun of the pilot on tape as well). As time went on I lost interest in the show as it started drifting away from the games and when it eventually dropped Ash (in the Jhoto region part of the show, I think), I just stopped watching it all together. I still played the games though like crazy. Though.. I never saw the movies. From then on, it was all about the games.

Later in the series, as the games came out, I was less hyped for the releases, but when the Special Pikachu Edition of Red/Blue came out I remember having my aunt drive me up to Walmart for the midnight release, I was sooo pumped, mainly cause it was more like the original show and Pikachu followed you around, it was awesome. The remakes and special versions made me feel all tingly inside though.

Yellow was a Game Boy/GBC hybrid cart.

Years went by, and I saw friends lose interest in the games, but they dropped gaming in general to pursue other more destructive paths, like drugs, alcohol, and getting married. But my childhood hobby stuck with me, and with it my love for Pokemon. From 1998 to now, I've bought most of the main Pokemon games. I never got around to getting Blue Version, Crystal, Emerald, Platinum, Black/White, and B2/W2, but the rest I got.

Pokemon Y not pictured, I didn't have it when the photo was taken.

Not written on Pokemon Stadium cart.. very rare.

I even bought a couple of the spinoff battle games, though they paled in comparison to the main games. Stadium was a cool distraction in the time between the GBC games and the GBA games, and I had hoped that Colosseum was going to be good, but it proved to be just like Stadium, a distraction. It's kinda a shame that there hasn't been a main game on the consoles, that would sell some systems. Hell if they announce a main game for the Wii-U before it's life cycle is over, I'll buy one within an hour of the announcement, money or not, I'd make it happen. Okay, I'd buy one within the year.Still, I'd drink that kool-aid.

With Pokemon Diamond and Soul Silver (the GBC Silver remake) came out, I got absorbed into a new type of game within Pokemon.. online trading. I became a trading mofo. Wheeling and dealing rare Mons for people who need them. It felt good, and was engaging as well as entertaining. With Pokemon Y, that's still the case.

I got PokemonY a few days after I started writing this, hence why it's taken so long to finish this thing. I got sucked in again and it's still has a firm grasp on me, even though I'm into the post game content right now. The online trading is most of what I do now. I'm trying to complete the regional Pokedex as much as I can before the Pokemon Transporter/Pokemon Bank are released on the 3DS eShop. Once they're out, all the old pokemon will be able to be transported from game to game and eventually over to X/Y. The 3DS app is essentially the flood gates that will reinvigorate the Global Trade System towards the end of December. I can't wait for it.

I said on Twitter I'd throw my impressions of X/Y into the post, so here's my impressions of Pokemon Y.. buy it if you like the old Pokemon games. The last time they took big technological leaps in the series with a new game was with Gold/Silver on the GBC, and X/Y are just as good. Buy it!

Recently I heard about a new anime based off of the Red/Blue gen of games, and I just about lost it. It's also coming to the US November 15th, but I couldn't wait. It's only a 4 part thing that ties the Red/Blue games into the current games universe with the inclusion of Mega Evolution. However, it's awesome. I managed to find (and download) a fan subtitled version of the japanese broadcast and I must say, it's pretty damn cool.

Red and his Charmander.

The anime follows the original games to the letter, even going as far as calling the characters by the Japanese game's default names.. Red and Green, instead of Ash and Gary. It skips over a lot of the game's content to fit into the 4 half hour episodes. Most of it is skipped over in montage like scenes, but the really important bits are left unabridged. I think it would make a cool DVD/Blu-Ray release. But we'll have to see how it fares on the American TV networks (whichever channel that'll be) to see if any kind of physical release will be planned.

So that's me and Pokemon over the years. I may be an adult, but I've learned that one does not need to grow up as they grow old. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some Pokemon to go catch.

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