I remember when I bought Pokemon Blue one autumn evening in October ’99 it was a very special moment. It was the moment that a love affair sparked between myself and a Nintendo franchise. As regular readers of these pages will know, I grew up a SEGA kid, from the master system to the Saturn it was all I played – I even returned to them when they launched the Dreamcast.
And yet there was something about those lovable little monsters, maybe it was my little brothers fault for constantly watching the anime, perhaps that time when he brought home a starter pack of trading cards or that time he brought home ‘Pokemon Red’ and proceeded to hog the Gameboy…
…or maybe, just maybe Nintendo and Creature Freak captured lightning in a bottle. There is undoubtedly something very carnal about collecting; we are all collectors, it’s in our nature. Couple that nature with a game of genuine quality and you have a sure-fire hit on your hands.
This is my account of the relationship I have had with the ‘Pokemon’ series of games.
My first experience was with ‘Pokemon Blue’.
I remember buying it like it was yesterday.
I saved my money and bought a Green Game Boy Color and the game for a combined price of £110. While this seems a little OTT of me, remember that my little brother had dominated possession of our shared original model Game Boy. He was on a quest after all, to the be the very best…
The Game Boy also came with a game called ‘Reservoir Rat’ but I traded that game in for the official Pokemon strategy guide about a week after getting the game. ‘Pokemon Blue’ had me hooked within minutes of starting it up – I was playing the game in every free moment I had. I would come home from school (high school I may add) do my homework and play the game until it was time to sleep. When I went out with my mates, I brought the Game Boy with me just in case there was a lull in proceedings. I played in mass, at school lunch/assembly/library periods – absolutely everywhere!
The best part of all this was I was “too old” to be interested in this game! My mates would ruthlessly mock me for my enjoyment of a title, but I literally didn’t care – I was busy trying to figure out optimal move-sets for my team (Pikachu, Squirtle, Abra, Pidgey, Rattata and Vulpix) as I slowly worked my way through the story. The concept of trading was an amazing one as my brother and I used our link cable to share the Pokemon we captured for one another.
My addiction to Pokemon got really bad when I fell ill that year and missed a ton of school! My days were spent doing school work in the mornings and playing Pokemon literally the rest of the time. It got so bad, I had to buy a rechargeable battery for my GBC because I couldn’t keep up with ordinary batteries! By the time I finished the Pokedex, beat the Elite Four and got bored with the game I had put something in the region of 200 hours and 3 months of my life into Blue. ‘Ultima Online’ aside, I had never gotten that addicted to a game before…
…I needed more!
The gap between blue and the second gen was excruciating! I tried to fill the void with the rush of Pokemon clones but they were all clearly inferior; although ‘The Legend of the River King’ is a stand out title! Unfortunately it was very easy and very short, great while it lasted though!
In the gap between generations a lot had happened, I had moved house, the GBA had been released (and bought by me) and, to be honest, I had completely gotten over Pokemon. Or so I thought.
I had traded in my old GBC and all my games (including my 150 pokedex copy of Blue) when I bought my GBA and when I went to my local music shop (which also sold some games) I saw a box stand out from the shelf, it was Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone on the GBC. I picked it up and behind it was Pokemon Silver…
…I bought both. And both were great games. I got fully hooked on ‘Pokemon Silver’ but, because I was now working, nowhere near the same extent as I did with blue, initially anyway.
…I made my way through the new region “Johto” and became accustomed to the new additions to the pokedex it soon gripped me again! I played the game on my lunch breaks at work and when I wasn’t socialising with friends – in a month I had beaten the game. By this stage I had played only 50 hours and felt no real desire to collect all 250 monsters. I cashed in the item I got on finishing the game, a boat ticket, wonder what it does…
…it brings you to a scaled-down Kanto, complete with quests and gym leader battles, only everything had changed, the passage of time meant that the legendary birds were gone (because you caught them in the originals) and Team Rocket had new schemes to be thwarted! I became absolutely obsessed once more. Soon I was running around trying to catch ’em all!
I was even beginning to take advantage of the new additions to the game that I ignored previously like breeding, the train ticket item was invaluable in the post-game! In the end (before the battery died in my cart) I had ploughed over 500 hours into Silver and loved every single moment of it. It is probably the strongest title in the series; it took the original game mechanics and built upon them in a very logical way. It is the closest I’ve come to playing a perfect game.
This brings us to the end of the first part of my Pokemon retrospective!
If you have fond memories of the first two generations why not tell me about them in the comment section below?