Monday, October 29, 2012

Why I Love Pokemon...

Since I got my new Nintendo 3DS XL, I've really been playing it a lot. But even though I have quite a few games for it, there's one game I've been playing way more than any of the others...

Yes. A dreaded Pokemon game!

I love Pokemon, I won't deny it. I know that a lot of 'hardcore gamers' think of it as a 'kiddy game', and will bash it all to pieces. Personally I think it's a shame that the series has garnered so much stigma because of the card game, anime and other merchandise that's geared more towards younger people- the games have a solid and addictive game play that's actually a ton of fun! But I'm not here to convince anyone to play Pokemon, just to tell why I enjoy it so much.

Back when I was in fifth or sixth grade, all of a sudden everyone had these things called 'Pokemon Cards'. Being a bit of a loner in school, I'd never heard of the things, and then suddenly they were all the rage! Everyone who was cool had them! Now I had always liked collectible cards. My dad and Uncle used to collect sets of them, and even I had a smattering of random cards from various shows and sets that my parents had occasionally bought me from Walmart. Needless to say, the second I got a look at these Pokemon cards at school, I was in love!

I NEEDED to catch 'em all!

I was Pokemon CRAZY. I needed Pokemon things. All the things. I remember being elated when occasionally my Dad would bring me home a few booster packs when he came home from work. I would excitedly open them, look at all the cards, and coveted them. 

I would watch the TV show after school. Now, when I was a kid, there were only 150 Pokemon critters, and knew the name of every one. Before the commercial breaks, they would show the shape of a pokemon and excitedly yell "Who's that Pokemon???". I knew it, every time.

By the way, that's a Jigglypuff, Psyduck, Magikarp, and a Caterpie.

I remember the first Christmas I had after the Pokemon craze started; it's honestly one of the best, most memorable Christmas's I remember. I got LOADS of Pokemon stuff, cards, books, clothing, toys, coloring books. I remember spending that morning after we opened gifts, sitting on the floor with my parents opening all the booster packs I got, since they had gotten me a whole box of booster cards!

We had stacks and stacks of cards. I would organize them and put them all in sleeves in binders. I had nearly the entire collection at the time, and for my birthday a month later my Dad got me a few of the rare holographic cards I needed from the card shop- honestly the ONLY thing I actually remember getting that year. I'm sure there was more, but those cards were just the best!

It wasn't long after that when Nintendo announced a new Pokemon game- Pokemon Yellow. I didn't have a Gameboy, or Gameboy Color. I had seen others with it at school, and wanted one badly, but they were quite expensive. I desperately wanted that game, even more when I found out you could get the game bundled with a special edition Gameboy Color. I remember hinting around and begging for MONTHS that I wanted that thing, going so far as to write it on my mother's grocery lists, faintly at the top. I had claimed at the time I was trying to 'see how lightly I could write', but I still got yelled at for it!

When I did get it for Christmas I played it all day, I was so excited. Now that I look at it, that gameboy was hideous. Bright yellow front, the back plate of it was bright purple. I would never buy that thing now! I played Pokemon Yellow for months, although I don't know if I ever beat it...

And then- the MOVIE came out. I was so excited- excited enough that my parents actually took me to it opening day. I remember how amazing the movie was, every second action packed, filled with emotional ups and down. The triumph, the tragedy... My parents hated it. Big props to them for taking me to it and sitting in a room packed with excited children to see this movie! They even sent off the vouchers we got at the movie for special promo cards! I loved it!

But after that, as I got older, the Pokemon craze died down. It became the 'lame thing to do'. It was 'kid stuff' and you were a loser if you had anything to do with it. I think I got one other Pokemon game for myself a few years later. I would watch the show in reruns, I still had all my cards. I've never understood why everyone will suddenly turn their back on something they previously loved because it's 'just not popular anymore'. Who cares?

I will probably always love Pokemon. It was such a huge part of my childhood, and encompasses some of my favorite thoughts of my Dad, like him bringing me cards home, and sitting on the floor with me Christmas morning while we opened Fossil Set booster packs. I hope the store clerks who look at me like I'm crazy buying a Pokemon game in the store have memories as wonderful as those! And the best part is that Pokemon has been something I can continue to enjoy even though I'm older through the video games- it's one thing that hasn't become unrecognizable nowadays, unlike a lot of the other things I loved back then (Lisa Frank and Sanrio Surprise stores come to mind!).

Anyways, time to be off! I've got to go play my game and become a Pokemon Master! Gotta Catch 'em All!



Caitlin Jordan said...

Thankfully pokemon is cool again. As a teacher I have made many friends in classes by having a knowledge of pokemon. I love playing the games too and I have watched the show. Never got into the cards but I was never one for connecting stuff.

Kallixta said...

My kids followed a very similar progression as you. The big exception was that they continued to play, picking up each new expansion (Silver/Gold, Crystal, Leaf Green, etc)

My 21yo son still plays with his college friends. He also carefully natured his 10yo nephew and getting him up to speed.