So a milestone has been reached today. Pokémon, the world-wide phenomenon, has turned 20 years as of this very day. Yes, it has been that long since the originals have been released in Japan, being Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green. And the series has grown so much in this amount of time. With over 700 pocket monsters to catch, trade and battle with other trainers over six (soon to be seven) generations, an on-going anime with 19 series and 18 movies under its belt, trading cards, and touching the hearts of millions around the globe, Pokémon is something you can’t deny has had a positive impact in our society and culture. So in celebration for this day, I thought it would be appropriate to share my Pokémon journey (and sorry for the slightly cringey tone this will have to it).
Believe it or not, I was actually into Digimon before Pokémon. I loved the first six episodes of the anime that I had on video, as well as the movie and Rumble Arena 2. And whilst I did have some Pokémon stuff when I was younger, I was under the impression they were of their digital counterparts. But I became more familiar with the much more popular pocket monsters around the age of 8, and less in touch with Digimon (although I have gotten into the anime again in the last year). After hearing all of my classmates raving about it (and there must have been about one who wasn’t into it), I knew I had to get the game. I had watched a couple of episodes and some parts of movies from the third generation I believe, taking a fondness to Mudkip in particular, but I still didn’t know it all that well. I didn’t even know how to get out of the house for ages, making me leave it for months! And that game was Pokémon Diamond Version, which I enjoyed on my DS Lite. And after managing to get out of my own home, my journey in the new land of Sinnoh began.
Piplup would become my very first Pokémon, and Empoleon, its final evolution, is still one of my favourite Pokémon today. Even though I don’t remember my journey fully, I can still remember the sound of Empoleon’s cry, the joy of catching and battling Pokémon, and the sense of wonder and awe as I explored the region. Every battle with the persistent Barry, every struggle with Team Galactic, and the capture of Dialga at Spear Pillar. I loved every single part of this game. It was also my first RPG, or at least one of my first. I wasn’t familiar with the concept of levels or stats, yet I still had an understanding of the types in Pokémon. I never completed it though. I did manage to get up to the Elite Four, but when up against Cynthia, I didn’t manage to win. I remember trying countless times, and one time I even brought a Level 17 Mime Jr. (because physic would be super effective against bug types). Yet that didn’t stop me from enjoying the game. I restarted my save, this time choosing Chimchar, and I enjoyed it as much as the first time. Then I played again, picked Turtwig this time, and still had a blast going through the same game again. It wasn’t until the Platinum version that I could finally claim victory as Champion of the Sinnoh region.
For a long time I enjoyed to anime series to, and much like the games I started with the Diamond and Pearl series. My first movie to be on DVD was the Rise of Darkrai. I loved the different perspective on the world, and watching battles got pretty intense at points! Although looking back, the Black and White series was kind of annoying, despite its more flashy visuals. I was also invested in collecting the cards for a good while, but soon got out of it after having absolutely no idea how to actually use them. And I still have to complete my journey of watching every movie, which I have put on hold for a good year or two.
In between generations, I had fun with some spin-off titles. The one that I’m probably most familiar with is the Mystery Dungeon series. It wasn’t as cool as the main games in my opinion, but the idea of being a Pokémon, and them talking no less, was certainly cool! Pokémon Dash and Pokémon Ranger were also one of my earliest spin-offs from the main line of games. I’m already eager for Detective Pikachu’s localisation and Pokkén Tournament, but they can’t even start to compare to the pure brilliance of the adventures the main series brought.
Pokémon HeartGold was my first time experiencing an old region, and (Game)boy did I adore it. My only regret is not exploring the additional Kanto region, because I saw that the wild Pokémon were much weaker and so I wasn’t up for it. Pokémon Black was the first generation that I was being introduced to along with all other Pokémon fans, and even though I for some reason didn’t get through the whole way of Pokémon Black 2 (another regret I have had), I still loved them. Pokémon Y was the first time I closely followed a main series instalment, as I was becoming more familiar with being a games journalist. Being able to experience this amazing fantasy world in stereoscopic 3D was also mind-blowing to me too, and incredibly exciting! And I’m glad this buzz is beginning again with the recently announced Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon!
I think you may have noticed a repetition in certain words and phrases throughout this article. ‘I loved’, ‘I enjoyed’, or at least things along these lines. And it’s because it is Pokémon. Being one of the first franchises to have loved from the moment I came into it, it has had a MASSIVE impact on my life. Even after everybody ‘grew out’ of the craze just the next year, I still held on to it. And until this very moment, whilst being in the second oldest year in a school of a thousand teenagers, whilst being surrounded by those my age that would give me grief for still liking it (although a good amount of time it is just goofing around), I still adore Pokémon. And I have been able to meet and connect to so many more people because of this, and has very likely left an impression on how I go around my life, like never giving up, friendship is important, and never to go into a cave without a thousand repels and escape ropes. And I’m sure this may be the same for some of you reading this. So whether you’re watching the adventures of Ash and his companions, coming up with your own strategies when fighting with your team, trading critters or beasts with your mates, using your frying pan as a drying pan, or training to be the very best like no one ever was, I hope you enjoy Pokémon as much as, or even more, than I do, and that this feeling will never fade until the end of time.