I was eight or nine when my mother, desperate to stop the endless barrages of "Pleeeeeeease? Can you get me a GameBoy? Pleeeeeeeease?? I'll be soooo gooood!", took me to Toys R Us and presented me with the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life until that point: A GameBoy Color. It was translucent purple and it made me so happy I almost vomited.
Not content with just a GameBoy that didn't do anything, it also came with a copy of the game I absolutely, 100% HAD HAD HAD to have: Pokémon Blue. I had seen my friends play Pokemon on their GameBoys and I needed it. I needed it with a burning desire that wasn't replicated until I got older and discovered my babysitting money could be exchanged for cheap jewellery at the mall.
The intense joy I felt when Professor Oak introduced me to this world of animals forced to do my bidding and fight each other for my amusement was intense. What do you mean I have a rival? Oh, you mean I can name my rival? Well, what a coincidence 'Jackass' fits perfectly! I was a very mature nine year old, thank you very much.
And which Pokemon should I choose? Professor Oak is just offering me one, just like that! Fire? Water? Plant?
FIRE! Give me fire! But oh crap, Charmander is USELESS for the first two gym leaders. Subsequent games led me to choose Squirtle or Bulbasaur. And rapidly deciding that Zubat can go die in a fire. God I hate Zubat. And the complete ecstasy when I finally defeated the Final Four and Rival.
I tried to play other generations, but something was missing. I finished Pearl, but gave up on Black. I think it got too complicated for me. Pokémon were now gendered? You could make babies? There were new types and combinations! And 300 new ones! What the crap is a Bidoof? They could hold things that let them do stuff? Wait, what? You know what, Nintendo? I'm just gonna stop here now. My biggest problem should really be only how to defeat Alakazam. I'm not willing to put in the effort to learn all these new variables. I ended up putting my GameBoy(s) away for a long time. I eventually sold them and all their accessories and games in a futile attempt at fiscal responsibility (the money went directly to comics. It was really just a lateral move).
Not too long ago, Kotaku had a video of someone who had broken the world record for speedrunning Pokémon Red. Somehow, I ended up watching most of it and my itchy fingers returned. I need to play Pokémon!
Someone (who definitely should not have done this) gave me the instructions for running a GameBoy simulator and downloading Blue. Let me tell you, playing Pokémon as an adult with the full arsenal of the internet at your disposal is one of the top ten joys of life, like finding money in an old jacket pocket and hitting all green lights on your way home from work.
Half-using a walkthrough and half-remembering the game from previous plays, I attacked it with the fervour of a green snake in a sugar field. I fully committed to giving the Pokémon I planned on using and keeping throughout the game the cleverest nicknames I could think of. Since I was reading a book of Greek myths, the names of Greek gods and goddesses and heroes became the cleverest thing I could think of. Squirtle became Poseidon. Pidgey-Hermes. Nidorino-Heracles. Weepinbell-Demeter, Kadabra-Pythia. And on and on. I trained them to the max levels I could get away with in the badge limits. And when I had to go through that goddamn dark cave, you bet your ass I used a walkthrough so I didn't have to waste a move spot on that useless POS HM Flash. Hot damn that was satisfying.
And I totally cheated. That glorious Item Replication Cheat? I was just waiting until I got Fly and Surf and I was going to replicate everything! Everything! Yes, nuggets and Rare Candies are the obvious choice, but if you multiply Max Revives, Max Potions, and PP Restores you are essentially unstoppable. But I totally replicated and sold the nuggets because having 999,999 Kanto dollars in my account is just superb. And, of course, I replicated the hell out of the Master Ball because actually trying to catch Pokémon the old-fashioned way is for suckers. I just want to walk up to the Power Plant and get that Legendary Zapdos and book it out of there, thank you very much.
Yeah, I totally slaughtered the Final Four and my Rival.
I am the Pokémon Champion!
According to my seven year old nephew, Pokémon is still very much A Thing to the kids of today. He doesn't have any gaming systems, so he collects the cards like a madman. During this whole new obsession thing, he would watch me if he happened to be over. He was entranced and is begging for me to let him play, even though this game "only" has 151 Pokémon and not the the 500 his cards are up to now.
I just might let him.