If there’s ever been a game that pretty much everyone has played, it’s either going to be Tetris, Minesweeper or Pokemon. Since those who care about Minesweeper are more or less non-existent, and by now Tetris has had more clones than Boba Fett, let’s focus on Pokemon and our first foray into that cute, weird, and addictive world.
Pokemon Go is taking the world by storm, and bringing a lot of people back to the franchise (at least for now). I got thinking about the first time I played Pokemon, and why I love it to this day.
A couple things before we dive in. First, I never stopped playing Pokemon. From Blue through Omega Ruby and (soon) Sun, and many others in between, I’ve been playing what is basically the same game for almost two decades. As such, I look back on the original gen with a mixture of nostalgia and pity; like seeing the puppy you had when you were a kid succumb to arthritis in their old age. In context Red and Blue are buggy, ugly messes, and the series has vastly improved in the years since. That being said, the worst Pokemon game is still better than the majority of other games, so let’s dive in.
It was 1998. For whatever reason, the Pokemon anime reached Ireland before the games did, so my first introduction to Pokemon was the episode with that samurai kid and his inappropriate Metapod. I had no idea what was going on, but I was 9, so I just sat back and enjoyed the bright colours.
A few weeks later, school was letting out for Christmas, and one of the kids in my class already had Red. A gaggle of us watched over his shoulder as his Nidorino took on Lorelei’s first Dewgong and got destroyed. Clearly Nidoking wasn’t on Barry’s priority list when it came to Moon Stones. And regardless, Nidorino? Come on kid, this is the Elite Four; go big or go home.
Anyway, we went home. Christmas came and my sister and I got a version of Pokemon each from our grandparents (and by grandparents, I mean my parents had gotten us things and put their names on them); she got Red, and I took Blue. I was ecstatic.
Abandoning the rest of the presents, I ran upstairs to grab my Game Boy Colour, which I then couldn’t find. I searched for about ten minutes before falling to my knees, sobbing in frustration and wallowing in the special kind of despair that only small children can feel. From that angle, it was much easier to see the lime green console slotted into the keyboard shelf on my desk. Trying to save face, I grabbed it, composed myself, pretended none of that had happened, and headed back downstairs to grab some fresh batteries.
Starting a new game, I made many mistakes that I continue to regret. I used my real name as my Trainer ID, which was lame. I also picked Bulbasaur, to my eternal shame. You’d think I’d never make that mistake again, and I didn’t until Pokemon Go, when I caught Bulbasaur after not seeing the clearly superior Charmander. I’d say live and learn but, well, I didn’t.
Brock was a breeze. Leech Seed didn’t affect Bide, so I just Seeded and Growled my way to victory. In Mt Moon, I met the love of my life, Clefairy. Having no idea how rare this was, I caught and immediately evolved the fairy, who I named Phic, being under the misguided impression that it was a Psychic type. I repeat, nine years old, Gen 1. I was the Jon Snow of Kanto, knowing nothing and giving everything stupid names.
Phic knew Pound and Growl, but I evolved him (I assumed, since this was prior to Clefable being a female only ‘mon) before Sing could be learned, and left Mt Moon only to teach him Mega Punch from the Move Tutor nearby. On to Bill’s house, where I picked up Thunder Wave on the way and taught it to – you guessed it – Clefable. Defeating Misty with Ivysaur was simple enough thanks to Vine Whip, and Bubblebeam’s TM went to – that’s right – good ol’ Phic. I secured Phic’s place as my useless yet somehow best Pokemon outside Rock Tunnel, when I taught him Flash. Because why not?
Continue reading on page 2.