My 20 years of Pokemon

Pokemon literally taught me how to be a good person.

It isn’t just this game where Pokemon fight each other, or where you just aim to catch the Pokemon that are the hardest to find — you actually become a heroine or hero in the game; something like a ‘chosen one.’

You have to interact with characters that teach you important life lessons and you build bonds with Pokemon as you travel the region battling and learning. After all your hard work in obtaining gym badges and proving yourself to be a good and kind trainer, you get to meet a Legendary Pokemon and have the chance to catch it. There are also other facets of the game that most don’t know about, including Pokemon pageantry (Pokecontests) and competitive sports for Pokemon (Pokeathlons).

Also, if you ever get stuck on a part of the game, or have any questions about rare or hard to find Pokemon, the online forums are amazingly helpful. The Pokemon community is vast and dedicated.

I guess with a description of the game like that, I’m a bit of a die-hard Pokefan, but, the games weren’t where it all started for me — it started with cards.

Kids would waltz around with binders full of Pokemon cards to trade and share at school; I was probably about four or five when I got my first card, a Phanpy; however, the cards didn’t really interest me because I was too young to know how to battle and I didn’t want to share my Phanpy with anyone.

But, I absolutely loved watching the Pokemon anime. I would sing my heart out to the opening song and watch as Pokemon taught my little heart how to love.

“Who’s that Pokemon”, a segment of the show where a blank silhouette of a Pokemon was shown and viewers had to guess who it was, was my favourite touch to the episodes. But, that soon ended after the release of Pokemon 2000 when the original voice of Ash Ketchum, one of the shows main characters, was changed to what sounded like a woman trying to make a deep voice impression. I remember frowning and turning the channel to Card Captors, another animated TV show.

So, Pokemon left my life for a while, but I later became acquainted with GameBoy Advanced and Pokemon Emerald Version. However, I didn’t really understand the name of the game back then, I just got bored with the long story line, let my Pokemon faint all of the time and soon forgot about the game in my ‘technology drawer.’

As I got a little older, maybe about 12, I returned to my drawer to find that my Pokemon Emerald had been stolen by one of my cousins. At first I thought to myself “Wonder why they’d steal that thing,” but I couldn’t help but feel this intense nostalgia of how much I loved the Pokemon anime. I decided that day that I wanted to be like Ash Ketchum.

A week later, I took my GameBoy Advanced (which had mainly been used to play Mario Brothers), and went to a Buy and Sell Shop. Inside I found a copy of Pokemon 2000 for VHS, a Pokemon Sapphire and went home happier than a pig in mud.

I have to admit that Sapphire was a lot of fun; I quickly learned on my own that the different types and evolutions of Pokemon were just as important as how high their happiness levels were as I defeated Gym Leaders and Team Magma/Aqua grunts alike in the Hoenn Region.

To my absolute delight, my grandmother later gave me a DS Lite for Christmas, and with it Pokemon Platinum, Pearl and Diamond. I defeated each of them, but I almost felt like the newer Pokemon took away from what I knew Pokemon to be.

So, when Pokemon SoulSilver was released, I didn’t sleep. I revelled in the older but new again Pokemon from Pokemon Silver and I stayed up for an entire weekend to beat the game. And not just a mild defeat of the game in the Johto region, but I earned the other eight badges in Kanto too.

Friends asked me to hang out, and when I declined they asked me what the heck I was doing that was so great. I told them ‘Pokemon.’ With just that one word you wouldn’t believe how many were either confused, surprised or scoffing. But, my love didn’t die.

So, now that there’s Pokemon Go, those same people that thought I was a nerd are literally outside running around trying to capture Pokemon.

But, I feel no resentment.

I have this feeling of intense satisfaction watching people that made fun of me for my Pokemon obsession trying to capture a Pidgey in their back yard. That satisfaction only grows when I’m asked “is this a good one, or is this a weak one?” As they walk around, bumping into things. I almost feel like bringing my hands together like a super-villain as they become exactly what I was when I played Pokemon Sapphire for the first time, obsessed.

But I have to tell you the icing on the cake is when I can tell an unknowing friend that Rattata is the ‘best Pokemon,’ and mutter ‘noob’ under my breath.

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