It's almost exactly 20 years since people flipped the switch on their Nintendo Game Boys and watched for the first time as two creatures faced off in one of the most iconic introductions for a video game franchise powerhouse.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C19O5xm51dk
Pokémon will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green on February 27 with a re-release of Red, Blue and Yellow for the 3DS, and I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on how much of an impact this franchise has had on my life.
I was four years old when I was first introduced to Pokémon. My sisters had watched a lot of original Japanese anime and had heard of the new series called Pokémon. They got their hands on a copy of Blue version and soon enough, like the annoying baby sister I was, I constantly hovered over their shoulders just to watch as they played.
It originally started off as something they'd just play to pass the time, but even at a young age, I knew that this was the beginning of something very important to my life. The little things of watching the original Japanese version of the series with English subtitles and reading the in-game texts as my siblings played helped me get better at reading comprehension, but i
t wasn't until September 1998 that everything truly changed.
Pokémon - I Choose You! began to air in North America and soon enough millions of children would wake up early on Saturday mornings just to follow the adventures of Ash Ketchum as he began his journey to become a Pokémon master.
By this time, my sisters had grown bored of the colorful character and decided to pass their game on to me. They knew how much I loved it from how often I would go through AA batteries on the family Game Boy when I played. They even helped to start up my trading card game collection. Every time I got my bi-weekly allowance, I would make my way to my corner store and buy a small pack of Pokémon cards to grow my collection. It seemed like Pokémon had severely taken over my life by 1999.https://www.instagram.com/p/BBlXZP8R96M/?taken-by=kadoesthething45
Much to my mom's dismay, I remained committed to this franchise - I bought every single version of each game (and the appropriate new game system), I bought as many trading cards as possible, My collection grew from the one solitary game to as many as I could get my hands on. I played each game religiously til I beat them, and although my favorite generation had to be the one of Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald, Pokémon Snap is one of my favorite games to play.
I even dragged my family to theatres to watch Pokémon: The First Movie and every movie that followed after. (I even have some of Mewtwo's iconic final speech tattooed onto my ribs) It just seemed that no matter how old I got, Pokémon grew with me. Despite my family's insistence that people would make fun of me for it, I always found people who shared this love for the franchise.
I could always power on my game boy and spend hours getting lost in the adventure of the new Pokémon region, trying to find every single Pokémon imaginable. No matter how hard my life got, with moving away from home or any of the regular stresses of being a teenager, Pokémon always remained a constant source of happiness I could rely on.
I don't mind that I'm 22 years old and still enjoy a kid's game. It was something that I never ended up outgrowing because with time I appreciated everything I learned from the game. With my very first game play, I began to push myself to be the best and still have no intention of stopping that pursuit any time soon. I never wanted to cheat in the game with any extra codes or anything because I wanted to do everything properly. I learned how to think strategically and try to make the best possible outcomes from the most unpleasant of situations. Running out of potions at a major battle with most of your team fainted always provided such anxiety for a young person, but it helped me understand the importance of remaining calm in all situations. I even learned patience with how long I had waited for the Generation 3 remake.https://www.instagram.com/p/gha26Ox94k/
I know later this month I'll be making my way to Gamestop and Toys'R'Us to get my hands on the exclusive anniversary poster and the special foil cards. Pokémon has meant a lot to me and I'm pretty sure that wherever I end up, I'll be spoiling either my nieces, nephews or own children with plenty of Pokémon related gifts and stories as time goes on. There was just so much I learned from one video game and I would love to see that passion keep going in the youth today.
Although a remake for Pokémon Snap would be really cool, I look forward to whatever else the brilliant minds have in store for us fans. Happy anniversary to one of the most important franchises in my entire life! Here's to hoping that we all do become the very best, like no one ever was.