If you were a kid growing up in the 90’s, you probably played this or it’s red coloured partner. Pokemon was everywhere between 1999 and 2001 and those two years made kids into obsessive animal hunters, not stopping till the creatures were trapped within tiny balls.
In 2016 Pokemon is still a thing, with the seventh generation of monsters on the way, and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the series (Japan have had it longer than us), they’ve stuck Pokemon Blue, Red and Yellow on the 3DS eshop download services, so new players can see where it all began, and old players can get trapped in their nostalgia. Finally the monsters have captured us!
For those who have miraculously managed to avoid getting into the craze in the last twenty five years, Pokemon is a role playing game, in which you catch, train and battle monsters to become the best monster trainer of them all. There are 150 of the buggers to catch in the first entry of the series, and you can have up to six of them in your party, ready to overcome rival trainers, rocks and bushes. They really are versatile tools.
It’s hard for someone who played the game back in 99 to provide an accurate assessment on if the original games still hold up today, as they are tied up with memories, making for one powerful nostalgia bomb. The game has issues with poor item and Pokemon management, but otherwise I had no issues with my return to Blue. In fact, I was too busy being ten years old again to think about such things. What can I say? Pokemon Blue Version is like a time machine, bringing forth youthful snippets of the past that would otherwise have been lost in the back of the mind.
I downloaded the game for a gamer who had never played any of the games before, and they found the game slow, clunky and incredibly difficult. They enjoyed the concept, and would retell their bus journey sessions with interest, but it was a short lived joy. Three towns in and this new Poke player had already gone back to Animal Crossing New Leaf, citing that the boat bit was a real pain in the ass.
I on the other hand found the boat bit to be a real delight, and I thought back to my first time seeing the game. I was on a boat in Florida, a family holiday, on the way to the Caribbean. We never did get there, as a storm hit, causing the boat to tilt to its side, and whilst the grown ups were scrambling for the tables so they wouldn’t go overboard, I was sheltered with an American kid who was playing Pokemon. Back then I didn’t think much of it, the game nor the storm, and I even turned down the chance of trading my copy of The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening for a taste of the future.
My mind then fast forwarded to when the game was actually available in the UK, and how I managed to stay awake at a New Year’s party thanks to the power of Pokemon. It was at that point I had reached S.S Anne, the boat bit, and being the only kid there, it was the best way to block out the drunks and the punks.
For many, Pokemon is a fairly significant part of their childhood, and the ability to trade Pokemon between games made it a shared one. You’d see people getting together after school to make an important trade, people who normally wouldn’t even associate with each other beforehand, and that was something. Pokemon brought kids together, though the trading card series probably tore them apart again. That’s just how things go.
I don’t have any desire to play the new Pokemon games, for the original games were special purely because of the time and the place they appeared. And for those who share this sentiment, it might not be a bad idea to be a ten year old for a week again, as you return to Kantos and catch them all once more. Only this time you’ll be trading with your work colleagues not your school friends. I hope.