If you didn't know, today is Pokémon's 20 year anniversary! It's a pretty remarkable achievement for a video-game, and equally as remarkable is the incredible franchise two simple video-games in Japan managed to create. Pokémon has spawned the worldwide popular anime, trading card game, and several different manga of various forms (some of which taking new spins on the concept). Dozens of mobile-game companies have tried to copy this formula, though to what success I have no idea, but needless to say, Pokémon is without a doubt a household phrase.
So for today's impromptu blog post I decided to take a look back at some of my personal Pokémon memories and just share them with you all, and hope for an excellent 20 years to come.
Like many, I started with the games, but in particular it was Pokémon Crystal for the Gameboy Color/ Gameboy Advance. I loved that game, and it's still one of the most nostalgic video-games for me to go back to. My cousins and I would play it all the time. I still can't really nail down what the appeal of it all is. As a kid, it's fascinating to see all of these new, different creatures. And back then, I didn't have quick access to the Internet or anything of the sort. If I thought a Pokémon looked really cool, for all I knew it was a Legendary. For the longest time, I thought Tyranitar was a Legendary because of how imposing and powerful it seemed.
Generation Two is without a doubt my favorite of the generations so far, and not just because of nostalgia but because it's probably the most expansive game so far. You can explore, in full, both the Johto and Kanto regions, taking on similar opponents that you play in Generation One. Gen 1 I played after I got into Pokémon along with my cousins...and yes, I struggled for days and hours to complete the Mew glitch (by this point we resorted to the Internet).
One of my favorite things about playing these games is going in as blind as possible, especially in the older days when people would make rumors and you couldn't confirm or deny them. Nowadays, there are some oddities in the games, sure, but it's nothing like Missingno. or the Mew Glitch, or even "Bad Egg," which was as fake as "Mew under the truck" (though I really hope that in the re-release of RBY that they do put that in, I think that would be hilarious!). Even now, playing the fan-made "Zeta/Omicron," I like to go in without knowing what's around me and exploring the new Vesryn region.
And that's what Pokémon has done for people. It's opened up whole new worlds and ideas for them to explore. Fan-made games explore all different areas of Pokémon that either the company is legally not allowed to go to or just creatively decides against it. I'm not sure if there is a fan game out there that has all seven regions in it, but since we're likely to never get an official game that big, we can hope that maybe someone else will make one? Who knows, but the possibilities are endless.
One thing that's truly amazing about the Pokémon games specifically is how consistent they have been. Sure, we all like to poke fun at the Generation 5 models (like Garbador or Vanilluxe), but the story has basically gotten better with each game, the mechanics have not compromised the experience at all, the graphics look amazing nowadays and overall, Pokémon has not had a dark period with their main series games. There have been side game failures, sure, and I really would love to see another game similar to "Colosseum/ Gale of Darkness" on the WiiU, but I'm sure there's a good reason for it.
I'm not at liberty to speak on the anime and manga considering I stopped watching the anime once they hit the Battle Frontier material and I've never actually read a Pokémon manga. I have played the Trading Card Game and it is a ton of fun. Daunting at first, sure, but once you realize that it isn't just like the game the rules become much simpler. I still prefer Yu-Gi-Oh!, but the Pokémon TCG has many great resources for players new and old to check out.
Guys in the end, it's just amazing that Pokémon stands where it is. From its humble origins in Japan in 1996 to making its way over here and having many parents ask their kids, "What the heck is a Pikachu?" to the Super Bowl ad-company that we have nowadays, Pokémon has had one heck of a twenty-year journey. I sure can't wait to see what the next twenty years have in store, and let's hope that Pokken Fighters and Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon continue the awesome traditions.