The Pokemon franchise turns 20 years old today. It was back in 1996 that the original Pokemon Red & Green launched in Japan for the Nintendo GameBoy.
With all of the things that have come since that initial launch… an animated TV series that is nearly 19 years old at this point, 19 movies, 10 TV specials, a collectible card game that remains hugely popular, and a host of spin-off games… it is sometimes easy to forget the rather humble beginnings of it all. I was actually aware of the collectible card game and the TV series before I ever saw the game on a Nintendo handheld.
I had a Pikachu on my desk at work back in 1999 or so, and a few Japanese Pokemon cards that a friend gave me. I had even seen the TV series a few times… hell, the seizure causing episode is a bit of cultural lore at this point. But my own journey with the core Pokemon role playing game didn’t come until 2008.
In February of that year we were going on a trip and, in order to keep our then six year old daughter occupied on a long flight, I was sent out the obtain a pink Nintendo DS Lite and a few games. I think I grabbed LEGO Star Wars and Mario Kart along with Pokemon Diamond as the game selection, though I could have just picked up the last one. It was all she played on the flight both ways.
During the trip I was impressed by the Nintendo DS Lite hardware. It was compact, solidly built, had a great screen, long battery life, and built-in WiFi support. But more than the hardware, I was impressed with the game. My daughter, being six, had me help read some of the dialog in the game during the flights. That exposed me to the game sufficiently that I decided I wanted to play too. So, for my birthday the following month, I ended up getting a cobalt blue Nintendo DS Lite and my own copy of Pokemon Diamond.
Since then I have played a lot of Pokemon.
I have binged and played through titles in focused sprints. I have played some of the spin-off games, like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon (basically a Rogue-like with Pokemon). I have gotten burned out and let titles sit half way played for months at a stretch. I’ve gone to watch tournaments and to download events and even a special Pokemon celebration at our local mall. I even collected them all at one point.
There are currently 133 Pokemon related posts on the blog, all under the Pokemon category.
The hardware has changed. The DS Lite screen seems so small now… I used to be able to read it without glasses… and I have a Nintendo 3DS XL to play on these days. The graphics have been updated. But the basics of the game haven’t changed all that much. And I am still looking forward to the launch of the next games, Pokemon Sun & Moon, which were officially announced yesterday.
But this is where it all started for me.
Now to decide which one of the three originals I want to grab from the 3DS store. The obvious choice is Pokemon Yellow, because Pikachu. But that also seems like the safe choice. Plus it is in color.