With Pokémon GO and Pokémon Sun and Moon saturating every gaming (and non-gaming) news outlet these days, it's hard to navigate anywhere on the Internet without an errant Pikachu, newly revealed Alola form, or snarky Exeggutor joke popping up on your screen. The whole world's done gotten itself Poké-crazed, it seems, which is saying something considering the franchise was first created in 1995 (I mean, so was the DVD, and how popular is that nowadays?).
One of the great things about the Pokémon franchise in general is that it can appeal to so many, and with each new release, each new game, each new TV series, it can attract a whole new generation of fresh-faced fans. What about the old fogies, though? Those who've been around since the dark ages when there were only 150 Pokémon? They've experienced a lot in those 21 years. Some good. Some bad. Some ridiculous. Some ingenious. But all of it Pokémon. All of it shaping the Pokémon of today, tomorrow, and beyond.
Pokémon's Lasting Legacy...
Being one of those fans myself, I feel adequately qualified to look back on those many years, on the many Poké-memories I accumulated, on the Poké-laughs I had, on the Poké-milestones I reached. Whether you can relate to some of these yourself or you're just looking for ways to catch up on all the Poké-lore, these Pokémon blasts from the past are sure to trip your Poké-trigger (somebody stop me already).
1. Those Original Nintendo Power Guides
These were the Bible for me when I first popped that copy of Pokémon Blue into my fat little Game Boy. I can still remember carefully tearing each one out from their corresponding issue of Nintendo Power, following those mildly helpful perforated lines, then hating myself when I accidentally ripped a cover or two.
I tried to follow them to a T, catching every Pokémon they told me to catch, buying every item they told me to buy, reaching every level they told me to reach, and mastering the art of capture (but still never knowing for sure if I'd picked the right starter or not).
2. The Pokémon Trading Card Game
The Pokémon trading card game will never be what it once was. Every kid had their own deck, most of them (myself included) keeping it in neatly organized card binders (the little red ones with Pikachu on the cover) to show off, trade, and maybe even have the occasional battle.
I was so proud of my deck—I had every single psychic card, even Mew! Then, of course, the new series of Pokémon came out and my deck quickly became severely out-dated. Nevertheless, I look back fondly on those times sitting on the front porch with the neighbor kids, trying to decide if I was willing to part with my holographic Clefable or not... I eventually left Pokémon for Yu-Gi-Oh!, but I'll never forget my card-trading origins.
3. The 2.B.A. Master Soundtrack
The number of lyrics from this CD I can still sing by heart is nigh on ridiculous. This music was my jam back in the day. No Pokémon music will ever again come close to the fresh beats of songs like "What Kind of Pokémon are You?", "Viridian City" (on the road, on the road), and "Everything Changes." And let's not forget how badass we thought the "Pokémon Dance Mix" was or how much fun it was to imitate James's laugh in the Team Rocket song, "Double Trouble."
The only thing that comes close to the excellence of this CD is the Pokémon: The First Movie soundtrack and it's rockin' new version of the Pokémon theme.
Which leads me into my next entry...
4. Pokémon: The First Movie
Pokémon... in theaters?! Calm my middle-school heart! Now we could finally see all our favorite little monsters of mass destruction on the big screen (and force our parents to watch them, as well). It was funny, it was epic, it was heart-rending (Ash turned to stone!), and it even included the delightful Pikachu's Vacation short, complete with Vitamin C's "Vacation" that made us feel like the coolest cats this side of sassafras.
Oh, and don't forget the sweet Ancient Mew trading card that came with every movie ticket! Not that you could, you know, actually use it in your deck, since it was all written in hieroglyphics.
5. Pokémon Snap
Pokémon Snap was the first chance we got to see all our favorite Pokémon in fully rendered, immersive 3D on the N64, and boy, was it a trip. Travel around taking pictures of Pokémon? Pelt things at their faces to force them into different poses for your viewing pleasure? So much potential! And let's not forget "Prof. Oak's Check" where he awarded you more points for distressed and fainted Pokémon!
The coolest part was taking your cartridge to the nearest Blockbuster and printing off your favorite shots at the Pokémon Snap Station! Not that you could do much with the thumb-sized stickers it popped out, besides maybe sticking them on the front of your trapper keeper...
6. Pokémon Stadium Mini-Games
Let's face it—Pokémon Stadium was cool and all that what with the whole "upload your Pokémon into the game thing," but the true shining stars of that cartridge were the mini-games.
Who didn't spend hours trying to rack up the most points in Sushi-Go-Round, play a perfect round of Clefairy Says, or master their timing down to the millisecond in Rock Harden? I spent more time in those games than the actual battles themselves (it probably didn't help that every opponent seemed so much more difficult than in the Game Boy games...).
7. The Pokémon Manga
Multiple Pokémon manga have been published over the years, but my loyalty will always lie with The Electric Tale of Pikachu by Toshihiro Ono. The whole thing was just so... so... adorable, and I preferred the art style over the Pokémon Adventures series. You could buy the big graphic novels or the individual comics (a rarity when it comes to manga in the states!), and each one was a sometimes funny, sometimes completely random, but always an entertaining jump into a world of overly-realistically-drawn Pokémon.
My two favorite stories would have to be the one about the "alien" Clefairies, as well as Ash's trip to the top-secret Clefairy evolution ceremony (I wonder if I like Clefairy...). People may complain about the censorship of the female characters, but I was too busy being distracted by how ridiculously attractive male characters like Professor Oak, Bill, and Gary were drawn. I mean, seriously, this man turned into a silver fox.
8. Pikachu's Goodbye
This was the episode that killed me.
All across the world, hundreds of thousands of children wept.
Those tears, that slow-motion flying leap into Ash's arms, that galdurned, cockamamie song! How can you cheeks stay dry when that's playing in the background?! Never before had we grown so connected to an animated electric mouse, and our puerile hearts just couldn't take it. Even now, when watching the clip again to write this article, I can't stop the tears from flooding my eyes. Why did you do this to us, Pokémon anime. Why?
What are some of your favorite Pokémon memories? Do you think Pokémon will have the same kind of impact on new fans today?