Gonna Catch ’em All! (Eventually? Maybe?)

(Note: Gotta catch ’em all? Yeah, right. I couldn’t catch ’em all when there were only 150 of ’em. I have no chance at this point.)

On this month’s Noob and Sons (recorded over the weekend and most likely to be posted later in the week), we dedicated the whole show to Pokemon. The crazy little creatures are near and dear to me. So much so that, for some reason, I remember the first time I encountered them. Having grown up with video games, I had heard of Pokemon, but never played the games. One day while working at KMart, I received a call from a woman. I assume she was a mom trying desperately to understand this thing called Pokemon that was most likely in response to a request by her son to get him one of the games for Christmas. I calmly explained to her what I knew of the relatively new phenomenon.

I don’t, however, remember how I got into the games. I do know that I have played since the first generation. I chose red over blue at the time and I’m not sure why. Blue is my favorite color and I was too ignorant at the time to know anything about exclusives for each version. Maybe that’s the only version that the local Toys (backwards) R Us (or Babbages, remember that place?) had at the time and I thought that I’d eventually go back for Blue.

Used to go to this place all the time at the Millcreek Mall, along with McDonalds, the movie theater, and the arcade.  Don't hate me because I'm an OG.
Used to go to this place all the time at the Millcreek Mall, along with McDonalds, the movie theater, and the arcade. Don’t hate me because I’m an OG.

I’m not entirely sure, either, why I didn’t get Blue. I remember enjoying Red because it was similar to one of my favorite games at the time, Final Fantasy. Maybe I lived under the delusion that I’d be able to trade for the missing Pokemon. Perhaps my gaming budget simply went to other games as I eventually shifted my short attention span away from Pikachu and Co. Just another in a long line of good intentions gone bad.

I did eventually tire of fighting the same Pokemon, battling trainer after trainer, and not being as interested in the story as the other games like Final Fantasy. Also, it was much more fun for my brothers and me to blow each other up in Mutant League Football than to play this single player game running around and trying to catch ’em all. So, I moved on to other games and mostly forgot all about Pokemon for a few years.

The next game that I remember playing isn’t even a traditional Pokemon game. A explanation: One of my favorite consoles of all time was the Game Boy Advance. I still have one that I borrowed from a friend so that Liam could play some GBA games that he wanted for Christmas. Thankfully, this game was among them. The next (and probably my favorite) Pokemon themed game that I played was Pokemon Pinball.

At the time, I worked overnights and had a lot of free time. I wrote a ton. Between that job and my time spent unemployed, I was able to finish my two published books. When I wasn’t writing, I also played a ton of Pokemon Pinball. I didn’t “catch ’em all” as the saying goes, but I came closer than I ever did in the traditional games. Now that I have a way to play again, I’ll try to catch the ones that I missed.

Heck, I even caught Numel!  That's gotta count for something, right?
Gotta catch ’em all. Even, Numel, for some reason.

After putting away Pinball, I stopped for so long that I actually forgot that Pokemon existed. It became one of those “games of my youth” that I never imagined would come back into my life. Then, suddenly and (maybe) inexplicably, I started looking at Diamond and Pearl. This time I knew about version exclusives, so I bought Diamond for Dialga. I actually caught the legendary Pokemon, too. Sadly, I have no proof and had to give up my save file.

That last paragraph might need some explanation. I say that the return of Pokemon may have been inexplicable. That might be true. I’m not entirely sure of the timeline. It might also have been that Liam was born and I knew from an early age that I was going to try to get my kids into gaming. While that gives me an in home playgroup, there are drawbacks. I surrendered my Diamond game to Liam once he learned about video games and Pokemon. Since they game has only one save file (still, WTF, Nintendo and Game Freak), there went all the effort to get Dialga. Such is life, love, and family. That was also the last time that I could consider the DS to be mine alone. From that point forward, Liam more or less claimed it for himself.

I don't have Dialga anymore, but that Numel more than makes up for it, amirite?
I don’t have Dialga anymore, but that Numel more than makes up for it, amirite?

I have not played any of the newer traditional Pokemon RPGs, but I have kept an eye on them. Liam also keeps me updated as to the new developments in the series. While I’d like to see for my self, I’m actually more excited and interested in the other games being made. The first I learned about was Pokken Tournament.

Like most these days, Facebook introduced me to the game. I saw a video of some gameplay, showed it to Liam and Aiden, and then went digging for more information. I haven’t since searched, so much of my info might be outdated. Hey, what’s one of my sayings? Ignorance is bliss and sort of my thing on this page.

The game is being co-developed by Nintendo and the makers of Tekken to be clone of that popular fighting game. I have played Tekken, but I wouldn’t consider myself a fan. I’d much rather play Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, or Marvel vs. Capcom. Still, the addition of Pokemon makes the game intriguing. My main complaint about Tekken is the lack of special moves like fireballs and “get over here” spears. Pokemon breath fire and shoot lightning. Pokken could be like a mix between Tekken and MK, but for kids. That’s awesome.

That’s not the only new concept game four our favorite pocket monsters. Pokemon Go, an “augmented reality” app for phones and tablets, promises to turn the world around you into a Pokemon filled wonderland. As I understand, you “search” with the phone to “find” hidden Pokemon. The types of Pokemon depend on your surroundings and maybe even the season. What did I tell you? Ignorance is bliss because you never know what to expect.

This app, if it works the way that I hope it will, has the potential to suck any free time and money that I might have left. Imagine walking down the street or hiking in the woods and getting a push notification that one of the Pokemon that has eluded you is close. How cool would it be to lock eyes with that blue eyed stranger on the bus or train, open your app, swipe right, and battle one another for Pokemon trainer supremacy? I might try Pokken tournament, but I can’t wait for this thing and will most likely be one of the crazy ones crashing the server on day one trying to download it.

Who knew that such a simple concept of tiny monsters with extraordinary abilities would have such influence and staying power? Over the last 20+ years, there have been toys and stuffed animals, animated TV shows and movies, video and card games, and the franchise shows no indication of slowing down. The podcast has me playing the old games again, the new expansion has me more excited about the card game than Magic, and I’m hopeful for what is coming next.

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