‘Welcome to the world of Pokémon’
Here we go…
I had other games on the Gameboy before I was given my first Pokémon game one Christmas Eve, many years ago, but I still remember the hype I experienced when I first opened that wrapping paper and saw the charizard splashed across that Gameboy game box, and opening it to find a red plastic cartridge inside…
I genuinely cannot remember how I learnt about the existence of the game, I had not seen the anime before playing, and I had not seen TV adverts for it. Looking back at the 90’s TV adverts, nothing rings a bell for me.
My first Pokémon memory is watching someone who was probably 5 to 8 years older than me playing the game, and I was watching over his shoulder asking him everything about what he was doing. I believe he was using a rattata at the time. A true Youngster Joey.
My next Pokémon memory was the Christmas I was given Pokémon Red, and I had to play it right away.
My first foray into the game was unsuccessful and I felt so confused, I was stuck in the house at the beginning of the game.
I found the stairs to get to the bottom floor, but could not work out how to leave that floor. Standing on the doormat didn’t work and I had no idea you then had to walk down whilst stood on the doormat. There were no visual doors to leave buildings in the original generation of Pokémon games. I remember telling my Granny that it is a really good game but quite hard, because I was a bit stuck but I would work it out!
Fellow blogger Frostilyte shared a similar tale of being awkwardly stuck in the house at the beginning of the game, and it brings joy to my heart that little Aaron was not the only child who fell victim to that particular piece of game design.
I felt amazing when I solved the first puzzle of how to get out the house.
This game was going to be amazing! A world of adventure with Pokémon awaited!
The initial choice of Pokémon was simple; I chose charmander because I had Pokémon Red, and I thought that was the choice I was supposed to make. And with that I set out on my quest to catch-em-all! (A slogan the Pokémon Company has sadly disposed of in recent years)
Exploring and catching Pokémon was so fun, and discovering evolutions was such an exciting experience. I caught Poké-fever and it has never truly left me!
Among some highlights of my experience of this first game were me getting stuck at Cerulean City because I couldn’t get out of the town after beating the gym leader, not being aware there was an exit through the house that Team Rocket had broken into (I needed a game guide to get me through that one!); and me misreading the description of the masterball.
Everyone now knows the masterball catches Pokémon with a 100% success rate. I understood it as ‘this ball can catch 100 Pokémon’ I was disappointed when I used it on a growlithe and then the ball disappeared. I had no idea there were legendary Pokémon waiting further down the line, and I paid for my mistake later!
I will not go into the details of how Pokémon worked or how big the craze was; it was a global phenomenon that even non-gamers are aware of to this day.
One of the really fun elements of these games was sharing my stories and discoveries with friends, and hearing their discoveries in turn. Sometimes these were childish tall tales that we made up to sound cool, but sometimes we found real secrets; fun glitches, like Missingno. or an occasional sprite glitch that made one of the scientists in Cinnabar Island walk sideways (I remember being genuinely freaked out when that first happened!)
I’m sure we traded Pokémon as well, but, oddly, that is not the experience I remember most growing up!
The anime and playing cards only served to further grow the all encompassing joy that Pokémon was when I was growing up, and this game probably had one of the biggest impacts on me, incorporating playing video games as a key part of how I interact with my friends, my family and the world around me.
Were you are Pokémon fiend? Leave a comment below and share your story! I will continue tie some of these experiences into future articles in this series.