Yes interweblings, the ultimate of Nerdiness, the level of Nerdiness almost looked down upon by even the comic book nerds, the Nerdiness that puts you so far out of “normal” circles, that you can never return. Yes, the P word. P. O. K. E. M. O. N.
As a male in my thirties, pokemon has a certain connotation to it. First, I’m not a thirteen year old boy. I’m not a Japanese school girl, dispite my choices in adult beverages, I’m not even a girl. Now, in 1998 when Red and Blue was released in North America I was a sixteen year old junior in high school with a love of video games, a somewhat disposable income thanks to an after school job at “the sonic,” and a gameboy that went almost everywhere with me. I would play Tetris at lunch, Mario on work breaks, and and ninja turtles while lying in bed. Pokemon Red was my first experience in the pokemon world. I remember surpassing 100 hours on that game, and still going strong. This wasn’t my last game to really ramp up the hours on, but it holds a special place in my mind. There was something about the simplicity of the gameplay, how, it was more about the numbers, while still not being “here’s a math book.” The game held my imagination in a way few handheld games could, at least for that amount of hours. When the other games in the series came out, I was busy doing real life things, or playing other games. Until last month, pokemon red was my only jaunt into poke-country.
Enter the Pikachu.
I don’t know what it is about that stinking, dirty, flea bitten, electrically charged rat, but Pikachu has always been my favorite. No, he doesn’t have the flare of Charizard, the finess of mewtwo, or the scary nature of Gengar, but he was freakin Pikachu! I mean come on, he was so popular he got his own game, has become the unofficial mascot of the entire series, and says his own name every time he farts lightning! What more could you ask for?!?
So, after seeing everything the internet was spewing the past few months about the then upcoming pokemon titles, X/Y, I was intrigued. I mean, it HAD been as many years from when I played red for the first time, as it was from when I was born up until that point. I was due for a little guilty poke-pleasure(how dirty does that sound?) anyway, who was I going to tell, I mean, it’s pokemon. All of my “professional” friends do adult things, and my gamer friends play REAL games, like minecraft, world of Warcraft, Star Wars the Old Republic, you know, REAL games.
So, I picked up my copy of Y, yes, I chose Y. You want to know why? The giant freakin bird on the front looked like a Y, that’s why. Plus I’m not into giant sparkle dear like on the front of X. Go ahead Jaarka, trash on me for the dearpokemon hate. Anyway, I was really impressed with the nostalgia packed, much improved game. I was ten hours or so into the game when I broke the silence with my gamer buddies, and less that fifteen hours in when I changed my iPad background to a pokeball, added Pikachu and company to my lock screen, and started carrying my 3DS with me everywhere I go. I was hooked. Some of the new additions to the game feel so natural, they feel like they were always there, and yet, the game still hits all of the chords with me that the original game does.
At this point, I’m at 40 hours played, 200+ pokemon in my pokedex, and a well put together team for my single player champaign. Right now I’m focusing not on who compliments each other well, as it really isn’t needed for this part of the game, but rather on who looks like a total rock star while we are pounding their faces in. Also, mega evolutions. If they don’t have a mega evolution, I really don’t want them on my team. Which is why, dispite my better judgment, Pikachu/Raichu is not currently in my 6 man rotation. Charizard is leading the pack with his mega evolution fueled hatred of all things in his fire-filled-face’s path.
Now, despite what I stated earlier on, I have received no ill will from either my friends, or coworkers. My pokemon past is apparently like that of many of my friends. I have two good friends who now are playing, and further in than me! Will I pick up every version from here on out, probably not. Will I keep an eye on the series as it moves forward? Without a doubt.