Reminiscing on 25 Years of Pokemon

Pokemon’s 25th birthday is a day that I’ve been anticipating for two reasons. The first is that I’ve been playing Pokemon my whole life. The second is that my birthday happens to be the day right before the day Pokemon was first released which means that I’m turning 25 this Friday and that’s a little bit terrifying.

This post is a nostalgic one for those two reasons. I’m thinking through each generation of Pokemon and my experiences and memories connected to each of them. Hence, this is going to be a more personal life post and just a lot of words.

Gen 1

My experience living in Gen 1 of Pokemon is non-existent because I was a day old when Pokemon released in Japan. However, Yellow was my entry into the series. I wanted Ruby/Sapphire, but it was expensive so my parents got me a cheap used copy of Yellow instead. I was very bad at video games and it didn’t come with an instruction manual, so I didn’t realize that I had to manually save my game until I went through Viridian Forest several times because it resumed each time at the place the previous owner last saved. I also did the thing where I leveled up a single Pokemon (Primeape) and no one else and then I never beat the game because I got stuck at the Elite Four.

Gen 2

I didn’t play the Gen 2 games until after Gen 3 but this gen still holds a somewhat special place in my heart because this is when I started watching the anime, and that was my first introduction to the Pokemon series and anime as a whole. I hopped on the Pokemon train during Master Quest and I still firmly believe that Master Quest has one of the best theme songs in the show.

Like many, I still have my copy of Gold, but the save battery is dead 😦

Gen 3

After getting Yellow, the next game I got was FireRed for Christmas. At the time I didn’t realize it was just a remake of the Gen 1 games, so I remember being a little disappointed, but I ended up liking it a lot more than Yellow and I liked all the new additions (also I actually did beat the Elite Four!!) This was also the time when Pokemon became really big in my elementary school so we would play the card game during recess and trades GBA strategy guides. Our class also may or may not have contributed to Pokemon being completely banned from our school – Game Boys, trading cards, toys, all of it (quite frankly this was just some straight bullshit, why can’t you just let kids have fun?).

Hoenn also happens to be my favorite region of Pokemon. Despite all the “too much water” memes, I think Hoenn has a lot of the coolest locations in the series: in the “too much” water there’s Pacifidlog and Sootopolis (a town on floating logs and a city inside a dormant volcano), Fortree (a city of treehouses), and the various active volcanic areas in the northwest. I think Hoenn really shines the brightest in Emerald in which you have to fight both Team Aqua and Magma and they’re at each other’s throats the whole game. It’s less interesting when you only have one of them to deal because the plot isn’t as fun. (On of my friends yesterday claimed that everyone who played Ruby/Sapphire disliked Gen 3 but everyone who played Emerald says it as their favorite).

Gen 4

Sinnoh and Johto aren’t my favorite regions, and the Pokemon of Gen 4 aren’t my favorite, but I think Gen 4 is easily my favorite. I don’t know how much of my love for Gen 4 is just blind nostalgia, but this is a reminiscing post, so I’ll keep going with my nostalgia goggles.

I have a lot of strong memories of Gen 4 and also have the most raw hours spent in it. Pokemon Diamond is the first game I’ve ever got on release date (the second one being in 2019…) and I have several hundred hours on my save file. I remember having sleepovers with friends and playing together by making secret bases in the underground. My brother was also in Elementary school at this point so he got his own first game (Pearl) and we would also watch the TV show together on Saturday mornings or record it onto a VHS if we had to miss it. SoulSilver was the first game I ever bought by myself (as in I went to GameStop with some friends and used my saved Chinese New Year money).

Gen 4 is also what led me to discover the wide world of internet forums/fandoms and podcasts and this weird thing called “YouTube”. TL;DR I got stuck at one point and didn’t have a strategy guide so I looked it up on Google some old search engine. I watched a lot of Marriland and Super Skarmory, discovered Bulbapedia, and also listened to and joined the forums of WTPT. Through the forums I learned about the crazy competitive battling and the meta of EVs and IVs. Through Let’s Plays, I learned of other video games, and thus began my spiral into this vast world of gaming.

Gen 5

Gen 5 is the only older Gen I’ve skipped. I remember distinctly three big reasons:

  1. My parents wouldn’t let me get it because “you’re a high schooler now and you need to focus on your studies to get into a good college”.
  2. I didn’t like any of the new Pokemon
  3. I got made fun of a lot of times for playing a game for little kids and when you’re in middle school, that shit stings pretty badly 😦

I tried playing it on emulator at one point much much later but only got a couple gyms in before I stopped.

Gen 6 (if anyone cares, there are slight ORAS spoilers here)

On the other hand, Pokemon X/Y came out in my senior year of high school which meant that me and my friends all stopped caring about school (post college applications of course) and also stopped caring about what was deemed “cool” and “uncool”. Do you remember Friend Safaris? We would all trade friend codes to get new Friend Safaris and I also vaguely recall someone keeping track of the type of safari each person had. Making competitive teams and EV/IVs were easier than ever and I made my first competitive team, but never actually did anything with it because I was scared of playing online.

I also loved playing through Omega Ruby because I liked Hoenn, and revisiting it with the new graphics and mechanics was so much fun. I’ve seen a lot of criticism for the remakes for having a weak postgame and not enough new content which is a fair point that I can agree with (also I wish they kept the Aqua/Magma feuds of Emerald), but I still got really giddy when the post credits rival fight started as well as when Deoxys appeared. Unfortunately, the Deoxys reveal was spoiled to me beforehand and I really really wish it wasn’t.

My major complaint about Gen 6 and specifically X/Y is that Kalos was a really forgettable region. I remember so little about the characters (rivals, evil team, gym leaders) and so little about any locale that isn’t not-Paris.

Gen 7

Gen 7 has my favorite set of Pokemon of all time. Some favorites include Mimikyu, Togedemaru, Oricorio, the Rowlet starter line, Alolan Vulpix/Ninetails and Marowak, etc. Ultra Sun is the only game where I built a team exclusively out of new additions to the Pokedex. Unfortunately, I actually really disliked the game itself. I still finished it, but I think I spent my entire playthrough complaining to people about the linearity, the crazy hand holding, nonstop tutorial and cutscenes, literally everything. I only finished it in the end because I really liked my team and also had a lot of free time because I just graduated from college but I really don’t know why I bothered spending that much time on it. These complaints of USUM are fairly common, so it’s definitely not a hot take or anything like that. I was disappointed.

Gen 8

Between my dislike and burnout from Gen 7, the internet drama, other Switch games I was more interested in, the removal of Pokemon in the Pokedex, and the general disappointment of quality from Gamefreak, I did end up skipping Sword/Shield, and will likely not return to it later. I’m still hoping for Diamond/Pearl remakes (I know it’s not going to happen, but let a girl dream for a second), but for now I’ve taken a step back from the series.

End

Okay I made an End section because if I just left it off there, then this blog post would have ended on a disappointing and cynical note, and that’s not really the point here. I’m not entirely sure what the point is, but I think the cool thing about (almost) sharing a birthday is that I can tie every generation of Pokemon to a different period of my life. From the elementary school playgrounds in Gen 3 to the high school senioritis of Gen 6 and finally to the existential crisis after college and it’s been a huge influence to the person I am today. That sounds really over-dramatic but I mean it – for the world of video games, anime, fandoms, Pokemon was the thing that led to me them, and then everything else I discovered through Pokemon carried me into today.

Thanks for reading!

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