Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Journey Long Overdue (Returning to Pokemon after 15 years)

I turned on my copy of Red for the first time in a long time the other day. At last count I'd logged 46 hours and beaten the elite 4 twice. No not Fire Red, I mean [B]the[/B] Red. The one we in the states got anyway. I can't remember the last time I'd picked it up but it was very evident the last person to play it was an 8 year old with little idea of what they were doing.

Oh I traveled deep into the rabbit whole back in the day. In the archives of my room I can count one cardboard box filled with the Pokemon VHS tapes, (I didn't catch the WB so that's how I watched it) at least two binders filled with Pokemon cards that my friends and I collected but never figured out how to play properly with, and many more pieces of memorabilia from the late 90's Pokemon craze. Though like all things I eventually grew out of it and relegated my days as a trainer to fond memories and the occasional nostalgia trip with friends.

For the most part Pokemon flew under my culture radar right up until Heart Gold and Soul Silver when I starting hearing of all the creative ways people were abusing their Pokewalkers. It was amusing to say the least. I'd long since written off the franchise as something that had played itself out at best by the end of the second generation. It was all, at best, a joke. That to keep things fresh an infinite amount of new mons would have to be added to the bloated index of species, each generation making less sense than the last. Suffice it be said I laughed and continued on.

Then something strange happened, Black and White came out to rave reviews. Not the usual "rave reviews" usually allocated to the next installment in the Pokemon franchise. Then I started to hear from friends who hadn't spoken seriously about Pokemon in years chatting about how B&W was a total reboot to the franchise, and how it was pretty damned good. Nintendo had already burned me with the Wii so I remained skeptical and kept my distance from it like other installments. Except I didn't stop hearing about it.

One day I found myself at Best Buy, I think I was looking for a cheap hdmi cable, and as per custom I made my pass through the respective isles devoted to Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo in the games section. When I came to the DS section I stopped to browse and it wasn't long before my eyes shifted to Black and White. As I read the back of the case it all started to come back to me. The 8-bit soundtrack cascaded through my mind, the thrill of raising my team, and the blood feud grudge I held against Gary Oak. I made the decision that maybe it was time for the former champion of Kanto to come out of retirement...but I wasn't going to do it alone.

The phone call with my best friend that followed was like out of an action flick where they're trying to bring the Bruce Willis out of retirement. We both questioned the wisdom of reopening that rabbit hole. Later that night we sat on the couch in my den and set off on the journey once again. We would conquer Unova like we conquered Kanto. We survived Mt. Moon, beat Gary Oak, and took down Team Rocket...give us your worst.

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