Saturday, 27 February 2021

Pokémon and Me



Pokémon has been a very important part of my life for a very long time and it's amazing to think that it's celebrating 25 years this year! This franchise has helped me meet friends, has given me something that I can turn too after a hard day just to relax and so much more!

For the 25th anniversary, I thought I'd ramble a little about my experience and memories of Pokémon as someone who's been a fan since it's first arrival in the UK!

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When I first learned about Pokémon, it was in 1999, the year Pokémon made it's arrival to the UK. I was 16 and in my final year at school doing my GCSE exams, so I've always been an older fan of the franchise.

I actually first heard about it on a news programme for children here in the UK, called Newsround. I believe I was watching it because something I wanted to watch was on after it. This particular report had a section on Pokémon and I remember it showed footage of children playing with Pikachu plushies. It talked about how much of a big hit it had been in Japan and the US and how it was expected to also do well here in the UK.

I still had no idea what Pokémon was, but that cute little plushie of the electric mouse? That had me curious.

I'm not sure how long it was after that, I don't think it was too long, but I came across an episode of the Pokémon anime on the channel, Sky One. I don't remember which episode it was, but I remember my first thoughts of it being "The human characters are kinda weird, but the creatures are cute!"

I kept watching the show and I gradually got hooked on Ash's adventure to become a Pokémon Master.

I only watch the show occasionally now, when I have the time, but I really loved the Sun & Moon series!

I talked to my school friends about the show, though at the time none of them really knew what it was, but it didn't take long for Pokémon to sky rocket in popularity and it was everywhere! I remember going to a shopping centre that my friends and I often visited and there would be merchandise in a lot of the shops there.

The first Pokémon merchandise I ever bought was a beanie Charizard by Hasbro, which I still have to this day! You could get the trading cards, figures, light-up keychains... a lot of which I also still have.

When the first movie came out, I remember going to see it twice with two different groups of friends.

I was able to dabble a little in the video games, but it wasn't until I bought a Nintendo DS did I start playing them properly. I got the DS in preparation for the next generation of Pokémon Games, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, but to tide me over until those came out, I got Pokémon Fire Red and a friend got me Pokémon Emerald.

The release of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl was such a magical feeling, getting to experience this new generation first hand. I was so excited when my copy of Pearl arrived and I was equally excited over all the new Pokémon. I especially loved how squeaky some of their cries were, like Pachirisu and Budew.
I remember squealing about how cute they were and I was all "Everything is so squeaky!!"

I think my team on this game was: Empoleon, Roserade, Lucario, Staraptor, Pachirisu and Buizel. I never evolved Buizel because I preferred it over Floatzel. This was the team I went through the Sinnoh Pokémon League with.

This copy of Pearl, and the save file, is still one I have now. I actually ended up maxing out the in-game play time clock because once I discovered that you could find shiny Pokémon via the Pokéradar chain method, that was all I did for months. I still have some of my original team from this game too, that are now chilling on Pokémon HOME.


Jackie the Buizel and Syrus the Pachirisu from my original Pokémon Pearl team.

It was around the Generation 4 games when I also joined a Pokémon Collector's group on LiveJournal, where people would buy or sell Pokémon merchandise. This opened up the world of Pokémon merch much more to me and I was able to get all kinds of things that I couldn't get in the UK. I specifically had a collection of my favourite Pokémon, Togepi, and it's evolution line, as well as a huge plush collection.

I met a lot of awesome people through this community. Those of us that were UK based even met up a few times at the MCM Expo in London. I'm still in contact with a lot of them, and other members from different parts of the world, through Twitter and Facebook today!

Another fond memory I have of Pokémon was the launch of Pokémon Go in the summer of 2016. I started playing it the day it launched and it helped me to go out and take walks a lot more. My friend, Alison, and I would regularly meet up and play the game together and eventually we began meeting other players in the process.

The early days were certainly full of excitement when a rare Pokémon like Dragonite would show up as being nearby, but there was no helpful location system back then, so we had to wander around to try and find it.

One of my most fun memories of playing Pokémon Go was when Alison and I were holidaying in Scarborough. I believe it was around the time when Suicune was first released into raids, so we actually teamed up with the local Pokémon Go group there and spent a lot of the holiday raiding with them. It really made me realize just how much the game had impacted people of all ages, as the group was very diverse in age, the eldest we saw playing had to be in her 70s! 
It just goes to show how Pokémon isn't just something children can enjoy. Everyone can enjoy it!

I also eventually joined a Pokémon Go chat of players local to me, which also led me to meeting and getting to know the players in my hometown.

Just me and my favourite Pokémon in Pokémon Go!

2020 was looking to shape up to be a year of amazing Pokémon experiences for me and others, what with the Pokémon Go Liverpool Safari Zone and the Pokémon World Championships being held in the UK for the first time, but sadly, the outbreak of Covid put a stop to these plans.

Even so, there's still a lot to look forward to Pokémon wise in the next year. I'm very much looking forward to the release of New Pokémon Snap soon and I'm extremely excited for the remakes of the Sinnoh games, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, as well as the new open world Pokémon game, Pokémon Legends: Arceus which is slated for release next year.

The Sinnoh remakes I'm especially looking forward to playing, since the Gen 4 games were my favourites and I'm so happy I'll get to experience them again!
Even though the chibi style may take a bit of getting used to, I very much respect that they are attempting to re-create the style of the original games, but with 3D graphics in order to give us a faithful remake.

I'm also very much looking forward to going back to playing Pokémon Go with people once the pandemic is over. The things they've introduced into the game, like remote raid passes, are great, and I hope they keep those as an option, but I really do miss the social aspect of the game.

In the end, Pokémon is something that I've been a fan of for almost 22 years and it's something that will more than likely stick with me for many years to come.

Here's to another 25 years of Pokémon!



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