Twenty Years of Trying to “Catch ‘Em All”

After a bunch of serious posts in a row, I figure I might as well write about something silly.

So everyone’s raving about how Pokémon Go might just be the next best thing in video games. It’s so huge that it got a commercial in the Super Bowl. (But that might have been because the Pokémon franchise is turning 20 years old today. I have no idea. I didn’t watch the Super Bowl.)

Pokémon Go is supposed to be an “augmented reality” (how is that different from virtual reality? I’m not sure) game in which you catch, battle, and trade Pokémon on your mobile device. Different areas in your real-life world will contain different wild Pokémon, which supposedly encourages people to exercise and walk all over (or at least spend a lot of money traveling to exotic locations) in order to find and catch their favorites.

And then Pokémon Sun and Moon are coming out later this year (around the holidays). They will probably follow the pattern of the traditional Pokémon game, which has not changed since 1996: you play the role of a 10-year-old kid who gets his first Pokémon and goes on an epic adventure to defeat a group hell-bent on destroying the world and to capture and train every Pokémon.

I still remain a devoted Pokémon fan and will continue to follow the franchise for the rest of my life, even though I will most likely not buy every single product that comes out. Pokémon Go doesn’t appeal much to me, and if Pokémon Sun and Moon aren’t radically different from the usual RPG formula, I may skip them, or buy them two or three years after they’re released, like I’ve done with all the recent Pokémon games.

The real reason I still carry a torch for Pokémon is most likely childhood nostalgia. My brother and I used to play the card game and watch the TV show all the time. I formed a bond with pixelated creatures on a Game Boy Color screen. There was nothing quite like the excitement of ripping into a booster pack of Pokémon cards and pulling out a new holofoil (well, today, it would be pulling out a secret rare—back in my day, they didn’t have those).

Anyway, long live the Pokémon franchise, which has brought many kids joy over the years. Train on!