Well, to answer that, I have to go back to how I first got into Pokemon. At first, I resisted the Pokemon craze (I was 13 when the games first came out). I really was more a console type of guy, and I figured it would be like most other crazes, and die out. Strangely, what got me into it was the anime, seeing the Island of the Giant Pokemon episode as my first episode. Although, I didn't see the opening or closing credits, so I didn't even know what it was. Thankfully, the next episode I ran into was the very first one, and I was caught, hook, line, and sinker.
Since that day, I have done TCG, the anime, some toys, and most of the games. Most of it got worn out on me, but I have faithfully played at least one game from every generation (blue, yellow, silver, crystal, sapphire, emerald, firered, diamond, platinum, soul silver, black, and black 2). So, how did this "addiction" affect me?
To put it mildly, I was a lonely child, without many friends. My family would move a lot (military brat, anyone?), and my closest sibling was 12 years older than I was. I would manly play by myself, as a lot of the other kids' interests were not mine. Those friends I did have either left when I moved away or changed so much when I was gone that we didn't really want to hang out with each other anymore. Pokemon became an outlet for me, becoming an example of most video games to come. I could play, become immersed in the world, the story, and kept me somewhat grounded in a psychotic world.
As I got older, I realized just how much DEPTH the game could have, if you let it. Pokemon is amazing in that respect, being extremely simple, or extremely complex (IV, EV, natures, etc) as you want it to be. And that's what kept me hooked on the games, where the other parts started feeling stale. I'm a strategist at heart, loving RTS and role-playing games, so the strategy inherit in Pokemon tends to keep me sated. Heck, I even have a character I made in role playing forums that fits in perfectly to the Pokemon world. Over the years, Pokemon has shaped a lot about me, who I am, and what I have become as a person.
And finally, it seems that now, being 27, and married with two kids (5 and 1), Pokemon has brought me full circle, as it's still affecting my family and I. My 5 year old and I are using the games as bonding time (and teaching him to read), and he absolutely loves Pokemon Colosseum. He even has his own Pokemon Yellow save file that he and I work on now and again, where he reads the attacks and tells me which one to use again the enemy. I plan to go through all the games with him, maybe even as Nuzlocke challenges, as he likes those as well.
As for me, I'm still hoping for the creation of a "master" Pokemon game. One that would allow you to go to every region in either Colosseum or Pokemon X and Y style of play (or even better, like the anime) and go through each game's story as a coherent group. I might have to make that myself, who knows what will happen.
I have spent many years playing through the Pokémon series, and many hours too. Starting from the first game of Red and Yellow to the newer ones of Black or Pearl, there were good ones and others not so great, but they are all Pokémon games down to the very heart of it. I remember as a kid playing red for the first time on the Gameboy color handheld system, I remember my first steps within the game starting with a Charmander because I was on the Red version and it seemed appropriate. I also remember the difficulties I ran into during my first play through, from being stuck at Brock and endlessly grinding on level 3s or 4s to beat him, to reaching the Elite Four and encountering an even more difficult challenge, with even more tools and areas available to me. I also remember much later finding out about the missing no. glitch and also getting glitched mewtwo above level 100, which was always fun. One time after I was more experienced with the Pokémon series I received a Pokémon Yellow version which I really desired a Pidgeot, sounds strange such a common Pokémon but I never had one, but after a lot of hard work I finally evolved a Pidgeotto at Cerulean. The day after my game gets washed along with my clothes and my erases my saved data, I was upset about that. I’ve had many exciting experiences playing the Pokémon series, which includes my most recent adventures with Pokémon Black and Wi-Fi battles. I have learned a lot from the Pokémon series. One thing I have learned from Pokémon is how much I enjoy games that involve catching monsters, training them and fighting with them. I also learned the first step in a game, could be the greatest moment a kid could experience. There are too few games like Pokémon and I hope to bring more of them to the game industry, and I recommend the series for anyone interested in RPG style games.
According to my grade school yearbook, my life goal is to become a Pokémon Master. I've since realized that Pokémon battles don't pay the bills, so for the past 13 years, I've gone on a “journey” to meet other Pokémon fans; in other words, I’ve just tried to meet fans that don’t consider Pokémon players to be mouth-breathing neckbeards. I’ve had a great time, meeting big names such as Devin (Marriland) in real life. Along the way, though, the simple series of video games would teach me a brutal life lesson: Finding true friends is harder than it seems.
Hello, world: My name is MagicBarrier, and I have an addiction to Pokémon. For me, the games are not a mere hobby, but an unabashed obsession. I've dabbled in various aspects of the Pokémon franchise, such as the anime, the Trading Card Game, and fanfiction, but my true passion lies with the games. You name it, I've messed with it: I've been playing competitively for eight years, I've sunk plenty of hours into the Battle Frontier and Subway, I've speedrun through several games as quickly as possible (obtaining a record for Pokémon Gold in the process), and even made in-game tier lists. Yes, I've made tier lists for a children's video game; having a life is overrated anyway. The obsession has come and gone, but my love for Pokémon has remained from elementary school all the way up to my senior year of college. Who knows, I may even bring Pokémon into my senior thesis somehow.
Of course, Pokémon has taught me one of the harshest lessons of geekdom: Sometimes, you have to keep your interests to yourself, lest you risk becoming a social pariah. Nowadays, there are official tournaments and conventions to interact with other Pokémon fans in real life; however, for a ten-year-old child with limited transportation access, meeting other Pokémon fans was a trial-and-error process, with emphasis on "error". Five years before Bulbapedia was first conceived, I was a walking Pokémon encyclopedia, eager to bring in the topic into any conversation. Even my stories weren't safe, as my glorified self-insert "novels" featured chapters where I would lapse into the world of Pokémon. Shockingly, being the biggest Pokémon nerd around doesn't make you the cool kid on the block even in elementary school. My reputation as the black Mareep was set in stone. The only Pokémon "buddy" I had was Rick, an on-again-off-again friend. Unfortunately, he was the Gary Oak to my Ash Ketchum; the Pokey Minch to my Ness. Forcing me to use Pokémon Stadium rentals while he used his cart-raised team? It was just another day for scumbag Rick. Using a level 255 Aerodactyl in a link battle? No problem for him. For every time we had fun racing to see who could complete Pokémon Gold or Silver the fastest or parading to the Pokémon March, there were three shouting matches between us. I would go home and try to console myself, but it wouldn't work. And I cried.
The only time I was in my element as a child was during a trip to the Kennedy Space Center. Since we were a ton of prepubescent brats trapped on a charter bus, we turned to our one release: Pokémon. The Game Boys came out of the backpacks, and everyone was trading and battling. Suddenly, I was no longer the outcast, but a certified professor. All of the cold, lonely hours I spent grinding against the Elite Four to raise a level 100 team in Pokémon Yellow of Mewtwo, Zapdos, Pikachu, Charizard, Vaporeon, and Snorlax paid off when my Snorlax single-handedly swept a girl's level 30 team, bringing my win percentage against other humans up to a glorious 20%. (It’s since improved.) For my arduous victory, I received the coveted Mew. Since the Pokémon Stadium 2000 Tour didn't come anywhere close to my town, it was probably a terrible hack, but Shiegki Morimoto's little prank was the Holy Grail for any child whose voice hadn't dropped. Overall, the trip was a glorious affair that wouldn't occur for another decade.
After Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen were released, I discovered a temporary release for my obsession: the Internet. The Web had transformed into the Web 2.0 phase, and Pokémon sites such as Marriland and Serebii made themselves known. I quickly entered competitive battling, where I finally found another group of people that took battling cute monsters too seriously. I was no longer limited to the faceless AI of the video games; now, I could go onto the simulator NetBattle to battle against faceless humans instead! Progress! The obsessive beast came back, and I spread the joy of competitive play far and wide. I even made friends with other Pokégeeks online. Even Google recognized me as a Pokémon dork, as my name was attached to a (currently outdated) 4 hour, 15 minute speedrun of Pokémon Gold. It seemed my journey was complete.
Or so I thought. As nice as online friends were, it was no substitute for actual human contact. I was growing older, and the chances of meeting other Pokémon players in real life grew slimmer. Sure, I gained some real friends once I could stop blathering about Pokémon for a few seconds, but who could I share my "accomplishments" with? None of my real friends could congratulate me when I made it onto the Top 50 leaderboard on ShoddyBattle's fiercely competitive Overused and Uber tiers. No one cared that I caught a shiny Rattata and Tentacool within half an hour of each other in Pokémon Crystal. Before Wi-Fi, I still couldn't trade or battle with anyone in real life; the “Pokémon kid” was not a flattering nickname in high school. I was no longer just a dorky kid playing Pokémon by himself; now, I was an awkward teenager playing Pokémon by himself.
Cue the Pokémon Video Game Championships. In 2010, the video game regionals finally came within half an hour of my house. Two "Uber" Pokémon were allowed per team; although I hadn't been to a video game regional before and lacked a Water Spout Kyogre, I decided to attend anyway with an anti-metagame Hail team of Mewtwo, Abomasnow, Palkia, and Metagross. I waited in line for an hour at the nearby Civic Center, my nerves steadily growing. However, all of my anxiety disappeared when I entered the room. The hall where I took my AP exams in high school was transformed into a Pokémon paradise: a giant Pikachu balloon paraded over the hall of Pokémon fans, swarming over video game demos, standing in line to enter the coveted tournament, or just milling around to watch the battles on-screen. There were even a couple of cute Team Aqua and Magma cosplayers demonstrating the Trading Card Game. (No, I couldn’t work up the courage to hit on them. A Pokémon-playing brony has trouble talking to girls? What a surprise!) The amazing announcer Nick McCord's voice boomed throughout the hall, encouraging everyone to download the free shiny Eevee. For the first time in ten years, I was back where I really belonged. Just like a decade ago, I was a celebrity for one day: my victorious fourth round match was shown on screen, and along with the other finalists, I broadcast my name to the world. However, all good things must come to an end, and I was eliminated in the first round of the finals by Gamers' Guinness World record holder Glenn Arnold. (Incidentally, this loss marked my first encounter with Devin, who was judging the event. "How could you lose to an old man?" he joked, which didn't help matters. He could just - oh wait, this is his contest, right? I love you, bro, don't disqualify me.)
From now on, I was a man on a nerdy mission. I traveled the path of an Ace Trainer, attending various Pokémon tournaments in order to expand my horizons and meet up with other Pokémon fans. I’ve done decently in competitive events – I made Top 32 at the last Video Game Championship, placed Top 3 in three unofficial tournaments, and placed Top 4 in the United States Global Battle Union rankings for three straight seasons – but most importantly, I’ve enjoyed communicating with other players. While I’ve met a couple of Ricks, most Pokémon players are really nice people to be around, and have been more than pleased to corroborate my obsession. Even at Regionals, where the coveted Travel Awards to Nationals are on the line, most people have been fairly chill - it's a far cry from the hostile environment of Super Smash Bros. Melee tournaments.
Even though I was going to events, there were still one thing missing – local friends. Sure, traveling to events was an absolute blast, but I was still going alone – there were no fun nights with other Pokémon friends before Regionals, or a team I could be a part of. I was just another 22-year old man-child attending Pokémon events against other college students. I finally gathered my courage and organized a meetup on campus. With League of Legends and My Little Pony meetups, and a Pokémon mural in the College of Computing, I was sure that I could find other Pokémon dweebs. Only two other people showed up, but for two hours, they provided me with something Rick could never provide – full and total discussion on Pokémon. We discussed the recently released Black and White 2, made plans for Regionals, reviewed current Video Game Championship strategies, and so forth. Right now, a group of us are planning to head for the Winter Regionals, so I’ll be playing for a team for the first time!
So that's my cool story. Despite my best efforts and my undying obsession, I'm no professional like three-time World Champion Ray Rizzo, and I don't have a massive fan site like Marriland. Still, after spending most of my Pokémon-playing life in solitude, I've finally found my niche of people that I can fit in with.
After all, journeying and meeting new companions is what Pokémon is all about.
My favorite place in the wonderful, wide world of Pokémon, spanning from five generations and five equally different regions is the Safari Zone. Some of my best times and worst nightmares have occurred in this fence-enclosed field. This particular afternoon several years ago shed light on my life as a young Pokémon trainer and is by far one of my favorite Pokémon experiences overall (some creative liberties might have been taken for story purposes).
A wild POKÉMON appeared!
“Man, P500 to get into this place? What a rip-off!”
Will scratched his head. Even though the Safari Zone was near an inlet of the ocean, it was sweltering hot. He unzipped his jacket and adjusted the funny-looking hat his mother had given him as a going-away present. ‘”It’ll look great on your journey, sweetie!”’ she told him, but the awkward green sweatband and the shaggy white mass situated on top of it were roasting his head. He pulled a brochure out of his bag and read-
HOENN’S OWN SAFARI ZONE!
DESIGNED AFTER THE FAMOUS “WARDEN ‘SLOWPOKE’ SAFARI ZONE” OF KANTO!
DISCOVER RARE, NEVER-BEFORE SEEN POKÉMON!
SPECAILLY BRED BATTLERS IMPORTED FROM JOHTO, KANTO AND MORE!
OPEN WEEKDAYS FROM 10 A.M.-5 P.M.
SATURDAYS FROM 9 A.M.-6 P.M.
P500 TO CATCH ‘EM ALL!
“The receptionist said 36 exotic breeds, and yet he only gave me 30 balls…” Will said. A few other tourists and trainers milled about, but he couldn’t see any Pokémon around the thick grass or otherwise. A man in a beige uniform approached him.
“Excuse me sir, you look like a trainer new to the Zone! Can I help you get started?”
“Huh? Yeah, says here that you’ve got rare Pokémon around, but I haven’t seen a single thing since I walked in!”
The man smiled. “Have you come from Fortree or Lilycove, Mr…?”
“Oh, I’m Will. I came from Lilycove, was passin’ through and I thought it was interesting. How am I even supposed to weaken them if you took away all my Pokémon?”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Will. I’m Sam, and I’ll be your Park Guide.” Sam grinned cheerily as they shook hands. “Now, do you have any Pokéblocks on you?”
Will raised his eyebrows. “Uh, yeah, but how is that-“
"Don’t worry sir, I’m the expert here. Do you have a pink Pokéblock on you?”
Sam dug through his bag and found the little container. He pressed a button on the top and a pink Pokéblock fell into Sam’s outstretched hand.
“They’re my Zangoose’s favorite…”
“I see. Well, you may like the results of this.” Sam motioned for Will to follow him. They walked for a while until a large patch of grass appeared. As Sam proceeded without hesitation, Will shuddered. Just the thought of meeting some wild Slaking or Mightyena unarmed was enough to freeze his blood and turn his limbs into jelly despite the heat of the afternoon.
“Mr. Will, you’re almost through. Don’t worry, there’s nothing within this preserve that is naturally hostile.” Sam said, chuckling. The newbies to the Zone always looked nervous, like something was going to outright attack them.
Will took a deep breath and broke through the grass. Sam was inserting the Pokéblock into a metal cube on a stand. “Wait for a minute, and a Pokémon may smell it.”
For a few moments nothing happened. Sam stood relaxed with crossed arms while Will sweated, anxiously glancing around. The grass rustled near Will, and he nearly jumped out of his skin. Slowly, a yellow face with big ears and bright red cheeks peeked out. A Pikachu! It nimbly ran up to the Pokéblock, snatched it off the stand, and returned into the grass. Sam grinned as Will stood speechless.
“That’s what you do. If you’re feeling adventurous you can wander the public area of the park and try to capture as many Pokémon as you can, or you could stay here. Once you find one you want, you can go towards it, throw a Pokéblock, or throw a Safari Ball. But be careful, because they can and will break out or run away if they feel threatened. Just relax and have fun, you’ll do fine. Happy hunting!” With a wave of his hand, Sam exited the small clearing and went through the grass.
Will continued to place block after block on the stand. Pokémon he had never seen before casually walked up to the metal contraption and ate the sweet before Will had a chance to open his Pokédex. He got the hang of the timing after his fifth encounter, a Girafarig, had fled when he got close to it.
“I will find a new teammate in here, just wait! I’ll make Professor Birch proud!” He said to no one in particular. The images of his Blaziken, Swellow and Zangoose danced in his mind, and with them, maybe a little Natu! Or a zany Wobbuffet! Even a Doduo would be fine with him. Whatever it might be, he had to keep going or his time would run out.
After aimless wandering throughout most of the park (according to the map on the brochure), he came to a large forested area near some ponds. Will stopped to rest in the shade for a few minutes. Eight balls left, with thirty minutes to spare. There were no Pokéblock stands around here, so he’d have to walk around himself. Leaving his brochure under the trees, he picked up his bag and cautiously entered the tall grass.
Will could hear the faint sighing of a Pokémon in the grass, something small and possibly cute. He hoped it was a Pikachu or even a Marill. He began to prowl, keeping his body low to the ground, one hand on the strap of his bag and another on his Pokéblock case. One foot landed on hard-packed earth, while the other hit something squishy, and a sharp cry of pain burst from below him. He shrieked and fell backwards, landing amongst the grass tangles.
A light green Oddish looked at him angrily. Its skin seemed to shine in the afternoon light, sparkling beautifully. Will was stunned as cries of “ordd-ordd-ORDDISH!” pelted him. He cautiously reached for a pink Pokéblock and tossed it at the creature. While it nibbled curiously at the cube, Will silently tossed a Safari Ball at it. The Oddish broke out immediately, seemingly yelling at Will. It kicked the pink half-eaten Pokéblock into the grass and huffed angrily. Will held his breath and placed a red block on the ground. The Oddish cautiously approached it and nibbled again. Will tossed another ball at it; the Oddish broke free again. It seemed to smile as it ate the Pokéblock, so for some minutes the pattern of placing the red candy on the ground and attempting to capture the Oddish progressed, all while Will scooted closer and closer to the little creature. When he was not two inches from the creature, it seemed to smile happily at him. Will smiled back.
“So, would you like to come with me, little guy? On my adventures?”
The Oddish stared at Will, concentrating hard. Will’s green eyes blinked as he held his breath.
“Orddish!” The Weed Pokémon jumped onto Will’s hat and snuggled amongst the fibers.
“Brave little thing, aren’t you?” Will held a ball up to his head and pressed the center button. A red beam of light enveloped the Oddish, and it disappeared into the ball. Will’s head felt so much cooler now that he had caught a new team member.
“Oh, yeah! The others!” Grabbing his bag and Pokéblock case, Will ran towards the entrance, passing Sam as he went.
“Hello, Mr. Will, did you find anyth-“
Sam thought for a while as Will made for the enterance. “Wasn’t he wearing a hat?”
Will traded the remaining two balls with the receptionist for his team. “C’mon out, guys, I’ve got a surprise to show ya.”
Ember the Blaziken yawned and watched his trainer while Strawberry the Zangoose and Robin the Swellow looked around curiously. Will grinned at them all.
“Guys, meet our newest team member, Wondrous!”
When the ball broke open on the ground all that sat there was Will’s hat. All four of them stared blankly at it. Robin chirped after a long silence, apparently laughing. Strawberry joined in, and soon all of Will’s Pokémon were laughing. Ember patted his trainer on the back. Will sighed heavily, picked up his hat and put it on. “All right everybody, let’s head back to Lilycove and maybe watch a contest or something.”
As he walked dejectedly towards the door, Will felt a cold hand on his shoulder. “What?” He said, turning around. His team had stopped laughing, and Ember pointed toward’s Will’s head. There, cuddling in the fabric, was Wondrous the shiny Oddish.
With Wondrous the Oddish (and now level 100 Bellossom, one of my all-time favorite Pokémon), I became a shiny hunter. I had no idea how rare these mystical-colored beauties were until I began Masuda methoding, random encountering and soft-resetting for hours and hours and hours. The Safari Zone and shiny hunting have taught me that patience is key, determination pays off and that losses aren’t the end of the world. Even if you are trudging through the thick mud of the Sinnoh Zone, weeping in despair because there is no Safari Zone in Unova, or cursing yourself for letting that Chansey run off, there’s always a new day ahead of you. My thanks go to Nintendo, Gamefreak, Satoshi Tajiri, Junichi Masuda. Marriland and anyone else involved with the Pokémon franchise. May the best writer win!
How Pokemon has affected me, you ask? Hmm... where should I even start?
I guess I'll begin from- well, the beginning. My love for Pokemon began at around age four, when I discovered the anime on Cartoon Network. I immediately fell in love with the series. Awed by the adorable creatures, cool characters, and comedic moments, I quickly became a fan. I constantly switched on the television just to check if the show was on. I often pretended to be a Bulbasaur, which was my favorite Pokemon.
Years later, I received my first Pokemon game: Pokemon FireRed, from my grandfather. He had seen it at the store and bought it for me out of the blue, so it was completely unexpected. I still remember how we both reacted- me, jumping for joy, tears of happiness streaming down my face, and my grandpa beaming from ear to ear after he saw my reaction. I was ecstatic after getting the game, but I was even more overjoyed simply by the fact that my grandfather had seen the game and bought it for me, knowing I'd enjoy it.
Sadly, my grandfather passed away later that year. I am so grateful to Pokemon for that memory. Every time I pick up my FireRed Version, I receive those wonderful memories of him again.
So, when I started playing my FireRed... I admit I couldn't figure out how to get out how to even get out of my room, and I literally spent hours trying to figure it out. However, I quickly got a hang of the game. My first partner I remember, had been Squirty, my Blastoise. I didn't exactly understand the concept of creating a team to counter all weaknesses, so I worked to level up Squirty whenever I could. I took my GameBoy everywhere. I played whenever possible. I even took it to school occasionally.
I met many other kids who shared my interest in Pokemon, particularly a boy I met when I was around 8. We met at a summer camp, as I was introduced to him by one of my other friends. We became great friends immediately, but I never realized it would become as great of a friendship as it is today.
We hung out everyday at camp, and during the school year, we would send each other letters. I soon discovered that he shared other common interests with me besides Pokemon, and we became closer. We even had our own pretend Pokemon game, where we would "travel" together on a journey to catch and raise different Pokemon. We would keep track of all our Pokemon with lists, taking them everywhere together just in case we wanted to "catch" another one.
Now, we are closer than ever. He is who I come to for advice, a laugh, and a shoulder to cry on. He is someone I feel like I couldn't live without.
I now pick up my Pokemon Black 2 and realize how far I've come with Pokemon. It has helped me through the years with making friends, learning life lessons, coping with stress, and even improving my vocabulary as a child through the games.
So thank you, Pokemon, for the memories, lessons, and wonderful friendship that I keep dearly to my heart.
Pokemom yellow came out in 1999 and i got yellow and a gameboy color for my 4th birthday. I was so young at the time but i remember it like it was yesterday. I did not understand the concept of the game at the time but it sure was a blast. When i turned around 7 or 8 i restarted the game and was ready to take on yellow seriously. To this day i still have the same team i had in yellow, never deleted the file. I had pikachu, charizard, pidgeot, lapras, rhydon, and vileplume. Through the years all the new pokemon games came out and i have played them all. Ive played them and restarted them and played again but no other game was like the bond i had with yellow version. Friends came and went but my pokemon in pokemon yellow were always by my side( corny i know, but true ) I grew up with pokemon yellow and i plan on keeping yellow forever. I am 17 now, play sports and such and none of my friends know i play pokemon still except my best friend and my family. Pokemon will always have a special meaning to me, it always puts a smile on my face :)
I never really liked going to my grandmother's house. No computer, no Internet. Heck, my grandmother doesn't even know what a flash-drive is. The best electronic device in her house is the television. I don't even watch much TV anyways. It's always been pretty boring. Another thing about staying there is that I have three cousins that come over whenever we visit. I absolutely cannot stand little boys - especially my cousins. They are loud, aggressive, annoying and hyperactive. They are constantly yelling, fighting with each other, crying or getting on my nerves. They're... Well, little boys. In my family, my dad is the only guy, so I never really had to get along with a brother. In other words, I had no idea how to deal with them. Pokémon may have helped change that.
My family drove up to my grandmother's for an early Christmas, and after playing Pokémon for two solid hours, I was not, looking forward to seeing my little cousins again- especially since I've been punched in the stomach by one of them before. The day after we arrived, my crazy relatives joined us at my grandma's house. I knew my sisters and I were in for a rough day, especially because we had homework to do as well. We attempted to keep them calm, but the little monsters did exactly what they usually do. They went insane. We eventually gave up and I retreated to drawing in my sketch book I brought. One of them had wandered over and noticed that I had Pokémon drawings with me. He immediately looked through all of my Pokémon sketches and my other cousin who enjoys drawing went through them too. I hadn't known that they played Pokémon too, and I realized that we finally had something in common. They ended up pretty much quizzing my on Pokémon Black and White 2, which I had not gotten the chance to play through yet. Luckily had been following Marriland's walkthrough... That ended up passing the time until lunch, and I realized that going to my grandmother's might not be so bad anymore.
Just a few weeks ago, I was walking down the Brooklyn Bridge. I had gone to New York on a school trip, and I was looking for any resemblance between the bridge I was on and the Skyarrow Bridge (Unova, in case you didn’t know, is based off the Greater New York area). The Brooklyn Bridge is very similar to its Unova equivalent – it has the same raised pedestrian platform, same cables and towers, same vehicles zooming past underneath you, just a different color. As I walked across, in real life, a bridge that I had biked across hundreds of times hatching eggs, I reflected on how eerily similar my Pokémon and real life experiences were in regards to this one bridge. Then I realized something – Pokémon has been paralleling my life since I first started playing.
Now, I’m not some old school Pokémon fan that has played since Red and Blue. My first games where, in fact, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, back in fourth grade. Pokémon was, however, my first video game – period. I don’t think I even played a game of Tetris before I opened my DS. Why? You see, my parents are the high-expectations Indian type, and they have always held me to a very, very high standard. I never complain –it’s because of them that I do so well in school – but I wasn’t the typical music listening, video game playing SoCal preteen of the 2000s.
I only got my DS after I really managed to impress my parents (Nerd Achievement Unlocked: Win Regional Spelling Bee). I can actually remember the first time I played Diamond. I laugh at the old me now, remembering in amusement as I saved every20 steps or so, and panicking during major battles. The first time I played through, I made the very rookie mistake of using only my Chimchar turn Monferno turn Infernape for half the game, and avoiding trainers at all costs. I managed to get to the Elite Four all right, but I ended up spending hours training a Shinx into a Luxray and catching an Azelf just so I had the manpower (Pokémon-power?) to finish the game. Even with these 3 and Dialga, I still had trouble with the Elite Four, not knowing basic ideas like “don’t have 4 fire type moves” or “Thunderbolt is better than Thunder” or “hyper beams of any type suck”.
When I turned to Pearl, I didn’t make the same mistakes. I did my research. And I found a lot of stuff. I am proud to say that, in fifth grade, I learned essentially every mechanic of Pokémon, from EV training to the catch rate formula to chaining. I also found Marriland’s Diamond and Pearl guide, which (I’m not trying to suck up to anyone– this is the truth!) is probably the best guide of the games I’ve ever seen. I used it, and a much more balanced, Torterra-lead team destroyed the Elite Four.
But what does have to do with my life? You see, up until Pokémon, I was basically a friendless sociopath. I’m not really a people person, and I had a hard time making friends. Pokémon, though, gave me a way to branch out. I met other kids in the class, those who had played the games since Day 1, and was slowly accepted into their group. With my extensive knowledge of the game’s mechanics and my wicked Underground skills (93 flags in one session!), I eventually became their leader. Not only giving me some much needed social interaction, Pokémon taught me to be less introverted and more capable of making friends. I don’t know what my life would be like in high school now had I not gained the ability to talk to others and know exactly what to say, something that I had not had before. Pokémon gave me my social life – and I am thankful for that.
In fifth grade, I also met the challenge that would take the next five years – complete the National Pokedex in my Diamond Version. It’s ironic how, at the beginning of the game, the professor gives you the Dex and tells you to do complete – a nearly impossible task, especially for someone without DS Lite compatible Wi-Fi or any of the GBA games. Yet I attempted to get as many Pokémon as possible into my Pokedex. It took me well into sixth grade and up until Platinum was released. I eventually hit the maximum I could possibly capture – trades with Pearl and my friends, Pal Park from the sole Fire Red game I had managed to win somewhere, swarms, Pokeradar, everything – at somewhere in the high 300s. I then gave up, because I knew that I would not be able to get a lot of Johto Pokémon and several Hoenn legendries anytime soon, trading with my friends or not.
How this this match up to my life? I have found that playing Pokémon has sharpened my real life intellectual skills, and no so more when I attacked the Pokedex. I don’t know why – maybe because of the massive logic power required to really play Pokémon well. At the start of fifth grade, I was just a slightly smart boy. But, after a year or two of Pokémon, I had also progressed to the point that I could make realistic goals of the top colleges (in elementary school, too – I told you I have strict parents!)
Platinum was an attempt to test my new Pokémon skills using Infernape again, and while I think the game is too easy compared to Diamond and Pearl, it was still fun to cross Sinnoh again. I put a lot of effort into Platinum, beating most of the Frontier Leaders and collecting a lot of villa furniture (you have no clue how long I walked to get the one that required some large number of steps). But Platinum brought a beast that would eventually pull me out of Pokémon – the over-leveled Gyarados I caught as a level 89 Magikarp at the lake in the Resort Area (you can catch Magikarps level 1 to 100 there). I used this instead of actually training Pokémon, and while it made the postgame much easier, it took a bit of the fun out of the game.
Then came Soul Silver, which in the end made me give up Pokémon. I beat the game all the way – from start to finish, all the way to Red. But it was really frustrating. I don’t like the Kanto/Johto Pokémon, and I had no desire to train my team the 20+ levels it would take for me to even have a small chance of taking down Red. And playing through 16 badges with a team I hated was not fun. I eventually traded over the aforementioned Gyarados and went on a rampage, but it sucked the fun out of the game. So I eventually gave up on Pokémon.
This wasn’t just inspired by the game. I left Platinum entering Jr. High (my city was too cool to switch to middle schools) and I lost a lot of my friend in the process. I didn’t have too many problems fitting in at this new school, as I was much more social now, but Pokémon, labeled a “kid’s game”, went underground. Everyone was too cool for it. So I didn’t really have much enthusiasm for Soul Silver. And I gave up on Pokémon through eighth grade.
This wasn’t really a bad thing, though. Getting away from Pokémon gave me time for other things and other games, and I still managed to do well in life. And it prepared me for the massive challenge yet to come, by giving me a break that would refresh me.
I only got Pokémon White because my brother, now old enough for video games, wanted Black. I figured that I would beat it quickly and be done with it. Then I fell in love with the plot. White’s story is unmatched in Pokémon, and I struggled with the dilemmas it presented – how is telling these beasts to fight each other fun for them? I mean, they may be pieces of software, but still! The solution – that we get stronger, together, by battling, struck a chord in me. Pokémon had made me stronger, through boosting my intelligence and giving me friends. I was ready for the challenge ahead.
For the first time, I was in a position to complete the National Dex. My collection from Diamond had been long deleted, but between my four Generation 4 games and my now-working Wi-Fi, I could catch all 649 Pokémon. And, after hours on GTS negotiations and hundreds of Audino slain, after months of hard work (button clicking?), after hunting down friends that had hard-to-get events, I finally did it. After recently adding a Meloetta that my friend got from his Japanese pen pal, I finally got all 649. I proudly stare at my certificate, which I got after hatching a Seedot, every once in a while. I had met my childhood dream, and done what few trainers ever do.
In the real world, high school drove me back to Pokémon. Just as Jr. High marked a more mature attitude, high school marked a more carefree style. Plenty of people, like me, played Pokémon quietly, and they now had the nerve to come out with it. I again had a community to support me – one that now looks at me in awe for my achievement. And what did completing my childhood dream bring me? As I said before, for some unknown, maybe unknowable reason, Pokémon sparks the smart cells. A month after I got Meloetta, I achieved what even less people achieve in real life - Nerd Achievement Unlocked: Get 2400 on SAT. I really can aim for the big leagues now – all thanks to Pokémon.
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, I contemplated all this while watching Lower Manhattan, so similar to Castelia City, slowly appear. I have no idea where Pokémon will take me now – White 2 was all right, and X and Y look amazing. But I do know that Pokémon will be with me until Gamefreak stops making games or the day I die.
Pokémon is called a kid’s game – and truthfully, it is. But it also teaches a concept – that, while you can get ahead with skill, grinding – or hard work – will also get you where you need to go guaranteed. Talent or hard work – both possible paths. Both paths I have followed in real life – using talent when I can, and learning to grind when I can’t. Pokémon is kid’s game – but that means I’m just a kid at heart.
Sorry for the long testimony! I'd like to thank Marriland, though, for this contest. Without it, I would never have bothered make a Marriland account. Now that I finally, after using his guides for years, actually made one, win or not, I hope that I may be able to contribute to this community in some way! Now may the best writer win!
Who would not want a world where ten year olds can go on heroic journeys, domesticating weird creatures, as a rite of passage? It is probably one of the most fun and creative ideas for a game I have heard in years. I did not think that at first, though, but I had great times playing the mainstream Pokemon games. It is probably my favorite game series because of how expansive it is and how it is not only in-game expansive, but it is very connected to the outside world. I can thank Pokemon for a lot of good things in my social life and my gaming life.
My story begins in elementary school. I was known for being a quiet child by most of my classmates because I was somewhat afraid to socialize. I was not very involved with other people so I missed out on experiencing a lot of new stuff like video games. I was not even close to what the broad, modern definition of "gamer" is.
In third grade, new neighbors moved in down the street from me. I did not want to meet the new kids, a boy, my age, named Jack and his sister, Tara, two years younger than him. My brother, however, did not share my social anxiety. After he met Jack, and a lot of annoying persistence from my mom, I met Jack. I did not know at the time that I had just met my best friend ever. We were great friends and we grew even closer through Pokemon. In fourth or fifth grade, whenever Diamond and Pearl came out, Jack showed me Pearl on his Nintendo D.S. I played it a little and really enjoyed it. He actually lent me his D.S., Pearl, and let me start a new game! I named my character "JJ" for my name, John, and his name, Jack. I became inspired to buy my own D.S. He still lent me Pearl because his family was wealthy enough, that he could also get Diamond. We traded, battled, and progressed through our journeys together. I have since then played Platinum, Firered, Gold, Emerald, Heartgold, White, and White 2. I have not only played Pokemon games, but I have become more of a gamer in general. I play quite a few games with a lot of new friends I have met since that time.
Sadly, Jack moved to New Jersey later in fifth grade because of his Dad's job. This hit me pretty hard. I have, and still plan to, name my character in Pokemon games "JJ." A few years later, I found Jack's copy of Pearl and I met up with him in New Jersey to return the game and hang out for the first time in years. Now in high school, I have a number of friends to play games with, thanks to my gaming personality. And it all started with one friend and a copy of Pokemon Pearl.
I started to play pokemon in 1997 when I was 12 years old. I got pokemon red from an aunt of mine who thought I would like it. It took almost a full year until I actually played it, thinking that the game was never going to be for me, as I only played sports or james bond games at the time. 15 years later, I never imagined that I would still be playing pokemon and always waiting for the next game to come out. Pokemon was never overly popular at my school and I never had any friends to play with, I always played by myself when I had free time. When I got to college, I started playing more again and ended up with a pokemon poster from our schools library sale. I took a picture of myself in front of it and posted to facebook (this was in 2004 when you could only have 1 picture on facebook and only college students were allowed on). Little did I know how much that picture of pokemon would change my life (it's currently my avatar). A girl "poked" me on facebook because she thought I was a dork and seemed like a nice guy she could be friends with. We've now been together for 8 years and have been married for almost 3 years. I tried to hide my pokemon knowledge from her and downplayed my interest in the game, afraid she would think I was too dorky. She has always been a fan of penguins and had numerous penguin stuffed animals. 2 years ago for her birthday, I got her a 3 foot tall Piplup for her birthday. She did not know who he was and never played the game. We started to watch some pokemon movies that featured Piplup, and she fell in love with pokemon like I had over a decade earlier. In the last few years, we have watched every pokemon movie and tv show we could find to get her caught up. We also finally bought 2 Nintendo DS's so that we could play together. We've since gone through all the generations available on DS. I still want her to play the original generation once I fix my old game-boy advance. I have found that we are definitely not the traditional married couple that go to parties and drink with friends. We would much rather stay home and play some form of pokemon, as we also enjoy pokemon monopoly. Pokemon has done so much for me, from finding my wife to connecting me and my wife even more to each other. We are very excited for the next generation of pokemon to come out, as my wife sent me an e-mail with the trailer and release date. I knew eventually we would have to update to the 3DS if we wanted to continue to play pokemon, but I did not think it would be so soon as we just finished playing black/white 2 with the help of this site's walk through. At this time, it is not realistic to purchase 2 3DS's this year, as I work for the YMCA and my wife is a 4th grade teacher and we have very little extra income to spend. Being lucky enough to receive 1 free 3DS would go a long way for us and would bring hours and years of enjoyment to our marriage. I have been playing pokemon for over half of my life and I can't wait to continue playing the rest of my life with my wife.
A thousand feet in the air, tethered to the spire of the CN Tower by a thick braided rope, the late afternoon summer sun beating down on my back, I leaned over the edge of the steel grate platform with my arms outstretched and looked straight down at beautiful Toronto. The light breeze slipped through my fingers. The air was calm. The world below looked dangerously far and, at the same time, perfectly clear. Serene elation.
Pokemon has taught me the exhilaration of exploration and the life affirming joy of wandering through cities and buildings, grass and ruins, hopping over ledges, walking through every door and opening, talking to every person, and reading every sign and flyer and open book for insights, clues, or plain fun.
As a ten year old stuck at home in Brooklyn I was totally immersed in Pokemon Blue. I played it on my Gameboy Color first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. I remember the playful melody of Celadon City. I remember vicariously living through the hands-free luxury of Cycling Road because I didn’t know how to ride a bike in real life. It seemed more real than it was. It left a lasting impression.
So I promised myself that when I got older, I’d go out and explore. I’d see things and do things and feel things I haven’t felt before. I’d lead with my heart and trust my gut.
Years later, with just a backpack, I traveled to San Francisco with two friends. The top of Coit Tower in Telegraph Hill, which looks like a giant concrete column, opens to the heavens. I looked up at the endless blue and recalled the scene in Pokemon Emerald where Rayquaza tore through the sky into existence. Magnificent.
While crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, the clouds descended on us and temporarily shielded the blinding sun. I looked out at the Pacific and wondered, what islands are waiting to be discovered? What mysteries lie in the secret caves and waterfalls and strong currents and whirlpools and sunken ships out there?
Pokemon speaks to the eternal child inside us all – that small voice yearning for adventure, that impulse to say yes, yes, yes to discovery. I spent my youth happily lost in Pokemon, and now Pokemon keeps the spirit of youth alive in me.
Life, according to Pokemon, must be lived through action, with sincerity and generosity and purpose, with friends and loved ones, through valiant triumphs and terrible defeats and, most importantly, all the quiet moments in between. Nothing is dull, not with good intentions and good companions.
I’ve learned to see the world with a sense of wonder, to recognize the spectacular in the mundane and the familiar in the extraordinary. Nothing is too small to appreciate or too large to grasp. Nothing is taken for granted. There is a clarity that comes from indulging in all the side quests of life. The world seems not smaller, but closer – tighter and more cohesive. You start seeing how everything is connected. You see yourself in others and others in yourself. Walls collapse. Bonds are forged. Progress is made.
The narrative of Pokemon instills a powerful yet simple message that I try not to forget: keep moving forward and don’t go home until you’ve done all you set out to do.
Pokémon Gold was the first handheld game I ever owned, but my journey with Pokémon began with my best friend, Jacob, and his Blue and Yellow versions. Like most 10 year olds, I thought Charizard was the coolest, and Jacob had a holographic version of the Pokémon card, which added a lot of jealousy, but also admiration, to our friendship. He had two gameboys so we could both play, but when Gold and Silver came out, I bought my own gameboy and Pokémon Gold, while Jacob bought Pokémon Silver. Time went on, and when we reached middle school we had a falling out, and went our separate ways. Pokémon was so ingrained as part of our friendship, I felt forced to sell my copy in an attempt to help get over the broken friendship. As a typical 13 year old, I tried to convince myself I was just growing up. It wasn't until I was a junior in high school that I started eyeing Pokémon again. It began with a few chuckles at Pokémemes, but I also began to realize just how strategic the game had become. Pokémon is unbelievably hard to stay away from, and soon I was back, buying a DS for the soul purpose of playing Black/White. I soon realized that growing up doesn't require you to sacrifice enjoyment from games, no matter what the kind. More importantly though, I discovered just how effective time is at healing wounds, with a little help from Nurse Joy.
Pokemon has helped me with something that is very important in everyone's lives: communication. I'm a shy person who tends to not talk to people unless they talk to me first, and I don't have many friends as a result. Pokemon has taught me that it's okay to talk to someone new once in a while. But what's helped me more than the games with this is actually this site, Marriland. The forums have helped me connect to other people around the world that share an interest in Pokemon, and that has helped me in real life because now I can express my thoughts to other people easier. So, thanks to Pokemon and to Marriland Forums for changing the way I talk to others! (For the better, of course! :) )
~Summer, a life-long Pokemon fan
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Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...
... Oops! I thought I was forgetting something... Ha! Don't worry, though. I'll do something soon! :)
When I was a lot younger, my mother used to be very, very protective. It was to the point that I wasn't even allowed to watch the Pokémon anime because it was "too violent". As a result, I admit, with great shame, that I had claimed Pokémon to be "stupid" during my 6-8 years. Ignorance at its worst: Don't know anything about it? Just say it's stupid and call it a day!
During my 8-9 years, I lost my two best friends that I had known since kindergarten. We were torn apart by being separated into different classes. The two of them were placed together whereas I was left alone, a trend that would follow into my later school years. Naturally, they grew closer as I became that person whom you have to haul around out of decency, but you don't actually want to spend time with him. Perhaps this unfortunate separation was actually a blessing, as I soon befriended a fellow kid who I shall refer to as "Justin". I was hanging out with him as his place one day, when decided to introduce me to what has become one of my biggest passions-- Pokémon.Starting up Pokémon Ruby version started up on the GameCube via the Game Boy Player, in all its stretched-out-on-the-TV pixelated beauty. Being the generous friend he was, he allowed me to start a new game of my own. I started with a Mudkip. Choosing the water-type starter has been a thing for me ever since. When the time finally came to venture out onto the first route, I was greeted by a wonderful Wurmple. Justin told me to knock it out, as I didn't have Pokéballs at the time. With great regret, I delivered the "fatal" blow to the innocent Wurmple, with tears literally in my eyes as I did so, being reassured that there would be more Wurmples to catch when I had some Pokéballs.
Upon my return, armed with numerous Pokéballs and determined to catch a Wurmple, I was greeted by none other than a Ralts. Justin told me it was rare, so I knew I absolutely had to capture it. There were no other options. Using the spin-the-direction-pad-and-hold-a technique, which I still use today despite not knowing if it actually helps (but it can't hurt), I managed to catch my second Pokémon.
Justin let me keep the game.
I was hooked. Pokémon became my life. 600 hours put into one game. It wasn't a waste of time, and I won't ever believe it was. Back at school, Justin and I spent many recesses fantasizing about own version of Pokémon. We drew out our own monsters, and used our imaginations (do kids still do that anymore?) as we fought at captured hundreds of them before the bell went off. That may be the most memorable time of my life.
As the years passed, I became closer to my older friends again, as did Justin. We all started hanging out more often, and can you guess how that happened? I introduced them to Pokémon. Like me, they couldn't resist its charms. Our nights were now spent huddled in the dark together training our Pokémon, trying to be the most masterful Pokémon master that has ever lived. Eventually, I was even able to beat Justin a battle. The student becomes the teacher. I can't tell you how proud I was of myself at that moment.
Today, I still have that Ralts, in the form of a gorgeous Gardevoir. It's been with me through Ruby, Fire Red, Pearl, Platinum, Soul Silver, White, and White 2. That original Gardevoir, as with the fond memories that come with it, have never left my side.
Though I may not have started with the classics, I made sure to play through and enjoy them as well. I will never forget the tears and shouts of joy I had with the capture of each legendary. I will never forget the amazing friendships that formed around it. I grew up with Pokémon inside of me, and you have a better chance of digging out the Earth's core than you have of digging the adoration of Pokémon out of me.