Today is Pokémon Day, the annual celebration of all our wonderful memories of the world of pocket monsters.
Twenty-two years ago today, Pokémon Red and Green came to the Game Boy for the first time, triggering an obsession that would span decades, age groups, and continents. The game title shows no sign of slowing down, even now, and whispers of a game for the Switch are keeping the spirit alive.
In honour of this momentous day, I thought I’d take the time and regale you of one girl’s first memory of Pokémon. So stay a while, and listen.
All the rage
It all started when I was in first grade.
It was smack-dab in the middle of the ‘90s; they were the days of Spice Girls, and of butterfly-patterned bandanas on every school kid’s head. The first waves of light-up shoes were starting to hit the schoolyards.
It was a magical time.
Maybe I didn’t always make the greatest fashion choices back then (see exhibit A), and maybe I was too obsessed with girl groups, but I did make a good choice in at least one area of my life:
That was the year I asked for Pokémon cards for my birthday.
I forget where exactly my inspiration for that particular request came from. It probably came from an idea planted in my head by my classroom cohorts, or maybe it was the kids up the street. Everyone had their own cards in October that year, right when they came out.
I watched, intrigued, as they struggled to figure out the rules. I could only hope that my time would come in December.
And indeed it did.
I was so excited when I opened up my gifts that year to see the first-ever Pokémon card pack, holographic Machamp and all. I flipped frantically through them all, gathered them into a pack with an elastic around the middle, and put them in a safe pocket of my backpack.
I could hardly sleep, I was so impatient to take the whole lot of them to school so I could finally join my friends in playing the game.
There was just one problem with that.
Not a single one of us had any clue how to play.
Instead of learning how to use energy cards, or figuring out what the heck those blue and yellow glass gems were for, we found a simpler solution. We turned it into the schoolyard equivalent of the GTS.
It didn’t take long for kids to figure out who had a clue about the value of the cards, and who would happily trade their collectible holographic Machamp for an adorable pink Jigglypuff.
Guess which type I was.
In all my childish naivete, it didn’t matter much to me that I was quickly tossing away all my good cards; I was happy just to be playing.
That attitude really worked out for me in the end, though, because despite my horrendous trading techniques, I got my hands on what would be the crown jewel of my collection.
Backstory: I’m about 90 percent sure that my parents thought I would grow up to be a crazy cat lady. I loved cats, and would play with them any chance I got. I’d even make my sister pretend to be one sometimes.
I was a great sister.
Anyway, I was also obsessed with pink. My whole room was pink; the walls, the carpet (it was the ‘90s, after all), the bedding. Everything.
So can you imagine how excited I was when some kid traded me a Mew?
I had no idea what the significance was; I just knew it was a pink cat, and that was two of my favourite things combined. That card went everywhere with me after that; it was my favourite thing in the world, and I would never trade it for anything.
Unfortunately, my luck really ran out after that. I lost my whole pack of cards, Mew and all, when my family moved a couple of times.
I was devastated, and it wasn’t until I saw a Dragonite-themed pack this past year that I considered getting back into the trading game.
Like many things, though, it’s had to go on the back burner. For now, I’ll focus on the adorable animated game versions, and wait for the perfect card sale!
Now, in honour of Pokémon Day, what was your first experience with the game title?