Pokémon Red/Blue (Game Boy)

I’ve been playing Pokémon since Red/Blue came out on the Original Gameboy. I loved being able to go around catching and growing my Pokémon collection on my copy of Blue back in the late 90’s, as well as taking my game to school and trading with friends.

Battling, however, was not one of my strong suits. I was good at battling the NPC’s in Red/Blue because I had my trusty Pokémon Power strategy guide because of my Nintendo Power subscription, but when it came to battling my friends via a link cable? I usually lost, and lost badly because at the time I didn’t understand the concept of team building and getting the best move sets. I just wanted to complete the Pokedex, even in Generation 1.

Once I got my hands on a Game Genie a whole new world of possibilities opened up. Suddenly I didn’t have to worry about game-exclusive Pokemon as I could simply look up a list of codes and spawn in whatever I needed!

Soon I was catching what is now known as a “Living Dex” because I couldn’t even be bothered to level up or trade Pokémon like I should have to get a new dex entry.

And that Mythical Mew? I could’ve gone legit and entered the drawing run by Nintendo to get one added to my copy of Pokémon Blue, but instead I used my own personal cheat device to add one in. And that became my HM slave, knowing Fly, Surf, Cut, and Psychic.

And because I couldn’t be asked to train my Pokémon in a legitimate way, I would use the MISSINGNO. glitch to get infinite Master Balls, Rare Candies and any healing items I wanted! Soon I was feeding Rare Candies to my Line up to make them grow to 100 without having to fight!

Little did I know at the time that’s a TERRIBLE way to level up because while the Pokémon get the level, they don’t get the same amount of stat gain if they are Rare Candied vs actually grinding levels through fighting. But I didn’t know about that or care, I was in Middle School and just wanted all level 100 Mons, and a complete Pokedex!

I beat all the gyms, got the badges and became the Champion. But I basically did it by playing like my in game rival. I didn’t care about the Pokemon themselves, I just wanted to be the very best, like no one ever was.

I would later go back to Kanto in the Virtual Console copy of Red, as well as Leaf Green AND Let’s Go Pikachu, but that’s a story for another time.

Pokemon Go boils down my favorite part of the Pokemon games

I’ve been playing Pokemon Go since the day after it launched. Why the day after? Because when I and everyone else on the planet tried to download the app on launch day, the servers couldn’t handle the load and many had problems getting the app to download, let alone let them sign in or register. I was one of the unfortunate few that had to wait to start “Collecting Them All,” but once I got in, I excitedly started experiencing what would become my favorite iteration of the Pokemon franchise.

Now, I am a “gen-wunner” as Pokemon Red/Blue came out when I was in middle school. I had a subscription to Nintendo Power and it had teased this new gameboy game that was all about collecting, leveling, evolving and fighting these weird animals known as Pokemon.

I was hooked as soon as I heard about it. I collected all six of the Pokemon Power magazine inserts that were a strategy guide inside the back of that month’s Nintendo Power, and served as my guide through the Kanto Region. I knew EXACTLY what I needed to do to finish the game and beat the Elite Four for the first time.

Once I became the new Crowned champion of the Kanto region, I along with all of my friends of the Pokemon series began working on completing the Pokedex, battling and trading. It was amazing and a bit of nostalgia that I fondly look back on.

I dabbled in the Pokemon trading card game, and played a bit of Pokemon Pinball, Pokemon Stadium for the Nintendo 64, and Pokemon Gold. But nothing else seemed to match the fun I had working on Pokemon Blue.

While I enjoyed Pokemon Blue, I got maybe halfway or 1/3rd of the way through the original Gold Storyline, and having 251 Pokemon to catch in the updated dex seemed like a large undertaking for young me.

My classmates and I would have lunchtime battles and trade Pokemon, but I never really cared about whether I won or lost. My team was good enough to finish the game and the Elite Four, but I was constantly losing to my friends that had figured out the best movesets, stats and levels for their six pokemon, where as I was just happy to have level 100’s and a nearly 100% complete pokedex.

Fast forward to 2016 and Pokemon Go is the new hotness. For a brief time (the summer of 2016) you could go anywhere and find groups of people of all ages hanging out on street corners staring at their phones, charging cables attached and a backup battery in their back pocket. Everyone was OBSESSSED with catching Pokemon and you could just camp a Pokestop or make a small circuit of stops to refresh your Pokeball count and items. Walking wasn’t actually necessary back then, so it wasn’t uncommon to see people hanging out downtown for hours, regardless of time.

Of course I was obsessed with playing the game. I worked in a retail job at the time so I was able to stay out late hanging out with my friends playing PoGo. Someone would often but in and say “THERE’S A LAPRAS THE NEXT STREET OVER” and we’d all run over to get it before it disappeared.

The longer I played the game the more I realized I liked just catching Pokemon, and completing the dex more than anything else.

The gym update had come out, Shiny Pokemon were added to the game, PVP battles had been released and most recently Team Rocket had taken over stops, but I still found myself only wanting to have a 100% complete dex. I didn’t care about owning all the gyms. I didn’t care about being at the level cap (I’m about 2/3rds of the way to level 40 which is the level cap currently, and I’ve heard rumors that may change too). I didn’t care about beating Giovanni or the Rocket Grunts as much as I wanted to get their shadow pokemon.

All I really cared about was catching pokemon, going to Community Days and catching shinies. Well, and completing the research which would unlock special pokemon or more shinies.

So it got me to realize I love the Pokemon series, but I would rather “Catch Em All” than “become the very best, like no one ever was.”

So if you see me out and about playing pokemon: I’ll be your friend if I have open spots on my list, but I’m not going to want to 1v1 you bro.