Nostalgia Spot: What’s It Like To Play 1st Gen Pokemon Again?

I was about 18 when I ‘ironically’ got into Pokemon. My dad had been to Japan for work and he’d brought back a bunch of Pokemon stuff to give me, just because it was everywhere over there at the time and he thought I’d think they were cute or weird or whatever and like them. I had vaguely heard of the trend but I was 18, and more into getting plastered than watching cartoons, and I was a Playstation gamer at that time so I wasn’t really up on the latest offerings from Nintendo. Along with various Pikachu paraphernalia were a few packs of Japanese Pokemon trading cards. I had no clue what they said (even now my knowledge of Japanese doesn’t extend far beyond ‘kawaii’ and ‘baka’ – and yeah, I’m the one who does our anime reviews…) but they were so random and kind of interesting looking that me and my friends decided to try and make up a game based on them anyway. It was a drinking game we called ‘Poker-mon’. I found out the proper rules later on and even bought some English cards but I still only ever played it after lots of very cheap alcohol. I only did anything after lots of very cheap alcohol; I was a British teenager.

image by JD Hancock

image by JD Hancock

I started watching the anime as well. It was on on Saturday mornings, and was kind of nice with a hangover. I can’t stand watching dubbed anime these days (except Hetalia – Axis Powers which must be watched with the English language voice acting to fully appreciate the non-PC comedy), but I didn’t really realize how bad and annoying anime characters sound with American accents back then (once I accidentally saw about five seconds of Slayers in English and instantly went from thinking Lina Inverse was cute and funny to wanting her to die in a massive ‘dragon slave’ backfire).  People would ask how come I knew so much about Pokemon and I’d say I liked it ironically so nobody would think I was a nerd. I only realized I was a nerd about a year ago.

Anyway, years passed and I sort of lost track of the Pokemon franchise, I mean have you seen the last few generations? There’s like, chandelier pokemon and ice cream pokemon and all kinds of scrapings from the bottom of the barrel of the minds of the people at Game Freak. And they’re Japanese – in Japan there are cute mascots for literally everything, from law firms to home pregnancy tests, so if even they are getting to the point where they’re like ‘How many cat looking ones do we have now? Meh, one more won’t hurt.’ then it’s likely there are too many of the bloody things now. But this week I kind of ended up in a hole of YouTube gamer videos speculating about Pokemon related stuff and, well, I just kinda wanted to play one of the old games again.

Through means that may or may not be entirely legal, I have no idea how the laws work for this kind of thing, I found a way to play. I’d only played Red before, so I picked Yellow – the first gen’s special ‘Pikachu edition’, modified to be more like the anime with the player character being Ash and your starting pokemon being a Pikachu who walks with you rather than the choice of Charmander, Squirtle, and (snigger) Bulbasaur.

This was a few hours ago and I’d like to tell you I’m on a delightful nostalgic romp through the game.

But I’m not.

This game is just grinding! There’s nothing to do but grind and have not very exciting battles with your lame, horrible pokemon to try and make them less lame and horrible. No offence Rattata but you’re boring. My cats would eat you. And Pidgey. They’d eat Pidgey as well.

I mean, that’s not saying it’s a bad game – I hate the start of Fallout: New Vegas when I’m at level one and can be killed by a scorpion as well, and I fangirl over that game like, I don’t know, a brony over Pinkie Pie. I am one of those gamers who likes to be super OP and doesn’t mind working to get there – just not grinding with absolutely nothing else to do. The limitations of games of this age mean that to get a good amount of playing hours and replay value there has to be a fair amount of repetition and I think by giving you Pikachu from the start they at least gave you something cool to use so you’re not just like. ‘Yay. I shall make my Metapod harden (snigger) then pull him out (snigger) and finish this lame Nidoran with my lame Caterpie’ for like, 7 hours before you can do anything fun, but I’m not sure I’ll be keeping up this experiment as far as creepy ol’ Lavender Town.

And none of this is surprising. Clearly it’s a good game or I wouldn’t have loved it before, but it proves something I’ve always kind of believed – nostalgia, for any kind of media, is wrong if it makes you believe that ’90’s things were amazing’ or ‘everything is worse nowadays’, and it is better to keep the games you loved in your memory and crack open something brand new to play – if possible so new it’s still in beta and riddled with bugs.

Why? Because everything we have now is the best stuff anyone has ever had. Until next year when stuff will be even better. So, I guess I should get one of the newer games, which’ll mean finding out what a ‘Slurpuff’ and a ‘Purrloin’ are…


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