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The last day of school was always a momentous occasion for me. Not only did I have a summer’s worth of free time to look forward to, but this particular last day of school fell on my birthday! Those last few hours of school, even if we did watch a movie instead of doing any real work, paled in comparison to what awaited back home.
I saw the ceremonial pile of presents stacked on the table. Little did I suspect, one of those packages would change my life and mark the first of many adventures.
I had to wait until after supper and the traditional birthday cake before my presents could be opened. Now that I think back on it, I can’t recall any of the other presents I got that year. Only one stands out to me and has endured in my mind for many long years. It was for this particular package my hand reached for first. After the garish wrapping paper was torn away, my life would never be the same. When the present was unwrapped, I found a large, blue turtle with cannons sticking from its back looking up at me with leering eyes, one stubby hand thrust forward. It was as if this creature were challenging me, inviting me to go on an adventure I would never forget. Over the turtle’s head, written in golden letters for all to see was the game’s title: Pokémon Blue Version.
Now it was no secret to my parents that I had wanted a Pokémon game of my own. My older sister had been playing Pokémon Red for quite awhile now and I was eager to follow suit. Having a system to play it on was no problem. My dad had a GameBoy Pocket that was used to play Tetris. But getting the $40 dollars necessary to buy my own game proved to be a task beyond my capability at the time. My parents were not the type to give me an allowance (due more to money constraints than stinginess), so I had to rely on doing odd jobs for which a profit of $5 was considered a haul.
It seemed as though I would never have a Pokémon game of my own. But on that night, my wildest dreams came true and there I was with a copy of Pokémon Blue sitting in my hands. It was an unforgettable feeling knowing that I would soon be following in the footsteps of my peers with a belt full of Pokeballs and a new world to explore and enjoy.
The old school Pokémon games lack the complexity of the newer generations. No one knew about EVs and IVs. There were no Natures, Held Items, Breeding, or Day and Night features. It was just the core Pokémon mechanics that would endure for years to come. In some ways, I rather miss this simplicity. When you and a friend wanted to battle, you didn’t have to worry about whether or not his Pokémon were EV trained or what tier your team fell into. You just went at it and had a great time.
Graphically, the games look rather terrible, and I can see why some young whippersnappers turn their noses up at them. The Pokémon sprites look barely recognizable and the game glitches like it has no other business. But poor graphics are no match for nostalgia and fond memories. Thus, the game looks just as pretty to me as any modern, HD eye candy.
And the music was absolutely memorable. Who can forget the eerie, haunting melody that was forever burned into your mind in Lavender Town? And who doesn’t have fond memories of bicycling along listening to that upbeat tune? The battle music was fast-paced and exciting, making every encounter feel like a fast-paced duel to the death (well, not really to the death, but you catch my drift). Not to sound like a Genwunner (a Pokemaniac term for someone who loves the first generation Pokémon games and despises everything after Gold and Silver), but the music in later generations just isn’t as memorable as in Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow.
As for atmosphere, these games had it in droves. Who says Pokémon is for kids? Try going through Pokémon Tower without getting chills sent up your spine. Let’s not forget about Cubone’s mother being murdered, forcing you to fight against its violent spirit. And don’t get me started on Team Rocket! Again, not to sound like a Genwunner, but none of the later crime organizations can hold a candle to Team Rocket. Sure, they might be better written with clearer objectives and fleshed-out leaders, but Team Rocket had class. They were the gangsters from the old movies, men who were solely after power and weren’t afraid to cross lines to get it. Heck, they were even armed with whips in the early Pokémon games, whips I tell you!
They murdered a Marowak mother and left her child to die. Not to mention they funded the unspeakable genetic splicing that brought about the terrifying might of Mewtwo.
To say Pokémon Blue had an impact on my life would be an understatement. If it weren’t for that game, I wouldn’t be writing this and you’d probably be reading some other article. I’m a Pokemaniac to this day and it’s safe to say I’ll be picking up Pokémon Black 2 come October. Though I play many other games these days, from Kirby to Half-Life, I look back on Pokémon Blue as the game that introduced me to gaming and led me to where I am today: sitting in front of computer, writing articles no one is going to read, living with my parents, unemployed, and happy as a clam. Thanks, Game Freak!