This is a continuing series. As I am rapidly “growing up” I find less and less time to play video games, so I’m celebrating my top ten favorites over a lifetime of playing and the impacts that games have had on me. See Number 6.
NUMBER FIVE: Pokemon Blue/Silver (Gameboy)
Before I get flames from fans of other Pokemon games, let me be clear about a few things. First off, I have no hatred for Red or Gold, the counterparts to my chosen games. But those were my brother’s games more than mine. I spent most of my time on Blue and Silver, so those are the ones I gravitate towards. Also, I have no hatred for anything past Gen 2, I simply haven’t played any of those games. Why? Well…that’s part of why I wrote this post. And I’ll warn you, it’s not a happy story.
What 90’s kid’s game life would be complete without playing Pokemon? Good grief, Pokemon only nearly consumed the world. The games, the show, the movies, the action figures, the Burger King toys, the card game, the stuffed animals, and I’m sure there was more. And I was right in the thick of it. I had everything I could about Generation 1 (Blue/Red), yeah the original 150, baby. By Gen 2 (Silver/Gold), my obsession had started to wane, though I still loved the Gameboy game.
But then, something horrible happened.
I can’t remember if I was in middle school or junior high, but I was still playing the video games long after my friends quit. And I’ll never forget when I heard them say that Pokemon was for little kids, and they laughed at anybody our age who still liked it. They weren’t trying to hurt me; they didn’t know I still played. And there was a tad of validity to it; Pokemon was first and foremost marketed at kids. But something terrible spawned from that day, something I struggled with for the rest of my life.
Suddenly, I couldn’t tell my friends everything anymore because I was afraid they would laugh at me. Worse yet, I began to take a critical look at myself and search for anything “unacceptable.” I marked all the things in my life that were “childish” and began to throw them out of my life. Again, there’s some validity here. It’s good to grow up, but I was doing it for the wrong reasons, and I misinterpreted what growing up meant. Long story short, Pokemon had to go, and I threw out everything, including these two games.
But I couldn’t throw out my heart. My heart kept pieces of my childhood and buried them deep, deep down where my friends couldn’t see them (much less anybody else). This added to a cycle of hiding myself which stretched into my twenties. In fact, only in the last few years have I been able to stop isolating and start revealing who I am. Actually, only in the last few years have I even acknowledged that there was someone to reveal.
It was only by God’s grace that I began to heal, and one method of His healing was showing me that now everything that aims at children is exclusively for children. Disney is a prime example. I rediscovered my love for The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Mulan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Robin Hood, The Great Mouse Detective, Fox and the Hound, and more. I started going to theaters to watch Frozen, and every single Pixar movie. Just because it’s aimed at children doesn’t mean it’s bad art.
It also let me discover Avatar the Last Airbender, which has quickly become my favorite TV show of all time, animated or not. It let me be brave enough to watch anime and I discovered School Days, Clannad, Usagi Drop, and Anohana, seriously great TV shows that certainly weren’t for kids, but looked like they were because of the animation. Heck, I grew to appreciate animation in general a whole lot more!
And finally, it allowed me to accept the Pokemon part of my life. I’ve done some analysis and decided that yeah, the TV show and all the surrounding hype was mostly for kids. The video games, however, could reach a little farther. So maybe I didn’t need to be ashamed. Shoot, there are a surprising amount of grown adults who STILL play the video games, so maybe it had some value after all. Maybe it was okay to like what I liked. And now I can be nostalgic about it, rather than embarrassed.
I know this story isn’t exactly pleasant, and probably not what you expected from a video game top ten list. But this is a list of games that impacted me, and Pokemon, through no fault of its own, attached itself to a very negative part of my life that, thankfully, is healing. I can’t give a perfectly accurate review anyway since, like I said, I threw those games away. And I’ll always remember them as representations of an old me that has finally began resurfacing. Pain, yes, but also restoration.
My wife keeps hinting that she’ll buy me Pokemon Blue for Christmas. I hope she does. I hope it’s every bit as wonderful as I remember it to be.
QUESTION: What was your favorite Pokemon game?