Not only is today Pokémon Day (and let the record show I was calling it that years before it was official), but it’s also a very special one: the 20th anniversary of the franchise. I’d be remiss to not say something about what Pokémon means to me, so I’m taking the opportunity to update this sorely neglected blog.
I was first introduced to Pokémon at summer camp in 1999, and quickly became captivated by all the unique and imaginative creatures, and the sense of adventure that exuded from the narrative of the series. What kid doesn’t want the freedom to explore and discover new things? Creator Satoshi Tajiri once said: “When you’re a kid and you get your first bike, you want to go somewhere you’ve never been before. That’s Pokémon.” My obsession was cemented when I found the original version of The Official Pokémon Handbook in a Meijer store. My mom agreed to buy it for me, and I started reading it right away as she shopped. I was so engrossed I forget to put it on the register to be paid for, and almost accidentally stole it!
After that I actually got into the anime series first, with its vivid rendition of the world and its irresistibly lovable characters. That’s a very strong relationship in and of itself: it’s easily my favorite TV show of all time and I still watch to this day. But of course, for both Pokémon and me, video games come first. As soon as my dad got me a Game Boy Color and Red Version for my tenth birthday, I was all in on the RPG experience that is the cornerstone of the franchise.
The games’ deceptively deep systems, intimate sense of ownership over the experience, and constant vibe of discovery, mystery, and adventure have kept me endlessly engaged ever since. As the game has been expanded and refined over several iterations, the possibilities that seemed endless from the beginning have increased exponentially. There’s always a new technique to learn, and new combination to try, a new corner to look around. It’s been a huge inspiration to me, both as a player and an aspiring creator of games.
So congratulations to Game Freak, Nintendo, and everyone else that has made this beautiful franchise everything it has been for 20 years. As always, I can’t wait to see what you do next. Pokémon is my favorite intellectual property of any kind, and I’ll always be up for another adventure.