It’s a whole new place
With a brand new attitude
But ‘cha still gotta catch em all
Be the best that you can be
It almost makes me want to cry thinking back 25 years ago. If you were alive then, you may remember the Spice Girls telling you how to be their lover. You may remember the bleak hellscape that stores during the Tickle Me Elmo craze were. Or you could recall Super Mario 64 reinventing platforming in a 3D space.
However, 1996 also brought about one of the biggest franchises in the history of video games: Pocket Monsters. While it didn’t venture outside of Japan until a few years later, the Pocket Monster frenzy would not be denied. Animated shows. Video games. Card games. Toys. And that’s just the beginning.
So we here at VGU.tv are taking a moment to discuss our own personal memories of Pocket Monsters, or since we are westerners, Pokemon. And while you’re at it, check out our Pokemon Let’s Go Review along with how the game spoke to Allan Muir.
Josh Miller – The Family Man
The Toys ‘R’ Us Promo VHS Tape
In 1997 (I believe it was), Toys ‘R’ Us already started promoting Pokemon. They sent out via mail VHS tapes about this Pocket Monster craze sweeping Japan. This was my first real memory of Pokemon, and to this day, one of my favorites. It led to years of monster collecting, buying each iteration of a game (and sometimes the same ones multiple times), and more.
Being a kid at the age of 11, I thought this was the most awesome thing imaginable. Capture a variety of cool looking monsters with dope abilities? Use them to battle other creatures? This was up my alley in a way I didn’t know at the time. Seeing footage of the animated show really helped hammer it home too. The whole thing filled me with so much damn excitement that you only get as a kid. I was determined after seeing the video that I would, in fact, be the very best. Some even say, the best there ever was.
The tape was definitely a product of its time. I believe this is it below. Its incredibly cheesy but fits the bill for how many commercials advertised to children. It did its job. It sold Pokemon to me like nothing else had to that point, and maybe nothing since. To me, I can’t help thinking about my love for Pokemon without thinking of this VHS tape. So for that reason, I’m including it as a top Pokemon memory.
Allan Muir – Emotional Pokémon Fanatic
My Way Back Into The Series
Last year when I was close to turning 26 I seemed to be having something called a “quarter-life crisis” which led to me seemingly retreating into my memories and things that were recognizable from my youth. Somehow I found myself falling head-first down a Pokemon rabbit-hole which led to me ordering a Gameboy Advance SP and Pokemon Leaf Green and Fire Red. It was after this that I talked to Josh about whether or not the “Let’s Go” games were any good. (You can get a better sense of where I was in this episode of Player’s Club) I then went to buy the Pikachu version on my Switch and that was money well spent let me tell you what. Not only did I buy the games I had played when I was younger like Pokemon Silver, Pokemon Gold, and Pokemon Crystal but the Nintendo DS era of games that I was completely absent for. Little did I know that two of the DS era games I had purchased with the intent of playing them, Diamond and Pearl, would be getting remade for the Nintendo Switch. I wasn’t happy that I had basically wasted money on eBay.
Nevertheless, I continued playing the GBA/3DS/Switch Pokémon games and would put on episodes of the first season of the Pokemon animated series (Indigo League) via The Pokemon Channel application and I was going deep down late 1990s nostalgia holes face-first. The amount of worldbuilding that was done in the Pokemon games I grew up playing (Red, Blue, and Yellow to Ruby, Emerald, and Sapphire). The reveal at the end of the Kanto series of games of who the actual Pallett town Gym leader is and their affiliations blew my four-year-old mind.
Speaking of, the appearances of certain trainers like Red and Blue in Let’s Go: Pikachu and Let’s Go: Eevee is now one of my new “Holy Crap!” moments as I hadn’t’ encountered those characters in over twenty years and am not sure if I am going to be battling them at a certain moment in-game but I am ready. The other thing that got me back into Pokemon was Detective Pikachu! the film starring Justice Smith and Ryan Reynolds voicing the titular character. It wasn’t like the videogame to film adaptations that came before it that tried to tell the story seen in the games on the big screen but making an original organic story using the rich universe of the games.
There you have it, the impact that Pokemon had on two writers for VGU.tv Also, because Cameron Hawkins got this song stuck in my brain, you do too.