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Pokémon Memories: A Conversation on POKÉMON’S 20th Anniversary

Exactly 20 years ago today, Pokémon Red and Blue hit store shelves. Since then, we’ve seen the series evolve over the course of six generations, and wedge itself even deeper in our hearts. With the seventh generation’s Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon–which were officially announced yesterday–launching this holiday season, we’re excited to see where the franchise is headed next. So, in honor of Pokémon Day, and release of Red/Blue/Yellow on the 3DS eShop, my fellow Nerdist writer Edwin Garcia and I decided to sit down and talk about our favorite Pokémon memories. Enjoy!


What was your first Pokémon game?

Edwin: I’ve been there since the beginning. My first game was Pokémon Red. As a kid, I was so excited to get the game (if you already follow me on social media, you already know this), I was even more excited to get it on the 3DS as an adult. I also have a funny story to share about this: A lot of people thought it was easy to catch all 150 of the original Pokémon. Well, they’re wrong. I didn’t live near many people who had Pokémon Blue (which included exclusive pocket monsters that I couldn’t get in Red), so it took me a really long time, and a lot of coordination with one of my cousins (via my trusty link cable), to catch em all. In fact, it took almost a year to nab them all. But, it was all worth it. Getting that in-game certificate was one of my best accomplishments (sadly?). But, that’s not why I’m telling the story. Another one of my cousins (who was younger than me) asked if he could play my game. Being the nice person that I was, I said “of course.” I told him: “start a new game, but don’t save it.” So, what does he do? You guessed it. He SAVED. THE. DAMN. GAME. I haven’t talked to him since.

Samantha: Wow, that’s brutal.

E: Yeah, it was pretty devastating.

S: My story is a bit different. The first pocket monster title I played was Pokémon Snap (where that sequel at though, Nintendo?). I remember fighting with my brother over Nintendo 64 privileges–that is, until he broke our system (R.I.P.). But, in terms of the main RPG series, it wasn’t until generation 5’s Pokémon Black Version that I really got into it. I remember really wanting Pokémon Yellow when it first came out because I was obsessed with Pikachu, but never got it because I didn’t have a Gameboy of my own–which is why I’m pretty pumped that I was finally able to pick it up on the 3DS eShop today.


Which is your favorite?

E: My answer may surprise you, because most people don’t really like the third generation, but my favorite is actually Sapphire. As a kid, my imagination was captured by the epic battle between Kyogre and Groudon. To me it felt like it was the first time that the Pokémon universe was actually in danger. Another reason why it has a special place in my heart is because I remember getting it as a gift for my 11th birthday, along with the guide (thanks Costco). My family was going through a rough patch at that time, so it meant even more to me that they went out of their way to purchase it for me.

Outside of the sentimental aspect, as embarrassing as it may be, I love the Pokémon contest, and collecting berries. I always thought that was such a nifty (and underrated) addition. The new Pokémon were pretty dope as well; I was a big fan of Kyogre.

S: Sapphire is another title that I didn’t get around to playing until it released on the 3DS as Alpha Sapphire. I actually really like that game. The Pokémon contests were pretty amazing.

E: Yeah, Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby are great. Now, all we need is a Delta Emerald and we’ll be set.

S: Despite really liking Alpha Sapphire, I’m going to have to go with Pokémon X as my favorite. Game Freak made a lot of changes with that entry, especially in terms of aesthetics. Seeing the series jump onto the 3D scene was great. We also got Mega Evolutions, Sky battles, the Fairy Type (Sylveon ftw), and horde encounters. Pokémon Amie was also ridiculously cute. With the recently announced Pokémon Sun/Moon slated to release Holiday 2016, I can’t wait to see what else they’ve got up their sleeves.


Who are your go-to Pokémon when building a team?

E: This is an easy one. So, I like to go for style AND toughness by building a team that focuses on swag, ability, and they have to of course be the shiny variant. This team isn’t going to be winning any competitions any time soon, but they aren’t chumps either. First, I have to go with Togekiss. This pocket monster is one of my favorites of all time, thanks to its anime counterpart (Togepi). But, don’t be fooled, it can be transformed into a flinch master, making it a nuisance to even the best trainers. After that, I’d select a couple of fire types–because why not?–with Charizard and Arcanine. They’re both incredibly powerful in their own way, and best of all, they are complete badasses. I would also throw in the monsters, Dragonite and Gengar. Despite having a smile on all the time, Dragonite will tear you apart. As for Gengar, he’s just freaky as hell, and has some pretty annoying moves. Finally, to round out the rag-tag team of misfits, is Metagross. He fits all of my criteria, and more often than not, has a tendency to be a miss-match in terms of typing, which is a great advantage.

S: That’s a pretty solid team. I’m also a huge fan of Charizard, so he’ll always have a place on my team. Plus, when he mega-evolves, he takes on the dragon-typing, and becomes even more of a powerhouse. Next I’d pick Sylveon because its a great Pokémon to have in your arsenal for taking take of those pesky (previously over-powered) dragon-types. Plus, Moon Blast and Draining Kiss are really useful! After that I’d go with Greninja, because it’s badass, quick, and has great STAB moves. To round out my team, I’d add Ampharos (electric), Gardevoir (psychic, fairy), and Scizor (bug, steel).

Pokemon Ash and Pikachu

Why is Pokémon special to you?

E: The simple answer is that it’s my favorite game series of all time. But, it honestly goes deeper than that. There are a lot of special games that I played before Pokémon, but none of them made me fall in love with video games like Pokémon did. It had the perfect battle system, the challenge of catching em’ all, a ton of mystery and secrets, and always seemed to evolve just enough to make it feel new, while still staying true to the formula that made us fall in love with it in the first place. I was just the right age to feel like I was that kid in the game, going on a grand adventure. I know how silly that sounds, but I think many fans will agree with that sentiment.

I still remember singing along to the theme song every Saturday morning (and later on, with my friends in high school), and crying during Pokémon: The First Movie. So, in other words, I grew up with this series, more so than any other franchise. I’ve yet to miss out on a generation, and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon, especially with Sun and Moon having just been announced. So yeah, you can kind of say that I love this series.

S: Yeah, I’d have to agree. Other than Super Mario Bros., Pokémon is the only other franchise that has been in my life since I was a kid. Most of my memories, and love for the series, is attributed to watching the show as a kid. I remember being so excited to watch Pokémon: The First Movie in theaters (which I may or may not have cried during) when I was younger. Once I was finally introduced to the RPG series (with Black), I experienced the joy of trading and battling with friends. By the time Pokémon X came out, I was hooked. I guess you could say my love and experience with the series has evolved over the years.

Pikachu happy gif

What is your favorite Pokémon memory?

E: So, if you don’t get it by now, I was kind of obsessed with Pokémon my whole life. I wanted all the merch, wanted all the games, watched the anime, and so of course, the only thing left was to decorate my room with Pokémon items. Naturally I wanted posters. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t expensive at all; my local U Mart had quite a few for a dollar; the only problem was that my parents weren’t going to give me money at all to “throw it away” on posters. So, I took the initiative (being the 8 year old that I was) and started a penny jar, where I slowly added loose change (mostly pennies) over time. Finally, after a week or so of collecting pennies, I had enough to get myself the printed paper of my dreams. So, I spilled all of the loose change into a trash bag, slung it over my shoulder, and went on my merry way to the market down the street, jingling and jangling the whole way there.

S: I like where this is going.

E: Of course, I never thought how ridiculous this was (remember, I was 8). When I got to the store, I grabbed my poster, headed to the cash register, handed over the rolled up paper, and waited for the total. To the employee’s dismay, I spilled out all of the loose change onto the counter. Looking back at it, I don’t quite remember if he sat there and actually counted out all 100 pennies, but it didn’t matter because I’d finally found my treasure.

S: Wow, they must have lost it. That’s an adorable scenario though. My favorite memory is actually a lot more recent. A couple of years ago when X came out, I had my heart set on catching a shiny Pokémon. I’d never encountered one in the wild, so I looked up methods online and came across the Masuda method–which is named after Game Freak director Junichi Masuda, who had programmed it into Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Basically what it involves is breeding two Pokémon from different countries to increase the likelihood of a shiny baby. After locating a Japanese Eevee (that already knew a fairy move), and a Ditto with a specific nature (for IV training later), I got to work. Three or four boxes of Eevee babies later and I finally got my first shiny. From there, I trained her, and evolved her into Sylveon!

What’s your favorite Pokémon memory? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured Image Credit: PurpleBlades

All other images credited to: The Pokémon Company

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