Wednesday, 6 April 2011

30 Days of Gaming: Day 1

One of my Facebook friends has started posting an image from and then discussing a different game each day.  I've decided to steal this feature and use it myself.  I’ll talk about a range of games over the next 30 days and use them as a springboard to self indulgently discuss my own life and the relationship between the two.

Day 01 Your first video game: Pokémon Blue on the Game Boy Colour

We didn’t have a games console in the house when I was really young. Whilst my friends were playing on the N64 and the console that would become known as the PSone but at the time was simply the playstation I was having an idyllic semi-country childhood of chasing squirrels, climbing trees and going to my mate Andy’s to play Hogs of War for hours.  This never really bothered me, I used to like videogames and always enjoyed having a turn (and inevitably embarrassing myself) on my friends’ consoles but I was never particularly bothered about having one of my own.  This changed with Pokémon.

I was 11, we’d just moved into a big new house in the suburbs and was becoming obsessed.  There had been other playground crazies, pogs, tamagotchi, yo-yo’s but again I could take these or leave them.  Pokémon was different; this was something new that captured my pre-teen imagination like Spider-Man or Star Trek, maybe even rivalling the X-Men.  It started with the cartoon, I don’t think I would have cared as much if it was just a game, but the Pokémon cartoon (shown between the Poke-Rap and Cat Deeley song on SMTVlive) had a story, characters I could care about and empathise with, living in a brightly coloured world filled with amazing creatures and adventure.  I wanted to go there, to explore these huge unthreatening forests find bizarre monsters and force them to take part in what are essentially super powered cockfights.  So when I was writing my Christmas list on the 1st December 1999 (my family didn’t do anything Christmassy until the start of December) I asked for a Game Boy colour and Pokémon Blue.

Pokémon was the only game I ever bought a strategy guide for a clearly bootlegged in no way endorsed by Nintendo magazine with detailed maps and bestiary between a terrible drawing of Pikachu on the front cover and a chart comparing each type’s strengths and weaknesses on back.  I got this weeks before the console and read it obsessively.  I could tell anyone who asked (or made the mistake of coming near me) what type each of the original 151 were and what levels they evolved at.  I read the guide until it dropped in bits and when I went to bed on Christmas Eve I was barely able to control my excitement.  As soon as my parents would let me I opened began opening my presents, I foraged through the mound of brightly coloured boxes and eventually found the game cartridge.  “You can have the Game Boy for your birthday” my dad teased before handing me the console and losing me for months.

After struggling to direct Ash (renamed TOM because I didn’t notice the lowercase text option) out of the house I went straight for my Pokémon, I chose Bulbasaur because he was an awesome plant dinosaur and set off for months of carefully scouring the game world for Pokémon.  I managed to catch all of the Pokémon on my cartridge and (via trading) some of the ones Nintendo had made exclusive to the red version of the game in a blatant cash grab.
Pokémon was great when I was eleven but I don’t think I’d play it again, the sheer amount of monsters to catch (now at about 700 I think?) would take up much more free time than I can ever imagine having again.  Besides after a few months I turned 12 and realised how childish the whole Pokémon franchise was and moved onto the much more sophisticated and grown up hobby/blatant cash grab Warhammer 40000.

I hope you’ve enjoyed me pretending I was going to write about Pokémon and writing about my child hood instead, come back tomorrow, who knows what I’ll be claiming to talk about?  

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