Growing up in the 90s was fun. Cartoons were great. We played outside, on occasion (it was hot in Florida). The only thing we had to worry about were chores and keeping our Tamagotchis alive. And EVERYONE played the same games. Before console wars were even a fleeting thought, we all had our Game Boys; and then our Game Boy Colors; Advance’; Advance SPs; and so on. And the life and soul of these handheld consoles wasn’t the Super Mario Games which nobody my age had the patience to actually beat – it was catching every Pokémon.
And it wasn’t just about catching every Pokémon either. It was watching the show on Kids’ WB. It was collecting the card game nobody knew how to play. Much of my childhood was spent trying to get my Pokémon to level 100 while stunting their evolutions (until I gave up); trying to give names to all 28 Unown Pokémon (until I gave up); and duplicating Master Balls (of which I was a pro). One of my best memories as a kid was buying Pokémon Gold Version a week early because my dad talked the guy at Best Buy into selling it early. I was so cool, for about a week, because all my friends were still playing Yellow Version.
But what I really always wanted was to become a real life Pokémon master. Where other kids might have wanted to be firefighters or lawyers (really, no joke, I knew kids who wanted to be lawyers), I secretly wished to be a Pokémon Trainer. And unfortunately the realizations that A) Pokémon don’t actually exist, and B) it would be incredibly inhumane to pit them against one another in battle, were both highly disappointing realities. Still, a kid can dream. And recent editions of the game make it feel more and more like a tangible reality. And as an adult I go through phases where I get back into the series, look up what new Pokémon have been discovered since last I was playing or interested, and maybe watch an episode or two. In this day and age, nostalgia for geek culture has become the norm for pop culture, but despite what is ‘in’ right now, Pokémon holds a unique place in my heart. I keep it at a distance now, but becoming a Pokémon Master is still a goal that pulls at me.
And then this Super Bowl advertisement dropped, which brought all those nostalgic feelings right back to the surface.
What actually played on Super Bowl night was a lot shorter than this, but I found it strange that Nintendo would spend millions of dollars for a 30 second spot, just to advertise their 20th anniversary, which arrives later this month on February 27th. Doing some Googling, I discovered a game called Pokémon Go, which is being developed by a company called Niantic.
It’s essentially Pokémon in real life. Literally. Go out and search for Pokémon using your phones internal GPS system. Don’t believe me? Watch the video below and tell me you didn’t get excited.
Not only do I get excited. I get a little emotional. This is the game I’ve always wanted. I know it won’t look exactly like that, as it’s just a cinematic – but if the gameplay is anything like it is in the trailer? Man. That will be revolutionary. This trailer was made for me, and for millions of others around the world like me. Notice that the majority of the people in the video are old enough to have played the original game in the mid-late 90s. And all the Pokémon featured in this trailer were among the original 151. I can’t remember ever feeling so much like a kid again. Although being a Pokémon
trainer Master won’t be a legitimate profession, I’ll soon be able to do that as a hobby. And that’s more than I expected I’d ever be able to do.
Although no date has yet been set for the release of the game it should arrive this year, and a limited beta testing run should drop within the next few months, if not sooner. For those who don’t already know, Niantic already has a GPS based game out for iOS and Android users called Ingress, and Pokémon Go will simply be improving on the system that’s already there. Guys. I cannot wait to play this game.
I gotta catch ’em all.