It's a tagline. It's a challenge. It's a school of thought. It's a way of life. And it's the definition in the purest form of my OCD with collecting things within video games. Sure, it didn't start with Pokémon (I have the coins in the first Mario game to thank for that), but the very first Pokémon games - Red and Blue - exacerbated my digital hoarding tendencies and cemented the obsessive compulsive behavior of trying to collect everything in games that I still fight to this day.
Let's start with a trip down memory lane before we get into the new hotness, shall we? When Red and Blue came out, the first Pokémon games to come to North America (two years after Japan, mind you), I was just starting the 10th grade. My cousin actually introduced me to them, who was a couple of years younger than I, but I immediately fell in love. The idea of an entire world filled with fictional yet still somewhat realistic animals that you had to find, catch, raise and battle against others was fantastic. But honestly, the challenge of finding and catching them all drew me in hook, line and sinker.
I remember how frustrating it was just at the beginning, having to pick one of three starters, as I worried the other two wouldn't be able to be found and caught in the wild. This of course led to the purchase of data cables to trade with others to get the ones needed checked off on the list. And when I realized some were exclusive to the color game that you had, I about lost my mind. Everyone seemed to have Red, for whatever reason, so when a kid with a Blue came around, it was like finding a lost treasure.
The thing with Pokémon is that everyone seemed to see it as a "kiddie game," which made it hard at my age to like it so much. There was a cartoon that was phenomenal that I would watch every day, but it always felt like it was my own guilty pleasure, afraid to let anyone know I was watching it. While normal kids my age were sneaking around trying to watch porn or dabbling in drugs, I was sneaking around with Pokémon. Whether it was wrong or not, justified or not, I always felt like I would be persecuted for my enjoyment of Pokémon.
So I kept it to myself. It was my dirty little secret.
When the Pokémon movie came out, my aunt asked me to go with my two cousins to the theater to watch it with them, acting as the responsible, older cousin. The thought of being caught at the theater with my younger cousins watching Pokémon by friends or peers scared me senseless, so I declined her request. She ended up bribing me with cash, and because I secretly wanted to go anyway, I turned it into a win-win situation. Before the movie started, we went to Burger King which was in the same parking lot as the theater, for dinner. We only went there, as I found out after the fact, because in the kids meals they had Pokémon toys that my cousins wanted, mainly so they could pretend to be Pokémon trainers. At their age, it was totally acceptable. For me, I just had to roll my eyes at them and pretend to hate everything about everything Pokémon.
But man, that movie was awesome. In a totally cheesy, should never really be considered "awesome" kind of way.
Long story short, I grew up being afraid to embrace my appreciation and admiration for Pokémon Because of that, I stepped away from the series for a very, very long time. Sure, I played a couple of the spin-off games, like Snap!, pinball and such, but I always tried to stay away from the core games. That was until I bought my first 3DS when it launched. There were no good games at all at launch, and I think I picked up Street Fighter just to say that I had a 3DS title. So to supplement the lack of games, and to actually make use of the system I just bought, I picked up Pokémon White, the newest Pokémon title at the time. I played through it and enjoyed every second of it, but I felt a bit of disconnect with it. Also, I was judged in my own house for playing it, mocked and belittled for wanting to play a "kid's game like Pokémon."
Fast forward to the present. Finally, us Pokémon fans have what we have always wanted: a good looking Pokémon game, with 3D Pokémon character models and full on battle animations. When X and Y were announced, I knew right away this game would be mine. And thankfully, I no longer have to feel judged or mocked for liking Pokémon I'm free to fly my geek flag and play the kiddie game I've loved for so long, without fear, finally.
I picked up Y because, well, Y's are sort of my thing. Also, I had no interest in the deer-looking Legendary Pokémon of the X version. I went to twitter and everyone seemed to be leaning towards the X version as well, so I felt compelled at that point to go the other direction. When I went to the stores, however, the Y's were all sold out. There were plenty of X's everywhere, but I had to go to three different stores before I was able to find a copy of Y. Take that, Twitter!
Anyway, this game is amazing. It truly is everything I have always wanted from a Pokémon game. Thankfully it doesn't take too long to get started, and you are out and about searching for Pokémon to capture quicker than any other game in the series I can remember. Once I got to that point, I couldn't stop walking around, searching for wild Pokémon to capture. In the four hours I spent playing the game, I only have the first gym badge, but have over 30 Pokémon in my Pokédex. My starter Pokémon is level 20 already, and my team is looking pretty solid and balanced for where I am in the game.
Yes, picking a starter Pokémon was a difficult process once again, as it always is, but staying true to form, I went with the fire element again. What through me for a loop, however, was when I encountered the Professor and he gave me the choice of one of the three original starter Pokémon to keep! Normally I would have went Charmander, but since I was already rocking a fire based guy as my go-to Pokémon. I panicked and ended up choosing Bulbasaur. If I could have a mulligan, I would probably go with Squirtel, because really, anybody who is anybody knows that Squirtel and the Squirtel Squad is where coolness originated. But, as they say, c'est la vie.
Now I just need to find some friends to start trading with, because not having those Pokémon I didn't choose will cause the collector in me to freak out endlessly until they are safely in Pokéballs, in my possession. Gotta collect 'em all, as they say.
Speaking of which...