Prof. Oak or: How I Learned to Love the Pokeball - Kflame210 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Prof. Oak or: How I Learned to Love the Pokeball

Pokemon is easily one of my favorite franchises in gaming. I could go on for hours about all the great moments I have had in just one of my many Pokemon adventures, but I won't. Instead this blog will be all about how I turned into the fan I am today. This is my origin story with the Pokemon franchise. Enjoy!

To begin this story, let's go back in time...

The year is 1998, a fine year of gaming. Blockbusters like The Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft are taking the world by storm. I on the other hand, could care less about those games. In fact, I probably didn't even know those games were back then. At the time I was only interested in one thing; my next console.

I had 100 dollars in my pocket. As I entered my local Toys R' Us I had my mind set on buying a Nintendo 64. All of my friends owned one and games like Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64 were games I wanted to own. I remember making my way towards the back of the store (where the games were sold) and seeing that Nintendo 64 banner. I was so excited and so ready to own the console I had to watch from the sidelines.

However, something caught my eye.

As I walked up to the Nintendo 64 box there was another box right next to it. It was none other than one of those awesome see-through GameBoy Colors. My seven year old brain couldn't figure out what to do. On one side there was the console that I had been wanting for a long time while on the other there was an awesome handheld. If it wasn't more my mom uttering a completely obvious statement, I might still be in that Toys R' Us. Luckily, as I mentioned, my mom gave me the brilliant piece of advice that "You can't play the Nintendo 64 on the road".

That was all I needed to hear, I decided to go with the GameBoy Color. But there was one problem; I needed a game for it. I was all set to buy Super Mario 64 along with the Nintendo 64 but I didn't know much about the GameBoy Color library. As I gazed over the selection two games caught my eye.

Those games were Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue.

Now at the time I had never heard of Pokemon. The show wasn't around yet and I wasn't really keeping up with gaming news so the Pokemon brand was completely foreign to me. But seeing a fire dragon and a turtle with cannons on his back easily got me interested. So after a second internal conflict on which version to get, I finally decided, I was going home with Pokemon Red.

From there I never looked back... Okay maybe I did.

You see, at the time, I was a very close-minded gamer. I only really played platformers when I was a kid and games like Final Fantasy confused me to no end. So as you may expect, Pokemon didn't come too easily to me.

While it didn't take me too long to get going with the combat, everything else I struggled with. Fans of Pokemon may think that catching Pokemon, using the Poke Centers and using types to your advantage are no brainers today, back then everything wasn't quite as spelled out. Maybe it was due to my short attention span or maybe it was truly a lack of information but all of those aspects listed above took me far too long to understand.

Back in 1998 it wasn't easy to solve videogame problems. Either you could go out and buy a strategy guide or you could go the social route and hope your friends have the answer. I decided to do both. I learned the basics from a bunch of kids at school and I bought, in my opinion, one of the best strategy guides of all time in the form of the Pokemon: Special Pikachu Edition Perfect Guide.

From there it was smooth sailing.

My Charmander and I blew through the eight gym leaders, took down the evil Team Rocket and made it the whole way through Victory Road. However what followed was the biggest challenge in my young gaming career. You see, at the time I didn't have the strongest party. I didn't really make it a point to grind and if I could avoid a fellow trainer I did. So when my level 45 Charizard had to stare down Pokemon who were a full ten levels ahead of him, I was screwed.

But after a very long and tedious training session, my team of Charizard, Zapdos, Rhydon, Vaporeon, Hitmonchan and Snorlax eventually took down the Elite Four. The second I took down Lance's Dragonite I was so ecstatic... Well until I saw what happened next. Little did I know, that jerk Gary was the current Champion and was just waiting for me to challenge him.

This battle took me a very long time and, in my opinion, it is still one of the hardest and best final boss fights in the history of gaming. His party seemed to counter mine in just about every way and I remember loading up a lot of saves until I finally got lucky. I still remember finishing off his stupid Alakazam with my Charizard and feeling so proud that I not only beat my rival but I did it with none other than the Pokemon that had been by my side from the beginning.

At the time this was one of the biggest accomplishments in my life. I earned all eight gym badges, I took down the Elite Four and I finally beat Gary and his smug ass once and for all. It felt amazing and it will always go down as one of my biggest gaming accomplishments of all time. However with the Elite Four beaten and myself as the Champion, I found myself wanting more. Luckily more wasn't far behind.

By the time I finished Pokemon Red it was right around June of 1999. Just a short 4 months later the next installment of Pokemon was released; Pokemon Yellow. With my new fascination of Pokemon, the show soon became a must watch for me and the idea of Pokemon game modeled after the show just shot up as my most anticipated game. As you may have guessed, I enjoyed Pokemon Yellow just as much as I did Red.

After that, it's all history.

Since Pokemon Red I have owned at least one game from every generation. After Pokemon Yellow I purchased Pokemon Gold which, to this day, is still one of my favorite games of all time. From there any Pokemon game released, whether it was a new adventure or a remake, would be in my possession in no time. Sure some games aren't as good as others but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a good time in each game and that Im not super excited for every future adventure I plan to start.

But I will admit, as a twenty year old man, I'm probably a bit too old for Pokemon. The games are undoubtedly geared towards children, but I don't care. Im not alone either. I know tons of gamers who are just like me who, despite being past the target age, can still have a blast journeying through Kanto. A great game is a great game and I believe Pokemon fits that description perfectly.

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