A decision that divided a generation, but who did you choose? This is the story of my first Pokémon.
When Pokémon Green and Red hit the shelves in Japan back in 1996 they were a phenomenal success. Pokémon green was not released outside of Japan, there was some editing done and gradually over the next 3 years the games were released around the world as Pokémon Blue and Red. A simple RPG for the Nintendo Game Boy ended up becoming one of the most successful franchises in the world. With the release of the animated TV show in 1997, Pokémon fever took over. As its popularity grew, so did debate over which Pokémon was the greatest of them all. Was it the TV show’s favorite electric mouse Pikachu, the wise cracking Meowth of Team Rocket, or even the gentle Magikarp who evolves into the great and terrifying Gyaradose? With so many to choose from, it was tough to pick a winner. However when we are talking about Pokémon Blue and Red, the debate centers around just 3. Bulbasaur the grass type, Squirtle the water type, and Charmander the fire type. These 3 very different Pokémon were your only choice at the start of what would be a great adventure. Sure, you can catch many other Pokémon along the way, but who you started out with would usually stay with you to the end and become one of your most cherished and powerful Pokémon.
I can still remember the day I got my copy of Pokémon Blue, I had just come home from school and was sitting in my grandmothers house watching TV. I was watching an episode of Pokémon where giant Tentacruel were attacking a city, an episode I will never forget. My grandmother who had just returned from working in America, came into the room and handed me a copy of Pokémon Blue. My immediate reaction was one of disappointment, considering at the time I didn’t actually have a Game Boy. Before she had left for America, she asked if I would like something brought back as a gift. I had just the thing in mind…a Pokémon Game Boy I had seen in a magazine a few weeks before!
As this was “just a game” I was not a happy camper, to be fair I was only about 10 years old at the time and kids can sometimes be quite blunt about their feelings. Anyway, after I had my little huff I went hunting for a Game Boy to play my new game on. Luckily for me, my uncle who lived in my grandmothers house had an original Game Boy that he didn’t play too often, which he gave to me. Once I started playing I was hooked, the music at the start still hits me right in the nostalgia. As I started the game and set out on my adventure, I was immediately stopped in my tracks by Professor Oak, we had a quick chat and then went back to his lab. It was here that the choice had to be made and I can remember it being a tough one. I had seen all 3 Pokémon in the TV show and grown fond of each of them, I just couldn’t make up my mind.
So this was it, who do I choose? Charmander is a lovable little guy, and when you hear him say Char-Char (Did you read that in Charmanders voice? I knew you did!) you cant help but want to choose him. But then there is the hard-headed Bulbasaur, whose cool vine whip and razor leaf attacks were not to be overlooked. I spent what felt like days just looking at the screen trying to make up my mind, but in reality was just a few minutes. In the end I was swayed by the episode of Pokémon I had just watched, which was based around water types. I decided to go with Squirtle, a cool little dude who packs a serious punch. I set out on my adventure and the rest is history. Throughout the years I have completed numerous playthroughs of Pokémon Blue, each time choosing a different starter Pokémon. The image from the game where your character stands in front of the desk in Professor Oak’s lab with 3 Pokéballs facing him, is an iconic one known to gamers across the world. An image that will always bring me both joy and pain in equal measures…Joy as it reminds me of the good old days of gaming as a kid, and pain because of the many times I had to choose just one.
Who was your first in Pokémon Blue or Red, do you change it up or choose the same Pokémon each time? I asked this question recently on Instagram and Charmander seemed to be the fan favorite, but I suppose each to his own.
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