‘Evolution’ of a franchise

Yes, pun intended: this post is going to talk about Pokémon.

Back in the day, I was ecstatic to receive Pokémon Blue as a present for my relatively new Gameboy Pocket. A few months down the line, I was also treated to a copy of Red and immediately set about borrowing friends and their Gameboys in order to trade like mad and ‘catch ’em all’. After that, other games and real life put Pokémon as a passing fancy as each new one came out. I knew there were far more than the original 150 (151 if that’s your personal view), but only ever learnt a few names.

But suddenly there was SoulSilver. To this day, I still don’t know why I decided to go out and buy it- but I don’t regret it.

Let’s set the way-back machine for May 1999. I was just leaving primary school (showing my age now) for the big scary world of secondary school. I was the good-girl-does-all-her-work-tries-her-best-not-exactly-popular-slightly-geeky one in my year 6 class, and I assumed I’d be the same when I got into year 7. For the most part I was right; but the friendship group I fell into almost as soon as September came around opened up the geeky world to a new level.
As soon as I brought my Gameboy out (a distraction for the hour or so bus journey I had each way), I was pounced on and asked which Pokémon game I had. Not which games I owned- which Pokémon game I had.

By late 2003 I’d moved on to a GBA SP, but Pokémon was still played. It was a common interest between my whole friendship group, and we kept it up for a long as we could. Part of the reason I may have invested in SoulSilver was to get some of that feeling back- because, although we’re now spread out all over the country, my friends from back then are still playing the games.

I have to admit- making the jump from Red/Blue to SoulSilver was strange to say the least. I knew about the new starter Pokémon (and of course, I chose Cyndaquil) and the wild Pokémon you meet outside the first town- but even now, I get attacked by a Pokémon that just makes me go ‘What the hell is THAT!?’ All the new features (new to me, at least) such as natures and Apricorns and even more evolutions of Eevee revived my love of the series by piquing my interest all over again.

Pokémon Black/White were released less than a week ago- and while the friendship group has changed, the love of Pokémon apparently hasn’t. My friends are buried in their DS Lites and DSi’s, happily exclaiming that they’ve made a critical capture on a water monkey (or some such thing). As someone who doesn’t own the game (yet) and is once again in the dark about most of the new Pokémon additions, it’s interesting to see how the legacy of the franchise has changed so little in 12 years. Friends sitting in the same room with eyes down on their dual screens, talking in the game (or in the case of Black/White, ‘stalking’ each other with the C-Gear) and trading tips to each other about where to find certain creatures and how to beat certain trainers and gym leaders.

They say history repeats itself, that things never change. While Pokémon are always evolving, the social aspect of the franchise stays much the same.

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~ by Tegan on March 9, 2011.

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