I was seventeen years old when Pokémon made its way to the U.S., and it flew completely under my radar. At nineteen, I manned a register at an Electronics Boutique, where the trading card game was the most prominent part of the franchise that I had to deal with while the release of Gold and Silver loomed nigh. My days at that job were spent selling packs of Pokémon cards, plush toys, and other paraphernalia hand-over-fist to children and parents, all the while ignoring the frequent commercials for its anime series that graced my TV. I (incorrectly) figured that it was a cartoon first and a video game second, and didn’t plan on ever paying it much attention. Fourteen years later, I would silently recall all of this as I sat at my desk at work with a Pokéwalker strapped to my shoe, bouncing my leg in order to generate ‘steps’ with which to level up my Gyarados.
That actually wouldn’t be the first Pokémon-themed pedometer I’d take for a spin. I attended E3 in 2001 with a Pikachu 2 strapped to my belt, which I took on a dare made by an EB coworker who was curious about how many steps I’d end up logging. I don’t recall the exact (and rather substantial) numbers the device recorded, just that I’d find Pikachu sitting swirly-eyed and dazed when I’d check on him back at the hotel each night. While it was a fun bit of nonsense, that was the extent of my interaction with the franchise for a long time. Pokémon as an entity has always been present in the background of my life, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally decided to embrace it in full.
To me, there are two sides to Pokémon: battling and collecting. While some people pursue both, one can be consuming enough of an endeavor to render the other nonviable. When I ended up with a copy of Pokémon: Heart Gold as my first-ever Pokémon game, I ran about Johto stumbling across new monster after new monster, tossing a Pokéball in each of their faces and feeling fulfilled when it clicked shut, confirming I’d made a successful capture. I found myself squarely in the collecting camp, with hundreds of Pokémon to hunt. I don’t know at what point it happened, but somewhere along the line I became susceptible to collection-based ventures in general, and a whole game that sends you running around a world map with the opportunity to fill out an index of acquirable beings is somewhat of a dangerous thing for me.
I’ve decided to try to catch all 721 current Pokémon. That’s catch, not just encounter; actually have each and every single Pokémon pass through my inventory somehow. This wasn’t exactly a conscious decision – once I started collecting them, I just sort-of knew I had to keep going. The rares, the legendaries, the mythicals; I’ll find a way. I’ll find them, I’ll add them to my Pokédex, and I’ll chronicle my efforts here, for better or worse. I’m inviting you all to watch as I either triumph or descend into madness; either way, we ought to have a lot of fun, huh?
While I cover the collecting side of Pokémon, Deb will be chronicling her exploits with the battling side in her PokéMonsters articles.