Just a week ago I’m surfing eBay in the most random pattern, enough so to puzzle future civilizations as much as we’re puzzled today by the Voynich Manuscript, and I come across a suggestion to take a look at a used Game Boy. This is all it takes to send me back down the rabbit hole into a time where my parents were too poor to afford to buy me a Game Boy and I was too determined to not miss out on the new hotness that was Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue when they dropped in the United States. “This is the age where I discovered emulators and rushed home from school every day…”This is the age where I discovered emulators and rushed home from school every day to hop on my Game Boy emulator and loaded up the latest save point from the Pokémon Blue rom I’d downloaded from the interwebs on my 14.4k (I wasn’t even on that 56k level yet) modem. Even so, I’d spend the entirety of my school days envying my friends at school who brought their Game Boys and would huddle at the back of the class to link up and challenge and/or trade with each other. It was a visceral lesson in patience that this experience instilled in me day after day as I bit down hard, trying to offer advice to my friends while they battled without as much as a credential to show for it in my hands. They were good to me and they entertained me, but here I am years later as an adult and this deep sadness emerges from the depths as I feast my eyes on this bad boy that’s got 2 hours left on the auction block:
Now here I am thinking: I’m an adult. I have my own bank account now. I’m about to fulfill my childhood dream (yo, some of us aspire to less than others). So because I want that shit all freshnasty, I immediately hop on Amazon and start searching ‘Game Boy Color’ (GBC) and as soon as I click that ‘new condition’ filter I instantly regretted it. Not only are these joints $250 to $300, but the GAMES are about $200 to $250 each!“…and as soon as I click that ‘new condition’ filter I instantly regretted it.” Apparently it’s a rare commodity to find certain games in working condition so the price of buying them brand new has skyrocketed. Needless to say, I hurried back to eBay quickfast, lest my dreams wilt and die right before my eyes. I was able to wrangle a GBC for just over $30 and a used Pokémon Crystal cartridge with a working save-battery for about $40. A day or two later, I’M LIFTED:
I chose to start with Pokémon Crystal simply because it’s undeniably the best of any Pokémon game TO DATE. Sure, graphics are better in the later generations, and there’s always the nostalgia behind the original Pokémon Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow releases, but Pokémon Crystal – being a combination of Pokémon Silver, Gold, and a continuation of the Generation I release – has the best story line, Pokémon design, and number of overall Pokémon at 251. Some of the Pokémon designs that I’ve seen from the new Pokémon OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire releases look a lot like 5 year olds playing with polygons.
Just the feel of the GBC A, B, and DPad buttons far exceed any experience I’ve had on any of the newer Nintendo GB Advance and 3DS series. The one shortcoming which I hadn’t remembered until I actually sat down with my newly acquired GBC was that there’s no backlight built into these gaming systems so you’d better play in a very well-lit environment or look up a front-light mod video and perform the upgrade at your own risk. “Just the feel of the GBC A, B, and DPad buttons far exceed any experience I’ve had on any of the newer Nintendo GB Advance and 3DS series.”For the first two days I must have spent 40 of those hours playing through the main storyline, even so, I’m still only at the end of the Johto part of the game. This is just before you face the Elite 4 at Indigo Plateau and I’ve gotta do some serious training before my precious little level-37 Haunter has a chance to advance into Kanto for the second part of the game. Kanto features the original map and gym leaders from Generation I. Another one of the notable features of Pokémon Crystal is that it’s the first Pokémon game that allows you to play as a girl, and expounds upon the only touched upon pokémon gender variation in the Generation I games.
So here I am a week later and my wife is wondering when I’ll come back to her, and my dog has chewed through most of his antler bone out of pure boredom around me, and I’m grinding through Route 45 trying to capture a Skarmory – which has a 5% chance of spawning – just so I can have a decent flying-type pokémon to train up for the the Elite 4 showdown.
What it comes down to is there’s just certain games that were created a long time ago with the perfect amount of care and consideration for the gamer that allows it to transcend any technology or stylish graphics barrier that today’s games are afforded in addition to their plotlines and gameplay. Pokémon Crystal is one such game, and anyone who grew up remembering the Pokémon craze of the late 90s in any fond light at all should take the leap and venture back in time to give this game another playthrough. “…anyone who grew up remembering the Pokémon craze of the late 90s in any fond light at all should take the leap…”You’ll lose yourself in an epic world on a tiny 8-bit screen with a mono-sound tracklist.
To take it even further, I’d suggest any gamer who’s never had the pleasure of playing these early Generation I and Generation II titles in the Pokémon series give it a shot. Introduce your friends and kids to what a truly memorable experience gaming can be; trade those pokémon that can only evolve via those transactions, and then whip their asses in a pokémon battle. This is what these early generations achieve that is so rarely seen in modern games, up to and including the modern Pokémon generations; they suck us in and expound upon the best sides of ourselves, and blends this with our most addictive and competitive vices. If you’re one of those people who’ve been waiting for the push… this is it.