Love it or Hate it. Pokemon will go down in history as one for the greatest pop culture phenomenas ever. Some people loathed it, I loved it. So I wanted to write about my journey into PokeMania. No history or outside info on this subject. Just my first hand experience. This article is sort of long, so take it in sections if you feel overwhelmed.

Humble Beginnings





I first found out about Pokemon when my brother came home from school with these new playing cards. I was curious so I bought a pack myself. Well, ever since peeling open that shiny wrapper and getting my first rare card, a Chansey, I was hooked. We called the rare monsters "Shineys" because of their metallic backgrounds. I soon collected mass amounts of cards, through barter, begging and blackmail. I still have the vast majority of my collection, stowed away in a secret, humidity controlled, spot of my house. Kept in PSA 10 Gem Mint condition.





I played the video games as well, but I'll get to that later. Soon I had amassed every card worth having. I remember the day though I got the ONE card above all others; Charizard




I had several places I went for my cards, but the places that usually had higher success rates for good cards had gone crooked and started charging over 5 bucks a pack.


One day I went to a shopping mall that had a Toy R Us in it. Although I didn't go in because they were usually out of stock. But I had an insider tip that Borders sold booster packs behind the register. I went in dropped 15 bucks on the counter and got my packs. I went outside and immediately went to opening them. I looked quickly at the contents of my packs. I had just about every card in the packs. Every pack had a rare star card but that didn't really mean anything. I was stuck with my 3 Machamp and those stupid Super Energy Removal cards. I almost tirred up on the spot. 15 dollars blown on duplicate cards. I think my mom noticed my dejection and said "Let's try Toy R Us" I nodded sadly, knowing they wouldn't have anything. We walked in, and to my utter shock, they had just gotten a shipment! The whole wall was filled with Blue Booster packs. Kids were everywhere, grabbing greedily at the packs. There were even open packs on the ground. I was only allowed 1 pack. I spent half an hour trying to decide what pack to choose. One bad pick and I would be stuck with 11 more duplicates. I didn't want that. I finally chose a pack, it was the hardest one for me to reach so I thought it must be special. We rung it up and I went outside. Normally I would tear the pack open, check the cards and be on my way. But this moment was different. My parents strongly abjected to the cards. And here was a pack they actually purchased for me! I very slowly and very carefully opened the wrapper. I looked at each card the first 7 or 8 were usually common cards, but the 9 was the rare card. I slowly slid down the card in front of the rare card. It was the closest to an out of body expeirence I had ever felt. I was the proud owner of Charizard. The king of all Pokemon.





My trading cards days were actually pretty short. At my school the kids never played the game the right way, It was almost like the card game "War" whoever had the more powerful card won. That simple. In 6 grade someone stole out of my backpack, all of my good cards. My Charizard included. I was furious beyond control at the time. Years later I found out who stole them, It was a close friend of mine at the time. I met him back in high school. When I saw him I wanted to punch his face so hard that he would have have his food pre-chewed by the nurse and fed to him through a straw. But it had been so long I contained myself, said "Hey" and never spoke to him since. Soon the Jungle packs came out, I waited in line for several hours and got all fresh First Edition cards. My brother got Moltres, Articuno and Zapdos. All I got was that damn Ditto. The last pack off cards I ever opened was actually not that long ago. One time I bought a batch of packs and I went through all of them with no big cards. As I was about to open the last pack I thought "No, this pack stays closed." I can only describe leaving that pack alone was similar to why Tom Hanks left the FedEx package closed in Castaway.Because if he did open it, he would have lost hope, and like him I wasn't ready to let go just yet...




Although several years later I was looking at my collection. I seen the pack and couldn't resist. I opened it up and wouldn't you know it;Blaine's Arcanine.




There's a lesson in this, You just never know what can happen. Life's funny that way.


Here are some actual pics from my collection.






A couple of Garbage Pail kids, but mostly Pokemon cards.










I remember when the fad started to die kids moved on, but not me. I traded some old snes games for loads of shiney's. It would have been impossible to have got those cards 2 months before and here kids were practically giving them away.











Some years later after I finally got over the theft of my prized cards. I went on Ebay and purchased the magnificent 3. The pride of my collection.











This was a must have for any Poke-Fan, a guide to all the then released cards and their values. at one time I could recall every bio on the back of any Pokemon Card. Yes, it was sad.








Remember starter packs? They were a waste of money if you asked me. Having a First Edition Machamp wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Although you got the playing mat. The jungle booster had a holofoil Scyther in it. Sweet!




One night my parents took me and my brother to San Francisco's famous China Town. It was a stormy night and the wet asphalt reflected the streetlights, giving off a luminous glow. We found this little mysterious hole in the wall shop. I felt like Jack Burton in their. They had shrines and snuff bottles every where. We asked if they had Pokemon Cards. an aged old man nodded, disappeared behind the curtains then came back with the item in the picture above.I nearly passed out. It was the first 9 NEW Japanese Pokemon cards, not even released yet in America!I thought with this I was set for life. Now that the stock markets down, it's good to know my 401k is diversified in Hot wheels, Comics and Pokemon Cards. Caution though must be exercised when buying in China Town, the place is filled with scam artist. They used to sell pre made decks. Basically they would buy packs open them, take the good ones and sell the rest, like 30 cards for really cheap. Thus tricking the novice collector.



Out of the oven,and into the Frying pan


All good things must come to an end. Pokemon cards were great but I soon tired of the novelty. I was becoming "PokePooped" out. That was until the Pokemon League Training Tour of 1999.



Now that I look back, I was a Poke-Brat.I feel sorry for my parents. For me it was always Poke-This or Poke-That. It quite literally became an obsession. I'm talking Frederick Clegg obsession here. Well in 1999 there was an event for Pokemon. I remember bringing my cards and looking for potential trades. Butt all the people who were trading were mostly older kids with super rare cards and Japanese versions. I mark what happens next as the pivotal step for me from the cards into the gaming aspect.




There was this big line of kids and I went over to see what was going on.I heard of the games but never played them yet, they were kinda new at the time. But there were these guys who worked at the Pokemon tour and they would battle people in the crowds on Pokemon red or Blue. They beat most everybody and the few people who beat them were adults and they got a free t shirt. I looked on in awe. That was going to be me. The little kid going up there and smashing the competition and getting the T shirt. It never happened. That the one and only tour I ever went to. But I soon got Yellow version and went to developing the most dangerous Pokemon lineup at Gallinas middle school.



NomeKop



Every Great Pokemon Master has to have a name. From Ash, Gary, Giovanni and Lance. I chose Nomekop (Pokemon Backwards) Most of my friends were being generic by using their own names, however I wanted one that would be revered, a name that kids would murmur rumors about in quiet halls. Nomekop was the kid to beat. I'm actually surprised. I never saw anybody else use that name. I recall in the commercials for awhile though they would say it at the end. I'm glad it didn't catch on, or every schmoe west of the Mississippi would be using it.




Poke-Trouble


Gallinas elementary, more like Stalag 17. This school was so uptight, nothing non-school related was allowed. No stickers on your binders, no marbles...Oh, and that deck of cards and that Gameboy? That might as well be whiskey and a switchblade. The place was run like a prison with a sadistic Warden.




But did you think a few pesky adults would hamper our PokeLust? Think again. I remember on one occasion we had a sub. Me and my friend put up our binders so they blocked our chest area. I busted out the link cable and we battled and traded Pokemon, DURING CLASS!! It was one of my finest moments.





PlayGround Hijinks


It was Lunchtime at Gallinas Middle School As 5 kids attempted the impossible. Frustrated of only being able to play our GameBoys before or after school, me and my friends said heck with it and threw caution to the wind. At lunch we walked out to the boundaries of the field and laid down close as possible to the ground. Not a Yard Duty in Sight. We busted out the GameBoys and proceeded to battle, trade and mystery gift to our hearts content. Then all Hell broke loose. My friend said "Lets all turn our Gameboys on at the same time!" We did, we all laughed as the games started playing the music at the same time. While we lay there, caught up in a PokeEuphoria somebody whispered "Oh Crap! the Principal!" Sure enough, all 250 pounds of her. We all scrambled like mad men, stuffing our GameBoys in to our Backpacks, pockets, or any crevice that might conceal them. As she came nearer we just laid there, playing it cool like we were just talking, nothing else. She walked over and said "Hand em over" Well obviously we didn't have the slightest clue what she was talking about. (wink,wink) As we all lay there confessing that we never even heard of Pokemon, we suddenly fell silent. We forgot to turn off the Systems! We all looked at each other in a sort of "Well, it was nice Knowing you" look as the games played faintly, but audibly. She asked again, this time you could sense the impatience in her voice. Thoughts raced through my mind; Should I give it up? Should I stall and see what happens?" Well I tried something new. I stood up and said "I'm not gonna lie, here it is." I was going for the whole honesty gig, maybe she would commend me for telling the truth and let me off with a warning. No Sirree Bob. She only took my system and left! Everybody else still had there's! You could imagine my frustration...I hate adults who lost thier inner child.




Let's Battle!




PokeHouse of Hard-Knocks. The first game I got was Yellow Version, It was more true to the tv series at the time. I beat the game pretty quickly. It wasn't my goal to "Catch em All" Mine was to develop the ultimate lineup. Most kids at the time had Either Red or the Blue versions. There was a item duplicating technique that could be used in the Red and Blue versions by talking to the guy who showed you what Pokeballs did, then traveling to Cinnabar island. Kids did it with the "Rare Candy" which made their Pokemon go up one level. Soon they everybody had Level 100 Pokemon. That method didn't work on Yellow Version. I had to train each and every one of my Monsters. And that was the key to my power...





I lost most of my matches in the beginning. Thanks to the item duplicating, their Pokemon were all on level 100 while mine were still in the 50's. I had to rely on technique and skill rather than on brute power. Soon I was tactically fighting, using moves like Evade and Agility to dodge my foes. I still recall the day I beat my brother's all level 100 lineup using my level 67 Parasect. Thank you Poison Spore! After that I was pretty much better than every one I knew. Then Pokemon Stadium came out, I was then untouchable.



The Formula for Success






When I beat Pokemon Stadium I had unlocked the Dodrio Gameboy. It allowed you to play Yellow,Red or Blue version on your TV, but at a much higher rate of speed. I boosted all my Pokemon to level 100 quickly by beating the Elite Four over and over and over again. I must have beat Yellow Versions AT LEAST 5 times on the Dodrio Gameboy, allowing me to have multiple Mewtwos. I shouldn't even be showing this but I trust you guys so here it is. My training journal. I recorded the stats of all my Pokemon in hopes of creating and even better line-up. Pokemon leveled up on Rare Candies were alot weaker than Battle-Trained ones. So I already had a tough group. I waited till thiey reached in the 90's before I would spoil them with Carbos, Iron and the other stat boosting items. My pride and joy was my Mewto named "Hitman" his stats were significantly higher than all my other Mewtwos, the product of hours of research and training.






GameShark, Bad





If you can't beat em, Join em In my circle of friends, I had no real challenges. One of them got tired of loosing and he brought his GameShark and wanted to battle me with his electronically juiced up Pokemon. I explained to him several times that I wasn't risking my game file by battling him, since GameSharks were known for file corruption. He nagged me everyday, until I relented and offered him a shot at eternal fame. [/b]We linked up, and I suddenly felt very worried[/b] His first Pokemon was a Level 240 Mewtwo!! I tried my best, but he systematically downed each one of my monsters. However he made a tactical blunder in his Mewtwo's move selection. It had only physical moves. A grin came across my face as I threw out my next Pokemon. A level 90 Gengar. He laughed at me and did the same move he did the 3 previous rounds, Mega Punch. Well, MegaPunch didn't work on Gengar, for he was a Ghost Type. My friend turned pale as I slowly night shaded and dream ate his Mewtwo into oblivion. The rest of his Pokemon were lame. I beat them all. After the match I made him trade me his Mewtwo, to let him know I was legit.

The Show and The Movies.





I watched the TV show like every other Kid, But I don't want to get to much into that. Not much Memories. My favorite episoe was titled "Charmander-The Stray Pokemon" I liked the whole rainy setting and them lodged in the Poke Center. It was a unique episode. "Go West Young Meowth" was also a favorite. I liked Meowth.

Team Rocket




Prepare for trouble!
Make it double!
To protect the world from devastation
To unite all peoples within our nation
To denounce the evils of truth and love
To extend our reach to the stars above
Jessie!
James!
Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light!
Surrender now, or prepare to fight!
Meowth, dat's right!



Ahhhh...Team Rocket. Those lovable hooligans. I hate to admit this but I had a crush on Jesse. That short skirt...whooh! I liked them because they added a little comic relief to the show. I always enjoyed when the got blown of into space yelling Team Rocket's Blasting off againnnnn"



Pokemon, the First Movie





When the Movie came out, I was a little old for Pokemon, that didn't stop me! I was so hyped for seeing the movie. I had anticipated it for some time. The intro was "Pikachu's Vacation" I loved it and it got me in the mood for the movie. I was blown away. The animations were way better than the shows. Seeing Blastoise battle was awesome. The clones fighting each other was also epic. I remember when the second movie came out I was definitely too old for Pokemon, I saw it anyways. It was funny because my friend came down from South Carolina and we went to the movies. He did not want to see the Pokemon Movie. He kept heckling me about it. Finally he watched Rush Hour or something while I sat in the theater, the only 14 year old in a sea of 8 year olds. As Charlie Brown would say "Good Grief"


Nomekop Today



In conclusion I must say I had a blast writing this. So many memories sprang up. Today Pokemon is still strong, but never will it be like it was in the late 90's. I continued playing the games. I enjoyed Gold version immensely. Even in High school I and one other kid played Pokemon Sapphire and Ruby together. Old timers who couldn't let go. The last game I played was the remake of the original, Leaf Green. After that I stopped. I had too. Pokemon was going off to a place where I could not follow. I know alot of people bag on Pokemon. I sometimes was embarrassed to admit I was into it. But looking back, I don't care. If you try to blend in, you'll only loose yourself. I'll end this article with one last memory;


I was waiting in the super market check out stands, while my mom paid for the groceries. I lazily drifted to the magazines. There on the front page of the Newspaper it read; "Pokemon fever fades...''


It was good while it lasted...



Bye, Bye Butterfree