Happy 25th Birthday, Pokémon

Dear Pokémon,

Ah, my beloved game series. Happy birthday! Man, 25, huh. That’s a big one. It seems like yesterday you were just a little Red and Green version, entertaining gamers of all ages with your signature mix of 151 adorable monsters and your compelling take on rock-paper-scissors.

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But look at you now—from 151 to 251 to a number so high I can’t even fathom it. You evolved into literal Gold and Silver, and then hit all the rest of the important gemstones. You’ve recently embraced a new perspective, and I don’t think I’ve imparted how deeply proud I am of you for doing so. Have I told you how much I love the 3D? Because I love the 3D. Don’t listen to the haters.

Growing up alongside you has been nothing short of a delight. Every step of the way, you’ve put on a clinic in reinventing yourself while also staying true to your roots. Even when you bring up the old times for the sake of nostalgia, you do it in a way that feels fresh. You’re basically Radiohead!

Look. I know we haven’t kept in touch much in recent years. I’d like to blame it on the inexorable march of time—how it heals all wounds, yes, but also how it tends to drive a wedge between those who were once inseparable—and on the maddeningly human impulse to stand by and allow one’s tastes to change with the tides. The truth is that the growing distance here is entirely on me.

When you were in your Ruby and Sapphire phase, we spent, what, hundreds of hours together? More recently—and I’m sure you’ve felt this, too—I feel like I could cram the amount of time we’ve spent together into the span of a work week. I regret this, and I owe you an unequivocal apology.

When my uncle first introduced us, so many years ago, he didn’t tell me how much you’d change my life. Were it not for you, I wouldn’t have made the friends I did in elementary school. Math class certainly would’ve suuuucked. (I owe you big time for being so small I could tuck you under the desk.) Hell, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today, spending every day knee-deep in video games, thinking about them and writing about them and talking to other people about them.

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I know we haven’t been in touch much, but I see you’ve got some big plans in the works. This time, I promise, I’m not missing them for the world.

Right. Anyway. Happy birthday! That’s so exciting. You can rent a car now. Here’s $59.99 plus applicable tax. Please don’t crash it.

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Yours,

Ari

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Staff Writer, Kotaku

DISCUSSION

To think I went though an “I’m too cool for Pokémon” phase in Gen 3. It didn’t last long, I got hooked again in Gen 4 and have played every one since.

I’m a fan of a lot of things, be it games or TV shows or whatever, but nothing has ever approached the same level as Pokémon for me. It really nailed an all-ages appeal that no series has gotten quite as right.