Pokemon 20th: I’m a Victim of Nostalgia

I’ve been crying all day. Manly tears, mind you, and not because of anything terrible.

I turned my 3DS on at 4:30 this morning while getting ready for work to check the eShop, so I could possibly download the “new” Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow if they were up (sometimes the eShop updates at noon, but thankfully this wasn’t the case today).

I was greeted to the opening music to the Game Boy titles. And that’s when it all hit home. Not only is what I grew up doing “cool” again, but the exact same games that I was playing are back on the market. Memories of waiting for Christmas to get the new games or saving up my allowance so I could be taken to the store and ask the clerk came flooding back all at once inside my mind, so much that they clearly pressured up to the point that they were pushing on my tear ducts and making tears come out. Now I’m 23 and saving up my allowance (working in a kennel part-time while going to school full-time makes whatever I earn feel like an allowance after tuition and textbooks and vaccinations take the rest of it…) to purchase the same games 20/17 years later.

I’m the kind of person that holds memories close, and I’m also a very spirited person – you can sometimes see it in my articles and reviews, you can hear it whenever I’m on the NintendoFever podcast; everything I say has weight to it either from experience or strong opinions. Playing Pokemon Yellow first as a child, watching Pikachu run up to you in the opening cinematic, catching my first Pidgey (and naming it, and every subsequent Pidgey/Generation’s bird Pokemon BIGBIRDMAN) and raising it into a god among avians, it’s all what I first remember about Pokemon. This is my front door into my future. It’s equivalent to a grown Star Wars fan shedding a tear in the movie theaters last December when Episode VII finally came out 30 years after VI. This is part of what made me.

So of course, when Nintendo announced last year that we would be getting these games again on the 3DS and the 8-bit tunes started playing, I started cheering and clapping in my bedroom. When the Pokemon Direct played yesterday, I let out a goofy smile at work. Because Nintendo is doing this for people like me. Fans that are as old if not older than the series that helped sculpt their gaming backgrounds.

“It’s not that serious Mike, you can emulate the games for free.” You’re Absol-utely (hah, nobody has ever made THAT pun before!) right, and I’ve done that before. Hell, in the late stages of my Wii’s lifespan all I did was play a ROM of Pokemon Gold on my HomeBrew Channel. And it’s the exact same game, nothing is different, so why would I just spend 30 dollars this morning on three games I could pull up on my computer, or open some old boxes in my closet and hope to find?

Because nostalgia. There’s no other reason than nostalgia. To play it on a new Nintendo handheld that’s built on the legacy of the first. Stupid, right? To some, sure. But dammit if Nintendo didn’t hammer at the old memories and feelings hard enough to make me want each one. I didn’t even think twice when I put my credit card info into my 3DS to add the funds. You keep playing those old songs into my ear and pulling up good family/friend memories that I’ve tied to them, and you can get me to buy anything.

I can remember sitting on the front steps of my old house trying to get the right line of sunlight so I could see my Game Boy playing Yellow on a warm Summer evening. I can smell the concrete and the flowers, I can hear my neighbors on their swingset. And it all feels like I’m back there again, back to being a kid without worry and enjoying every day’s adventure.

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So help me and my wallet if they open the next Nintendo Direct with the opening to Pokemon Stadium for N64, or if I open my 3DS and go on the eShop tomorrow and the opening tune to Pokemon Gold and Silver (my all-time favorite) starts playing. I think I’ll need a bucket for all the manly, memory-filled tears that’ll fall from my face.

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Author: Mike McSurdy View all posts by
Animal care specialist by day, running around town wearing a Batman costume by night, Mike somehow finds the time to play videogames and write about them. Take years of writing poetry, music, stories, add some experience in making people laugh, and you've got the mess that is me. Hello!