Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward

By Jorge Ba-oh 17.10.2013 3

Image for Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward
To celebrate the release of Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, the Cubed3 team got together to remember our first steps into the franchise, favourite Pokémon and plans for the future.
It has been over seventeen years since Pocket Monsters took Japan by storm, fifteen for those in North America and creeping up to the same number of years for fans in Europe. Pokémon Blue and Pokémon Red took playgrounds by storm, blitzing fans with trading cards, link-cable battles and a shed load of merchandise. Years later and the games are still incredibly popular, keeping long-term players sweet with nods to the past and newcomers safely acquainted with the world of Pokémon.

With Jorge Ba-oh, Adam Riley, Rudy Lavaux, Suze Gray and Matt Desind


What are your first memories of Pokémon?

Jorge: My first memories of the series are quite blurred now, since I first started playing the games many moons ago from the very first generation. What I can remember, however, is just how incredibly popular Pokémon became overnight, an instant hit amongst players of many ages and evident from the very beginning that it wasn't just a passing fad. At the time I can recall having to save up months and months of pocket money, and scrapping lunch funding here and there to build up enough cash to dive into Pokémon Blue for the very first time.
Image for Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward

My friends were already knee deep into both games on the Game Boy, so I had a fair bit of work to do before being battle ready. The day came, and much like a typical animé show it was pelting down with rain and my mum had given the go-ahead to wander off to the local toy shop. After questing through the side of a motorway and through a tunnel as a ten-year old lad, I finally grabbed hold of a brand new portable world.
I couldn't put down the game for months on end, until firmly beating the Elite Four and passing on my virtual team to Pokémon Stadium on the Nintendo 64. Many happy nights were had with friends playing through the multiplayer mini-games and heated level 100 battles. Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver ultimately were my favourite memory of the series, bridging Kanto with an exciting new world and in full colour too! I'd spent many months playing butchered fan-translations pre-release and a large chunk of a holiday to Thailand looking for an English version of the games. Finally on the way home, there in the airport shop was the day-one release of Pokémon Silver and the rest is history!
Rudy: I remember my first time seeing Pokémon in action. At the time I had only heard of the phenomenon through magazines, of all the rage in Japan so far and only knew it was some sort of RPG for the Game Boy. I was a fan of RPGs myself and the genre wasn't exactly commonplace on the portable, let alone localised ones in general on Nintendo consoles. So I was mildly interested already before it came out in Europe, but I didn't know the kind of massive phenomenon it was going to become. I first saw Pokémon in action through another guy, slightly younger than me, whose parents were loaded with money and bought him all the games he wanted. He was training his Butterfree during a school break, out on the schoolyard. I didn't know him, but asked what he was playing, since I usually brought my Game Boy along too, and it was Pokémon Red.

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The graphics weren't exactly impressive or anything, but the thought of grinding characters on school breaks, being a big fan of SNES RPGs at the time, made me thrilled at the idea of having that game too! I was still very much hooked to the likes of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI, the likes of which could not be found on my new N64. It didn't help that in the subsequent months of 1999; Pretty much all the young people I knew had a Pokémon game! But since I wasn't a rich kid, I didn't get to own my personal copy until late June or early July 2000. As it happens, Pokémon Yellow had just been released too, so I got the most recent version right away, which had some improvements over the Red and Blue versions.
In school, you would get laughed at by the socially "cool" people if you were seen playing a "kiddie" game like Pokémon or you would get labelled as a "nerd". So it wasn't all excellent memories either. But all in all I didn't regret getting the game, cause it was a blast to play.

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Adam: Harking back to the launch of Pokémon in Japan in the mid-1990s, I followed the birth of this magnificent series from the initial rumblings of "here comes another fad, like Tamagotchi" to the first cartoon series that suddenly took the world by storm, and beyond. It was the first time I had really bothered to sink any real time into a portable game, in all honesty, and it was all thanks to the Super Game Boy that I was able to thoroughly enjoy the adventure. After all, I admittedly was not a big fan of the original Game Boy.
I still recall convincing my younger brother to go and see the first Pokémon movie, just so I had an excuse to watch it (I was around 13 or 14 at the time), and almost shedding a tear when Ash seemed to be dead towards the end, with Pikachu desperately trying to frazzle him back to life with electric shocks! Ah, those were the days...

Image for Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward

Suze: I was 11, on holiday in the US; and the first Pokémon animé episode I saw was the Ponyta/Rapidash race, as well as trying the game at a family friend's house. I was utterly hooked on the game, although I had no idea of what I was doing. I had the misfortune to upload his Mewtwo to the PC box, which he then thought I had deleted. That didn't go down well, as you would expect! However, the Mewtwo was retrieved and so did my love for the franchise when I returned home. I eventually picked up Pokémon Blue and the rest is history.

Matt: I have never been a huge fan of the Pokémon series. That's not to say that I have never played the games, because I have spent many a long days and dark nights doing nothing more than helping my little Charizard grow bigger and stronger. There is something special about working with your Pokémon to get better, work to beat gym masters, and then helping your Pokémon evolve to stronger Pokémon.
The Pokémon game that I eventually beat was Pokémon Silver, it's also the last Pokemon game that I bought or truly felt like playing. Yet Pokemon X and Pokémon Y have me craving that feeling of going on an adventure again, there is something about watching the gameplay videos that seem to bring back that old feeling.

Image for Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward


Which starter would you pick from the new generation and the returning Pokémon from gen one?

Jorge: A starter Pokémon is inevitably a critical decision when it comes to embarking from the trainer's home town to the wide world of training, wild battles and fearsome gym leaders. For the first steps into Pokémon X, after much deliberating, I decided on Fennekin simply because I would usually choose a fire or water critter as my starting companion.
As for the returning Pokémon generation one starter, it would have to be the adorable Squirtle to complement Fennekin's ferocious fire attacks. Having her fully evolved state Delphox alongside Blastoise would be a formidable team indeed. I'm not adverse to grass-type Pokémon generally, but do prefer either fire or water to start with at least. Having two starter sets this time round is a great addition and really will pull on those nostalgia strings as the professor issues out a classic later on in the game!
Rudy: I've always been more a plant or fire type of player for my main type. I guess it all comes down to what the first gym leaders are, because early in the game you usually can't get access to all the Pokémon types you wish you had. In the first generation for example, Bulbasaur was the easiest to begin with since trainers had access to plant based attacks, effective against the rock/ground Pokémon of the first gym leader as well as the water based Pokémon of the second, Misty. And by the time you got to the third gym, there was access to a large portion of the map already, as well as a more varied set of Pokémon types to start building a more versatile team.

Image for Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward

When in doubt, I always opt for fire anyway. For generations two and four, I went with a fire starter, so if I was to pick one out in Pokémon X or Pokémon Y, just on a whim, it would be Fennekin. The first gym leader in Pokémon X or Pokémon Y raises bugs so it wouldn't be a too bad strategic choice, and I find Fennekin to have the best visual design of the three too, which plays in its favour.

Adam: Fennekin probably does it for me, mainly because it looks so damn cute - a little fluffy fox! Obviously not the best reasoning, but hey, what can I say?

As for the oldies-but-goldies, I always struggle when trying to choose starter Pokémon in general, but way back in the early days, out of the leaf, fire and water characters, I preferred to opt for Bulbasaur mainly because I felt his cutting techniques were ultimately more powerful than the move sets of Charmander and Squirtle. Clearly I was pretty young at the time, so didn't quite realise there was a whole triangle-attack-strength approach, but hindsight is always 20-20, right? Out of habit now, though, Bulbasaur would still be the character of choice, simply because, well, old habits die hard!

Image for Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward

Suze: I've always had an affinity with the grass Pokémon; Bulbasaur was always my initial pick, even after trying the game over and over with the other starters. Even with Pokémon Yellow, where you have the option of obtaining all three, Bulbasaur was my main choice. Chicorita was my choice for the second generation and so on. However, Fennekin looks lovely and seems the perfect choice from the new generation.

If you could pick a team of six from any generation in reality, what Pokémon would you choose and why?

Jorge: A tricky question with many possible answers! Most of my favourites that could be included in a real-life team would probably spawn from either the first or second generations and possibly the forth and fifth.
Ideally, I would pick Luxray as part of the electric side, Samurott for its sheer weight, strength and water abilities. Skuntank would certainly stink up the place, but would cover both poison and dark elements. Charizard is, well, Charizard. He can fly about and torch everything in sight. Venasaur would spout up its grass abilities and Mew would complete the group with unparalleled psychic trickery.
Image for Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward

Rudy: That's a tough question. The thing is I only played the first, second and fourth generations of Pokémon so I'm not too familiar with Pokémon from generations III and V, let alone VI which is only just out on the market. Mewtwo has always been a favourite, just because it kicks ass. Tyranitar has always been a personal favourite too for its stats, so it would go in right away. Dragonite as well, still based on its stats, and also because I like how the Pokémon looks. Zapdos is a good electric choice, although against a rock-ground pokémon, it gets in trouble. Infernape, my evolved starter from Gen IV is an obvious choice as well, just because it's an awesome Pokémon. And my all-time faouvrite Blissey, I can't leave out either. No startegic choice on this one, I'm just a big fan of Chansey and Blissey is its powered-up form. Other great choices I had to leave out for the sake of narrowing it down to just six are Lugia, Scizor, Rhyperior, Suicune, Entei, Jolteon, Gyarados, Crobat and Snorlax.

Suze: I don't particularly like using legendary Pokémon, which usually puts me at a disadvantage. I don't see the pleasure in raising them as they're already meant to demolish the competition. I like the journey you go through with the Pokémon you start with, rather than scouting out these elusive Pokémon once you already have your team. I've probably over-thought this.

My favourites are: Raichu (lovely design and strong), Sandslash (strange, I know, but I've always loved this particular Pokémon), Espeon and Umbreon (strong, beautiful and psychic/dark), Venusaur (see above) and - this is hard - I'd have a look at the new generation and see, it's always good to mix up the team as I seem fairly biased on the old set.

Image for Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward

Are there any games in outside the main series that you play, like the trading cards, Pokémon Rumble or PokéPark?

Jorge: I was a huge fan of the Pokémon Trading Cards back in the day, amassing a huge collection of cards, limited edition "shiny" varieties and also moving onto dark versions of popular favourites like Charizard and Pikachu. The Game Boy companion game was also as addictive, introducing a fair few rules and regulations compared to the standard turn-based RPG games.
Pokémon Rumble, the debut version on WiiWare and Poképark were also firm favourites, though in smaller bursts than the main games perhaps. Pokémon Snap and Stadium were brilliant additions to the Nintendo 64 days, perhaps when the series was in its prime, introducing new ways to play with Pokémon and enjoyable multiplayer elements.
Rudy: I haven't played any of the other games, except the two Pokémon Stadium games on the N64, mainly for being able to play the Game Boy games on the big screen and on fast forward mode, to train Pokémon faster, as well as Pokémon Battle Revolution which I played a little bit too but never bought. I like Pokémon for the RPG creature-rasing simulator factor, so the other games don't really appeal to me. But course I played other titles like Smash Bros where Pokémon are present too.

Image for Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward

Suze: I was never really sucked into the trading cards side, although I had great fun in the rather different mechanics of Pokemon Rumble; a hack and slash rather than the turn based nature of the handheld games. I loved Pokemon Stadium as well as Pokemon Snap! Wonderful memories from my childhood.

Adam: Personally, my favourites have to be titles such as the recent Pokémon Conquest, which brought the traits of key Pocket Monsters into the world of grid-based war-time battling. Another great classic was definitely Pokémon Pinball, and it's such a crying shame follow-up never materialised.

Sadly, though, there are some spin-offs that are rather woeful, like the painful DS launch game Pokémon Dash or Hey You, Pikachu! on the N64.

Other favourites definitely include the amazing version of Panel de Pon / Tetris Attack; Pokémon Puzzle League - so addictive! Pokémon Link! was also a fun puzzle title on DS from good old Genius Sonority.

Image for Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward

Where would you like the Pokémon franchise to go in the future?

Jorge: As seen in the latest batch of portable titles, Nintendo and the Pokémon Company have no problems when it comes to producing stellar RPGs that fans return to time and time again. Both Pokémon X and Pokémon Y have expanded that formula to, quite literally, new dimensions. Where the series is perhaps lacking is on the home-console scene, where Pokémon is still trying to discover its identity somewhat.

I would definitely like to see Pokémon Snap return in some capacity, perhaps bundled with a new Pokémon Stadium or RPG. Being able to battle and explore a world on the home console would be a joy to play, and Nintendo are growing closer to making that dream a reality with Pokémon X and Pokémon Y now being in 3D.

Image for Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward

Having a port of the game on Wii U could be the next step, with save data perhaps being exchanged on the fly if Nintendo were able to upload the save files to the cloud or via a wireless connection between the Wii U and 3DS.

Rudy: Pokémon X & Y is already much of the kind of Pokémon game I dreamed of as a younger lad, a portable Pokémon game with fully 3D environments, and finally 3D battles. But it's not quite like what I wished it was, not yet impressive enough to totally "wow" me. Even though the graphics seem to be better in this 3DS game, I preferred the dynamic of the battles in Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Battle Revolution, as the camera travels around the battle field around the Pokémon, and you can see them run at each other and attack in a most epic way. I want to see that in the Pokémon portable games too!
But I know that kind of dynamic doesn't make for a fast way of training your Pokémon as battles are then a bit slower, so it shouldn't be forced on the players.

I'm not even sure yet what Pokémon X & Y hold in themselves, so it's hard for me to say what i want to see in the future, since I'm not even sure what the present has on offer. But for now, I'm holding out for the inevitable Pokémon Z before finally diving back in, after I skipped the two couples of Pokémon Black & White games.

Image for Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward

Adam: I always felt that Genius Sonority should be given the chance to do a full-on RPG experience without having to be confined by the Stadium concept. After all, despite some people saying otherwise, Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness was a definite step in the right direction. The developer has a great heritage and has shown it still has what it takes to make fun, engaging RPG experiences after two entries in The Denpa Men series.

Suze: It's hard to say this, as the franchise has filled in so many gaps and improved exponentially (even though some of the designs are something to be desired). Mini-games have provided a nice break from the rigmarole from collecting badges, contests have increased variety etc. Online co-op would be great. Pokémon Snap and Stadium would be great to revisit with the Wii U (Game and Wario showed the potential of using the pad as a camera). I also want to see Pokémon use the AR features - my dream is to have an AR Pokémon playground with the Google Glasses. You wouldn't think I was 26, would you?

Matt: I was not sure what would happen to Pokémon after the last installment, but seeing Pokémon X and Pokémon Y gives me hope for the future of the Pokémon world. Will I get this game? Hard to say. But it's been a long time since I looked twice at a Pokémon game.

Image for Cubed Table | Pokémon Retrospective: First Memories, Favourite Pokémon and Looking Forward

So what are your memories of Pokémon, your ideal team of six from any generation and what would you like to see Nintendo and Game Freak weave into future Pokémon titles?
Box art for Pokémon X

Game Freak




Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (42 Votes)

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My first was SoulSilver on the DS.

Imagine if you could fly helicopters in Pokemon? By the way, the website I keep spamming RTophobby is terrible, a big scam so don't check them out. Terrible customer service.

Soul Silver i thought about getting it, since it was a re-make. do you enjoy it, did it keep you coming back for more.

Nintendo do, what all others don't.
Guest 21.10.2013#3

I like it

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