Flashback Friday: playing Pokemon all over again

Pokemon

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This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary for the U.S. release of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, the third generation sequel of the saga (wait, there was more Pokemon after Pikachu?). Befitting a Flashback Friday piece, we will remind you of your tot days of thumbing the controls — hours spent frying imaginary creatures with your yellow mouse with a lightning-shaped tail — and inform you of how you can continue to play in Berkeley!

There was a time when seven dollars for pieces of aluminum-foiled cardboard seemed like a deal. Back then, the Pokemon trading card game was social currency establishing an early pecking hierarchy. So what if the school just built a brand new play structure? As third-graders everywhere declared,” Monkey bars are for kids!” Whoever collected the Shiny Charizard (parents shiver at the memories spent at Toys”R”Us lines) became the coolest kid in school. Well, the coolest until Yu-Gi-Oh! released its trading card game, but that is a whole other story.

The most important anime at the turn of the millennium was arguably “Pokemon.” It was the cartoon of the late ’90s (fill in the blanks: I wanna be the very best ___ __ __ ___ ___ ) that pitted the television audience in a bizarre universe with a meddlesome juvenile trio, an alarming array of Team Rocket weapons that seem straight out of the Pentagon and an enormous population of colorful, violent monsters. The plots: Ash collecting lapel pins and Team Rocket trying to steal Pikachu — while displaying incredible mismanagement with sophisticated technology — somehow held our pint-sized attention spans every weekend. And then there was “Pokemon: The Movie.” While watching it again, we admit getting a little bit misty-eyed.

The video game was what started the franchise. It was an epically solitary quest where anyone would talk to you if you pressed the A button, flying on a bird between cities was a necessary convenience and parenting was confined to giving you a pair of running shoes and throwing you out the door. Too much nostalgia? Pokemon will release their sixth sequel, Pokemon X and Y, worldwide later this year.

But for the kid and the kid at heart, Pokemon lives on at weekly trading card tournaments at the Games of Berkeley toy store. Offering “a safe and fun event for Pokemon players of all ages,” it hosts a local platform with which to battle with friends, reclaim the past and catch’em all!

Contact Alex Mabanta at [email protected]

Image Source: Antonio Jesus Villarán López under Creative Commons