February 27th officially marks the 20th anniversary of the original Pokémon Game Boy games. Over the last two decades, Pikachu became a household name, Pokémon cards took lunch room cafeterias by storm, and “Gotta Catch ’em all” became a phrase uttered by children across the globe, all of them vying to become a Pokémon Master. Pokémon has gone on to become one of gaming’s top brands, selling 275 million video games worldwide, shipping 21.5 billion TCG cards to 74 countries, and of course, the sporting an 18-season animated series.
To help our favorite pocket monsters celebrate and blow out the candles on the cake, we asked the lovely members of the Geek & Sundry community to write in and share their favorite Pokémon memories. And share, you did. We got over 150 (how fitting!) stories sent in, all talking about the various ways Pokémon has touched your lives over the years. We’ve put together a few, but if you want to read all of them, head on over to our Facebook page. I’m not going to lie, some of these got to me, so be prepared for some Poké-tears.
For some, Pokémon is about love:
When I was 13, I had a crush on a guy who played Pokémon Yellow. I thought he was cool, because I played Pokémon Red. He came to a party at my house, and when we were alone, he told me that he’d kiss me if I let him borrow Pokémon Red. I let him borrow it, and he kissed me. – Joy Lynn Klink
Or, you know, life:
Pokémon is more than a game for me. It’s a way of life. My Pokémon are my friends, my family. When they’re happy, I’m happy too. That’s why, even after twelve years, I’ve kept one of my oldest friends, my starting Charizard from my first Fire Red playthrough, Tyro, and transferred him to the newest generation. When the concepts of Mega Stones were introduced and it was revealed that Charizard had two, I knew what I had to do. And thus, his twin children, Kyria and Tyro the Second were born. The two always fight side by side and with their father, make up a joyful Pokémon family in my games. – Chris Leonhardt
And then there’s always those bad memories. Come on, Bianca, get your act together:
It was Pokémon Black/White when the game makes you team up with Bianca. Suddenly I hear it, the sound of a shiny Pokémon. An Exadrill. I prepare to toss a pokeball… and Bianca knocks it out. Hated her ever since. – Jenifer ‘Gir’ Weaver
Pokémon can also mean bonding with strangers:
I remember finishing a Taekwondo workout one time and my friend and I were discussing the newest generation of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Several younger kids’ eyes gleamed with excitement that they rushed over to my friend and I and began talking about their favorite Pokémon. At that moment, we told them of our grand adventures, from facing Kanto gym leaders, to facing the incredible Elite 4 of different regions, our rival battles, capturing legendary Pokémon like Mewtwo, Lugia, Ho-oh, Mew, Groudon, Kyogre, Rayquaza, Latios, Latias, and the struggles we had. With every story told by my friend and I, we were like heroes to them.
I started playing Pokémon when my Father became very ill. He lost his leg to type II diabetes [and] I had to take care of him afterward. We had four doctors appointments a week; I was living inside waiting rooms. My wife played when she was a kid and had a still working copy of Pokémon Yellow with the yellow Game Boy. She told me to play while I waited. I was hooked quickly and I upgraded to a GBA and played Ruby after that. Years later I still enjoy Pokémon, I watch the old episodes (Indigo!) with my four year old. – Justin Del Valle
And also caused sibling quarrels:
My brother, step-brother, and I were at a flea market, and my step-mother bought all three of us Red Version for the Game Boy. My brother and step-brother both grabbed the nicest looking cartridges, while I was left with one that looked like it’d been gnawed on by a toothless baby. When we got home we all grabbed our respective Game Boys, and started up the games. Lo and behold, the starting Pokémon on my cartridge was Mew. They begged me for it, but I simply laughed at them. – Toni Lynette Villademoros-Adwell
But mostly, Pokémon has brought families together:
My daughter and I have been playing Pokémon together since she was 5 years old, I had Blue, she had Red. Every new Pokémon [generation], we each got [a game] and we would play together. When my daughter was 21, she bought me the newest version for my birthday. No matter how far apart we are or how busy we get, we will always have Pokémon. – Heather Fuller
My grandma asked what I wanted for my birthday one year and I immediately said, “Pokémon card booster packs!” She went to the store to buy what she thought were called “Pom Pom Cards,” only to confuse the salesperson. I ended up with a few booster packs, one of them containing a holo Vileplume card. I have since sold off all my cards but made sure to keep that one because it was a special memory of my grandma. – Gina Stem
Some people didn’t even need to have the game to catch Pokémon fever:
Despite not having a lot of access to the show or games… I had a wild imagination. I used to “play” Pokémon as in playing pretend in my yard. My favourite Pokémon that I would play as were Rapidash, Persian, Ninetales, and Arcanine. I would usually start as their lower evolutions and the game would be that I was on a journey to evolve through heroic feats like jumping over things and climbing hills and trees to work up my strength. I’d dig holes and wander in the woods and pretend that I was on various missions throughout the Pokémon world. I had a Pikachu backpack that I would stuff with snacks, and he would be my friend throughout my journeys to evolve. – Hannah Brown
We can’t forget the funny memories, either:
When I got to the all-girl gym in Pokémon Blue and they called me a peeping tom I was really confused as to why they didn’t like me. When I figured out it was because my character was a boy and they thought he was being a pervert I was really mad. I wanted to be accepted by my fellow girls at the gym. I was so happy when they let you pick you gender. I would never be called a peeping tom again! – Rachel Orosz
In high school, way back when the Pokémon games were new, I had Red and Blue. I got a Game Shark so I could catch Mew, since this was way before promotional distributions were a thing and I HAD to catch them all. Word got out and suddenly I was the person to see at lunch for a few weeks. I don’t know how many Mews I traded away that year. – Casey Robinson
But really, Pokémon is all about friendship:
A good friend of mine and I have played Pokémon since we were 7 years old. We started in gen. 1 and have continued to play to this day. Once, we were both playing our copies of Pearl, and we actually had the opportunity to play competitively against each other (first time ever), and he was talking so much smack about how he was gonna crush me. He’s very intelligent and never lost before. I obliterated him with no losses of my own. After that, I went and back and did it again… three more times. His face was priceless. It was a good day. – Levi Naccarato
Thanks to everyone for sending in awesome Pokémon memories! Have more you want to share? Let us know in the comments below!
Image credit: Nintendo and Ken Sugimori via Bulbapedia