I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with Pokémon for most of my life. I watched the anime as a little kid in elementary school, when I was mainstreaming from an ESE class to a regular class on a daily basis. My brother collected some Pokémon cards from the first generation, if not all, and I fell in love with the artwork they put into them; I didn’t care much about the trading card game in general. One day, my brother stopped collecting the cards–he didn’t even make it to the second generation–and to this very day I’m still pondering where he even hid his binder of Gen I cards. When I was 7 years old, I had a crush on the most powerful Pokémon at the time: Mewtwo. Long story short, I had a dream where Mewtwo saved my life from some kind of villain whose name and face I have completely forgotten. My crush on Mewtwo didn’t last very long, though. My cousin and brother laughed at the mere thought of a Legendary Pokémon being my “true love”–it would be out of my league, anyway.

In 2007, when I was in middle school, the Pokémon franchise became popular again on its 10th anniversary (in the U.S.). We entered Gen 4 with Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl, yet I was still into the anime, not the games. However, I had a classmate named Joshua who was the biggest Pokémon fan I ever met. There was only one problem that got in the way of his Pokémon Training, though: religion. And by religion, I mean Josh’s parents. The sect of Christianity they were in–Baptist–deemed Pokémon demons created by the Devil to corrupt the minds of children, which I found very hard to believe. The belief perturbed me even more so when Josh came to me one time, if not more, complaining that his parents took away his Pokémon cards in accordance with the Baptist doctrine. Josh’s parents came around and allowed Josh to continue playing Pokémon, which he was proud of. I haven’t spoken to Josh since the 7th Grade, but I know he’s very happy to be a part of the Pokémon community (if he’s still active in it at all).

In my senior year of high school, close to graduation, my classmate in Psychology showed me the trailer for Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, which wasn’t due until the fourth quarter of 2013. Watching the trailer on his Galaxy SIII, I was surprised at how much the producers enhanced the graphics–everything was full-blown CGI. Again, I didn’t care much about the games, only the anime series (the graphics improved in that area as well).

Now that I got my life story out of the way, let’s fast-forward to the 2014 holiday season. I was at GameStop trying to get Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 3DS), which was extremely popular. I downloaded the free demo from the Nintendo eShop, but I wanted to play the full game. It wasn’t on the shelf, as is the case with some popular video games, so I browsed around some more only to come across the most recent Pokémon games: Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. I thought long and hard about getting one of the two versions, and getting into the Pokémon games at all. Okay, Super Smash Bros. is out of the question because it’s nowhere to be found, I thought to myself. As for Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal… well, as much as I love Sonic, I don’t want to take any chances on a game that’s more God-awful than Sonic ’06. Oh, what the hell, I’ll take Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. This might actually give me the opportunity to play something I should’ve played when I was younger! 

So, on Christmas Day, I officially became a Pokémon Trainer. My starter Pokémon? Torchic, who quickly evolved into Blaziken within a week or two. I caught some other Pokémon along the way–due to their ability to Evolve, I think it’s best for me not to name the Pokémon I acquired because it’s exahausting–and today I have 422 out of 719 Pokémon in my Pokédex. I would’ve had more than 422 Pokémon or maybe even closer to 700 if not for a couple of problems: trading and Legendaries. In my brother’s time, you needed a wire to trade Pokémon from one Game Boy to another, which wasn’t an issue if your classmate didn’t mind giving you a special Pokémon. Now that the recent Pokémon games have wireless Internet capability, it’s easier to trade Pokémon with your close friends and other people around the world–not to mention a huge headache. Right now, I’ve proposed a trade to at least a dozen people from Italy, France, Japan, Spain, the UK, Australia, and even here in the US, and they have not gotten back to me. If someone does accept my trading proposal, I would offer them a Pokémon that I could care less about in exchange for a Pokémon that may interest me. Here’s where the trading process gets problematic. Sometimes, if I offer a Magby in exchange for a potential Legendary (for example, Diancie) I would accept it, but then the other person would cancel that trade. Speaking of Legendaries… If I go to the Global Trading Station and seek Diancie, Mew, Shaymin, Jirachi, Deoxys, or any other Legendary Pokémon, I would see that the people who deposited them into the system are seeking other Legendary Pokémon that I should’ve caught by now. I would give them my left arm in lieu of a Pokémon I don’t have for all I care! And another thing about Legendaries is, unless you caught them in previous games and transferred them to another game already, you have to receive them at promotional events–movie premieres, expos, festivals, even actual Pokémon Center stores (if there’s one near you)–which not everybody can attend. Don’t believe me? Here’s a link with a list of all the Legendary Pokémon to date: http://nintendo.wikia.com/wiki/Legendary_Pok%C3%A9mon. Find them on the XY & ORAS Pokédex on Serebii.net and, when you want to find out where they’re located, there’s a text that reads “Transfer required” and/or “Transfer or receive from event,” depending on which Pokémon game you’re playing.

I have a lot to learn about Pokémon Training, battles, and trading–nearly 20 years worth of it.

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