If you've ever wanted proof that we're all cut from the same cloth, look no further than the Pokémon franchise. Vastly popular around the world for closing in on two decades – unbelievably, turning 20 in 2016 - Pokémon has spawned dozens of titles, numerous cameo appearances, a hit TV series, endless merchandise, a massively popular trading card game and pretty much a whole sub-culture to boot. In the western world, the whole thing started off in the late 90s, with the release of Pokémon Red & Blue. Little did we know that these games (/this game...) would totally change the face of not only the gaming industry, but also gamer and playground culture to boot.
Booting up – We'll always remember those first tentative, slighty awe-struck steps into the world of Pokémon. Even before the games landed here, there was a buzz about the approaching phenomenon, in the media, in the classrooms... Hitting Start for the very first time and meeting Professor Oak was, in a sense, a coming of age – leaving home and heading off into the big, wide world. The romance of this notion was not lost on us as kids. The Pokédex, the starter Pokémon, the juxtaposition of Ash (or whatever you chose to call him)'s Palette Town home with the danger and mystery of the long grass – all this added up to make for an inspiring opening that put adventure in our hearts.
Getting stuck in – Of course it wasn't long before we were striding out confidently to the bigger towns and cities; Cerulean, Vermillion, even braving underground passes and haunted towers. Within no time at all we'd battle all manner of wild Pokémon from snarling Ratatat to cheeky Pikachu, face gym bosses, go toe to toe with Gary and scupper the dastardly plans of Team Rocket. It was such a joy to turn on that Gameboy and let yourself sink steadily deeper into the wonderful world of Pokémon, and with multiple story arcs and a lengthy narrative, it was possible to stay there for quite some time.
Keeping us there – The real secret to the success of Pokémon Red & Blue, is that not only did they draw us in, they kept us there. With 151 different Pokémon to find – including some infuriatingly elusive ones – there is literally months of gameplay to be enjoyed on these little cartridges. There were lots of details there too – slot machines in the big city that gave us a taste of what was to come on the kind of online slots that you can play here - Pokémon breeding, a vast array of items to own and a whole 100 levels to train your little warriors up to. In fact, if you'll excuse us, we have some Rare Candies to find…