Pokémon: From a Gen One Perspective.

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October 1999 isn’t exactly a time that I can draw an infinite amount of memories and nostalgia from, mostly due to being as old as time itself (OK, 31. But I feel it alright!?). With that being said, it was around this time when my Mum walked me into Woolworths and let me buy ‘Pokémon Blue’ for my ‘Game Boy Pocket’.

Apparently the only picture of Woolworths, Ashton – Under – Lyne…

From then on, I would classify myself as a Pokémon trainer. My first ever starter was ‘Bulbasaur’ and started a tradition of picking a grass type in every preceding generation. This wasn’t just a by-chance purchase where I liked the look of it, one of my childhood friends imported a copy of ‘Pokémon Red’ from America some months earlier (‘Murica got it in Sept 1998, who else remembers the blight of being a British gamer!?)

A Link Cable to the Past…

I checked it out when he got it and it blew my mind, I was new to turn-based RPGs at the time and was quite happy playing platforming titles. I agreed to get Pokémon Blue to help my bestie finish his Pokédex and because I was super hyped up. It feels like a past life looking back at these early memories of Pokémon, using link cables to trade Mons, buying a light up magnifier so I could level grind all night so I could battle my friends in school in the morning, pressing down and B because we all thought it would increase our catch rates. It was a magical time.

The marketing of ‘Pocket Monsters’ in the west was second to none. Not only was the hype real for the Game Boy games, the Anime had just started to air and the Trading Card Game landed. Game Freak, Nintendo, 4Kids and Wizards of the Coast were literally peddling Japanese endorphins to kids, It was glorious! Due to the anime distribution rights with Warner Bros, there was a weekly ‘Pokémon League’ down at the Warner Bros. store in Manchester that my Dad used to take me too. Some of the kids even had underground betting rings that used to see other kids lose their decks if they lost, imagine fight club but for 11/12 year olds.

Chills man, Chills!

As time moved on I completed my Pokédex, used my ‘Game Boy Printer‘ to print out my certificate and had a level 100 team. I had a full Base set collection with two powerful competitive decks for the TCG (Which at the time was broken as hell, Prof. Oak trainer card anyone?) and I wanted to know what was next. Luckily for myself and my group of friends, we all managed to convince our parents that the internet was awesome and we needed it. This was around the time Internet usage was free after 6pm and was otherwise chargeable by the hour, not including the 2 mins it took for a modem to dial up and connect. Even whilst writing I can recall the smell of my Dads solid wood ‘Bureau’ which was complemented by a hot aluminium, cream white piece of arse running ‘Windows 95’ (500MB Hard Drive if memory serves me right).

Yes, we used to waste this much packaging for a CD-ROM in the 90’s =)

This was also around the time when ROMs started to come into pop culture, discovering all the Eastern exclusive SNES games we had missed out on (Mostly DragonBall titles, but I’ll save that for another article). ‘Pokémon Gold and Silver’ had just hit Japan, and I was gurning for something fresh within the franchise. The time between Eastern and Western releases used to be so great that people would upload 80/90% Fan translations of Gold and Silver, which were terrible but playable to a point. I remember playing through 4 gym badges worth of verbal diarrhoea on a keyboard and old CRT before coming to my senses and waiting for a western release.

Round Two, Johto!

In November 2001, My Mum and Dad took me to ‘Electronics Boutique’ in Blackpool to buy me Pokémon Gold (Side Note: Why am I suddenly remembering what everything smelled like!?). My journey to Johto was filled with more thrills than before, and was complemented nicely by the TCG Neo / Neo Destiny expansions covering the new Pokémon from Gold and Silver. What an amazing time to be alive and be at the age where a franchise could literally be your life.

I miss how Fow 90’s advertising was **cries**

I later dabbled in ‘Ruby / Sapphire’ and the ‘NDS’ ventures, more so ‘HeartGold and SoulSilver‘ for nostalgia. I didn’t truly get back into the fandom until the release of ‘Pokemon X and Y’ on the ‘3DS’, 3D Pokemon Sprites and a full game to enjoy them in? Sign me up! I once again completed my Pokédex, built a team and all the rest of it. I later auctioned and traded my Wizards of the Coast Pokémon Cards to start playing in the latest generation, which had changed a lot but was somehow familiar. Once again, I was hooked!

Like the first set, but actually useful. Kinda.

By the time the ‘Nintendo Switch’ Pokemon outing ‘Lets Go Pikachu and Eevee’ was announced, I was reviewing games on various platforms for Vodafone Global and myself under various monikers. I was invited as press to ‘Nintendo’s UKVS’ event in 2018 to preview Smash Bros. and other titles, little did I know that Pokémon was going to make an appearance! It turns out I was the first member of the UK Press to play the demo of Let’s Go, which is still a massive achievement in my writing career and a nod to my younger self (It is more or less a Pokémon Yellow remake afterall).

Although Let’s Go! Received bad press for its ‘Pokémon Go!’ catching mechanics and simplified gameplay, I found it to be a pleasant experience that will also get a new generation of fans along for the ride. Nothing wrong with that! Although I will admit, It was heartbreaking to swap Nintendo Switch consoles to find my save data wasn’t cloud saved. DAMN YOU SAVE EDITING SOFTWARE! DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!

These games represent a big moment for me, all the love!

I have currently lived in Pokémon Shield for the best part of 100 hours, and I can hand on heart say that I am thankful for the development team to not include the ‘National Dex’. Its complete overkill and the content in the titles is more than enough for players to be getting on with. Breeding is more streamlined, especially with the advent of candies, mints and a move tutor being available in every Pokémon Centre. It’s a much smoother ride and is a breath of fresh air for a first generation player such as myself.

The Dark Side of Fandom…

Much like my last article based on the Star Wars Fanbase, the Pokémon fanbase really lost it’s excrement on the lead up to the launch of the current generation. Im talking gamers literally threatening development staff with physical harm for missing out some Pokémon, when did the Pokémon community start allowing trash to be associated with it? I’m a member of various Facebook Pokémon groups for Sword and Shield / Pokémon GO!, and everyone is lovely and is more than happy to help out one another. It’s just one of the sweetest Fandoms i’ve had the pleasure of being a part of, then this? Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again!

Even the new Anime is taking risks by not sticking to one region whilst introducing elements from the next generation, I’ve been out of the TCG scene for some time but Tag Team cards look interesting the last time I checked.  In my humble opinion, the Pokémon franchise has never been in better shape! Considering it’s the highest grossing Franchise / IP in the world… EVER!, I doubt nothing is going to stop Pokémon either.

Finding Star Wars: Pleasing a Fanbase

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If you have read this far, you probably love ‘Star Wars‘, maybe more so than your man ‘Dad Bod Gamer’ (doubt it…). Having a strong passion about anything creative and inspiring is a great thing and should be encouraged, but what happens when someone comes along and strays slightly from your perfect vision? What happens when you see the latest instalment of your favourite franchise and it fails to live up to your euphoric sense of Nostalgia? This, Ladies and Gentleman, is the Star Wars Fandom.

The man who started it all

Thank the maker?

Let’s start with the Fandoms first victim, the maker, ‘George Lucas’. Star Wars is his creation and love child, and he wanted to perfect his vision of a Galaxy Far Far Away. From releasing the remastered trilogy to the home release of ‘Revenge of the Sith’, Lucas couldn’t move for constant criticism.

The remastered trilogy was my ticket to the core worlds and opened my mind to the Force, more info on this can be found on my last post here. Honestly? I don’t understand the problem with a man adjusting and improving parts of a trilogy of films that he poured his heart and soul into.

The ‘Who shot first?’ argument within the Fandom is somewhat a joke to me now. It amazes me how hung up some people get over the smallest of things that doesn’t make a blind bit of difference. The additional scenes such as the approach to Cloud City in ‘Empire’ only add to the immersion of ‘Landos’ latest money maker. I will agree, the musical number ‘In Return of the Jedi‘ should be killed with Mandalorian fire gauntlets, but no one or no thing is perfect.

Mesa Jar Jar Binks…

Then came the delivery of the Prequel Trilogy. From ‘Anakin’s’ wooden acting to ‘Jar Jar Binks’, George Lucas was cast down as the guy who ruined Star Wars. I don’t agree. The Prequel trilogy was aimed at kids, did you know Star Wars is a kids series? The hoarders of 30+ year old men moaning online because they didn’t feel the magic as they did as kids is nothing short of pathetic. I’ll be the first one to say it, kids love Jar Jar and it helped market ‘the Phantom Menace’.

The Choreography was second to none and illustrated the 8 forms of lightsaber combat beautifully. Granted, the prequel trilogy felt a little too clean, going against the ‘lived in’ aesthetic the original trilogy followed. I’ll be the first one to admit that Episode 2 focused too much on the love interest between ‘Padmé’ and Anakin, hence my ‘Corrie in Space’ attitude for the first half of the film, but it still worked.

Resident Gungan Ahmed Best

Darth Maul‘ was quite possibly the coolest antagonist in any Fandom to date, with demand seeing him appear in the ‘Clone Wars’ and ‘Rebels’ animated series. Oh, and serving as a brilliant cliffhanger in ‘Solo’. As soon as Lucas sold up shop to Disney, the Fandom almost forgot about all their hate towards the father of Star Wars and started to hold him in high regard. Fans even wished for Lucas to return once ‘the Force Awakens’ was released. How the hell does this happen or make sense? It’s ridiculous and something I’d like to separated myself from.

Jar Jar Binks actor ‘Ahmed Bests’ acting career was more or less left in ruins following fan backlash towards the clumsy Gungan. Why is it OK to treat other humans like this? The guy was hired to do a job and was an original pioneer in motion capture acting, he deserved some goddamn respect! He is however returning to the Franchise as a Jedi in “Jedi Temple Challenge” which is due out in 2020. 

The Last Straw

The worst tragedy of ‘the Last Jedi’ was the abuse and threats made towards ‘Rose’ actress Kelly Marie Tran. A number of fans quickly grew frustrated with the role her character played to the point of finding her personal social media accounts and sending horrible and threatening messages.

1: Who the hell do these people think they are!? No one deserves the horrid feeling cyber bullying brings, especially for just  doing her job.

2: Even if you agree that the Character is poorly written, how the hell is that the actor / actress fault? She was hired to play a part, get over it!

3: These are the same fans that will claim Disney stole and raped their childhood and who completely overreacted over Luke’s hand disappearing when he dies.

Kelly Marie Tran Plays ‘Rose’ in The Last Jedi

I am a die hard and true Star Wars fan who will always look for the good in any new content. Negative and poorly done work throughout films, novels, comics etc need to be discussed constructively. This is how a Fanbase should be, creators won’t know what we want unless we voice that opinion, but harming someone mental health or dragging them through the mud only affects the victim.

Ending 3 Trilogies

We all know what issues the majority of us have with ‘The Last Jedi’, and the ‘Rise of Skywalker’ sets out to create a satisfying ending for the trilogy and to rectify some of the holes left in the cannon from Rian Johnsons outing. Whilst I’m really not happy with RJ’s take on Episode 8, I wouldn’t dream of wishing him any harm or verbally abuse him. Firstly, because I’m not a Richard and Secondly, I don’t think people appreciate how hard and daunting it must be to put your name on an original story that continues the fate of characters that have been established for nearly 40 years at the time.

Episode 9 has received critiques for its fast pacing and ‘Force Healing’ by both professionals and fans. What do you all seriously expect? Once again, this film is a conclusion to a 9 film trilogy and a signal of things to come for turned off fans post TLJ. We got a satisfying explanation for Snoke, we found out who Rey was, Palpatines overall control of the sequel trilogy made sense due to his endless contingensies and it was just fun.

As fans, we seriously need to get past this idea of perfection and whimsical nostalgia. It’s just not a sustainable mindset, this is a film franchise for kids, some things aren’t going to be logical. In fact, who cares about logic when we have lightsabers that are self powered and contained with unlimited energy, it literally makes zero scientific sense, so chill the F out fans!

Lastly, it’s such a shame to see so much anger and hate come from a franchise that has given it’s fans a voice and a platform to use it. Although I try to stay non biased, if you are a fan who is part of this vicious movement, feel free to lock yourself in a box and throw yourself into the ocean. Or just be nice, it’s nice to be nice.

The Skywalker Saga: The Nostalgia Is Strong

Life Before Star Wars…

My first memory of Star Wars is getting the remastered Star Wars Trilogy on VHS from my Nan on Christmas Day back in 1997. My cousin was into the Space Swashbuckling saga, so she decided to take her chance on me this year. It changed my life. 

I was surrounded by Football enthusiasts and the odd Batman fan. Whilst I loved Batman, I felt like an outsider. I just wasn’t interested in the status quo. I tried my hand at Scouts, Boys Brigade, Football and youth groups. It all bored me. It was just me and ‘Sonic the Hedgehog II’ on my ‘Mega Drive 32x’.

I idolised my cousin growing up, as such I watched the trilogy over and over. So much so that the tracking on my VHS player made the wear and tear worse, I was hooked on finding out more about a Galaxy far far away. I could recite lines from the film and do impressions of ‘Yoda‘ to anyone who cared to listen (Not Many). As I found my friends as a pre teen we started collecting information we sourced from books, comics and later video games (You’re my Hero, Karl Katarn!)

Where it all began…

WHSmiths and Waterstones became terrorised in the Greater Manchester area by me and my friends using the stores as a reference library, occasionally buying essential guides, visual dictionaries and encyclopedias should our spending money permit. You know, value for money etc.

After becoming familiar with the then post- ‘Return of the Jedi‘ canon, collecting 100s of ‘Power of the Force‘ figures and getting my Encyclopedia signed by Kenny Baker, I started to wonder what’s next? Were talking pre affordable dial up Internet, so a lot of the collectives information came from school ground rumours and magazines.

Rumours of Young Skywalker

Then, rumours circulated about a prequel trilogy covering the rise and fall of ‘Anakin Skywalker‘ and the transformation into ‘Darth Vader‘. Filming had actually started the first year I entered that Galaxy Far Far Away, I just didn’t know. I remember me and my pals going to watch ‘The Mighty Joe Young‘ just for the New trailer in ’99, with one friend in particular managing to download trailer 2 on his Dad’s top spec PC and Internet connection. We lost our minds!

Lucasfilm kicked up the biggest marketing storm following its 16 year hiatus from the Franchise in cinema. New toys, new sponsorships, Star Wars was at the forefront of pop culture for the first time in my life. I couldn’t believe it, people finally started to understand why I loved the Franchise so much.

The coolest action figure known to man, circa 1999

When the film released in May ’99, many’ Boomer’ SW loyalists hated what they had done to the Franchise which now featured a more child friendly script and new additions to the cannon such as Midiclorians explaining a Jedi’s level of power in the Force.

I think George Lucas was very clever with the marketing and angle of the Prequel Trilogy. This wasn’t for die hard fans in my opinion, this was for 90s kids to jump into a galaxy far far away to never return. This now shows with the general opinion of the prequel trilogy gaining a more positive stance as the Millennial fans grew up.

Return of the Force

Whatever your opinion of the prequel trilogy was, Star Wars was back in full force and capturing imaginations of millions of kids worldwide. We now had Lego sets, new toys and new characters to relate too. I loved kid Anakin Skywalker, as I felt I could relate to the moody and convulsed depiction of Skywalker in ‘The Clone Wars‘ due to my own personal struggles.

As ‘Revenge of the Sith‘ wrapped up in may 2005, I was in College, playing in bands and having a great time. Episode 3 represented my graduation into adulthood and also the conclusion of my childhood. It provided a satisfying conclusion to the prequel trilogy and really showed off the strength and will of Anakin, Obi Wan and Palpatine.

Awkward…

Following this, we saw the release of the Animated Clone Wars film following a ‘Samurai Jack‘ style mini series on Cartoon Network. Whilst the film was shocking and introduced ‘Asoka Tanno’ out of thin air, it gave birth to the Clone Wars animated TV series.

Clone Wars realised its audience was quickly maturing and dealt with some tough issues, one plot line that comes to mind is Obi Wan losing a love interest. Who the hell saw that coming? It also padded the cannon of the prequel trilogy out such as Qui Gon learning to become a force ghost etc.

The Death of Cannon…

Star Wars Rebels’ followed after Disney Aquired Lucasfilm, which was an amazing series. The buyout was, for me, a double edged sword at first. All events that didn’t take place on film were established as ‘Legends‘ and ‘Non Cannon‘, a knife in the back of my childhood self. How could anyone do this!?

Disney borrows from legends every now and again, such as bringing back Timothy Zahns ‘Grand Admiral Thrawn’ from the outer rim, and to great effect! However, it still saddens me that all of my adventures I threw myself into never really happened. This did however spark my excitement whilst waiting for the first film in the sequel trilogy, ‘The Force Awakens’. 

A New Cast for a New Generation

New and Old material was combined to make an exciting yet safe return to Star Wars. Whilst TFA is guilty of mirroring ‘A New Hope’, it was a solid return to cinema for the Franchise with thanks to JJ Abrams of ‘Star Trek’ fame. The shock of seeing Han Solo meet his end by his son Ben Solo was buffered by the scripts respect for legends in having Solo’s son turning to the dark side. 

Who’s Snoke? What actually happened to Luke’s Temple? Why did Luke just abandon the galaxy? Who are Rey’s parents? The Fandom was ablaze with fan theorys and general enthusiasm. Then ‘The Last Jedi‘ happened…

Dividing a Fanbase

Rian Johnston opted to go against the status quo, in some ways adopting the approach to ‘The Empire Strikes Back‘. I walked out of the cinema back in 2017 feeling lost, confused and disappointed. The main antagonist was dead, Luke Skywalker was dead (And not the Luke I knew in legends), Reys lineage was a letdown and we were left with a film full of poor humour and frankly retarded logic. Ultimately, the Fanbase was divided. 

Although the Star Wars Fan base can be venomous at times with the treatment of George Lucas in the prequel era, this was a new low for the Franchise. No one really knew where the last instalment of the Skywalker Saga would take us, some of us wished for a complete ret-con within novelisations to even the playing field. 

A Return to form for Single Player Star Wars titles

Star Wars wasn’t doing to well in the gaming space either. ‘Battlefront‘ was online only with lacklustre content, and the ‘Uncharted‘ style ‘1313‘ was canceled. ‘Battlefront II’ attempted to fix this with a cannon campaign covering the Emperor’s contingency plan which was a great effort. It was however shadowed by EAs greed with loot boxes, sparking controversy world wide to the point of political debate. 

For the first time in my memory, EA admitted its faults and attempted to stop the train wreck, with developer support still active in regards to online content. ‘Jedi Fallen Order‘ marked a return to form for EA with ‘Titanfall‘ developer ‘Repawn Entertainment’ at the helm. Fallen Order follows a padawan survivor of Order 66 finding his way in a post Republic galaxy, dodging the Empires iron fist at every turn. It is a truely great single player experience and one I would recommend! 

Return of the Hype

In April of this year, the first Trailer for ‘The Rise of Skywalker‘ was released at Star Wars celebration. This was the point that my faith in Disney and Lucasfilm was truly restored, we heard the spine chilling cackle of Emperor Palpatine! I’ve got chills running down my spine just writing about it, once again I lost my mind! After the trailer was aired, Ian McDermid took to the celebration stage and said (in character) “Roll it again…” to thunderous applause. 

The Rise of Skywalker has caused a lot of debate since its release, but I will hand on heart say that I found Episode 9 to be thrilling, surprising and truly satisfying. 22 years after first discovering Star Wars, my only feelings forwards to Franchise is excitement and wonder. 

Loving how this poster Mirrors ‘a New Hope’, signalling the end of the Skywalker Saga

‘The Mandolorian‘ shows what Disney and Lucasfilm is now capable of thanks to the capable minds of Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau. Taking the Franchise back to its Space Western roots, I have high hopes for future instalments now that Lucasfilm is free from the constraints of the Skywalker bloodline. 

With Kathleen Kennedy hesitant to say this is the end for the Skywalker continuity, I’m even more excited to see how Lucasfilm will usher in Star Wars for a new generation. Especially the Ewan McGreggor lead ‘Obi Wan’ Disney + series, Just like they did for me 22 years ago… 

And So It Begins…

Welcome all to the brand new Dad Bod Gamer blog!

Some of you may know me as Reggie / Reggie Reviews, Chris, Christian or other, more grotesque monikers.

I have spent the last 2 years working my way into the gaming industry as a game reviewer / content creator for myself and other sites such as Elite Gamer, Nintendad and shortly as the face of Vodafones ESL sponsorship.

After a recent void of creativity and motivation due to personal circumstances and mental states (more of that in another post), I have decided to rebrand and cover whatever the hell I like!

No more relying on handouts from publishers / developers and more so no more covering content and topics I’m just not interesting in.

From Nintendo to Star Wars, look out for varied content that I sincerely hope you can all relate to and talk about in the comments or on my twitter handle @Dad_Bod_Gamer

I’ve already got loads of post ideas brewing, but for now, much love and here’s to 2020!