Release date: 1996
You might have heard of Pokémon. I can’t quite believe that date. 1996!? Holy crap. 21 years ago, apparently, I got well into this strange Japanese game about collecting made-up animals, stuffing them into balls and training them to fight each other. Yeah, the entire notion of Pokémon sounds horrific in this world of PETA and tofu, but as a game concept, it’s utter genius. Enjoyed by my entire generation as kids, we then grew up and got obsessed all over again in Pokémon Go!
But Pokémon Go gets tedious quickly because there isn’t really much meat to the game. The original Red and Blue versions (and consequently every other Pokémon game since then because they all follow the same blueprint), featured a coming of age story about a boy or girl setting out into the world to become the very best, like no one ever was… Red will always be my favourite because Charizard.
I still remember walking into Professor Oak’s lab, and him offering me the 3 starter Pokémon to choose from – Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Charmander. There wasn’t really any choice for me though because Charizard. After choosing my starter, Professor Oak asked if I wanted to give him a nickname. I thought why not, and amusingly called my beloved Charmander FIREMAN, in capital letters and everything. I didn’t realise that this name would actually be used every single time my prized Pokémon was referenced. So whenever I sent him out to battle, it shouted at me, “FIREMAN! I choose you!” And the worst part was it even kept the bloody name after it had evolved into Charmeleon and Charizard. Also, I taught him Cut without fully understanding that he could never unlearn it. So my single greatest Pokémon, the one I have put more effort into training than any other, even to this day, is my awesome but fucking stupidly named Charizard, who knows Cut instead of Fireblast, and is called FIREMAN.