Pokémon Retrospective: Introduction

The Road to Sword & Shield Begins Here

Imagine a world where Pokemon never became the juggernaut that it has become. Sounds a little strange, doesn’t it? These creatures have become seemingly omnipresent in our popular culture. It is hard to not walk through a store and not see some kind of Pokemon merchandising: trading cards, school supplies, and even fruit snacks. It seems that Pokemon has always been around.

And yet, there was a time when Pokemon was nonexistent. If you are old enough to remember the explosion that happened in the late 90s, you will recall a wave of Pokemon paraphernalia happening all at once. The news reports, the controversies, the hysteria. All of these have become a distant memory; yet, they were absolutely essential to the building of this empire founded on cute yet deadly monsters.

Like many in my generation, I grew up when this big explosion of Pokemon popularity was at its peak. I have been around for every Pokemon generation and have actively participated in the culture surrounding Pokemon via tournaments, buying merchandise, new demos for unreleased games, and whatever else I could throw my money at. I’ve been around this PokeBlock once or twice and have memories to share with all of you of my firsthand experience. Perhaps your exposure was similar to mine? Or perhaps you got into the franchise differently? This is our chance to wax nostalgic about this property that we hold so near and dear to our hearts.

As Christians, we might have been especially susceptible to the controversies at that time. Claims that Pokemon were leading us into satanic worship, promoting evolution, and all manners of witchcraft and wizardry that were (somehow) linked back to the games. In many ways, this was one of the final waves of the “satanic panic” of the 80s, and as Christians, we all had to ask ourselves at some point if the series is profitable for us.

I’ve been around this PokeBlock once or twice and have memories to share with all of you of my firsthand experience.

Through all these things, Pokemon has persevered and continued to reinvent itself – for better or worse. The purpose of this retrospective series is to look back at how this franchise has “evolved” (to use the controversial terminology) over time and adjusted its core purpose and themes to fit a new generation. Whether you have been with the franchise since the beginning or are curious to try the first mainline console entries with Sword and Shield, I trust you will appreciate this walk down memory lane with me.

And in the words of Professor Oak…

“Your very own Pokémon legend is about to unfold! A world of dreams and adventures with Pokémon awaits! Let’s go!”