The Best Vintage Pikachu Merchandise You Should Pika-Choose!

What’s cute, yellow and since 1996 has become a household name? Why, it’s the one and only Pikachu of course!


What’s cute, yellow and since 1996 has become a household name? Why, it’s the one and only Pikachu of course! Considering how synonymous Pikachu has become with the Pokemon franchise it’s strange to think that our little mousey friend wasn’t originally going to be Pokemon’s mascot, with that particular role originally set to go to Clefairy. This decision however, was changed as it was thought a mascot that would be perceived as gender-neutral in its design would be more equal in appeal to both boys and girls than Clefairy, the pink aesthetic of whom it was considered may be more popular with a female demographic. After taking center stage as Ash/Satoshi’s companion in the Pokemon anime, Pikachu would also become the star of Pokemon Yellow, a revamped version of the original Pokemon Gameboy games which took influence from numerous aspects of the popular anime series.

In the past two and a half decades Pikachu has continued to grace both the big and small screen in a variety of different Pokemon-related media. Along with an abundance of Pokemon video games, there have been Pikachu-branded planes, cars and more toys and pieces of collectable Pikachu merchandise than you can shake a Pokeball at. In this blog we will be exploring Pikachu’s impact on the success of Pokemon as a brand by taking a look at a few interesting pieces of vintage Pikachu merchandise from the golden age of Pokemania.

Tiger 35mm Pikachu Camera:

Despite being released on the cusp of the Millennium, here is a quintessentially 90’s piece of Pokemon merchandise if ever there was one. The 1999 Tiger 35mm Pikachu Camera featured a very cute Pikachu/Pokeball design with Diglett also making an appearance as the camera’s shutter button (I suppose out of all the Gen I Pokemon Diglett probably is the most applicable to be used as a button, as I can’t imagine the likes of Cloyster or Starmie would have made for very comfortable use of the camera). Fully functional, the Pikachu Camera came complete with a battery-operated flash and also had the added feature of being able to add a Pokemon-themed vignette frame around photos.

Pikachu Backpack:

Similar in design to the original “Fat Pikachu” plushies (as featured in my previous blog on vintage Pokemon plushies), the 20″ Pikachu Backpack was a very popular way of carrying your books and P.E kit to school for many kids in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. With a simple, cute and cuddly design, the Pikachu backpack was also released in a smaller 14″ version and as a 10″ gameboy carry case.

Pikachu Bubble Bath:

Produced by Grosvenor Consumer Products Ltd, the Pikachu Bubble Bath was a large plastic Pikachu figure with a bottle of child-friendly Bubble Bath fitted inside, which could be accessed via the bottom of the figure. Grosvenor have created a variety of bubble bath figures over the years, including worldwide franchises such as Disney, The Simpsons and Doctor Who, so it was only fitting that a phenomenon as big as Pokemon (and with a mascot as cute as Pikachu) should also join their ranks. Upon the western release of the Pokemon 2000 movie, a second Pokemon Bubble Bath figure was released featuring the film’s star legendary Pokemon, Lugia, alongside Pikachu.

Pokemon Yellow/Special Pikachu Edition Gameboy Colour, Pikachu & Pichu Gameboy Colour and Pokemon/Pikachu Nintendo 64:

First beginning with the Special Pikachu Edition Gameboy Colour, Nintendo have released a variety of Pokemon-themed consoles over the years including many editions of the Gameboy Advance/SP/Nintendo DS/3DS, a trend that continues today with the recent Pikachu-themed Nintendo Switch accompanying Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu. The Special Pikachu Edition Gameboy Colour was packaged alongside Pokemon Yellow, which (as mentioned earlier) was an updated version of the original Pokemon games, where the player received a Pikachu as their starter Pokemon which would follow them during their adventures throughout Kanto, in a similar fashion to Ash’s Pikachu in the anime. The console itself featured bright Pikachu-yellow casing, with graphics of Pikachu and fellow fan favourites from the anime Jigglypuff and Togepi greeting the player alongside the screen.

In 2001, following the release of the second generation of Pokemon games, another Pikachu-themed Gameboy colour was made available. This console was produced in two different colours, yellow (the same bright yellow casing that was used on the previous Pikachu gameboy) and gold, with the border of the screen featuring Pikachu and his newly-introduced pre-evolution Pichu, one of the new baby Pokemon that made their debut in Pokemon Gold and Silver.

Prior to the release of the second Pikachu-themed Gameboy however, Nintendo’s first Pokemon-themed home console found its way into the hands of gamers upon the release of the Pikachu Nintendo 64 in 2000. Featuring a large plastic Pikachu on top of the console and a Pokeball as the power switch, a variety of different versions of the console were made available in various territories across the globe. The standard version featured solely the console and a Pokemon-branded controller, whereas Toys R Us shoppers in the USA were treated to an exclusive version packaged with a pocket watch and the game Hey You, Pikachu!  

Over in Australia, an edition known as the Pokemaniac Nintendo 64 was packaged with a VHS copy of Pokemon – I Choose You!, the first volume in the initial series of Pokemon anime VHS releases. Japan received an exclusive orange version of the console, which has since become much sought after amongst collectors.

Tiger Pikachu Radio Control Car:

In 2000 Tiger produced a Pikachu-themed radio control car, which was likely influenced (though this remains to be officially confirmed) by the Pika-Bug cars, a small fleet of Volkswagen Beetles with Pikachu-style aesthetics which had been used to promote Pokemon across the United States of America from 1998 up until the mid 2000’s.

The Pikachu Radio Control Car was operated via a Pokeball-shaped remote which connected with the car through the use of radio frequency. The remote allowed the driver to change direction as they pleased by using the two joysticks that were found upon opening the Pokeball remote.

Pokemon Pikachu/Pocket Pikachu:

Originally released in 1998, the Pokemon Pikachu (also known under the name Pocket Pikachu in Japan) was a Tamagotchi-style digital pet that functioned as a pedometer. Instead of requiring users to feed/clean the Pikachu as many other digital pets of the same era did, the user’s relationship with their Pikachu grew stronger by increasing their number of steps when wearing the Pokemon Pikachu. Every twenty steps would be converted into a digital currency within the device known as Watts, which could then be used to buy presents for Pikachu and thus improving the users standing with their new digital friend.

The first version of the device featured yellow casing similar to that used on the Special Pikachu Edition Gameboy Colour, with black and white display graphics that would show Pikachu’s interactions with the user. Different animations would become accessible upon gaining specific amounts of Watts, depicting Pikachu eating, showering and watching TV amongst a number of other activities. If the user did not interact with Pikachu for a prolonged period of time, the Pikachu within the device would get angry with the player upon the Pokemon Pikachu eventually being turned on, even running away if the player’s absence went on for too long (Pikachu going AWOL wasn’t permanent however, as he could be called back by shaking the device). 

A new version of the device, the Pokemon Pikachu 2 GS, was released alongside the second generation of Pokemon Games, however this time around the player didn’t have to take care of Pikachu and the watts gained through use of the pedometer could be exchanged for items in-game.

Hasbro Electronic Pokemon Pikachu:

Last but certainly not least, my last addition to this blog list is Hasbro’s 1998 Electronic Pokemon Pikachu. Although there have been a variety of electronic Pikachu-themed toys released by a variety of different manufacturers since Pokemania first hit the world, this one is particularly special to me as (along with the electric Charmander toy from the same range) it was the first piece of Pokemon merchandise I ever got. With light-up cheeks and Pikachu-voice sound effects, this toy is also quite notable in aesthetic terms for featuring Pikachu with a semi-white face and a much shorter and rounder body than would be seen in later toys, both aspects of Pikachu’s early design which were dropped as the franchise became more widespread and the overall appearance of individual Pokemon became more consistent with how they appeared in the anime series as opposed to their designs in Ken Sugimori’s original artwork.

More Pikachu Merchandise?

Of course, as stated earlier this blog only features a miniscule example of the amount of Pikachu merchandise that is in existence, as after over 25 years of success the Pokemon franchise has put their mascot’s face on an impossibly large amount of products, each as cute as the last (though the recent and rather terrifying Pikachu-centipede style plushie might be a slight exception…). As new incarnations of video games, toys, trading cards and anime continue to introduce new fans to Pokemon, our little electric mouse friend has become a pop culture juggernaut, instantly recognisable to people of all ages. As the world of Pokemon has continued to keep up with changes in trends and technology, Pikachu has stayed in his rightful place at the centre of the franchise and I hope he continues to for many more years to come. 


Article by Emily Carney

Sources/Further Reading and Viewing:

The Toy Report – A Brief History Of Pokemon Toys:

The Phoblographer – This Pokemon Camera Will Make Your Inner 90’s Kid Swoon:

Bulbapedia – Pokemon Yellow Version:

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Yellow_Version

Nintendo64.fandom.com – Pokemon Console:

https://nintendo64.fandom.com/wiki/Pokemon_Console

Pikabugs.weebly.com – History of Pikabugs:

https://pikabugs.weebly.com/

Mewisme700 – Pikabug Update 1: Complete Initial Overview:

CrimsonPanteon – 1997 Electronic Pikachu Toys:

Wikipedia – Pokemon Pikachu:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Pikachu

Kotaku – The Virtual Pikachu That Didn’t Need Food, Just Affection:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Pikachu

Dr Retro – Gameboy Color Special Edition Unboxing:

Serebi.net – Pokemon Pikachu:

https://www.serebii.net/virtualpet/pokemonpikachu/

Vintage Pokemon Trainer Action Figures: Collecting & Restoration

Here we’ll be taking a look at a handful of the earlier Pokemon trainer action figures that were released during the first three generations of Pokemon, along with a few tips on restoring older action figures and keeping them in tip top condition.


Article by Emily Carney


As well as the mountain of action figures based on our favourite creatures from the world of Pokemon, over the years there have also been numerous toys inspired by the human characters from the franchise. Here we’ll be taking a look at a handful of the earlier Pokemon trainer action figures that were released during the first three generations of Pokemon, along with a few tips on restoring older action figures and keeping them in tip top condition.


Tomy 5” Trainer Figures

Cue 90’s intro music…

One of the most popular runs of Pokemon trainer figures was this range  which was manufactured and released by Tomy in 1998. Featuring key characters from the first series of the Pokemon anime (Ash, Brock and Misty along with Jessie and James from Team Rocket), these figures bore a striking resemblance to their anime counterparts and proved to be very popular among fans. Initially just Ash, Misty, Jessie and James were released with no sign of a Brock action figure, possibly due to his temporary absence early on in the anime and subsequently being replaced with Tracey Sketchit, as the creators of the Pokemon anime were worried about Brock being perceived negatively as an asian stereotype upon the anime’s release in the west. This however, proved to not be the case and Brock was immensely popular with western Pokemon fans, which led to his reinstatement as a main series character following the culmination of the Orange Islands series.

The Ash and Misty figures were initially released with Pikachu and Starmie respectively, however during the second release of figures Ash was packaged with Squirtle (who oddly, featured its original dark blue colouring as seen in Ken Sugimori’s illustrations in the Pokemon Red/Green/Blue/Yellow game manual as opposed to the light blue redesign given to Squirtle in the anime) and Misty was packaged with Jigglypuff. Team Rocket also featured different Pokemon in the second release, as Jessie had originally been packaged with Ekans and James with Koffing, but in the second release Jessie was packaged with Meowth and James, rather oddly considering it was Jessie’s Pokemon and not his, was packaged with Arbok. Eventually Brock did receive his own figure and was partnered with his Vulpix, along with the plastic Pokeball and small card disc displaying the featured Pokemon that was included with all the other western-released Tomy trainer figures.

Pocket Monsters

Interestingly, Japanese releases of these figures did not feature additional Pokemon figures or other parts other than a base to stand the figures on for display and the trainer figures were released in sets of two, with Ash and Misty (or as they are known in Japan, Satoshi and Kasumi), were released together, along with Jessie and James (Musashi and Kojiro) and Brock and Nurse Joy (Tekashi and Joy) being paired up. Fans of the anime can probably note that Brock would have been ecstatic with his box partner.

There has been a great deal of interest in this range of figures over the past few years, especially if still boxed and in good condition. The value of them continues to increase dramatically (I recently spotted an unopened Ash and Squirtle Tomy figure set on ebay for £500!), so if you are interested in collecting these figures I would definitely recommend trying to hunt down a bargain sooner than later as they do make great additions to any collection both boxed and unboxed, plus if you are lucky enough to get a box figure signed by the specific character’s original voice actor you could be looking at adding a serious investment piece to your collection.


Hasbro Deluxe Trainer Figures

Whilst technically being a continuation of the Tomy 5” Trainer Line (despite Hasbro taking over the production license), the Deluxe Trainer Figures released in 2000 introduced new features to the Trainer figure series.

Following his return to anime for the Johto Journeys series, Brock’s figure was released at the same time as Ash and Misty, with each of them being packaged with their own plastic backpack which could be attached and detached and a Pokeball similar to those included with the earlier Tomy trainer figure line (however the two halves of these Pokeballs were attached on a hinge, a slight change to the two separate pieces which made up the Tomy-released Pokeballs). Each figure was also paired up with one of the specific trainer’s Pokemon from the anime, with Ash being partnered with Pikachu, Brock being partnered with Zubat and Misty being partnered with Horsea

Backpacks included!

Unlike the previous Tomy range, the Hasbro line did not include Jessie and James, although they did include the additional feature of being articulated, which made them much more poseable and fun to reenact battles with. In a similar fashion to the Tomy figures, the Hasbro Deluxe Figures are becoming more and more sought after (though the prices haven’t quite reached the heights of the Tomy line yet), I recently managed to find the full trio together at a bargain price (not boxed or with their Pokemon/Pokeballs but they did included their backpacks) and they look excellent on display, so I would very much recommend keeping an eye out for the Deluxe Figures if you’re looking to add some early-series anime collectibles to your collection.


Tomy CGTSJ 3” (Approx) Figures

Officer Jenny, Professor Oak and Gary Oak too!

As well as the larger trainer figures, in 1998 Tomy also released a range of smaller human character figures. This range was the first to include characters such as Officer Jenny, Professor Oak and Gary Oak and featured the characters sculpted in various poses on a small grey stand. This line of figures was notable for possibly having the least amount of quality control when it came to the moulds used and the paintwork, as some of the character’s limbs ended to be rather oversized and had some unusual additions (note Officer Jenny’s rather long left arm and Brock inexplicably holding what appears to be a chicken drumstick in the photo above).

The Tomy CGTSJ figures are still readily available to purchase from a number of vintage Pokemon retailers online, however certain characters (particularly Professor Oak and Officer Jenny) are becoming increasingly rare.


Ash & Cyndaquil and Ash, Pikachu, Wartortle & Jigglypuff THINKChip Sets

THINKChip Ash

In 2001 Hasbro returned to creating Pokemon trainer figures with the THINKChip Ash figure, which was released in two different sets: one featuring the Ash figure and Cyndaquil, and another featuring Ash, Pikachu, Wartortle and Jigglypuff, the later being released as part of the Pokemon Trainer’s Choice range which bridged the gap between Pokemon Generation II and III.

Using the THINKChip Ash’s Talking Pokedex (which I covered in my previous blog, The Changing Face Of The Pokedex), the Ash figure and the Pokemon included in the sets were able to interact with the Pokedex using the THINKChip cards for each Pokemon that also came with each set. The THINKChip Ash figure was noticeably larger than other human character Pokemon toys and is currently the largest official trainer action figure to be released, measuring approximately 11.5 inches. The design of the figure is also noticeably similar to the Deluxe Trainer Ash figure that Hasbro released in 2000, albeit without the detachable backpack.

Do you have one in the attic?

In terms of collectibility, the THINKChip Ash figures are scarcely seen outside of the USA and are becoming increasingly hard to find boxed and unopened, particularly the earlier Cyndaquil set. Loose THINKChip Ash figures without any additional Pokemon figures or THINKChip card accessories can occasionally be found in bundles of Pokemon toys or on their own online, however prices and conditions of the figures available can vary greatly.

In terms of collectibility, the THINKChip Ash figures are scarcely seen outside of the USA and are becoming increasingly hard to find boxed and unopened, particularly the earlier Cyndaquil set. Loose THINKChip Ash figures without any additional Pokemon figures or THINKChip card accessories can occasionally be found in bundles of Pokemon toys or on their own online, however prices and conditions of the figures available can vary greatly.


Medicom Ash with Pikachu Set

The Ash With Pikachu set was released in 2006 by Medicom and was unusual for a Pokemon trainer figure in that it was a much more doll-like toy than others previously released, measuring 8 inches in height, being fully articulated and including fabric clothes and accessories as well as interchangeable hands.

Medicom Ash with Pikachu

Even in terms of packaging it was far different to other Pokemon toys, with its box being closer to those used by brands such as Sideshow as it featured a velcro-sealable card door with a comic-style illustrations of Ash and Pikachu on the exterior and interior of the box, along with a clear plastic window in which the Ash and Pikachu figures (plus all their accessories) could be viewed.

The Ash With Pikachu set was released in 2006 by Medicom and was unusual for a Pokemon trainer figure in that it was a much more doll-like toy than others previously released, measuring 8 inches in height, being fully articulated and including fabric clothes and accessories as well as interchangeable hands. Even in terms of packaging it was far different to other Pokemon toys, with its box being closer to those used by brands such as Sideshow as it featured a velcro-sealable card door with a comic-style illustrations of Ash and Pikachu on the exterior and interior of the box, along with a clear plastic window in which the Ash and Pikachu figures (plus all their accessories) could be viewed.

The Medicom Ash figure shows off Ash’s new outfit from the Hoenn-based Pokemon: Advanced series, which saw him swap his traditional outfit for a new hooded shirt, new jeans, black gloves, blue trainers and a brand new hat. This was the first time in the anime that Ash would permanently change his outfit, however in the following years he has had numerous different clothing and design changes.

In terms of rarity the Medicom Ash With Pikachu figure set is rather scarce, with the figure being limited to a release of just 1500. They are also rarely seen for sale outside of Japan and are extremely expensive,  with the few sets currently available online being priced as high as £550.


Tomy Pokemon Mate Mini Figures

So cute!

Back to Tomy, one of the most prolific Pokemon trainer/human character lines has to be the Tomy Pokemon Mate Mini Figure range which first began in 1997. As part of the Pokemon Mate Collection (which was released to the western market under the name “Pokemon House” and also included stationary, model kits and playsets, amongst other Pokemon products) the mini figures featured a variety of characters, including Ash, Misty, Brock, Tracey, Jessie, James, Professor Oak, Officer Jenny, Nurse Joy and Gary Oak. Additional Pokemon anime-themed products were also released alongside the mini figures, such as Team Rocket’s Meowth-shaped hot air balloon and Magikarp submarine.

The figures were designed in a “Chibi”-esque style and despite their small stature, emulated the anime characters they were based on very well. These figures were distributed to some stores in the west during the late 1990’s, including some here in the UK, however the numbers that were distributed over here were far less than those of other Pokemon toys. Some of the early Ash and Misty figures can be found at relatively affordable prices ( I recently saw an Ash + Misty mini figure bundle on eBay for £30, which when compared with some of the prices of other figures in this blog, seems like pocket money), however some of the lesser-seen characters such as Professor Oak, Officer Jenny and particularly Nurse Joy are becoming extremely rare, so if you are interested in collecting this line (and I must admit, they are very cute) I would certainly recommend snapping up any you come across sooner rather than later.


Pokemon Figure Restoration Tips:

Before…

If you have Pokemon toys (or any action figures really) that are looking a little worse for wear, don’t worry! With a little work you can get them looking nice and fresh, so here’s a few hints and tips on sprucing up your Pokemon figures. I recently started getting into customising and restoring various toys and one of my first restoration projects was this vintage James from Team Rocket Tomy figure –

Before I started re-painting I lightly sanded the entire figure with a light grade sandpaper, for the harder to reach nooks and crannies i wrapped the sandpaper around the end of a thin paint brush as this allowed me to get to the harder to reach areas and sand them, which ensured that the paint could be applied evenly. I then used Crawford and Black acrylic paints to re-paint his hair and clothing and Citadel model paints to re-paint his face. I used a selection of still frames from the original Indigo league anime as a reference to ensure that the colours were mixed accordingly to how the character appeared in the anime. Some of the areas with heavier blemishes (such as his hair and hands) required a few extra coats to cover up completely but all in all the paint job was relatively simple. After the paint had dried I used a matte spray varnish to seal everything and give the figure a nice clean finish as seen below –

…After

I found the process of restoring this figure to be immensely satisfying and would definitely recommend any fellow figure collectors who feel like getting creative to have a go at giving their older toys a new lease of life. If you are considering restoring your figures, ensure you have a good clear space to work in where you won’t have to worry about making too much of a mess and if it is your first time painting action figures, perhaps try practicing on a few cheaper toys before repainting anything that is more valuable. In terms of getting the right colours, always use a good reference image and focus on mixing colours to get the correct tone, rather than trying to find the closest match to a specific colour when buying paints as this is a generally more reliable way of getting your figures to look as close as possible to character designs your are trying to replicate. Like any hobby though the most important part of figure restoration is to enjoy it and have fun, so don’t get too frustrated if your figures don’t look perfect immediately. Practice makes perfect at the end of the day so just hang in there and before you know it you’ll have a whole array of great looking figures!


Written by Emily Carney, 2021


Sources/Further Reading:

Pokemon/Deluxe Trainer Bulbapedia page – https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Deluxe_Trainers

THINKChip Interactive System Bulbapedia Page –

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/THINKChip_Interactive_System

PilotTails – Medicom RAH Ash Ketchum and Pikachu From Pokemon –

Kewpie83 – Collection Close Up: Think Chip Trainer’s Choice Ash Ketchum – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFUHMhjdMyo

Pokemon Mate Human Figurines Bulbapedia Page –

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_mate#Human_figurines

Dino-mite 80’s Toys – How To Clean And Restore Vintage Toys – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ce7vkFLcuQk

Dr Toys – How to repaint an old thrift store toy –

My First Pokemon Game: Pokemon Crystal – A Retrospective

I have since enjoyed several other titles in the main series of Pokemon games, although none of them have quite topped Pokemon Crystal…


My First Pokemon Game: Pokemon Crystal – A Retrospective

Article by Emily Carney


The year is 2001. The month is November. Pokemon Gold and Silver had been released earlier that year here in the UK back in April and had been instant hits, providing Pokemon fans across the country with a brand new region to explore and a plethora of new Pokemon to catch. But I personally was yet to embark on a Pokemon journey of my own, as despite being a huge Pokemon fan since 1999 (the year I started primary school) and being obsessed with the anime, films, toys and trading cards, I had yet to actually experience from a first-hand perspective the medium which had kick-started the whole franchise back in 1996, the Pokemon video games. However all that was to change that winter, when I ecstatically received a yellow Pikachu & Pichu Gameboy colour and a copy of Pokemon Crystal.



Despite having played briefly on Gameboys owned by family members and friends, my only proper experience of video games at this point was the first Sony Playstation, which I have great memories of and still enjoy playing games such as Crash Bandicoot, Tomb Raider and Tekken to this day. Upon receiving the Gameboy and Pokemon Crystal however, I was extremely happy that I could now take my game anywhere with me, and could finally join in on trading and battling Pokemon with my friends.

One of the most vivid memories I have before actually playing the game was looking through the Pokemon Crystal booklet that came with the game and seeing how beautiful Ken Sugimori’s watercolor illustrations were (though unfortunately it appears to be very hard to find any pictures of the inner instruction manual pages). Even today Sugimori’s Pokemon artwork are some of my favorite pieces of art ever and I would love to see the franchise return to this style at some point, even just as a homage as I think the charm of these illustrations far surpasses the digital artwork that is commonplace in most forms of official Pokemon-related media today.

Those sneakers though…

Pokemon Crystal is notable for being the first Pokemon game to give the player a choice between playing as a boy or a girl and as being both a first-time Pokemon player and a 7 year-old girl at the time, I was happy about this, although while I was growing up Pokemon as a franchise always seemed to be enjoyed equally by both boys and girls regardless of the gender of the protagonist we were watching or playing as, so while I was pleased to have the choice to play as a girl I do think even if I hadn’t had this choice I would have still had a great time playing the game.

The design of the female protagonist (known as Kris, although as with all main series Pokemon games the player is able to input their own name) is excellent in my opinion and is one of my favourite trainer designs in the series, as it strikes just the right balance between the classic 90’s aesthetic of the early games and anime alongside the sporty, adventurous look that would be applied to other protagonists in future Pokemon games.

Beginning to play the game itself was a fantastic experience. As this was late 2001/early 2002, here in the UK we had just become acquainted with the second generation of Pokemon and although Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal have had some criticism from fans who find the inclusion of new Pokemon to be rather lacking until the later stages of the games, as a first-time player I was just excited to be able to catch any of the Pokemon I’d hurried home from school to see in the anime. My first starter Pokemon was a Totodile I nicknamed “Snappy” and he stayed with me throughout the majority of my journey, evolving from Totodile to Croconaw and finally to Feraligatr, though I did eventually trade him (which I must admit I still feel quite guilty about) for a friend’s Venusaur, a Venasaur which for some reason was rather confusingly nicknamed “Zapdos”. Snappy, if you’re out there on a game cartridge at the bottom of someone’s drawer or cupboard somewhere, please know I still think about you and thank you for being my first Pokemon.

‘ Snappy’

Maybe it’s a combination of a great game and a child’s imagination but I still vividly remember travelling through the different areas of the Johto region for the first time as if they were real-life locations that I’d travelled to. I think part of this is down to the wonderful soundtrack of the second generation games, which vary from the whimsical to the atmospheric and everything in between.

I still listen to the tunes from the soundtrack often today (particularly the themes from Ecruteak City and Cianwood City, which I would definitely consider to be my favorites) and it really is a testament to the talent of composer Junichi Masuda that he could capture the personalities of these individual locations and take listeners back to these places years later with these melodies.

Many players have praised the Pokemon main series games in recent years for its emphasis on literacy and reading being key to fully enjoying the games, and this is something I would very much agree with. Though the story wasn’t as complex as that of future Pokemon games, I still found it to be engaging and was very enthused to defeat Team Rocket and beat the Elite Four. One of my favorite aspects of the game however (and indeed one of my favorite aspects of the Pokemon franchise in general) was how much it encouraged playing with others, whether that involved battles and trades via the Gameboy Link Cable or working together to try and get past a particularly difficult part of the game.

 At my primary school we had a period during the last half an hour of school on a Friday afternoon called “Golden Time”, where we were allowed to bring in toys and games or do fun activities and this was when my friends and myself would bring in our Gameboys and play the  Pokemon games together or trade our Pokemon cards. I remember those Friday afternoons very fondly, I particularly recall being both baffled and enthralled when a friend showed me how to do the Generation II cloning glitch (which involved placing a Pokemon in a box in the PC and then changing box/turning off the console at the right moment while the data was saving in order to duplicate the Pokemon placed in the box, but as there is the possibility of this glitch corrupting save data I probably wouldn’t recommend it nowadays), though instead of using the glitch for something useful like duplicating Masterballs I instead just made copy upon copy of my favourite Pokemon, and ended up with about 6 charizards and 12 Umbreons, amongst others.

Another of my favourite aspects of the second generation games is the ability to travel to Kanto after defeating the Elite Four and take on the gym leaders from the original Red/Blue/Green/Yellow games.

Who wouldn’t want twelve Umbreons?!

Although some players have criticized the post game content for not being as engaging as the initial journey, I genuinely felt like I’d stumbled across some amazing secret when I first realized I could go to Pallet Town and all the other Kanto locations, as this was my first time experiencing this part of the Pokemon world in-game and I personally thought that being given the opportunity to explore Lavender Town, Viridian Forest, Mt Moon and all the areas I’d seen in the Indigo League anime was quite a treat. After exploring Kanto, the culmination of the journey in battling Red at Mt Silver was an excellent way to draw the game to a close and I must admit it took a lot of perseverance (and several of my cloned Charizards) to beat him, but I felt immensely accomplished after doing so.

Red looking edgy

Overall, I really don’t think I could have asked for a better introduction to the in-game Pokemon world, and I have since enjoyed several other titles in the main series of Pokemon games, although none of them have quite topped Pokemon Crystal for me. Unfortunately I did lose my original copy (though did manage to recover my old Pikachu/Pichu edition Gameboy last year, which I was ecstatic about) but I would very much like to acquire another copy at some point in the future (although this may end up being quite an investment as boxed complete copies of the game are currently going for around £200 to £400, with some being priced even higher) and experience the fun and adventure of Pokemon Crystal all over again.


Written by Emily Carney, 2021


Sources and Further Reading:

Pokemon Crystal Wiki – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Crystal#:~:text=It%20was%20released%20in%20Japan%20on%20December%2014%2C%202000%2C%20North,Europe%20on%20November%202%2C%202001.

Pokemon Crystal Bulbapedia –

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Crystal_Version

Serebi.Net – Pokemon Crystal – https://www.serebii.net/crystal/

Pokemon.Fandom – Pokemon Crystal – https://pokemon.fandom.com/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Crystal_Version

Gameboy Colour Special Editions – https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Game_Boy_Color

Poke-Revisit II: https://medium.com/the-new-bark-codex/pok%C3%A9-revisit-ii-pok%C3%A9mon-crystal-8ed5b3d498b7

Candy Evie- All Version Differences In Pokemon Gold, Silver & Crystal:

Syy – 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Pokemon Crystal – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVLQZkif2Mw