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By AARON YNCLAN, Staff Columnist

Hello readers, and welcome back to the new school year! As most of you may have heard (or at least those who love Pokemon), Nintendo held a special Pokemon X&Y centric Nintendo Direct on Sept. 3 during which they announced that the latest installments in the venerable series would feature the return of the original starter trio in a very prominent way.

Not only will gamers be able to choose one of the new starter Pokemon of the Kalos region (Chespin, Fennekin, Froakie), but they will also be allowed to choose a starter from the original Red and Blue games (Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle).While the series is now on its sixth generation and the number of Pokemon is expected to soon cross the seven-hundred mark, most gamers agree that the original 151 are the best of the series, and the original starter Pokemon still hold a special place in the hearts of those whohave grown up with this franchise. So to commemorate this announcement, I thought it fitting to discuss the first time I played the series and tried to “catch-em all.”

I was just seven years old when Pokemon Red Version and Pokemon Blue Version first came out for the Nintendo Game Boy (the original Game Boy, the giant, heavy sucker that looked like a gray brick). Having just discovered the TV series, I found myself, like so many others, getting swept up into the great Poke-craze of ’98, and as a result I simply had to have the awesome, new Pokemon games to begin my journey as a Pokemon Master. Since blue happened to be my favorite color, I chose Blue Version as my first game. I put the cartridge in, booted up the game, and started my voyage with my brand new Squirtle in tow (though Charmander has since become my preferred starter of choice, Squirtle still remains my original and favorite Pokemon).

From the moment I got my starter, I was hooked. The Kanto region seemed limitless in its size and potential. The sea was beautiful and fun to traverse, caves were dark and atmospheric, and everywhere I went brought with it the excitement of new discoveries; another Trainer to battle, a hidden path to take, a new Pokemon to discover. I actually dreaded the times when I was forced to turn off my system, because it meant returning to a dreary, boring world that wasn’t filled with such wonderful creatures to discover and befriend. To me, the world of Pokemon was one of pure wonder and marvel, and it was one I was only too happy to return to. There was, however, a small issue I did encounter towards the end of my first play through in that extraordinary world.

Now, this was the first generation of Pokemon and I was seven at the time. So it didn’t occur to me that maybe instead of training just one or two Pokemon I should catch and develop an entire, well-balanced team. As you can imagine, that method produced some rather interesting results as by the time I was facing the Elite Four I had a Pidgeot and Blastoise in their mid-to-upper level 50s and four random Pokemon in their 20s that I used as cannon fodder. I can’t remember the outcome, but I’m fairly certain I never beat the Elite Four or the Champion.

Despite that minor dilemma, by the time I finished the game and Pokemon Yellow Version came out I had become a full blown Poke-maniac. I watched the series whenever I could, I played the card game, and whenever a new generation of games came out I always made sure to pick up a copy immediately. The series core gameplay hasn’t changed drastically since its inception and there are those who would call Pokemon childish and simplistic, but for me Pokemon will always remain one of my favorite franchises. It served as my first true foray into the gaming world and opened the doors to many more incredible gaming experiences.

I may not collect the cards anymore or watch every new episode of the TV series, but the games remain a wonderful piece of nostalgia that takes me back to my first venture into the Pocket Monster world and makes me feel like a kid again (and let’s face it, as we all get older and take on more responsibilities, it’s nice to have that feeling every now and then).