From Charizard to Mimikyu: NPR staff's favorite Pokémon memories on Pokémon Day
Pokémon Day is today! Every year fans across the globe celebrate the day the first Pokémon games were released in Japan in 1996.
We asked NPR to commemorate the Pocket Monsters that drove us to be the very best by sharing memories of them. I still recall the Atomic Purple Game Boy Color my father bought with Pokémon Blue. Despite Blastoise gracing the cover of this iconic original title, I've put the competing Charizard in nearly every one of my Hall of Fame teams since.
We at NPR are taking the opportunity to look back at our most beloved Pokémon from our favorite games and what they've meant to us.
My favorite Pokémon game is Pokémon Snap for the Nintendo 64. I'm a huge N64 fanboy and while this game doesn't involve catching Pokémon, photographing them was something that I thought was a cool and interesting new element to the game. Years later, I would go to college and study photojournalism, so let me tell you: I have never been through a more rough photo critique than the ones Professor Oak put me through.
–Matt Adams, Acting Supervisor, Audience Engagement
Mimikyuis my absolute favorite Pokémon right now, but I nearly missed the boat. I didn't have a 3DS, so I missed their debut in Sun/Moon. I also finished Pokémon Sword without encountering a wild Mimikyu. I was joining random Dynamax Raid battles one day, and saw a 5-Star Mimikyu. I didn't think anything more of it than "oh, I need this for my dex." It was a tough battle, but we won and I was able to capture it. I pulled up the stats screen for it, and thought there was something wrong with my TV. My brand new Mimikyu was in greyscale, then it dawned on me: my first Mimikyu was a shiny. She quickly became my lead Pokémon, dominating the post-game. When I eventually unlocked the judge function, I found she was also perfect. Even if Mimikyu stops being my favorite, I think my lucky first will be my favorite individual Pokémon.
–River Williamson, Software Engineer
Even though I've always favored water and psychic Pokémon, Pidgeotwas always my ride or die. It was a key part of the strategy to have a decently strong Pidgeot in my party that could start battles and hold their own to save my other heavy-hitters' HP, learn the HMs, and protect us from wild Rattata. Not glamorous by any means, but Pidgeot was definitely my MVP.
–Rakiesha Chase-Jackson, Member Partnership Project Manager
Pokémon GO was my favorite, but I also like the card game. When my kids were young, my husband would bring back sets of cards from toy stores and we had them all over the house. Someone at a convention offered my older child a few VCR tapes of the cartoons and we formed strong feelings for the original set of Pokémon based on those. In 2016, we all got into the mobile game and took the opportunity to dig up the cards again.
–Stacey Abbott, Audio Engineer
Totodile! I've been a fan of the series since the first games, Red and Blue, were first available in Puerto Rico, but none of the 150 Pokémon that started it all became my favorite. Then came the Johto league and the little gator with eye shadow that could.
–Yanius Alvarado Matos, Publicist for NPR Music
My brother and I always fought over our favorite Pokémon, Charizard (he was the Pokémon kid but I was a dragon kid, and our worlds collided). That's what ultimately led to the Christmas debacle of 2001. My parents had somehow finagled a way to purchase an unopened pack of cards that guaranteed a holographic Charizard (no, I don't know how or why). They knew we both liked the game, and this is where the problem occurred. They gave us both a packet of cards in our stockings, but somehow messed the guaranteed packet up with a regular one. So on Christmas morning, I ripped open a fresh pack of cards to reveal the holy grail of Pokémon, right on top. With my brother yelling and crying in the background, my parents pleaded with me to "share the holiday spirit" with him, that "Santa had made a mistake," etc.
But I knew.
That card was for me and the more they pleaded, the more I refused to give it up. We still fight about it to this day. But now my favorite Pokémon is Mimikyu, which is a bit easier to get a hold of.
–Margaret Price, Project Manager
My favorite Pokémon game is Pokémon Battle Revolution on the Wii, because I could sync the Pokémon I caught on Pokémon Diamond on the DS to it, and they looked really cool in 3D. It was a big deal for me as I was so enthralled by the universe and could battle with awesome graphics. I really liked the game and have fond memories of it.
–Krish Thukral, Salesforce Developer
Pokémon Stadium on the N64 was a delightful masterpiece. Of course the stadium battles and tournaments were loads of fun, but MY GOD were those mini-games amazing. I will never forget sleepovers with friends spent frantically Likitung-ing sushi or mashing the A button in "Run Rattata Run".
–Ben Cart, Sr. Marketing Manager
A Pokémon that I didn't actually think I would love but ended up loving is Flamigo from Scarlet & Violet. Originally I thought, "wow they couldn't make it more obvious what animal they based it on," but I've grown fond of it. What made encountering Pokémon in this game so interesting was the open world that enables Pokémon to chase you down. My first encounter with these flying demons happened around the forests surrounding the little town that you start in. The moment you make eye contact with a Flamigo, they make a beeline for you and torment you with high speed and attack stats. Seriously, when I finally caught a Flamigo after my party was battered and beaten, I felt a greater sense of accomplishment than defeating a gym. Once I realized how strong Flamigos were, they became an invaluable asset to my party, allowing me to defeat many Pokémon within 1-2 moves. Plus, they do look kind of cute when you play with them during a picnic.
–Julie Zhou, Software Engineer
Pokémon Gold and Silver. As a 9-year-old, hearing that my favorite game franchise was coming out with 100 new Pokémon species kept me up at night with pure excitement. I couldn't stop looking at leaks, artists' renditions, and early previews out of Japan of what the new creatures would look like and what they could do. Plus, there were new elemental types introduced, new moves, new characters, and the greatest feature of all: a complete playthrough of the Kanto region built into the newly introduced Johto region. Gold and Silver had it all.
–Jared M. Gair, Associate Producer, Programming
Pokémon Blue is far and away my favorite. It was a staple in my childhood and I have memories of bringing my Game Boy out with me to restaurants, family events, and even sleepovers to try and build the strongest party of mostly Grass and Psychic Pokémon (with some legendaries mixed in for the drama). The first time I finished the game I went right back to the beginning to start another go at it because of how much I loved it.
–Andy Bickerton, Digital Analyst
As someone who raised two children on all things Pokémon, from the card game to the different Nintendo offerings, I've always felt Eevee is the greatest of all Pokémon.
In a nutshell (or, in a pokéball) Eevee is amazing because it can transform into so many different things. It can't become EVERYthing, there are evolutions that don't exist (that should... they'd be so cool). I think about us humans as Eevees sometimes. At any moment in life, you can become anything — it's inspirational to me. Watching my children grow up, I always wondered what kind of Eevee evolutions they'd be (they are 30 and 26 now, and I like the Eevees they have grown into).
Unfortunately Eevee can't move from one type to another after evolving. But, just imagine if you could. You could reset back to Starter You, and go a different route! You were Water, now you're Fire. You were Psychic, now you're Grass.
Because Eevee can be anything, I think all the evolutions retain their inner core, that Eevee heart willing to grow and change within.
It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately with the recent NPR news about impending layoffs. I'm 56, I've been through this so many times, so many evolutions, and at this point I feel, well... if I have to re-evolve into something different, I can.
My core little Eevee soul is strong.
–Christine Geiger, Manager, Digital Network: Publishing
Pokémon Crystal is the best, period! I like that the rival is someone who you actually hate — they're violent (they shove you multiple times!), obsessed with power, and steal Pokémon. You're able to travel to two regions, which is something I've wanted in every other Pokémon game.
–Kaity Kline, Assistant Producer, NPR
I have a very specific memory of the pure, unadulterated joy of watching the GameStop employee bring out the Pokémon Pearl video game and then later inserting the card into my pink Nintendo DS. It's one of those things from my childhood that's attached to nearly-obsolete nouns (DS, GameStop), but calls forward a really joyful and innocent time.
–Emma Choi, Host, Everyone & Their Mom
I have a special connection with Treecko because the Red Rescue Team game told me my personality best fit that Pokémon in my first playthrough. Something about his quiet coolness resonated with me and ever since then, any team I've ever built has included Treecko's evolutionary line.
–Corey Bridges, Assistant Producer, The Indicator
I don't consider Mew my favorite Pokémon, but I went to great lengths to find one. Kids at the school cafeteria informed me that on certain game cartridges, there was a chance you could find Mew underneath the truck near the SS Anne in Red/Blue. Of course, this was just an urban legend that infiltrated the K-12 school I attended. But I really played an entire day, hitting the A button for a secret hidden interaction, using Strength on my Machamp to "move the truck", and other desperate attempts to catch the legendary Mew I first saw in Mewtwo Strikes Back. I never figured out how to legitimately catch one!
–Bryant Denton, Grove Support Associate
Pokémon GO! I grew up playing Red and watching the TV show, but these days I pretty much only play GO on my phone. I am simply obsessed with the community it creates. I have more than a few contacts on my phone as "NAME - POKE GO" because I've made friends while walking around on Community Day, or doing raids in my neighborhood. It's also one of the main shared interests between me and my older brother — every Christmas holiday we set aside time for trades and Poké-walks.
–Julia Carney, Podcast Coordinator
James Perkins Mastromarino contributed to this article. contributed to this story
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