You Have to Catch All of Them

This piece is from the book I’m still sort of writing. 

The first Nintendo game I remember playing was Pokemon Gold, which I played on my turquoise Gameboy Color at some point in the 90s when such things were played.

This was hard-won, by the way—my parents didn’t really understand the appeal of Gameboys and tended to consider them a thing for boys, anyway. They thought I should be spending my time reading and practicing my various hobbies. Which, to be clear, I definitely also did with much gusto! It’s just that in addition to that I wished to catch Pokemon.

(I might’ve had an easier time, or maybe a harder time, convincing my parents to buy me a Gameboy if I had known at the time that my mom once allegedly forgot to pick up her own son from daycare and to come home in time for her own anniversary party because she got distracted playing Tetris on her work computer back in the Soviet Union.)

Anyway, I don’t remember exactly how, but I succeeded in obtaining the turquoise Gameboy Color and the Pokemon Gold game for it from my parents. Back then, it was still possible to play a Nintendo game without immediately finding out all of its fun little secrets on the internet. You could find game walkthroughs if you knew how to search for them, but I probably didn’t. The other way to know things about games was to talk to other kids who played them, but as a freaky little neurodivergent kid growing up in suburban Ohio at a time when nerdy shit wasn’t “cool” yet or whatever, I didn’t exactly have a lot of friends, and the ones I did have did not play Pokemon. The kids who played Pokemon at my school were largely the sorts of boys who still thought that pulling girls’ hair was like, a normal and chill thing to do.

In short, just, no.

All of that is to say that I played Pokemon Gold without knowing much more about the game than I could glean from the little manual that came with the game cartridge. That means that when I got to the end of the game, beat the Elite Four, and watched the credits roll, I had no idea that after the credits, I would discover that I had literally only played half of the game and that now I got to hop on a train and go to the region from the original set of Pokemon games and explore that region and catch all of those Pokemon! My little mind was blown by this! I had just completed this amazing game, and now I had as much more game to play!

This experience might only be relatable to a very small and specific subset of the people who may be reading this, but hopefully I’ve described it vividly enough that you can sort of imagine it.

And now maybe you can imagine the polar opposite of this experience. So, instead of finishing an awesome thing and then finding out that you actually get double the awesome, you’ve just finished a horrible thing and now you’re finding out that you’re going to get double the horrible.

For example, you’ve just finished cancer treatment, and you totally thought that that was the end of the Cancer Game, except now your mom has cancer also, and now you get to experience a whole new side of the Cancer Game that you never even knew existed! It’s a lot like the first half except there are new and unfamiliar monsters here!

You might even start to wonder what happens after you finish this second shitty half of the game, and the credits roll again. Is there going to be another surprise? Is there any point to continuing to try to play and win? Does the game ever actually end?

Anyway, shittiest fucking game ever. Zero out of five stars.

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You Have to Catch All of Them
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