When I was a little upper middle class hell spawn, I had a natural inclination toward anything that cost large sums of my parents’ money. I had learned that a person’s love was directly proportional to the amount of money they were willing to spend on someone, which is why I was a sucker for every passing fad I could force my parents to get their hands on. Furbies, Crazy Bones, Pogs. You name it, I had it stuffed in the back of a closet somewhere collecting dust. As a burgeoning nerd though, no money sink was greater than my obsession with video games. I was an avid Nintendo loyalist, owning both a Nintendo 64 and a Game Boy and spending the majority of my formative years playing both. Naturally, I was a Nintendo Power subscriber, and every month I would comb through the magazine with the same kind of solemn reverence an old man reads the Wall Street Journal
I don’t know if it was because of my subscription to Nintendo Power
or because some marketing research firm had been following my obsessive toy buying habits, but one day I received a mysterious VHS in the mail. This video tape offered an exclusive preview of a video game phenomenon that was about to sweep the nation. I had never even heard of what the video was promoting before, but after watching it once, then twice, then approximately a hundred times after, I realized I had just been let in on the ground floor of the hottest gaming craze of my young life.
That VHS was A Sneak Peek at Pokémon
, and it is a master class on turning little kids into cash spewing drones.
Needless to say, the video worked. I eagerly tuned in when the anime premiered. I bought Pokémon Blue
bright and early when it came out. I loaded up on enough Pokémon
cards to fill two huge ass binders, despite not having the first clue about how to play the trading card game. I bought action figures and collectible Burger King gold plated cards. I nearly drove my mother to the verge of tears in my desperate, maddening search for a copy of Pokémon Snap
the week it was released. All in all, with the amount of money I spent on Pokémon
as a kid I could have probably made a sizable dent in my college loan payments already.
As effective as it was though, the video, and by extension the whole marketing blitzkrieg behind Pokémon
, obscured the very thing that was responsible for it – the game. The fact that you played Pokémon
almost seemed like an afterthought when compared to all the other ways you could feed the franchise money. After losing interest in Pokémon
when all the hype died down, it took me years to rediscover the series as a solid, addicting, and above all else fun
RPG. It took playing Emerald
on my DS, removed from the “gotta catch ‘em all” fanaticism of my childhood, to genuinely enjoy the video game. A Sneak Peek at Pokémon
was my introduction to the ceaseless money making machine that was the Pokémon
franchise, and it took forcibly removing the series from its cold blooded claws to actually enjoy the game.
LOOK WHO CAME: