NOSTALGIA TOP TEN: POKEMON GOLD AND SILVER NINTENDO GAMEBOY COLOUR (1999/2000) [STRAIGHT OUTTA KANTO]

NOSTALGIA TOP TEN: POKEMON GOLD AND SILVER NINTENDO GAMEBOY COLOUR (1999/2000) [STRAIGHT OUTTA KANTO]

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Hello PokeFans! Welcome to “Straight Outta Kanto” – your brand new number one blog for nostalgia, nonsense, nerd culture and more!

I hope you all enjoyed the magnificent bank holiday spring-turning-to-summer sunshine of the past few days. I, a hardened gamer, have personally been avoiding natural daylight within my Fortress of Doom and Comfort (aka my mom’s house) and replaying the eVersion of Pokemon Crystal on my Nintendo 2DS.

It’s been a glorious replaying.

As Gen 2 is my all time favourite Gen and Johto my number one favourite region, I thought it was only fitting that I say a few words on the matter. So my fellow PokeNerds, let’s rev up the time machine and take a nostalgic trip back in time to the late 90s/early 00s –  It’s Nostalgia Top Ten TIME!!!

  1. Eggs & Baby ‘mon:

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While I personally feel that the whole Pokemon population has gotten out of control and that Satoshi Tajiri should kill off at least three, PS. I am not a crack pot, *a The Simpson‘s reference, for the un-illuminated…!* I did always feel that the baby Pokemon of Gen II and the Stage 2 evolutions of Gen IV were always the best, most effective and balanced additions to the Pokemon family.

The whole Pokemon Day Care and Egg finding has always been a murky area morality wise and has lent itself beautifully to some utterly filthy and hilarious memes, but back in the day (a more innocent and care free day) it was a fun new gimmick for the game. More than a gimmick, actually, it was a novel way to not only add to your Pokedex but also reinforced the nurturing element of Pokemon that helped make it the super-success it is today.

You walk around caring for this fragile little egg, you take care of it, you battle every wild Pokemon you see no matter how annoying or weak they are, you cycle like your little digital legs depend on it – because they do! Well, at least your little eggy ward depends on it.

And then when the moment you’ve been waiting for happens, this little egg hatches at last, what hatches out of it!? A ridiculously cute baby Pichu, or Magby or Togepi or anything else you’ve decided to forcibly breed in the backyard of that shady old couple’s house…!

  1. Night and Day:

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Personally speaking I find it easier to invest emotionally in a game that mimics real world conditions, even something as simple as having a day/night and a day of the week function. It was challenging and entertaining as well to have certain events only occur on certain days and also to have certain Pokemon only occur at certain times. After coming straight from the terrifying permanent daylight world of Red and Blue, this was a refreshing addition.

I know it was a harsh sacrifice, having our internal batteries drain and our games ultimately die and then we all have to hold little tiny Nintendo funerals for them just so we could have this clock function and be more invested in the game but I don’t regret a thing. (Except the loss of my games…!)

  1. Diverse landscape:

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Johto is my favourite region, closely followed by Sinnoh and Hoenn. By the time the Gold and Silver games were in production technology has advanced for Nintendo just that little bit farther down the road. We had colour now, (Witchcraft! Witchcraft!) and the ability to make Nintendo games look more realistic than they were for Red and Blue.

This more up-to-date technology helped bring Johto to life. To me Johto always had a more Japanese feel than the other games felt primarily in towns like Azalea, Ecruteak and Blackthorn. As well as this there were ice caves and mountains, the Whirl Islands, a national park – with beautiful piano accompaniment that got a stunning revamp in the HG/SS reboots – Ruins of Alph, a lighthouse, a wee Miltank farm, forests, more nooks and crannies for exploring than in its predecessor – as well as having a state of the art Magnet Train system (based off Japan’s bullet train) and a ship you could actually travel on, unlike S.S Anne (come back, sob, come back, don’t sail without me!) The Sprout, Tin and Burnt Towers were also exceptionally atmospheric. There was a Lake of Rage and a Dragon’s Den – how cool is that!? MT. SILVER!!! It’s also linked to Kanto!!! Enough said.

While there are arguments for and against all the other games, Johto will always have a special place in my heart. The #1 place .

  1. Mod Cons:

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I know they’re lame now, but in the early 2000s the Pokegear was the Bees Knees, the Cats Pyjamas, a real hip thang! A map, a radio AND a telephone!? We didn’t know we were born! Talk about modern. The radio only got three channels and the phone could only hold ten numbers, but it was still the height of cool at the time. Again, having communication features such as this added to the real-world feel of the game and furthered a player’s emotional investment in the game.

I don’t think the following games ever managed to make their PokeTech as cool as this, the PokeEtch Apps of Sinnoh and the PokeNav from Unova never really had the same functionality of the PokeGear. Maybe it’s a cultural context thing? When G/S came out with it’s PokeGear that was the height of technology, as the games progressed and so did other software, on mobile phones etc things like the PokeEtch Apps and PokeNave felt redundant and outdated already even in the new games.

Viva La PokeGear!

  1. Cool Eeveelutions:

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Another point in favour of the Night/Day function in G/S was the fact that they now had not one, but two Eeveelutions dependent on it. Level up the friendship of your Eevee and play by day and you get Espeon, by night, Umbreon. Espeon and Umbreon are possible two of the most popular fan favourites of the Eeveelutions – if the cosplays at every convention I’ve ever been to can be trusted…! Psychic Espeon (ESP- Extra Sensory Perception) and dark Umbreon (Umbra is a moon term) – two badass Eeveelutions that are easy enough to attain!

  1. Badass legendaries:

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Another cosplay convention favourite: the legendary doggo trio of Entei, Suicune and Raikou. As well as graceful Lugia and Ash Ketchum trolling Ho-Oh. The number of legendaries in the later games became a little congested and confused, but at the time these Johto legendaries suited perfectly to their location, had a poignant and believable back-story and were well balanced to the Pokedex.

  1. More in-game and post game content:

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There was just more to do! More locations to explore, mini-events that you could only unlock on certain days of the week (Friday was Lapras Day at Union Cave…!) , the bi-weekly bug catching competitions, once you got to Kanto there was the daily challenge at the Battle House in Viridian City, the list goes on! With two regions to explore, a larger Pokedex to fill and clock based events – the game never really ended. These features and post game qualities were greatly expanded on in the HeartGold SoulSilver reboots.

  1. Better Gym Leaders:

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Right, if we ignore Whitney and her damn Miltank #Boourns, the gyms in Johto were challenging, but not too challenging, had a nice pace through out the game and were a diverse mix of battle types. They also included the new Steel type in Jasmine’s gym, as a spooky freak the inclusion of Morty’s Ghost type gym was much appreciated! My favourite gym challenge of all time comes from Gold and Silver.

Blackthorn City Gym Leader Clair.

Ah, Dragon Gym Leader Clair, mama of dragons and cousin of Pokemon League Champion Lance.

The dragon gym leader Clair refusing to accept defeat and sending you off on a quest to Dragon’s Den – which has some of the single coolest game music featured in this segment – was unspeakably badass to retrieve a dragon object from the centre of the cave.

This added an extra dimension to the characters, portrayed the gym leaders in a more human light. (Particularly when Whitney cries like a little beetch when you kick her Miltank’s butt!) and encouraged the player to invest emotionally in the game. (I’m a big fan of emotional investment, clearly!)

  1. Kanto three years on:

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As a hardcore GenWunner nothing made me happier than going back to my beloved Kanto, nothing! Except. We weren’t just going back to Kansas, Toto, oh no – we were going back three years later! Cinnabar had erupted, Gary was a gym leader Copycat was still copying people and the world was and was not as we had known it.

And it was good.

Nintendo Dude Satoru Iwata (RIP 😦 ) himself had physically invented a whole new method of saving a larger amount data JUST so we could go on the ultimate in-game nostalgia trip. It was amazing to see how the landscape and cities had evolved (see what I did there…!) over the last three years adding a simultaneously familiar but also poignantly alien vibe to the Kanto section of the game.

I think the Kanto return story is one of, if not the, greatest event in a Pokemon ever. Nay, it IS the greatest in-game event ever. Fight me.

1. …

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Thanks for reading, and until next time: keep watching the skeeys, I mean, skies!

If you or anyone else you know would like to know more about Straight Outta Kanto, please get in touch through our official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/

You can also stay in touch with strange memes and all the latest news on our group “Pokemon Fanclub Ireland” – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/ – we’d love to hear from you!

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TOP 5 ANNOYING THINGS ABOUT POKEMON! [STRAIGHT OUTTA KANTO]

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Hello PokeFans! Welcome to “Straight Outta Kanto” – your brand new number one blog for nostalgia, nonsense, nerd culture and more!

As much as we all fervently worship and obsess over the holiest of holy that is the Pokemon franchise, you’ve got to admit that the emotion love is the opposite side of the coin to hate. Or, well, maybe hate is too strong, but bloody well irritating!

Today we’re going to take a brief glimpse of some of the single most annoying things about our favourite game… Pokemon!

(5) Wild Pokemon who are TOO intense:

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So the other night I was casually surfing around the Whirl Islands on my way back to Olivine City to appease Jasmine and heal her ailing Ampharos – I’m replaying Crystal in the digital format on my 2DS. Anyone who’s ever surfed in Pokemon will know that the waters in a Pokemon game are more infested with Tentacool than Mt. Moon is with Zubat. So obviously as I’m surfing to and from Cianwood pharmacy I’m inundated with wild Tentacool battles, lucky ole’ me, bell of the ball, shucks! (Or… Shuckles!)

However, almost every single Tentacool battle refused point blank to let me escape. Not only could I not flee from battle, these overly-intense jelloids decided to use a confusion move, a constricting move AND a poisoning move! So not only am I now physically trapped in a battle I don’t want, my Pokemon are attacking themselves in confusion and losing HP through poison. Then when my poor ‘mon finally faints – I’m still not allowed escape!? I have to trot out another little lamb for slaughter…

AND I DIDN’T WANT THIS BATTLE IN THE FIRST PLACE! I’M TRYING TO ESCAPE THE WHOLE TIME!

I can’t even sympathise with the opposing Pokemon, ya know? Maybe he’s got a sick family to look after and be strong for therefore he needs to aggressively force lead characters into insufferable and excruciating battles that don’t even lead to medium level EXP Points in order to bulk up and defend his family or some shizzle like that, I don’t know, I don’t care, stop doing a Gandalf on me, JUST LET ME PASS!!!

What’s even worse was the Wild Call for Helps in the original Pokemon Sun and Moon… it wasn’t so bad in Ultra, but there’s nothing more annoying than being trapped in a pointless and endless wild battle you don’t want to be in – especially when the original wild Pokemon has fainted and now you’re just battling the Call for Help’s Call for Help!!!

Grrrr…

(4) Warp Panels:

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While I appreciate that they can at times be fun and exhilarating, I generally find them dizzying and irritating! Nothing was worse in Pokemon Red and Blue than when I’d finally conquered the Siege of Silph Co. and it’s interminable warp panels and I could finally saunter off to Saffron City gym only to find that Sabrina favoured… WARP PANELS as her gym obstacle of choice.

Nothing spells fun like going around and round and round in teleportational circles!

Warp panels are a recurring theme through-out the secret hideouts of the various Pokemon villains, and while I understand they add a futuristic, scientific ambience to the particular locations – they also add a massive pain in the arse! (In my opinion, anyway!)

(3) Having one gym battle left after the main villain story ends:

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I first noticed this particularly strongly in Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, but it’s prevalent in all the Pokemon games. So, from the third Gen onwards the Pokemon villain stories took a darker more apocalyptic turn. Our character was required not just to take down some petty crooks, but save the world from utter annihilation. Saving the world from utter annihilation, you can’t really get much more intense than that, can you? Call me old-fashioned but thwarting some super villains atop historic and sacred locations, summoning god-like ‘mon and battling alongside them in epic battles of good versus evil would, in my opinion, change a person.

These events always happen during the middle of our Pokemon League journey and usually reach their climax while there’s still one damn badge to go. BUT.

I’ve just thwarted some super villains atop historic and sacred locations, summoning god-like ‘mon and battling alongside them in epic battles of good versus evil, what do I care about some silly little League!? My very faith and beliefs have been shaken to the core. I’ve seen things, man! I’ve battled the strongest of the strongest, nothing you throw my way can ever beat that!

A final gym badge does pale in comparison to beating the main-game quest.

As I said, in D/P/PL having to spend a bull-shizzle amount of time being stuck in Volkner’s electric mechanical gym after I’d just befriended the gods of Space and Time and banished Super Satan ‘mon back to his Super Satan Crib felt like a not a very productive use of my super hero time… I’m jus’ sayin’…

(2) When the game seems rigged against you during crucial battles:

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Ok, I’m first to admit that I can be paranoid at times, especially about Pokemon (and alien conspiracy theories, they’re feckin’ out there, man!) BUT has anyone else ever noticed, particularly during Elite 4 and Champion battles that the game at times seems unfairly rigged against you?

I’m not just talking about when your opponent has 1HP left and then brings out it’s unlimited supply of Full Restores, I’m talking about when your moves that have been landing critically or effectively suddenly miss at the eleventh hour or for some unknown reason just don’t do as much damage as they have been, leaving your opponent just enough HP to hand your ass to you on a platter when otherwise you would have strolled out of there the victor?

Ever notice any other subtle nuances like that during the big battles that always tip the outcome in your opponents favour…?

Well I have.

I’ve noticed that endlessly throughout the franchise. I’m not just saying this because I’m a sore loser or anything like that, I’ve been playing Pokemon for nineteen years, I know how to battle – I also know how to take the sweet with the sour. I know some rational non-paranoid people would say that it’s just the odds of the game, mathematical algorithmic luck, but sometimes the coincidences are just a little too coincidency for my liking…!

(1) The Last Patch of Grass:

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The last patch of grass.

You’ve made it, like of course you’ve made it, there’s only one patch left, how could you not have made it?

And then there goes the music.

And the screen goes black.

This is why I have trust issues.

If you or anyone else you know would like to know more about Straight Outta Kanto, please get in touch through our official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/

You can also stay in touch with strange memes and all the latest news on our group “Pokemon Fanclub Ireland” – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/ – we’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading, and until next time: keep watching the skeeys, I mean, skies!

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Straight Outta Kanto Interviews: PokeFan and FanArtist Niall Fox

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Hello PokeFans! Welcome to “Straight Outta Kanto” – your brand new number one blog for nostalgia, nonsense, nerd culture and more!

As an advocate of all things Pokemon and all things Irish, Straight Outta Kanto is going to kick start our brand new interview segment of the blog with a short piece about Dublin Pokemon fan and “Foxy Bros” artist, Niall Fox.

Straight Outta Kanto first met Niall in a professional capacity in an artist alley back in 2015 at a local Dublin anime convention. He’s a sound lad, a devoted Pokemon fan and a nifty little artist! Here’s what Niall has to say – enjoy!

(1) Tell me briefly about who you are and what Foxy Bros do:
Hello. My name is Niall Fox. I am 28 years old from Dublin in Ireland. I run my own business which is called Foxy Bros. We buy and sell all sorts of geek culture related products such as DVDs, games, anime/manga related merchandise, comic books and pixel artwork.
(2) Tell me briefly about when and how Foxy Bros was born:
Foxy Bros came about after doing a few conventions of just selling a few bits from my collection at the buy & sell table. I thought I could try and make a little bit of money from it.
(3) What’s your favourite piece ever that you’ve made?
My favourite piece is a Thanos (Marvel Character!) portrait which I have on a shiny canvas. It was one of my first original art pieces I created.
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(4) Is there any time you’ve ever secretly ballsed up an art piece but someone bought it and loved it any way?
I’ve messed up on a couple but nothing major except for a small Batgirl piece I fused a bit too much.
(5) How long have you been doing bead art and how did you get into it?
I’ve been doing the pixel artwork for the last 3 years. I got into it by chance with a starter set from Smyths Toys.
(6) How are you finding con/market attendees response to your artwork? Does it stand out? Is it unique? What makes Foxy Bros different?
People seem to enjoy my work. I find it gets a different reaction depending on where in the country I am. I like to go for bits of everything movies, TV, gaming, anime. But they are big and detailed. Surprisingly there are only three or four of us that do them [Pixel Art] and we all do different things with them.
(7) You’re a Pokemon fan yourself. how and when did you get into it?
I got into pokemon when it first arrived in Ireland. Collected loads of cards, toys, games. Still have my original fat pikachu plush toy. [So do we Niall, so do we…!]
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(8) What is your favourite Pokemon memory?
Favourite memory is going to see the first movie in cinemas. The little pikachu short film came on and I thought “that’s it… What a rip”.
“What a rip.” – That’s hilarious! Thanks for your time Niall, if anyone would like to find out more about Foxy Bros they can find them on: 

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If you or anyone else you know would like to be interviewed by Straight Outta Kanto, please get in touch through our official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/

You can also stay in touch with strange memes and all the latest news on our group “Pokemon Fanclub Ireland” – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/ – we’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading, and until next time: keep watching the skeeys, I mean, skies!

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Pokemon: Weird and Wacky 90’s Merchandise [Straight Outta Kanto]

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Hello PokeFans! Welcome to “Straight Outta Kanto” – your brand new number one blog for nostalgia, nonsense, nerd culture and more!

Today we are most certainly going to focus on the “nostalgia” and “nonsense” side of Pokemon!

Let us hop in our time-machines once more and return to the greatest era of our lives: The 1990’s – with a few years of grace in the early noughties!

As any crazed fanatic of an obsession-inducing fandom will tell you – as they sob through impoverished tears that no, they can’t afford to eat or pay rent this month now but it was for the higher cause of buying a rare piece of (expensive!) nostalgia based merchandise – fandoms and merchandise go hand-in-hand. The art of collecting is unique and often misunderstood.

As someone with an absolutely irrevocable Pokemon addiction (that presents itself mainly in the form of compulsively buying endless booster packets of Pokemon cards on my lunch breaks from work, or as my mother calls them “magic beans“….) I understand all too well the money and emotion that goes into collecting merchandise.

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*Recent nostalgia purchases include a Jigglypuff nitelite and a Bulbasaur clock radio…*

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As a child of the 90’s, we had it a lot harder than the children of today. If we wanted a hard-to-find and/or expensive Pokemon toy or game, we had two options: Birthday or Christmas. There was no in-between. As someone who has worked many, many, many *sob, kill me* Christmas jobs in high-pressure city centre retail stores  – and several of them toy shops as well! – I am all too aware of the greed and mass-consumerism that is alive and well in the hearts of today’s children.

Lucky b*stards.

So, how do us 90’s folk adjust to the generational gap of our deprived fandom based childhoods making our Sophie’s Choice style decisions over “Pokemon Red?” OR “Pokemon Blue?” for your birthday present meaning you can only get one small thing then for Christmas, compared to today’s kids who, thanks to the internet, have it all and have it now? How do we adjust to suddenly being millenial adults who still live at home, have temporary short-term jobs, aren’t married with children and are in essence over-sized 30 year old children ourselves?

We shop.

And we reminisce.

Yes, life as a millenial is a cruel bitch fate, but we have something that the baby-boomers can never take away from us: nostalgia.

Nostalgia and dangerously over-used debit cards containing our monthly minimum-slave-wage pittance that enables our emotionally unhealthy childhood regressions.

Note the sheer joy on my millenial face below as I hug an over-sized novelty Pikachu at a public event last winter. Smile politely as I whisper all my tiny 90’s hopes and dreams into his cotton stuffed deaf-to-my-pain novelty ears…

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So, as I sit here on a sunny Saturday morning in my mother’s home eating left-over chocolate in lieu of breakfast/lunch sporting an ill-fitting bootleg Pikachu onesie ordered from China and surrounded by my adult spoils of fandom-war, I think back fondly on a time when I wasn’t an adult with a credit card and disposable income and of all the dodgy 90s Pokemon merchandise that made the time between birthday-Christmas oh-so-bearable.

Here is a small photographic trip down memory lane, please let me know if you recognise any of these 90’s Pokemon stalwarts:

Who remembers this bad boy!? The Pokedex!

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The original 90’s Pokemon Pokedex also came in a digital form. My original 90’s digital Pokedex that I got for my 11th birthday has since gone missing somewhere in the time-capsule that is my room… I will re-find it one day. Who still has their’s? Does it still function?! Not that they ever really functioned that much to begin with…

Let’s not forget dodgy black market Pokemon cheat codes and game guides that were all the rage…

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…and also like this one: 

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To be fair these dodgy game guides did actually help me through Mt. Moon and Rock Tunnel and other places once I had acquired them! Don’t let the strange knock-off-ed-ness of the covers fool you, they were actually instrumental in my Pokemon League achievements.

There was quite the market for helping youngster Joey’s on their way to Nintendo glory! Anyone got a few dozen similar books like this knocking around the house!?

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Pokemon colouring books. Makes sense. Can’t imagine today’s digital divas being thrilled with a colouring book no matter how fandom based it is…

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Straight Outta Kanto is an equal opportunities gender-fluid colouring book user:

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T.V. show tie-in novelisations:

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I love a good novelisation…

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In the 90’s, if I was too poor to go see an actual movie I’d read the novelisation of it for free in the library – take that, modern snowflake generation! 

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Pokemon manga comic books.

Anyone else have this as their first introduction to manga?

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I’ve never looked back…

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…manga is love ❤

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Black market Pokemon cards were all the rage, as were dodgy unofficial pricing guides:

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…Genuine 90’s toy-catalogue home made cut outs included:

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My first and last age ten attempt at Japanese:

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Big love if you remember these guys:

 

These bad boys were the world’s weirdest festive stocking filler I think I’ve ever received!

 

I was obsessed with Sabrina from the Pokemon Indigo League episodes and Charmander was my Kanto Starter so that’s why I got a Fire and Psychic set…!

This used to be a genuine 90’s Pikachu clock-radio:

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Motion sensor “Japanese” talking Mew and Pikachu robots… Black market bootleg at it’s finest. I’ll say no more… 

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Got this Meowth and Pikachu hard plastic poseable duo for my tenth birthday. It was glorious. Anyone else remember owning or seeing these!?

 

And finally, I think EVERYONE alive between the years of 1998 – 2002 had at least ONE of these babies: 

 

Oddly shaped but extremely huggable Pokemon Plushies. As someone with over 100 hundred Pokemon plushies to date I can say in all earnestness, these two fatties were my gateway teddies.

There we have it nerdlings! Keep watching the skeys, I mean skies!

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Pokemon Movie Review: The Rise of Darkrai (2007) [Straight Outta Kanto]

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Hello PokeFans! Welcome to “Straight Outta Kanto” – your brand new number one blog for nostalgia, nonsense, nerd culture and more!

James: What’s that!?

Meowth: Darkrai!

James: What a lovely looking chap!

Yes James Rocket. The demon ‘mon of nightmares is a lovely looking chap. Either James is plain warped through and through or just has a magnificent ability to transcend the outer appearance of a devil ‘mon and see the fluffy goodness inside…!

I was in such a Gen 4 mood last night after blogging about my Nostalgia Top Ten: Diamond/Pearl/Platinum [available to read here:  https://straightouttakanto.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/nostalgia-top-ten-pokemon-diamond-pearl-platinum-2006-2009-nintendo-ds-straight-outta-kanto/ ] that I just had indulge in a little light Gen 4 viewing in the form of, one of my favourite Pokemon movies: The Rise of Darkrai.

First off the bat, I’m not a big fan of the animated Pokemon series. I think the first few seasons of the T.V. show have nostalgic camp value, as do the first three movies, but everything after that – with the sole exception of The Rise of Darkrai – I find is over-stretched and lacking plot-wise, convoluted and confusing, with stilted acting and off-putting animation.

I know that seems cruel, but I do think if the Pokemon series had decided to be more focused and direct with its animation direction in the later films – for example making it in the  pure anime style or making it entirely as an American animation and not a weird hybrid of both – I think they would have fared better.

However, The Rise of Darkrai is watchable! It’s got a decent and dark mature enough script, the animation is a nice mix of not-too-computerized imagery and relatively authentic anime style – you can tell with the special FX that it’s not exactly got the highest budget, but I think we can forgive this and over-all it’s an enjoyable experience.

Ash, Brock and Dawn (a bizarre combination really, poor Brock’s back inside the revolving door of Ash’s friendship… for now) are on their endless Pokemon journey going to some far-off town that doesn’t exist in the games, in this case, Alamos Town.

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Alamos Town is a hard-to-reach mountainous dwelling, with only fun Pokemon shaped hot-air balloons available as the main mode of transport. Alamos is also apparently a hub of Pokemon Contest activity. (Even though for the full 90 minutes of the movie we see many, many things, 99 things most likely, but a Pokemon contest ain’t one…!)

Alamos Town also contains the gargantuan and symbolic Space-Time Tower (three guesses which Pokemon legendaries are due a cameo later on based off that title…!) which their new once-off-solely-for-the-movie-and-never-heard-of-again friend Alice informs them is the world’s largest musical instrument.

Alice is a big fan of music; she plays a haunting and captivating tune on the Leaf Whistle in the revered Pokemon Garden of Alamos Town (a safe haven for all the little’mon of the world) calming down some squabbling Pokemon. (I loved watching two Pokemon literally breaking berries during this scene and sharing them with each other, shucks, dat’s real sweet…!) Music can soothe the savage beast, and in Alamos Town there’s nothing more savage than Darkrai. Darkrai is a broody, moody shadow prowling around the Alamos Town Pokemon Garden being shifty and suspicious with his sinister warnings of “Get out… Go away…”

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Some shady doings are a transpiring around Alamos Town and Darkrai is getting all the blame, but is he really as bad as he seems? At the same time, Palkia and Dialga are locked in an extra-dimensional cosmic battle that is causing some pretty nasty dimension destroying repercussions – can our heroes once again save the day? Alice and her unwilling/unwitting love-interest, scientist Tonio, are trying to piece together their grandparent’s past in order to solve the galactic problem threatening to destroy the Alamos Town of today – was all this tragedy foretold in the past? What is the elusive “Oracion” tune for the Leaf Whistle and can Alice calm two such warring deities as Palkia and Dialga?

Team Rocket make an un-important cameo throughout – in stellar *snicker* disguise as news reporters. Getting inadvertently caught up in all the drama all the while accompanied by the pompous and hilarious Baron Alberto and his Lickilicky – let’s hope they can blast off somewhere nice this time…! These characters provide comic relief but adding nothing to the plot.

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The action is well paced, suitably dramatic and apocalyptic. Playing “Spot the Pokemon” in a Pokemon movie is also always great fun. Again, the visual FX are a bit naff by today’s standards but for the time and with the low budget I’m assuming they had, get the job done. There’s plot twists and character revelations and some nice little sepia toned flash backs, and, spoiler alert *not*, of course our heroes save the day – but only at the cost of a monumental sacrifice from one of the key-Pokemon. The bleaker plot and Darkrai based action is what really sold it for me though, I’m a sucker for a bit of dark drama.

It won’t set the world on fire, but if you’re as nostalgic about Gen 4 as I am – or just plain love seeing one of the single coolest Pokemon ever, Darkrai, in all his dark glory – then there’s worse ways you can pass ninety minutes.

I would give The Rise of Darkrai 4 and a half PokeBalls out of 6.

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Thanks for reading! 🙂

ETjFS3u

Nostalgia Top Ten: Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum (2006/2009) Nintendo DS [Straight Outta Kanto]

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Hello PokeFans! Welcome to “Straight Outta Kanto” – your brand new number one blog for nostalgia, nonsense, nerd culture and more!

You know a PokeRant is coming when you feel you have to start a blog post with the sentence “In defence of Gen 4…!” Yet, how else can I start a blog post for what I feel is one of the most misunderstood and unnecessarily-hated Generations of the Pokemon franchise?

Firstly – there are many things wrong with EVERY Pokemon game ever made, EVER. That’s a fact. Each single game has it’s positives and negatives. Each game tries it’s best to utilise the technology available at the time – sometimes this succeeds, sometimes this  fails. They come up with even MORE new Pokemon designs that definitely leave fans new and old divided. There’s only SO many ways they can write about a scrappy young Pokemon trainer single handed-ly thwarting a malevolent group of super villains without the story getting old or falling flat in comparison to other slightly more defined story lines. But all in all, Pokemon is Pokemon and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am here today to DEFEND one of my favourite generations of all time: GEN 4.

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Gen 4, Pokemon Diamond/Pearl and Platinum are possibly one of the most slated games of recent years – which I personally totally disagree with. I don’t understand the absolute cruel berating the games get in forums and social media groups. Gen 4 has it’s flaws like EVERY game ever invented, but not severe enough flaws to warrant so brutal a besmirching of it’s good name.

I appreciate that as a Gen Wunner I am naturally inclined towards hyper-nostalgia when it comes to Pokemon, and Gen 4 is no exception, however, with today’s Top Ten hopefully I can rationally discuss with you guys some of the stronger points of the game.

There is an endless list of personal history and segments of these games I could rant and rave about ad nauseum, but for the purposes of mass consumption, I’ll strip it back to ten basic ones:

NUMBER TEN (10) More like-able and less alien Pokemon/Character designs:

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As there was so much crossover in the game code and character designs for the Kanto and Johto games, there was no real jump or change in the general theme or style for the extra Pokemon introduced in Gen 2’s G/S/C games. The character designs there felt similar but new enough to stop us feeling bored.

However, I found the character designs for the Pokemon in Gen 3 to be so far from the original designs and of such “alien” (for want of a better word) descriptions that I still to this day find them the most off-putting Pokemon ever. I also found the physical design for the male/female protagonist trainers to be equally discomforting. (I know we’ve all established by now that Brendan doesn’t have bizarre white pointy-uppy hair but still…)

I found that the Pokemon designs for Sinnoh were a return to form. They were cuddly, cute and cool where applicable. The three little starter ‘mon, Chimchar, Piplup and Turtwig were on par with Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur and they were some of the strongest evolutions since Gen 1.

There was a greater variety of moves available to these more friendly looking characters, and while we were still bogged down HMs – in fact Sinnoh is one of the worst regions for HMs – that’s why we were blessed with so many Bidoofs – the ideal HM slave. (Making the ultimate sacrifice for our more badass ‘mon…!) I found battling more enjoyable and effective with these Pokemon than with any other Gen at that time.

The protagonist trainer designs were also more realistic and less alienating. It was a colder region, naturally, as it’s based off Japan’s own Northern Hokkaido, we wore snazzy little chic coats and accessories…! Just over all visually, a more appealing game than some.

NUMBER NINE (9) Diverse and more realistic landscape:

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After being spoiled rotten with a Night/Day option for Gold and Silver, I hated returning to the perpetual daylight of Ruby and Sapphire. I don’t know about you, but I personally find myself able to be more immersed and invested in a game that mimics real world scenarios, such as day/night and weather.

In Diamond/Pearl/Platinum we’re back to having day and night but now with added snow, swamps, fog and rain. There was urban sprawl, forests, mountains, underground activity, a volcano, an expanse of waterways, a tropical resort, Pokemon Pal Park and a full on snow city. And, in Platinum, an unholy underworld.

The graphics and technology had moved on since Red and Blue, and even Ruby and Sapphire, so I found (for the time) the look of such a diverse and lush region to be greatly improved and, within reason, more realistic and real world-ish.

NUMBER EIGHT (8) A chilling and apocalyptic set of Super Villains: 

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People argue that Team Galactic are the weakest of all the Pokemon Super Villains, but I don’t see anything weak about a charismatic and enigmatic leader, Cyrus, instilling such brain-washing level devotion from his fanatics that they are willing to literally destroy the very world itself and invoke the wrath of Time/Space/The Underworld just so their leader can make the ultimate cosmic man-cave.

The human world has a magnificently diverse and chilling back-catalogue of similar lone charismatics weirdos who instil Cyrus level destructive devotion in their followers, for example Hitlermonlee, Kim Jong Jigglypuffs and Donphan TrumpetyTrump, to name but a few…

Yes. Team Rocket are money-mad-mafioso, Team Magma and Team Aqua are misguided eco-warriors, but with Team Galactic, they are unbridled chaos. Destruction for the sake of destruction. That’s what makes them, if you think about it, so terrifying and definitely a darker and nihilistically sinister group.

They are, in essence, the Pokemon equivalent of  “The Movementarians” – the super-cult from legendary T.V. show The Simpsons.

Japan has a long and dark history with dangerous cults, and Team Galactic is very much one of them. I think Team Galactic were the last great group of Pokemon bad-guys. Team Plasma and Flare were far weaker by comparison, but that’s a matter for another day!

While Team Skull are hilarious and have Ya Boi Guzma strutting around at the helm being fabulous, they’re not exactly organised, are they? They’re grunt-monkeys for the far more in-control Lusamine, and, in all honestly, have about as much super villainry prowess as the lads who hang around my estate on school nights in their baggy pants listening to rap music and acting like they have swag. They ain’t got no swag.

NUMBER SEVEN (7)  Far more in-game and post-game content than previous games: 

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Iron Island? Full Moon Island? The creepy as hell Pokemon Chateau? Pokemon Pal Park? Getting on a first name basis with the hikers at last and going on underground digging expeditions with them? The now naff and outdated but at the time modern Poketch Apps? The sprawling Mt. Coronet? Pokemon Mansion’s trophy garden guaranteeing you Shinies? The Pokerus? Professor Oak and Articuno, Zapdos Moltres roaming free? Stark Mountain? (Up the King of Th’Norff…!) Team Galactic wannabes enraging the volcano god Heatran? Battle Tower? Resort Area (where I got to experience the one and only time I will be ever be a property owner by having my own villa)? Turn Back Spring? The Distortion World? Unkown Cave? Pokemon Safari? All new evolutions? Snow Point Temple and the Regis? The battle house where you get to re-battle all the gym leaders daily, the list is endless!

Endless!

There was just so much content in Diamond/Pearl, and particularly Platinum. As a consumer I felt I got great value for money with this game. I was having a wee re-play last night to prepare for this article and I’m not even finished it completely and it says I have “216” clocked playing hours already… that is most satisfying. (You could NOT say the same for some of the earlier games.)

NUMBER SIX (6) C’mon baby, do the Eeveelution…! :

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We had new Eevees – Leafeon and Glaceon, two of the most visually graceful and elegant Eeveelutions. #KawaiiAsFeck

We had new Stage 2 evolutions in the form of Magmortar, Magnezone, Electrivire, Gallade. Togekiss and Dusknoir (one of my favourites!). #BadassAsFeck

I was happy with this game decision. It was fondly reminiscent of Gold and Silver when we got Espeon and Umbreon and they introduced to us baby Pokemon evolutions. Yes, I do think this type of thing gets very messy as the franchise carries on over the years, I do find that in D/P/PL it’s well balanced and positively effective.

Again, this all ties in with my opinion that these are some of the stronger Pokemon character designs in a full generation.

NUMBER FIVE (5)  Lovin’ the legendary life:

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The god of space Palkia, the god of time Dialga and the menacing god of the Underworld (effectively SATAN!!!) Giratina, what’s not to get on board with? #

We also had the God of ALL ‘mon and creation, Arceus.

Cute little flying hedgehog Shaymin and sweet little Manaphy and Phione, the creepy looking trilogy of Azelf, Mesprit and Uxie – guardians of the lakes, and Regigigas (Regikickass, as my little brother nicknamed him…!)

Not a legendary, but still cool enough to warrant; LUCARIO. ‘Nuff said.

Moon Goddess Cresselia, and my all-time favourite Pokemon, Nightmare King, Darkrai.

WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE!?

Yes, the legendaries and mythicals gets messy as the franchise goes on, but as with my last point, the legendaries here just about balance out the awesome without tipping the scales towards cumbersome.

The Sinnoh legendaries are my personal favourite of the entire Pokemon franchise. Is there ANY love out there with me for them?

NUMBER FOUR (4) Cresselia, Darkrai and the Eldritch Horror… :

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As a massive H.P. Lovecraft fan I adored the, albeit unexpected and bizarre, tribute to him in Canalave City.

H.P. Lovecraft is a 1920’s sci-fi/fantasy author and creator of the demon-god (and South Park parody) “Cthulu”. All of Lovecraft’s works generally involve sea-based tentacled astro-travelling apocalyptic monstrosities invading people’s dreams.

In Canalave City, Sailor Eldritch (One of Lovecraft’s most famous stories is The Eldritch Horror.) is having some trouble with his wee son. The son is trapped in a nightmare courtesy of Darkrai. Together in his little boat, myself and Eldritch sail to Full Moon Island to duel with Cresselia and retrieve a lunar wing, the only thing that can rescue Wee Son from his living state of nightmarish death.

I just personally find this segment greatly over-looked and underrated. Even if people didn’t get a giddy little thrill at the possibly obscure Lovecraft reference, I still find the whole nod to the Darkrai/Cresselia story line creepy and spookily enjoyable.

I would absolutely adore to see this story line expanded in a Gen 4 reboot, I dearly would. With the technology available today I could see something really epic being done with this, if Gamefreak chose to do so…

NUMBER THREE (3) Giratina and the Distortion World/Race to the top of Spear Pillar:

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While I do admit that Platinum is far superior to Diamond and Pearl, I did find the race-against-time to the top of Spear Pillar to battle Palkia/Dialga and Cyrus a thrilling experience.

I will always love (you…!) the intense heatwave/monsoon of Groudon/Kyogre’s wrath in Ruby and Sapphire and I will admit that that was more widespread-ly dramatic than Spear Pillar, but I still think Diamond and Pearl provided a solid and challenging final showdown.

Imagine then my giddy glee in Platinum when I am accompanied on my race-against-time International Police Agent Looker, Cynthia and the three lake guardians and we all get dragged by SatanMon aka Giratina into the warped, unholy and disturbing Distortion World.

I still to this day find that one of the single most exciting moments of my entire nineteen year Pokemon experience.

This final showdown was challenging without being frustrating, it was a simple, uncomplicated plot (unlike later games) that was easy to follow but without being banal and for  the time, quite dark and dramatic – like the game play music that accompanied it.

Giratina is also just… cool. No can deny that!

NUMBER TWO (2) One of the most challenging Champions of all time:

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Ah, Cynthia. Pokemon Super Bae, Mother of Dragons (well, one dragon, but he’s super strong), folklore fiend, defender of Sinnoh and… Pokemon League Champion.

The gym-leaders were so-so in Sinnoh. Challenging enough I suppose depending on your Pokemon team and their type match  but nothing that really stands out for me.

Dat Elite 4 Tho…

Thanks to type match-ups Aaron and Flint weren’t too bad, Bertha and Lucian on the other hand gave me aggro. It was reminiscent of my Red and Blue experience of struggling to beat the Elite 4, finally managing to do so and then having my ass handed to me by Trainer Blue shortly after, destroying all my hard work.

Cynthia is a boss in every sense of the word.

Her team are obscenely strong, with little or no weaknesses. The Champion Battle music is one of the best Pokemon themes out of the entire franchise and the sheer relief at eventually managing to defeat her (and switching my Nintendo off/on innumerable times…!) was rapturous. One of the greatest Pokemon opponents and a high-light victory of the franchise.

NUMBER ONE (1) In-Game Gengar Catching! : 

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As a creepy weirdo loner, I never had anyone to battle, trade or talk Pokemon with – until my recent adult years and the advent of social media. For that reason, link traded Pokemon were an elusive dream I would never see come to fruition.

This was particularly traumatising for a Ghost Type fanatic such as myself who yearned for a Gengar to call her own.

And then along came Platinum. Ah Platinum, answer-er of spooky prayers.

Post-game in the haunted Pokemon Chauteu of Eterna Forest a fully-grown Gengar will present itself to you for capture, if certain circumstances inside the chateau are met…

What ARE those circumstances, you ask? Well, if you didn’t already know about the in-game Gengar, I’ll let you find out about it the way I did… by pure accident.

Happy Gengar hunting…!

So. There we have it. Straight Outta Kanto’s personal Nostalgia Top Ten of Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum Memories. There are countless more events and episodes I could have included, but narrowing it down for a Top Ten is a tough task. Hopefully you may think twice now before baldly stating that Gen 4 is the worst Gen. Why not rev up the time machine and dig out your old D/P/PL game and give it a replay? You never know, it may be better than you remembered! Fingers crossed anyway that a Gen 4 remake is on the cards, lord knows I’d love one!

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Original artwork of Darkrai included by Venus de Vilo. Permission not granted, because I am Venus de Vilo. And why wouldn’t I permit myself? Ha!

Thanks for reading!

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Nostalgia Top Ten: Pokemon Red and Blue (1996) Nintendo Game Boy [Straight Outta Kanto]

Hello PokeFans! Welcome to “Straight Outta Kanto” – your brand new number one blog for nostalgia, nonsense, nerd culture and more!

We’re going to take a little trip back in time today to the year 1996. For those of you have not experienced the year 1996 first hand, allow Straight Outta Kanto to guide you gently through the lawless wasteland that was the 90s. Ah, the 90s. The only ‘internet‘ we had was the inner-netting of swimming trunks, mobile phones were barely mobile and the world was still in a sweaty after-shock of Jurassic Park.

We were not prepared, I repeat, we were NOT prepared for the Japanese cultural phenomenon that was waiting to infiltrate and dominate the lives of every youngster aged 8 – 12: Pokemon.

It started slowly. First it was a whisper in the school yard. A rustle of a discarded Trading Card wrapper in the canteen. An overly-stimulating commercial during after-school Television betwixt a vast array of overly-stimulating commercials. Then it was a Nintendo Game Boy shaped package under the Christmas tree.

By that point?  The ‘Mon had infiltrated our defences and there was no getting away from Pokemon.

It was The Beatles level hysteria and mania, but with cute little creatures that knocked the lightening-shaped stuffing out of each other. And for me, and others like me? An addiction and obsession that would last the rest of my life.

Today, we’re going to reflect on some the key-stand out moments of Pokemon Red and Blue. So, rev up the time-machine and get in nerd, we’re going remembering!

NUMBER TEN (10) MT. MOON and ROCK TUNNEL:

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In the Land Before Internet and YouTube tutorials, we had to suffer alone through the two pitch black Zubat infested caves, Mt. Moon and Rock Tunnel. I will never forget my joy at finally managing to defeat Pewter City Gym Leader Brock’s Onix with my level 12 Charmander (and army of five level 2 Pidgeys), only to have that joy stripped from my arms by getting lost for my entire school Christmas holidays in Mt. Moon.

It’s fairly straight forward in retrospect IF you avoid going down certain ladders and stick to the main floor plan, but as I said, in the time before game guides and Google Images, we had to do this blind. And speaking of blind… ROCK TUNNEL. I still get flash backs. Even now. The Zubats… THE ZUBATS! Dear god the Zubats. And the hikers. And the endless Blair Witch style walking in endless circles.

An entire summer spent lost in Rock Tunnel trying to get out. An entire summer. But now, with 19 years between me and those two ordeals, I can look back fondly at my stupidity and gently chuckle. Then run very fast away from the memory.

NUMBER NINE (9) S.S ANNE LEAVING WITHOUT ME… COME BACK!!!

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I spent DAYS, honest to god days just making my character stand on Vermillion City harbour while I sobbed in real life. 8 year old me genuinely didn’t know that the luxury cruiser S.S Anne was MEANT to leave without you. I thought I’d done something wrong and that I’d jinxed the game and ended it prematurely for myself.

I’ll never forget the sound of the little steam horn honking as it sailed away from me… My Pokemon Trainer dreams sailing with it…!

After all the strife in Mt. Moon and then re-building my little Pokemon life only to have it sail away from me… And I’d rubbed that damn old man sea captain’s back and cured him of his sea-sickenss, and this was how he repaid me!?

But it was ok. I discovered that I could CUT (I’mma HM01 ya!!) down the little bush on a nearby path which would lead me to… Rock Tunnel. What’s the worst that could happen…?

NUMBER EIGHT (8) LAVENDER TOWN and THE TOWER GHOST:

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Personally speaking this is my favourite bit out of any Pokemon game EVER and would be my Number One, but I’m trying to remain impartial(ish) and cover more than just the things Straight Outta Kanto think is cool…! I’m a creepy weirdo, and as such, love all creepy weirdo things. Even as a child. In fact, especially as a child I was a creepy weirdo. A freaky little town with terrifying Creepypasta inspiring music? Weirdo NPCs saying mad stuff that would be too scary for today’s delicate little snowflakes? (IE: “I… Need… Blood…”) Possessed spirit channellers exorcising the black blobbed ghosts that told us to “Get… Out…” ?

Awesome!

There was nothing about this experience I did not revel in. The fact that Team Rocket were taking a more prominent role in the game at this point as well added an extra dimension, and, when they revealed (spoiler alert 😉 ) that the ghost of Lavender Tower was in fact the unsettled spirit of the Dead Marowak Team Rocket killed… #JerrySpringerDramaMuch!?

It was a dark, eerie and exciting segment of the game and an unnerving atmosphere they’ve never really been able to recapture in any other Pokemon game, most likely a sign of the times. Sadly.

NUMBER SEVEN (7) THE FRESH WATER FIENDS:

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This one may sound crazy but does anyone else remember being stuck in the Celadon vicinity for ages and unable to get to Saffron City and other places with ease because access through the city gate houses were always barred by a little gate keeper (who looked suspiciously like he was wearing a Team Rocket uniform, but I digress…!) who wouldn’t let you pass but would just constantly whine about “Gee I’m thirsty…”

Okay then.

Eight year old me was thinking “DAFUQ DYA WANT ME TO DO ABOUT IT!?”

It turns out that only by having a Fresh Water in your pack and giving it to the gate keeper – who apparently will SHARE this one tiny bottle of Pokemon water with all the other gate keepers – can you pass and traverse Kanto at will.

BUT WHO THE HECK COULD HAVE KNOWN THAT!?

There was no hint or clue that a Fresh Water was required. The character just said “Gee I’m Thirsty…” If he’d said “Oh boy, a bottle of Fresh Water would come in handy right now” or whatever would have made it more obvious that that’s what was required.

So, so many wasted batteries while I walked around doing nothing because the game didn’t signpost something more obviously. We’re spoiled by today’s standards, why the games practically play themselves!

NUMBER SIX (6) LEGENDARY SECRETS:

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Speaking of games practically playing themselves and being easier by comparison, why back in “my day, ya whippersnapper, now get off mah lawn!” we couldn’t just stroll into our local game shop and get a download code for a legendary or rare Pokemon. We couldn’t PokeBank things. Avail of special promos.

No sir.

“Back in my day” if you wanted a legendary or rare Pokemon you had to wander aimlessly around the one game for hours on end on a hot, sunny summer day surfing in every patch of blue cubes you could find in the desperate hope that you’d find something new to do in the game you’d exhausted beyond all human endurance.

(I played my Pokemon Red game to that point, we had no choice in those days, it was either that or go outside and play. *shudder)

It was only by vigorous exploration that we stumbled upon a Zapdos in an abandoned Power Plant. Only by getting lost in Victory Road did we happen across Moltres, and only by searching high and low for an exit out of Seafoam Islands did we get to meet Articuno.

NUMBER FIVE (5) TEAM ROCKET’S BUTTON POSTER PROBLEMO:

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I’m only going to say this once and then go hide under some coats. In Pokemon Red when the Team Rocket Grunt in Celadon City’s Team Rocket Game Corner warned me to stay away from the poster in the corner and to NOT touch the secret switch behind it…

I did what he said.

I walked away from it, didn’t touch it, and then wandered about for days not knowing what to do next. Only in a fit of boredom based rebellion did I one day TOUCH the forbidden poster and well, the rest is history…!

This is one of the funniest and best loved Team Rocket stupidities of all time.

NUMBER FOUR (4) THE SIEGE OF SILPH CO. :

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Some of my all-time favourite video game music is the Siege of Silph Co. theme. If ever there was music to commit crimes by it was this.

Everything was Coming Up Milhouse at this point in the game for me. All the gateways were open, the tunnels were behind me and my team were finally strong enough to make battling other trainers fun, and not just a chore – grunt work on low level teams is excruciating…!

Exciting music, the warp panels were a solid mix of frustrating and enjoyable, intriguing characters, lots of dropped items for easy-steals, a free Lapras, (of all things!?) a handy row of beds for healing your ‘mon (without having to leave the puzzles to go to a Pokemon Centre) and one of many showdowns with Team Rocket Boss Giovanni – definitely one of the more memorable events in a Pokemon game!

NUMBER THREE (3) GIOVANNI’S MASSIVE FREAKIN’ PLOT TWIST:

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Evil Team Rocket Overlord and Super Bae Giovanni is really the mysterious and elusive Viridian City Gym Leader!?

What!?

Nineteen years later I’m still recoiling from this plot twist.

Oh my god. I can’t even. I. CAN’T. EVEN.

I’ve just spent the ENTIRE game defeating and thwarting this guy and his nefarious deeds. This super baddie is a Gym Leader!?

Needless to say, there has very rarely been a plot twist THIS extreme or shocking in any Pokemon game.

Oh my god. I still can’t.

Just… Wow.

After all this time?

Always…

NUMBER TWO (2) THERE’S A FREAKIN’ FIFTH PERSON YOU HAVE TO FREAKIN’ BATTLE AFTER THE ELITE 4 – ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME…!?

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Dear lord. Are you kidding me!? It took a second ENTIRE school summer holiday just to beat the Elite 4. My over-powered Charizard and grossly under-powered team of Pidgey, Rattata and Magikarp (Yes. I paid the Y500 for the piddly Magikarp.) had a Herculean task of defeating the strongest Ice, Fighting, Ghost and.. DRAGON type trainers.

It.

Took.

ALL.

SUMMER.

And then, weakened, fainted, no revives, no potions, no pp maxes, no ethers, no ANYTHING left – along comes this Ass-hat. That Fartbag who’d been plaguing me the entire game. Nepotism’s finest Pokemon Professor Grandson… Trainer Blue. (Or Ass-hat, Gaylord, Fartbag, Buttface – whatever your nickname of choice was)

Trainer Blue and his army of six insanely strong and type-balanced ‘mon.

Needless to say. Eventual victory was hard-fought and sweet. I switched off/on many, many times. Went through dozens of batteries. Trainer Blue is still to this day in my top three of hardest champions to ever beat (R/S 2003 Steven Stone at #2 and D/P 2005 Cynthia at #3)

It was obviously an emotionally significant battle. We’ve been rivals the entire game. Trainer Blue was always one step ahead of me at every turn. I’m the scrappy under-dog and he’s the rich Pokemon Professor’s relative, with all the amenities and social connections that would come with.

And for one last time I hand him his ass.

NUMBER ONE (1) AFRO-MAN, DOESN’T ACTUALLY HAVE AN AFRO:

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The greatest deception of my childhood.

I’m not even bothered that the Cerulean City Champion’s Cave is home to MewTwo of all things.

Like, THE MewTwo.

I don’t care.

All I care is that for an entire game I assumed the man to the left of this picture above there was wearing either a giant Buckingham Palace hat OR had a really rockin’ ‘fro.

He had neither.

He is a regularly be-haired man who just happens to blend in really well with his monochrome surroundings. Comes in handy I suppose when you’re meant to be guarding one of the most dangerous dwellings in all of Kanto.

I don’t know what to believe anymore.

So. There we have it. Straight Outta Kanto’s personal Nostalgia Top Ten of Pokemon Red and Blue Memories. There are countless more events and episodes I could have included, but narrowing it down for a Top Ten is a tough task. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed re-living some of the most trickiest and triumphant moments of Pokemon Red and Blue.

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/

Thanks for reading!

Detective Pikachu (2018) Nintendo 3DS – Game Review [Straight Outta Kanto]

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Hello PokeFans! Welcome to the first ever blog post for “Straight Outta Kanto” – your brand new number one blog for nostalgia, nonsense, nerd culture and more!

We’re going to kick-start our Pokemon journey together with a review of the game that inspired in me so many emotions… I just had to start a blog.

Firstly, I’ve been playing the Pokemon games since 1999. Yes, I’m a “Gen Wunner”. I’ve played every single game the Pokemon franchise has ever produced (mostly!) and therefore I feel that I can (hopefully) give a fair and reasoned (spoiler-free!) comparative review of Detective Pikachu.

Starting on a positive: Detective Pikachu – released in Ireland on March 23rd 2018 – is the single cutest game so far. I’ll give them that, the graphics and animation are actually really impressive, definitely the best looking Pokemon game so far. Perhaps the nature of the Detective Pikachu game-play meant they had more room to focus on the visuals than with a standard, more intensive Pokemon RPG. Detective Pikachu himself is the most kawaii thing I’ve seen in a long time. He’s cuddly, chubby, likes to think of himself as a lady charmer and coffee connoisseur and the voice actor for his character got the mix of gruff but still a “love-able loser” down to a tee. I also adored all his little attempts at kung-fu. It shows Pikachu, and a nice mix of other Pokemon in a whole new light.

The plot and story line itself is decent enough. Tim Goodman, a young man (maybe it would have been nice to have  had the option to be a young female if I’d wanted?) and my detective daddy, Harry Goodman, has gone missing somewhere in Ryme City. It’s quite the mystery and I WANT ANSWERS! So it’s up to me and Harry’s amnesiac partner Pokemon Pikachu to find him.

While I search for my missing pops (in my snazzy red convertible, I might add – probably the only time in my life I’ll get to drive one of those…!) myself and Pikachu get caught up in all sorts of cute and annoying little mini-mysteries which we have to solve, which ultimately all tie-up in a darkly sinister over-arching plot line that all leads back to Detective Harry Goodman’s disappearance.

I personally found the interaction and game play tremendously annoying. I think this is where the game fell down. There were long movie sequences where in-game characters interacted and spoke to each other without requiring any player participation, which helped the plot along I know but made it feel more like I was watching T.V. rather than playing a game. The times we WERE required to participate and take action in the game were, honestly, infuriating and annoying. Now I appreciate I’m not a fan of detective games anyway, but I did find that the puzzles and mini-games in Detective Pikachu came across lame and a bit redundant.

Also, I don’t know whether this was a translation thing or what but at times I found myself quite confused as to what the heck was going on and what I was meant to be doing!

So many of the clues to solve the overly-long mini-mysteries and puzzles just didn’t make sense OR could have technically applied to any of the other clues to help solve them. As well, a lot of the game-play just involved pressing the “a” button repeatedly – such as pushing boxes out of the way or shutting a door – and then nothing for literally ages until it was time to press “a” again! It just felt a bit like the creators were uncertain as to how to approach game-play for Detective Pikachu.

Obviously with a standard Pokemon RPG we’re the Pokemon trainer on our quest, in a Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game we are the Pokemon itself pottering about doing Pokemon things, battling other ‘mon and letting them join our team and in Pokemon Ranger we “capture” Pokemon with our stylus. Honestly I thought game-play here lacked direction and focus.

This lack of direction and focus is a pity because the story line was quite dark for a children’s game and much more engaging than I expected. Rampaging Pokemon, evil potions, dastardly villains wanting to take over the world? Sounds delish, count me in! Naturally as a kiddie’s game (technically!) they couldn’t throw in a big grisly murder for us to solve but I believe the maximum potential of the story line could have been helped along with better in-game interaction.

The characters were well-rounded and likeable, the female voices were a bit on the breathy and high-pitched side, but over-all no complaints there. There were enough plot-twists and character surprises to keep the player engaged. The locations were diverse and interesting, the Pokemon Lab, abandoned Carnival and black-market auction were definitely my favourite parts. Riding in a speed-boat with Pikachu to Cappuci island was an adorable little segment too. However, my all-time favourite moment in the game was a cameo by Ikue Otani’s Pikachu and a little fourth-wall breaking reference to Ash Ketchum.

The over-all playing time I found was drastically shorter than the other games which made me feel like I’d maybe not gotten as much value for money as I could have.

The lack of a post-game story or any post-game play-time at all quite honestly has me feeling very short changed. While the final action in the main-story was quite thrilling,  it ultimately raised far, FAR more questions than they answered. For example: where is my mom? They mention, as a clue, my mom’s locket as if she’s dead and that’s why my detective dad would never has lost it, but then later Tim mentions his mom as if she’s still alive? Why was my dad in a different city to me and my mom? Were they divorced? Some more clarification on the family back-story would have strength-ened my emotional investment in the game.

These questions and many more still have me feeling flat after playing, maybe they’re answered in a post-game quest that I for some reason just can’t unlock? Or maybe they’re leaving things open for a sequel?

I honestly don’t think this game would benefit from a sequel – answers answered aside, they should have just wrapped up EVERYTHING in this one game. I’m happy I played it, it was cute, a nice alternate point-of-view of the Pokemon world – I enjoyed the references to other Pokemon games and stories, but it could definitely have been better.

I’ll give it a PokeBall for story and characters, a PokeBall for animation and a PokeBall for the sheer magnificence of the fat little Detective himself, so, in total a rating of 3/6 from Straight Outta Kanto.

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