I’ve always got on well with kids, whether I wanted to or not. My next door neighbours had two boys, aged about 4-5. After babysitting them for one day for some quick cash, I instantly became their hero and they’ve been bugging me to play again with them ever since. I generally made up excuses, saying I had work to do or whatever. But there’s only so many times you can do that before you start to feel like a real dick. One day, when the older brother’s friend was over, they asked me to play football with them. I was going to fob them off with excuses yet again and watch their poor expressions fall faster than Gonzo’s stock price, but a few minutes earlier I had heard them talk about Pokemon. If I was going to play with them, I might as well do some research as to the popularity Pokemon still had amongst kids today.
The first time I had any contact with Pokemon was when I was about 7 years old played a friends version of Pokemon Blue. I hadn’t a clue what a Pokemon centre was for the first time I played, and relied on Potions and blacking out to restore my Pokemons health. I never got passed Mount Moon, surprisingly enough. It was about a year later that Pokemon exploded in popularity with Pokemon Yellow coming out along with the TV series and the trading cards. The peak of its popularity must have been the first movie with Mewtwo, which even I went to the cinema to see (and getting a Mewtwo movie special trading card too).
You would think that the Pokemon fad would have died since then, but nope. New games are still being released. My sister buys every new generation and I play them when she’s done. Going on the internet though, you’d swear the only people who played Pokemon games still were those from my generation. There’s almost this assumption that, because you only hear each other talking about Pokemon, only people from your age group are playing it. It’s still a kids game though, and a kids show. What did the new kids who were getting into Pokemon think of the new games? Especially since there are over 400 bloody Pokemon by this stage.
Playing football with kids is kinda fun though. My general tactic is to leave the ball just far away enough from me to look like you can tackle me pretty easily. Then, when the kid swings his foot, pull the ball back just at the right time so he loses balance. Repeat a few times until just before the point the kid gets frustrated and starts kicking you in the shin. He wins the ball and runs off delighted, teaching him a valuable lesson in perseverance. I made the suggestion that we should all pick Pokemon to be while playing football. After originally being shocked that I knew about Pokemon, instantly gaining myself a few extra Hero Points in their eyes, the two boys opted for Ho-Oh and Lugia as their choices, because they owned a copy of Heart Gold and Soul Silver respectively.
I chose Snorlax when I was in goal (obviously) and Drifloon when I was playing outfield. I deliberately picked Drifloon because, asides from being one of my personal favourites, he was a bit of an obscure Pokemon from a later generation. They knew him as “the balloon with an X on his face”. The problem came about trying to justify why a balloon would be playing football, especially since his legs are essentially just pieces of string. They decided that he, being a balloon and all, must have to blow up when he kicked the ball, which I ran with and visualised by collapsing in a heap whenever I kicked the ball.
Meanwhile, their friend stood off to the side, looking a bit worried about something.
“Hey you, what Pokemon do you want to be?”
*mumble mumble mumble*
“What was that?”
“C-c-can I be a professional football player instead?”
The kid felt left out because he liked football instead of Pokemon. Oh the role reversal~
“Of course you can. Which player would you like to be?”
It’s funny to think, as Beckham tried to place his penalty kick beyond the massive belly of Snorlax, that my strangest discovery of the day wasn’t that kids wanted to play games that were popular in my generation. Far more surprising was that kids still want to be a footballer who was only big back before they were born.