Pokémon Has Taken Over My Life, From Games To Cards To Toys

A promotional shot of Pokemon The Arceus Chronicles with the kids and their monsters.

picture: The Pokemon Company

In my mid 40’s my life is so new be taken over by Pokemon. To falling off Pokemon GO Hole in 2020and then chronicling his slow takeover of my free timeI found myself there to the primary Pokemon GO correspondent for kotaku. And now, as if that weren’t so Enough, I finally discovered the TCG. RIP my bank balance. Today feels like a good day to have a nice chat with you about the whole experience.

I was just the wrong age for Pokemon. In 1997 I had just passed the exams we Brits take to get into university and had to miserably repeat the same subjects that I couldn’t understand. In 1998, I embarked on a far less ambitious (and ultimately horrible) university course. I was a student, just starting my writing career, kissing girls and playing pool instead of attending classes. Pokémon was happening all around me, but I wasn’t aware of it at all.

Had I been ten years younger or ten years older, I would have understood. But at 19, I fell into the gap between the pillows. I remember watching one of the mainline games, probably on GBA, a few years later and just getting confused. You were an accidental kid and then you were sent into some tall grass and these birds and insects attacked you for no reason and yes I was done. I now had background, no basis and certainly no concept of it exuberant world from which everything sprang. And then I never caught up.

Two years ago I could just tell you the name “Pikachu”. Since August 2020 I have been in an apprenticeship that has certainly surpassed the weak attempt at the university over 20 years ago. And while I certainly don’t have the fraction of expertise needed to boast of a solid grasp of the subject (I say no exams please), I fell deeply in love with the whole stupid thing. So much so that today mean Nice A new Snorlax baseball cap has arrived along with some Mantine and Snorlax cards and a pack of Vivid Voltage which I will open before this article is done. Um, and this is after friday when my boy and I’ve spent over $200 on different ones TCG Boxes and Packs to celebrate a recent personal event.

A large collection of different boxes and packs of Pokemon TCG cards.

photo: kotaku

I’m frustrated with my younger self, but I don’t blame him. Pokemon no doubt looks childish to an older teenager, all cute cartoons and tv anime communicating mostly via squeaks. For me, from my brief glances, it was indistinguishable from, say, The Wuzzlesand really, that’s fair enough. But if I had just stuck with the game I was trying, I would have been able to get over that initial JRPG-ness, that means I never managed to find love for it either final fantasy or pretty much anything similar.

I’m trying to play catch-up now. I’m just playing through Pokemon FireRedthink that a good compromise for eng Experience the first game without asking me to put up with too much anachronism. And I’m absolutely fascinated by the trading card game that ExQuisite timing to discover it just the week after The World Cup took place in an hourand-a-half of where I live.

The card business started, like all things Pokémon in my life, about my son. He’s almost eight now but he was five when this all started and I’m so glad it came into his life at such a perfect moment. Where he flits through fashions (Lego Ninjago for a hot minute, then a brief obsession with Minecraftand a extended flirt with How to train your dragon made easy…), Pokemon has held up throughout. His flash in the pan attention span is somehow avoided here, and he’s like a living encyclopedia for the franchise.

(Someone asked both of us about it the other day Pokémon, and Toby told them, “I’ve been into this for a while Yes, really a long time, almost my entire life,” and I said, “I’ve only been into this for the past few years,” before realizing we were both talking about the same amount of time.)

I think the first cards came into our lives via the Pokemon Magazine that often gives away a few packs of three cards taped to the front cover. These, as I’ve learned by now, are like the free hit of heroin is offered by the drug dealer someone. We then discovered that a nearby supermarket very occasionally stocks the odd Checklane blister pack (knowing what they’re called blows my mind), and even more rarely a can. We fed his habit.


Around the same time, YouTube Kids offered him some videos from (which ended very sadly) the absolutely wonderful team. The Pokémon evolutionaries. Her He was hypnotized by the supply of box-opening videos, which at first caused my confusion and contempt before the hypnosis took hold of me.

Then we discovered the wonderfully positive and uplifting YouTube channel of realBreakNatewith its kid-friendly collection of running gags and frequent outbursts about the importance of valuing yourself, in between candid conversations with two giant Psyduck plushies.

The only downside to these happy, celebratory videos is the sheer volume of maps they go through, and with it the inevitable Devaluing non-rare cards, even if they’re beautiful works of art or even perform very well as part of a battle deck. Nobody who doesn’t get paid to open these cards or receive them as promotional material can keep up with this pace and volume. Don’t tell him, but I bought Toby his very own booster box of Lost Origin cards for his birthday next montha madman 36 packs of 10 cards at a time and inevitably a handful of exciting pulls – but even that will feel ridiculously limited compared to the volumes plowed through on YouTube each time Day.


A wonderful friend of ours gave me one enormously container filled with previously opened Pokemon cards from his own children years with the game. Stripped of anything valuable, of course, and mostly of Before the era of Rainbow Rares and Gold Secret Rares, I skillfully bundled these cards into stacks of 10, each with an inverted holo and a rare inside each, and carefully handed them to my boy also over the months. He desperately wants to know where they are kept. They’re in the orange container on the top shelf in my study! He will never read this! Hahaha! But, you know, it’s not as exciting as tearing open that foil wrapper yourself.

But then we found Pokémon Trading Card Game Online! The newest aspect of our ever-growing collection of possibilities As Pokémon enters our lives, I finally realized what all those code cards were actually for. You get the app for tablet or PC (but annoyingly not for phone), then scan those QR codes and for each card you’ve got a completely different digital pack to open! It’s not the same, but it’s methadone.

The topic was also implemented excellently TCGO may be it has the worst matchmaking. We had the starter cards they give you and the few code cards we bought from the right packs, but just about everyone we played was armed with decks that were almost entirely Vs or better. We got beat up almost every game, and even after unlocking better maps by sticking with the Trainer Challenge AI mode, it wasn’t a fun time for a seven-year-old struggling to get along at the best of times to lose. I’m amazed why there isn’t a system that better matches an obviously very weak deck with someone else playing similarly.

And then I remembered it orange container. There were also code cards in there! I honestly had no idea what they were when I first saw them, assuming it was just some sort of advertisementextra and I was about to throw them away. Luckily something had stopped me, and in there was seventy code cards. 70! Oh my god what a difference that made. Maybe 50 of those were for full packs, and it was like finding the keys to the candy store. We drew one epic card after another and now have a collection of them decks that can easily hold her are good for most situations (aside from team-ups, our constant bane).

Me, my Relaxo and shelves full of nonsense.

photo: kotaku

My very first playmat is arriving later this week. It is of course a Snorlax theme. I drink my coffee from my giant Charizard mug every morning. There is Pokemon on my pillowcases. It’s totally taken over. At the age of 44, about 25 years too late, I finally get it.

Oh, and that pack of Vivid Voltage. Let’s see. Pack up the trick, four down, and let’s go. Lightning Energy, Krokorok, Excadrill, Bea, Seedot, Phanpy, Shuppet, Poochyena, Voltorb, Reverse Holo Twilight eclipse and … Whimsicott, non-holo rare. Oh well. In the bag behind me are ten packs from other ranges.