My brother and I may have similar sounding names, similar food tastes, and were both prematurely born on a 9th, but when it comes to video games we certainly walk different roads.
Whereas I’m the older MMO boomer brother that spent a lot of time in World of Warcraft, his “main” game has always been Pokemon, that’s the franchise he’s spent the most amount of time playing by a longshot, hell, he’s playing it right now as I type these words.
We are seven years apart, but, like many 90s kids, we were all hooked on that late 90s Pokemon craze. Pokemon was something we shared a fascination over, and that’s something that I’ve recently refounded as a way to spend more time with him and get him to be more expressive, and out of that shell in his mind.
My brother is someone that, due to his mental condition, is not really talkative, mostly answering with simple and monotone “yes” or “no” but when it comes to Pokemon, he can go on and on. He’ll tell you all about how he stumbled upon the latest Shiny in his collection, or how he’s trying some new romhack, how he’s looking for X or Y items or what have you.
He doesn’t care about the “competitive” aspect of it, he genuinely plays the games for pure fun and nothing else, that’s something that extends to other games like Super Smash Brothers as well.
I’ve always tried to get him to play other games with me in my youth, but I was never successful at this. He never showed interest in WoW, Diablo, or even Devil May Cry — but in our youth, more than twenty years ago, Pokemon was something we both loved to hell and back.
I got him a copy of Violet last year, and although the game does have a significantly long list of issues that are completely unacceptable for a company such as Game Freak (and a franchise as big as Pokemon) he’s had fun with it, and he’s still having fun with it today. As I wanted to share more time with him through video games, I took the L and got myself a copy of Scarlet some months ago.
The second part of the DLC came out about a month ago, and I”ve been playing it alongside him. Boy does this game have such glaring framerate issues and severely lacks polish, but you should see him have fun, coaching me, and answering questions about game mechanics with such a confidence that’s hard to see in other areas or topics. He really gets out of that shell of his through Pokemon, and I genuinely appreciate that.
I had to assume the role of his father (while still being his older brother) without no one leaving me a manual on how to do things, and I myself am a barely functional mess, so this is and will always be a constantly learning journey for me.
I played the hell out of Pokemon Blue when my mom got me a copy — and boy, when Club Nintendo magazine revealed to me the secrets of Missingno well, fun times, and don’t get me started on Pokemon Stadium, a game I actually learned a few English words from, such as “flinch.” My brother had a handful of tiny Pokemon toys, including a Mew that he liked so much that got unfortunately lost when we moved to this place in 2001.
My mom bought me a copy of Pokemon Silver for Christmas in December 2000 even though I didn’t deserve that gift, because by then I was already a burned out disappointment in eighth grade and had flunked every single subject aside from English.
After I transferred my dope Pokemons from Blue into SIlver with the help a High School classmate I handed over my copy of Blue to my brother, and he began his journey, mashing random buttons on our shared GameBoy as he, five at the time, obviously didn’t knew English — but he was having fun, and that’s all that mattered. I’d help him capture Pokemons, tell him what attack was what, and he slowly but surely started picking up the hang of it, all while watching the anime on Cartoon Network, or watching the first two movies through bootleg VHS copies.
There’s a lot that my brother doesn’t remember from his youth, one such thing was when I borrowed his copy of Silver to mess around and he stumbled upon Raikou, it was quite the shock for him.
Long before I would go onto dabbling in WoW Gold stuff, there was a time when I sold duped Pokemons. As the trick required to Game Boy consoles, I shared the profits with this one fellow student, who would eventually not keep his mouth shut, and then ruin everything, ah well.
I slowly stopped caring about Pokemon by the time Gen 3 was out, as I started to get into PC gaming and was more interested in Jedi Outcast at the time. Still, that didn’t stop me from trying new releases through emulators and ROMs. I eventually let my brother Gen 3’s releases on our computer whilst trying them out myself. This extended to Gen 4, except this time around, I had access to an R4 card to mess around with.
Although I had fully steered away from Pokemon by the time Gen 5 was out, that didn’t stop my brother. This was around the time he started having complications that led to his eventual Chiari malformation diagnosis and troublesome brain surgery.
I was working abroad at the time, simpler times, and although I wasn’t making much money, being a loner and having no relationships meant that I had a tiny bit of a disposable income, so I went onto buying a brand new Ocarina of Time special edition 3DS for my brother and the two games he wanted the most: Pokemon White and SoulSilver.
I returned to Venezuela in October 2013, right on time for the release of X and Y. One of the first things I did was to buy a pair of those to play with him, just like how we used to back in the day except this time, we both had our own handheld, so no need to take turns.
Unlike the days of Pokemon Blue and Silver, my brother was the expert this time around. He was the one with years of accumulated knowledge, and he would not only share that knowledge with me, but with our two young cousins as well. He’d help them find Pokemons, the Mega Evolution stone items, and other stuff. Say what you will of X and Y, but it not only allowed me to reconnect with my brother after my 3-year absence and play video games with him, but it allowed him to open up to our younger cousins, one of whom is the one that’s staying here with us now.
He even got me a Totodile as a gift that I still have around and managed to move to my copy of Scarlet now.
Sun and Moon were released at a very complicated time for us, we had no money to buy a copy for him, and I was completely absorbed in helping my mom through her chemotherapy rounds and farming WoW gold amidst the collapse of Venezuela’s socialist system. I slapped a CFW on our devices and proceeded to “obtain” a copy of Sun and Moon for us — but the circumstances and time weren’t there for me to play with him like we used to, so I never quite played it much. He did, though, a lot. That and the 3DS version of Smash certainly accompanied him during those afternoons where he had to stay alone here while I was with my mom at her chemo.
After her passing I did try to play some games with him, but I made the mistake of trying to have him play games I liked. Then I got him some fighting games that he played in my room (as I have a larger TV), and I’d accompany him and watch him play.
Then I would go to get myself absorbed in trying to find ways to get him out of the country, only to fail over and over for almost six years — a journey that will soon end in a little over two weeks or so.
Pokemon games have certainly seen a massive decline in quality over the past few generations (with notable exceptions such as Legends: Arceus), and yet people will still buy them, no matter how hard one points out the absolute lack of quality and polish (I mean, just look at Scarlet and Violet).
Be that as it may, it is something that I have refound as a something I can share with my brother like we used to as kids, and well, whenever a new one is out I’ll take the L again and buy a paired release to share with him.