By show of virtual hands, who here can name all 151 original Pokémon? Or could at one time? Is it due to the Pokémon rap? Or did you collect the trading cards so vigorously that you had all 151 and put them in sleeves in a binder in Pokédex order and then memorized them faithfully until you could rattle off all 151 names in that order? Uh. Not that I did. Or anything.
Okay, yes I did. Me and my younger brother, who has the kind of mind that I bet you he could still rattle off most of them even in his 20’s.
I have an extremely clear memory of us toting our binders to a sleepover in the church basement where we challenged other people to memorize them too—in our minds, memorizing details was the way you proved your devotion to something. And we were devoted. I also remember my brother and I snickering at our binder, laying on our stomachs on the scratchy brown carpet on which we’d sat our butts for pre-school. We were pointing at one particular card at one particular thing, a thing that always managed to make us laugh.
That thing was (were?) Jynx’s boobies. And that’s what we called them, to my recollection. Boobies.
Looking back on this particular Pokémon, we obviously see Jynx’s resemblance to blackface and that’s horrifying. But at the time we didn’t know any better, and we had pure unadulterated joy that someone included boobies in a thing made for our age bracket. I’m not sure I could have articulated it this way at the time, but I think I was giggling because boobies were mysteriously appealing to me and they shouldn’t have been. Not in an attraction way — I was way too young for it to be that, and that certainly wouldn’t have happened for me due to a cartoon Pokémon. Just this nebulous thing that made me curious. Boobies.
Perhaps my brother was laughing because he had absolutely no interest in or curiosity about boobies. I don’t know, I’ve never asked him. Mostly because I can’t bring myself to utter the phrase “Jynx’s boobies” with my adult mouth.
You all know I have strong feelings about the links between gaming and community, especially for children. Pokémon was no exception. There was a giant group of us who had to get dropped off before school because both our parents worked, and a bunch of the same kids who stayed after school for hours on end for the same reason. And of those kids, there were maybe 7 of us who felt like such badasses when we climbed up the still-folded bleachers and played Pokémon on our badass purple gameboys (the way I remember it, it was all boys and me). That was what we did—and we learned group strategy. We chose our initial Pokemon so we all had different and traded them to each other to fill out our Pokédexes. We knew stats and how to get the best match-ups (and machops, har har har). We had cheat manuals and advice for each other. It was a golden age.
And I am sure I’m not the only one who thinks this, but then they wrecked it by adding hundreds more Pokémon to it all. But! I had to forgive them, because with the introduction of the new games you could finally choose to be a girl in the game. And I felt so accepted and reflected by this thing/community that I loved in a way I hadn’t previously. Sure, the addition of all these weird new Pokémon was a travesty, but I loved it anyway for calling into question the popular notion that everyone who played the game was a boy.
So why this font of Pokémon nostalgia?
Naturally I started watching it again. Because duh. And because I was watching it, I got the crazy urge to play Pokémon on a Game Boy. Problem, though: my Game Boy hasn’t worked since 2000, I think. So even though the Leaf Green cartridge is definitely in my possession somewhere, alas I was out of luck.
Or so I thought.
Here is a way you can play Pokémon on your (not jailbroken!) iOS device:
1. Go to this website right here! Decide which version of this Game Boy emulator is right for you and make note of the date you have to change your device to. It’s different for each version, so just take a look.
2. Before downloading, go to settings -> date and time and reset the date to before the allotted date. The reason being that Apple revoked the developer’s certificate—which you can see in the comments on AppAdvice.
3. Download the emulator.
4. Open the app and tap the plus sign—that’ll take you to a website where you can download all sorts of games, Pokémon included. If you have the older version, click the search button and hit up the ROM website of your choice.
5. Pick your Pokémon version. Note that you may have to change the date on your device again, so do that before downloading.
6. Please remember — don’t pirate! Please only do this if, like me, you own the game and you just want to play it on your latest technology.
I’ve gone and downloaded this and played it for days, no weird malware or viruses or hackings—and it looks like these guys haven’t had any issues either. And guess what? The default skin on this emulator is purple. I basically just got back my badass purple Game Boy. I shed a tear. Actually a lot of tears, shhhhh don’t judge me.
How’re you playing your old games and reminiscing your old Game Boy happiness and on which pieces of technology? Please do share!
This has been the seventieth installment of Queer Your Tech with Fun, Autostraddle’s nerdy tech column. Not everything we cover is queer per se, but we talk about customizing this awesome technology you’ve got. Having it our way, expressing our appy selves just like we do with our identities. Here we can talk about anything from app recommendations to choosing a wireless printer to web sites you have to favorite to any other fun shit we can do with technology.
Header by Rory Midhani