Did You Ever Catch Them All? This Is a 90’s Pokémon Nostalgia-fest


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.

via Vamer

via Vamer

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.

via PLDH

via PLDH

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?

Pokémon Indigo League just went up on Netflix.

via giphy

via giphy

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

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/List_of_Pok%C3%A9mon_by_National_Pok%C3%A9dex_number

    I only remeber the first gen of pokemon. I remember losing interest after the yellow version..i also remember having my purple gameboy holy crap you were the shit if you had that AND the worm light so you could play in the dark. My greatest achievement was getting a Raichu in yellow version. If you all remeber, you couldnt make your pikachu evolve…and also obtaining an elusive Mew..Mew was like the ultimate pokemon. Jeez i have feelings now. Also for those that have netflix y’all know Pokemon was recently added right? So.

    • Well if they didn’t know about the Netflix, I’d hope they know after reading the post. ;0)

    • I definitely had a purple gameboy *and* a worm light. I started with the yellow version. Ah, nostalgia!

  2. I too have been watching the show since it showed up on Netflix, which in turn has caused a deep need to return to those old games, so thank you for this.

    • Which initial Pokémon are you going to pick?! Which one which one! My brother and I got together to play and watch Pokémon last night after I wrote this and it was basically reliving our childhood down to the very detail that I picked Squirtle and he picked Bulbasaur.

  3. Ali, you have officially filled the rest of my Saturday. Pokemon Red, here I come! Now which Pokemon do I use as a starter…oh the excitement!

      • Deal. I wish Vulpix was a choice. Favorite Pokemon BY FAR. I didn’t particularly like Ninetails though. I think it was the whole cute baby fox thing.

        Do you have a favorite?

  4. I love, love, love Pokemon! My partner had never seen it, and I introduced her to the joys of Pikachu with 1st gen. Ash, Misty, and Brock. If I were to find a genie in a bottle I already have my three wishes picked out! 1. Pokemon were real 2. Super Saiyan 3 Goku ruled the earth and 3. Nothing bad would ever happen to any of my family and loved ones or their loved ones.

    Guys, if you have some old cartridges that ‘don’t work’/don’t save, you may be able to restore game play by replacing the cartridge battery. Essentially, there is a regular watch battery inside each game cartridge that keeps the game on, and they last about 10-15 years. If you can’t save the game, you can just open up the cartridge and with a piece of electronic tape and some nimble fingers (c’mon we’re lesbians) replace the battery so you can save your progress/turn the game on.

    I can still name them all, and I’ve caught them all, and it was the best! :P Did you guys ever play ‘What would your team be in Pokemon were real’?

  5. YESSS this is my new favourite AS post.
    Been playing obsessively off and on since buying Blue in grade 7. All that downtime basically meant it took me 10 years to evolve a Dragonite. (WORTH IT)

  6. I don’t even remember how I got into Pokemon, but I loved every second of it. And I became unreasonably indignant when they decided to add to the original 151. I had the trading cards, the t-shirts, the toys and pretty much every other piece of merchandise they sold. I think I still have the shirts somewhere; I need to find them, I’m pretty sure they would still fit as I wore shirts from the boys section that were at least two sizes too big for me.

    My best friend (next door neighbor boy) and I would watch the cartoon every Saturday morning and immediately call each other afterward to discuss the episode. And every year when Ash and the gang went to Pokemon League we went bananas. It’s immediately going into my Netflix queue.

    A friend of mine from elementary school gave me the red version, which I played on my clear purple game boy color. I’m pretty sure it’s still hiding somewhere in my parents house. I find it every couple of years and immediately start searching for double A batteries in every TV remote, flashlight, and any other gadget I stumble across.

    Also, even though it was the dumbest video game ever, I loved Pokemon Snap. God, it was so ridiculous, but so addicting. Even my friends’ parents got addicted to it. Nintendo 64 was (and still is) such a quality gaming console. We still have all of the equipment, except for the console. I would pay good money for another just so I could replay all of the awesome games.

    Thanks for the nostalgia trip. Honestly, it’s really great.

    • Pokemon Snap was the best! I remember they used to have these machines at Blockbuster where you could bring in your cartridge and print out stickers of the pictures you took in the game. Such good memories.

      • Oh yes, the stickers. At Blockbuster, lol.

        They had a promotion going too, for awhile, where you could win a trip to Australia if you sent in your highest-rated photograph and my cousin, my best friend and I were ON that shit. (Secretly I was torn up inside because you could apparently only bring two other people, and assuming that my guardian would have to be one of them, I spent many-a sleepless night trying to figure out how to break it to my cousin that he wasn’t invited…)

        Apparently at the time none of their game testers had achieved that perfect Mew pic, but we spent HOURS playing that same dull rainbow level over and over again and GOT IT. Assuming the win was in the bag, I convinced my saintly grandmother to drive me to the nearest Blockbuster – which was more than an hour from our home in the rural Midwest – to print out the stickers.

        After a few weeks? months? they sent back a letter – apparently X-thousand people had TIED and so to break the tie, we would have to submit a story. I eagerly wrote the story – I think it turned out to be some generic adventure about Ash and Pikachu – mailed it in aaaand….never heard back.

        Oh, the trauma. It was a sad ending to my intensely brief affair with Pokemon.

    • YES to Pokemon snap, oh the shame, but I loved that game. Anyone else have the gameboy printer that synced with that game? Ugh, so much love!

  7. I have been watching all the pokémon episodes on netflix having a serious nostalgia kick.

    Plus I have a mumbled version of the Poké rap stuck in my head, I love it.

  8. I couldn’t get through the whole article before adding Pokemon to my Netflix list. Haha. I used to have the original critters memorized in order, because I had a pokedex that went EVERYWHERE with me. But after they added more Pokemon, I lost all interest.

  9. “I wanna be… the very best… like no-one ever was”
    Truly the first positive affirmation of my youth that I took to heart :)

  10. My brother and I still are hardcore Pokemon players. When they’ve come out in pairs, we’ve always made sure to get each one and swap Pokemon. I’ve played all the Gameboy versions and all the DS, and let’s not get into the TV and movies and playing cards and toys..

    Buuuuuut not all of us use iOS. Shout out to Android users would be cool! Or maybe an online way to play? Cheers.

    • Hey Alice!

      I actually did originally have an Android emulator/ROM in here (a Windows computer one, even), but since I don’t have an Android (or Windows) device I couldn’t personally guarantee the safety of the download. Online reviews of it were a 50-50 split, malware or no malware. Because I couldn’t personally download and monitor like I can on an iOS device, I didn’t want to recommend it to anyone at Autostraddle—digital security is very important to me, and I don’t want to cause any of y’all any problems.

      • Thanks for the reply! I’m glad you looked into it. I guess I’ll have to have a search around myself.

  11. I loved Pokémon when they were big in the UK (tail end of the 90s) and really enjoyed the games, but the last version I played was Silver on Game Boy Color, which is the only handheld console I’ve ever owned. I also collected the cards because there was a huge craze for them at school. I think Pokémon appealed to me partly because I’ve always been really good at memorising things without trying too hard, and there were a lot of stats and other things to remember in Pokémon. Thanks to this post I kind of want to play it again…

  12. My mom was always boggled at the idea that I could remember and name all 151 Pokemon but had difficulty memorizing the multiplication table. I’m sure you all can relate.

    I also still have my (teal) gameboy color + Red, Blue, Yellow, Silver, Gold and Crystal, which was where I stopped.

    • And when I got older I sold my cards to my dad for 30 bucks, which I don’t actually regret. And yes, they were in sleeves in a binder, thank you very much.

  13. I still have a few of the Welch’s Pokemon jelly jars. My family uses them as cups. The Bulbasaur jar is our favorite one.

    • My mom has these in a box downstairs waiting for me to move into my first “real place” (i.e., an apartment on the same continent as my stuff) full of unused Pokémon jam jars. I look forward to being a real grown-up someday.

  14. I’ve been playing Emerald on an emulator recently (it’s my favorite), but all this talk of Indigo being on Netflix Netflix means I have to start back at the beginning.

    I’ve always picked the fire starter, and sometimes I’ll go back and pick the water type, but almost always fire.

    Was anybody following Twitch Plays Pokemon? That shit was unbelievable. It restored faith in humanity

      • That room was a nightmare, they had to implement democracy to get out of there. But then they managed to get through one of the gym’s puzzles without screwing up once, which is kind of amazing. I’m just so proud that 50,000 people managed to cooperate well enough to beat the game.

  15. I’m sorry I am just so overwhelmed and excited that Autostraddle and POKEMON are intersecting right now. I started playing Pokemon more or less because my mom liked deals – they were selling Red and Blue at Target, and if you bought the game, you got a free Gameboy case. We didn’t even know what we were buying, but I remember feeling so cool once it got popular that I had been in on it FIRST. I also distinctly remember impressing the person I liked by bringing in my Pokemon toys. Basically, Pokemon made me the coolest.

    I used to trade Pokemon with my neighbor and just with myself across versions since my mom also had a Gameboy…my greatest tragedy was trading my Charizard over to another version, then accidentally saving over the game and ERASING IT. I didn’t know what to do with myself. My other great tragedy was getting stuck in the cave leading to the Elite Four in Red/Blue and never getting to fight them because it was either before the internet was full of help or before I knew it COULD help me…

    I also definitely had all 151 memorized at one point, though I’m not sure I’d do as well if you asked me today (and I for damn sure don’t know most of the names of any future generations even though I’m not a total 151 purist). The only games I didn’t play were the Ruby/Sapphire versions, but I literally only own a 3DS so I could get X/Y. I’ve been letting work eat away at my being and therefore not playing as much as I’d like, but my goal for this version is to ACTUALLY FINISH, and to have every Eevee evolution because do we really have to talk about how Eevees are amazing?


  17. My childhood!!

    I used to play blue, red, and yellow versions on my Gameboy Color. I had this obsession with Team Rocket and James in particular, because of his gender play (they pulled his bikini ep in the US). I loved yellow version because it actually featured Jesse and James, instead of the generic TR members.

    I had no idea Pokemon was on Netflix. I’m pretty much gonna live there now.

  18. I still have my favorites and the memories. This show made life seem so simple and fun

  19. This kind of thing always confuses me because I never stopped playing. Some people are all ‘Remember Pokemon? That was awesome!’ and I’m like, well yeah I remember it I was just playing it today. Also, Pokemon games are so much better now than the old ones were, if you loved the old ones you should definitely check out the more recent ones.

  20. I’ve turned into a Pokemon-spouse on account of my girlfriend’s endearing love for Pokemon. Often, she’ll get ready for bed and then play a modded Pokemon Red game that follows the plot of the TV show, so she’ll play that on her emulators and watch along with the show. Lately, she’s teaching herself how to do 3D modelling, and she’s already built a couple of Pokemon and re-created Dr. Oak’s laboratory.

    Basically, MY GIRLFRIEND IS THE COOLEST PERSON EVER and I have to vicariously project her coolness onto AS because she never posts.

  21. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but even if you own an old version of your gameboy game, downloading the ROM and using it on your phone is illegal. I’m all for free access to everything and doing what you want with available technology; however, I feel like it’s necessary to inform those who don’t know that what their doing is illegal. (even if they go and do it anyway :p )

    From Nintendo:
    “Can I Download a Nintendo ROM from the Internet if I Already Own the Authentic Game?

    There is a good deal of misinformation on the Internet regarding the backup/archival copy exception. It is not a “second copy” rule and is often mistakenly cited for the proposition that if you have one lawful copy of a copyrighted work, you are entitled to have a second copy of the copyrighted work even if that second copy is an infringing copy. The backup/archival copy exception is a very narrow limitation relating to a copy being made by the rightful owner of an authentic game to ensure he or she has one in the event of damage or destruction of the authentic. Therefore, whether you have an authentic game or not, or whether you have possession of a Nintendo ROM for a limited amount of time, i.e. 24 hours, it is illegal to download and play a Nintendo ROM from the Internet.”

  22. I celebrated my birthday last year with a trip to the Pokémon Center Tokyo, because you get a cool oversized playing card that says “________’s Pikachu” and the staff fill in your name and birthday, and they give you a special discount coupon and the Eeveelution of your choice (but only on the most recent gen and my last game was SoulSilver).

    I have some Pokémon plushies on my bookshelf, too. My favorites are Bulbasaur and Mew, if we’re talking about Gen 1, and Chikorita if we include Gen 2.

  23. I remember when I was in highschool I wanted to make some extra cash by selling my rare cards to fellow collectors such as myself, so I picked up my collection binder (it was a photo album with Winnie the Pooh on the front). I brought the binder to school the next day and began to showcase the cards to my “buyers”. However, before I could make a deal a teacher caught me and confiscated the binder and had me in detention for the rest of the week after class.

  24. My feelings over the newest games are so mixed, on the one hand, I can be any kind of trainer I want, girl, boy, brown, bright white, sort of tanned (not a boy in girls clothes though, dang). But on the other hand, one of the new pokemon is a set of keys. For the love of Arceus. Why?!

    I feel like instead of making now mons they should have just made new regions and new stories and mixes up the older gens a bit.

  25. I think this might be the most fun post I’ve seen on the internet in the last week. I was quite the Pokemaster when I was a kid and it’s cute and fun to see some other queer twentysomethings reminiscing about something that was so enjoyable to me.

  26. Yay Pokemon!

    I’ve played up through the third generation, since I have a GameBoy Advance but no DS or 3DS yet. The third generation gets a bum rap among fans for getting rid of some of the cool features of the second one (like the time of day and all that), but it introduces a lot of awesome new ones, like weather and that affecting your battle. And Pokemon Contests! They’re basically Pokemon beauty pageants, and they pretty much consumed my gameplay once I’d “beaten the game” since they require their own sort of “training”. And it’s a nice way to use all those cute Pokemon who sit in your box because they were never “battle-ready” enough. Plus, the third generation has some of the best environments in all the games.

    So I guess this is a plug to check out some of the later games if you stopped with Gen I or II like a lot of people of our generation did, because they’re worth it! And if you think some of the new Pokemon look stupid, just remember the first generation had such masterpieces as “a floating ball of poison gas”, “a Poke-ball with a face”, “a crab with a mushroom on its head” and “a bunch of eggs that are kinda psychic and evolve into an egg palm tree.”

  27. Soooooo much yes!!! I actually broke down and bought a 3DS just to play the new Pokemon games, but, somewhere I still have my Red, Blue, and Yellow cartridges along with my purple gameboy.

    We didn’t sit in the bleachers though, we hung out in the music room to play. :D

  28. Just thought you should know: My partner and I cosplayed as Team Rocket at the Emerald City Comic Con. We found someone dressed as a Snorlax and started screaming and chasing him with our plastic Pokeballs. It was a lot of fun!

  29. Pokémon, how do I love thee?
    Let me count the ways.
    Games, cards, action figures, TV, the gold-plated Burger King collectibles, and now the most recent love of my life, Netflix.

  30. I recently found my old gameboy advance, not quite the same but nearly, and took it and leafgreen version with me on a trip. I actually had a conversation with a girl at the security desk at the airport who was overjoyed that I had a GBA! I’m actually considering getting a 3ds for pokemon x & y since you can now actually customise your trainers appearance!

    As for the now 700+ pokemon, I actually don’t mind most of them, sure many of my favourites are gen 1 pokemon like Kingler and Nidoking but my all-time favourite is the gen 2 eeveelution Umbreon!

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