Everyone had Pokemon cards. Some still have them in a shoebox in their closet. Others gave them to friends, or sold them on eBay. Very few, however, actually learned to play the game. With the original cards, i.e. the Base Set, Jungle Set, and Fossil Set, the main focus was collection, not active playing of the game. But the card game was actually quite fun. How can you play it, you may ask, without access to the old cards? Well, I have a solution- the little-known Gameboy Color title Pokemon Trading Card Game. Find out after the jump!
Pokemon TCG was released as a pretty perfect simulator for the card game at that point. All of the Base/Jungle/Fossil cards were in there (as well as a couple ways to get real and gameboy-exclusive promo cards), there was a good introduction to the game, and it was pretty easy to pick up a starter deck and start playing. It teaches how the game works, including the energy, trainer and evolution rules people tended to avoid (at least when I was a kid, and everything was about damage and seeing who had the holo Charizard)
The game’s fairly fun in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it and learn the nuances, you’ll have amassed enough cards to make a workable deck. This is where the fun begins- you can make consistent, fast, and powerful decks with the strongest cards in the game. Though the computer players really aren’t that good, trying to beat them quickly, efficiently, and strategically adds a lot to the game.
In terms of decks, there was only one dominating deck style in the competitive Base Jungle Fossil days, the big-basics “Haymaker” deck, but you’re given more freedom ingame in that you can experiment with fun cards like Blastoise, Exeggutor, Alakazam, Arcanine, Charizard, and Venusaur. (anyone who owned these cards in real life can probably remember some of them) It’s a great introduction into the principles of competitive gaming, and is a wonderful way to pass time as well.
Sure, the game is dated, slow unless on an emulator, and easy, but in terms of a time-killing game, it’s still quite fun. The limited pool of cards is disappointing at times by limiting valid strategies, but it also focuses the game and adds the need for adaptability and inventiveness to succeed.
Overall, the Pokemon TCG is nothing special in itself as a video game, and, being old, has more than its fair share of problems, but is a really cool way to get into the card game, and to play competitively in games in general.