By Jennifer Clark, 15, Pacific Coast HS
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"My eyes fixed on the display. The luminous yellows and reds sucked me in. The plastic packages dazzled. This is the epitome of eye candy. "Oh cool—Pokémon toys!" I said to my mother. We happened to be shopping for groceries that day, but I wasn’t hungry for food. All I wanted was Pokémon. The Pokémon invasion has arrived! Pokémon, Japanese for "pocket monster," is the name of the Nintendo game and fantasy characters. The animated cartoon on the WB channel airs twice a day at 2 and 3:30 p.m. Fans will eagerly swoop to movie theaters November 12 to see Pokémon: The First Movie, which promises the debut of never-before-seen Pokémon. And to top it all off, the soundtrack inspired by the movie features N—Sync, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, B*Witched, 98 degrees, and Vitamin C, to name a few. Pokémon began as a video game in Japan in 1995, according to the Los Angeles Times. The U.S. didn’t discover Pokémon until last year. That’s when the craze started. Since Nintendo’s Game Boy comes in a variety of colors, the Pokémon games come in Red, Blue and Yellow versions. It continues to stand firm, as the number one video game in America. According to Atlantic Records, Nintendo has sold more than 2.8 million units of the different versions collectively. You don’t have to be a kid to be addicted. My 20-year-old friend Bennett cannot break himself away from his Game Boy at times. Slouching in the center of his couch, he no longer is a junior in college. On the video screen he emerges as Ash Ketchum, an 11-year-old Pokémon trainer sweeping through 150 levels. The object of the game is to catch all 150 Pokémon. You have to train the Pokémon you’ve caught to battle "wild" Pokémon. They are referred to as wild because they have not been trained by a human player. As the Pokémon gain points through experience using their various powers ranging from fire to water, they evolve into different Pokémon, who are able to fight better using more powers. Everyone has their favorites Many of my friends seem to love all 150 characters. My 14-year-old friend Larissa’s favorite Pokémon is Bulbasaur, who uses his vine whip. Daniel, 19, duels wild Pokémon with his favorite—Charmander, a fire breather. My favorite Pokémon, Caterpie, evolves twice, becoming Metapod then a beautiful Butterfree. Christina, 15, explains Pokémon’s appeal, "They’re all so cute and the games are fun. My favorite Pokémon game is the yellow version [called] Special Pikachu. I’m always trying to do better." I can relate to Christina. I wish I could catch more Pokémon too. I envy a friend of my family’s 9-year-old son. He’s already at levels I’ve never heard of. God, I have to get better! Teens I know who have never played the game say "it’s only a stupid game, you’re wasting your time." Despite their views, the mania continues. It’s safe to use the cartoon’s slogan "Gotta catch ’em all" to refer to the demand for Pokémon merchandise. Both kids and parents alike are flocking to online auction companies like Yahoo! Auction and E-Bay to make bids every second on Pokémon memorabilia items from T-shirts to rare trading cards. I wanted to see this mania for myself, so recently I logged onto E-Bay. There were 150 items on the auction block that day. I saw first edition Basic Pokémon trading cards with a starting bid of $400. From Phoenix Arizona, a Pokémon collector was selling one pack of Pokémon cards for $225. Many of my friends and I will take a break from staring into the small Game Boy screens to catch Pokémon: The First Movie featuring Ash and his sidekicks Misty, Brock and Pikachu. The movie’s plot continues Ash’s quest to be the world’s greatest Pokémon trainer. Ash’s desire is challenged greatly by Mewtwo, a bio-engineered Pokémon, creating a strain of Super-Pokémon. As Atlantic Records states, "…this sets the stage for the ultimate Pokémon battle." While I await the movie, I was able to listen to the soundtrack. Atlantic Records, the masterminds behind this album, are issuing an exclusive, "highly collectable trading card" with the first two million copies. This HyperCD, which is enhanced with film footage, is sure to become a fast seller. The first single entitled "Don’t Say You Love Me" by M2M is sure to become a hit. This Norwegian duo creates a style that is a cross between Lisa Loeb and Cindy Lauper. Their acoustic guitars mix nicely with their young voices confessing that they can’t rush into love. N’Sync’s harmonious voices encircled by a keyboard snap-driven ballad is a favorite of mine. The song, "Somewhere, Someday," fuses lyrics like "Let me be the one to catch you when you fall/Let me bring you peace," allowing them to easily creep into your soul. The Motown foursome 98 degrees follows with their upbeat joint "Fly With Me." Indulging my heart with "I wanna make you feel alright," over the pulsating bass, electric guitar and synthesizer created a massive effect. I love this song! While this 16-track album is undyingly pop-inspired, I think it’s worth buying if you like the artists named above. I do admit, some songs are disappointing, but don’t fret. I did notice that a continuing theme thrives on this album: have a good time and empower yourself. I guess that’s what Pokémon is all about."