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I think any child growing up in the 90s/00s will admit that they had a bit of an obsession with Pokemon (I bet I could find some trading cards lurking in the dark corner of your attics!), and of course I include myself in this statement. In love with the GameBoy games, the trading card game and wishing more than anything I could be a Pokemon trainer myself (sad maybe), it was with little hesitation that I bought this Pokedex.
I'm not a child who loved Pokemon...
For those of you who may not have been quite so excited by Pokemon as myself, let me give you a bit of information as to what this device was supposed to do. In the world of Pokemon, the aim was that Pokemon trainers would capture and train their Pokemon to become stronger and more powerful so that they could defeat a fellow trainer's Pokemon. The main character of the television series, a trainer named Ash, was given a Pokedex by the Pokemon Professor Oak so that he could record the Pokemon he captured and so help with Oak's research. As a trainer in the GameBoy games, you were also given a Pokedex, which would record the Pokemon's information and display some facts about the Pokemon. Thus, you could essentially look at it as an encyclopaedia of Pokemon.
A child's perspective
The idea of owning a REAL Pokedex was thoroughly exciting to me and I could envisage myself during pretend play using my Pokedex to capture Pokemon and read their stats as they were caught (I told you I was sad...). However, the appeal and amusement factor of this Pokedex was not as long lived as I would have hoped.
The Pokedex is an electrical device which is revealed once you open the flap covering it. It is pretty easy to navigate and has a full keyboard, numbers, and some other essential buttons for switching the device on and off and navigating your way through the menu.
However, I think I was disappointed from the moment I switched the device on. Chunky pixel graphics with a one-tone beeping sound greeted me, and the menu itself was utterly disappointing. You are given seven options to explore on the Pokedex, which I will discuss in turn.
This option is for viewing the individual profiles of the Pokemon. You can do this in one of two ways; by entering the name or the number of the Pokemon (of a total of 150). From there, you are taken to the Pokemon's statistical information and are shown the Pokemon's number and name, a picture of the Pokemon, its height, weight, type, strength, attacks, an animated picture of it, and lastly a one sentence biography of the Pokemon.
While this was initially a somewhat entertaining feature of the Pokedex, there is not enough information on the profile pages to keep the user interested for longer than a few seconds. I think naivety led me to believe that the Pokedex would act and look as it did on the series and games (where more information into each Pokemon was given) and I was disappointed at the simple graphics I saw on the screen and the lack of depth to the information.
In this option, the user has the ability to choose 20 of their favourite Pokemon. One would have thought that this would have given direct access to the chosen Pokemons' stats. However, it serves only to show you a picture of the Pokemon when you press on its name, and is overall a thoroughly boring feature.
The Sort feature gives you the option to search all Pokemon of a particular height/weight/strength/type. However, the type search option is confusing to say the least. Within the games, Pokemon's types are identified as specific elements such as Fire, Water, Ground etc. However, this Pokedex does not respond to such types, and searching for a Bug Pokemon, for example, results in the Pokedex telling you that there is a mismatch in your search. As an example to the sort of types the Pokedex has for its Pokemon, Pikachu is apparently a 'Mouse' type Pokemon. As possibly the most famous Pokemon within the whole series, I would think that the majority of people would agree that Pikachu was an 'Electric' Pokemon rather than a 'Mouse'. Such random type names lead this option to be wholly useless as the user could never know the available types without looking them up on the Pokemon's profile first.
4. Capture List
The Capture List gives the user the option to list their Pokemon caught in a game or in pretend play. Again, the user can only list 20 Pokemon here, and they are able to view the date that the Pokemon was caught. However, once again, this option fails to hold the user's interest for more than all of five minutes.
Should the user wish to password protect some of the menu options (why, I don't understand), they are able to do so through activating it within this option. Similarly, one is able to disable the password within the same option.
Here, you can set the Clock and Date presumably so that on your Capture List, it will display the correct date listed. Your name as the trainer is also displayed here, as well as the option to disable sound if you so wish.
This is the last function of the Pokedex and is wholly unrelated to the Pokedex. I can only assume that the designer's of the Pokedex realised that there was not all that much to do on the toy and thought that they would bulk out the menu options somewhat by adding the random feature of a calculator. I never had much use for it, personally...
So, was it worth it?
According to my Capture List, the first time I entered a Pokemon onto it was on the 22nd of April, 2001 and so I can tell you that I was 10 years old when I purchased this Pokedex. However, I am unable to remember how much the device was and thus cannot comment on whether it was a waste of money or not. Had the device been somewhere in the region of £4 (I highly doubt it), then this probably would have been a case of you get what you pay for... and that's not a lot. However, I suspect it was more than this. People currently value it somewhere in the region of £9.99 (based on Buy It Now valuations on eBay), and personally, I believe the device is not worth that much for the purpose of being a child's toy. In that respect, it is wholly unamusing and generally a great disappointment due to its lack of interesting features. Despite this, as a product that cannot be purchased from new anymore, and as it contains the original 150 Pokemon (as opposed to the 646 species there are today), it may one day prove to be of some value to a collector. However, I feel that I am over optimistic in this regard... only time will tell! Regardless, this would not be a product that would be of interest to today's child as it could not even keep me amused 10 years ago. Considering toys have become bigger and better since then, I would steer clear of this!