Christmas Memory, Rebecca Phillips – Chimchar, I Choose You

Once I reached the age of ten, most of my Christmases involved a Pokemon game one way or another, but none of them hit as hard as Pokemon Diamond did — nothing is like your first, after all.

As a kid, I’d been a fan of Pokemon since way before I ever got my hands on one of the games. On account of, well, not being born when Red and Blue released, I missed the initial hype, but the anime, cards, and merch were at their peak when I reached primary school.

I collected every Eevee card I could get my hands on (it was my favourite one); I watched all the movies; I even had a Pokemon duvet cover, but I’d yet to experience the games for myself. To be honest, I wasn’t too fussed before, but then one of my cousins got a Nintendo DS.

I watched in complete envy as she walked her Nintendogs and repeated the dog’s name over and over into the microphone, much to the annoyance of every other family member in the house. I begged my parents for my own DS, but they said no, I had to wait for Christmas.

The months dragged on. I counted down the weeks. I counted down the days. Finally, the day arrived when I could unwrap my own Nintendo DS Lite and a copy of Pokemon Diamond. Immediately, I plugged the cartridge into the DS and began my first Pokemon journey. I connected with Chimchar almost instantaneously, and, very creatively, named him Flame.

My younger brother also received his own DS and Pearl, and we could not put those games down. At one point, he asked me why the Wingull he’d found was green, and not blue. Not being the seasoned Pokemon player I am today, I didn’t have a clue what that meant, and told him to knock it out because he’d already caught one. Oops. At least it wasn’t a cool Pokemon, anyway.

In between visiting family members and scarfing down chocolate, I played Diamond as long as I could, and was devastated when the little red light started flashing at the bottom of the console, and my parents told me I needed to take a proper break to let it charge. I gazed longingly at my DS from the kitchen table, barely paying attention to the board game we were playing, with the only thought in my mind being which Pokemon I would catch next — I distinctly remember making a beeline for Psyduck, all thanks to Misty.

While Platinum is infinitely the superior Sinnoh experience, I still have a soft spot for Diamond thanks to this Christmas. After the initial excitement was over, I logged around 400 hours into the game (most of those were spent rematching Barry in the postgame — I’ve no idea why I loved doing that so much looking back, but I made sure to do it every week), and I got my beloved Flame up to level 100.

After that, I played every other Pokemon game I could get my hands on. Diamond sparked my love for Pokemon and games in general, so if I hadn’t played Diamond that very Christmas, I may not even be working here at TheGamer at all — pretty wild to think about.

Sadly, I ended up selling my copy of Diamond when Black and White came out so I could buy one of those games, but I’ll hold onto my memories of Flame and my first adventure in Sinnoh tightly, and I’ll hold my copy of Platinum even tighter.

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