We’ve made it through the surreal first week of Pokémon Go hysteria. Morning news anchors, curious parents, and franchise first-timers now have an opportunity to catch their breath, and learn what this series was up to for the past two decades while they weren’t paying attention.
Here are six of the most helpful things I found for newcomers and lapsed fans. Ranging from the most accessible video game in the series, to a "true" tale of horror, this should keep you busy when you’re resting your legs after a long trek to catch a rare Snorlax.
Pokémon X and Y for Nintendo 3DS
Pokémon X and Y aren’t the newest Pokémon games, but are, I think, the most welcoming. Pokémon games are divided by generations that kind of, sort act as reboots; 2013’s X and Y began the sixth and most current generation. The pair, which are essentially the same game but with a few different unique pokémon, have comparably advanced graphics, a staggering number of creatures to collect, and require no prior knowledge of the series. Some folks might recommend playing the original Pokémon games, Red and Blue, which are also now available on Nintendo 3DS, but unless you have patience for older, slower, more repetitive retro games, X and Y are the more enjoyable bet.
Vox Media sister-site Polygon has an entire standalone homepage dedicated to Pokémon. With an easy-to-skim stream of hundreds of stories, Pokégon is a charming startling line for someone whose first experience with the series is Pokémon Go.
The Tale of MissingNo
The original Pokémon games contained a number of intentional and unintentional secrets. Missingno is my favorite, a chunk of random pixels that, depending on who you’re asking, is or isn’t a canonical pokémon. A couple years ago Kotaku wrote this helpful explainer.
Pokémon: The Animated Series
The Pokémon cartoon doesn’t approach the depth and comedy of modern Cartoon Network programs like Adventure Time or Steven Universe, but is enjoyable enough if you’re hungry for Saturday morning fluff. As a bonus, the show doubles as a strategy guide, explaining battling and collection mechanics, not so subtly egging on viewers to purchase the games. The show is available on DVD at Amazon, and a number of episodes can be streamed at Pokemon.com.
The macabre Pokémon urban legend
As my colleague Rich McCormick writes in his story on the notorious creepypasta, "There are two versions of Pokémon Black: the one you know and the one that will make you a cold-blooded killer." There’s an ironic twist at the heart of Pokémon Black. For years, Pokémon players have forced innocent creatures to incapacitate one another, only for this version to flip the script, ordering the player to kill, kill, kill.
Once you’ve dug into Pokémon tv shows, video games, and urban legends, you’ll be ready for Bulbapedia, the fan-run wiki-style repository of character stats, niche trivia, and backstory. I sometimes lose a lunch break by repeatedly tapping the "Random Page" button until something new appears. This morning, I found this South Korean soundtrack, Pocket Monsters AG. Then I learned about a fictional tournament in one of the many Pokémon manga. If this story you’re finishing is the entrance to the rabbit hole, then Bulbapedia is the ladder lowering the most curious fans deeper and deeper into the series.