For more than 14 years now, millions of people worldwide have recited a common mantra: "Gotta catch ’em all."
That’s the battle cry of the "Pokemon" trainer, those gamers intent on catching every last one of those battling critters. Back on the Nintendo Game Boy in the late ’90s, there were 151 Pokemon to catch. Now, in the age of Nintendo DSi, the list stretches from No. 1 (Bulbasaur) to No. 493 (Arceus) … and that number’s sure to grow whenever the newest games in the series, "Pokemon Black" and "Pokemon White," are released.
But there are trainers, and then there are trainers, those Poke masters who are so good at the video games or the collectible card game that they are ranked among the world’s elite.
Many of those elite players will be gathering in our back yard next weekend for the Pokemon World Championships … that back yard being the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island. And local players who have some free time and a fair amount of skill can join in on the fun and perhaps qualify to participate in the tournament themselves.
That chance to qualify comes Aug. 13, as the festivities kick off with Last Chance Qualifier tournaments for both the video game and card game. Registration for Senior Division video game tourney participants, those born no later than 1997, is from 9 to 9:30 a.m.; Junior Division participants, born in 1998 or later, can register from 1 to 1:30 p.m. The games of choice will be the newest available, "Pokemon HeartGold" and "Pokemon SoulSilver."
(Quick aside: Those of you who remember when the first "Pokemon" games came out in the U.S. in 1998 and realize the minimum-age qualifiers for the Senior Division would have been around a year old back then, please join me in feeling old starting … now.)
Card game players can register from 9 to 10 a.m. in three divisions: Junior (anyone born in 1999 or later), Senior (born between 1995 and 1998) and Masters (1994 and earlier).
The top eight qualifiers in each of the video game divisions and the top four in each of the card game divisions will move on to the formal tournament Aug. 14 and 15, where players will compete for world titles in their respective divisions. Six countries — the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France and Spain — will be represented in the video game tourney, while 26 countries will be represented in the card game tourney. (Would you believe Malta got three invitations? Just goes to show how much of a worldwide phenomenon the franchise is.)
The prizes are quite impressive, too. The video game division champions get a trophy; a special DSi system; a trip to next year’s World Championships; a trip for four to New York, Tokyo or Honolulu; and Pokemon swag. Card game division champs get a trophy, a DSi, a trip to next year’s World Championships, a $7,500 scholarship and a box of cards every month for a year.
Don’t want to participate? No problem — anyone can stop by and watch for free, and can download a Shiny Eevee for "HeartGold" or "SoulSilver."
ANIME AROUND TOWN
» MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists meets from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. For more information, visit www.manga-bento.com.