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Gaming History You Should Know – Pokemon Center NYC January 12, 2020

Posted by Maniac in Gaming History You Should Know, Uncategorized.
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It’s Sunday! Welcome back to the first Gaming History You Should Know of 2020, where we highlight some of the best original gaming documentaries from across the web! Today, we’re going to take you back nearly twenty years (which sadly doesn’t seem as long ago as it should for someone like me) to take a look at something that sadly we will never have the chance to experience ever again.

Pokémon Centers have always been a staple of the Pokémon games. They’re a haven in nearly every town where players can take their characters to heal their Pokémon, swap out their Pokémon party or activate their link cables (or wireless adapters later on) to communicate with other trainers. In essence, they’re the coolest place for a Pokémon Trainer to hang out and I’m sure that many kids (and some adults) wished places like that existed in the real world. Well, did you know that Pokémon Centers do actually exist in the real world?

That’s right, there are actually Pokémon Centers all across Japan, they just function differently than they do in the games. They are decorated from top to bottom in awesome Pokémon decorations including original statues and art. In them, customers can buy tons of exclusive Pokémon merchandise ranging from plushes, figurines, snack food, clothing and a lot more. Players could also (depending on the location) interact with original Pokémon games you couldn’t find in stores OR eat incredible Pokémon-themed food at the in-store cafe. If I ever earned enough money to afford a vacation in Japan, you can be darn sure I would try to visit as many of these places as I could!

But these Pokémon Centers, while completely awesome, only exist in Japan. I’ve heard there are a few vending machines in the Seattle area that sell a limited selection of their merchandise, and a website also exists online which ships a limited selection of their wares to the US, but that’s it. No actual physical Pokémon Centers exist in the United States. However, that hasn’t always been the case.

What if I told you that a Pokémon Center used to exist in the US? One did. Located near the heart of Rockefeller Center in New York City, Pokémon Center NY was a Mecca for all Pokémon Trainers on this side of the planet. Here’s the actual television commercial for the store which contains some rare footage of its interior.

Doesn’t that look incredible? Sadly, I never was lucky enough to visit this place while it operated. It lasted only from 2001-2005. Video and photographs of it are rare and hard to come by due to the fact the store had a no cameras policy (for SOME reason that escapes all logic). However, we’re not here to talk about what the store looked like, we’re going to be featuring the hard work of an entire group who made it their mission to preserve the history of this magical place.

YouTube Channel Hard4Games, which specializes in finding and preserving extremely rare game content hit the gold mine with this video. After what must’ve been a MASSIVE undertaking by a group of some of the best preservationists and Pokémon Enthusiasts in the world, they succeeded in finding and resurrecting a major original component of Pokémon Center NY, the store’s Pokémon distribution machine. Take it away, Hard4Games.

The location previously used as Pokémon Center NY now serves as Nintendo NY (formerly Nintendo World NYC), which sells exclusive Nintendo and Pokémon merchandise you can’t find anywhere else (however Japan’s Pokémon Centers certainly have a bigger selection). I have actually been to Nintendo NYC (twice) and can’t recommend visiting it enough. While they no longer are a Pokémon Center, they do have a history of Nintendo museum on the second floor with some rare and classic items on display from the company’s history.

Special thanks to Hard4Games and the team of preservationists including Retro Ali for making this video and letting me feature them on this site! Without their work I would have never been as informed about this incredible store as I am now. If you’d like to know more about Pokémon Center NY, check out this preservation website: pokemoncenternewyork.com