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No One Told Me Pokemon Cards Looked Good Now

I know I'm very late to the party with this, but I also know a lot of Pokemon fans are in the same boat. I've played every mainline Pokemon game since Blue, and most of the spin-offs. Even PokePark Wii, which I will always defend. I have various items of Pokemon clothing, and have outgrown several more. I have Pokemon jewellery. I have Pokemon shoes. I don't really do tattoos, but if I did, I'd have Pokemon tattoos. What I've never, ever done though is play Pokemon cards. My fellow Pokemon fans in the same place, I think we're missing out.

I don't want to oversell my Pokemon expertise – I recently tried to play competitive Pokemon and got my Arceus handed to me – but if you'll indulge me, I'll reel off a few more credentials. I conducted a study into which Pokemon would be the best in bed and a study into which Pokemon was the sexiest, and somehow, they were completely different studies. But anyway, back to the cards.

Because I have never played Pokemon cards, I have always viewed them as collectibles. As, I assume, everyone in the world did, I used to trade them at school. We had no idea of the rules, nor even the value of the individual cards. You simply wanted your favourite Pokemon, and never wanted to have dupes. Four first edition Charizards? Pfft. Swap ya for an Abra.

I remember the cards as being quite ugly. I’m sure some aficionado will tell me I’m wrong, but they were mostly yellow blocky things dominated by a plain background and black text. An iconic design, especially the blue backs of the cards, but pretty basic. Some particular pieces of art might be your favourite (in which case, sorry I called them ugly) but the cards as a whole didn’t have much going on.

That’s no longer the case. Take Galarian Rapidash V from the Chilling Reign set. Despite being a Fairy/Poison dual type, it’s labelled as a Poison type only, because Fairy no longer exists in the card version. What are those wacky paper slingers playing at? Rapidash’s Fairyness hasn’t been wiped out completely though – the gorgeous art, which now takes up the whole card, glitters in soft shades and exudes the quintessential vision of a Fairy Pokemon.

Or what about Shadow Rider Calyrex V-Max? Pokemon cards might have been simpler when they were just called ‘Haunter’, but they were never this gay – regardless of what the school bullies used to say. Shadow Rider Calyrex V-Max shows the Pokemon cast in a rainbow hue. The best part is because these rainbow variants usually lack any details in the background, they’re considered the less aesthetically pleasing versions. I grew up on bland yellow cards with a tiny picture of a caterpillar, and now a goat Pokemon riding a horse Pokemon in a rainbow sheen is considered a bit meh.

There are too many other great ones to list. Blaziken is a gross chicken man but its alternative art secret version looks incredible, as does Galarian Moltres’ alternate version. Galarian Zapdos, showing the bird sprinting its way up a cliffside, also comes you way more personality than the original cards ever had the space to sell.

I will probably never get into Pokemon cards in the true sense of the game. I’ll never learn the meta, never watch the tournaments, and never even play the game. But if they keep looking this good, maybe I’ll finally get back into Pokemon cards.

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