With last week’s announcement of Pokémon Go for iOS and Android mobile devices, once and future trainers all over the internet have been given a new reason to be abuzz with excitement about the prospect of once again catching them all. Naturally the “them” in question refers to the evolving pocket monsters of Pokémon. (I just wanted to make that clear on the off chance you’ve been living in a cave for the last 20 years, or in case my grandmother is reading this.

From the three starters in the original Red and Blue of the 1990s, to the now 721 known Pokémon species, the allure of travelling across digital lands and searching far and wide to capture and train adorable little monsters in the art of combat (adorable monster combat) continues to entrance gamers young and old. Now that I think about it, "Adorable Monster Combat" would have been a great alternate title, or at the very least a great name for a cheap imitation. (Note to self: Make Pokémon knock-off called Adorable Monster Combat.)

When the original game was about to be released for Game Boy in the US in 1998, I remember hearing vague rumblings about it being very popular in Japan and having something to do with fighting monsters (once again, the name Adorable Monster Combat would have helped), and with only that limited knowledge I was very eager to check it out.

Unfortunately, I seemed to be the only person in my city that was looking forward to its release, because an entire afternoon’s worth of store visits and phone calls had only led to befuddled looks and bewildered replies, as it seemed no store employees had even heard of it, much less did they have a copy. My last ditch attempt was in a mall I never went to that is now literally a giant crater, where a lone employee said he might have received something like that in that day’s delivery.

That lone store had received one copy each of Pokémon Blue and Pokémon Red. I chose Blue, even though in almost every other instance of such a choice previously in my life I’d chosen red, and even though Charizard clearly looked like a badass dragon. Maybe it’s because Blastoise was looking at me, and not off into the distance the way Charizard was. Perhaps it was the gleam in Blastoise’s eye that said, “Hey, that other guy’s not even paying attention. Choose me.

I never did catch ‘em all, though I did spend a lot of time trying… and before the game got popular I also spent a lot of time trying to convince any friend to buy Red so I’d have someone to trade with.

But I’m ready for Pokémon Go to get here so I can give it another go. I still wanna be the very best. Or at the very least, I’d like to be able to hang out with some Pokémon while I’m in line at the post office.

And this is why we’ve put together this gallery of outstanding Pokémon art. Please be sure to check out the artists’ sites to see more amazing pieces. Remember, you gotta catch 'em all.

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