When Nintendo announced that they would be remaking the second generation of Pokémon games for the Nintendo DS, I was delighted. I had played the everloving blue-eyed Thing out of Pokémon Crystal as a wee bb, burning my eyes out in the search for Suicine, needing decent overhead lighting to see my Game Boy Color screen. (Old woman yells at sky, etc. etc. etc.)
But when I actually saw the games’ player characters, I was confused. There was Ethan, the default male character from Gold and Silver, but who was this new Lyra serving as the default female character? Where was Kris, the original heroine from Pokémon Crystal, a kickin’ bluenette who invented the bolero lab coat? KRIS DID NOT BREAK THE POKÉMON GLASS CEILING TO BE DISRESPECTED LIKE THIS!
You have to understand: Kris was the first female playable character in a Pokémon game. My childhood friends and I were a crew of girl and nonbinary nerds that recognized the subtle reminders in video games that despite our devotion, we were not the target audience. Playing as Kris (or as I named her, Crystal, because remember? I was a ~whimsical~ wee bb) didn’t change the mechanics or storyline of the game at all.
But it changed the game for us. Instead of having to name a clearly male character our names and just roll with it, we got explicitly invited into the Pokémon space we’d already been inhabiting. Looking back on it, it’s clearly a case of “better late than never,” but getting my grubby child paws on that sparkly, sparkly cartridge felt amazing.
So here’s to Kris, the first lady of Pokémon; all those kids who never knew her are just missing out.