A Berlitz guide to Pokemon


You hear them everywhere -- especially if you are a parent -- kids talking about Pokemon. Talking and talking, virtual audio encyclopedias of Pokemon facts and ephemera: of Kadabra, Professor Oak and Ash, psychic and grass cards, basic and booster packs, bubble beams and breeders.

Even with a hit Pokemon movie out, the latest whoosh in a kid- focused marketing blizzard that has taken the country by storm, most adults are pretty much mystified by all this lingo. They're left dumbfounded as tots flip through their prized albums of Pokemon trading cards, trying in vain to educate their elders.

Sure, hit the Internet and you can find adults dealing in Pokemon collectibles, even sharing unauthorized patterns for Pikachu needlepoint designs. But you can also find some guy posting this query in an alternative games newsgroup:

"Can I ask a really stupid question? What the heck is 'Pokemon'? Is it some kind of debugger?"

For those without a clue about Pokemon, there's hope. No, you don't have to learn the difference between Machop and Machamp. Instead, you can fake it.

Just drop a few of these tidbits into conversation, and any pocket monster fan will consider you instantly evolved. (If you really want to know more about the card game, try this Web site: www.wizards.com/ pokemon/parents.asp.)

* Machop becomes Machoke who becomes Machamp. Most characters, and their powers, evolve.

* The most coveted cards are the holographic foil cards, and the rarest of the rare is Charizard, which is selling for $45 to $120.

* To release a pocket monster, you say, "I choose you."

* The latest card set: fossil cards.

* Coming out (surprise!) in time for Christmas: Gym Leader and Team Rocket theme deck cards.

* Scrye magazine has card values, but local game shops always run out of the latest issues when they come out during the first week of each month.

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