[Don't think for a minute that Pokémon is just for kids! GameSetWatch columnist Mister Raroo spent his birthday attending Nintendo's Pokémon Black & White Tour. He thought it would be fun to share photos and thoughts from his experience.]

Pokémon Tour

On February 19 I turned 35 years of age. But if you were to hear a description of how I spent my birthday, you might think I had turned 12! Not only did I score some excellent video games from Missus Raroo and the kids in the form of Dragon Quest VI, Wii Party, Mario vs. DK: Miniland Mayhem, and Etrian Odyssey III, but I took a road trip from the San Diego area to the Santa Anita mall near Los Angeles in order to attend the Pokémon Black & White Tour.

Snacks for the RoadTo be fair, a big part of the reason we braved the looming rain and Los Angeles traffic was because our son, Kazuo, is something of a Poké-maniac. At a month short of 4 years old, he's not quite old enough to properly enjoy the games, but he is a massive fan of the show and loves playing with his Pokémon toys.

We've been trying to eat healthier lately, but we threw caution to the wind and hit up 7-11 before embarking on our nearly three-hour road trip. We decided that since it was my birthday, we would get decadent and enjoy some junk food. Kaz definitely didn't seem to mind this plan.

We managed to avoid almost any traffic whatsoever until we got off the freeway in Santa Anita and were very close to the mall. At that point the traffic was absolutely horrid, and we were afraid that all of the cars around us were also headed to the Pokémon event.

However, it turned out there was a stoplight out a few blocks ahead and as a result everything had slammed to a halt. Missus Raroo busted out her cell phone and quickly used its GPS feature to plot an alternate route. It wasn't much longer until we were in the Santa Anita mall parking lot, and we even lucked into a close space.

We quickly hopped out of the car and tried to find our bearings. The Santa Anita mall is massive, which is likely why Nintendo chose it as one of the locations for its Pokémon Black & White Tour. The mall is also extremely busy, and we felt like we were stuck in a crazy game of Frogger as we scurried through the parking lot to the safety of the sidewalk.

Gotta Stamp 'Em All!It didn't take long to find the mall's main entrance, and right inside there was a booth with Pokémon Tour staff members handing out booklets. Inside the booklets were five blanks spots for stamps, which you had to traverse the mall to collect from various locations.

I was going to just leave it to Kaz to get all the stamps for us, but Missus Raroo convinced me to get my own booklet and collect my own set of stamps, too. I'm glad I did because it was actually pretty fun, even if I felt a little embarrassed being a guy in his mid-30s walking around for Pokémon stamps. I pathetically used Kaz as an excuse on occasion, saying things like, "Well, okay, I will get mine stamped, too, if you want me to" -- as if anyone cared!

Really, I shouldn't have felt all that embarrassed given the ages of many of the other participants in the stamp scavenger hunt. Though I might have been one of the older people there, I saw plenty of Poké-maniacs that were clearly in their 20s, many of whom were even dressed up in Pokémon cosplay outfits.

But, I will admit, it was Kaz's enthusiasm more than anything that kept me going. He was so excited each time we found a place to get out booklet stamped, and he would bark at me to hurry up if I lagged behind on our way to the next stamp location.

The only really bad moment during our stamping spree came when I stepped in a pile of vomit. Some lady watched me do it, too, without even a warning like "Look out! Some kid threw up there!" I think she was waiting to see who would be the first to step in the puke, and unfortunately for my shoes, it was me.

Waiting in LineWaiting in line is no fun, and to my dismay we had to do plenty of it during our time at the Pokémon event. Kaz was surprisingly well-behaved the whole time, perhaps due to plenty of experience standing in line during our many trips to Disneyland. I was proud of what a patient little guy he was.

Missus Raroo has pointed out to me on quite a few occasions that I am guilty of unknowingly making facial expressions as if I am angry or upset. While waiting in line for Pokémon stamps, apparently I looked like I was hating life. However, it wasn't that I was mad about anything. Instead, I was just a little confused by the masses of people swarming all about me and felt completely disoriented.

There were a ton of people at the Pokémon event, which just goes to show how popular the franchise still is. Everywhere you looked people were hustling to and fro with their booklets in hand. I've never seen so many Pokémon fans in one place before! It was like some type of Pokémon convention.

I also know I'm definitely getting "old" because I'm starting to feel uncomfortable around large groups of teenagers and twentysomethings. Despite sharing many of the same interests, I know I'm not a part of their peer group, and it's not easy feeling like an outsider. Besides, I often become annoyed by the behavior of the younger generation, and so many of them need to have their potty mouths washed out with soap! Stop swearing so much, kids!

One thing I really dislike about being in line is it never fails there will be some clueless person in front of me who keeps failing to notice the line has moved, causing everything to bottleneck. I'm sure I probably made my angry face at those people, but they deserved it! If you're ever in line in front of me, don't be a goofball and zone out instead of moving forward when you're supposed to!

Happy Staff

I don't know what Nintendo was paying the staff who were running the Pokémon Tour, but they all seemed happy and upbeat, even with hundreds of kids shoving booklets in their faces and demanding stamps. I've got to hand it to them for being so positive and keeping smiles on their faces. I'd be worn out!

The staff members also had to answer the same questions over and over, which was also something they did with good humor and a grin. Maybe they simply love Pokémon so much their enthusiasm cannot be stopped by throngs of pushy people! Probably not. But at any rate, I was legitimately impressed.

Posing with TepigOnce Kaz and I collected all of our stamps, we headed to find the prize line so we could enjoy the fruits of our scavenger hunting labor. Unfortunately, we discovered that the line was so long it stretched far into the mall's parking lot. To make matters worse, it looked like it was about to rain. But we were brave and made out way to the line's end.

Meanwhile, Missus Raroo and our daughter Yoshie walked to a much shorter line where they were able to get a photo snapped with one of Pokémon Black & White's new starter Pokémon, Tepig.

Yoshie wasn't quite sure what to make of the big costumed character she was forced to pose next to. Just like her Daddy, Yoshie's facial expressions gave away her uneasiness at being thrust into such a strange situation. She wasn't necessarily afraid of Tepig, but she definitely didn't seem to trust him and refused to give him a smile.

As Kaz and I were standing outside in line, it began to rain. At first there were just a few stray drops, but before long it was almost a downpour and we didn't have an umbrella. It didn't take long before we began to get soaked. Kaz sought cover by sticking his head under my shirt, but the rest of him still got wet.

Nevertheless, at first Kaz was a trooper and declared he wanted to stay in line. But once he started to get really wet, he quickly gave up and said he wanted to leave the line to go inside where it was dry.

What did we miss out on? Anyone with all five stamps got to spin a wheel and win a small prize. None of the prizes were worth catching pneumonia for, so I'm glad Kaz threw in the towel and chose being dry over waiting in line for a stylus or cell phone charm. I heard someone say it took almost two hours to get to the front of the line. No thanks.

The Raroos Catch an Oshawott

We caught up with Missus Raroo and Yoshie and got back in the photo line with them just in time to get our picture taken with another of Pokémon Black & White's starters, Oshawott. When he first walked out there erupted a number of cheers from the crowd. "He's so cute!" everyone declared.

The best part is that Kaz turned to Missus Raroo and asked if the Oshawott was a real Pokémon. So heartwarming! It's wonderful how young children can suspend disbelief and accept fantasy as reality Adulthood often brings so much cynicism with it, so spending time with little ones really helps one see the magical world around them they otherwise forgot existed.

Candy Time With Little Raroo

After a couple hours of Pokémon Tour fun, we were already becoming exhausted, so we decided to hit the road. We had done just about everything we could with two little kids in tow, so we waved goodbye to Tepig and Oshawott and headed toward the exit.

On the way out Kaz spotted an impressive display of candy vending machines, so given that it was my birthday, we allowed ourselves to enjoy some sugary goodness. Kaz went with Mike & Ike, while I chose Reeces Pieces. He and I bargained with one another to trade a few pieces of candy with one another.

Celebratory Dinner

The rain let up somewhat during our drive back home, which we were very thankful for. The only real impediment came in the form of crazy Los Angeles drivers. I had to practically slam on the brakes a few times due to other cars veering into my lane. But thankfully we made it through the drive home safe and sound.

We made a stop in Irvine in order to eat at one of our all-time favorite places, The Wheel of Life. This amazing vegan restaurant serves up some of the most delicious food imaginable, and we capped off the feast with their incredible chocolate cake and green tea ice cream. A perfect end to a fun road trip!

My birthday was particularly special this year because it was the first time I was able to spend it with both Kaz and Yoshie. It didn't hurt that I was able to squeeze some Pokémon fun into it as well! And it's definitely Mission Accomplished on Nintendo's part: I am now legitimately excited for Pokémon Black & White and look forward to once again putting in hours and hours of play as I attempt to catch 'em all!

[Mister Raroo is a happy husband, proud father, full-time public library employee, and active gamer. He currently lives in El Cajon, CA with his family and pets. You may reach Mister Raroo at [email protected]. For all your Game Time With Mister Raroo needs, visit Club Raroo!]