The tag line for the popular video game and cartoon franchise Pokémon is “Gotta Catch ‘Em All,” but for lifelong fan and artist Simon Johnson it might as well be “Gotta Nyan ‘Em All.”
That’s because Johnson, 23, spent more than 150 hours in July turning 151 Pokémon into Nyan Cats—Pop-Tart body, rainbow tail and all.
“I wanted to make something in tribute to [former Star Trek star] George Takei, and made this rubbishy little Nyan cat parody with his face,” Johnson told the Daily Dot. “I remember checking for other Nyan cat parodies that had been made, and of course some Pokémon had been done but I noticed not all of them had. I knew it would take a long time and be difficult to achieve but I love a challenge.”
Johnson started the project on July 1st. He used Photoshop and set a target of 20 Pokemon per day, which meant him waking up around 10 am and working on it till about 3 with many cups of tea in between, he said. Like the Pokémon games themselves, the process of capturing each Pokémon sprite and transforming it into a Nyan cat was an arduous one.
“I remember when I was little, in a game shop with my father, and this blue box caught my eye. I was captivated by the ‘Gotta Catch ‘Em All’ tag line and made my father buy me this Pokémon game. Before long I’d lost track of time and played way past my bedtime,” he said. “I do remember at that time, that special feeling you rarely get in life, that you’re playing something amazing.”
Johnson posted his Pokémon Nyan cat remix to YouTube on July 31 and has since collected more than 449,000 views and 1,500 comments. He has since released a second video featuring 100 different animals from Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal, also known as Generation II of the series.
“I am overwhelmed at the reaction people have had,” he said. “Prior to this I’d possibly only made a couple rubbish animations, and with my other video-vlog type things I’d never had more than 900 or so views on a video. So the end of that first day, seeing 8000 views on my video was incredible!”
Johnson is a few weeks away from starting his third year at university in Preston, England, where he is studying photography and philosophy. With 649 Pokémon total now in the entire series, Johnson isn’t sure he’ll be able to Nyan them all. But you can bet he will try.
“I initially went on to university studying wildlife photography which was great but not really for me. I thought I was limiting myself creatively so decided to hold off for a year,” he said. “I just think it’s testament that, yes, I didn’t really have much knowledge in the sense of making animations, coming from a photography background. But I had a goal and I achieved it because I put the hard work in and it definitely has paid off.”
Photo via Nyan Cat - All 151 Original Pokemon