The Game Boy Advance SP was the right decision. With my travel schedule being what it was last week, I had lots of time to enjoy Pokemon in its natural environment, and it was a very good time.
First, I have to mention just how small the GBA SP screen is by today's standards. I remember when that thing came out, thinking that the images were so clear and big by comparison, and while that may be true, having spent an absurd number of hours playing Smash Bros. on my 3DS XL over the past month, the switch to a smaller screen was quite an adjustment. That said, after a few minutes, I felt right at home. The GBA SP may be small, but it's a great system.
It's also worth noting that I forgot to send my game save back to my cartridge from the Retron 5. I was fairly ticked at myself, since now I had to start all over again. Then I realized that I had only really played about 10 minutes worth of the game. Needless to say, I was quickly caught back up, and ready for adventure.
When last I played this game, I made it to Veridian City (spelling?) and went to the shop. They told me they had a package for me to deliver to professor Oak. This is another strike against this guy. This store is less than a two minute walk from Professor Oak's place, and he's having me get his stuff instead of heading out for adventure like he told me to? What a jerk.
After doing that little fetch quest, I hit the road, got my hands on some Pokeballs, and started leveling up. I went ahead and caught one of those Pidgeys I kept running into every 4 seconds, and put him to work. This is where I started to understand this game's tagline. Sure there are Pokemon all over the place, and I'm killing/beating into submission Rattatta's by the boatload, but once I started grinding with my Pidgey, I felt a feeling I haven't felt in years. I wanted to level this guy up. I wanted to level my Rattatta up. I wanted to level my Squirtle up. I wanted to see what weird creature I'd find around the next corner, beat on it for a few minutes, and make it my slave. Yes Nintendo, I do have to catch 'em all. I was only fooling myself into thinking I didn't.
I eschewed forward progress in favor of level grinding for a while, then I had to go to sleep, because I'm old. This might be more fun than I thought. And gosh darn it, the music is just so damn charming!