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History of the Pokemon Series

by: Lin Clark ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

The Pokemon series has been on of the biggest fads in the late 1990's. It is still accomplishing a lot with a steady fan base and even more games coming out by the minute. How did this series start, grow, and become what it has today? It takes originality and a flow of creativity to keep it alive.

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    The Beginnings of Pokemon

    Pokemon red box  

    Created by Nintendo’s Satoshi Tajiri, the founder of Game Freak, Pokémon (called Pocket Monsters in Japan) debuted in 1996 as a simple Gameboy game. It consisted of collecting monsters and battling them against gym leaders to succeed in being a Pokémon master. Satoshi got this idea from his youth when he used to love collecting various items and even insects. He soon became spellbound with the idea of video gaming and enjoyed going to arcades in his high school years. Putting these two hobbies together, he decided he wanted to make his own video game involving monsters that you can capture and use against other people’s. Because of the Gameboy’s capability to connect with another Gameboy system, his dream had come true.

    The Pokémon Red and Blue versions became an instant hit in Japan and also gained the same amount of success in the U.S. and even worldwide. Pokémon won the Guinness world record title of best selling RPG of all time. The game’s premise was simple: you played an unnamed boy who journeys all across his home region of Kanto to become a Pokémon master. You choose your first Pokémon out of a small variety and set out to towns, forests, deserts, and caves to reach the end of the road. There are 151 different kinds of Pokémon with a set of abilities and types. Each type had a weakness to one another, such as fire being weak to water, water being weak to electric and so on.

    The game had two special editions released. Pokémon Yellow featured Pokémon’s mascot Pikachu as the trainer’s best friend. Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green were enhanced remakes released in 2004.

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    Anime and Trading Card Game

    First Pokemon episode  

    Two years after the release of Pokémon Red and Blue, an anime debuted featuring three young trainers and their journey across Kanto fighting various gym leaders. This anime not only became a success in Japan, but American children took a strong liking to it as well. They found that they could relate to the main character- a 10 year old boy named Ash. The anime also brought more attention to Pikachu, Ash’s main Pokémon and friend. Pikachu has become an icon to the franchise. Many products featured Pikachu, such as shoes, bags, clothing, toys, and even food. The series is still on going and features all the new Pokémon which have been found in the later generations. The series even generated a whopping 14 films- all of which found achievement and success.

    The trading game was first announced when the games debuted and was a large craze during the late 1990’s. Many Pokémon fans sought to collect the best cards not only to fight other card players, but to create a large collection. The cards were so widely wanted that many holographic cards had an enormous value- some reaching up to $900. Although the fad of these cards has dropped down drastically they are still collected, traded, and played with around the world.

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    Next Generations of Pokémon

    City in Pokemon Black  

    Pokémon Gold and Silver featured 100 new species of Pokémon along with the originals, bringing the tally up to 251 types. This game was released on the Gameboy Color and reached great success. This was largely due to the new types of Pokémon and the new region of Kanto to explore. After Gold and Silver, a number of N64 Pokémon games came to surface, such as Hey You Pikachu- a game that comes with a microphone so you can speak to Pikachu and tell it what to do. There is also Pokémon Snap, a game where you take pictures of numerous Pokémon and could get stickeds made from your creations at Pokémon Snap stations in Blockbuster stores.

    Pokémon Stadium 1 and 2 were much like the Gameboy games but instead of fighting in grassy fields, you fight inside stadiums in a 3D setting. You could import your own Pokémon from the Gameboy video games and battle against other player's. In 2003, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were released which featured a total of 386 different types of pocket monsters. In 2006, Diamond and Pearl made their way to the Nintendo DS bringing about 107 new different species of Pokémon and even the option to play as a female trainer. The latest Pokémon games for the DSi are Pokémon Black and White, which feature some never before used three dimensional effects and fully animated Pokémon during the battles. Both games feature new elements such as vast forests and large cities which have been based on New York. The game also has a dream mode where you are able to capture all the previous 151 classic Pokémon.

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    Cultural Impact


    The Pokémon craze does not end here. It seems with every new generation of Pokémon games, fans young and old adore the games for their simplicity and family friendly fun. Pokemon history is no doubt rich- there have even been trains and air planes featuring Pokémon on them. One of the more famous is the Boeing 747-400 plane. It is clear that this franchise will not die off in the coming years as it still is producing games, television shows, and fans are dying to see what new features will be placed in the series.