"Hello there! Welcome to the world of Pokémon!"
These Role Playing Games
, developed by Game Freak
and published by Nintendo
, spawned a multi-billion dollar franchise
rivaling the Mario
series (which of course is also published by Nintendo), and indirectly caused the proliferation of Western broadcasts of anime
along with Dragon Ball
and Sailor Moon
Released in Japan in February of 1996 for the Game Boy
(or in Japan, Pocket Monsters
) came in two versions
. The idea of the game is to run around and battle wild Mons
with your own, catch them with hand-held balls, and teach them to battle (non-lethally
) with each other under the guidance of human Trainers for fun and profit. The original idea was for an artificial form of insect collecting for kids that lived in cities and thus couldn't participate in such a hobby (as the original creator was a bug collector when he was a kid), with the paired versions providing incentive for players to get together and trade Mons with their friends (but more on that later).
The strategy in the gameplay comes from two factors. First of all, there's an ambitiously large Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors
setup. 15 (later 17, and now 18note
) different elements are in play, and some species of Pokémon belong to two
elements instead of just one, which can neutralize or compound the elements' respective resistances or weak points. Pokémon aren't strictly limited to moves of their elemental type eithernote
, but can learn almost any move the particular creature might reasonably
be capable of executing (like Water
Pokémon using Ice
-type moves, or Dragon
Pokémon using Fire
-type moves), and sometimes ones they aren't (a plesiosaur-like creature
learning to eat dreams and shoot lightning? Okay!
The second factor is the strict move limit: each of your Pokémon can only know 4 moves at once, out of a large movepool that they can learn from. This was hampered in the first generation by balance issues leading to some elements and species becoming obvious Game Breakers
, but later generations have made many strides in balancing them out, most notably with the addition of new types: Dark
of each main-series game is typically a quest To Be a Master
; the player is given one Pokémon to start their team with, then proceeds to take on the region's "Pokémon League" by catching new Pokémon, defeating other Pokémon trainers in battles (most importantly your childhood friend and rival
), challenging type-specialist Gym Leaders and collecting Gym Badges, and ultimately battling the Elite Four to become the regional League Champion. During your journey, you also manage to single-handedly take down some kind of crime syndicate (and/or save the world) at some point along the way, and capture really powerful Pokémon that the local legends are based on.
While these aren't necessarily the greatest stories ever told
, the games are certainly enjoyable, especially if you have friends that also play the games. You see, the completion of the in-game storyline and Bonus Dungeons
only comprised part of the gameplay. The real meat of the game (or as some insist, the only point of the game) was the one-on-one Competitive Multiplayer
. Not only were the player's Pokémon usable against the in-game enemies, these same Pokémon can be pitted against Pokémon trained by other live players of the game. As such, players continued to train and catch Pokémon just so they have the best team among their peers. To further facilitate interaction between players was the fact that Pokémon can also be traded between games, and that certain Pokémon can only be obtained by trading
. That was the rationale behind releasing different versions of the game, as each version had certain Pokémon that were exclusive to it, and trading was the only way to get those exclusives in the other version.
To say that the brand took off like a (Team) rocket would be an understatement. Part of its success is down to the fact that with each new instalment, you must buy at least two
games to complete your Pokedex, trading with another player, and you both
need Gameboys and alternate copies of the game. Despite being a relatively young series, the franchise is the second best selling video game franchise of all time
, by a wide margin note
, and is only beaten by its older brother, the Mario
franchise. Though it consistently has come close to topping it, Pokémon
still has a way to go before it's the very best
The concept of Pokémon would not be confined to the Video Game
medium. Merchandising sprung up all over the place, including, of course, an anime
. The game series continued on with a third version, Blue
, that mostly just improved the graphics and altered the distribution of the mons, which also started the practice of making a "Special Edition" game for each generation, with an altered Pokémon lineup, and special events and items.
Yet after all this, it wasn't until September of 1998 that Pokémon
made its way to North America and then the world at large. The world got two versions, labeled Red
, which were pretty much the original Red
's better graphics. With so much time to prepare, the merchandising launch was all ready to go, and the games became as much of a smash hit in America and the rest of the world as they did in Japan. About a year later, a version loosely based on the anime
called Pokémon Yellow
was released, that featured now-mascot Pikachu
as your starting Pokémon and even better graphics.
Of course, sequels
were inevitable, especially in the video game world. The next generation of Pokémon
games, titled Pokemon Gold And Silver
, added the two new Dark- and Steel-types mentioned earlier, around 100 more Pokémon, among other improvements. Most notably, the developers improved game balance; the Psychic element was no longer the ruler of the roost
came out soon after Gold and Silver
and is the first game to allow the player to choose their sex; previously, the player's avatar was male-only. It also started the trend of each generation's third version having a noticeably different plot than the initial paired versions, by way of the additional minor subplot with the legendary Pokémon Suicune and its interactions with both the player and another Trainer that's been seeking it.
Further sequels added their own wrinkles to the game mechanics among other minor improvements/adjustments: Pokemon Ruby And Sapphire
on the Game Boy Advance
completely overhauled the way stats were handled and gave Pokémon special Abilities and Natures, as well as implementing 2-on-2 battles and introducing the concept of Pokémon contests. Pokemon Diamond And Pearl
reclassified attacks as Physical or Special based on the nature of the move, rather than on elemental Type as in previous generations; plus new features allowed worldwide trading and battling over the internet, thanks to the built-in Wi-Fi hardware of the Nintendo DS
. Pokemon Black And White
escalated the multi battles by expanding them to 3-on-3 and introducing combination attacks, as well as adding new connectivity features. Pokémon Black 2 and White 2
marked the debut of several new Pokémon Formes and introduced two new gameplay modes to reduce or heighten difficulty. Black 2 and White 2
also brought about the Pokémon World Tournament, bringing back every single Gym Leader and Champion from preceding Pokémon
, as well as a few Bonus Bosses
to challenge the player. With the release of Pokémon X and Y
the main series has now gone full 3D with cel-shaded
graphics on the Nintendo 3DS
, and they are the first games in the series to be released internationally at the same time worldwide.X
also brought new temporarily-activated Mega Evolutions
to the table, altered type matchups with the first new type introduced in over 14 years (the Fairy-type
), added new status-related perks to Grass-, Ghost-, and Electric-type Pokémon, modified character/item name limits with much-appreciated increases, heralded online Pokémon cloud-computing storage with Pokémon Bank, and
pioneered the game-changing advent of dual-type moves.
You can visit the official website(s) (Japanese
), as well as the official YouTube
), and Facebook
). See also Game Freak's
official website (here, in Japanese
), and Junichi Masuda's blog (which contains content regarding the Pokémon
series — Japanese
).You can get the "é" symbol by holding down "ALT" and keying in "0", "2", "3", "3" or "1", "3", "0" in that order on the numerical pad to the right of the keyboard. For some keyboards "CTRL-ALT-E" works too (though others may end up with the Euro symbol instead). If you are using British keyboard layout, "ALT GR-E" will get you it (but it only works with the right hand key marked ALT GR). For Mac users, hold down option-E, then type an E. For iPhone, iPod touch and Android users, hold down on the letter E to get the option. If none of these options work for you, type into Google "e accent" or simply "pokemon" and copy-paste the character. Or just copy it directly from the top of this paragraph. And of course, if you are a native speaker of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Czech, Lakota, etc. or have your keyboard set to the U.S. International layout, it's a lot more simple than that.
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