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. Pokémon went on to become the highest-grossing entertainment media franchise of all time, surpassing not only Mario and The Legend of Zelda, but even Harry Potter and Star Wars.note
Released in Japan in February of 1996 for the Game Boy, Pokémon (or in Japan, Pocket Monsters) came in two versions: Red and Green. 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 either,note 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, Steel and Fairy. Other restrictions placed on the player are the number of Pokémon one can have on a given team, which is no more than six at a time. Other mechanics introduced in later generations, such as items that Pokémon can hold and abilities they can possess are also limited but serve to increase depth in strategy.
The plot 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 comprise part of the gameplay. The rest of the game (or as some insist, the only point of the game) is the one-on-one Competitive Multiplayer. Not only are 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 can continue to train and catch Pokémon in order to have the best team among their peers. To further facilitate interaction between players, Pokémon can also be traded between games, and certain Pokémon can only be obtained by trading. That is the rationale behind releasing different versions of the game, as each version has certain Pokémon that were exclusive to it, and trading is 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 generation, you must have access to (through purchase or a friend) at least two games to complete your Pokédex, trading with another player, and you both need Game Boys 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. And that's just as a game franchise; as stated above, as a wider media franchise it is literally the most profitable thing ever.
The franchise will soon have a live action movie on the way from Legendary Pictures and Universal Studios, based off the Detective Pikachu spin-off game. It will be the first live-action entry of the franchise to be officially licensed, and the first live-action media related to Pokémon since the short-lived Pokémon Live! concert tour in the United States (besides the 20th anniversary Pokémon commercial shown during Super Bowl 50). Although it is expected not to be based off any of the main Pokémon entries, such films could also be in the pipeline should the Detective Pikachu movie do well.
You can visit the official website(s) (Japanese, English/Worldwide), as well as the official YouTube account (Japanese, English), Tumblr account (English), Twitter account (Japanese, English), and Facebook account (Japanese, English). See also Game Freak's official website (here, in Japanese), and Junichi Masuda's blog (which contains content regarding the Pokémon series — Japanese; English).
- Generation I
- Pokémon Red Version and Blue Version (also known as Pokémon Red Version and Green Version in Japan; 1996 Japan (JP)/1998 United States (US))
- Pokémon Blue Version (1996 JP)
- Pokémon Yellow Version (1998 JP/1999 US)
- Generation II
- Pokémon Gold Version and Silver Version (1999 JP/2000 US)
- Pokémon Crystal Version (2000 JP/2001 US)
- Generation III
- Pokémon Ruby Version and Sapphire Version (2002 JP/2003 US)
- Pokémon Emerald Version (2004 JP/2005 US)
- Pokémon FireRed Version and LeafGreen Version (Remake of Pokémon Red and Blue Versions, 2004)
- Generation IV
- Pokémon Diamond Version and Pearl Version (2006 JP/2007 US)
- Pokémon Platinum Version (2008 JP/2009 US)
- Pokémon HeartGold Version and SoulSilver Version (Remake of Pokémon Gold and Silver Versions, 2009 JP/2010 US)
- Generation V
- Generation VI
- Pokémon X and Y (2013)
- Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (Remake of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Versions, 2014)
- Generation VII
- Generation VIII
- Untitled main series game for Nintendo Switch (2019)
- Pokémon Trading Card Game series
- Pokémon Snap
- Pokémon Pinball series
- Pokémon Puzzle League
- Pokémon Puzzle Challenge
- Pokémon Stadium
- Pokémon Battle Revolution
- Hey You, Pikachu!
- Pokémon Channel
- Pokémon mini
- Pokémon Colosseum
- Pokémon Dash
- Pokémon Ranger series
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series
- Pokémon Trozei! series
- My Pokémon Ranch
- Pokémon Rumble series
- PokéPark Wii series
- Pokémon Conquest
- Pokkén Tournament
- Pokémon Picross
- Pokémon GO
- Detective Pikachu
- Pokémon Tretta
- Pokémon Ga-Olé
- Pokémon Duel (a.k.a. Pokémon Co-Master)
- Pokémon: Magikarp Jump
- Pokémon Playhouse
- Pokémon Quest
- Pokémon anime
- Pokémon films
- Pokémon Origins
- Pokémon Generations
- Pokémon trading card game
- Various Pokémon manga (see page for list)
- Pokémon books
- Pocket Monsters: The Animation (Japan only)
- Pokémon: The Birth of Mewtwo
- amiibo (A few Pokémon amiibo have been released, and some games unlock Pokémon-themed content based on those amiibo.)
- Super Smash Bros. (The series has been represented since the first installment.)
- Also see Fan Works
You can vote for your favourite Pokémon game here.