- Not to be confused with Pokémon (video game series), Pokémon (anime series), and Pokémon (manga series), which cover the franchise's main video game series, the anime series, and the manga series, respectively.
Pokémon (ポケモン Pokemon ), short for Pocket Monsters (ポケットモンスター Poketto Monsutā ), is a media franchise created by Satoshi Tajiri. It centers around a group of creatures known as Pokémon, from which the series takes its name. A group of humans known as Pokémon Trainers capture Pokémon and train them to battle other Pokémon for sport. Although Pokémon is primarily a video game franchise, an anime series, manga, and a trading card game also make up large aspects of the franchise. Pokémon is managed by The Pokémon Company, a company formed by Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures Inc.. The mascot of the Pokémon franchise is an electric mouse Pokémon named Pikachu.
The main series in the franchise is the eponymous Pokémon series, consisting of role-playing games that typically involve a player character (whose name is decided by the player) starting their journey as a Pokémon Trainer after receiving their Starter Pokémon from the Pokémon Professor at the local Pokémon Lab. The professor also gives them a Pokédex, and tasks them to fill it with data entries on Pokémon to aid their research; this is accomplished by obtaining every Pokémon species within that game. The main series has had several paired releases, beginning with Pocket Monsters Red and Green Versions on February 27, 1996 in Japan and Pokémon Red and Blue Versions in 1998 in other countries. The main difference between each paired game is the type of Pokémon encountered, so it is not possible to collect every Pokémon in one game without trading Pokémon with other players between versions. Every main Pokémon series installment has been released for a handheld device until Pokémon Sword and Shield for the Nintendo Switch, a home console with a portable handheld mode.
The Pokémon franchise consists of several spinoff titles. Three of its spinoff series, Pokémon Stadium, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon and Pokémon Ranger, are also role-playing games, as well as two main series-related titles for the Nintendo GameCube: Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. There is also a beat 'em up series, Pokémon Rumble, several puzzle games, such as Pokémon Puzzle Challenge and Pokémon Trozei!, and an adventure game titled Detective Pikachu, which was shortly followed by a live action film of the same name. A digital pet game is occasionally released for the Pokémon franchise, such as the Pokémon Pikachu handheld, Hey You, Pikachu!, Pokémon Channel, and My Pokémon Ranch, a majority of which are centered around Pikachu specifically. In 2016, an augmented reality mobile game titled Pokémon Go was released for iOS and Android, and has effectively become the best-selling game of the entire franchise.
Pokémon has since become the highest-grossing media franchise of all time. It is the fourth best-selling video game franchise, behind Nintendo's own Mario franchise, Tetris and Call of Duty, with more than 380 million copies sold. Pokémon Go itself surpassed over a billion downloads. The anime series is regarded as the most successful video game adaption of all time.
The concept of Pokémon stems from the hobby of insect collecting, a popular pastime of series creator Satoshi Tajiri during his childhood. He first conceived the idea of Pokémon in 1990 as Capsule Monsters. In 1991, Tajiri discovered the Game Boy's Game Link Cable and imagined an insect crawling across the Game Link Cable between Game Boy units. Tajiri therefore felt it was the ideal system for his game. Tajiri cited The Final Fantasy Legend as an inspiration for Pokémon, as the game's success proved that the Game Boy could handle more than just action games.
When Satoshi Tajiri first pitched the idea of Pokémon to Nintendo, they could not quite grasp the concept, but were impressed enough with Tajiri's game design reputation that they decided to explore it. Shigeru Miyamoto began to mentor Tajiri, guiding him during the creation process.
Pocket Monsters Red and Green Versions took several years to produce, and nearly bankrupted Game Freak in the process. Investment from Creatures Inc. allowed Game Freak to complete the games, and in return, Creatures received one-third of the rights to the Pokémon franchise. By the time the games were released in Japan, several TV shows and magazines were uninterested, as they thought the Game Boy was becoming obsolete. Unbeknown to Nintendo at the time, Tajiri secretly programmed a 151st Pokémon named Mew into the games. Rumors of the elusive Pokémon drove further sales, and the games eventually became a hit. In 1997, following the success of Pocket Monsters Red and Green Versions, an anime was produced, and it also became a success in Japan.
However, in December 1997, the 38th episode of the Pokémon anime, "Dennō Senshi Porygon," featured a scene in which Pikachu uses his signature Thunderbolt attack to destroy missiles. This was followed by bright red and blue strobe lights flashing rapidly for a couple of seconds; this resulted in several children watching the show to gain seizures, followed by 685 of them being hospitalized. This incident became known as the "Pokémon Shock," and it resulted in the show being put on hiatus for several months.
Around the same time as the Pokémon Shock incident, Game Freak was trying to negotiate with Nintendo of America to introduce Pokémon to the United States. Because news of the Pokémon Shock was the first time that Americans had of Pokémon at the time, it felt like a bad omen to Game Freak. Nintendo of America was concerned of the game's role-playing genre, as such games did not have the same popularity in America as in Japan. Nevertheless, Nintendo of America was excited at their aim to replicate the success of Pokémon in the United States and localize it for western audiences. Following the release of Pokémon Red and Blue Versions in 1998 and plentiful merchandise, Pokémon became a success in America and other countries, turning it into a worldwide sensation.
- ^ "Pokémon in Figures". The Pokémon Company (www.pokemon.co.jp).
- ^ "Pokémon Go spurred an amazing era that continues with Sword and Shield". The Verge. Published February 28, 2019.
- ^ "Why the Pokémon Anime is the Most Successful Adaptation of a Videogame Ever". USgamer. Published November 17, 2016.
- ^ "The Ultimate Game Freak". TIME (Wayback Machine). Published November 22, 1999.
- ^ a b c d "Beware of the Pokemania", page 3. TIME (Wayback Machine). Published November 14, 1999.
- ^ "Pokémon interview" (in Japanese). Nintendo of Japan (Wayback Machine).
- ^ "Monster mash". Forbes. Published July 26, 1999.
- ^ "The Pokémon Panic of 1997". Skeptical Enquirer Volume 25, No. 3, pages 26–31.
- ^ "Beware of the Pokemania", page 4. TIME (Wayback Machine). Published November 14, 1999.
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