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Pokémon

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Pokémon

 

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If there is something symbolic of the pop culture of the 90s, that is Pokemon. Almost no kid of the 90s missed any of the elements of this popular franchise; so if you are a late millennial who was a child in the 90s it is most probable that you either played the Game Boy version of the franchise, or collected the trading cards, or watched the anime or manga series, or had the toys; or did and had all the aforementioned.

This incredibly popular franchise was created in 1996 by Satoshi Tajiri, a guy who as a kid had two pastimes, one was insect collecting and the other one playing video games at the arcade. As an adult he founded a gaming magazine, and when discovered Nintendo's Game Boy spent six years designing the first game of the franchise.

In 1996, Nintendo bought the program, which was named Pokémon by its creator, short for "pocket monsters" and pronounced “poh-kay-mon.” It wasn’t too long before an international, multi-media craze ensued, from the Game Boy program to toys and trading cards and cartoon shows and movies.

The players of the games are designated as Pokémon Trainers, and their two general goals (in most games) are: to complete the Pokédex (an electronic device where data is added whenever a Pokémon is first captured) by collecting all of the available Pokémon species found in the fictional region where that game takes place; and to train a team of powerful Pokémon from the ones they have caught to compete against teams owned by other Trainers, and eventually become the strongest Trainer, the Pokémon Master. These activities of collecting, training, and battling are present in almost every version of the Pokémon franchise, including the video games, the anime and manga series, and the Pokémon Trading Card Game. The game also made use of the connectivity capabilities of the Game Boy.

The first games were RPGs with an element of strategy, created for the Game Boy. These role-playing games, and their sequels, remakes, and English language translations, are still considered the "main" Pokémon games, and the games which most fans of the series are referring to when they use the term "Pokémon games". All of the licensed Pokémon properties overseen by The Pokémon Company International are divided roughly by generation. The generations are denote chronological divisions by release; every several years, when an official sequel in the main RPG series is released that features new Pokémon, characters, and gameplay concepts, that sequel is considered the start of a new generation of the franchise. Every time a new generation is released, the main games and their spin-offs; the anime; manga; and trading card game are all updated too.

In the game, the player (or Trainer), leads a lone adventurer on a quest to join the revered Pokémon League. But between the start of the game and that League admission, there are lots of things that the Trainer has to accomplish. First, the wild Pokémon creatures have to be caught (there are now over 250 of them), and then they have to be tamed. Each little guy has special abilities—there are fire Pokémon, flying Pokémon, bug Pokémon, among others, and when they are properly trained, the Pokémon on your team begin to do battle against other Pokémon, one at a time. The more “experience levels” that the each Pokémon gains, the more abilities and strength he acquires.

There was also a little-seen monster known as Mew, who could only be caught when one Game Boy interacted with another via the link cord. The Mew mystery not only got early players talking excitedly amongst themselves, it also hooked new players into the Pokémon world. There were also four Pokémon creatures that reared their heads only when Trainers traded with other Trainers, and some Pokémon that didn’t evolve unless they were traded. All of these things were incentives to play with and against friends, making good on Tajiri’s wish that his game have a distinct multiplayer nature.

The Trainers include Brock , Misty and Ash, the latter being an infamously cute sidekick in the yellow thunder mouse Pikachu. There are helpful Trainers as well as some malicious. The game’s resident Pokémon expert is Professor Oak, who helps the newbies get started in the game. Other well-known Pokémon are Grimer, Squirtle Beedrill, Pidgeotto, Jigglypuff, Squirtle and Snorlax. In the same way that Trainers have different personalities.

Nintendo later added trading cards and comics to the franchise, then a Pokémon cartoon series in 1997. The following year, the game and the cartoon were brought to the United States. Both of these, as well as the Pokémon trading cards and related toy merchandise, including books and plush toys, became immediate huge hits. The only problem was, some parents didn’t understand the odd and sometimes militaristic language inherent to Pokémon. But it did help a bit when the games finally received approval from the National Parenting Center and the Vatican, which is indicative of how internationally popular the game had become.

Nintendo now has well over a hundred companies licensing more than a thousand Pokémon products, generating billions of dollars annually in revenues.

The trading cards became highly successful among fans of North America. The Trading Card Game's goal is similar to a Pokémon battle in the video game series. Players use cards, with individual strengths and weaknesses, in an attempt to defeat their opponent by "knocking out" his or her Pokémon cards. The game was first published in North America by Wizards of the Coast in 1999. However, with the release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Game Boy Advance video games, Nintendo USA took back the card gameand started publishing the cards themselves.

The Expedition expansion introduced the Pokémon-e Trading Card Game, where the cards (for the most part) were compatible with the Nintendo e-Reader. However the production of e-Reader compatible cards was discontinued with the release of EX FireRed & LeafGreen. In 1998, a Game Boy Color version of the trading card game in was released Japan; Pokémon Trading Card Game was subsequently released to the United States and Europe in 2000. The game included digital versions cards from the original set of cards and the first two expansions (Jungle and Fossil), as well as several cards exclusive to the game. A Japan-exclusive sequel was released in 2001.

By the time Pokémon became the second most successful and lucrative video game-based media franchise in the world, behind only Nintendo's own Mario series. It is much more than a Game Boy program or a stuffed monster at this point, actually it generated a whole new world that a kid, or a grown-up kid, can get immersed in, with full of quest possibilities, role-playing and interactive challenges.

Another symbol of the pop culture of the Generation Y and more specifically of the 90s.

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