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Pokémon’s History, To the Best of Our Knowledge

by John Paul
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Pokémon has dominated the pop culture landscape for several decades. The franchise spans several media formats, from video games and trading cards to television shows and feature films. It has become clear that the origins of Pokémon can be murky, especially when attempting to determine which originated first, the video games or the card games.

If you’re wondering who came up with the idea for Pokémon, you can thank Satoshi Stair and Ken Sugimori, who came up with the concept in 1982. The strategy and advice-oriented gaming magazine Game Freak served as the inspiration for the Pocket Monsters series. By 1990, Satoshi had shifted his focus to the video game industry. He had successfully persuaded Nintendo to release games based on bizarre animals he had imagined while collecting bugs as a kid. The Game Boy’s first Pokemon games, Pocket Monsters Red and Green, were launched in Japan in 1996. Since then, localised editions of these games have been published all over the world.

I'm tumbling back down the Pokemon Cards rabbit hole, but I wish they weren't so hard to get hold of | VG247

Image Courtesy: VG247

The Pokémon card game begins

As soon as the first Pocket Monsters games were released in Japan, a set of 102 trading cards drawn by Ken Sugimori and Mitsuhiro Arita began making the rounds among the series’ fast-expanding audience. In 1999, Wizards of the Coast, a distributor of roleplaying games, brought the Pokémon trading card game to North America. As the popularity of Pokémon tournaments continued to rise, so did the demand for rarer and rarer Pokémon trading cards. Some of the trading cards for Pokémon have gone for thousands of dollars because of their low print runs. Over 70 countries have produced and sold over 34 billion Pokémon trading cards to Pokémon fans.

Twitch hosting daylong Pokémon cartoon marathon - Polygon

Image Courtesy: Polygon

Pokémon’s entry into television and films

There’s no denying Pokémon’s massive impact on the worldwide recognition of anime. In 1996, Japanese television began airing the first Pokémon series, following Satoshi (later renamed Ash Ketchum) and his buddy Pikachu. Over a thousand episodes across dozens of shows have been made since then. In 1997, a film adaptation of the Pokémon TV series was released, titled Pocket Monsters the Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back. In 2019, the live-action film Detective Pikachu will join the ranks, along with another 23 films.

Pokémon GO

Image Courtesy: Pokémon GO

Everything we know about Pokémon Go

Another way the Pokémon series has influenced the global culture is through the 2016 release of Pokémon Go. Successfully leveraging augmented reality technology, Pokémon Go has become one of the most popular mobile games ever, inspiring countless people to leave their houses searching for rare Pokémon in the wild. The game itself is free to download. However, there are many optional in-app purchases that can make the Pokémon-catching experience more convenient, but at a cost.

Pokémon™ Violet for Nintendo Switch - Nintendo Official Site

Image Courtesy: Nintendo Official Site

Pokémon Violet, Pokémon Scarlet, and more

It seems like there’s never much of a break between releasing a new Pokémon video game, movie, or trading card set. The most ambitious Pokémon console game, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet for the Nintendo Switch, has recently been released. The technical demands of the vast open-world RPG have proven to be too much for the old Switch, yet Pokémon’s popularity continues to soar. As Pokémon shows no signs of going away, it’s possible that in the future, there may be games on more powerful consoles that can portray its colourful and detailed environment without sacrificing frame rate.



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