Here's where Pokemon actually began

Here's where Pokemon actually began
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Pokemon started as the brainchild of Satoshi Tajiri who as a child had a fondness for insects and tadpoles. This gave him the idea of creating a game where people captured creatures in the wild and collected as many as possible. This game became the Pokemon we know and love today.

On Feb. 27, 1996, the first versions of the game were released, Pokemon Red and Pokemon Green. The initial release met with modest sales, but what turned the popularity of the game around was the programming of a hidden Pokemon that was not listed in the original 151, known as Mew. The creators of Pokemon ran a competition that allowed the players to obtain this legendary Pokemon, and sales went up to 80,000 copies in Japan alone.

Along with the popularity of a game, the success of the franchise also lies in its expansion into other media of entertainment. This includes an animated TV show that starred the character Ash Ketchum, now into its 19th season. Pokemon also expanded into the trading card industry, with the widely played Pokemon trading card game that currently has had multiple expansions and tournaments all around the world. This includes a world championship held every year by Nintendo itself.

Pokemon has also expanded into the manga industry, its most popular series being Pokemon Adventures, which has lasted 14 years and is a personal favourite of mine, because of some of its darker themes and truly bringing the characters we see in the game to life. Other manga that are based off Pokemon include An Electric Tale of Pikachu and Pokemon Zensho.

After the success of the first Pokemon, Nintendo began to split its Pokemon games into generations. Every single generation, new Pokemon, skills and stories would be put into the franchise. On Nov. 21, 1999, the second generation games were released, which were called Gold, Silver and Yellow. These games introduced the players to over 100 new Pokemon, new characters and of course, Pokemon in colour for the first time due to its platform being the Game Boy colour. The game also included lots of new features, including being able to choose gender.

Players were also able to trade and battle players with other Pokemon. The game added a day-night cycle as well that was moved using a real clock on the Game Boy and therefore changed the environment around the player. The second generation also saw the introduction of Shiny Pokemon, which were an incredibly rare Pokemon with different colour schemes to the original. At this time, between 1999 and 2001, many Pokemon movies were also released.

Since Pokemon came into being on Feb. 27, 1996, it has captivated millions around the world while growing into a gigantic media franchise. Photo: The Japan News/Asia News Network

In Pokemon's third generation, Nintendo again introduced a new region named Hoenn. With it came the games Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald released in 2003 and 2004. These were the first games that I really got into as a Pokemon fan. These new games added a better trade system, double battles and the introduction of EVs and IVs, which don't really concern most Pokemon players unless they want to play competitively. The new generation also included 135 new Pokemon. Within the next year of the third generation, Nintendo released the remakes of the first-generation Pokemon games, Fire Red and Leaf Green. This included the story of the original first-generation games with upgraded graphics.

With the release of the Nintendo DS, the game expanded even further. The 4th generation included two screens, a much more detailed and 3D environment, wireless battles and access to the global Pokemon network, which included worldwide trade through Wi-Fi. The games were called Platinum, Diamond and Pearl. Most of generations four and five have the same features; the addition of triple battles and seasons are the only things that changed between generations. However, the fifth generation was also a fresh start for most Pokemon fans. The main storyline did not feature Pokemon from previous generations and was completely focused on the story and the new region called Unova.

Along with the Pokemon DS releases, many spin-offs of the original formula was also created. One of my personal favorites is Pokemon Ranger. This was a game where Pokemon were captured by drawing circles around them and explored completely new regions and new stories. Pokemon Dash was also a release where the player took control of a Pokemon and participated in different activities and races.

The final releases for Pokemon that are the most recent are the sixth generation, Pokemon X and Y. The new game took advantage of the 3DS' 3D graphics and showed 3D Pokemon battles for the first time. It also included horde encounters and the whole new region of Kalos, which was based on modern day France. It streamlined the Wi-Fi battle system and also introduced Mega-evolutions of Pokemon from previous generations gaining a newer and stronger form. Within the 6th generation also included the remakes of the 3rd generation games:Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

This is where the decline of the franchise began, and most people found the third-generation remake lacking in new features. But it seems like with Pokemon Go, the franchise has a bright future ahead of it.

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