|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
|Developer(s)||Game Freak, Creatures Inc.|
|Original release||February 27, 1996|
Pokémon is a series of role-playing video games developed by Game Freak and Creatures Inc. and published by Nintendo as part of the Pokémon media franchise. First released in 1996 in Japan for the Game Boy, the series has continued with at least two new games for each Game Boy generation. Games are commonly released in pairs—each with slight variations—and then an enhanced remake of the games is released a few years from the original release. While the main series consists of role-playing games, spinoffs encompass other genres such as action role-playing, puzzle, and digital pet games.
The original Pokémon games were Japanese role-playing video games (RPGs) with an element of strategy, and were created by Satoshi Tajiri 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 with which most fans of the series are familiar.
All of the licensed Pokémon properties overseen by The Pokémon Company are divided roughly by generation. These generations are roughly 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. The main games and their spin-offs, the anime, manga and trading card game are all updated with the new Pokémon properties each time a new generation begins. The franchise is currently in its fourth generation.
The Pokémon series began with the release of Pocket Monsters Aka and Midori for the Game Boy in Japan. When these games proved extremely popular, an enhanced Aoi version was released sometime after, and the Aoi version was reprogrammed as Pokémon Red and Blue for international release. The games launched in the United States on September 30, 1998. The original Red and Green versions were never released outside Japan. Afterwards, a second enhanced remake, Pokémon Yellow, was released to use the color palette of the Game Boy Color and more of a stylistic resemblance to the popular Pokémon anime. This first generation of games introduced the original 151 species of Pokémon (in National Pokédex order, encompassing all Pokémon from Bulbasaur to Mew), as well as the basic game concepts of capturing, training, battling and trading Pokémon with both computer and human players. These versions of the games take place within the fictional Kanto region, though the name "Kanto" was not used until the second generation. Spin-off first-generation titles include Pokémon Pinball, an adaptation of the Pokémon Trading Card Game for Game Boy Color, an on-rails photography simulator for Nintendo 64 titled Pokémon Snap, a Nintendo 64 Pokémon-themed adaptation of Tetris Attack, Pokémon Puzzle League, a 3D Nintendo 64 incarnation of the handheld RPGs' battle system, Pokémon Stadium, and a co-starring role for several species in the Nintendo 64 fighting game Super Smash Bros..
The second generation of Pokémon video games began in 2000 with the release of Pokémon Gold and Silver for Game Boy Color. Like the previous generation, an enhanced remake titled Pokémon Crystal was later released. It introduced 100 new species of Pokémon (starting with Chikorita and ending with Celebi), for a total of 251 Pokémon to collect, train, and battle. New gameplay features include a day-and-night system (reflecting the time of the day in the real world) which influences events in the game; full use of the Game Boy Color's color palette; an improved interface and upgraded inventory system; better balance in the collection of Pokémon and their moves, statistics and equippable items (a new addition); Pokémon breeding; a new region named Johto and the ability to select the protagonist's gender. Unique to the second generation games is the fact that, after exploring Johto, the player can enter and explore the original Kanto region, which lies to the east of Johto. Spin-off second-generation games include the Game Boy Color adaptation of Pokémon Puzzle League, Pokémon Puzzle Challenge; a Nintendo 64 pet simulator, Hey You, Pikachu!; the Pokémon Stadium sequel, Pokémon Stadium 2, for Nintendo 64; several Pokémon mini-games for the e-Reader and a co-starring role for several Pokémon species in the Super Smash Bros. sequel Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube. The Pokémon mini was a handheld game console released in December 2001 in Japan and 2002 in Europe and North America.
Pokémon entered its third generation with the 2003 release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire for Game Boy Advance and continued with the Game Boy Advance remakes of Pokémon Red and Blue, Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, and an enhanced remake of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire titled Pokémon Emerald. The third generation introduced 135 new Pokémon (starting with Treecko and ending with Deoxys) for a total of 386 species. It also features a much more visually detailed environment compared to previous games, a new 2-on-2 Pokémon battling mechanic, a special ability system applying to each Pokémon in battle, the Pokémon Contest sub-game, and the new region of Hoenn. However, this generation also garnered some criticism for leaving out several gameplay features, including the day-and-night system introduced in the previous generation (it had to be removed due to internal battery save problems), and it was also the first installment that encouraged the player to collect merely a selected assortment of the total number of Pokémon rather than every existing species (202 out of 386 species are catchable in the Ruby and Sapphire versions). Third-generation spin-off titles include Pokémon Pinball: Ruby and Sapphire for Game Boy Advance; Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team and Red Rescue Team for Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS; Pokémon Dash, Pokémon Trozei! and Pokémon Ranger for Nintendo DS; Pokémon Channel and Pokémon Box: Ruby & Sapphire for Nintendo GameCube; and a separate RPG series for Nintendo GameCube, consisting of the games Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness.
In 2006, Japan began the fourth generation of the franchise with the release of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl for Nintendo DS. The games were subsequently released in North America on April 22, 2007 and in Australia on June 21, 2007. The game was then later released in the UK and Europe on July 27, 2007. The fourth generation introduces another 107 new species of Pokémon (starting with Turtwig and ending with Arceus), bringing the number of Pokémon species to 493, the current total. New gameplay concepts include a restructured move-classification system, online multiplayer trading and battling via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, the return (and expansion) of the second generation's day-and-night system, the expansion of the third generation's Pokémon Contests into "Super Contests", and the new region of Sinnoh, which has an underground component for multiplayer gameplay in addition to the main overworld. Also, a new entry to the Diamond/Pearl generation, called Pokémon Platinum, was announced in May 2008's CoroCoro. It was also recently announced that the Generation II games Pokémon Gold and Silver would be remade for the Nintendo DS as Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.
On January 29, 2010, the Pokémon Company announced that a new game was in development for the DS to be released later that year. A silhouette of a new Pokémon was shown by Junichi Masuda on the February 7, 2010, episode of Pokémon Sunday, stated to be in the upcoming film for the summer and to be identified in a future episode on February 21. This new character would also be featured in the March 2010 issue of CoroCoro Comic available on February 15, and is the start of the fifth generation of the Pokémon Franchise. Since then, the character has been named "Zoroark" (ゾロアーク Zoroāku ), and its pre-evolution was also revealed to be named "Zorua" (ゾロア Zoroa ). Both are to be featured in Pocket Monsters Diamond & Pearl The Movie: Phantom Ruler: Zoroark.
Currently, spin-off games in the fourth generation include the Pokémon Stadium follow-up Pokémon Battle Revolution for Wii (which has Wi-Fi connectivity as well), Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia for Nintendo DS, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness and their sister game, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky all for the Nintendo DS, and a co-starring role for Pikachu, Jigglypuff, Lucario, and a Pokémon Trainer (who uses Squirtle, Ivysaur and Charizard for fighting) in the 2008 Wii fighter Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
One of the consistent aspects of most Pokémon games—spanning from Pokémon Red and Blue on the Game Boy to the Nintendo DS game, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl—is the choice of one of three different Pokémon at the start of the player's adventures; these three are often labeled "starter Pokémon". Players can choose a Grass-type, a Fire-type, or a Water-type, Pokémon indigenous to that particular region. For example, in Pokémon Red and Blue, the player has the choice of starting with Bulbasaur, Squirtle, or Charmander. The exception to this rule is Pokémon Yellow, where players are given a Pikachu, an Electric-type mouse Pokémon, famous for being the mascot of the Pokémon media franchise; unique to Pokémon Yellow, the three starter Pokémon from Red and Blue can be obtained during the quest by a single player.
Another consistent aspect is that the player's rival will always choose the type that has a type advantage over the player's chosen Pokémon as his or her starter. For instance, if the player picks Fire-type Charmander, the rival will always pick Water-type Squirtle. This does not affect the first battle between the rivals, as they can only use Normal-type attacks at this point, meaning that they cannot exploit weaknesses. The exception to this is again Pokémon Yellow, in which the rival picks Eevee, a Normal-type with multiple evolutions.
In the Super Smash Bros. series, Pikachu, Ivysaur, Squirtle, Charizard, Jigglypuff, Pichu, Mewtwo and Lucario are playable characters. Pikachu and Jigglypuff are introduced in Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64, and are also featured in Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube, alongside Pichu and Mewtwo. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mewtwo and Pichu are not featured, although Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard make their first playable appearances as part of the Pokémon Trainer character, while Lucario appears as a separate character. Rayquaza is also featured as a boss enemy. The series also features Poké Balls as items, which, when used by a player, make a random Pokémon appear, with various effects on the game. Further, several Pokémon games are available on PC and Macintosh, see Pokémon games for PC.
Four Pokémon—Mew, Celebi, Jirachi and Deoxys—are impossible to obtain without cheat devices, exploiting glitches, or Nintendo promotional events. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl added three new extremely rare Pokémon: Darkrai, Shaymin and Arceus. They are obtained by using the Mystery Gift function; in some cases, exploiting a glitch in the game itself; or directly from Nintendo at promotional events. These Pokémon can be obtained by using a GameShark or similar cheating device like Action Replay. Players are not required to own these Pokémon, among others, in order to have a complete Pokédex.
Nintendo has produced modified versions of other, not so rare Pokémon to serve as promotional icons. One of these was a surfing Pikachu, which was originally available only through a Nintendo Power contest. However, it was later provided as an unlockable secret in Pokémon Stadium, Pokémon Box and Pokémon Battle Revolution. Similarly, for a short time in Japan, there was a giveaway providing diving Pikachu. Flying Pikachu were also given away at Journey Across America in New York City stop.
Many glitches can be triggered in the Pokémon games, especially in Red, Blue, and Yellow. These glitches allow players to duplicate Pokémon or items, catch unobtainable Pokémon, and accomplish otherwise impossible feats.
Additionally, many fake glitches and codes in the Pokémon video games (again, especially Red and Blue) exist. The creation of such codes is often used to trick credulous players into deleting their save file, releasing their Pokémon, or performing other supposed requirements. Many of these glitches involve the catching of unobtainable (entirely fake) Pokémon; in many cases, the credibility of such codes was increased by falsified screenshots from the in-game Pokédex.
"MissingNo." is a glitch in Pokémon Red and Blue composed of junk data holding the 000 position in the Pokédex. It is a "placeholder", created so that, should the game try to access an invalid Pokémon through error, it would produce "Missingno." instead of crashing. Its type is listed as "Bird/Normal". When caught, it knows the moves Water Gun (occupying two move slots) and Sky Attack. It is accessed with a glitch that involves undergoing a tutorial in Viridian City (which temporarily places the player's name into the RAM space that is accessed to determine which Pokémon can be caught in an area), then immediately flying to Cinnabar Island, and surfing along the coast. Cinnabar Island's coast has no data on which Pokémon can be caught, and thus whatever is presently in the RAM (in this case, the player's name) is used. As most names in the English language will not resolve into a Pokémon's ID, Missingno. is created.
Glitches that allow the duplication of caught Pokémon have been discovered in several games, via exploitation of errors in transferring Pokémon data. Due to the benefits of such glitches, most forms are highly documented. In Pokémon Crystal, cloning involves using the "save delay" caused by changing PC boxes. The possibility of corrupting or erasing the game file is always present when using cloning glitches, with no way to restore it. Most glitches are banned from tournaments. However, a trick found in Pokémon Emerald can clone Pokémon with no ill side effects if the player follows the right steps. There is also a cloning glitch with no side effects in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum using the Global Trade Station,a place where players can access trade using Wi-Fi Connection. A player may also duplicate Pokémon in the Red and Blue series of Gameboy games through enabling the trade function and removing the connector cable and one player turning off their gameboy with precision timing. This will result in one of the players experiencing a successful trade and the other experiencing a cancelled trade. Hence, one Pokémon is duplicated onto an additional game cartridge and the other Pokémon is lost.
A subculture exists which is devoted to the study of Pokémon battling and strategy, usually on research centers around Internet bulletin boards. As well, multiple methods of online Pokémon battling exist, such as linkable Game Boy emulators, an IRC channel based programs: GSBot and RSBot, as well as the independent program Pokémon NetBattle , and another program called Shoddy Battle.
The series has sold over 175 million units as of April 23, 2008, making it one of the best-selling of all time. Guinness World Records awarded the Pokémon series eight records in Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008, including "Most Successful RPG Series of All Time", "Game Series With the Most Spin-Off Movies" and "Most Photosensitive Epileptic Seizures Caused By A TV Show".