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The Pokémon (Japanese: ポケットモンスター Pocket Monsters) series of games was created by Satoshi Tajiri and Game Freak with assistance from Creatures and Nintendo for the Game Boy between 1990 and 1995. The series is titled after, and focuses on, Pokémon, creatures which exhibit extraordinary powers such as manipulation of electricity, fire, and psychic powers, among others.
Released initially in two versions, Pokémon Red and Green, Pokémon has since expanded to include an anime series, a TCG, many side-series games, and even operates several specialty stores in Japan. To date, total sales of the Pokémon video games have totaled to over 279 million copies, with over 201 million sales in the core series alone.
Pokémon began as Capsule Monsters, a short manga self-published by Satoshi Tajiri and his artist friend Ken Sugimori. Part of their small-time magazine Game Freak, Tajiri eventually was able to make the handwritten magazine into a professionally published piece. Soon, Tajiri got into game development, winning a contest with Sega, and came upon the Game Boy, Nintendo's handheld, and the game link cable that allowed two systems to communicate. This inspired him to turn his small manga into a game.
Initially pitching the idea of Capsule Monsters to Nintendo, Tajiri was nervous and quickly shot down. Shigeru Miyamoto, however, saw potential in the game and invited Tajiri to explain to him more about the idea. With Miyamoto's help, Capsule Monsters was given some funding to start production.
One of the first problem to befall the series was that Capsule Monsters, Tajiri's chosen name, was unable to be copyrighted. Thinking quickly, Tajiri rebranded the series "CapuMon", though this was also rejected. Finally, he struck gold with Pocket Monsters, allowing development to continue unhindered. Despite this, the five years of development were tough. Game Freak was not doing well, and funds and morale were low. Many left the company, opting for more lucrative jobs that would pay the bills, rather than working countless hours of unpaid overtime in the hope that this game would make enough to pay them back. Eventually, the game was quietly released in February of 1996 as the paired Red Version and Green Version for the Game Boy, the idea of splitting the game into two counterpart versions coming from Shigeru Miyamoto to encourage Tajiri's idea of trading Pokémon between players. Overnight, the games became a huge success, becoming a phenomenon in Japan and causing an anime series to begin production under Shogakukan.
When the series was greenlighted for translation into English and a release in North America, like in Japan, it encountered issues with copyright. A franchise known as Monster in my Pocket claimed that Pocket Monsters would be too close to their own name and cause confusion, leading to Nintendo choosing to anglicize the shortened wasei-ego name of the series into Pokémon, its former official romanization having been Pockemon. In Japan, Red and Green had been followed shortly after by a third version, Pokémon Blue, and Nintendo, making note of some of the harsher glitches present in the earlier pair that were removed in Blue, decided instead to translate the script and use the coding of Blue while using the wild Pokémon distributions present in Red and Green to create the English Pokémon Red and Blue.
Demand rose for a sequel to the games, and Game Freak was up to the task. With the success of Red, Green, and Blue and the US release of the games upcoming, development began on Pocket Monsters 2, which would follow directly from the plot of the first games. Despite this, the sequel was delayed time and again, and finally revealed to the public as a demo at SpaceWorld in 1997. This version differs greatly from the final games that would be released two years later, and is seen by many to be a lost history of the franchise, with many Pokémon and characters announced in magazines never being seen outside of this beta demo. With the arrival of the Game Boy Color upcoming, Game Freak quietly withdrew their sequel from the public eye, letting its previously-stated release date pass without a word, to revamp it for release on the new console. A fourth standalone game was created by Game Freak, Pokémon Yellow, which mimicked the anime by starting the player off with a Pikachu that would follow him throughout the world, rather than staying in a Poké Ball.
Eventually, with much hype, the sequels were finally released as Pokémon Gold and Silver, and quickly became fan favorites. While they had abandoned many of the aspects present in the beta, they follow closely after the plot of the first generation of games, and unlike later entries, focus just as much, if not more, on the 151 Pokémon introduced in the earlier games as the 100 introduced in the new games. The third version of the sequels, Pokémon Crystal, introduced more of a focus on Pokémon native to the Johto region, as well as, in Japan, the ability to link with other players across the country with a special adapter that connected to a person's mobile phone that was never released elsewhere. At this point in time, Pokémon's popularity began to decline, with many leaving the series for the next "big fad", with others staying with the series for the next games that would come.
A turning point for the series came with Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, simply known as "Pokémon AGB" when the Game Boy Advance was still in development. Unlike the previous pair, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire cut players off from their older games, forcing them to use only Pokémon caught in this generation. This was seen by many to be a reboot of the series; combined with the loss of Misty from the anime and her replacement by May as main character Ash Ketchum set off for Hoenn, angered many fans. Despite this, Ruby and Sapphire proved to be good news for the series, bringing it forward in ways that could not have been possible if compatibility had been maintained, and within a year, remakes of the original pair of games in the form of Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen were announced and released, bringing the story of Kanto into the third generation of the series. Like before, an enhanced third version was made for Ruby and Sapphire, dubbed Pokémon Emerald, was released, introducing a Battle Frontier for competitive battlers to test their mettle after the main storyline of the game had been completed, as well as addressing some of the issues players had with its predecessors.
Due to the release of FireRed and LeafGreen, many players hoped that remakes for the now-defunct sequels to Red and Green, Gold and Silver, would be on their way shortly. Despite this, another new generation was announced, with games titled Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and mascot Pokémon said to be lords over time and space itself. A third version to these games, Pokémon Platinum, was released after a two-year gap, causing many who had been hoping for the remakes of Gold and Silver to give up their hope that Johto would ever return to the spotlight. However, shortly after Platinum had been released in North America, an announcement was made that the variety show Pokémon Sunday would be making a special announcement of something that had been talked about by fans for a long time. Many renewed their hope that this would be the remakes, though others believed this would be the announcement of a fifth generation of Pokémon, which had been equally discussed. Finally, by way of the official Japanese website, the remakes everyone had been waiting for, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, were announced, and came to be released with great hype behind them.
A fifth generation has been recently released, and like the third, features somewhat of a reset for the series, this time, however, with none of the Pokémon featured in the first four generations available in-game until much later. Pokémon Black and White send players to the Isshu region, located far away from the regions the games previously took place in, and instead of being based on a part of Japan, Isshu is based on New York City in the United States. With this generation, many hope that the remake cycle will continue, with remakes of Ruby and Sapphire hoped by some to be on the horizon, and a third version to Black and White already speculated to be in development.
The Pokémon series consists of more than 50 games, sometimes in pairs or trios, divided into several sub-series depending on their mechanics. Among these sub-series are the main series, consisting of the 19 games suffixed with "Version", which follow the standard plot and gameplay introduced in Red and Green, the Mystery Dungeon series, which makes the player into a Pokémon, the battle arena series, which connects to the main series games to show off Pokémon battling on Nintendo's home consoles in 3D, and the Ranger series, in which players act as a Pokémon Ranger, protecting Pokémon but not capturing them and using them for battle. What follows is a list of Pokémon games by their release date:
- Total sales for mainline Pokemon games surpass 200 million. Nintendo Everything (March 17, 2016). Retrieved October 23, 2016.
- Nintendo Spotlight: E3 2017. Nintendo (YouTube; June 13, 2017). Retrieved June, 2017.