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Pokémon: 15 Years of Catching 'em All

pokemongreen.jpgDid you know the first ever Pokémon video games came out in Japan 15 years ago? Released on February 27, 1996 for the Game Boy, Pocket Monsters Red and Green were the first games that introduced Pikachu, Poké Balls, and all the other familiar elements we are used to seeing today. After five generations of games spanning several systems and consoles, it's amazing how this worldwide success first got started.

Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri grew up collecting bugs. As a child, he and his friends would run around the rural suburbs of his Japanese town collecting different varieties of insects and beetles that they would use in bug matches. He loved bugs so much that his friends used to call him "Dr. Bug." It's no surprise then that when he saw two kids playing Game Boy with their link cables, he imagined what it would be like if bugs were being exchanged instead. His rural town of Machida was undergoing modernization during this time and his ponds and forests were being replaced by arcades and electronic stores. Tajiri thought it was about time his lowly childhood bug hunts received an update too.

After pitching his video game idea to Nintendo and getting the help of Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, Tajiri and his team spent six years developing Pokémon Red and Green for the Game Boy. The game turns bug catching into a quest to gather all 151 Pokémon in a world that is based on the real life Kanto region of Japan. Despite being released near the end of the Game Boy's lifespan, these two games became extremely popular throughout the country and saw worldwide success. Updated versions of the games included Pokémon Blue and an anime-inspired Pokémon Yellow followed shortly.

The Pokémon Red and Blue versions Americans got to play were actually a combination of the Japanese versions of Red, Blue, and Green. The Japanese Red and Green provided the basis for the games and the full list of Pokémon. Blue provided updated graphics, text, and a new game engine. The US versions were released September 26, 1998 while the European versions came out the following year. It took over two years for the rest of the world to experience Pokémon. But it was well worth the wait.

The Pokémon franchise is now in its fifth generation of video games. Since its 1996 debut, it has spawned countless toys, trading cards, television shows, movies, and even food-related items. Regardless of where you go, chances are someone will have heard of Pokémon or at least Pikachu, its mascot. I've been playing Pokémon since the games were released on Game Boy, and I definitely have a lot of memories with these games. For some people, Pokémon has grown up with them and shaped their childhood. What are your earliest memories of Pokémon?

4 Comments

KURIKURI said:

My first memory of Pokemon was in fifth grade. I had a Japanese friend back then who would bring his Game Boy with Pokemon (Green, I think) to play on class trips. We discussed the premise of the game, and I thought it sounded rather cool at the time. I didn't think much more about it until April of that school year, when I got that month's issue of Nintendo Power.

In it was a promotional article about Red and Blue, due out in September. I read through the article several times, psyching myself up for it to the point that it upset me that I would have to wait a whole five months for the release date (a long time, when you're ten!). So I ended up playing the game in September, and found it was well worth the wait and fully lived up to the hype.

TheBaker said:

I first heard of Pokémon when I was in fifth grade and me and my parents were on a family vacation in southern Germany. In one toy store they had Comics (which were actually screenshot-recaps of the first few episodes of the anime) that also contained information about the game. I was immediately hooked and could not wait to see the show, let alone get my hands on the game. Which I did about 2 months later when my parents bought me the Red Version for christmas. And to this day I remember that sparkling feeling unboxing that box with Charizard on it, almost ripping it apart and for the first time hearing the Pokémon Main Theme.

Awesome times :)

I watched a couple episodes of Pokemon when it was on TV. Then, in the christmas of '99 (god how long ago was that?) I got a Lime Green (fab!) Game Boy Color with Pokemon's Red and Yellow. At that time my family was in the middle of a giant move, and staying with my grandmother for a few months. I didn't have my 64, just my SNES. So it was nice to have something new. Pokemon was incredibly addictive. It was Silver that became my true favorite, though. I have fond memories of high school, waking up in the miserable weather of Michigan, playing that game while waiting for the bus, and in class, and talking about it with my friends. Good times.

Now, what feels like a billion years later, I'm waiting for Black and White. And while I've moved to Austin, and have a new set of friends to nerd out about with it (including my super special boyfriend), it's still just as enchanting as it ever was. I can't wait for Sunday.

My first encounter with Pokemon was in Nintendo Official Magazine and I was spellbound by it - it was like nothing I'd ever seen of before - and so that clenched it, I needed to get a Gameboy and this game.

And thus I did, Pokemon Blue to be precise [Blastoise baby]!

My most vivid memories with it were playing it during break time at school [before such things became majorly frowned upon] with mates, and, naturally, when I first beat the game [not that I managed to see it through that first time as I had class and so I left it on just at the Hall of Fame and with low battery - you can probably guess what happened...]

Gold and Silver then came down like a second breath of heaven. My interest in the series however did wane with third gen, not necessarily for the ever-changing pokemon designs, but with what was lost in the platform jump.

Diamond [and fourth gen] brought me right on back to the good old days however and now... now I eagerly await my Pokemon Black copy on Friday [having, SOMEHOW, managed to avoid being spoiled all of the new pokemon, despite GoNintendo's best efforts to spoil all]!

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Chosenoneknuckles on Pokémon: 15 Years of Catching 'em All: My first encounter with Pokemon was in Nintendo Official Magazine and I was spellbound by it - it was like...

Randy "Dr Randle" Marr on Pokémon: 15 Years of Catching 'em All: I watched a couple episodes of Pokemon when it was on TV. Then, in the christmas of '99 (god how...

TheBaker on Pokémon: 15 Years of Catching 'em All: I first heard of Pokémon when I was in fifth grade and me and my parents were on a family...

KURIKURI on Pokémon: 15 Years of Catching 'em All: My first memory of Pokemon was in fifth grade. I had a Japanese friend back then who would bring his...

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