Who does not remember Pokémon? Whether you have a kid, are a kid, or still a kid at heart, you would invariably have some experience with this cute set of games popularized by Nintendo and also released as television series and game cards. It’s yet another reflection of Japanese pop culture. Where do the world’s greatest games and game storylines come from, but Japan, of course?
Pokémon is a multi-billion dollar media franchise created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1996. The original Game Boy video games have since been merchandised into anime, manga, trading cards, toys, books and other media. The name, Pokémon, is a portmanteau of its Japanese name, “Pocket Monsters” (Poketto Monsutā). The game’s catchphrase, in the English language versions of the franchise, used to be “Gotta catch ’em all!”, although it is now no longer officially used (except by Hasbro and in the title sequence to Pokémon Chronicles).
The concept of the Pokémon saga stems from the hobby of insect collecting, a popular pastime in Japan, and one which Pokémon’s creator Satoshi Tajiri had enjoyed as a child. Tajiri’s formula took off in Japan and was adapted (and translated) in 1998 for the American market, with the release of Pokémon Red and Blue. These games allowed players to catch, collect, and train hundreds of creatures, known as Pokémon; and battle them against each other to build their strength. These Pokémon could then “evolve” into more powerful Pokémon and learn new and stronger techniques. Pokémon never bleed or die in battle, only faint – (however they can still become confused, poisoned, paralyzed, frozen, sent to sleep and burned) this was a very touchy subject to Tajiri, as he didn’t want to further fill the gaming world with pointless violence.
Pokémon is also the collective name for all of the fictional species within the Pokémon universe. To date, the franchise has a grand total of 395 unique species that lie at the heart of the series, a figure which has grown substantially from the 151 monsters in the original Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue games. The name can either be singular or plural (such as deer or moose), and the same applies to each species name.