History of Pokémon
- For a history of events in Pokémon canon, please see history of the Pokémon world for game events. Alternatively, see timeline of events in the anime for anime events.
The history of Pokémon spans nearly a decade from when work began officially on the first game to now. It started simply enough as a hobby of Satoshi Tajiri, who as a child had a fondness for catching insects and tadpoles near his home in suburban Tokyo. Over time, Tajiri decided to put his idea of catching creatures into practice because it would give children the same thrill as he had.
With the help of Ken Sugimori and other friends, Tajiri formed Game Freak and much later the design studio known as Creatures. In 1975, the precursor to Pokémon was serialized in manga form as Capsule Monsters; however, the manga was unsuccessful and was discontinued. In 1991, Tajiri discovered the Game Boy and the Game Boy Link Cable gave him the image of insects traveling along the wire. After several failed attempts at pitching Capsule Monsters to Nintendo, Tajiri's new friend Shigeru Miyamoto pitched it to the company, and Nintendo began to fund the project, spending six years developing the games that would become a worldwide sensation. Before the first Pokémon games were released in Japan in 1996, sprites of Pikachu, Mew, Meowth, Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle appeared in Game Freak's Game Boy Camera in 1995. Around this time, Nintendo decided to change the name "Capsule Monsters" to "Pocket Monsters."
The first Pokémon games, Pokémon Red and Green Versions, came to the Nintendo Game Boy system in Japan on February 27, 1996, which was the fulfillment of Satoshi Tajiri's dream and allowed people of all ages to catch, train and trade 151 creatures and become a Pokémon Master. Due to high sales, Pokémon Red and Green were swiftly followed up with Pokémon Blue, which had improved graphics and sounds.
North America received Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue on September 30th, 1998, and soon everywhere else began to play the games on the Game Boy. Plans soon started for a game based on the popular anime and Pokémon Yellow Version was released September 12th, 1998 in Japan, October 25th, 1999 in North America and Europe.
Pokémon Yellow allowed trainers to take on the role of Ash and travel through Kanto with anime-style graphics for each Pokémon. The game followed the anime's course of events and Pokémon soared to new heights of popularity as the 20th century came to a close.
On November 21st 1999, Nintendo of Japan released Pokémon Gold and Silver Versions for the then-new Game Boy Color. This time, trainers were invited to the land of Johto, where 100 more Pokémon were waiting to be captured. The new games enhanced the Pokémon gaming experience by creating:
- Genders for most Pokémon, which allowed for breeding
- A clock, which allowed for differing events in the day, night, and morning, and days of the week
- Money storage with the player's mother
- New evolutions to old Pokémon
- The happiness system
Many other features made the games different than their predecessors. Trainers could also return to Kanto and face the Gym Leaders that existed in the original games. Pokémon Gold and Silver made its way to North America on October 11th, 2000.
Like Pokémon Yellow, a third version was made in Japan called Pokémon Crystal Version and was released December 14th, 2000 in Japan and July 21st, 2001 in North America. Pokémon Crystal had several changes made. Many Pokémon changed locations and the Pokémon known as Suicune was the title character and the focus of the plot. This was also the first portable Pokémon game that featured animations for every Pokémon. Trainers in Japan received an added bonus of receiving the Pokémon known as Celebi through a wireless link, and also being able to trade wirelessly using a cellphone and the Mobile Adapter. Trainers on both sides of the Pacific Ocean were, for the first time, allowed to choose their character's gender.
A major overhaul of the game series occurred when Pokémon arrived on the Game Boy Advance on November 21st, 2002 when Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Versions were released. Trainers found themselves in the southern land called Hoenn where 135 new Pokémon were waiting to be discovered. The games reached North America on March 18th 2003 and had many new features.
- Natures for each Pokémon, along with the reform of EVs and DVs
- Pokémon Contests
- More detailed weather conditions
- New villains: Team Magma and Team Aqua
- Pokémon abilities
- Not backwards compatible with earlier generations
Not finished with the Hoenn story, Game Freak developed a third version to go with Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, called Pokémon Emerald Version. This game was released in North America on May 1st, 2005, and in Japan on September 16th, 2004. Emerald features the same wireless connection as in FireRed and LeafGreen, as well as a return to Hoenn with many new features, including:
- Rebattling gym leaders
- Battle Frontier
- Non-alignment with Team Magma and Team Aqua
- Both Kyogre and Groudon are catchable
- Animations for all Pokémon, like Pokémon Crystal
Generation III remake of Generation I
This generation also saw the return of Kanto in Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen Versions, where trainers could once again travel through Kanto with enhanced graphics and gameplay. The games also featured a wireless connection and a new area, the Sevii Islands. Many of these were home to Johto Pokémon unavailable in other games of this generation. This game was released January 29th, 2004 in Japan and September 9th, 2004 in North America.
The fourth generation, already out in Japan, the United States, Australia, and Europe, and eagerly awaited in the rest of the world, features Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Versions. These two games were released in Japan on September 28, 2006, and in North America on April 22, 2007. Bringing back some of the features lost between II and III, such as the day/night cycle, as well as adding many new evolutions and pre-evolutions to existing Pokémon, D/P is a wonderful addition to the series. There are also new Pokémon without any connection to the previous ones, as there always are. The Diamond and Pearl anime has already started in Japan and in North America and Australia.
- Gender differences
- More detailed Pokédex information
- New villains: Team Galactic
- Return of clock/time/date day, night, morning, evening
Along the way, Pokémon has had many spin off titles for Nintendo's other systems. The list includes:
- Pokémon Stadium (Japanese), Pokémon Stadium and 2
- Pokémon Snap
- Pokémon Puzzle League
- Hey You, Pikachu!
Nintendo Game Boy
- Pokémon Pinball
- Pokémon Pinball: Ruby/Sapphire
- Pokémon Card GB
- Pokémon Card GB 2
- Pokémon Puzzle Challenge
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Red Rescue Team
- Pokémon Dash
- Pokémon Trozei!
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Blue Rescue Team
- Pokémon Ranger
- Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Time Expedition
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Darkness Expedition