- This article is about Pokémon, also known as Pocket Monsters, as a series. For other uses of the words, see Pokémon (disambiguation).
Pokémon (Japanese: ポケットモンスター Pocket Monsters, ポケモン Pokémon for short) is an overarching media franchise by Nintendo, first appearing in 1996 with the release of its first entries. The game series has since inspired an array of media, including an animation, a card game, numerous manga, as well as various spin-off games.
The series focus on the creatures known as Pokémon as well as their inhabited world, one full of legends, tales, and adventures. Several interpretations of the world explore different themes and elements. Most commonly, Pokémon coexist with humans and can be caught, trained and used in battles and other activities. Trainers, along with their Pokémon, travel across diverse lands, aiming to make their dreams become reality.
Much as happens with many other words and phrases borrowed from English, the Japanese name for the series, Pocket Monsters, became contracted into "Pockemon" during the development of the original games, likely as much for convenience when referring to it as to save on screen real estate, considering the small size of the Game Boy's screen. The official romanization of "Pockemon" at this time was derived from the contraction of Pocket and Monster, and can be seen explicitly in Primeape Goes Bananas, even in the dub.
The "Pokémon" name used today came about during the translation of the games for an English audience during 1997 and 1998. Whereas in Japan, Pocket Monsters was easily able to be trademarked, the release in America would prove difficult had this name been used, due to the unrelated Monster in my Pocket franchise. Thus, an alternate romanization of the contraction was used, with an acute accent over the e to indicate its specific pronunciation, poh-kay-mahn. Despite this issue, however, the fact that Pokémon is short for Pocket Monsters has been referenced in English, with an NPC in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum asking the player what Pokémon is short for after thinking about the name of the Pokétch, itself a contraction, as well as on the back of the DVD set containing the first, second, and third movies.
- Main article: History of Pokémon
Pokémon as a series was originally conceived by Satoshi Tajiri, as a way to instill in children of the modern, more urbanized Japan the same enjoyment that he felt as a young boy collecting insects near his hometown of Machida. Initially Capsule Monsters, CapuMon for short, Tajiri pitched the series to Nintendo due to the inspiration he drew from the link cable, picturing an insect crawling across it between two Game Boy systems.
With help from Shigeru Miyamoto, the series began development, with the concepts of the original games, Pokémon Red and Green, going into production between 1990 and 1995. At last, in early 1996, the first games in the series were released, and Tajiri's dream had become reality. Though compared to other games of its time, Pokémon was very limited, with comparatively poor graphics and sound, the series was an overnight success, and Red and Green were quickly followed by an upgraded third version, Pokémon Blue.
An anime was produced, with the intention of covering the journey players took through the Kanto region in the games over the course of a year and a half. About halfway through this run, however, tragedy struck, and an episode of the anime was found to be responsible for epileptic seizures for more than 600 children due to a flashing strobe effect. No one died of these seizures, and after a brief hiatus to address the problem, the anime returned to the air to complete the Kanto run.
Game Freak, however, encouraged by the success of their first trio of games, had already begun development on a sequel to them. With the franchise still running strong, and an upcoming introduction of it to the United States, popularity soared. Rather than releasing their sequels immediately, however, Game Freak instead chose to draw from the story of the anime, which differed from the games in that its protagonist was given a Pikachu instead of the standard starter Pokémon received in Red, Green, and Blue, and created a fourth, Special Pikachu Edition, of the Kanto story to buy some more time for development on the announced sequels.
Eventually, however, the much-awaited sequels were finally released. Pokémon Gold and Silver, revamped the Pokémon world, bringing it into full color and addressing many of the issues that had been present in the original games, especially glitches and the type imbalance. The anime, manga, and other wings of the franchise followed as well, bringing their characters into the second generation.
Even after the initial hype the series had in most of the world died down, however, the Pokémon series remained strong. Another third version, this time to Gold and Silver, was produced, focusing on another of Johto's legends, Suicune. With Pokémon Crystal, a female player character was finally introduced, and the games became fully dependent on the Game Boy Color, abandoning the now long-outdated Game Boy. A third generation was announced to be on its way on the new Game Boy Advance, and among fans, the hype returned strongly.
Despite this, when Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were released, many people heard of them, and their generation in general, as a disappointment. Misty, Ash's longtime companion in the anime, left the show while a new girl, May joined him, and the games themselves, unlike the Generation II games, they were completely incompatible with their predecessors, making 184 of the 251 Pokémon previously released completely unobtainable without cheating. This itself was addressed with the unprecedented release of remakes of the original pair of games, Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, which brought back the availability of many of the Pokémon missing from Ruby and Sapphire. Within a year, as well, yet another third version, this time for the Hoenn story, was released, as Pokémon Emerald, and introduced a Battle Frontier and many other aspects that would be enjoyed by those who battled Pokémon competitively.
Much like the previous generations, the fourth generation was very anticipated, and Pokémon Diamond and Pearl received much praise. These games brought with them many enhancements from Emerald, and for the first time, Pokémon could be played online to battle against and trade with other players across the world. Due to the earlier release of remakes for the original pair of games, this generation saw much speculation for a remake of the now-outdated Generation II games, and hidden data in the games themselves seemed to indicate that they would be on their way shortly.
A third version of the pair, Pokémon Platinum, was released two years afterward, and due to this, as well as the delay in the release, many became discouraged that the remakes would ever come. Despite this, however, finally, after five years of speculation, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver were released.
The current generation of the franchise constitutes a "reboot" similar to that of the third. The highly anticipated Pokémon Black and White are set far away from the previously released games in a region based on New York City called Unova. Initially in the game, only new Pokémon introduced in this generation are available before beating the Pokémon League, forcing veteran players to rethink old strategies. The games do have the capacity to connect to older games, however, and maintain the international connectivity introduced in the fourth generation. The anime series, Trading Card Game and some manga series have already embraced the new generation with new releases of tie-in media. Not following the traditional format, Black and White are followed by 2 direct sequels, Pokémon Black and White Versions 2.
- Main article: Pokémon (species)
The creatures themselves, based on various plants, animals, and other concepts, inhabit virtually every corner of the world, no matter which canon's interpretation is seen. Many make their homes in forests and on rural routes stretching across the various regions, while still others are native to cities and other urban centers. Currently, there are 721 known Pokémon.
Typically, Pokémon that are owned by a person are kept in Poké Balls, which allow for them to be quickly sent into battle or to perform a task, but keep them safe and make them easier to transport, with the balls being typically able to fit into a pocket. HeartGold and SoulSilver have the lead Pokémon out of their Poké Balls. Many Pokémon owned by Trainers, however, choose to remain outside of their Poké Ball, and travel with their Trainer on foot.
Pokémon begin their lives by hatching from Eggs, and many of them will evolve to grow stronger and larger during the course of their lives. Pokémon are not immortal, as can be seen from the Pokémon gravesites found in Lavender Town, Mt. Pyre, the Lost Tower, and the Celestial Tower, though being that their abilities far surpass those of normal animals, it may seem to be this way for those who do not follow the series as closely.
Many Pokémon are much more powerful than others, and some, due to this, have passed into legends that are told in the Pokémon world. It has not been consistently illustrated whether or not these Pokémon really do have the power that their legends state, though the general consensus is that, in the wild, a Pokémon's abilities are truly those of the legends, while a Trainer who captures one in a Poké Ball will limit its strength.
Pokémon may be influenced by the Japanese folklore of yōkai, special creatures with strange abilities, sometimes even created from inanimate objects.