- 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 owned by Nintendo, Creatures, Inc., and Game Freak. First appearing in 1996 with the release of its first entries on the Game Boy, the game series has since inspired an array of media, including an anime, a card game, numerous manga, and various spin-off games.
The series focuses on the creatures known as Pokémon, as well as their inhabited world, 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-mohn. 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 and other bugs near his hometown of Machida. Initially called Capsule Monsters, or CapuMon for short, Tajiri pitched the series to Nintendo after being inspired by the Game Link Cable; he pictured 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 in Japan, and Tajiri's dream had become reality. Compared to other games of its time, Pokémon was very limited, with comparatively poor graphics and sound. The series was an overnight success though, 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 the anime's run in late 1997, tragedy struck and an episode of the anime was found to be responsible for epileptic seizures in more than 600 children due to a flashing strobe effect. No one died of these seizures, and after an investigation was put into place, the anime was put on hiatus for four month, later returning to the air to complete the Kanto run in April 1998.
Encouraged by the games' success in Japan and their upcoming release in the United States, Game Freak began development on sequels to them. Rather than releasing the 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 game, Special Pikachu Edition, to buy some more time for development on the announced sequels.
The much-awaited sequels were released in 1999 in Japan and 2000 in the US. Pokémon Gold and Silver revamped the Pokémon world, bringing it into full color, introducing one hundred new Pokémon and addressing many of the issues that had been present in the original games. For example, two new types were introduced to address type imbalances. The anime, manga, and other aspects of the franchise followed suit, bringing their characters into the second generation.
Even after the initial worldwide hype for the series died down, the Pokémon franchise remained strong. A third version was produced for Generation II, focusing on the legendary Pokémon 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 for the new Game Boy Advance, and at least among fans, the hype returned.
Despite this, when Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were initially released many people considered them, and Generation III in general, a disappointment. Misty, Ash's longtime companion in the anime, left the show and a new girl May joined him. Although 135 new Pokémon were introduced, the games, unlike the Generation II games, were completely incompatible with their predecessors, making 184 of the 251 previously released Pokémon unobtainable without cheating. This issue was addressed with the unprecedented release of remakes of the original pair of games, Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, which included many of the Pokémon missing from Ruby and Sapphire. In addition, a third version, Pokémon Emerald, was released and introduced the Battle Frontier and many other features that would be enjoyed by those who battled Pokémon competitively.
Much like the previous generations, the fourth generation was highly anticipated. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, released in 2006 in Japan and 2007 in the US, 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. This generation was also noted for introducing the physical/special damage category split, another improvement which would be enjoyed by those who battled Pokémon competitively. 107 new Pokémon were added as well, bringing the total to 493.
With the precedent set by 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 seemed to indicate that remakes were planned. A third version, Pokémon Platinum, was released two years after Diamond and Pearl. Due to this, as well as the delay in the release, many became discouraged that the remakes would never come. However, after five years of speculation, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver were finally released in 2009 in Japan and in 2010 elsewhere.
The fifth generation of the franchise constituted a "reboot" similar to that of the third. The highly anticipated Pokémon Black and White were set far away from the previous games in a region based on New York City called Unova. Initially in the game, only the 156 new Pokémon introduced in this generation were available before beating the Pokémon League, forcing veteran players to rethink old strategies. The games did have the capacity to connect to older games, however, and maintained the international connectivity introduced in the fourth generation. The anime series, trading card game and manga series also embraced the new generation with releases of tie-in media. Breaking the traditional format, Black and White were followed by two direct sequels, Pokémon Black and White Versions 2 which included many Pokémon from different regions.
Another reboot occurred with the sixth generation games Pokémon X and Y in 2013, marking the first time a pair of Pokémon games was released simultaneously worldwide. The games introduced many new features such as a fully 3D world including 3D models for every Pokémon, Mega Evolution, a new Pokémon type, improved online features, Trainer customization, Pokémon-Amie and new battle styles. France, the basis of the in-game Kalos region, was chosen partly because French culture is known for its art and beauty - the main theme of the game. Super Training, another new feature introduced, offered a simple way to monitor a Pokémon's EVs. New ways to improve the player's chance of finding Shiny Pokémon were also introduced, such as the introduction of chain fishing and Horde Encounters, as well as the return of Generation IV's Poké Radar. With the addition of 72 new Pokémon, the total as of Generation VI is 721.
Although the release of remakes skipped a generation (Generation V was the first generation since Generation II not to include remakes of previous games), Generation VI saw the release of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, collectively referred to as "ORAS" by fans, in 2014 in all regions. In addition to being remakes of the Generation III games, ORAS included new Mega Evolutions and the ability to capture many of the legendary Pokémon from previous generations that were unobtainable in X and Y.
- 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, the Celestial Tower, and Kalos Route 10. Though their abilities far surpass those of normal animals, Pokémon are not immortal as those who do not follow the series as closely may deduce.
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.
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