Today is a day when The Pokémon Company celebrates "Pokémon Day", the day when the first games were released. This is a celebration that happens every year with announcements of new games and products of Pokémon are revealed. Today is a very special day as it is the 25th anniversary of the global phenomenon that is Pokémon. Starting all the way from the beginning the mid-90’s were a time when Japan suddenly had an interest in taking care of virtual pets. Pocket Monsters: Green and Pocket Monsters: Red were released on February 27th 1996 for the Game Boy and was the first of many virtual pet games to be released in Japan. It was a full fledged RPG where you played as a character (originally named Red) starting his journey as a Pokémon trainer. You visit a Pokémon researcher named Professor Oak who gives you the choice of one of 3 Pokémon to choose from. Each creature is associated with an element type such as grass, fire, water, rock, electric, etc. With this starter Pokémon you do battle against other wild Pokémon, which you can capture with items known as Pokéballs. Once captured, those Pokémon are now in your possession and at your command. The goal of the game is to train your Pokémon and battle the 8 gym leaders that are positioned inside their gyms located in a variety of different towns in the region. Each gym leader you defeat will earn you their respective badge. Collecting all 8 gym badges will earn you the right to enter the Pokémon League and battle the Elite Four, the strongest Pokémon trainers you can battle in the game. Defeating the Elite Four will earn you the right to battle the current Pokémon Master of the region. Defeat the Pokémon Master and you will be crowned as the new Pokémon Master of that region.
This is pretty much the base gameplay and goal for every major Pokémon game that’s been released over the years. While the end goal is the same, each game packs a variety of different mini story elements such as helping townsfolk with different problems, defeating your rival Pokémon trainer who is after the same goal as you are, and also defeating a Team of criminals who are out hunting and stealing rare Pokémon in a variety of locations. What is also different is the number of new Pokémon that get introduced with each major release. What started as just 151 Pokémon has grown to 898 across 8 generations of games in these 25 years since the original release. Each game also starts off in different regions. The original games start off in the Kanto region, but future titles will take you to the Johto region, Hoenn region, Sinohh region, and so on. Characters and starter Pokémon will also be different between each region.
Pokémon Green and Red were released in February and it wouldn’t be until October that same year that Pokémon Blue is released in Japan, sold exclusively through CoroCoro Comic. Pokémon Blue was considered a special edition of Red and Green, but having no extra features added to the game. It wasn’t until 2 years later on September 28, 1998 when Pokémon Red and Blue would be released in North America. Just a few weeks before America’s Pokémon debut on the Game Boy, Pokémon Yellow was released in Japan. It was a more enhanced version of Pokémon and was also the first game to have its own color pallet for the Game Boy Color. The yellow version was based loosely on the anime series that debuted in 1997 in Japan. The major change being you started off with a wild Pikachu that Prof. Oak captures at the start of the game, and your rival starts off with an Eevee. As well as 13 Pokémon that are unobtainable in the game, which you would have to trade using a link cable and any previous (or next gen) version of Pokémon which have any of the missing Pokémon. The same was true for Red, Blue and Green, with different Pokémon being unobtainable in their own respective games and could only be received via link cable. This was a selling point in promoting the 2-player connectivity with the Game Boy by not only trading Pokémon, but also battling each other using their strongest teams. In November 2018, Pokémon: Let’s Go! Pikachu and Pokémon: Let’s Go! Eevee editions were released on the Nintendo Switch to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Pokémon. They were updated remakes of Pokémon Yellow that had a variety of different and new gameplay elements that were not in the original game. A recent development on April 11th 2020 has been released that a possible “Pink” version of Pokémon was to be released alongside Pokémon Yellow through a source code leak. There’s been no word on whether or not this is certain.
On November 21, 1999, Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver would be released for the Game Boy Color. This marked the 2nd generation of games to be released in the franchise. Unlike Pokémon Yellow which could be played on both the Game Boy and Game Boy Color, Gold and Silver were made to be played only on the Game Boy Color. While the 1st generation of games took place in the Kanto region with 151 Pokémon, the 2nd generation of games took place in the Johto region and introduced 100 new Pokémon to find, capture, train, and trade among your friends. After clearing the game you can receive a ticket to board the S.S. Aqua which will take you back to the Kanto region, where you can capture a variety of Pokémon from the 1st generation of games as well as new ones introduced in the 2nd generation. On December 14th, 2000 saw the release of Pokémon Crystal, the 3rd and final game wrapping up the 2nd generation of games. This version not only had a variety of fixes and additional features, but also allowed players to play as a female trainer.
Exactly 2 years later on November 21, 2002 saw the start of the 3rd generation of Pokémon games with the release of Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire versions on the Game Boy Advance. 135 new Pokémon were introduced in this generation, bringing the total Pokémon roster to 386. These games took place in the Hoenn region with no way to travel to the previous regions after completing the game. On September 16, 2004 Pokémon Emerald was released as the updated version to Ruby and Sapphire adding a load of new features not present in the previous games. Emerald became the second highest-selling video game in 2005 in the US and the third best-selling game for the GBA only losing to it’s predecessors Ruby and Sapphire, and Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeafGreen. FireRed and LeafGreen were remakes of the original Pokémon Red and Green versions released in early 2004 on the GBA before Emerald’s release. Pokémon was clearly the best selling GBA game series mainly due to a new generation of gamers being introduced to Pokémon in their younger years on the GBA and also being their first exposure to the franchise as a whole.
A few months after Pokémon Emerald’s release Nintendo released the Nintendo DS on November 21st 2004 in North America (a few weeks before its release in Japan). To no surprise, on September 28th, 2006 saw the release of Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl versions kicking off the 4th generation of Pokémon games. 107 new Pokémon were added to the roster, bringing the grand total to 493 Pokémon throughout the whole series up to this point. This was also the first generation of Pokémon games that used the DS’s Wi-Fi connectivity to connect to the GTS (or Global Trade System). Here, players can place their Pokémon into the system for other players to search for and trade with for other Pokémon that they may need. You could also initiate Pokémon battles against other players over the service as well. 2 years later on September 13th, the updated release Pokémon Platinum was released. This was the first version of Pokémon that actually expands on a regional Pokedex from its previous versions, adding an additional 59 new Pokémon not found in the Diamond and Pearl versions of the game. Platinum also included an e-mail messaging service used to notify players of completed trades of any Pokémon they sent out to the GTS to be traded.
September 18th 2010 marks the start of the 5th generation of Pokémon games with the pair of Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version on the Nintendo DS. 156 new Pokémon were introduced bringing the total number of known Pokémon to 649. This generation of Pokémon games had a pretty major graphical overhaul as the overworld and battles were slightly more 3 dimensional than previous titles and featured more fluid animations to all characters and moves in the game. Unlike previous generations where a third game was released as an updated (something) to the two core versions, this was the first time that 2 direct sequels to the two previous versions of the game were released. 2 years later on June 23rd was the release of Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2. These games take place 2 years later after the Pokémon Black and White games. There are no new Pokémon that were introduced, however, Pokémon found in previous regions are now obtainable as opposed to the first Black and White games where only the newly introduced Pokémon from the Unova region could be seen and captured.
October 12, 2013 was the first time a Pokémon game was released globally all on the same day. Pokémon X and Pokémon Y were released as the first Pokémon games on the Nintendo 3DS and the first games leading the 6th generation. Only 72 new Pokémon were introduced in these games, bringing the total count to 721. As the first pair of 3DS Pokémon titles, graphical improvements were made to make the games more natural 3D than Black and White could have done on the standard Nintendo DS. They were starting to look more like they would if they were to have been played on a console such as the Wii or Nintendo Switch. Another new feature the game had was the introduction to “Mega Evolutions”. While normally Pokémon evolve through either leveling up, or using a variety of stones to help them evolve into stronger Pokémon, Mega Evolutions were a temporary in-battle transformation that raised the Pokémon’s stats significantly as well as their abilities and even type. These evolutions only occurred if the trainer is holding a Key Stone and the Pokémon is carrying a Mega Stone. Only 28 Pokémon have this ability. This is also the first generation where the core games X and Y did not receive any direct sequels or a third supplementary game that improves over them.
The last portable-exclusive generation started in October 18, 2016 when Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon were released for the 3DS to kickoff the 7th generation of games. 81 new Pokémon were introduced, breaking the 800 mark with 802 Pokémon throughout the entire series. These games were first announced during the 20th anniversary celebration of Pokémon. Sun and Moon were the first games to replace Pokémon gyms with Island Trials. These trials were similar to the standard Pokémon Gyms of previous games, however not only are you just battling Pokémon, but you are also facing other puzzles such as finding specific items, or testing your knowledge. Each trial ends with the Trial Captains Totem Pokémon, which when defeated, will earn you an Island Amulet (similar to Gym badges). Sun and Moon also introduce “regional forms”. These are Pokémon which take on a different form in specific regions that are vastly different from how they looked throughout the series. Like Mega Evolutions, these Pokémon have a different type and moveset tied to them that are also vastly different from their original counterparts, as well as an exclusive evolved form that can only be obtained by these specific regional form Pokémon. There are 36 Pokémon that have a regional form, and of those, 6 can be evolved. One year after Sun and Moon’s release, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon were released to the public on November 17, 2017. These were updated versions of Sun and Moon, and featured an alternate storyline as well. Only 5 new Pokémon were introduced in these games, which makes this the first set of games with the smallest update to the Pokémon roster.
Finally we reach the current generation of Pokémon games. Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield were released on the Nintendo Switch November 19, 2019 starting the 8th generation of games. 89 new Pokémon were introduced bringing the current total number of known Pokémon in the series to a grand total of 898. Despite Sword and Shield being on a Nintendo console as opposed to a handheld, these games do not include all 898 Pokémon to collect and capture. Only 664 can be captured between the two games as of now. With Expansion packs being released periodically there may still be some room left over in the game to bring out the final 234 Pokémon left to be included. Dynamax and Gigantamax are the two new forms that Pokémon can become. Similar to Mega Evolutions from Pokémon X and Y, a Pokémon can Dynamax if the trainer has obtained the Dynamax Band. These transformations enlarge the size of the Pokémon and give them special movesets to use while they are in this form. There are 32 Pokémon that are capable of a different type of Dynamax called Gigantamax. This form not only increases the Pokémon’s size, but also their appearance as well as offering a special G-Max Move that they can use. Sword and Shield have also brought back the Pokémon Gyms, but have removed the Elite Four aspect of the general gameplay. Instead, the final task is a tournament style competition known as the “Champion Cup”. The premise is still the same, defeat a series of powerful trainers to reach the finals and take on the current Pokémon champion. Defeat them, and become the new champion.
During all of these mainline story releases, many remakes of older generation games were released with updated graphics, added Pokémon, and other improvements, while keeping the base games intact.
• 3rd Generation – Pokémon FireRed & Pokémon LeafGreen
• 4th Generation – Pokémon HeartGold & Pokémon SoulSilver
• 6th Generation – Pokémon Omega Ruby & Pokémon Alpha Sapphire
• 7th Generation – Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! & Pokémon Let’s Go, Eevee!
As well as a slew of side and spin-off games were released including the Mystery Dungeon series, which were a series of rogue-like dungeon crawling RPG’s that were focused on the Pokémon themselves and presented them with actual dialogue so players (as a Pokémon, themselves) could better understand what was going on in their minds and how they communicated. The gameplay is completely turn based both in movement and combat. While you control the Pokémon themselves, there is no way to capture them. It’s all about recruiting Pokémon into a team and clearing out multi-level dungeons throughout the world.
On July 6th of 2016, Pokémon made its way to mobile phones everywhere with the release of Pokémon GO. This was the first time players could actually leave their house and have the ability to capture Pokémon throughout the real world through Augmented Reality gameplay and GPS navigation. The game originally released with only the 1st generation 151 Pokémon, but later updates added more Pokémon from later generations. Much like in the main game, Pokémon spawned in various locations. The major difference is you did not actually fight the Pokémon you found, instead you carried Pokéballs with you to throw and capture them. You could also carry fruit which would slow a Pokémon’s movement, and make them easier to catch. Items were collected through a variety of PokéStops, which were located at any historic and tourist locations around the world. Pokémon Gyms and Raids could also be found in a variety of spots as well to test your Pokémon’s strength where you can earn different badges and achievements. By early 2019 the game has been downloaded over a billion times globally with over $6 billion in revenue as of 2020.
Now with all of these Pokémon and the variety of handhelds and consoles they are on, how would it be possible to keep every Pokémon you capture and just simply transfer over to a new game without having to recapture that Pokémon? On December 25, 2013, a service called Pokémon Bank was released, which allowed you to transfer Pokémon from one game into a Bank, and then send those Pokémon out to another game. This worked with every generation of Pokémon game up to Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Games from the 1st and 2nd generation used a companion app called the “Poké Transporter” which was used for the virtual console versions of those games. On February 12, 2020, an updated service called Pokémon HOME was released, which supported transfers from Pokémon Bank, Pokémon GO, and the console 8th generation games. However, the only games which support two-way transfers are Pokémon Sword and Shield. All other games including with Pokémon Bank only allow transfers to the Pokémon HOME service and cannot be transferred back out to those games. While the service is free, you are restricted to only depositing 30 Pokémon at a time and cannot be transferred from the Pokémon Bank service. For as little as $3 a month you can have transfer abilities from Pokémon Bank, and be able to store up to 6,000 Pokémon at a time. I’d personally say it’s worth the price if you’re hardcore into Pokémon and like to keep everything in one place for you to organize while playing through every new game that gets released.
Oh yeah, there is also an 1,100+ episode anime that’s been around since April 1st, 1997 that is loosely based on the series of games. As well as 24 feature length films and 1 live-action movie. The series has gone through a lot of art style changes between each new arc, but regardless it’s still the same story of “forever 10 year old” Ash Ketchum (Satoshi) going on his never-ending Pokémon journey to be the very best...like no one ever was. This may never happen since in the 25 years the series has been made, Ash has only obtained info for 97 out of the 898 Pokémon in the universe. With more Pokémon sure to be discovered in the upcoming years Ash better pick up the pace before he gets too far behind!
Before I leave you all, one final announcement. If you've seen the Pokémon Direct then you are no dobut aware of the new games that were just announced. If not, that's alright, they're new entries into the series as it continues on for years to come. The first announcement was for new Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes which will be called Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl. These are remakes similar to the Let's Go! remakes of Red and Green for the Switch. The gameplay will be more loyal to the original games with turn based battling against wild Pokémon, trainers, and Gym leaders. It will not be featuring the motion-controlled capturing system that mirrored that of Pokémon GO. The games will be released on the Nintendo Switch at the end of this year. The other game announcement made was for a brand new adventure called Pokémon Legends: Arceus. This game takes place during the early days of the Sinnoh region (the same region which Diamond and Pearl take place), and will give you the option of 3 different Pokémon to start with. Before, in the Sinnoh region you had the choice between Turtwig, Chimchar, and Piplup as your starter. In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, you have the choice of either starting with Rowlet, Cyndaquil, and Oshawott. The gameplay looks to be very different from the standard overhead RPG style of play that players are used to. Pokémon battles appear to be roughly the same turn-based system as in previous titles, but there are a few major differences. Engaging in Pokémon battles is not as easy as just walking up to Pokémon to battle. Now, you will need to throw a Pokéball containing the Pokémon you want to use towards the wild Pokémon you want to battle. Capturing Pokémon is slightly different as well. You could weaken them before capturing like in previous games, OR you are free to capture Pokémon without the need to weaken them first. Players can easily take out an empty Pokéball, sneak up on unsuspecting Pokémon, and throw the ball at them to capture. The game takes place in a small village but no word on whether there will be other villages to visit. All we know is there will probably not be any Gyms, Gym Leaders, or Pokémon League to compete in. Maybe the main goal is to be strong enough to capture the mythical Pokémon, Arceus? More info will be revealed throughout the year until the game's official release which is currently set for early next year, 2022 on the Nintendo Switch.
If you’ve made it this far into the post, congratulations! You’ve reached the end! Although Pokémon as a franchise seems to have no end in sight. With 25 years of both games and anime adaptation still going strong there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping The Pokémon Company or Nintendo. As long as there are fans who love the series, both old and new, Pokémon will forever be there to take you on an epic journey of excitement, discovery, and adventure!