If you're a parent, your kid is probably talking about Pokémon. If you're a kid, your friends are talking about Pokémon. If you're neither, the people around you may sound like they're reciting Vogon poetry. So here's the scoop.
Pokémon started as a video game made by a small company in Japan in 1997. The game sold millions of copies there, and so the company decided to undertake the venture of bringing it to the USA. The point of the game is to catch all 150 Pokémon pocket monsters. The concept was originally developed for the Nintendo Game Boy, which has sold in excess of 11 million copies worldwide. The game has spawned a TV show, a card game, a movie, and tons of toys and spin-off merchandise from more than 90 licensees worldwide.
Pokémon themselves are animals with special powers that can be captured, collected, trained and used in battles. The word Pokémon is short for 'Pocket Monsters', which was the name of the game when it was released in Japan. However, when it moved to the USA, somebody already had a copyright on that name. Hence, it was shortened to Pokémon.
There are many different Pokémon species and types of attack. Every Pokémon has an element type:
- Horsea is a water-type with attacks like 'Bubble' and 'Water Gun'
- Kadabra is a psychic Pokémon with attacks such as 'Confusion' and 'Psybeam'
- Bellsprout is a plant-type Pokémon with attacks such as 'Vine Whip' and 'Razor Leaf'.
Different element-types are relatively weak or strong against others. For instance, a fire Pokémon would be strong against plant-type Pokémon, but weak against water-types.
The game plot is basically as follows:
You play a ten-year-old boy named Ash. You are given a choice between three starting Pokémon: Bulbasaur, a Grass/Poison-Type; Charmander, a Fire-Type; and Squirtle, a Water-Type. Then, you go out into the wild. Hiding in the grass, caves, and rivers are other different species and types of Pokémon. Your Pokémon do battle with the wild ones. When a wild Pokémon is weak, you throw a Poké ball at it. A Poké ball is a device which stores a Pokémon when it is not being used. If you are successful, you will have captured that beast, and will now be able to use it to battle other wild Pokémon and capture them. Certain Pokémon are so rare that it may take days of concentrated searching to find them.
The overall object of the game is to capture all 150 Pokémon currently in existence. Of course, it's not just wild pocket-dwelling beasties you have to fight. There are other trainers you have to battle, each with a unique selection of their own. Although you can't capture the other trainers' Pokémon, it is vital that you fight these people, as every time a Pokémon wins a battle it gains more experience. When it gets enough experience, it will advance a level. Higher level Pokémon are better fighters. They may also evolve1 into a more powerful Pokémon, thus increasing their battle stats. Also, as they grow they learn new attacks. At a lower Level, Pokémon have weaker attacks like 'Tackle' and 'Scratch'. As they grow, they may learn a greater attack, such as 'Take Down' or 'Fury Swipes'.
The best of the trainers are called 'gym leaders'. Each of these leaders specializes in a certain elemental type of Pokémon. To defeat them, you must build up a strong squad of Pokémon pals and travel to the town where their 'gym' is based. By defeating them, you gain 'gym badges', which increase the stats of all your Pokémon. There are eight of these badges; you must collect them all in order to fight the Elite Four, the greatest trainers of all. To defeat them is the secondary aim of the game.
Some Popular Pokémon
Pikachu - the most popular of all; he's a little, yellow mouse who shoots sparks from his cheeks.
Jigglypuff - a cute, baloonlike monster that can put other monsters to sleep.
Charizard - a lizardish dragon who has the most expensive Pokémon card, valued at up to $200.
Mewtwo - the most powerful Pokémon who takes on human characteristics, and also is the star Pokémon of the low-rated movie.
Cloyster - a clam-like creature that takes combat seriously, using a spike cannon.