Pokémon is my favourite video game of all time. It was released in Japan in 1997, and has since been made into several N64 games, a trading card set, a TV series,a movie, some books, clothing, snacks, a sandwich toaster and God only knows what else. The Game Boy game pak1 itself has sold in excess of 11 million copies worldwide.
But what the **** is it?
Well, 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. This 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 the name. Hence, it was shortened to Pokémon. There are many different Pokémon species and attacks. Every Pokémon has an Element Type. For instance, 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, and so on. Different Elemental-Type Pokémon are weak or strong against others. For instance, a Fire Pokémon would be strong against Plant-Type Pokémon, but weak against Water-Types.
The concept was originally born in a game for the Nintendo Game Boy. 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 different species and Types of Pokémon. You send out your existing Pokémon to battle the wild ones. Once the 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 to battle yet more wild Pokémon, and capture them. Phew. Making things even more complicated is the fact that certain Pokémon are so rare you 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 these trainer's Pokémon, it is vital you fight these people, as every time a Pokémon wins a battle it gets more experience. When it gets enough experience, it will grow a Level. Higher Level Pokémon are better fighters. They may also evolve 2into 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 aforementioned trainers are called Gym Leaders. Each of these leaders specialises 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 in all. 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.
What makes it different fom other games, then?
The fact is, you need a friend with the game to complete it. You see, there are two different versions of the game: Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue3. Both cartridges have 11 Pokémon you won't find in the other version. In order to obtain the 11 Pokémon not in the version you have, you must trade with someone with the other version of the game via a special link-up cable. Using this cable, you can also battle your Pokémon with someone else's. You won't get experience points in these battles, but it IS damn good fun.
What about the other merchandise?
The excellent TV series is now showing on mornings at 8.00 AM all week, and at 4.00-5.00 PM,weekdays only, on Sky One. It also shows on ITV, Saturday mornings(these times UK only). The trading card game is much like the Game Boy one, with trading, battling and collecting. The only difference is the exchange of computer programming code for card. These cards are so wildly popular, in American schools there have been violent incidents involving arguments over them.
Pokémon Yellow is yet another version of the original Game Boy game. The plot more closely matches that of the TV show, and stars the most popular Pokémon, Pikachu4. Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver have just come out in Japan. These are yet more versions of the original Game Boy game, modernised and with 100 new Pokémon. I can't wait for them to come out over here, but that won't happen for years yet. Pokémon: The First Movie is due for UK release in around April 2000.
Three games for the Nintendo console, the N64, have also been released. These are:
1. Pokémon Snap, a game where you take pictures of 63 different species.
2. Pokémon Stadium, where you can download Pokémon from your Game Boy and battle in 3-D.
3. Pokémon Stadium Two. More of the same, with more Pokémon and added mini-games.
There is an almost unbelievably huge paraphernalia of other merchandise out there, including a jet with paintings of Pokémon covering it's outside. An entire department store in Tokyo is dedicated to Pokémon.
Why are they so popular?
No-one knows, but I've got the bug, otherwise I wouldn't have written this entry.
Where can I get Pokémon?
The Game Boy game is on sale here in the UK for around £25. Various other Pokémon tat is available, mostly overpriced, at a store near you. There are literally thousands of Pokémon web-sites, available from a search engine near you. There is, of course, an Official Pokémon Website. See also my entry on Team Rocket. Some Pokémon fans who are also Researchers are:Mewtwo, The Jedi Knight YK, and The Cheese. Well that's all that over and done with.
This Entry has been incorparated in an Approved Guide Entry here.