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Pokémon

is a media franchise owned by the video game company Nintendo and created by Satoshi Tajiri around 1995. Originally released as a pair of interlinkable Game Boy role-playing video games, Pokémon has since become the second most successful and lucrative video game-based media franchise in the world, behind only Nintendo's own Mario series. Pokémon properties have since been merchandised into anime, manga, trading cards, toys, books, and other media. The franchise celebrated its tenth anniversary on February 27, 2006, and as of April 23, 2008, cumulative sales of the video games (including home console versions, such as the "Pikachu" Nintendo 64) have reached more than 180 million copies.

The name Pokémon is the romanized contraction of the Japanese brand, , as such contractions are very common in Japan. The term "Pokémon", in addition to referring to the Pokémon franchise itself, also collectively refers to the 493 fictional species that have made appearances in Pokémon media as of the recent release of the newest Pokémon role-playing games (RPGs) for the Nintendo DS, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Like the words deer and sheep, the singular and plural forms of the word "Pokémon" do not differ, nor does each individual species name; in short, it is grammatically correct to say both "one Pokémon" and "many Pokémon". In November 2005, 4Kids Entertainment, which had managed the non-game related licensing of Pokémon, announced that it had agreed not to renew the Pokémon representation agreement. Pokémon USA Inc., a subsidiary of Japan's Pokémon Co., now oversees all Pokémon licensing outside of Asia.

Collecting and playing

The concept of the Pokémon universe, in both the video games and the general fictional world of Pokémon, stems from the hobby of insect collecting, a popular pastime which Pokémon executive director Satoshi Tajiri-Oniwa had enjoyed as a child. Players of the games are designated as Pokémon Trainers, and the two general goals (in most Pokémon games) for such Trainers are: to complete the Pokédex by collecting all of the available Pokémon species found in the fictional region where that game takes place; and to train a team of powerful Pokémon from those they have caught to compete against teams owned by other Trainers, and eventually become the strongest Trainer, the Pokémon Master. These themes of collecting, training, and battling are present in almost every version of the Pokémon franchise, including the video games, the anime and manga series, and the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

In most incarnations of the fictional Pokémon universe, a Trainer that encounters a wild Pokémon is able to capture that Pokémon by throwing a specially designed, mass-producible tool called a Poké Ball at it. If the Pokémon is unable to escape the confines of the Poké Ball, that Pokémon is officially considered under the ownership of that Trainer. Afterward, it will obey whatever commands its new master issues to it from that point onward, unless the Trainer demonstrates enough of a lack of experience that the Pokémon would rather act on its own accord. Trainers can send out any of their Pokémon to wage non-lethal battles against other Pokémon; if the opposing Pokémon is wild, the Trainer can capture that Pokémon with a Poké Ball, increasing his or her collection of creatures. (Pokémon already owned by other Trainers cannot be captured, except under special circumstances in certain games.) If a Pokémon fully defeats an opponent in battle so that the opponent is knocked out (i.e., "faints"), the winning Pokémon gains experience and may level up. When leveling up, the Pokémon's statistics ("stats") of battling aptitude increase, including Attack, Speed, and so on. From time to time the Pokémon may also learn new moves, which are techniques used in battle. In addition, many species of Pokémon possess the ability to undergo a form of metamorphosis and transform into a similar but stronger species of Pokémon, a process called evolution.

In the main series, each game's single-player mode requires the Trainer to raise a team of Pokémon to defeat many non-player character (NPC) Trainers and their Pokémon. Each game lays out a somewhat linear path through a specific region of the Pokémon world for the Trainer to journey through, completing events and battling opponents along the way. Each game features eight especially powerful Trainers, referred to as Gym Leaders, that the Trainer must each defeat in order to progress. As a reward, the Trainer receives a Gym Badge, and once all eight badges are collected, that Trainer is eligible to challenge the region's Pokémon League, where four immensely talented trainers (referred to collectively as the "Elite Four") challenge the Trainer to four Pokémon battles in succession. If the trainer can overcome this gauntlet, he or she must then challenge the Regional Champion, the master Trainer who had previously defeated the Elite Four. Any Trainer who wins this last battle becomes the new champion and gains the title of Pokémon Master.

Video games

Generations

The original Pokémon games were Japanese RPGs with an element of strategy, and were created by Satoshi Tajiri for the Game Boy. These role-playing games, and their sequels, remakes, and English language translations, are still considered the "main" Pokémon games, and the games which most fans of the series are referring to when they use the term "Pokémon games". All of the licensed Pokémon properties overseen by The Pokémon Company are divided roughly by generation. These generations are roughly chronological divisions by release; every several years, when an official sequel in the main RPG series is released that features new Pokémon, characters, and gameplay concepts, that sequel is considered the start of a new generation of the franchise. The main games and their spin-offs, the anime, the manga, and the trading card game are all updated with the new Pokémon properties each time a new generation begins. The franchise is in its fourth generation.The Pokémon franchise started off in its first generation with its initial release of Pocket Monsters Aka and Midori ("Red" and "Green", respectively) for the Game Boy in Japan. When these games proved extremely popular, an enhanced Ao ("Blue") version was released sometime after, and the Ao version was reprogrammed as Pokémon Red and Blue for international release. The games launched in the United States on September 30, 1998. The original Aka and Midori versions were never released outside of Japan. Afterwards, a further enhanced remake titled Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition was released to partially take advantage of the color palette of the Game Boy Color, as well as to feature more elements from the popular Pokémon anime. This first generation of games introduced the original 151 species of Pokémon (in National Pokédex order, encompassing all Pokémon from Bulbasaur to Mew), as well as the basic game concepts of capturing, training, battling, and trading Pokémon with both computer and human players. These versions of the games take place within the fictional Kanto region, though the name "Kanto" was not used until the second generation. The second generation of Pokémon began in 2000 with the release of Pokémon Gold and Silver for Game Boy Color. Like the previous generation, an enhanced remake titled Pokémon Crystal was later released. The second generation introduced 100 new species of Pokémon (starting with Chikorita and ending with Celebi), for a total of 251 Pokémon to collect, train, and battle. The Pokémon mini was a handheld game console released in December 2001 in Japan and then later in 2002 in Europe and North America. Pokémon entered its third generation with the 2003 release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire for Game Boy Advance and continued with the Game Boy Advance remakes of Pokémon Red and Blue, Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, and an enhanced remake of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire titled '‘Pokémon Emerald’'. The third generation introduced 135 new Pokémon (starting with Treecko and ending with Deoxys) for a total of 386 species. However, this generation also garnered some criticism for leaving out several gameplay features, including the day-and-night system introduced in the previous generation, and it was also the first installment that encouraged the player to collect merely a selected assortment of the total number of Pokémon rather than every existing species (202 out of 386 species are catchable in the Ruby and Sapphire versions). In 2006, Japan began the fourth generation of the franchise with the release of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl for Nintendo DS. The fourth generation introduces another 107 new species of Pokémon (starting with Turtwig and ending with Arceus), bringing the total of Pokémon species to 493. The Nintendo DS "touch screen" allows new features to the game such as cooking poffins with the stylus and using the "Pokétch". New gameplay concepts include a restructured move-classification system, online multiplayer trading and battling via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, the return (and expansion) of the second generation's day-and-night system, the expansion of the third generation's Pokémon Contests into "Super Contests", and the new region of Sinnoh, which has an underground component for multiplayer gameplay in addition to the main overworld. Pokémon Platinum has also been confirmed, the enhanced remake of Diamond and Pearl, much like Pokémon Yellow, Crystal, and Emerald, and it has new features. Spin-off titles in the fourth generation include the Pokémon Stadium follow-up Pokémon Battle Revolution for Wii, which has Wi-Fi connectivity as well.

Game mechanics

Starter Pokémon

One of the consistent aspects of the Pokémon games — spanning from Pokémon Red and Blue on the Nintendo Game Boy to the Nintendo DS game, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl — is the choice of one of three different Pokémon at the start of the player's adventures; these three are often labeled "starter Pokémon". Players can choose a Grass-type, a Fire-type, or a Water-type. For example, in Pokémon Red and Blue (and their respective reworks, Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeafGreen), the player has the choice of starting with Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle. The exception to this rule is Pokémon Yellow (a remake of the original games that follows the story of the Pokémon anime), where players are given a Pikachu, an Electric-type mouse Pokémon, famous for being the mascot of the Pokémon media franchise; in this game, however, the three starter Pokémon from Red and Blue can be obtained during the quest by a single player, something that is not possible in any other installment of the franchise. Another consistent aspect is that the player's rival will always choose as his or her starter Pokémon the one that has a type advantage over the player's Pokémon. For instance, if the player picks a Grass-type Pokémon, the rival will always pick the fire-type starter. Of course, the exception to this is again Pokémon Yellow, in which the rival picks an Eevee, but whether this Eevee evolves into Jolteon, Vaporeon, or Flareon is decided by when the player wins and loses to the rival through the journey.

Pokédex

The Pokédex is a fictional electronic device featured in the Pokémon video game and anime series. In the games, whenever a Pokémon is first captured, its data will be added to a player's Pokédex, but in the anime or manga, the Pokédex is a comprehensive electronic reference encyclopedia, usually referred to in order to deliver exposition. "Pokédex" is also used to refer to a list of Pokémon, usually a list of Pokémon by number. In the video games, a Pokémon Trainer is issued a blank device at the start of their journey. A trainer must then attempt to fill the Pokédex by encountering and at least briefly obtaining each of the different species of Pokémon. A player will receive the name and image of a Pokémon after encountering one that was not previously in the Pokédex, typically after battling said Pokémon either in the wild or in a trainer battle (with the exceptions of link battles and tournament battles, such as in the Battle Frontier). In Pokémon Red and Blue, some Pokémon's data is added to the Pokédex simply by viewing the Pokémon, such as in the zoo outside of the Safari Zone. Also, certain NPC characters may add to the Pokédex by explaining what a Pokémon looks like during conversation. More detailed information is available after the player obtains a member of the species, either through capturing the Pokémon in the wild, evolving a previously captured Pokémon, hatching a Pokémon egg (from the second generation onwards), or through a trade with another trainer (either an NPC or another player). This information includes height, weight, species type, and a short description of the Pokémon. Later versions of the Pokédex have more detailed information, like the size of a certain Pokémon compared to the player character, or Pokémon being sorted by their habitat (so far, the latter feature is only in the FireRed and LeafGreen versions).The most current forms of Pokédex are capable of containing information on all Pokémon currently known. The GameCube games, Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, have a Pokémon Digital Assistant (P★DA) which is similar to the Pokédex, but also tells what types are effective against a Pokémon and gives a description of its abilities.

In other media

Anime series

The Pokémon anime series and films are a meta-series of adventures separate from the canon that most of the Pokémon video games follow (with the exception of Pokémon Yellow, a game based on the anime storyline). The anime follows the quest of the main character, Ash Ketchum (known as Satoshi in Japan) a Pokémon Master in training, as he and a small group of friends travel around the fictitious world of Pokémon along with their Pokémon partners. The original series, titled Pocket Monsters, or simply Pokémon in western countries (often referred to as Pokémon: Gotta Catch 'Em All to distinguish it from the later series), begins with Ash's first day as a Pokémon trainer. His first (and signature) Pokémon is a Pikachu, differing from the games, where only Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle could be chosen. The series follows the storyline of the original games, Pokémon Red and Blue, in the region of Kanto. Accompanying Ash on his journeys are Brock, the Pewter City Gym Leader, and Misty, the youngest of the Gym Leader sisters from Cerulean City. Pokémon: Adventures in the Orange Islands follows Ash's adventures in the Orange Islands, a place unique to the anime, and replaces Brock with Tracey Sketchit, an artist and "Pokémon watcher". The next series, based on the second generation of games, include Pokémon: Johto Journeys, Pokémon: Johto League Champions, and Pokémon: Master Quest, following the original trio of Ash, Brock, and Misty in the western Johto region. The saga continues in Pokémon: Advanced Battle, based on the third generation games. Ash and company travel to Hoenn, a southern region in the Pokémon World. Ash takes on the role of a teacher and mentor for a novice Pokémon trainer named May. Her brother Max accompanies them, and though he isn't a trainer, he knows large amounts of handy information. Brock (from the original series) soon catches up with Ash, but Misty has returned to Cerulean City to tend to her duties as a gym leader. (Misty, along with other recurring characters, appears in the spin-off series Pokémon Chronicles.) The Advanced Battle series concludes with the Battle Frontier saga, based on the Emerald version and including aspects of FireRed and LeafGreen. The most recent series is the Diamond and Pearl series, with Max leaving to pick his starter Pokémon, and May going to the Grand Festival in Johto. Ash, Brock, and a new companion named Dawn travel through the region of Sinnoh. In addition to the TV series, eleven Pokémon films have been made, with a twelfth to be released in Japan in July 2008. Collective bonuses, such as promotional trading cards, have been available with some of the films.

Films

CDs

There have been several Pokémon CDs that have been released in North America, most of them in conjunction with the theatrical releases of the first three Pokémon films. These releases were commonplace until late 2001. On March 27, 2007, a tenth anniversary CD was released containing 18 tracks from the English dub; this was the first English-language release in over five years. Soundtracks of the Pokémon feature films have been released in Japan each year in conjunction with the theatrical releases.

Year Title
June 29, 1999 Pokémon 2.B.A. Master
November 9, 1999 Pokémon: The First Movie
February 8, 2000 Pokémon World
May 9, 2000 Pokémon: The First Movie Original Motion Picture Score
July 18, 2000 Pokémon The Movie 2000
2000 Pokémon The Movie 2000 Original Motion Picture Score
January 23, 2001 Totally Pokémon
April 3, 2001 Pokémon 3: The Ultimate Soundtrack
October 9, 2001 Pokémon Christmas Bash
March 27, 2007 Pokémon X: Ten Years of Pokémon

Pokémon Trading Card Game

The Pokémon Trading Card Game is a collectible card game similar in goal to a Pokémon battle in the video game series. Players use Pokémon cards, with individual strengths and weaknesses, in an attempt to defeat their opponent by "knocking out" his or her Pokémon cards. The game was first published in North America by Wizards of the Coast in 1999. However, with the release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Game Boy Advance video games, Nintendo USA took back the card game from Wizards of the Coast and started publishing the cards themselves. The Expedition expansion introduced the Pokémon-e Trading Card Game, the cards in which (for the most part) were compatible with the Nintendo e-Reader. Nintendo discontinued its production of e-Reader compatible cards with the release of EX FireRed & LeafGreen. In 1998, Nintendo released a Game Boy Color version of the trading card game in Japan. It was also released in the US and Europe in 2000. This game included digital versions cards from the original set of cards and the first two expansions (Jungle and Fossil), but also included several cards exclusive to the game. A sequel was released in Japan only in 2001.

Manga

There are various Pokémon manga series, four of which were released in English by Viz Communications, and seven of them released in English by Chuang Yi. The manga is very much different than the video games and cartoons in that the trainers, though frowned upon, were able to kill the opponent's Pokémon.Manga released in English

Criticism and controversy

Morality

Pokémon has been criticized by members of the religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam; Christian concerns over Pokémon have primarily concerned perceived occultic and violent themes as well as the concept of "Pokémon evolution" (which some relate to the theory of evolution), which is said to violate creation according to Genesis. The Vatican, however, has countered that the Pokémon trading card game and video games are "full of inventive imagination" and have no "harmful moral side effects". In the United Kingdom, the "Christian Power Cards" game was introduced in 1999 in response to these claims of Pokémon to be Satanic, the game being similar to the Pokémon TCG but using Biblical figures. In 1999, the Jewish civil rights group Anti-Defamation League also pressured Nintendo to edit the image of the Pokémon trading cards for Golbat and Ditto because the cards depicted a left-facing manji, which the League interpreted as anti-Semitism, although these cards had been intended for sale only in Japan with Nintendo planning to release edited versions in North America the following year. In 2001, Saudi Arabia banned Pokémon games and cards, alleging that the franchise promoted Zionism in violation of Muslim doctrine. Pokémon has also been accused of promoting cockfighting and materialism. In 1999, two nine-year-old boys sued Nintendo because they claimed that the Pokémon Trading Card Game caused them problematic gambling.

Health

On December 16, 1997, more than 635 Japanese children were admitted to hospitals with epileptic seizures. It was determined that the seizures were caused by watching an episode of Pokémon, "Dennō Senshi Porygon", (most commonly translated "Electric Soldier Porygon", season 1, episode 38); as a result, this episode has not been aired since. In this particular episode, there were bright explosions with rapidly-alternating blue and red color patterns. It was determined in subsequent research that these strobing light effects cause some individuals to have epileptic seizures, even if the person had no previous history of epilepsy. This incident is the most common focus of Pokémon-related parodies in other media, and was lampooned by The Simpsons episode "Thirty Minutes over Tokyo and the South Park episode "Chinpokomon", among others.

Monster in My Pocket

In March 2000, Morrison Entertainment Group, a small toy developer based at Manhattan Beach, California, sued Nintendo over claims that Pokémon infringed on its own "Monster in My Pocket" characters. A judge ruled that there was no infringement, so Morrison appealed the ruling in November 2001.

Cultural influence

Pokémon, being a popular franchise, has undoubtedly left its mark on pop-culture. The Pokémon characters themselves have become pop-culture icons; examples include two different Pikachu balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a ana.b747.pokemon.arp.750pix.jpg Boeing 747-400, thousands of merchandise items, and a theme park in Nagoya, Japan in 2005 and Taipei in 2006. Pokémon also appeared on the cover of the U.S. magazine Time in 1999. The Comedy Central show Drawn Together has a character named Ling-Ling which is a direct parody of Pikachu. Several other shows such as ReBoot, The Simpsons, South Park, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, and All Grown Up! have made references and spoofs of Pokémon, among other series. Pokémon was also featured on VH1's I Love the '90s: Part Deux. A live action show called Pokémon Live! toured the United States in late 2000. It was based on the popular Pokémon anime, but had some continuity errors relating to it.

In November 2001, Nintendo opened a store called the Pokémon Center in New York, in New York's Rockefeller Center, modeled after the two other Pokémon Center stores in Tokyo and Osaka, fictional buildings where Trainers take their Pokémon to be healed. The store sold Pokémon merchandise on a total of two floors, with items ranging from collectible shirts to stuffed Pokémon plushies. The store also featured a Pokémon Distributing Machine in which players would place their game to receive an egg of a Pokémon that is being given out at that time. The store also had tables that were open for players of the Pokémon Card Game to duel each other or an employee. The store was closed and replaced by the Nintendo World Store on May 14, 2005.

See also

Pokémon general

Games

References

Books

  • Tobin, Joseph, ed. Pikachu's Global Adventure: The Rise and Fall of Pokémon. Duke University Press., February, 2004. ISBN 0-8223-3287-6.
Notes

External links

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