Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Pokemon is celebrating the 25th anniversary since releasing its first two games, Pocket Monsters Red and Pocket Monsters Green on February 27, 1996.
Pokemon has become a worldwide phenomena and the highest grossing media franchise of all time since its initial video game release. The pop culture giant is showing no signs of slowing down, continuing to produce the highly successful video games, trading cards, movies, and other products.
Pokemon’s 1996 release helped to revitalize the Game Boy handheld video game system, which had not seen a release equal to the popularity of Tetris or Super Mario Land for some time previous.
The game was unique, depending on the link cable of the system that previous games mostly had ignored. Pokemon’s main goal can be summed up with the tagline of the franchise, Gotta catch‘em all! This was an impossible task for gamers playing in solitude because neither Red nor Green contained all 151 original Pokemon. The link cable was allowed players to trade and battle with each other, ushering in a new age of “social games.”
The collaborative nature of the game allowed for it to skyrocket in popularity. Kids encouraged their friends to buy it so they could do battle and trade in their efforts to catch‘em all.
Besides the social factor, the game was popular among children of the 1990s due to its easy gameplay and streamlined story featuring cute monsters. Pokemon was released at the height of Japanese Role Playing Games, or JRPGs, like Final Fantasy. The game mechanics differed from its counterparts by being easy for younger people to pick up and to master the basics.
Pokemon carried this idea of beginner-level gameplay over to the world of collectable trading cards. The cards were released while Magic the Gathering was also spreading in popularity. Pokemon trading cards offered an entry-level experience to kids interested in role playing games. These cards promoted collaboration as players were encouraged to trade, collect, and to do battle with their friends.
The following year, Pokemon released an anime series that has spanned over a thousand episodes and twenty seasons. The success of the anime series led to the production of a film series that is also still ongoing. Pokemon: The First Movie broke box office records in 1998, and the latest film in the series, Detective Pikachu, has continued the tradition of blockbuster hits.
At this point, there have been over 122 games, including spinoffs, which have been released, and more than 368 million game units of various descriptions have been sold.
Perhaps one of the most successful entries of recent is the mobile game Pokemon Go, released in 2016. This too became a global phenomenon like its predecessors. Its success owed mostly to its inventive Augmented Reality gameplay design that forces players to get out and catch Pokemon in the real world. Different areas are home to different Pokemon, a fact which encourages players to go out and explore. Its immersive nature also features the simplicity and collaborative elements of the previous games, such as trading and combat.
In its more than two decades, the franchise has never found itself outside of the zeitgeist of the contemporary era. Pokemon continues to produce exciting new content that preserves the core basics of what made fans fall in love in the first place. Simultaneously, it adds new features and creatures. The game now spans two generations as the children of the 1990s are now having their own kids and encouraging them to share their love of Pokemon.
There is a global community dedicated to the franchise that feels a sense of comradery revolving around their mutual passion. Most fans do not grow out of it. The variety of content also ensures that there is something for everyone, whether it be trading cards, video games, or anime.
In its celebration of 25 years, The Pokemon Company has announced the release of four new games. Two of the games, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, are remakes of the Nintendo DS Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl, originally released in 2006. These games will be available for the Nintendo Switch in late 2021. The third is New Pokemon Snap, where players control a camera to help a research team study Pokemon in their natural habitats. New Pokemon Snap is set to release on April 30. The final game among the new releases is Pokemon Legends: Arceus, an open world twist to Pokemon set in the fictional world’s feudal past. Arceus is planned to release in early 2022.
To add to the new video game content, the company will also be releasing Pokemon 25: The Album. The album will feature Pokemon-themed music from Katy Perry, J Balvin, Post Malone, as well as yet unannounced collaborators from Universal Music Group. The album will be fourteen songs long. According to The Pokemon Company, each song “will be joined by a music video and an exclusive merchandise collection celebrating each artist and Pokemon.” The album will feature Post Malone’s cover of Only Wanna Be With You by Hootie & the Blowfish remixed with the Ecruteak City Theme from Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver, which debuted at the P25 Music Virtual Concert.