A brief history of Pokemon: From ‘Red’ and ‘Green’ on the Nintendo Gameboy to catching Pikachu in the real world with 'Pokemon Go’

By Alejo Rodriguez Lo

Japanese game developer Satoshi Tajiri came up with the idea of Pokemon because he loved collecting and trading insects with his friends

By Alejo Rodriguez Lo |

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Video games, movies, TV series, a trading card game, an amusement park, and so much more, Pokemon has deeply embedded itself into our culture and lives. Loved by fans of all ages, the cute little creatures have stood the test of time. From its humble beginnings as a Game Boy game to causing stampedes in New York’s Central Park, this was all made possible through one man’s persistence and imagination – Satoshi Tajiri.

As a child, Satoshi loved collecting insects; he was fascinated by the idea of having different species, and enjoyed trading them with his friends. This would later inspire him to create Poketto Monsuta, or Pocket Monsters, now more commonly known by its abbreviated name, Pokemon.

Creating his first Pokemon game would take six long and gruelling years, that almost forced his game development company Game Freak into bankruptcy – but let’s look how far it’s come.

Pokemon Red and Green (Japan), Pokemon Red and Blue (USA), Pokemon Yellow 1996-1999

It all started with the 151 original, first-generation Pokemon from the Kanto region, which were introduced in Pokemon Red and Green. The game’s story follows a boy on a quest to become the greatest Pokemon trainer, by collecting all the gym badges and completing his Pokedex. Players eventually have to face the Elite Four, the final four bosses, and the Legendary Pokemon Birds Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres. Powerful Mewtwo and mythical Pokemon Mew are also up for grabs.

While all three versions were released for the Game Boy console, Pokemon Red and Green were released in Japan in 1996, followed by Pokemon Red and Blue for the United States in 1998. All three games quickly became a cultural phenomenon which got everyone trying to “catch ’em all”.

Pokemon Red and Green was later remastered for the Game Boy Advance as Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green in 2004.

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Pokemon Yellow was released in 1998 for Japan and in 1999 for the US; this remake was a result of the popularity of the Pokemon animated TV series. Players received Pikachu as their starter Pokemon instead of having to choose between the three original starter Pokemon: Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle.

Pikachu follows you around throughout your adventure, just

like Ash’s Pikachu in the TV series. This allows players to interact with the mouse-like Pokemon, a feature that was implemented in later Pokemon games. Pesky villain Team Rocket’s Jesse and James were also added to mirror the TV series.

This year, Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee were released as remastered versions of the original Pokemon Yellow.

Pokemon Gold and Silver, Pokemon Crystal 1999-2001

When legendary gen II Pokemon Ho-Oh was revealed at the end of the very first episode of the Pokemon TV series, fans sensed there was more to come. And sure enough, Pokemon Gold and Silver were released in 1999 for Japan, America in 2000, and Europe in 2001 following suit.

This generation of Pokemon games was released for the Game Boy Colour, giving the Pokemon world a new level of vibrancy. The game introduced 100 new species of Pokemon, with three new starters, and three new Legendary Pokemon to accompany Ho-Oh and Lugia.

The games offered more to catch and more to battle with, and players were thrilled to explore the new Johto region. The two games were later remastered as Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver for the Nintendo DS in 2010.

Pokemon Silver and Gold were later remade as Pokemon Crystal with new and improved animation and design. This version of the game was the first to allow players to choose the gender of

their avatar.

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Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, Pokemon Emerald 2003-2005

Nintendo’s release of the Game Boy Advance brought about the release of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphirein 2003, introducing yet another generation of Pokemon. The Hoenn region opened a door to many more puzzles, gyms, and Pokemon to catch and battle with. The gen III games were remastered and released in 2014 for the 3DS console as Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

A special edition, titled Pokemon Emerald, was launched in Japan in 2004, and in 2005 everywhere else. In this edition, Legendary Pokemon Rayquaza was added, with new story elements to extend the gameplay.

Pokemon Gen IV, V, VI, VII

Over the past two decades, there have been many other successful Pokemon games, including Pokemon Stadium/ Colosseum, the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series, and, of course, Pokemon Go. Game Freak made four more generations after Gen III – and we don’t think they’ll stop there.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda