In 1996 a set of 151 “pocket monsters” were released to the public, much to the joy of children in both Japan and the United States. Sixteen years later, the Pokémon franchise is still vastly popular across many ages in any country with access to a Nintendo DS portable gaming system. A significant reason for Pokémon’s success is that it doesn’t rest on the laurels of its highly respected turn-based mechanics; it has evolved over the years, refining the game experience. With “Pokémon Black Version 2” and “White Version 2,” the franchise now features signature Pokémon trading, collecting and battling yet the Pokémon selection has grown to include 649 characters, in addition to more attacks, breeding, abilities, held items and more.
The core Pokémon games feature support for multiplayer battling, trading and, since the games became available on Game Boy Advance, mini games. This multiplayer service has given rise to international tournaments where the best trainers can use their skills to win cash prizes and prestige.
High game sales – including 865,000 copies of “Pokémon Black Version 2” and “White Version 2” sold in its first month in the United States alone – are evidence of consumer appreciation for the game’s progression. The franchise also includes other titles separate from the main franchise. From puzzle-solving and classic strategy role-playing games to dungeon crawlers and typing exercises, the Pokémon universe is so vast that even Mario, Nintendo’s signature character from the franchise of the same name, has trouble keeping up.
Pokémon also has a monumental presence in television entertainment. As the main video game series developed, so did the TV shows with a season matching every game release, starting with “Pokémon Yellow Version.” The series follows the famous Ash Ketchum since the eve of his 10th birthday.
The stories in various Pokémon scenarios have started to explore deeper, more relevant and more interesting themes. Trainers have endured scenarios involving animal abuse, theft, vandalism, deception, attempted murder and loss.
Through progression and expansion, Pokémon has become the kind of series that is almost too good to be true. As we’ve found with each new release, however, it’s completely real and catchable.