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Pokémon’s 20th Anniversary

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By Brandon Deleon
Blog Content Contributor

February 27th, 2016 will mark the 20th anniversary of Pokémon Red and Green being released in Japan. Though development of the games dates back to 1989, 1996 is when the series became publicly known. Pokémon was created by Satoshi Tajiri and the games were produced by his development company, Game Freak, with art and design by Ken Sugimori, with assistance from Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong). The American anime characters Ash and his rival Gary are named after Satoshi and Shigeru.

The games revolve around the protagonist becoming a Pokémon trainer who will go on to catch, raise, collect, trade and battle using 151 Pokémon (short for pocket monsters.) Like Red and Green, future versions of the games have been released in pairs. The games have minimal differences, the most significant being the ~20 version exclusive Pokémon which encourages players to trade (or buy both versions) so they can “Catch ‘em all!”

The anime series debuted a year after the Red and Green’s Japanese release. Because the fans had picked Pokémon #25 to be their favorite from the games, the well known and beloved Pikachu became the star of the show. By April 1997, the games had already sold 3 million copies in Japan.

Due to the series being well established in Japan, more games were already in production by the time Red and Blue (Green’s American equivalent) were released in America. So with Red and Blue, as well as the anime’s debut coming in September of 1998, the rest of the games being developed in Japan had quick releases after. By the end of 1999, 81 episodes had aired, more games were released such as Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition, Pokémon Snap, Pokémon Pinball, Super Smash Bros. (featuring Pikachu and Jigglypuff), the release of the trading cards and the first movie Mewtwo Strikes Back had hit theaters. Even without recalling how explosive Pokémon’s arrival felt, these rapid accomplishments really show how established Pokémon was by the 21st century.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the original game’s release, there are many special releases coming out in 2016. Below is a list of ways the company is celebrating their achievement.

Photo via Gawker Images
Photo via Gawker Images
  • The digital re-release of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow (as well as Green in Japan) for the 3DS.
  • Japan is releasing 4 see-through Nintendo 2DS’ with red, green, blue, and yellow color schemes. This is an ode to the see-through Gameboy Color, which the original Pokémon games were primarily enjoyed on.
  • Pokémon themed new 3DS with interchangeable Red and Blue faceplates with Pokémon Red and Blue pre-installed.
  • A re-release of the original series of Pokémon cards from the late 90’s.
  • Downloadable releases of mythical Pokémon Mew, Celebi, Jirachi, Darkrai, Manaphy, Arceus, Shaymin, Victini, Keldeo, Genesect, Meoletta. This is special because these Pokémon have never been commonly available in the games. They are typically only available in short limited time events, going far back as 10 years ago, or through means of hacking/cheating.
  • Pokkén, a game based on Tekkén being released for the Wii U, in which Pokémon fight each other like MMA fighters.
  • Pokémon GO, a mobile game that uses augmented reality to make it appear as if Pokémon are appearing in the real world.

I’d like to conclude this article with a great song from the 1999 Soundtrack to the TV show release, 2.B.A. Master. This was the first CD I ever owned (thanks Mom.)

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