25 Years of Pokémon

The 27th of February this year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Pokémon Red and Green in Japan. Could anyone back then have anticipated the impact those games would have? Initially released in 1996, the later part of the Game Boy’s lifecycle, with the release of Red and Blue* in the US in 1998, and 1999 in the EU,  the Pokémon games would go on to become the best selling Game Boy video games**, shifting over 31 million copies.

This also ensured Nintendo would continue working on the Game Boy, with the release of a slightly updated version in 1998; the Game Boy Color. Obviously, new Pokémon were released for the new handheld as well. Pokémon Gold and Silver released in 1999 and proving that Pokémon remained highly popular, these games sold over 23 million copies. Making them the best selling video games of the Game Boy Color.

With the release of every new generation of handheld by Nintendo, a new generation of Pokémon games would follow. Each highly succesful and a stepping stone for new players. New features in every generations ensured that there was also something for older players who had known the previous generations.

Further solidifying the Pokémon merchandise are the trading cards, which feature brilliant art and the game is quite fun as well. To help more people get familiar with it there was a Trading Card Game game for the GBC. Currently there’s an official app for your tablet that allows you to play the game online.

I haven’t even mentioned the animé, that started in 1997 (and is still ongoing). It drew in so many of us as we followed the adventures of Ash Ketchum, Brock and Misty. Later on other companions would join Ash on his travels, but his companion, Pikachu, would always be by his side.

In honour of this special celebration, we decided to share our memories of this beloved franchise.

My first experience with Pokémon was Red & Blue. Of course I was a fan of Pokémon before the games, already collecting the cards and watching the animé straight after school on CiTV around 3:30pm. I got Pokémon Blue on my birthday and I literally couldn’t stop playing it before going to school that day! I was determined to catch Pikachu in the Viridian Forest. With my birthday money I bought Pokémon Red and made sure I got all the Pokémon. To this day, Gen 1 Pokémon is my favourite. Charizard is my favourite Pokémon and I continue to enjoy Pokémon to this very day. Hopefully my daughter will like Pokémon, so we can go on our very own Pokémon adventure with the games!

– SuperWidzy –

I was introduced to Pokémon by my brothers, they had Red and Blue, so Mum got me Yellow for Christmas in 2000, and oh the adorableness of it! Having watched my brothers playing their versions, I was not expecting Pikachu to follow me around, I was in heaven, and it meant I got to one up my brothers for a while too, always a bonus. My favourite gen has to be 2nd. Getting to explore both the new Johto, and our beloved Kanto, in more detail, which new colours and oh my gosh, night and day cycle?! That blew my mind all over again, just a year later, 2001 Christmas Day, I got Crystal, as once again, my brothers had gotten Gold and Silver earlier in the year. Johto has always been my favourite gen, as it spanned both regions, something I’ve been willing Game Freak to do again! Whether it’s just two regions or more. I’ve fantasized many times about having every region available in a single game, I have hope, but I’ll keep fantasizing.

– Zeruda –

I’ve loved Pokemon as long as I can remember. Even before I had a console, I wanted one since all my friends had one and were playing. When I got my 3ds with Pokemon Soul Silver in 2012 I instantly fell in love. I remember spending hours getting lost in the world, exploring, finding new things and battling. It is one of those games that I could wish I could replay for the first time again. I really do love Pokemon, I’ve played every game since then and went back and played older ones, I still play Soul Silver to this day. There are so many memories I’ve had playing every single Pokemon game with friends online, and side by side with my sister, way too many to list here. Even with the controversies with modern Pokemon I am still looking forward to what the 25th Anniversary has. I know many people want Diamond and Pearl remakes this year, but personally I would like them to come out later so there is more time, love and care put into them.

– MysticEevee94 –

I remember first being introduced to the Pokémon world when I was 5. My cousin was housebound, so we used to sit and play make-believe using the Pokémon cards as inspiration, and we always had a tonne of fun. I wasn’t a gamer as a kid, and the first gaming device I really owned was the GameBoy Advance SP – I still remember that unit, with it’s nice sturdy construction and gorgeous ice-blue colour. Pokémon was one of the first games I bought, Crystal of course because the cartridge was so pretty. And so began a years-long love-hate relationship with the first game series I ever played. I loved Crystal, and generation three (I confess that I played Ruby, Sapphire, AND Emerald), but was kind of put off by the DS releases. I still bought and completed them all, always hoping that one would prove me wrong, but was unfortunately let down.

That is, until the Switch generation landed.

It may be a little controversial, but I loved Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee! It felt different and fun, and while less challenging than older games I think it was the shake-up that the series needed to help provoke interest from a new generation. Then, along came Sword and Shield. We all know that there are a lot of arguments around these two, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next, but not the drama that’s guaranteed to surround any anniversary announcements.

– CandidWillow –

I first got in touch with Pokémon through the animé, way back in 1998 when it first aired over here. I was hooked! Ash, Pikachu, Misty and Brock shone on my TV screen. Then I learned about the games when I was at a friend’s. Red and Blue is where it started, but Crystal is where it really got ingrained. I could not put that game down. After beating it I’d just reboot and play with another team. I tried using all the different Pokémon.

Oh! And the day and night cycle! Hunting for Dark and Ghost Pokémon like Houndour and Gastly at night! And of course breeding Pokémon at the Day Care.

The Pokémon games have obviously evolved since then, adding loads more features and Pokémon. But the exploration part is, for me, at its core. And with the recently announced Pokémon Legends: Arceus that aspect of the games is fully embraced.I can’t wait to see what’s next!

– EMH_Richard –

Allowing players to meet new Pokémon, go on new adventures and form lasting bonds, be it with Pokémon or the friends we meet along the way. The Pokémon franchise has had a profound impact on so many of us and I hope it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Happy Pokémon Day everyone!

*Late in 1996 Pokémon Blue released in Japan with improved graphics and new dialogue. This version was used for the international release of Pokémon Red and Blue.

**Yes, Tetris has a higher sales number, but it was bundled with the Game Boy, so that doesn’t really count.

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