Saturday, February 27, 2016

20 Years of Pokemon: The history of main Pokemon games


February 27, 1996. The date when the first Pocket Monsters games rolled out in Japan for the Nintendo Game Boy in Red, Blue, and Green versions. Today officially marks the 20th anniversary of the Pokemon franchise and following the recent announcement of the next chapter of Pokemon gaming called Pocket Monsters Sun and Moon, now's the ideal time to look back into 20 years of Pokemon. First and foremost, let's focus on the main games. The spinoffs should come later but for now, let's discover the 20-year evolution of Pokemon games...like no one ever was. Yep, there goes that theme song...

- Red/Green/Blue/Pikachu - The first Pokemon games, the Red and Green versions, launched in Japan in 1996. You began as a young trainer hailed from Pallet Town and you've been given a choice of three Pokemons from Prof. Oak (Okido)'s lab; Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. Then, you work your way to the top by catching Pokemon, evolve, battle trainers, and aim for the championship title at the Pokemon League. The list goes on and on and because these games have different versions, so is the different Pokemon offered in each version, and that's how link trading comes into view, allowing fellow players to trade each other's Pokemon.

Following the TV anime adaptation aired on TV Tokyo in 1997, a special Pikachu version was offered in September 12th, 1998, and while it retains the storyline from the three versions, the Pikachu version features scenarios different than the said versions as well as the iconic Pikachu voice heard from the TV series.

- Gold/Silver/Crystal - The dawn of the new millennium calls for the dawn of the second-generation Pokemon games as Pocket Monsters Gold and Silver were launched for the Game Boy Color on the 21st of November, 1999. In these installments, players can start out as either a Chikorita, Cyndaquil, or Totodile, and set off to a marvelous quest around the Johto region. Of course, there are some familiar faces from the previous games making an appearance such as Professor Oak (Okido) and Lance (Wataru), the Dragon-type master who used to be one of Kanto's Elite Four now named as the Johto League Champion. These installments introduced two new types; Dark and Steel. Magemite and Magneton, formerly only an Electric-type, was classified as Electric-and-Steel, while Eevee (whose evolutions begin with Vaporeon, Jolteon, and Flareon) gained two new evolutions in the form of Espeon and Umbreon.

A year later, a unified version of the two games, called Pocket Monsters Crystal, was launched, featuring an all-new storyline featuring the legendary Suicune. This version offers, for the first time, a choice where players can start as either as a male or a female trainer.

- Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald - The launch of Game Boy Advance sparks the advanced evolution of Pokemon games as the Ruby and Sapphire versions launched in Japan on the 21st of November, 2002. Set in the Hoenn region, players can start out with either Treecko, Torchic, and Mudkip, and set off to a new journey to become the best trainer in Hoenn while solving mysteries of the ancient prophecy that will shape the world. Apart from battles, contests are featured where trainers show off their Pokemon and their moves to wow the crowd. Of course, the braille part was the bit of the problem but the biggest problem that gamers complain that because these games cannot support connectivity with the previous games, they're missing out with their hard-worked Pokemon but a solution will be mentioned later on. Anyway, just two years after the Ruby and Sapphire games were launched, a unified version, called Pocket Monsters Emerald, was launched featuring an additional storyline featuring Rayquaza.

- Fire Red/Leaf Green - This is the solution the producers worked on; a reboot of the first-generation Pokemon games under the Fire Red and Leaf Green banner. These modern take on the classic Pokemon games were launched on the 29th of January, 2004, and although this is a remake of the classic games, Fire Red and Leaf Green features additional scenarios never before seen in the classic Red and Green games. These games offered, for the first time, a standard wireless connector where players can trade and battle each other wirelessly without the link cable.

- Diamond/Pearl/Platinum - The launch of the Nintendo DS prompted the producers to launch an all-new chapter of Pokemon games as Diamond and Pearl were launched in the 28th of September, 2006. Of course, 2006 marked the 10th anniversary of the Pokemon franchise, and these games made a milestone. In these games, players can set off with either Turtwig, Chimchar, or Piplup, and set off round the Sinnoh region. After clearing the game, players get a chance to transfer one of their Pokemons from the Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Fire Red, and Leaf Green games. Apart from new evolved forms of familiar Pokemon like Mismagius, Gallade, Tangrowth, Weavile, and others, Eevee's evolution is now rose to 8 with the addition of Glaceon and Leafeon.

Two years later, Platinum was launched featuring a brand new storyline takes place after the events of the Diamond and Pearl games. It also featured new forms of Rotom as well as new characters and other extras.

- Heart Gold/Soul Silver - With the success of the Diamond and Pearl games, the producers are happy to give the second-generation games another shot at fame to the DS as Heart Gold and Soul Silver were launched since the 12th of September, 2009. Apart from additional extras never before seen in the originals, Heart Gold and Soul Silver offers a standard PokeWalker device which allows players to wirelessly transfer a Pokemon to the device and walk their favorite Pokemon through virtual routes as they walk in the real world. Just like Diamond and Pearl, HGSS offers players wi-fi connectivity to allow players to compete or trade with others from around the globe.

- Black/White/Black 2/White 2 - Four years after the success of the Diamond and Pearl games, the producers decided to give another go with the DS by introducing the fifth chapter of the saga, titled Pocket Monsters Black and White. Launched since the 18th of September, 2010, players can explore the hidden world of the Unova region with either Snivy, Tepig, and Oshawott, uncover the sinister plot from an evil organization, and become the best of Unova. The battle sequences are becoming more livelier than ever as well as the animation process in-game that makes these installments more breathtaking than ever.

Two years later, a sequel titled Pocket Monsters Black 2 and White 2, features a brand new storyline set two years after the events of the original, as well as uncovering the hidden truth behind the legendary Kyurem.

- XY - The next evolution of Pokemon gaming has arrived on the 3DS as Pocket Monsters X and Y was launched worldwide on the 12th of October, 2013; featuring new Pokemon such as Chespin, Fennekin, and Froakie, exploring the majestic Kalos region, new features such as Pokemon-amie and Super Training, and breathtaking 3D battles. XY features Mega Evolved forms of some familiar Pokemon like Venusaur, Blastoise, Charizard, and Mewtwo, as well as the introduction of Fairy type. Much ado about the new type, from new additions like Flabebe, Swirlix, and Spritzee, to reclassified familiar ones like Clefairy, Jigglypuff, Togepi, and Gardevoir, Eevee's got a new evolved form Sylveon, bring the evolution count now to 9.

- Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire - Thanks to XY's success, the producers gave the classic Ruby and Sapphire games a much explosive reboot as Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire launched globally on the 21st of November, 2014. While it features the same features as the XY games, ORAS introduced Mega Evolutions of familiar favorites such as Blaziken, Sceptile, and Swampert, Secret Bases, soaring through mirage spots, and a lot of catching up to do for veterans and newbies alike, making these remakes the ultimate Pokemon experience alongside XY.

That's it for the main games! Next time, let's focus on the spin-offs! Until then, happy 20th anniversary to the Pokemon franchise!

Photo: Nintendo, Creatures, GAME FREAK, TV Tokyo, ShoPro,JR Kikaku

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