"Gotta catch em all!" First issued by Nintendo in 1996, this challenge sparked a Pokemon craze that led to a successful television series, trading card game, and full-length movie. Since its initial release, Pokemon has become the second best selling video game franchise worldwide, and the best selling role-playing video game (RPG) of all time.
Nintendo released the first Pokemon games for the Game Boy in Japan as "Pocket Monsters: Red & Green." After proving successful, the games came to North America in 1998 as "Pokemon Red" and "Pokemon Blue." The games provide a simple premise: A single player travels and catches Pokemon while fighting other trainers and their teams of monsters. The player's ultimate goal involves winning Pokemon battles against eight Gym Leaders and entering the Pokemon League to battle the Elite Four, while simultaneously completing one's Pok퀌�dex, which contains a record of all known Pokemon. Although it is a single-player game, players have the opportunity to trade or battle Pokemon with other Game Boys via a Game Link Cable.
Even though Peter Bartholow, a Gamespot critic, described the graphics and audio of the original Pokemon games as "somewhat primitive," other critics praised the games for their innovativeness, as well their promotion of imagination and creativity among the children playing them. Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokemon, modeled the monsters after the insects that he collected as a child. He did this to provide a new generation of children with the opportunity to collect insects and creatures while stimulating their sense of exploration and ingenuity.
After "Pokemon Red" and "Blue" proved successful in the United States, Nintendo continued to release new and updated versions of the game. Most of these were RPGs similar to the original games, but Nintendo also released several spin-offs. The company released two such spin-offs in 2006: "Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team" for the GameBoy Advance, and "Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team" for the Nintendo DS. These games revolved around a human transformed into a Pokemon. Players must battle and complete tasks in different dungeons, or levels, in order to gain points to win the game. Reviewers criticized the game for its graphics, but also claimed that it was highly addictive. Nintendo released the sequels "Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time" in 2007 and "Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness" in 2008.
These two sequels possess similar plots, and both retain many of the same elements of the original games. The two new games include Pokemon from Generation IV, as well as more touch screen options and improved WiFi. The two games sold a combined 4.12 million copies and received mostly positive reviews. In 2009, Nintendo released an enhanced version of the games, entitled "Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky."
In 1999, Pokemon appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in a story titled "Beware of the Pok퀌�mania." The so-called "Pok퀌�mania" was sweeping the nation via trading cards, a television series, toys, websites, and the original Game Boy games. By 1998, "Pokemon Red" and "Pokemon Blue" sold a combined 9.85 million copies in the United States and spawned many sequels. It is evident that even decades later, the "Pokemon flu" that struck America's children with the release of the first games has still not subsided.