Well you? No need to be shy, you know what we’re talking about. Do you want to be the best? How has no one ever been? The thing about the many elements of Pokemon is that they’re all interconnected, and just seeing screenshots or the logo is often enough to send that opening G power chord reverberating through your head, to conjure up visions of Ash twirling his cap. back in the anime or reminding you of that shiny Charizard card you just couldn’t get for love or money in the past. Pokémon launched globally not just as a video game, but as a multimedia offensive. Backed by a TV show, merchandise, and other merchandise following the huge success of its original Japanese release, there was simply no way it was going to fail. It was Everywhere and in the late ’90s, you could barely move without seeing Pikachu’s beaming face somewhere.
But while that may have been the beginning of the phenomenon as we know it, our story begins earlier. Well, much earlier, since 1990, actually, or even earlier if you want to trace the origins of the most important people behind the franchise. “METER [Satoshi] Tajiri was the founder of Game Freak and I was friends with him when I was a student,” recalls Ken Sugimori, Game Freak’s veteran artist, art director and character designer on almost every game, and who has been responsible for the official art. assets. “We used to play video games together and that’s how we started this business: Mr. Tajiri started a business and I joined. In 1983, Mr. Tajiri started selling this little booklet for ¥200 and it was only sold in very specialized bookstores. He was talking about strategies for arcade games because at that time there were no home consoles. Some people visited these stores and saw the book, and I was one of them. As we talked, we became friends and discussed that arcade games were often very similar – if we were developing, what would we do differently? When we started, some of the readers were programmers and had the skills and access to the hardware – that’s how we started producing video games. Then Mr. Masuda joined and our first game was Quinty.
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(Image credit: The Pokémon Company)
Having been on board from the start and being more committed to the series than most thanks to his ongoing hard work with Serebii.net, Merrick is in as good a position to discuss the importance of the series as anyone else you care to mention. he-he handled the franchise in all its guises on an almost daily basis, with a pretty staggering weekly workload for a fan project. “Sometimes it’s as little as five hours, other times it’s around 155 hours,” he laughs. “It all depends on what happens in the franchise. Over time, not only have I become more focused on the quality of the site, but it’s happening more and more in Pokémon. Over the years, I usually had a lot of times when I had nothing to do; Since it’s my policy to never skip more than one calendar day in a row in news updates, it became difficult having to find reasons to update. Now, however, I rarely have this problem. In 2015 I updated 331 of the 365 days, and the other days I was usually working on something else.
There is so much to love about Pokémon that it saddens us to hear the blind opinions of those who base their opinion of the franchise on the colorful promotional material and frankly cordoned-off cartoonishness that came about when it was still young enough to be considered a fad; even before the franchise had a chance to prove itself and long before it became one of the complex RPG series created.
“People think Pokemon is child’s play, but I think that’s a misunderstanding,” says Sugimori, and we’re inclined to agree: look beyond the presentation that surrounds it, delve into its almost bottomless strategic intricacies, and you’ll find an RPG deserves far more respect and credit than it often receives. But while some may be harder to convince of the series’ merits, those who are comfortably into Pokémon Express make up a broad player base that spans every age group and demographic imaginable, as you’ve probably seen lately. when Pokémon Go attracted fans of all ages. out of the woodwork in search of virtual creatures in the real world. “The community is by far my favorite thing about Pokémon,” Merrick tells us. “Aside from a few things, it’s one of the friendliest communities out there. People go out of their way to help others find Pokémon. The game by design, it has a mandate to bring people together to fight and trade, and has continued to do so. There are people alive today because their parents met through Pokemon and that’s pretty amazing to me.
“His impact in the 90s was phenomenal,” he concludes. “He was everywhere and everyone was playing him. I honestly never thought we’d see something like this again. Then came Go, and once again Pokémon were everywhere. Will we ever see something like this again? It’s hard to say. The industry is much more volatile these days than it was in the 1990s, and much more saturated. Yo-Kai Watch, while huge for a few years in Japan, has dwindled and just hasn’t taken off here. I don’t know if we’ll ever see a series permeate so many facets of the media at once and become a phenomenon like Pokémon again.
This feature first appeared in retro gamer number 161 of the magazine. For more great articles, like the one you just read, be sure to subscribe to the print or digital edition at My favorite magazines.