The Evolution of Pokemon

Pokemon has been one of my favorite video game series since I first bought a Game Boy Pocket in 1998. At the time, I was the key demographic Pokemon targeted, and I fell for it entirely. As I have matured as a gamer, I have kept up on the series and seen it evolve from Pokemon Red and Blue to the most recent Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. I consider myself quite knowledgeable on the subject, which was one of the reasons I picked it for my paper. Actually, I conceived the idea of writing a paper describing the economic system behind Pokemon months ago, and my current product is a more feasible extension of that idea. I also wanted a topic which as original and different from the common ? violence in video games? or ? sex in video games? ideas. Writing the paper itself was surprisingly easy once started. Most of the research material came from actual published materials in the library, and gameplay information was taken from a combination of experience and revisiting Pokemon stadium, a branch off of the portable games for the Nintendo 64. Organizationally, the paper was written from a chonological standpoint: the idea, the product, and the product‘s effect. In my revision, I added visual evidence to try and strengthen some of my points. I am quite happy with the final product.

One of the interesting finds in the research was how much academic work has gone into understanding the Pokemon phenomenon. Entire chapters, papers, and even one whole book were dedicated to explaining the series‘ popularity. Also, Pokemon was not seen as a just a pure video game but the extensions into TV and movies were also important considerations when trying to figure out the franchise‘s unique qualities. The paper also required research into American and Japanese culture, an unexpected turn during the drafting stages. This also led to some hiccups as attempts to compare Pokemon to earlier Japanese fads like Hello Kitty were not backed up by sufficient evidence and removed from the paper. Pokemon, interestingly, is often stated as the first true Japanese phenomenon to hit America that left a resounding impact nationwide by the academia. Previous fads left nowhere near the same effect. Rhetorical appeals were used in a variety of ways in the paper. Logos is seen from the very start with numbers and lists to make the reader understand the magnitude of the franchise. Throughout the paper, sales figures and direct use of numbers is used to convey information aimed to awe the reader or make the reader understand the material better.

Commentary on Canto I of Dantes Inferno. Ethos is established early on with the personal reference in the introduction. More personal references in the paper keep the reader aware that the author understands the topic fairly well. Lastly, pathos is used a bit in the history of Pokemon section and describing Tajiri‘s childhood. The analysis of the Time‘s cover also adds to this appeal. 3 Abstract In 1996, Nintendo, Inc. and Game Freak launched the flagship titles of Pokemon Blue and Pokemon Red. Since then, the Pokemon franchise has amassed billions from its games, trading cards, TV show, and various other spinoffs. Yet, Pokemon, at its start, was just another ideo game, thought up by Satoshi Tajiri, a novice video game developer. Released on the Game Boy, it caught the appeal of millions across the planet with its unique gameplay and vision, whereas other games have never come even close. The popularity of the series exploded in the late 1990s to the point where ? Pokemania? consumed the world, and the series began to appear everywhere from backpacks to the Macy’s Day Parade to even commercial airline planes. The gameplay and history of the series is unique among video games and foreshadow the grandiose sensation Pokemon becomes. By utilizing a combination of innovation and marketing with

Satoshi‘s initial dream, Pokemon became the pinnacle icon of gaming and a mega-franchise. 4 ?Your very own POKEMON legend is about to unfold! A world of dreams and adventures with POKEMON awaits! Let’s go! ” – Professor Oak, Pokemon Red and Blue On February 27, 1996, Nintendo released a video game which resulted in thirty-five follow up games, a twelve-season animated series, twelve box-office hit movies, thirteen comic book series, a 42-set trading card game (and a video game about the trading card game), a trading figure game, ten soundtrack collections, and a net profit of about $22. 2 billion dollars (Sang). $22. 2 billion.

That figure is larger than the individual GDPs of 85 countries in the world! What was this dream product? In Japan, it was called Poketto Monsutaa; in America, it was simply called Pokemon. I still remember the day I first bought a Pokemon game. My mother drove me to a Toys ?R‘ Us, and I recall eagerly scanning the aisles for the game for which I had seen so many commercials and heard so many tales from friends. I finally found them: Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. One had a gigantic red dragon staring into the distance. A Charizard. The other had an equally large blue turtle with giant cannons coming out if its shell. A Blastoise. A Summary of My Tips for Searching Database.

It took much deliberation and a few pushes from my mom to hurry up to pick Blue, a decision which I still back up as the better choice to this day. Back at home, I tore open the package and thumbed through the manual in five seconds before slapping the cartridge into my Game Boy. The game started, and I was immediately sucked into a world of fire foxes, giant rock snakes, and mystic ghosts. Pokemon captured me just like it captured millions across the globe. It began just like any other game. However, it became far more popular than the average series and became a 5 sensation unlike one ever seen before in the history of video games.

How it gathered such a large fan following is a marvel of capitalism, marketing, and ingenuity. The Beginnings of Pokemon “To make a complete guide on all the POKEMON in the world… That was my dream! But, I’m too old! I can’t do it! So, I want you two to fulfill my dream for me! Get moving, you two! This is a great undertaking in POKEMON history! ” – Professor Oak, Pokemon Red and Blue Pokemon had its quaint beginnings in the forests and fields surrounding Machida, Japan. It was here where a young boy by the name of Satoshi Tajiri spent much of his time. Satoshi was fascinated by the fields and forests, especially their many insects.

He was an avid bug collector who loved entomology so much that he even traded bugs with his friends to complete his many collections, earning Satoshi his nickname—? Dr. Bug?. Even though Satoshi was curious and intelligent in nature, he was not a great student. This can be partially attributed to the fact that Satoshi had been born with Asperger‘s syndrome, a form of autism. He disliked school intensely, and his father, a car salesman, wanted Satoshi to eventually become an electrical utility repairman. Satoshi, instead, spent most of his time reading comic books and watching Japanese anime. Compounded on these events was the rise in rbanization of Tokyo. As the 1970s went on, Satoshi saw his beloved fields and forests become industrial sites, parking lots, and apartment complexes. Satoshi eventually entered technical school. There, he discovered the video game arcade, where he spent much of his time. While at school, Satoshi found a job as a video game tester for a magazine, foreshadowing his future career. 6 Satoshi Tajiri – Pokemon? s original concept stemmed from his adventures collecting insects (Giant Bomb). In 1982, Satoshi, only 17 at the time, created his own video game fan magazine, Game Freak, with his friends James Hanzatko and Yuusuke Santamaria.

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The magazine was a predecessor of the now-prevalent gaming magazines which announce new video games, give tips and tricks for gaming, and provide cheat codes for the newest games. Game Freak quickly ? took off in popularity? and ?Japanese kids could not get enough of the tips, tricks, and reviews Tajiri and his friends were providing? (Gamehiker Wiki). Its success led Satoshi to write two books: CAP Land and Catch „Em All CAP Land. Satoshi then decided to take his work into a new direction; instead of just writing about games, he wanted to make his own. Game Freak went from magazine to game development company.

The company moved out of its one room office and into Nintendo headquarters. In 1990, Game Freak released Mendel Palace (Quinty in Japan) for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Between 1990 and 1994, Game Freak released a series of games to moderate success (Gamehiker Wiki). In all this time, Satoshi had never forgotten his love of insects as a child. Satoshi knew that children at the time were growing up in a ? concrete jungle? and unable to have the same adventures that he had as a child. In the back of his mind, Satoshi had already decided that he wanted to make a game that replicated this feeling for a new generation of children. Yet, he acked a medium for implementing his idea. Then, he discovered the Nintendo Game Boy. The 7 Game Boy was released in 1989 to Japan and America. Within one month, the initial one million unit shipment to America had been sold, predicting its eventual awe-inspiring success. Additionally, after forming Game Freak, Satoshi met Shigeru Miyamoto, a legend in his own right. Miyamoto, like Satoshi, had incorporated his own experiences exploring Kyoto‘s fields, woods, and caves as a child into his series, The Legend of Zelda. Satoshi, recalling his bug- trading past, asked for Miyamoto‘s help in creating a way for two Game Boys to communicate nd share information. Together, they began development on what eventually became the Game Boy Link Cable. Satoshi now had all the tools needed to create his game. First, he wanted a game that emphasized collecting creatures. However, he also wanted to use a system where the player had to work to catch the creatures and not simply buy and sell them like a typical roleplaying game. Second, he needed the game to be portable which was possible with the Game Boy. Third, Satoshi wanted the game to be connective, which was achieved by the Link Cable. In 1991, Satoshi began development of his game in conjunction with concept artist Ken Sugimori, who lso drew for his magazine. After five years of development time, the longest ever for a Nintendo game, Pokemon Blue and Pokemon Green (Red in America) was released in 1996 (Carmichael). It sold over 20 million copies worldwide. That was only the beginning. 8 What is Pokemon? “To catch them is my real test, to train them is my cause. I will travel across the land, searching far and wide. Teach Pokemon to understand, the power that’s inside. Pokemon! ” – Pokemon TV Show? s First Theme Song Pokemon is a difficult word to define succinctly. Pokemon is, of course, the name of the billion dollar franchise.

Pokemon itself is an abbreviated word for the original name of the franchise, Pocket Monsters. But what is a Pokemon? Pokemon refers to the now multitudes of different species of animals which inhabit the games‘ world. Originally, there were 150 species, but each generation has added on roughly over 100 species. The avatars of the player of the games are Pokemon trainers. Pokemon trainers have two jobs: to collect as many Pokemon as they can to fill up their Pokedexes (essentially electronic Pokemon encyclopedias) and to create the strongest team of six Pokemon to defeat other trainers.

The strongest Pokemon trainer becomes the Pokemon Master. This basic concept is seen in nearly all forms of the Pokemon franchise like the games, the TV show, and the trading card game. However, this formula of collecting monsters has been done many times after Pokemon was released, yet those games never reached anywhere near the popularity of Pokemon. This is due to a level of depth in gameplay that Pokemon reaches beyond this base idea. Pokemon trainers capture Pokemon through the use of Poke Balls which essentially suck up Pokemon and contain them upon contact. Once captured, the Pokemon obeys only the trainer by which it was aught unless it is traded away or released into the wild. Strong Pokemon can escape initial capture, however, and must be weakened before a Poke Ball is used. Pokemon appear when the 9 player moves through areas of tall grass, caves, or bodies of water, and some Pokemon can only be found in special circumstances, making completion of the Pokedex intensely difficult. The second of a Pokemon trainer‘s jobs is to battle other trainers. Pokemon inherently know some attacks, up to a maximum of four, which they can utilize against other Pokemon. As they grow in power, Pokemon can learn new, stronger attacks to replace weaker ones or be aught new techniques through certain items. An interesting thing to note is that Pokemon do not die in battle; they only faint, a concept that Satoshi wanted to be incorporated because he did not want the game to be overly violent. In addition, Pokemon are all classified as being a certain ?type? out of a possible fifteen (seventeen in later generations). For example, Pikachu, the mascot of the series, is an electric-type Pokemon. Each type is strong or weak against certain other types. For example, electric beats water which beats ground which beats electric. As one can infer, this causes a rock-paper-scissors mechanic into the game.

Added on top of that is the fact that certain Pokemon have two types, and the gameplay possibilities are enormous (Nintendo EAD and Hal Laboratory). While most Pokemon could be found in the wild, some Pokemon had to be obtained in other ways. One of the common ways was evolution. Once some Pokemon gained enough experience or used a certain item, they would change forms into stronger beings. These forms usually had much better abilities than the basic stages. Another way was through trading. If two Game Boys with Pokemon cartridges were connected by a link cable, Pokemon could be traded 10 etween the two. Some Pokemon could only evolve if traded. Eleven Pokemon in the original Red and Blue games could only be found in one of the two versions. Thus, the only way to obtain those eleven was to trade with a friend. While Pokemon may be seen by the outside observer as ? a series of combative and confrontational battles, [trading in] the game encourages negotiation, bargaining and a consideration of the position of others? and ? may be seen to be inherently social in nature? (Newman 151). A Pokemon evolution. Here the Pokemon Abra evolves into its stronger form, Kadabra (Wikipedia).

On a presentation level, the game was also unique. The game begins with a common video game cliche: you are a common boy from a small town out on a great quest. The story begins with the player being called to the office of Professor Oak, who gives the new trainer the choice of a Pokemon from one of three available. From there, the trainer has to travel across the continent to the eight Pokemon gyms where they can challenge the gym leader to a battle for a badge. Once all eight were collected, the trainer is able to travel to Indigo Plateau where they can face the Elite Four, the top trainers across the land.

While on the journey, the trainer comes upon the evil organization, Team Rocket, which plans to use Pokemon for world domination. The trainer repeatedly interferes with their plans until coming to a showdown with its leader. During the player‘s quest, he also has to face his arch rival, Oak‘s grandson, who becomes a powerful trainer throughout the game. 11 A good story and new gameplay are constantly appearing on shelves everywhere, and consumers run through them quite fast. ?Buy a game, beat it, and move on? is perhaps the most common habit of a video gamer. However, Pokemon was also special in its replay value. Of ourse, the collection of all the Pokemon was an enormous feat which many are unable to accomplish. This, however, meant that in multiple playthroughs of the game, a person could find new Pokemon they had not previously found. Players also wanted to pick different starter Pokemon as the three could not be captured throughout the course of the game. In addition, the link cable created even more need to come back to the game. While the entire game‘s computer opponents could be defeated with Pokemon at Level 50 or so, players could level up Pokemon to 100. So, friends competing would always want to train more after the game‘s main story ended o have the stronger Pokemon. And, as stated above, the link cable allowed for trading which was required to complete a full collection (? Gameplay of Pokemon? ). The graphics of the original Pokemon games were simple and expressed form over function. Pictured are a Pokemon battle (left) and a common scene outside of battle (right) (Bulk. Destructoid. com). On a performance basis, Pokemon was never the powerhouse in graphics and sound like Crysis or Metal Gear Solid 4. The game featured 8-bit, black-and-white graphics and an overhead view common to old Super Nintendo Entertainment System games. Attacks in battle 2 were essentially a noise associated with a static image moving across the screen. There was no blood or gore, and if a Pokemon lost in battle, it would simply fall off the screen. The sound was essentially a few tracks which were put on a loop. Many reviewers at the time of release held these as flaws which held back the game. Regardless, it worked. Through simplicity, the game attracted followers which were repelled by the complicated mechanics of role playing games or the violence of first-person shooters and fighting games. And that was only the first generation. By the next generation, Pokemon Gold and

Pokemon Silver, players could breed Pokemon, introducing a new dynamic. The games were also in full color. Further generations added new gameplay mechanics like double battles where two Pokemon fought two other Pokemon were introduced to keep fans attached. Each generation also inserted new Pokemon into the mix. All in all, 343 Pokemon were added by sequels of the original games, bringing the current grand total to 493. As one can begin to guess, Pokemon, even the original Blue and Red, had tremendous potential. There was something in it for everyone. One person could be a collector, probing hrough the game for every Pokemon and always on the lookout for possible traders. Another could be a battler, raising the strongest and toughest team while discussing tactics and strategy on forums and with friends. If one was neither of the above, they may simply have been pulled into the story and become thrilled with the prospect of ? a great quest? and ? foiling the mastermind, evil Team Rocket?. And, sometimes, a player just thought it was cute to raise a little seahorse or a red pony. 13 The Rhetorical Strategies of “Pikachu” Marketing “I was told… that this kind of thing would never appeal to American audiences. –Shigeru Miyamoto, on Pokemon One of the most ironic parts of Pokemon‘s history is the low expectations of sales upon its release. There was no grand marketing scheme. There was no overhyped public relations campaign. There was no board of directors at Nintendo headquarters that sat around a large table and laughed maniacally at what they were about to unleash on the world. For a company that was profiting mostly off of established franchises like Mario and Zelda which had consistent platforming and role-playing gameplay, the idea for Pokemon was too absurd to imagine the actual mass following it went on to acquire.