Intro: o-two whips out its balls for Elizabeth O’Malley’s rundown of the enduring Pokémon phenomenon
Officially recognised by the Guinness World Book of Records as the bestselling RPG of all time in 2009, Pokémon, the cult classic from our childhood, holds a special place in many of our hearts. What it lacked in special effects, it made up with its sheer addictiveness.
The premise of the game is that you play a budding Pokémon trainer, discovering the world of Kanto in which you befriend and battle Pokémon ranging from the electric mouse Pikachu to the fire-breathing dragon Charizard. Along the way you must battle Team Rocket and defeat gym leaders to become the greatest Pokémon trainer in the land.
Since the release of the game the Pokémon series has expanded into TV, movies, playing cards and toys, not to mention continuous releases of other games increasing the range of Pokémon and the worlds in which they inhabit. The original Pokémon games were also re-released in the form of ‘Pokémon Leaf Green’ and ‘Pokémon Fire Red’, giving us the familiarity of the old games while also drastically improving the graphics and interface.
Its brilliance lies in the depth of the world. While many games become repetitive over time, this was never the case with Pokémon. There were new challenges along the way; gym battles, trying to ‘catch ‘em all’, the mini trials within the game, facing Team Rocket and your rival, collecting items and much more.
The thing that the game had that many others underestimated was the social aspect that was incorporated into it. You had to trade certain Pokémon so that they would evolve and there were Pokémon only found in red or blue that required trading to complete your Pokédex, the encyclopaedia of all 150 Pokémon. The fact that the Game Boy was portable meant that you could easily carry it around with you and play with your friends, exchanging tips and information.
Pokémon was something of a revolution in its day and it still is popular worldwide, enjoying the love of nostalgic teenagers as well as the kids discovering it for the first time. I suppose the main testament to the game is that over ten years after its release, it is still something of a fashion statement, and that’s not something that happens very often.