Discover the origin story of Pokemon starting from its creation in 1996 to its current world-renowned status in the gaming industry. Explore the incredible timeline of events that helped shape the beloved Pokemon franchise!
Pokémon has been around for more than two decades and has become a global phenomenon. From its origins as a videogame developed in Japan in 1996, it has grown into an expansive multimedia franchise, featuring millions of fans and hundreds of characters. Learn more about the history of Pokémon, from its earliest days to today's worldwide success.
Inception of the Pokemon Brand.
The Pokémon brand first came to life on February 27, 1996, when the franchise's first two videogames were released in Japan. They were developed by Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori for the Nintendo Game Boy – a handheld gaming console which was immensely popular at the time. The games focused on creatures called “Pocket Monsters” or “Pokétchi” and seeked to introduce a world of animal-like characters living in harmony with humans.
To accompany the game, Tajiri and Sugimori produced anime trading cards featuring the Pocket Monsters to add an extra layer to the gameplay. As players would collect cards within the game, they could go out into the world and trade their collections with their friends. This allowed for a real-world trading system that created a personal connection with each player. In addition to launching alongside the games, these cards began appearing in stores all over Japan through partner companies such as Media Factory and ShoPro Entertainment in March
The Launch of the Video Games.
The debut of the Pokémon franchise’s first video games, Pocket Monsters Red & Green, represented the beginning of a decades-long journey from its origins in 1996 Japan to its status as one of the biggest and best-known franchises in the world today. These two versions managed to create an entire generation in Japan that was passionate about these pocket monsters and found fun creating new strategies and discovering secret venues.
The first Pokémon games to be released overseas were Pokemon Red and Blue for the Game Boy in
Expansion into Trading Cards and Anime Series.
As the popularity of the games rose, so did the demand for other ways to engage in the Pokémon universe. With the growth of the fans, Nintendo decided to expand its merchandising with a series of trading cards which allowed Pokemon lovers to take their battles outside the console. Then, an anime series based on the popular video game was released worldwide and reached even more people, further increasing Pokémon's global presence and following.
Nintendo decided to take Pokémon a step further and create a trading card game in 1996 to expand the reach of their iconic franchise by giving fans an engaging way to play with their monsters outside of the game console. This was followed by a number of expansion packs, along with several limited edition cards that made the game even more enticing for collectors. While the games were groundbreaking, it was the anime series based on the characters that truly propelled Pokemon into the global phenomenon it is today. The first episode of "Pokémon – Indigo League" aired on April 1st, 1997, in Japan and quickly became one of the highest rated children's programs internationally. Since then, hundreds more episodes have been released along with eleven full length movies that continue to capture all kinds of audiences from every corner of world.
Popularization Across Other Media Platforms.
The Pokemon franchise continued to expand across different mediums and capture the attention of millions. Its success led to the production of many spin-off video games, including trading card games, interactive toys and more. In addition, the beloved anime series quickly earned its place in many countries’ popular culture zeitgeist and began airing in multiple languages around the world. With these developments, Pokémon became even more of an essential part of countless individuals’ childhood memories across generations, reinforcing its global cultural significance.
To further popularize the series, the Pokemon Company and its related entities held annual special events like the Pokemon World Championships. These events enabled fans to participate in and witness both regional and international tournaments for several elements of the franchise including card battles, video game competitions, and even cosplay showcases. Through these initiatives and with the continued efforts from dedicated fans across countries, Pokémon has established itself as a beloved cultural phenomenon that continually connects people around the world with its nostalgic charm.
International Success and Impact on Pop Culture.
With the continued advancements of its video game, tech toys, and anime series, Pokémon quickly established a lasting, international presence that transcended generational divides. Its colorful cast of characters and unique in-game adventures earned the admiration of millions of viewers from all walks of life. From featuring in the lyrics of iconic songs to influencing the fashion trends of teenagers everywhere, it’s safe to say that Pokemon made an indelible mark on pop culture history.
The introduction of the popular Japanese trading card game to the West signaled a major turning point in Nintendo’s long-term success. Just two years after its first Team Rocket-starring anime series, Europe and America were getting their very own locally produced cards as well. Of course, this lead to new generations of casual fans that were enchanted by the world of Pocket Monsters. Suddenly, Ash Ketchum could be found all over social media feeds, Pokedex apps, and even though lyrics of famous songs like ‘I Want it That Way’ by The Backstreet Boys and OutKast’s ‘Hey Ya!’. Even today, nostalgia for Pokemon shows no sign of slowing down.