Pokémon is a video game series distributed by Nintendo; now also a syndicated animated TV cartoon series, a trading card game, and the source for a large number of toys, accessories, etc. In 2001, it has games for the Nintendo Game Boy and the Nintendo 64. Games for the Game Boy include Pokémon Blue, Red, Yellow, Green (which was never released in America), Silver, Gold, and Crystal. There is also a Pokémon Card Game for Game Boy (yes, a video game based on a collectible card game that's based on a video game) and a pinball game Pikachu Pinball, and a puzzle game. Games for the Nintendo 64 include Pokémon Snap, Pokémon Stadium 1 2 and 3, and Hey You Pikachu.
Pokémon was the brainchild of Satoshi Tajiri, owner(?) of the development company "Game Freak". The concept for Pokémon was loosely based on the practice in Japan among schoolchildren of collecting and training beetles for nonlethal fighting. The game got some initial funding and concept work from another game design studio "Creatures", as Nintendo, partial owner in Game Freak was unsympathetic to the idea at the time.
"Pokémon" is actually a contraction of the English words "pocket monster" ("poketto monstaa" in Japanese transliteration). There are several other such contractions in the Japanese language, such as karaoke.
The Pokémon series is classified as a role-playing game, because it has elements similar to many other role-playing games (such as a top-down, tile based view, item management, and a turn based battle system with such familiar elements as hit points, and status effects like poison and sleep), but it does not focus on plot and character developement in the manner of Final Fantasy and many other role-playing games. Pokémon games rather focus on the collection and training of many little creatures, which are battled against opponents (either AI-controlled, or live opponents). Depending on which game in the series, there may be 151 or 250 available Pokémon. An unusual feature is the ability to trade one's Pokémon with other players via the Game Boy Link Cable; this forms an integral part of the game as some Pokémon can only be collected by trading.
Pokémon Snap and Hey You Pikachu are not RPGs as the rest of the series are, but spinoffs involving the same characters. Pokémon Stadium allows players to transfer creatures from a Game Boy cartridge or to rent creatures from within the game.
Name of some Pokémon and other figures are different in Japanese and US version. Most translations are based on US version. For example Japanese 'Kasumi' is US 'Misty'.
Some Pokémon of note
These are Pokémon which hold special places in the games, cartoons, or make cameo appearances in other games. The American name is listed before the Japanese name where they differ. A list of the original Pokémon is on /List.
000 /Missing no 001 /Bulbasaur (Fushigidane) 003 /Venusaur (Fushigibana) 004 /Charmander (Hitokage) 006 /Charizard (Lizardon) 007 /Squirtle (Zenigame) 009 /Blastoise (Kamex) 015 /Beedrill (Spear) 025 /Pikachu 035 /Clefairy (Pippi) 039 /Jigglypuff (Purin) 052 /Meowth (Nyase) 095 /Onix (Iwake) 101 /Electrode (Marumain) 106 /Hitmonlee 109 /Koffing (Dogaasu) 113 /Chansey (Rakkii) 118 /Goldeen (Tosakinto) 121 /Starmie (Sutaamii) 132 /Ditto (Metamon) 133 /Eevee (Iibui) 137 /Porygon (Polygon) 143 /Snorlax (Kabigon) 150 /Mewtwo (Myushi) 151 /Mew
Pokémon TV series
The main heroes of TV series are Ash and his companions Misty and Brock. Ash wants to become the best pokémon trainer, and the others accompany him for other reasons.
There are also two Team Rocket members, Jessie and James, who along with their pokémon Meowth serve as the bad guys of the series. Jessie and James were for a long time the largest divergence between the game and the television series. In the game, the Team Rocket organization was a dangerous and widespread source of crime--in the series, Team Rocket is almost exclusively represented by the Bumbling, not quite so evil Jessie and James. This was rectified in the later gameboy game "Pokémon Yellow", which incorporated several elements of the television series into the game, most notably Jessie and James who follow you around and battle you occasionally.
In 1997, a particular episode of the cartoon broadcast in Japan caused several children to have epileptic seizures. The phenomenon was repeated in a later news broadcast about the event when they inexplicably replayed the offending scene. It was discovered that the alternating red and yellow patterns of the scene in question caused a reaction due to a previously undiagnosed form of epilepsy. Nintendo's stock dropped significantly, and the flashing scene was deleted before the episode was was broadcast in the United States.
Some Christian groups in the United States believe Pokémon to be Satanic in origin. More information on this can be found here. Some groups also believe the show encourages children to run away from home like the main character Ash does in the game and cartoon.
Uri Geller, Israeli psychic famous for ostensibly bending spoons with his mind, has sued Nintendo over the pokémon "Alakazam" ("Un-geller" in Japanese), whom he claims is an unauthorized appropriation of his identity. The name is a pun; the katakana letter 'n' looks quite like the letter 'ri'. The pokémon in question has psychic abilities and carries bent spoons. Geller is suing for the equivalent of 100 million dollars.
A parents group is suing Nintendo of America and other manufacturers of collectible cards (such as baseball card makers), claiming that the collectible nature of randomly purchased cards constitutes illegal gambling.