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Shaping a Generation
Written by MewDragon   
Monday, 28 April 2008 18:38
This section discusses and covers Pokemon, in it's role as a cultural phenomenon. Like you remember back when you were in middle school or elementary school? And everyone was talking about Pokemon and kids were bringing their cards to lunch and trading and people were hooking up their gameboys with linkcables to battle against a friend during recess? At my school everyone was doing it. It was crazy stuff. I've never seen that before or since, at least not that widespread.

So what makes Pokemon a phenomenon? Does it deserve that title? What happens if we admit that it's a phenomenon, does that change how we should think about Pokemon, how we play or purchase games, cards, etc? What kind of people does Pokemon seem to attract? Are those that say Pokemon is "kiddish" or other similar complaints right? What should our reply be to those people, as Pokemon fans, as gamers?

I suspect that those who would contest the fact that Pokemon is a phenomenon would be the same people that say Pokemon is for kids, or whatever other insult they might use; just fill in the blank. :p

Most people though, that make insults like that, typically don't know what they're talking about and are really just too insecure to admit the truth. xp So the best place to start with Pokemon is back at the beginning. As almost all of us know, there have been three different companies who have been primarily responsible, throughout the history of the franchise, for creating and maintaining Pokemon. Nintendo, GameFreak, and Creatures. Satoshi Tajiri, the President and CEO of GameFreak, is the person primarily responsible for creating Pokemon. First a bit both about Satoshi and his company and how exactly they've fit into this scheme and contributed to the franchise.

GameFreak is essentially a third party developer, though mostly known for assisting in creating the Pokemon franchise, it has created quite a few other games during its' lifetime. GameFreak actually started out as a magazine back in 1982 before it morphed into a gaming company through the production of its' first game, Quinty. Released in 1989 for the Japanese Famicon system, the system was released in the west as the NES. Quinty was followed by Jerry Boy and Yoshi's Egg in 1991 and Magical Tarunto-kun in 1992. Still more games followed with Mario and Wario, Pulseman, Nontan to Issyo Kuru-kuru Puzzle, Bazaaru de Gozaau no Game de Gozaaru, Bushi Seiryuden, and Click Medic before the actual release of Pocket Monsters Red and Green in japan in 1996. While most of the games were created for the Nintendo platform, there were several others they did for the PC and even for the Playstation. GameFreak was relatively successful in their early endeavors, it's most successful game being Yoshi's Egg which sold over 4 million copies worldwide.

Satoshi Tajiri was born in Tokyo on August 28th, 1965. His career began in his teens when he began writing strategy guides for various japanese gaming magazines. Supposedly his skills were honed on Space Invaders, where he scored much higher than his other friends and helped to urge him to pursue a career in the video game industry. His first steps were to establish GameFreak in 1982, first as a comic book magazine and then followed with movement into video games. Tajiri began appearing on various television shows throughout Japan talking and discussing video games, and slowly but surely came to be recognized as an authority on the subject.

Ken Sugimori is the Chief Graphic Designer at GameFreak, and as you know, responsible for creating all of the Pokemon images for the games. His position at GameFreak basically made him second in command when it comes to Pokemon and he was also responsible for the graphics of GameFreak's previous games, many of which are reminiscent of later Pokemon designs.

Development on Pokemon at GameFreak started more than six years before its' official release in 1996. Tajiri supposedly said the idea came to him in memory of his rare collection of Ultraman comic books, where they included detailed statistics on all of the heroes and villains of the series. There has also been some other speculation that his inspiration came from a bug collecting hobby of his, but during an interview back in 2002 for a special pokemon edition commemorating the release of Pokemon Yellow, he in fact said that his inspiration came from Ultraman. Tajiri thought that players would enjoy collecting detailed statistical data for a group of video game characters. Though this wasn't at first very strongly realized in the original RBY generation, later once the ingame stats were remade for Ruby and Sapphire, resulting in Effort and Individual Values as well as a focus on Base stats coupled with breeding, Tajiri's dream was made into a reality. Once GameFreak coupled with Nintendo, ideas were passed back and forth. Initial designs were apparently rejected by Nintendo for possessing too many similarities to Dungeons and Dragons. Plans though eventually coalesced and GameFreak rigorously alpha and beta tested Pokemon for several years. Tajiri even said that Pokemon was bug tested for a longer period of time than any other game in Nintendo's history!

There are several key people also involved in getting Pokemon running who were at Nintendo. Most famously, Shigeru Miyamoto (who was responsible for the creation of the Mario and Zelda franchises), as well as Hiroki Nakamura, and Takashi kawaguchi. Nintendo originally wasn't very convinced that bringing Pokemon to America was the right decision. There were various feelings around the company, that Americans and Westerners in general, wouldn't fully appreciate or understand being able to collect the little creatures. Thus the show was introduced to the states first, to gauge the audience's reaction. Obviously the reaction was significant and the decision was made to send Pokemon over to the United States. It was also Miyamoto's decision to seperate "Pokemon" into two games, Red and Green in Japan and Red and Blue in the US. The second most notable figure at Nintendo, who was heavily involved in Pokemon, was Hiroki Nakamura. It was his task to rename the Pokemon into English names which would appeal to American gamers. his task was quite difficult because he had to come up with a name and then get it approved by GameFreak and Creatures. If it were approved by them, he then had to get it approved by Nintendo of America. Any rejection by any of the companies meant he had to start all over again with that Pokemon's name. The process took over eight months to complete.

The final company responsible for the creation of Pokemon is Creatures, Inc. Under the command of Tsunekazu Ishihara, Creatures helped develop Pokemon from just gameboy games, into a phenomenon. He developed and then sold the rights to the Pokemon Card Game to Wizards of the Coast, who resold them later on. Today, Ishihara oversees the Pokemon franchise, including the rights for distribution and retail operations in Japan and
oversees. He’s responsible for both of the Pokemon Center’s being opened in Japan
(Tokyo and Osaka).

The three companies combined brought one of the most influential and long lasting series into existence. Pokemon's helped shape an entire generation of children and adults. Pokemon has expanded into other generas, television, and collectable card games, and as a result appeals to many different people. Individually there are elements lacking in each that would make it criticied for being too kiddish. But I think the important thing is to analyze Pokemon by looking at all three together, to be able to fully appreciate what a work of genius it was and still is and how it's capable of being loved, played, and appreciated by people of many different ages and in different cultures.

And today, with Pokemon's fourth generation coming out, it's one of the most anticipated games of the year. The Wii, which has been said to be Nintendo's most popular and best selling console ever, and the best since the Nintendo 64 and Super NES, will get its first nintendo wii-connection capable game in the form of Pokemon Battle Revolution!

There's simply no better time to be a Pokemon fan, than right now.


North America:
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All content, unless and where otherwise stated, of, Shingetsu, PokeSocial, and Cerise Island is © 2003-2008 Islander Network Inc. (MewDragon).  No attempt has been made to supercede any previously or currently existing copyright of Nintendo or their affiliates or partner companies.   Pokémon, Pikachu and all other elements of the Pokémon franchise are and remain © 1995-2008 Nintendo, GAME FREAK and Creatures. Inc.  

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