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How Pokemon Became One Of The Most Iconic Games Over The Last 20 Years


In February of this year, the Pokemon franchise celebrated its twentieth birthday of its initial appearance in Japan. Way back when, the franchise started out as nothing more than a simple cartridge made for the most simple of game consoles, the Gameboy (an extremely complicated gadget back then!). Now, twenty years on, it is one of the most popular, most recognised and most celebrated franchises in the world.

Pikachu is to us what Mickey Mouse and his crew were to the generation before us- totally iconic. There have been hundreds of games and spin-off games based on Pokemon, billions of Pokemon playing cards have been sold and dealt across the school playground among friends, the TV show still airs on the regular and let’s not even get started on the endless Pokemon themed merchandise that has come about over the last two decades.

What is Pokemon?

Pokemon is derived from the Japanese name ‘Pocket Monster’, and while there have been some baddies, adorable characters such as Pikachu and Squirtle are completely opposite- rather, they’re pocket cuties, imaginary creatures we spent years wishing we could have as real pets. With small, cute and ‘kawaii’ being the in thing in Japan always, Pokemon’s took off in a big way. So much so that just two years later, they broke into America and took the states by storm. Of course, once you’ve broken Japan and the US, you’re pretty much worldwide.

Becoming a Worldwide Phenomenon

In the same year that Pokemon took over the states (1998), the trading cards were released, and the cartoon followed- something that is still popular today. If we fast forward to the here and now in 2016, Pokemon’s worldwide statistics are unreal. There have been a total of 73 Pokemon games, 18 films, an ongoing TV show which has currently aired over 800 episodes and is continuing to air more, a Super Bowl commercial and a grand total of 718 Pokemon’s that have come face to face with Ash and his gang. That is an enormous number of ‘pocket numbers’ to be in possession of! On top of this, there have been 260 million Pokemon games sold for various consoles across the globe, and there have been 21.5 billion Pokemon trading cards sold to date, with more being purchased every single day, worldwide.

Why is Pokemon so Popular?

With all those statistics it’s pretty obvious to say that Pokemon is one of the most popular franchises in the world. In Japan, there are dedicated stores and Pokecenters, where fans can flock and relive their dream of becoming a Pokemon trainer. So, how did these cute characters become so popular? It seems to be very much a case of right place, right time. The “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” slogan also helped push fans toward collecting the cards and buying both versions of each of the games – just so they could catch them all. By constantly bringing out new games and ‘pocket monsters’, the creators of Pokemon have managed to keep the game familiar with children (and adults) of several generations.

It seems that the original Pokemon frenzy from 1996 lives on, stronger than ever before. The world is mad for Pokemon. Be it for the cuteness of the characters, the originality of the storylines or for the laid back and fun atmosphere of the whole ‘idea’ of Pokemon, who knows? One thing is clear- the love for Pokemon is only continuing to grow. It’s not burning out anytime soon!


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About the author

Rebecca Walton

Rebecca has always been fascinated with the business and tech world, having grown up with parents in the industry. She has a real passion for science - particularly space and the unknown realms that surround the planet! Rebecca has been writing for different publications for nearly 6 years and is now an editor at Pangaea Express.