Commentary
12:30 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Your Move: 'Pokémon' Universe Continues To Grow

Credit gochie* / Flickr / Creative Commons

Nintendo’s Pokémon series is the second-best selling game franchise in history.

More than 200 million copies of Pokémon games have been sold. They’ve appeared on all of Nintendo’s handheld consoles, and all of their home consoles from the Nintendo 64 onward.

Since the series was launched in 1996, there has been a slow but steady stream of new games every few years. Each new iteration has introduced one or two new features and a new group of monsters to collect. The series started with 150 Pokémon to catch, whereas the last game to be released, 2010’s Pokémon Black and White, had a staggering total of 649 monsters.

The basic gameplay has stayed the same: your character is a young Pokémon trainer, who leaves home to catch Pokémon, train them to be strong, and to become a Champion by defeating a series of other trainers in battle.

Initially, the games’ graphics were very simple. Even the Game Boy version, where the first Pokémon game was released, was blocky and very stylized. However, as the series became more popular and adapted for newer, more powerful systems, the game became more colorful and animated.

Sam McConnell high-fives Pikachu at Osaka Pokémon Center on May 6, 2012.
Sam McConnell high-fives Pikachu at Osaka Pokémon Center on May 6, 2012.
Credit Allison McConnell

With Pokémon X and Y, which come out October 12, the series has finally moved to full 3D representations of everything in the game, including the Pokémon themselves. Nintendo has been tight-lipped about a lot of the new features, but one that’s highly anticipated is called “Experience Share.” In earlier games, when you are only using one of the six Pokémon on your team in each battle, only that one monster gets stronger from the experience - leading to imbalances if you prefer one Pokémon to the rest. With Experience Share, your other monsters also get a portion of the experience, so it is easier to train a balanced team.

Previously, Pokémon games have been released in Japan months before they’re seen anywhere else, so generally everything is known about them before anyone gets their hands on an English version. But Pokémon X and Y’s release date is global. Everyone is getting the game on the exact same day.

I like this. One of the great things about playing each game in the series is discovering the new Pokémon, and I’m sure there will be at least 100 more to discover on October 12.