Pokémon launched in Japan in 1996 on the Game Boy with Pokémon Blue and Pokémon Red. No one could have imagined that the series would go on to make more than $50 billion in revenue and sell over 250 million copies.
The concept was simple, catch Pokémon and battle them against other Pokémon. Level them up and trade them for other Pokémon you want. There were 151 of these interesting creatures spread out between both games (nothing compared to the 721 there are now). The games even had this crazy feature where you could link 2 consoles together with a cable to trade and battle with your real life friends. This may be overlooked in an age of wireless connectivity, but it was a pretty big deal back in the 90’s.
Kids (myself included) flocked to the stores to buy anything remotely attached to Pokémon; clothes, trading cards, cereal, stuffed animals, and even underwear. Anything, really. The series continues to sell millions of dollars in merchandise and games.
The games have undergone significant changes since they first launched. The pixel art style has been completely revamped on handhelds and is now in full 3D with 3D models. Hundreds of creatures have been added, you can breed them, trade online, set up tournaments, participate in contests, etc. The mainline games have always been kept on handheld consoles, although spinoffs have launched all Nintendo consoles and a free puzzle game even launched on mobile devices last year.
Nintendo, makers of Pokémon, are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the series in 2016 with various releases. The biggest perhaps is the launch of Pokémon GO, a mobile game which is expected to perform exceptionally well.
It doesn’t seem Pokémon will be going away anytime soon, so expect news of a 30th and maybe even 50th anniversary as time passes. Until then, “Gotta catch ‘em all!”