Pokemon Juggernaut

Sure, Pokemon is supposedly for kids, but you shouldn’t ignore it. Here’s why.

You can’t turn around these days without seeing another Pikachu or other syrupy sweet character from Nintendo’s famous Pokémon series of games. From toys and cartoons and video games, today’s youth was swept away by “Poké-Mania” and for ten years now the tide hasn’t stopped. How can such a silly concept be so lasting?

You may not know that Pokémon was created as a video game concept in Japan in 1996. A popular pastime of Japanese children is collecting insects. A Japanese businessman named Satoshi Tajiri-Oniwa thought that a game that revolved around collecting different kinds of animals would be a big seller, so he set out with the idea that soon became the multimillion dollar international marketing machine we all know and love (tolerate?) today.

The original games were deceptively simple, with a certain quirky and endearing charm. You start out as a child who is given a Pokémon (short for “Pocket Monster” as for the American release, Nintendo feared litigation from the company that owned the similarly titled “Monster in my Pocket”) for protection as you explore the world in a quest to capture every kind of monster. The Pokémon you capture can help you find and capture other monsters. As well, you can even trade monsters with your friends to grow your collection. This is even necessary, since there are two versions of every Pokémon game and some monsters can only be caught in one version or the other.

As you raise your Pokémon and see them grow stronger, you can battle with them against other players. These “battles” are basically a complex game of “rock, paper, scissors”, with each monster having a characteristic which gives it the edge over another type. For instance, grass types can easily wear down water types, but are weak to fire and bird types!

While all of the merchandising soon followed, the actual games are very clever and well made, which make them a lot of fun for anyone who enjoys strategy or even just exploring a world and collecting cute or fearsome or strange creatures! You can enjoy the games without ever watching a cartoon or buying a stuffed Pikachu–trying to “catch ’em all” has been a guilty pleasure of quite a few people outside of the target demographic for these games.