Pokemon 20th Anniversary: Ten Facts About Nintendo's Iconic Franchise


It's hard to believe that it's already been 20 years since Pokemon made its grand debut. Who would have thought that a game based on capturing animals would have gone on to become one of the biggest franchises the world has ever seen? Even back in the late '90s, many people dismissed Nintendo's new RPG as nothing but a fad - and yet, here we are, still talking about Pokemon two decades later.

One of the reasons why Pokemon has endured for so long is because of how intriguing the series is. True, the games aren't all that challenging, and the anime is about as simplistic as you can get, but that's just scratching the surface. Whether you're diving into the lore of the world, or reading up on the history of how the series got started, Pokemon can grab hold of fans like few other franchises can.

So, to celebrate the series' 20th anniversary, let's take a look back at the strange history - and even stranger world - of Nintendo's biggest franchise to date!

The Series' Humble Origins

Pokemon originally got its inspiration from two separate sources. The first was Pokemon creator Satoshi Taijiri's childhood, where he spent much of his free time collecting insects near his home in the country. The series was also inspired by Gashapon, small collectible toys held in capsules - not unlike a Pokeball!

It's All About Branding

While American gamers are used to the same logo being used across the entire franchise, Japanese Pokemon games each get their own, custom logo - and, let's be honest, they're a lot cooler than ours.

The True Final Battle

There was once a battle against Professor Oak planned for the end of Pokemon Red & Blue. The reason for its cut is still unknown, but it's speculated that the fight would have taken place after players defeated their rivals at the Indigo Plateau.

And Now We Have Over 700

During Pokemon Red & Blue's development, there were originally 190 different Pokemon - but, as work on the game continued, the number was cut down to the 151 we know today. The remaining Pokemon were then saved for Gold & Silver - including future Legendary Pokemon and Pokemon Silver mascot Lugia.

Probably the Right Call

Speaking of Gold & Silver, there were no plans to keep the franchise going after their release. However, the games ended up doing even better than their predecessors - combine that with the success of the Pokemon movie in 2000, and it's no surprise that the series continues on today.


Following the success of the series, several Christian groups began speaking out against Pokemon. In response, Pope John Paul II - yes, the actual Pope - declared that the series was perfectly fine for children, and that there were no anti-Christian messages present within the games or anime.

So THAT'S Why He Wanted Coffee

Despite getting a blessing from the Pope, Nintendo of America still thought that Pokemon was a bit too risque at some points, and have censored the games on a number of different occasions over the years. Notable examples include altering in-game sprite artwork, and changing the old man outside Viridian City from drunk to sleepy.

Just Add Pokemon

Core Pokemon games aren't the only ones to undergo drastic changes: Pokemon Snap was originally built as a 'simulation' game, though the team was having trouble figuring out the game's direction. In order to keep development moving forward, Pokemon were added in, and the game as we know it came to be.

The Wrong Kind of Real-World Connection

The fourth generation of Pokemon games take place in Unova, which is based on New York City. Route 4, one of the regions in Unova, is a large desert/construction zone- and, when compared to a map of NYC, happens to fall near the site of the World Trade Center disaster from 2001. While this supposed connection did generate some controversy, Nintendo has confirmed that any ties between Route 4 and 9/11 are completely coincidental.

They're Basically the Same, Right?

Throughout the years, a number of different moves have been somewhat lost in translation. For instance, Magikarp's only attack, 'Splash', is actually a mistranslation of 'Hop' - and it's far from the only example. Others include Chansey's 'Soft-Boiled', which was originally 'Egg Lay', and the Electric-Type move 'Thunder', which should actually be named 'Lightning'.

I like shorts! They're comfy and easy to wear!

Alright, that's not exactly trivia, but it's important info nonetheless.

Pokemon has been on a strange, wild ride for the past two decades - here's to another twenty years!

For more on Nintendo's plans for the future of the franchise, check out the official Pokemon Sun & Moon announcement.

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