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Published on April 11, 2011 | by nauman     Photography by

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Pokémon: gotta remember ’em all!

ALISHA KARIM-LALJI
Biz/Tech Reporter

Sarah Caracciolo

This year marks the fifteen-year anniversary for Nintendo’s Pokémon franchise. To celebrate the event, Nintendo has released new Pokémon games for its North American audience just months after the launch in Japan.

Kids and adults alike are lining up to buy the latest version of the new Pokémon games. Pokémon Black and Pokémon White have broken records by selling over one million copies on the first day of release. The franchise has proved once again that it has the formula for success.

The concept of Pokémon was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1996. The player is thrown into a world where creatures called Pokémon co-exist alongside humans.  The majority of the game involves capturing different types of wild Pokémon with a Pokéball, and training them to battle other trainers.

Each generation of the games build upon the last by introducing new Pokémon, items, and gameplay. There are 649 Pokémon spanning five different regions. The storyline depicts the player, a young trainer, who wants to become a Pokémon Master. The player battles many other trainers, trying to defeat the main antagonist, Team Plasma that wants to use Pokémon to control the world.

Pokémon games have been released by Nintendo systems including the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi, Game Cube games and the Nintendo Wii. There are 17 from the main handheld series, and 30 from  the spin-off series.

Pokémon Black and Pokémon White breathe life into the established monster-catching series with a new region to explore, an intriguing plot, over 150 new creatures, and unique features for the DSi system.

Carter Nguyen is a student at York University. He’s been a fan of Pokémon since it was first released in North America in 1998. At the time, Nguyen was eight-years-old.

“I remember seeing the first episode of the anime. It was a Saturday,” he says. “I actually used to know the lyrics to the poke-rap. It was a little segment that they would play at the end of each episode.”

Nguyen says that he stopped playing the Pokémon games when he got older, but he was excited when he heard about Pokémon Black and Pokémon White.

Nguyen says that throughout the years, many fans bought versions of the games based on the legendary Pokémon that are depicted on the covers. This time around, Pokémon Black features the Pokémon Reshiram, while Pokémon White features Zekrom. The new specs that Game Freak has implemented into the games are unique, while still conforming to the successful RPwG formula.

The differences between Pokémon Black and Pokémon White are not significant. For people who want to play the game for the details, they will have to decide based on the specs.

Pokémon Black features “Black city” which players can obtain unique items, where as Pokémon White has “White forest” in which players will have to explore to discover the items. Each version also contains nine unique Pokémon, and the likelihood of Pokémon appearing differs for both games. The games utilize the Nintendo DSi’s camera feature, where players have a “TV Transciever” that allows them to engage in video chat with up to two people online, or four people face-to-face.

The Pokémon franchise includes 39 video games, 14 films, a trading card game, numerous anime and manga series, and a successful merchandise line including toys, clothes, and even Pokémon themed food, Toyota’s “Pikachu” car and All Nippon Airways’ jets have Pokémon paint themes.

Sarah Caracciolo is a long-time Pokémon fan and an avid “cosplayer”. Cosplay, short for costume play, is a form of fan artwork where fans dress up as a character from a video game, anime, or comic book.

“Gijinka” is the Japanese equivalent of the word “anthropomorphic.” Many cosplayers who are fans of Pokémon will create outfits that resemble the appearance of a Pokémon.

“I’ve cosplayed a Pokémon called Mismagius; it’s a purple coloured ghost-type Pokémon,” Caracciolo says. “Mismagius is my favourite costume to wear since it is easy to put on, it’s comfortable, and the hat is awesome!”

There are many parodies of Pokémon in pop culture.

The television show South Park references Pokémon in an episode called “Chinpokomon.” The character named Kenny dies of a television-induced epileptic seizure, a direct reference to a controversial incident regarding episode 38 of the original Pokémon anime. CNN reported in 1997 that more than 700 people, many of them children, were rushed to hospital due to epilepsy-type symptoms after watching the episode. It contained five seconds of flashing red light, which was the main cause of the symptoms. Pokémon toys have subsequently made cameos throughout the South Park series.

Some fans still prefer the older Pokémon to the newer ones.

“My favourite Pokémon is Dragonite, from the first generation. I like dragon-type Pokémon the most,” Nguyen says. “Lance from the Elite Four introduced me to Dragonite. Ever since then it’s been my favourite.”

The future looks bright for Pokémon as Nintendo has recently released the 3DS, the first handheld gaming device of its kind. As the name suggests, the 3DS uses autostereoscopy, where players can experience three dimensional gaming without the use of special glasses. With the immense success of Pokémon Black and Pokémon White, we can expect more from the franchise in the future.

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