It’s the game that started a revolution, but it’s not just the fad that convinced gamers to “catch ’em all.” This deceptively simple and child-friendly roleplaying game design is a far deeper game design than it looks. Pokemon features way more strategy and gameplay than it leads on, offering gamers almost infinite gaming possibilities even after the main adventure ends. Pocket Monsters Red was released in Japan in 1996 by mail-order only (the two launch titles were Green and Blue). The franchise arrived in the west in 1998 as Pokemon Blue and Red (Roald Dahl holds the copyright for “Pocket Monsters” in the west, so the title was changed to the Japanese colloquial name). The games could be linked up with each other and with the N64’s Pokemon Stadium titles for creature trading.
Welcome to the world of Pokémon, one filled with wild Pokémon and the people who attempt to tame them. You are Ash Ketchum, a boy on a quest to become the best Pokémon trainer in the world. Professor Oak, the leading authority on Pokémon, has given you your choice of three tame Pokémon in exchange for your helping him catalog and document every Pokémon in the world.
But to catalog a Pokémon, you have to capture it, by first beating it up with one of your trained Pokémon, and then hitting it with an empty Poké Ball. As your tame Pokémon gain experience in battle, their abilities improve and they earn access to new attacks. Sometimes they even evolve into more advanced Pokémon.
Aside from capturing wild Pokémon and evolving your own, you can catalog new Pokémon–the only way to gather some Pokémon–by trading with another Pokémon player using either a link cable or the Game Boy Color’s infrared system. Pokémon gained through trades learn and evolve faster, and trading is the only way to capture all 151 Pokémon, since each Pokémon game (Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue, andPokémon Yellow) has certain Pokémon missing. So if you own Red and want to have a complete set of Pokémon, you must find a friendly Blue or Yellow owner and arrange a trade.