Like the other community threads, we have a couple simple rules here to keep discussion lively and fun for everybody.
- All discussion of Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 is to be kept in the official thread for those games. Nothing from them, not even spoiler-tagged content, will be allowed here until the games' North American release.
- You can post clean fanart here, but try to restrain yourself from posting too much and diverting discussion. Current rule is a maximum of three images per post. You are free to post to your heart's desire in the Pokémon Art Thread. It shouldn't need repeating, but dirty fanart is not welcome here.
- Discussion of the series' music should go in the Pokémon Music Appreciation Thread.
- Discussion and asking for help about the competitive nature of the mainline games (IVs, EVs, Natures, hold items, etc.) should go in the Competitive Pokémon Thread.
- Discussion about the individual games themselves, and discussion of their online, should go in each game's official thread. Note that this only applies to games from Generations 4 and 5: Diamond/Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold/SoulSilver, Black/White, and Black 2/White 2.
- News about the series should get its own thread in Gaming, or be posted in an appropriate pre-existing thread.
- You can have casual discussion with your fellow Poké-nerds at the PokeGAF IRC. That's #PokeGAF at irc.rizon.net. Note: There will be no spoiler talk of Pokémon Black and White Version 2 in the IRC until the games are released internationally.
- PokéGAF now has its own Steam Community! Now you can play PC games and participate in events with your favorite neighborhood mental defects.
- We're all here to have fun, right? Discussion can get heated but please respect whoever you may be discussing with.
Possible topics of discussions could be:
- Which generation introduced the best changes?
- Do you watch the anime? Why or why not?
- What can be done to improve the series in future games?
- What are your favorite Pokémon? From each generation?
- What are some of the craziest urban legends you've heard about the series?
- Should the manga get its own anime?
- Is the series stagnating? Why or why not?
- Should the battle system be changed to be more action-oriented?
- What more can be done with online?
- What are your favorite anime openings, American and/or Japanese?
- What's your personal ranking of the mainline games, and why?
After a staggering six-year development period, Pocket Monsters Red and Green were released in Japan in February 1996. Boasting revolutionary connectivity features and addicting gameplay, they were pretty much an overnight success, eventually going on to sell over 10 million in their home country (with the help of the eventual Blue.) Red and Green introduced the original 150 Pokémon, plus one extra: Mew, which was the first Pokémon trademark ever registered but the last Pokémon put into the game -- even after the debug tools were removed, which is more than a bit dangerous!
Japan would see its third version, Blue, later that year in October 1996. However it would be about two years before international markets would taste the phenomenon. Pokémon Red and Blue were released for the United States, Europe, and Australia between September and October 1998. They were essentially translated versions of Japan's Blue, and became an overnight sensation.
Red and Blue exploded in popularity, but what fed that popularity was the series' anime, which itself was lighting up the charts as well. To capitalize on this, a fourth Generation 1 game was created: Pokémon Yellow, released in Japan in September 1998 and abroad in 1999 and 2000. Based on Red and Blue, Yellow tied in explicitly with the anime in several ways: the player's starting Pokémon was always Pikachu (and the rival's was always Eevee), Jesse and James were involved in the story's plot, and the player's Pikachu had a personality and followed him around the overworld. This "following Pokémon" feature was exclusive to Yellow for over 10 years until HeartGold and SoulSilver.
Three years after Red and Green's debut in Japan, and two years after Red and Blue's debut in North America, Pokémon Gold and Silver were released. Boasting numerous additions and enhancements to the series, many fans considered them the best in the entire series. These changes included a real-time day/night and week cycle (that affected which Pokémon you could catch at certain times, and what certain Pokémon evolve into), breeding Pokémon (and by extension genders), the Special stat being split into Special Attack and Special Defense, and shiny Pokémon (basically ultra-rare pallet swaps.) It also added a new region, two new types (Dark and Steel), and 101 new Pokémon to the Pokémon world. Besides that, clearing the main quest would open up the previous games' Kanto region and gyms -- making them the only games in the series with more than one explorable region.
Gold and Silver also remain the only main series games to continue the storyline from the previous game, showing the exploits of a leader-less Team Rocket. All in all, tremendous games that truly earned their development title of Pocket Monsters 2. Game Freak put their all into Gold and Silver because they expected them to be the final games in the series. But of course, all good things must never come to an end...
One year after Gold and Silver, Pokémon Crystal hit the scene. It contained some minor tweaks and traditions such as the standard for the "third versions" would become. These included the series' first Battle Tower, short intro animations for in-battle Pokémon, a subplot focusing on the Unown and Suicune, and in what would become a series staple from this game-on, a playable female character.
Two years after Crystal, the Pokémon series was ready to leap onto much stronger hardware for the first time. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were released in 2002 and 2003 and sort of became a blank slate for Game Freak -- a strong foundation they would use well into the future, that is still in place in some areas in Black and White. To begin with, Ruby and Sapphire broke connectivity with all previous mainline games; while Gold, Silver, and Crystal could trade back and forth with their older brethren, such was not that case with Ruby and Sapphire even though it was technically possible. Additionally, the single explorable region, Hoenn, featured very few of the series' previous 251 Pokémon, opting instead to showcase the 135 new Pokémon they were introducing. This made it impossible or very difficult to get one of those older Pokémon until FireRed and LeafGreen were released. For these reasons and some others, Ruby and Sapphire were the first games that the entire fanbase did not have a unified opinion on -- some liked the new Pokémon and changes, others did not like how much it changed or removed from the last generation (like the day/night cycle, or continuing the plot.)
But looking back, all of that was a necessary step. Although not really apparent until Emerald, Ruby and Sapphire's changes and especially additions were crucial in making the series better-suited for hardcore play. These additions included abilities, natures, double battles, Pokémon Contests, and a 60 frames-per-second framerate.
Realizing what they had done by breaking connectivity with earlier games in Ruby and Sapphire, Game Freak acted quickly and in 2004 released Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen. These two games were enhanced remakes of the first two games in the series (Red and Green, obviously) that not only featured appropriately updated graphics, but also most of the Ruby and Sapphire's enhancements as well such as a playable female character. FireRed and LeafGreen also introduced the GBA Wireless Adapter, which lets players trade and battle wirelessly. Finally, these two remakes added an additional area called the Sevii Islands south of Kanto where Pokémon from Generation 2 could be caught, finally making almost all of the Pokémon in the series available in the GameBoy Advance games.
In 2004 and 2005, Pokémon Emerald was released at the end of the GameBoy Advance's life (heck, the Nintendo DS was already out when Emerald was released internationally.) Even still, Emerald was the only thing to tide Pokémon fans over for the two years until Diamond and Pearl. In addition to compatibility with the GBA Wireless Adapter, Emerald combined Ruby and Sapphire's plots, as well as further hardcore tweaks (like Flame Body halving an egg's hatch time) culminating in the Battle Frontier, Game Freak's love letter to hardcore battlers. Easily adding 100s of hours to your in-game clock if you truly dove into it, the Battle Frontier featured a full seven areas that tested your Pokémon mettle in vastly different areas. Here, it wasn't possible to win a match with brute strength (higher levels) and revives/potions -- you had to come up with a team with as few flaws and gaps as possible, and use your intelligence to decide which move was best.
In 2006 and 2007, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl ushered in the fourth generation on the Nintendo DS, the first non-GameBoy hardware to host the main series. Introducing Sinnoh and 107 new Pokémon, Diamond and Pearl were brave steps in the series forward. They were compatible with the previous generation games through the Pal Park, and brought back and expanded on the day/night time cycle from Generation 2. Arguably their biggest contribution to the series was online play -- through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, friends could battle and trade Pokémon worldwide for the first time, all with full voice chat support. Players could also request and search for trades from anyone through the Global Trade System, although random online battles were sadly not available. Some Pokémon in this generation featured dimorphous sprites: small changes dependent on a Pokémon's gender. As for hardcore play, Diamond and Pearl designated individual moves as Physical or Special, instead of whole types, which was a pretty radical change that made the games feel more balanced.
Pokémon Platinum was released in 2008 and 2009 and was Diamond and Pearl's "third game." It changed the storyline from those games a bit with the addition of the characters Looker and Charon, culminating in a different ending that took place in Giratina's native Distortion Realm. The amount of gameplay tweaks were admittedly minimal outside of the resurrection of the Battle Frontier, which was quite different from Emerald's but functioned much the same as a post-game area for more hardcore players.
Following in FireRed and LeafGreen's footsteps, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver were the series' second set of remakes, this time obviously of Gold and Silver, however they integrated some of Crystal's features as well, including the Battle Tower (well, Battle Frontier, carried over exactly from Platinum), and the Unown and Suicune subplots. HeartGold and SoulSilver also resurrected Yellow's standout feature, "following Pokémon," making it applicable to any of Generation 4's 493 Pokémon (however, the following Pokémon did not have dynamic personalities like Yellow's Pikachu did.) HeartGold and SoulSilver went out of their way to address their original's shortcomings, adding a Safari Zone to Johto, Cerulean Cave back to Kanto, and as many legendary Pokémon as possible: Moltres, Articuno, Zapdos, Mewtwo, Entei, Suicune, Raikou, Lugia, Ho-oh, Latios/Latias, Groudon/Kyogre and Rayquaza are all capturable in-game without any sort of events. Mew, Jirachi, Celebi, and Palkia/Dialga/Giratina were made available through events.
Not missing a beat, the fifth generational games Pokémon Black and White debuted in 2010 and 2011, following HeartGold and SoulSilver the year before. They were the first games that debuted a new generation that was playable on the same systems as the prior generation since Gold and Silver, and like those games Black and White had increased functionality on Nintendo's "in-betweeny" system, in this case the Nintendo DSi. When played on a DSi, four player videochat was possible.
Aside from that, Black and White featured some sweeping changes compared to Diamond and Pearl. Technical Machines no longer broke (like Hidden Machines), there was now a seasonal system in addition to the day/night cycle, random online battles were now possible, and the game introduced triple and rotation battles that built off the mechanics established for double battles. Online-wise, Black and White could connect to the Pokémon Dream World, the website of which you could encounter Pokémon with special abilities. Unfortunately, the "following Pokémon" feature was not carried over from HeartGold and SoulSilver. Finally, Black and White introduced the Unova region and 156 new Pokémon -- a series high!
Being the second-highest-selling franchise worldwide, Pokémon has had numerous spinoff games. These stretch back to Hey You, Pikachu! and Pokémon Snap for the N64, Pokémon Trading Card Game and the Pokémon Pinball series for GameBoy and GameBoy Advance, the Pokémon Ranger and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series for Nintendo DS, and countless others. Pokémon also dominates the Super Smash Bros., with the latest game Brawl having six total playable Pokémon, and 30 others are available through the Pokéball item.
Recently released for Nintendo 3DS is a sequel to the spinoff Pokémon Rumble for WiiWare: Pokémon Rumble Blast. It's safe to say that such spinoffs will continue for as long as the main series does.
Since the Community forum is a mix of gaming and non-gaming discussion, I would say it's perfectly acceptable to discuss the anime in this thread, especially since the anime is a major part of the franchise.
The anime is currently airing its 14th season and at time of posting has aired over 700 total episodes, with many more to come. The anime also has 14 movies under its belt (15 if you count the two Black/White movies separately, or the upcoming Kyurem vs. The Sacred Swordsmen), with numerous shorts attached to them.
The anime follows Ash's (Satoshi) journey to become a Pokémon Master by entering several Pokémon competitions, earning the required badges, and hopefully defeating those who have also entered the competition. He has journeyed across several regions, not all of which are in the games, along with a changing set of companions. Currently, he is making his way through Unova (Isshu) with Cylan (Dent) and Iris.
There have been several Pokémon manga, but the longest-running and most popular is Pokémon Adventures (Pocket Monsters: Special.) It follows the games more closely than the anime, with the player characters in the games becoming actual characters, but it doesn't strictly follow the games' storylines. It is also a bit darker and more violent than both the games and anime.
The Pokémon Trading Card Game debuted in 1998 and was initially published by Wizards of the Coast, but then in 2003 Pokémon USA and Nintendo themselves took over publication responsibilities. It remains one of the most widely-played card games of all-time, with over 50 full expansion sets having been produced since its release. Discussion of all the different aspects of the TCG are welcome here, with the exception of the new online version, which has its own thread.
In the Pokémon TCG, you play with a set amount of 60 cards per deck. Six random cards are designated as "prizes" for knocking out an opponent's Pokémon. You need to use skill to switch between active and benched Pokémon, use Trainer and Energy cards correctly, and evolve your Pokémon at the right time. It's actually one of the least-complex popular card games, which may be helped by the game's rolling set of allowable cards (older sets are phased out and made illegal eventually.) NeoGAF has a couple of players and this thread would be a great place to discuss getting started, hardcore strategies, and everything in between.
Wouldn't be a community thread without a good ol' timeline chart!
- SpaceEmotion for the actual font from Pokémon Black and White.
- The Spriters Resource for the individual frames for the player characters at the start of this thread.
- Thanks to absolutely no one for the animated versions of the player characters, I had to do that myself since I didn't find anyone else who did it. (Bulbapedia has versions but they're animated PNGs. Not even Gimp opens those correctly!) Erm, anyone on GAF or finding this place from the internet is free to use these without credit, all the real credit goes to Game Freak anyways.
- Game Freak (and Nintendo, Creatures Inc., Genius Sorority, HAL Labs, ShoPro, Wizards of the Coast, et al.) for making such an awesome and inspiring cross-medium franchise!