The first Pokémon games, Pokémon Red and Green Versions, came to the Nintendo Game Boy system in Japan on February 27, 1996, which was the fulfillment of Satoshi Tajiri's dream and allowed people of all ages to catch, train and trade 151 creatures and become a Pokémon Master.
Initially, the Pokémon games had modest sales. However, after players discovered Mew in the games, the magazine CoroCoro announced a "Legendary Pokémon Offer" to distribute Mew to twenty entrants. The contest received 78,000 entrants, and the sales of the Pokémon games quickly increased. Due to high sales, Pokémon Red and Green were swiftly followed up with Pokémon Blue, which had improved graphics and sounds.
After the games, a Pokémon Trading Card Game was developed by Media Factory with its own set of rules. The first set of cards was released on October 20, 1996, containing 102 cards, and became very popular.
The franchise also won many manga interpretations, the first being Pokémon Pocket Monsters by Kosaku Anakubo, which was first collected and published in November 1996 by Shogakukan. This was chiefly a gag manga, using crude humor and slapstick, starring a Trainer named Red and his rude Clefairy.
The popularity of the franchise also led to an anime series based on the games, premiering in Japan on April 1, 1997. The main character was a young Pokémon Trainer named Satoshi (after Satoshi Tajiri, later dubbed in English to Ash Ketchum), based on Red. Another character introduced in the first episode was Satoshi's rival, Shigeru (after Shigeru Miyamoto, later dubbed in English to Gary Oak), based on Blue.
The anime quickly became very popular, and soon a manga series based on it named The Electric Tale of Pikachu was written by Toshihiro Ono. The first volume of the series was first published on October 28, 1997. The more famous manga in the western world, however, is Pokémon Adventures, the first volume of which was first published in Japan on August 8, 1997. This is the longest running manga in Pokémon history, as it is still ongoing today, over fourteen years later. Several other manga series were published in that era, including Pokémon Zensho and Miho Asada's Pokémon Gotta Catch 'Em All.
In addition to these manga series, Shogakukan also published the first volume of Pokémon Wonderland, a magazine with the latest information on the franchise, on August 23, 1997. They also released a new manga series named Pokémon PiPiPi ★ Adventures (later translated to Magical Pokémon Journey), authored by Yumi Tsukirino, on March 28, 1998. The main difference in this series was that is was aimed mainly towards girls.
On April 25, 1998, the first Pokémon Center store was opened in Tokyo, specializing in Pokémon merchandise. Along the way, The Pokémon Company began its operations. Many such stores were opened in later years, and today there are six different stores across Japan, as well as a subsection in the Nintendo World Store in New York.
Conquering the world
Ash Ketchum in the original series of the anime
Due to Pokémon's success in Japan, the series was released overseas. Before the games were released in North America, the localization team attempted to change the Pokémon designs, fearing that the cute designs would not appeal to western gamers; however, the proposal was refused. North America received Red and Blue Versions, as well as the anime, in September 1998 (the anime on the 7th and the games on the 30th), and soon everywhere else began to play the games on the Game Boy under the slogan Gotta Catch 'em All!. The Trading Card Game was also introduced to North America on January 9, 1999 by Wizards of the Coast.The Electric Tale of Pikachu became the first Pokémon manga to be translated to English when VIZ Mediastarted publishing it on September 28, 1999.
Meanwhile in Japan in 1998, a new spin-off game, Pokémon Stadium, was released for Nintendo 64. This game featured only 42 Pokémon of the full…