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15 Pokémon Facts to Inspire You to Catch ‘Em All

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If you can easily attribute the quote, "Hi! I like shorts! They're comfy and easy to wear!" then you were likely one of the millions of kids who have caught, trained, and battled the mini-monsters of Pokémon Red Version and Pokémon Blue Version.

Since the games’ 1998 North American launch, the Pokémon series has racked up six generations of games, more than 600 monsters, and sold 270 million units, so there are a few things about it that even Professor Oak might have missed along the way.

1. PER JAPANESE GRAMMAR, THE SINGULAR AND PLURAL ARE BOTH ‘POKÉMON’

The title Pokémon is a contraction of the romanized Japanese brand name Pocket Monsters (Poketto Monsutā), and also the word for the little beasts. As with most Japanese nouns, which are typically modified for number by preceding ‘counter words,’ the singular and plural versions of Pokémon are identical (as in, “Billy has 249 Pokémon; alas, I only have one Pokémon”), and the singular/plural for species names are interchangeable, too (“I’ll trade you one evolved Pikachu and two Bulbasaur for two non-evolved Pikachu and 1,000 Mewtwo”). 

2. THE GAME WAS INSPIRED BY (AND ITS CHARACTERS BASED ON) INSECTS 


Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri told TIME that he, like other kids of his generation, spent many happy childhood hours collecting bugs and examining their behavior. But as urban development began to push bugs out of their natural habitats, he saw kids migrating, too. “Kids play inside their homes now, and a lot had forgotten about catching insects. So had I. When I was making games, something clicked and I decided to make a game with that concept.” 

His solution was a videogame that allowed kids to collect creatures with different features and behaviors that they could study. Just like bugs were for young Tajiri, these creatures were “mysterious” and “odd,” and “moved kind of funny.” 

In the same interview, TIME asked if Tajiri made his insects fight one another, to which he responded, “No, but sometimes they would eat each other.” For his own Pokémon universe, Tajiri also made sure that battling creatures would never bleed or die, but rather just faint when defeated. 

3. AMERICAN AUDIENCES ALMOST GOT BEEFED-UP VERSIONS OF POKÉMON 

As Kotaku points out, U.S. players came close to getting muscular versions of Pokémon instead of the regular, cute versions we know and love. Current Nintendo president Satoru Iwata says that the idea for muscle-bound monsters was an attempt to speak to American gamers. Luckily, American players were perfectly happy to accept the cute fighters, divergent as they were from the then-status quo of kids’ toy culture.

4. BETWEEN THEM, THE ORIGINAL 151 POKÉMON MAKE ONLY 37 SOUNDS ... 

In Pokémon Red and Blue for Game Boy in the U.S., there are 151 different monsters, but their collective cries only contain 37 unique sounds in total. Many of the cries were adapted for different Pokémon by changing their speed or pitch, but several monsters, including Charizard and Rhyhorn, are simply vocal twins. 

5. ... AND WHILE THE BOX PROMISED 139 POKÉMON, YOU COULDN’T CATCH MORE THAN 124.

The Game Boy packaging for first-generation Pokémon games told players that they could round up 139 different characters without needing to trade. However, gameplay requires players to choose between certain character families, so—when excluding starter and Fossil families, and a couple of trading-based evolved characters, as well as glitches—the maximum number of Pokémon attainable in an adventure is 124. 

6. IT LET PLAYERS PLUG IN TO TRADE AND BATTLE THEIR CHARACTERS ... 

Using a Link Cable for Game Boy, Pokémon players were suddenly able to trade uniquely trained and developed characters with one another, a kind of information sharing not previously available to home gamers. As 1UP.com reported, Tajiri explained, "I imagined a chunk of information being transferred by connecting two Game Boys with special cables, and I went wow, that's really going to be something!"

The Pokémon team followed up this game-changing tech, which was a late-in-life achievement for the Game Boy system, with the Nintendo 64 Transfer Pak hardware for Pokémon Stadium, which allowed players to use their own characters (trained and toned via Game Boy) on the big screens of their TVs. 

7. ... PERHAPS SETTING A PRECEDENT FOR THE CARD GAME’S MASSIVE SUCCESS. 

The original Japanese releases of Pocket Monsters: Red and Green established a winning formula (for Nintendo, anyway): Pokémon-hungry players needed to buy both separately-sold games in order to amass all available characters and adventures. Players’ ability to collect and swap characters also made the practice of stockpiling as many Pokémon as possible an even bigger part of the franchise’s culture. The Pokémon Trading Card Game, first launched in Japan in 1996, complemented this formula, and more than 21.5 billion cards have been shipped out to more than 74 countries to date. (Some are now worth between $20 and $100,000 each.)

8. IN THE JAPANESE VERSION, THE OLD MAN IS SECRETLY DRUNK. 

If you played Pokémon Red and Blue, you may remember an old man in Viridian City (his character name is “old man”) who blocks your way to Route 2 while grumpily demanding his morning coffee. The character was placed there as a barrier, making sure players complete certain tasks before proceeding. In the Japanese version of the game, the coffee serves not to fill his daily caffeine fix but rather to sober him up (after which he can usefully teach a player needed skills).   

9. THE FIRST POKÉMON GAMES WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE A FEMALE TRAINER. 

During development of the original Red and Green releases, designers planned to include a female trainer with the games’ two male ones. She didn’t make it into first-generation Kanto (though she’s featured in the games’ strategy guides and artwork) but reportedly became the character “Green” in Pokémon Adventures comics and “Leaf” in the remakes FireRed and LeafGreen

10. MEW WAS LAST-MINUTE, HAS UNIQUE POWERS, AND WAS (SOMEHOW) TRADEMARKED BEFORE POKÉMON ... 

Among the most mysterious of all Pokémon, Mew is rumored to be the ancestor of (or involved in the ancestry of) all other Pokémon, is the only genderless Pokémon to learn to Captivate, is from Guyana, and reportedly was trademarked on March 31, 1994 (with an application date of May 9, 1990)—despite the fact that Pocket Monsters itself wasn't trademarked until December 26, 1997. 

Programmer Shigeki Morimoto claims he snuck Mew into the game at the eleventh hour. Two weeks before the first Pokémon titles were released, he’s said, he added the infamous feline to the game unofficially in a remaining parcel of space, even though the production team had already completed its final checks. As a result, players could collect the secret Pokémon using an in-game glitch through a few different methods.

11. ...AND MAY HAVE TWO CLONES (ONE OF WHICH PRECEDES IT IN POKÉDEX). 

Mewtwo, listed as #150 in the Pokédex character roster, is a clone of Mew, who took the #151 spot as a secret Pokémon. However, fans have also speculated that Ditto—another genderless Pokémon that weighs the same as Mew, has the same base stats, has near-identical coloring, and can also Transform innately—is a "failed" clone of Mew. Ditto is also known to hang out with Mewtwo and on Cinnabar Island in a mansion where Mew was supposedly experimented on. 

12. NINTENDO DIDN’T THINK THE GAME WOULD SUCCEED ... 

Nintendo had turned down the plans for Pocket Monsters—first called Capsule Monsters while in development by Tajiri at Game Freak—several times before Shigeru Miyamoto (of Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, and Star Fox fame) got involved and became a proponent of the game. Once Nintendo was on board, the team had the funding to see development through.

13. ... BUT IT BECAME THE SECOND-MOST SUCCESSFUL FRANCHISE EVER, AND AN ALL-TIME CRITICS’ PICK. 

Haseo, Flickr //CC BY 2.0

From a financial standpoint, the pint-sized scrappers of the Pokémon franchise have more than pulled their weight. Pokémon is second only to Mario (and right above Final Fantasy) as an all-time top seller, and early games collected the hearts of critics across the board, too. Upon the release of Pokémon Red, the gaming site IGN wrote that the game “isn't just a fad. It's an awesome game worthy of any gamer's Game Boy library,” and that, "Even if you finish the quest, you still might not have all the Pokémon in the game. The challenge to catch 'em all is truly the game's biggest draw." In its review of Pokémon Blue, GameSpot noted that "Under its cuddly exterior, Pokémon is a serious and unique RPG with lots of depth and excellent multiplayer extensions” and “easily one of the best Game Boy games to date."

14. TAJIRI NAMED POKÉMON’S RIVAL CHARACTER AFTER HIS MENTOR.

To thank Shigeru Miyamoto for his help with and support in launching the game, creator Satoshi Tajiri named the default rival in the first-generation Japanese games “Shigeru” (with the games’ protagonist called, of course, “Satoshi”).

15. POKÉMON IS STILL A REAL MONEY MAKER—AND WAS ALSO MADE INTO MONEY. 

Next year, the Pokémon franchise will celebrate 20 years of nonstop mini-monster brawling. During that time it’s churned out not only 270 million game units and 21.5 billion cards in 10 languages, but also 18 international seasons of an animated series, 17 feature-length films, and countless toys and other kinds of merchandise. In all, the monsters have raked in $2 billion. 

Unlike other bestsellers, however, Pokémon has the rare honor of having been made into actual legal tender. In 2001, the self-governing state of Niue (a South Pacific island nation in free association with New Zealand) printed a special run of $1 coins featuring Pikachu, Meowth, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, and Charmander. Collectors hotly pursue the coins, which sell for $300 apiece or more. 

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Netflix
A New Stranger Things Video Game Is in the Works
Netflix
Netflix

The world of Stranger Things is ready to get the proper video game treatment. TechRadar exclusively revealed that the hit sci-fi series from Netflix will be coming to consoles, courtesy of Telltale Games. Though details are scarce, this seems to be the beginning of a working relationship between the two companies as it was also announced that Telltale’s popular Minecraft: Story Mode game will soon be brought to Netflix as a “5-episode interactive narrative series,” according to the site.

Though Minecraft will be experienced through Netflix itself, the Stranger Things game will be a traditional console/computer release. If you’re unfamiliar with Telltale, its brand of games tends to favor a branching narrative experience that emphasizes player choice over button mashing. These point-and-click adventures usually don’t have a standard release schedule, either; instead, they’re split up into parts and distributed episodically for download. The games are usually released on consoles, including the Nintendo Switch, as well as PC, Android, and iOS.

While the highlight of Telltale’s work is widely considered to be its Walking Dead adaptations, they’ve also found success with other blockbuster franchises like Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy, and its latest effort, Batman: The Enemy Within. There’s no word on whether or not the Stranger Things cast will be involved in the game, or if it will follow the established Telltale formula. In a statement to TechRadar, a spokesperson for the developer said, “we're excited to reveal details on these projects later in the year.”

This might not be the end of Netflix’s foray into the video game world. While the company has no plans to enter the market itself, TechRadar did find a job listing at Netflix for a Manager of Interactive Licensing who will "use games as a marketing tactic to capture demand and delight our member community (ex: Stranger Things: The Game)." May your dreams of a Narcos economic simulator game be realized.

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10 Surprising Facts About Fallout
Mike Windle/Getty Images for Bethesda
Mike Windle/Getty Images for Bethesda

On the surface, the pervasive violence, nightmarish difficulty, and dark humor of the Fallout series should have relegated it to niche status. But it’s that exact combination (along with the ability to have your very own handheld nuke launcher) that’s helped it become one of the most acclaimed series in the gaming industry over the last 20 years.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world where mutants, cannibals, and raiders descend upon you in waves, the Fallout franchise has come to define the modern role-playing game, from its first iteration at Interplay Entertainment to its modern installments at Bethesda Softworks. As gamers anticipate the next entry in the series, Fallout 76, take a look at 10 facts about this iconic series.

1. IT’S A SPIRITUAL SUCCESSOR TO WASTELAND.

Before Interplay’s original Fallout came out, the studio already visited a war-torn nightmare of a world in 1988’s Wasteland. In this RPG on the PC, players took on the role of the Desert Rangers, a team tasked with roaming what’s left of the Southwest United States while battling any warring factions they came across.

When Interplay couldn’t pry the rights to Wasteland away from distributor Electronic Arts for a sequel, director Timothy Cain and his team crafted a brand-new IP that focused on mainly the same nuclear-scorched principles. Though a number of titles were batted around—including Vault 13—the team eventually settled on Fallout, which was a name suggested by Interplay head Brian Fargo.

2. THE POST-APOCALYPSE WASN’T THE FIRST SETTING DISCUSSED.

Fallout is defined by its setting—the war-torn streets, smoldering husks of civilization, and retro-futuristic vibe all helped make this franchise stand out from its competition. But this world wasn’t Cain’s first idea. According to a feature article on Polygon, Cain originally toyed with the type of traditional fantasy RPG that had defined the genre during the 1990s. The next idea was to let you play as time-traveling dinosaurs, which is obviously never a wrong choice. Eventually, though, the team settled on the post-apocalyptic theme that has stayed with the franchise ever since.

3. THEN THE WHOLE THING WAS ALMOST DERAILED BY D&D.

Though the team finally nailed down the world, it didn’t mean Fallout was a sure thing. At one point during production, Interplay got the rights to release games based on the Dungeons & Dragons franchise, and the company wanted to scrap Fallout and move the team onto the more traditional RPG title.

In an interview with Polygon, Cain said he actually had to beg the higher-ups to allow him to continue with his game. The same thing would happen again when Interplay wanted Cain to reconfigure the game into a multi-player RPG to piggyback off the success of Diablo. Again, Cain’s vision prevailed.

4. THERE WAS ALMOST A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FALLOUT 3.

After the success of Fallout 2 in 1998, Black Isle Studios—working under Interplay—began prepping a third installment, codenamed Van Buren. Like the first two installments, this one would be an isometric RPG in the Wasteland where the player takes control of an escaped prisoner who winds up attempting to stop (or help) a rogue scientist’s plan to “purify” society via an attack from an orbital nuclear missile system.

The project was canceled, and soon Black Isle Studios would be axed and the Fallout property would land at Bethesda. However, a tech demo of the original Fallout 3 did land online a few years back.

5. THE GAMES ARE STACKED WITH SCI-FI EASTER EGGS.

The Wasteland is littered with more than just burned-out buildings and scattered remnants of humanity; it’s also home to Easter eggs and homages to nearly every major sci-fi property in existence.

In the original game, for instance, players can stumble upon a familiar blue callbox that disappears into thin air—a callback to the TARDIS from Doctor Who. There’s also the sight of a post-apocalyptic wanderer traveling the wasteland with his dog from Fallout 3 that is an unmistakable homage to the Mad Max series. And if you stumble upon a refrigerator in the desert in Fallout: New Vegas, look inside—you might find the skeletal remains of Indiana Jones as a nod to the infamous nuke scene in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

And that’s just the beginning. If you take your time to really explore the world of these games, you’ll find shout-outs to Planet of the Apes, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Jaws, Star Wars, and countless others.

6. FALLOUT 3 HAD ISSUES IN AUSTRALIA AND INDIA.

When Bethesda took control of the series for 2008’s Fallout 3, the studio retained its high level of violence, profanity, and all-around sacrilege. So it was only inevitable when governments started to take notice.

In Australia, the game was faced with a ban due to the fact that the player could use, and get addicted to, morphine. Instead of losing this sizable market, Bethesda changed the name of the drug to the fictional “Med-X” after the Aussie government took issue with a player getting addicted to (and possibly even glorifying) a real drug. This change wasn’t just reflected in Australia but in every region, turning Med-X into part of Wasteland lore.

The controversy continued in India, where the game simply wasn’t released at all because of issues stemming from “cultural sensitivities.”

7. FALLOUT 4’S SCRIPT TOTALED 13,000 LINES OF DIALOGUE FOR THE MAIN ACTORS.

In previous games in the series, the main characters never spoke; they were voiceless protagonists in a world of fully-voiced supporting characters and villains. But in Fallout 4, Bethesda took away that ambiguity in favor of fully voiced heroes. They hired both a male and female voice actor for the job, depending on which character the player chose to create, and for its first foray into the voiced realm, the studio made their leads pretty talkative.

According to the game’s director, Todd Howard, each actor had about 13,000 lines of dialogue, which were recorded over the span of two years. That number goes up exponentially when you look at the game as a whole: One estimate put the total lines of dialogue for every character in the game combined at somewhere near 170,000.

8. THE SERIES BOASTS AN IMPRESSIVE CELEBRITY VOICE CAST.

Though the main characters are usually mute, the world of Fallout is populated by a roster of celebrities who have lent their voices to everything from super mutants to wannabe crime bosses. Most recognizable among them is Ron Perlman, who narrated the intros to Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, Fallout Tactics, and Fallout: New Vegas. He’s become a fan favorite part of the story over the years with the opening lines, “War. War never changes.”

There’s also Liam Neeson as the main character’s father in 3, which also featured Malcolm McDowell as the president. And then there’s New Vegas, with Matthew Perry (an ardent franchise fan) as Benny and Wayne Newton as a radio DJ. Throughout all the games, you’ll also hear from the likes of Danny Trejo, Brad Garrett, Dave Foley, and Lynda Carter, who also wrote and provides the vocals for original songs in Fallout 4.

9. FALLOUT 4 EARNED $750 MILLION ON LAUNCH DAY.

The franchise was more of a critical success than a commercial one during the Interplay years, but once it made its way to Bethesda, it managed to hit sales marks that were previously unseen for the series. Fallout 3’s launch week saw 4.7 million units shipped, for a total of $300 million worldwide. Fallout: New Vegas saw similar success, bringing in over $300 million in its first month.

Well, Fallout 4 basically doubled those numbers within its first 24 hours on the market. The $750 million that the game made on its November 10, 2015 debut was a record at the time for the biggest entertainment launch of the year and one of the biggest single-day video game feats of all time.

10. FANS ARE CREATING NEW FALLOUT GAMES.

Bethesda has always been a haven for modders, those tech-savvy super fans that dive into a game’s source code to create something wholly original within the original title. A lot of these mods fix graphical issues and other bugs, while others add new characters or a dose of absurdity to the game, like the mods that turned all deathclaw enemies into Thomas the Tank Engine or Macho Man Randy Savage.

Some of these mods go well above and beyond, turning into full games in their own right, set in the Fallout universe and created by fans. There’s Fallout: Cascadia, which is a mod project that puts the series in Seattle; Fallout 4: New Vegas, which recreated New Vegas with 4’s upgraded engine; and Fallout: New California, an ambitious New Vegas mod that features all-new characters and stories.

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