11/20 – Pokemon Red/Blue

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

Pokemon has become a lasting phenomenon over the years, skyrocketing to the number one biggest media franchise on the planet. Kids the world over recognize Pikachu instantly and it has been going strong for over 20 years now. It’s almost hard to remember that Pokemon got its start as an ambitious game on an aging console. Today’s game is Pokemon Red and Blue versions. Developed by Game Freak and released on the Game Boy in 1996.

Pokemon Red or Blue has players play as a self-named character as they enter the world of Pokemon. They must choose their first monster, either a Charmander, Squirtle or Bulbasaur, and then go off to capture more monsters, build their team, level up their creatures and eventually defeat the Pokemon League and become the Pokemon Champion. Players are also encouraged to catch all 151 Pokemon and fill out their Pokedex. To complete this task, players must trade with other players using the Game Boy link cable as several monsters can only be caught in one version of the game.

Pokemon was originally conceived by a man named Satoshi Tajiri, known at the time for creating his own hand-drawn magazine about arcade games, known as Game Freak. Satoshi was a fan of bug collecting as a kid and wanted to make a game that captured that same kind of exploration and care. When he played Final Fantasy Legend (known as Saga in Japan), he realized that the Game Boy could be used for RPGs as well as action games and thought that the link cable would encourage players to work with their friends to fill out their Pokedex.

Pokemon’s development was hard, with Game Freak needing to be contracted for other games several times over the years in order to receive funds. Satoshi lived with his parents during this time and often ran out of money to pay his team. Turnover was high but Satoshi and those few of his team that believed in the project pushed on and eventually, completed the game in 1995. In early 1996, Pokemon Red and Green released in Japan with a special Blue version coming out a few months later. When the games were brought outside of Japan, they were released as Pokemon Red and Blue versions. 

Pokemon was an immediate success with kids swept up in what the media was calling Pokemania at the time. Pokemon has become an anime, a manga, a trading card game and a video game series that is going strong to this day.

Thank you so much for listening! If you want to hear more about Pokemon or the other games we talk about on the show, follow me on Twitter @vg_oftheday. For archives and transcripts, head to videogameoftheday.com. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day.

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Devin "Katosepe" Sloane is a long time gamer and host of the show Video Game of the Day. He firmly believes Darklands is the pinnacle of gaming achievement and this is a hill he will die upon. Where his nickname came from is a secret to everybody.