Games - Pokémon

Games - Pokémon

Pokémon is a franchise that was created by Satoshi Tajiri in the early 90s, and was released through Nintendo in 1996. Satoshi Tajiri created the idea of Pokémon based on his interest in insect collecting. The term Pokémon is derived from the words Pocket Monsters and originally emerged in Japan before becoming an international success. Over the last sixteen years the franchise has given birth to trading cards, television shows, video games, toys, books and various other media sources. In this article I am going to explore what Pokémon actually is and what the games involve.

A Pokedex used to store data about Pokemon.
A Pokedex used to store data about Pokémon.

Game Concept

Pokémon revolves around a collection of 'pocket monsters' that roam a world also inhabited by humans. Like animals in our world people keep Pokémon as pets but they are also used for a lot more. There is a desire among people living in the Pokémon world to collect every species available and train them in strength and intelligence. People pit their Pokémon against each others' and do battle. There is a very caring attitude towards once Pokémon and trainers raise them like their own children. There are two main goals in the franchise of Pokémon which are:

1) To compete your pokedex (a sort of information bank about Pokémon.) This is only done by capturing every known species.

2) To become the strongest trainer in the world. You do this by progressing through the game and by beating other trainers and eventually becoming the champion of the Pokémon league.

Pokémon games start with the selection of a human character. The character represents the game player and you follow his or her ambitions and actions as a Pokémon trainer through the world of Pokémon.

Pokémon were initially released with 151 species on the continent of Kanto. Since then over the years more species and continents have been introduced. Each new continent brings with it a new collection of Pokémon and a new challenge to become the strongest trainer and collect all known species. With each new game, the player not only desires to collect all species in that specific game generation, but all previous generations.

Pokemon World Map
Pokemon World Map

What are Pokémon?

Pokémon themselves, much like animals on our planet fall into different species groups that could be described as elemental groups. Some are water born creatures, and fall under the water category. These Pokémon would be most comfortable in a water environment and could manipulate water into a range of attacks and defences. Other categories include fire, electric, ground, grass, insect etc. Some categories are stronger against certain others and weaker against certain others. Water type Pokémon can provide a very effective attack again fire type Pokémon but electricity attacks are almost useless again ground type Pokémon.

Pokemon Battle Chart. This shows which attacks and pokemon types are effective against others.
Pokemon Battle Chart. This shows which attacks and pokémon types are effective against others.
The first generation Pokemon. If you look closely you can see the evolution of some pokemon next to each other
The first generation Pokémon. If you look closely you can see the evolution of some pokémon next to each other

Pokémon grow stronger by fighting with other Pokémon. Every battle a Pokémon wins results in earning some experience points. A Pokémon needs a certain amount of points to grow to the next level. Pokémon are born at level 1 and can grow up to level 100. To grow a level will require more and more experience points the higher the level your Pokémon is. To grow a level when your Pokémon is a level 3 will maybe take you one or two victorious battles against other level 3 Pokémon. To grow from level 95 to 96 may take thirty to forty successful battles against similar levelled Pokémon. This is a concept that allows beginners and new players to quickly strengthen their Pokémon, and to get them enthusiastic in the games. The stronger you get, the more work it takes to improve further.

Pokémon are different from animals because as well as dying they can 'faint'. When a Pokémon takes damage in a battle, its health will be lowered until it gets to a point where its health is zero. The first player to knock the other player's Pokémon out (by reducing their health to zero) will win the battle and earn some victory cash. The stronger your Pokémon become through training, the more health they will have on a numerical scale. A level 5 Pokémon might only have a maximum health capacity of 23, but a level 100 Pokémon might be able to have a maximum health capacity of over 350. When a Pokémon is weak or has fainted you can take them to a Pokémon centre, a regular establishment in every town. Here, for free, you can restore you Pokémon back to full health.

As Pokémon grow stronger they have the ability to learn new attacks. Every attack has its own strength and will reduce your opponent’s health by a certain amount. This damage amount can fluctuate depending on your Pokémon type and your opponents Pokémon type.

Certain species of Pokémon have the ability to evolve into a new Pokémon. This is similar to a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. Once evolved a Pokémon becomes stronger and has an increase in health, attack, defence and speed statistics. Not all Pokémon can evolve but those that can usually do so within the first forty levels of growth. Certain Pokémon do not evolve organically and need to be holding a certain item or need to be traded to evolve.

Poke Balls. Used for catching Pokemon.
Poke Balls. Used for catching Pokémon.

Catching Pokemon

Pokemon are captured using a range of poke balls. You have to weaken the potential Pokémon by pitting your Pokémon against it so its health gets reduced substantially. If you accidentally knock out the potential Pokémon you have lost your chance to capture it. Once weak enough, a trainer would throw a poke ball at the Pokémon which should engulf the Pokémon and make it loyal to you as a trainer. A healthier Pokémon can fight back this attempt to capture it, which causes the need to weaken them.

As a trainer you cannot capture another trainer's Pokémon, but all wild Pokémon are fair game. Certain rare Pokémon only appear once in the whole game play, or under certain situations. These are usually incredibly difficult to capture.

In each Pokémon game it is impossible to complete your pokedex without also trading with other players. Pokemon games are usually released in pairs and only between both games can you come across all species of Pokémon from that generation. Trading is a vital part of the game and encourages friends to play together.

A Pokémon trainer can catch as many Pokémon as they like, but only six can be carried around at one time. This means a battle is limited to six Pokémon on each side. Extra caught Pokémon are stored in a digital computer system that can be accessed anywhere in the games. A good trainer will try to have a balanced team which consists of six different Pokémon types and a fairly balanced level for each Pokémon. This will give you best chance as a trainer to do well.

Completing the game

A Pokémon game usually consists of open source levelling. This means to progress in the game you have to complete a number of key actions in a specific order; but you are free to wonder around anywhere on the game map. These levels refer to training gyms. In order to complete the game you have to beat the strongest trainer in the world who is located at the 'Pokémon league.' To access the league area of the game you have to collect eight badges from different gyms around the continent. You can only attempt to win a badge, by beating a gym leader in a Pokémon battle once you have beaten the previous gym.

Becoming the strongest trainer in a game usually takes around 30hours of playing time at a minimum, but catching every species can take a lot longer.

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