Twenty years ago, on the 28th September 1998, the West got its first Pokemon games. Released two years prior in Japan, Pokemon Red & Blue, developed by GameFreak and published by Nintendo, introduced the first 151 Pokemon characters including the very first trio of starters, the world-famous Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle.
The games, which established a franchise formula which has rarely been altered in the twenty years since, feature a ten-year old protagonist and his rival, who both set out on a journey to capture every single Pokemon and become the champion, a legendary trainer who stands above them all. To do so, you must collect Pokemon allies and earn eight coveted gym badges by defeating their corresponding ‘leaders’ in battles, which take the form of traditional RPG-style face-offs where different elemental advantages and disadvantages could turn the tide of the encounter.
The games were astoundingly-successful despite many of Nintendo’s corporates remaining unconvinced by their selling-power. Ultimately, Red & Blue sold upwards of 9 million copies in the U.S. alone, after there had been clamourings from Western audiences to see the popular Eastern franchise receive an English localisation. The global appeal of the franchise became evident, spawning a phenomenon which continues to take the world by storm even today, in the polymorphous forms of animated television serials, trading cards and even plushies.
You can catch the games today on the Nintendo Virtual Console. Watch the trailer below: