Happy Birthday, Pokemon – You’re 17 Today!

I wanna be the very best.
This article is over 11 years old and may contain outdated information

Today marks the day that Pokemon Green and Red were first released in Japan. Here we are seventeen years later, with Pokemon X and Y coming out later this year and Ash Ketchum still honing his trainer skills in the anime. Even if the games didn’t make their way over here until 1998 (15 years ago), it’s hard to believe that so much time has passed.

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Happy birthday, Pokemon!

  • The entirety of the Pokemon franchise encompasses over 60 games, over 750 anime episodes, and over 230 manga chapters spanning several artists.
  • From the original 150/1 Pokemon, there are now 649 Pokemon in total. That number is only going to go up.
  • Despite the anime starting 16 years ago, Ash Ketchum is still 10 years old. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun.

Ash might not have a birthday in sight, but the series as a whole celebrates its 17th anniversary today.

Everyone has their own Pokemon story.

I remember the first time I saw a Pokemon game. I was in 7th grade and Red and Blue had just come out. The kids that had a Game Boy Color would sneak them into school to play during breaks, and my best friend was one of them. After a week of watching him play when our teachers weren’t looking, I asked to borrow his game for a night.

Six months later, I owned my own Game Boy Color and a copy of Red that I stole from a local Hollywood Video that didn’t have the good sense to not keep their GBC games behind the counter. (Don’t judge, kids are stupid.)

Once Pokemon Gold and Silver game out, I was consuming the games, anime, manga, fan magazines, fansites, and the 2.B.A. Master album. My best friend and I adored Team Rocket.

Pokemon was a really big deal back then. It’s big now, but between generations 1 and 2 it was a global phenomenon. There wasn’t any escaping it. Every kid wanted more Pokemon stuff, and no adult could get away from it.

Stores were packed with merchandise, and even the knock-offs would get grabbed up by those desperate for more. If you didn’t see it at the time, you wouldn’t refer to it as desperation — but the public’s appetite for Pokemon was absolutely insatiable.We haven’t had a phenomenon so big since.

We look back now having been obsessed with Pokemon in our childhoods and having it remain a prominent franchise in gaming through the years. It’s hard to imagine a life without the series, even if you’ve put up your trainer’s cap and Pokedex.

After all these years of bouncing between loving and being so-so on the series, I have to say thank you to Game Freak and to the Pokemon franchise. You’ve had an immeasurable impact on gaming culture, and on my life. Thank you, and keep it up.

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Ashley Shankle
Ashley's been with GameSkinny since the start, and is a certified loot goblin. Has a crippling Darktide problem, 500 hours on only Ogryn (hidden level over 300). Currently playing Darktide, GTFO, RoRR, Palworld, and Immortal Life.