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What country is Pokemon from?

The hit video and card gaming franchise is more than 25 years old with its roots firmly based in its country of origin, Japan.

Pokemon is one of Japan's most famous exports.
Dilip VishwanatAFP

Pokémon, originally called Pocket Monsters, was first released in 1996, in Japan. The first game, Red & Green, was released on February 27 that year. It took another two years before the games were released worldwide, as Red and Blue, but they were huge hits. Sales estimates are as high as 300 million copies.

Of course, Pokémon would be nothing without the cards, which came out in October 1996. As of March 2021, the game has sold over 34 billion cards worldwide.

The franchise is still going strong, with the latest game released in January 2022.

A history of Pokémon

Pokémon was started by Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori in the late 1980s. Inspired by his childhood playing in forests, Tajiri created the world of Pocket Monsters and showed it to Nintendo, who were making strides in the video game industry with the new Gameboy handheld system.

Nintendo took them on, and now there are seven generations of games released. More than 900 Pokemon monsters inhabit the world. Alongside the games, the first set of cards included 102 monsters, and a still running TV series was released in 1997.

A fun fact; in the Japanese version of the series the main character is named Satoshi, after the original creator of the game. In the English dub he is known as Ash. Trying to catch 'em all, in terms of TV episodes, is difficult, considering there are more than 1,000 episodes.

One of the biggest crazes in recent memory was the release of Pokémon go in 2016. The game offered players the chance to catch Pokemon using their phones, by simply walking around outside until they encountered monsters, using augmented reality. It has been downloaded more than one billion times.

The latest game released is Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which came out in January 2022. It sold 6.5 million copies worldwide in its first week, proving the enduring charm of the series in an ever more crowded video game industry.


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