Did you know Pokemon is going to celebrate its 23rd anniversary this year? Okay, that’s a bit misleading. However, it’s predecessor, Capsule Monsters, which was changed to Pokemon due to copyright issues, was pitched to Nintendo as early as 1990. That’s right- Pokemon was in development for over six years before its release and nearly bankrupted GameFreak in the process.
During the Capsule Monster stage of development, Pokemon were meant to be more prehistoric looking. Very early concept art shows creatures that look like Rhydon, Gengar, and Blastoise.
In Japan, the two original games were Pokemon Red and Pokemon Green in 1996. However, GameFreak was unable to do proper debugging due to their limited resources and the game’s original release was riddled with glitches, though despite this the games were a huge success. This was addressed with a much more stable build of the game called Pokemon Blue, but at first only CoroCoro comic subscribers could buy it. It was eventually released to the public, and became the template for the internationally released Pokemon. Yes, that means that technically Pokemon Red was only released in America by name, but really it’s only a reworking of the Japanese version of Pokemon Blue.
There were over 200 Pokemon designs created for the first generation, but was narrowed down to 150 for the final game. Some were eventually used in Pokemon Silver and Gold, and the designers still look back on some of those original concepts for inspiration and rework them to create new Pokemon.
The first generation’s starters aren’t just differentiated by elements, but also determine how difficult the start of the game will be. Bulbasaur was the easy starter, having a type advantage over the first three gyms. Squirtle was intermediate, having an advantage in Brock’s Gym, but being type neutral in Misty’s and weak against Lt. Surge’s Electric Pokemon. Charmander was the most difficult to begin with, being weak against the rock and water in the first two gyms, and being type neutral to the 3rd gym.
Pokemon Yellow Special Pikachu edition was inspired by the first season of the Pokemon anime; the only starter available was Pikachu, and allowed you to obtain Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle in game events along with a few other additions such as the presence of Jesse, James, their Pokemon, and Meowth from Team Rocket. The biggest change was the upgraded sprites, which were meant to more closely depict the style of Pokemon in the anime. Pikachu’s cry was also changed to a voice sample from the anime, though all other Pokemon’s cries remained the same and future main series games have continued to use Pikachu’s original cry. Pikachu, like in the anime, would stay outside of his Pokeball and would follow your trainer sprite through the overworld. This was the first time you could have a Pokemon follow behind you, a feature that returned breifly with Heart Gold and Soul Silver. This only worked with the one you received as your starter and would not work with a traded Pikachu from one of the other games. Pikachu was also the first Pokemon to use a primitive version of the affection system. During the first part of the game, Pikachu would not care for you, but the longer he’s with you the more he begins to like you. By turning around and talking to him, a small animation will show the player how he’s feeling. Pikachu is usually in a good mood after that, but there are certain events that can make him angry, such as trying to evolve him which will result in Pikachu getting mad at you but not evolving. If you trade Pikachu and then get him back, his affection for you is reset.
You can obtain a surfing Pikachu in Pokemon Stadium if you beat the Master Ball division of the Round 2 Prime Cup under these restrictions:
-Use only Pokemon from your game, one of them being a Pikachu
-Pikachu must be one of the three Pokemon you select for the final battle, though it does not need to be used
This will work with Pikachu from Red and Blue, but if you do this with your Pokemon Yellow version Pikachu, you can play a special mini-game. Look for a house on the beach South of Fushia City and talk to the man inside. He’ll ask if you want to go surf; select “Yes” to play a mini-game with Pikachu riding the waves with blue cheeks.