25 things you never knew about Pokémon!
Pokémon turns 25! So let’s look at some weird and wonderful titbits about the franchise…
25 Feb 2021
It’s Pokémon’s birthday! On 27th February, the Pokémon franchise turns 25. Now, even if you haven’t caught ‘em all, there’s no getting around it. Pokémon is massive. And rightly so! From cards to games to merch, manga and cartoons, there’s plenty to get stuck into. So, to celebrate our favourite critters and colourful characters from the franchise, we’ve put together 25 things you might not now about Pokémon.
#1 - It’s the most successful franchise of all time
Pokémon is the highest-selling series in the world out of every media franchise. Overall, the franchise is currently worth over $100 billion with the merchandise, video games and card games worth billions on their own. Only a handful of other media franchises have managed to break the $50 billion mark, and Pokémon also makes it into the top three most popular video games along with Tetris and Mario.
#2 - A childhood hobby inspired Pokémon
Satoshi Tajiri was inspired to create the Pokémon universe by one of his favourite childhood memories: catching bugs! That’s why so many Pokémon are inspired by real world plants, insects and animals- to get kids as excited by the natural world as he is!
#3 - Pokémon Blue?
Every bigtime Pokémon fan knows that the first games in the franchise to arrive on the GameBoy were Pokémon Red and Blue. In fact, when they were first released in Japan, they were released as Pokémon Red and Green, with a few minor differences.
#4 - Let’s GO!
Pokémon GO, the augmented reality mobile game, launched in 2016 and instantly took the world by storm!
#5 - Paras is a zombie!
If you look at the Paras Pokémon as it evolves, it has a mushroom on its back that gets bigger and bigger. But that mushroom isn’t just its shell - it’s what controls it! Paras is actually based on a real type of fungus that grows on bugs and turns them into zombies. That’s why Paras’ eyes get more and more glassy as it evolves.
#6 - ‘Hey! Hey! Read this fact!’
If you love Nintendo’s Pokémon, chances are you’ve played Legend of Zelda too. If so, you might have had a trip down memory lane in Pokémon X and Y when pre-schooler Mia calls to you, ‘Hey! Hey! Listen!’ in tribute to Navi, Link’s fairy guide in the Legends of Zelda games.
#7 - April Fools! Or maybe not…
Pokémon GO was actually inspired by a 2014 Google April fool’s joke, which asked players to explore a map and catch Pokémon.
#8 - Koffing and Weezing weren’t always called that…
No prizes for guessing where Koffing and Weezings’ names come from. With the toxic symbols on their chests and clouds of smog following them around, it’s pretty obvious these guys have got something to do with air pollution. But did you know their original names were actually Ny and La? That’s because their names were based on New York and Los Angeles- two of the most polluted cities in the US.
#9 - The most expensive Pokémon card ever sold
In late 2020, the record for the most expensive Pokémon card ever sold was set by Goldin Auctions in New Jersey, USA. The 1999 1st edition holographic shadowless Charizard went for an eye-watering $369,000, in a year that repeatedly set a new bar for the 'most expensive Pokémon card'. Versions of this Charizard card were bought and sold multiple times in 2020, including in October 2020 by US rapper Logic for $220,000.
#10 - Have you spotted this Dragon Ball Z easter egg?
Battle Psychic Robert in Pokémon X and Y and you’ll get Pokémon’s nod to another massive bit of Japanese (and meme) pop culture. When you defeat Psychic Robert he’ll say ‘Wow! You and your Pokémon’s power levels are incredible! They're over 9,000 for sure!’, a famous quote from Dragon Ball Z.
#11 - Look out for these martial arts legends
Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan are two fighting Pokemon with some serious karate-style moves up their sleeves. So it’s no wonder they’re named after two legendary fighters: Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. It’s also why the Japanese name for them is Ebiwalar and Sawamular- after kickboxer Tadashi Sawamura and boxer Hiroyuki Ebihara.
#12 - Pokémon has appeared on actual money
In the South Pacific island of Niue, though New Zealand’s currency is accepted, cash is also printed nationally and special runs of coins are occasionally commissioned. In 2001, Pikachu featured on the $1 coin to commemorate the Pokémon series. Not even Mario has had that honour.
#13 - LOTR FTW
Ever tried to find a Mirage Spot in the Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire Pokemon games? Then you know that they can be pretty tricky to locate. So tricky in fact that when you go into Pacifidlog Town someone might say, ‘One does not simply walk into a Mirage Spot.’ And, yes, you’ve got it – that line’s a riff on the popular Boromir meme from Lord of the Rings!
#14 - GO nuts for Pokémon
About 15 million people downloaded the Pokémon GO app in its first week alone.
#15 - Pikachu and Meowth are opposites
Pikachu is basically the Pokémon equivalent of a mouse. And Meowth is, obviously, inspired by our feline friends. So as a little nod to those two opposites, Pikachu and Meowth are at opposite points in the Pokédex – 25 and 52!
#16 - Out of this world
In its first three months, Pokémon GO players walked a total of 144 billion steps. Enough to go to Mars and back.
#17 - Ash isn’t called Ash in Japan
We all know our favourite Pokémon master wannabe as Ash Ketchum. But in Japan his name is actually Satoshi, after Pokémon’s creator Satoshi Tajiri.
#18 - Pokémon GO champion
Nick Johnson was the first person to ‘catch ‘em all’ in Pokémon GO. The 28- year old New Yorker travelled the world in 2016 to fulfil his quest, and captured the final Pokémon in Sydney, Australia.
#19 - Poliwag is based on a tadpole
And not just Poliwag actually – Poliwhirl and Poliwrath too. While Poliwag’s tail might have given you a clue already, the real nod is the swirl on all their bellies. It’s designed to look like the intestines you can see through a tadpole’s see-through stomach! Bit gross. But also quite cool.
#20 - You can battle Professor Oak
Never seen it in the games? That’s because a scene in Pokémon Red and Blue where you could face off against Professor Oak was cut. If you really want to give it a go though, there’s a way to do it through glitches (guide here)… But you didn’t hear it from us.
#21 - Caught red-handed
An embarrassed CNN reporter was once caught playing Pokémon GO during a US State Department briefing. They were rumbled by department spokesman John Kirkby, who uttered these immortal words: “You’re playing that Pokémon thing right there, aren’t you?”
#22 - Ultra-rare Pokémon
If you captured a shiny Clefairy, you’re one lucky trainer. It was released as a mistake during the 2019 Pokémon GO fest, and quickly removed again.
#23 - Why is there no splashing with Splash?
One of the moves you can use with your Pokémon is Splash. Aside from being pretty ineffective, Splash is also a mistranslation! In Japanese that move actually means ‘Hop’, which is why it’s not restricted to water-type Pokémon.
#24 - New season, new Pokémon
Pokémon GO has four different seasons a year - just like in the real world. Every three months, a new season brings major changes and different challenges to keep trainers on their toes.
#25 - Pokémon took gaming online way ahead of its time
Remember Pokémon Crystal? Well, the global release version wasn’t quite the same as the Japanese version. Nintendo and Game Freak bundled the Japanese Pokémon Crystal game with a special adapter that could link their GameBoy Color to a mobile phone. With this, players could battle against each other online and trade Pokémon.
Unfortunately, due to the high cost of owning a mobile phone at the time, it didn’t really take off and the feature was removed from the Western release. But it’s amazing to think how early on Nintendo knew that the internet would play a massive part in video gaming