Pokémon has become the largest media franchise on the planet, and it all started with the original “generation one” games: Pokémon Red Version and Pokémon Blue Version. Today we take a look back at some little known facts about the origin point of this portable RPG series that took the world by storm, with 20 things you didn’t know about Pokémon Red and Blue.
#1 — Shellder was supposed to be the series mascot
Before Pikachu captured the hearts of gamers everywhere, Nintendo and Game Freak initially planned for Shellder to be the poster Pokémon for the series. Sadly, the little electric mouse’s charm and charisma forced Shellder to sit on the sidelines far, far away.
#2 – The concept for the game was inspired by series creator Satoshi Taijiri’s childhood memories of looking for bugs and killing them
Not many people know this, but the concept of hunting for collectible monsters and capturing them was inspired by Satoshi Taijiri’s many days spent outdoors as a child, hunting for bugs and stomping them to death.
#3 — The Kanto region is inspired by a region in Japan that sadly contains zero monsters
The Kanto region is loosely based on a region in Japan of the same name. And by loosely, I mean there aren’t any fire breathing dragons or monsters with crippling psychic powers.
#4 — “MissingNo.” was not a mistake
MissingNo., which is shorthand for “Missing Number”, is a famous glitch within the original Pokémon games. What many don’t know is that MissingNo. is an actual, real Pokémon that the developers were afraid to admit they made on purpose after everyone started calling it a glitch.
#5 — Bill was originally going to have a friend named Jeff
The character Bill, who invented the PokéBox system for storing Pokémon, shares his namesake with Bill Gates, inventor of Microsoft. Originally, he was going to have a friend named “Jeff E.” who would fly him around to different areas on the world map, including some islands that resided in a “legal gray area”, as he put it, but this was cut just before the game’s release for some reason.
#6 — Pokémon could sometimes die during the trading process
Due to Pokémon having to be traded across a narrow Game Boy link cable, every once in a while some would not make it through and would get crushed to death in the process.
#7 — Pokémon Yellow was supposed to be Pokémon Purple
In what would become tradition in the series for a number of games, the initial “third entry” for generation one was supposed to be Pokémon Purple Version, and was set to feature Shellder on the cover. The game was fully programmed and everything, but was changed to feature Pikachu at the last moment due to his popularity in the anime series.
#8 — The Elite Four are a global cabal that pull the strings throughout the entire Pokémon world
That’s right, they’re not just incredibly strong Pokémon trainers– the Elite Four actually control a large portion of the information that gets communicated from region to region, causing many NPCs to become conspiracy theorists documenting their every move. “INVESTIGATE LAVENDER TOWN!!”
#9 — The games were incredibly expensive to make
A little known fact is that the budget on these games was absolutely astronomical. People wonder why The Pokémon Company has to release a new mainline game every year, and it’s because they’re still paying off their debt from the loan they took out to finish Red and Blue versions.
#10 — The games were originally supposed to star Mario
Like many Nintendo IPs that hadn’t become fully formed ideas just yet, the initial plan was for the games to star Mario characters. Mario would set out to collect different types of Toads, pitting them in violent battle against each other, but this was obviously scrapped.
#11 — Pokémon are eaten by humans
Many have theorized on whether people eat Pokémon within the Pokémon universe, and what they even taste like, and the truth is, yes! Pokémon are a delicacy enjoyed by human beings in the Pokémon world, and they taste amazing cut up, cooked, and served fresh. Especially the cute ones!
#12 — Team Rocket were trying to liberate Pokémon from their captors
As stated above, Pokémon are eaten and kept captive by human beings. If you read between the lines in the original game’s plot, however, Team Rocket are a liberation force acting like this world’s PETA, attempting to set them free from their human masters.
#13 — Professor Oak is now selling NFTs
Despite being well past their point of relevancy, if you can even call it that, Professor Oak is canonically schilling NFTs within the game’s world, and has largely isolated himself from his friends and loved ones.
#14 — Poké Balls were a last minute suggestion from Michael Jordan
The Chicago Bulls were just as much of a popular phenomenon in the 1990s as Pokémon was. When trying to decide on how to capture the monsters and carry them around, Michael Jordan called Nintendo one day and simply said the word “basketball.” The concept was later tweaked slightly, and Poké Balls were invented.
#15 — Some people still refuse to admit there are more than 151 Pokémon
Commonly referred to as “genwunners”, there are still many aging millennials who refuse to acknowledge that there is more than the initial first generation of Pokémon. Kinda like how some people refused to acknowledge that Alaska and Hawaii are US states.
#16 — The games will be remade until the end of time
According to a contract stipulation between Nintendo, Game Freak, and The Pokémon Company, the original first generation of Pokémon games are required to be remade once every 5-10 years. Get ready to re-experience the magic of the Kanto region over and over again!
#17 — The type advantage system was purely a coincidence
Many have praised the robust Pokémon type chart system for being reasonably balanced and concise, but the developers confirmed that it was all kind of a big coincidence that just ended up working out. Fire being strong against grass makes sense, but the seams start to show when you sit down and wonder why flying is strong against fighting. The answer? A happy coincidence!
#18 — The soundtrack was originally composed by Junichi Masuda to be a rock opera
The memorable 8-bit tunes of the original Pokémon soundtrack are incredibly iconic. Turns out that composer Junichi Masuda originally intended them to accompany a rock opera he had been writing. Thankfully, the plot of the rock opera was also about a young boy setting out to collect Pocket Monsters, so nothing was lost in translation.
#19 — Nintendo tried to get a passage added to the bible stating “thou shalt not download ROM hacks”
Due to the growing popularity of Pokémon ROM hacks, Nintendo tried to convince publishers to add an additional commandment to the bible dissuading players from downloading ROM hacks of their games.
#20 — The games will always sell like hotcakes no matter what
Thanks to the precedent set in place by the original release of Pokémon Red Version and Pokémon Blue Version, every single sequel since then has and will continue to set record shattering sales numbers, no matter how buggy they might be.