For exactly 25 years they were on the shelves for the first time:

Pokémon Red

and

Pokémon Green

.

A modest Japanese release that would become the second most successful game series of all time, just behind

Mario

.

Pokémon seems to be forever linked to Nintendo, but the series owes its life to game makers Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori.

Their company Game Freak worked for years on various games for SEGA and Nintendo, among others.

Tajiri and Sugimori pitched their own game idea at Nintendo several times, based on Tajiri's childhood.

He liked to catch insects at the time.

The project was first called

Capsule Monsters

, then

Pocket Monsters

, but it was the abbreviation that stuck:

Pokémon

.

In 1990 Nintendo was

finally over and Game Freak got to work

thanks to

Mario

maker Shigeru Miyamoto.

Pokémon Red

and

Green

In the Netherlands we know the first

Pokémon

games on the Game Boy as

Red

and

Blue

, but on February 27, 1996 in Japan, the second half was still called

Green

.

At first Game Freak had no idea how successful the game was, as it barely got any information.

In the meantime, the company decided to improve the game and give it an extra coat of blue paint.

Pokémon Red

and

Blue

crossed the ocean, reaching the United States in 1998, and Europe the following year.

The games were a huge hit, selling 31 million copies worldwide.

The magic formula was simple.

As a trainer of little monsters you travel around the country of Kanto.

The task: Catch all 151 critters in the iconic red and white 'Pokéball' and defeat all Pokémon Grand Masters in the region.

The trick: In each of the two games, you could only catch a portion of all Pokémon.

So you had to connect your Game Boy to someone else's via the link cable in order to exchange Pokémon.

Image from 'Pokemon Red'.

Image from 'Pokemon Red'.

Photo: The Pokémon Company

Cards and cartoon series

With the huge success of the games, a cartoon series could not be delayed.

In Japan it was already on the tube in 1997, in the Netherlands we had to wait until 1999 for the first episode of the anime series.

The series around Pokémon trainer Ash Ketchum and his friends was just as successful worldwide as the games.

Pikachu, Ash's sidekick, became the symbol of

Pokémon

worldwide

.

In Japan, Ash is called 'Satoshi' - as in Satoshi Tajiri.

The theme song stuck so well that it made its way to the Top 2000 in 2015, and its playing cards became the biggest childhood hype of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

To keep the expanding empire a bit more manageable, Nintendo founded a separate publishing house: The Pokémon Company.

He oversees the global brand for the companies involved - Nintendo, Game Freak and Creatures.

A new Nintendo, a new

Pokémon

The color palette of the new Game Boy Color enabled the colorful games

Pokémon Gold

and

Silver

in 1999

.

They flew over the counter 23 million times.

A side step, the photo game

Pokémon Snap

, was less successful, but still loved.

After

Red

and

Blue

, every new Nintendo handheld would get a

Pokémon

game.

Gameplay changed subtly in each new edition, but the series never denied its roots.

Of

Ruby

and

Silver

for Game Boy Advance sixteen million copies were sold.

The Nintendo DS games

Diamond

and

Pearl

did slightly better in 2006.

Pokemon Diamond and Pearl were sold 17 million times.

Pokemon Diamond and Pearl were sold 17 million times.

Photo: The Pokémon Company

Remakes and the Internet

With

Black

and

White

(2010) and its successors, the series made leaps forward both visually and technically.

The games had seasonal changes, with the outside world looking different each time.

Successors

Pokémon X

and

Y

(2013) made the leap to fully three-dimensional graphics on the 3DS.

Growing fans continued to have a hunger for the old games.

Nintendo and Game Freak decided to remake new platforms, starting with

FireRed

and

LeafGreen

for Game Boy Advance, in 2004.

Remakes of

Diamond

and

Pearl

are planned for this year.

Pokemon X & Y were the first 3D games in the series.

Pokemon X & Y were the first 3D games in the series.

Photo: The Pokémon Company

Take to the streets with

Pokémon GO

The most successful modern

Pokémon

did not come from Game Freak's stable.

That honor goes to the mobile game maker Niantic, with the walking game

Pokémon GO

(2016).

This augmented reality game puts the player in the role of a Pokémon trainer who must catch critters in his own environment.

With the GPS function and the camera of the smartphone, the game places Pokémon in the world around you.

Within a week, the game was downloaded ten million times.

The entire summer of 2016 was filled with stories of

Pokémon GO

players who took to the streets in droves to catch new Pokémon.

In its first year, Niantic made about $ 950 million (about $ 770 million) on the game.

Nintendo later capitalized on the recognisability of

GO

with the simplified

Pokémon Let's Go

games, in which you can use a 'real' Pokeball.

The future of

Pokémon

Since the mobile gaming hype of 2016, two more sets of traditional

Pokémon

games have been released:

Sun

and

Moon

, and

Sword

and

Shield

.

The latter, a game for the Switch, was the first game since

Gold

and

Silver to reach

the 20 million copies mark.

Nintendo announced three new

Pokémon

titles on

Friday

: the remakes

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond

and

Shining Pearl

, and the open-world game

Pokémon Legends Arceus

.

With the latter, the series seems to be taking another step forward, with a world that is completely free to explore.

Nintendo and Game Freak celebrate all year round.

For the birthday itself they have planned a special party: Rapper Post Malone will give a special digital Pokémon concert at 2.00 am (Dutch time).

Pokemon Legends Arceus needs to get a Zelda-like open world.

Pokemon Legends Arceus needs to get a Zelda-like open world.

Photo: The Pokémon Company