Pokemon in the Past:
Pokemon (called "Pocket Monsters" in Japan) is, first and foremost, an extremely successful role-playing game series that is developed by Game Freak and published by Nintendo. It was invented by game developer Satoshi Tajiri in 1996, and launched in North America in 1998 with two games for the original Game Boy: Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue.
The "Red" and "Blue" versions of the game played similarly, both requiring the player to explore the world of Pokemon and collect as many monsters as possible. However, differences between the monster roster in the Red and Blue versions of the game made it necessary for friends to trade between the versions (via the Game Boy link cable) if they truly wanted to "Catch 'em All"). Players could also link their Game Boys to battle their Pokemon.
Since the launch of the original games, there have been five "generations" of Pokemon titles. The original concept between the generations remains more or less intact: the player sets out on a journey that involves becoming the greatest Pokemon trainer ever. The player's goal is woven through the gameplay, as he or she catches wild Pokemon by lobbing "PokeBalls" and then builds up the creatures' levels (thereby improving stats and learning new moves) by battling other wild Pokemon, as well as Pokemon tamed by other trainers.
Modern versions of Pokemon still encourage players to trade Pokemon between different versions of the same releases (for instance, Pokemon Black and Pokemon White), though trading can now be done wirelessly via a local connection between two players in close proximity, or via a Wi-Fi connection. Of course, battling Pokemon over the aforementioned local and Wi-Fi connections is also a popular option.
The Pokemon series still enjoys a large amount of popularity. Combined, Pokemon Black and Pokemon White have sold over 11 million copies worldwide. The Pokemon anime, which began its English-language run in 1998, is still airing new episodes today. The anime can also be credited for elevating Pikachu, an electric mouse Pokemon, to his current status as the series' highly-recognizable mascot.
Pokemon has bred several spin-off games, including PokePark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure for the Wii, Pokemon Ranger for the Nintendo DS, and Pokemon Rumble Blast for the Nintendo 3DS.
Nintendo has also re-made some of the series' classic entries. Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver, originally released for the Game Boy in 2000 (U.S. release date) were re-made as Pokemon HeartGold and Pokemon SoulSilver in 2010 for the Nintendo DS.