So I created this topic mainly for all the other Pokémon fans here on the forum. Ramble away your Pokéfanatic passion!
Here's a comparison from my personal collections between the original Japanese versions of the first four classic Pocket Monster cartridges (top) for the Nintendo Game Boy and their international counterparts (bottom). From the top left to right are ポケットモンスター 赤、 ポケットモンスター 緑、 ポケットモンスター 青、 ポケットモンスター ピカチュウ - Pocket Monster Aka, Pocket Monster Midori, Pocket Monster Ao, Pocket Monster Pikachu - in the order of the games that were released. The English versions of the games are Pokémon Red Version, Pokémon Green Version*, Pokémon Blue Version and Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition, respectively.
As you can see, the authentic Japanese cartridges kept the standard grey while the international ones were coated with with the colours congruent with their title names. However, there are actually numerous other differences within the games themselves besides the languages and cartridge designs. In fact, the Pokémon Green Version was actually released as Pokémon Blue Version in the west! In other words, the international Pokémon Blue Version and the Japanese Pocket Monster Ao (Japanese Pokémon Blue) are NOT the same games AT ALL! So for those of you who may be confused by this fact, I will briefly go through the history below to clear up the confusion.
The Pokémon franchise was created by Game Freak Inc. (株式會社ゲームフリーク), a Japanese second-part video game developer for Nintendo from the Setagaya Ward of Tokyo. Founded by Tajiri Satoshi, Sugimori Ken and Masuda Junichi in and incorporated in 1989, the company began as a publisher for video gaming magazines. The Pocket Monster series, which would later on be known internationally as Pokémon, originated as a concept by Mr. Tajiri for a story about humans capturing and befriending wild monsters. The idea was partially based on memories of his childhood hobby in which he loved to collect insects and observe their behaviours and physical traits just before releasing them. But developments did not begin until the early 1990s.
In their early days, the Pokémon project began under the name Capsule Monsters, a reference to the capturing mechanism later on known as the Poké Ball. Unfortunately, the developers later on realized that the name Capsule Monster was already copyrighted so Tajiri had to change it. After a series of possible alternate names were proposed to him, he decided to go with Pocket Monster. The project took off in 1991 and the first two games, Pocket Monster Aka and Pocket Monster Midori (or Pokémon Red Version and Pokémon Green Version) were finally released in Japan on February 27, 1996. During the development, the team led by Game Freak was under a lot of pressures due to the low finances of the company causing many of the staffs to leave for other employment opportunities. Those that stayed worked long hours while Tajiri himself sacrificed his own paycheck. Yes, the founder was literally working unpaid hours, investing his time and passion into the project.
When the first two games were finally launched, it became a nation-wide success overnight! This led the company onwards to begin many other projects including an extension of the games. As the popularity for Pocket Monster Aka and Pocket Monster Midori grew, a project for the international localizations began. To make the games more appealing to the American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and western European players, several overworld graphic designs as well as all of the Pokémon sprites were reworked. The English versions of the games were finally released as Pokémon Red Version and Pokémon Blue Version in October 23, 1998. The localization team apparently decided to release Midori in the west as Blue instead of Green. The exact reason remains unclear but popular speculations among gamers dating back to 1999 suggested that the change may had been related to concerns over colour blindness in which a common type includes one's inability to distinguish the primary colour red from the secondary colour green. This theory was never confirmed! However, within a year after the international Pokémon Red and Blue Versions were released, a third addition and revision to the series titled Pocket Monster Ao (Pokémon Blue Version) was released in Japan. This version used the same graphics as the international Pokémon Red and Blue Versions but with changes to the locations of where some wild Pokémon are found. In addition, special ones like Lickitung (or ベロリンガ - Beroringa - in Japanese) that were previously exclusive to an in-game trade were finally catchable in the wild. The Japanese Pokémon Blue also changed the levels of some trainers' Pokémon which made it easier for gamers to advance faster on some of the routes.
Following the success of the first three games as well as the introduction of the Pokémon Anime series featuring the protagonist Ash and his Pikachu, a fourth addition was under development. That fourth game is no other than the Pocket Monster Pikachu - or Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition in English - in which the player receives a Pikachu as their starter instead of the フシギダネ (Fushigidane), ヒトカゲ (Hitokagé), or ゼニガメ (Zenigamé) - Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle - from the original three. Although the player does eventually end up getting all three of those starters later in the game. The game also introduced the Team Rocket members Jessie and James from the TV show who are first encountered as the mini-bosses at Mount Moon and later on as sub-bosses just before facing off with the leader Giovanni. Interestingly, the Japanese title of the game simply translates into Pokémon Pikachu instead of Pokémon Yellow Version (of which it would be written as ポケットモンスター 黃). The international release of the Yellow Version generated more interests from fans all over the world and also in a way served as a convenient filler during the time while Game Freak was working on the sequels ポケットモンスター 金 (Pokémon Gold Version) and ポケットモンスター 銀 (Pokémon Silver Version) which came out in 2001.
*As you probably know by now, the English cartridge for the Pokémon Green Version is not an official game cartridge. This one was a professionally translated and reproduced cartridge created much later in the mid-2010s by fans of the Pokémon franchise in both Canada and the USA. The cartridge itself contains translated dialogues similar to the official international versions of Pokémon Red Version and Pokémon Blue Version. However, it keeps the graphics from the original Pocket Monster Aka and Pocket Monster Midori. This was likely done on purpose in order to provide players with the nostalgic feeling as if they were playing the original Japanese games, albeit in English, prior to all the graphic editing that was programmed into the English games.
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