March 7, 2011

New Pokemon Games Released

The Nintendo DS is about to make Pokemon even bigger with Sunday's launch of two new video games for the handheld portable gaming system favored by school age children everywhere. Simply called "Pokemon Black Version" and "Pokemon White Version," the games will sell for $35 each, and are rated "E" for everyone with a broad appeal that goes well beyond grade school kids, according to AP.

The Pokemon universe of games are based on catching, battling and trading the hundreds of colorful characters that go by the same name. The two new games are slightly different so that players can buy and trade Pokemon characters with others to collect them all.

Adding more than 150 creatures to the Pokemon empire, the new games bring the total to more than 640. From the purple cat creature Purrloin to dinosaur-inspired Haxorus, the latest games let players battle not just people they know, as previous versions allowed, but introduce strangers to battle with through random matches using the DS's Wi-Fi connection.

The Nintendo DS, the primary system used to play Pokemon games, is the world's best-selling video game machine. Through the end of December 2010, Nintendo sold nearly 145 million DS systems over the past 15 years in various iterations, compared with 85 million units of the Wii console.

Pokemon products have created their own industry which include cartoons, trading cards, comics and toys. The company that licenses the brand, Pokemon Co. International, is privately held and won't disclose revenue figures, except that in years when there's a new game, it's in the billions of dollars.

J.C. Smith, consumer marketing director at Pokemon Co. International told AP, "We have a very strong community of Pokemon fans. These fans can be counted on to spread the word about Pokemon on playgrounds and most recently on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook."

Pokemon emerged in 1996 from a company called Game Freak. The first game was for the original Nintendo Game Boy, and it let users battle each other by using a cable that plugged into their friend's Game Boy. The cartoon series came the following year in Japan, and the games launched in 1998 in the US and Europe.

Part of the game's staying power has been that it was built from the start as social. "It's a really addictive game that's approachable by all ages," said Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter. "It's E-rated fun that's challenging. It's a well-constructed game that hardcore game enthusiasts love and parents don't mind it."


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