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Pokemon - catching 'em all

Pocket Pikachu

Play videogames and exercise at the same time - a great idea from 1998 that combined pedometer with virtual pet. To keep Pikachu happy you had to feed him electric energy earned as watts, which you’d build up by walking around or exercising with the unit clipped to your belt. Watts could be gambled on slot machines, and after big wins you could give Pikachu a massive jolt of electro-love. If you lost, you’d have to let him starve or go out jogging. Or shake the unit for ages. Later versions included color screens and minigames, but we loved the first one until, after one million steps and a couple of awkward moments at airport security checks, our Pikachu decided enough was enough, and bade us farewell.

Pikachu Genki Dechu

Eventually released here as Hey You Pikachu!, this 1998 predecessor of the hopeless Pokémon Channel featured voice recognition via a microphone that plugged into a spare joystick port on the N64. The aim was to befriend a wild Pikachu and get him to live in your back garden, but although his understanding of human speech ran to around 200 words in either language, you’d be lucky if you could make him comprehend a single thing you said. Apart from the word “PlayStation” which, if spoken in a Japanese accent, would make Pikachu screw his face up and do an angry thunderbolt.

Merchandise

Do not underestimate the power of Pokémon. Apart from shifting over 150 million videogames, our fighting friends have sold enough merchandise to stretch to the sun and back 14 times (estimate). There are five Pokémon Center shops in Japan dedicated entirely to Poké-worship, and they’re the only places you can buy certain exclusive Nintendo products such as limited edition consoles.



Above: Gotta buy 'em all

The Pokémon Center in New York was turned into the more generic Nintendo World store a couple of years ago, although part of the ground floor remains a haven for the ’Mon. Our favorite bit of Poké-tat was a sickeningly sweet breakfast cereal stuffed with colorful, sugary monsters.

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Pokemon

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