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5 things you might not know about Pokemon

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Pokemon Black/White - Nintendo

Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the Pokemon series has been one of gaming's most successful. Not content with a smash hit series of portable games, it's spawned full-size console spin-offs, a card game, a TV show, a successful series of movies, a string of comic books, and more toys, action figures, and other tchotckes than you can shake a Spearow at.

But did you know that it was borne out of the designer's love of bugs? Read on for this and other facts about Nintendo's most collectible game franchise.

It's the biggest seller this side of Mario.

Describing Pokemon as being popular is rather like describing the Hindenburg disaster as "a bit of an oopsie."

Forget The Sims, Bejeweled or WarCraft -- Pokemon is second only to Mario as the franchise to have generated the most sales in the history of video games, and that's before you factor in the vast amount of cash it's earned from its astonishing quantity of merchandise and spin-offs. Pikachu might look cute and cuddly, but he's netted somewhere in the region of $24 billion in Pokeproceeds.

Check out the craziest game collections

It owes its life to bugs.

They might come in handy in a fight, but Pokemon are also pretty cuddly. The same can't quite be said of the creepy crawlies that influenced them, however.

According to franchise creator Satoshi Tajiri, the idea for Pokemon can be traced back to his very own childhood, much of which was spent collecting insects driven away from his rural home due to excessive urban development. He'd come up with specific techniques for catching specific bugs -- a concept that forms the backbone of the Pokemon series to this very day.

Pikachu's name makes perfect sense.

Wondering how Nintendo comes up with iconic names like "Pikachu?" The answer is simple -- if you happen to know Japanese.

Official Poke-mascot Pikachu is actually a blend of two Japanese words: pikapika, a common expression for electricity, and chu, a word meant to describe a sqeaking mouse sound. Put the two together, and it's electric mouse history.

Pikachu's yellow color was by design as well. According to Poke-lore, the creators chose the primary color because it's considered easily identifiable and readable by children, and that the only other children's icon to use the color at the time of Pikachu's creation was Winnie The Pooh (though he's a bit more of an orangeish-yellow, right?)

Catching them all ain't easy.

"Gotta catch 'em all!" has been a Pokemon slogan ever since the very first game, but actually doing it is much, much harder than it sounds.

Most Pokemon titles come in pairs -- Pokemon Black and White are the newest couplet -- and some Pokemon inevitably occur in one game but not the other. In order to get a full set, players have to hunt down a friend with the complementing game to trade. And it's not getting any easier: the first pair of Pokemon games featured 150 monsters, but Black and White, between them, include 649. Catch 'em all? Good luck catching half.

It features cameos from Mario's designer -- and part of Japan.

Fantastical though the Pokemon might be, their world isn't quite as fictional as it appears.

Kanto, the setting of the original Red and Blue games, bears a striking resemblance to the Japanese region of Kantō. Ash, star trainer of the Pokemon TV shows, is named after Pokemon creator Satoshi Tajiri. And Gary, who takes the role of the player's rival across numerous Pokemon installments, is named for superstar Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto.


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