Friday, August 13, 2010

Pokémon World Championships in Hawaii

If you had a tween in the late 1990's, you are probably very familiar with Pokémon. Red and Blue versions of Pokémon for Nintendo’s Gameboy burst on the scene in the US in September 1998 along with the anime series. The trading cards were introduced the following year by Wizards of the Coast. Pikachu, Mew, Meowth, and Bubasaur became household names and our kid loved "Pokémon, the First Movie" which opened in the US in 1999. The movie’s popularity resulted in it briefly holding the record for the highest grossing animated film. We played the card game, watched the TV shows, and movies and were amazed at the endless releases of Nintendo games (Yellow, Gold, Silver, Crystal, Ruby, Sapphire, Diamond, Pearl). Over the past 12 years, the number of pocket monsters (Pokémon) grew from the original 151 to over 1500. This year the 13th movie was released and new Pokémon games HeartGold and SoulSilver were released for the Nintendo DS™ and Nintendo DSi™ systems to appeal to the original Pokémon tweens, now in their twenties, by setting the game in the same region as the first games with updated graphics and sounds. The games come with a tiny pedometer that allows players to bring their Pokémon with them on their walks and gain experience points.

All this Pokémon reminiscing is because the 2010 Pokémon World Championships are taking place this weekend at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii. The competition is operated by the Pokémon Company which awards titles to players in each of the three age divisions (Juniors born in 1999 or later, Seniors born between 1995 and 1998, and Masters born in 1994 or earlier). Competitors are invited due to their national standings and must bring their own deck to compete against players from over 20 countries. The top players in the the United States earned their places in the Hawaii invitational at the Pokémon National Championships held earlier this year in Indianapolis, Indiana. Prizes will be awarded to the top 32 winners in each of the age divisions including scholarships, games, cards, and Nintendo’s. In addition to the card competition, the World championships has a video competition. In its third year, the Video Game Championships has become popular with thousands of players competing in regional tournaments in the United States, Europe, and Japan in an attempt to qualify for the World Championships.

The three days of events at the Hilton include an opening ceremony, player meetings, side tournaments, movies, game room, autograph signing, and a chance to meet VPs from The Pokémon Company and Game Freak Inc. Game tables are already filled with kids and adults playing 
pokémon If you bring your Nintendo DS you can even get a battle-ready Crobat pokémon.


The concept of Pokémon was created by Satoshi Tajiri, who loved catching insects and tadpoles as a child growing up nearby Tokyo. With the help of Ken Sugimori and other friends, Tajiri formed Game Freak and later the design studio Creatures to put his love of catching creatures into game. His dream was to create a game for Nintendo’s GameBoy and with the help of his friend Shigeru Miyamoto (the famous game designer credited for Super Mario and the Legend of Zelda) he successfully pitched the idea.

Nintendo funded the project spending six years to develop the Pokémon games Red and Green that were released in Japan in 1996 and Pokémon Blue, released soon thereafter.  The games featured 151 pocket monsters that could be caught and trained in the pursuit of becomes a Pokémon master. In the same year, the Pokémon trading game card sets were released with 102 pocket monsters. The popularity of the franchise led to an anime series in 1997 and movies thereafter. In 1998, Pokémon Center store was opened in Tokyo and The Pokémon Company began its operation. Today there are 6 stores across Japan and one in New York.

If you are looking for some fun and excitement you might find it at the Hilton Waikoloa Village this weekend.

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