A short history of Nintendo’s attempts to lure you outdoors with Pokémon


Pokémon GO has taken the world by storm, forcing gamers out into the fresh air. Many people are lauding the new game as a fantastically health-conscious move from Nintendo, a revolution in truly mobile mobile games. What many people don’t remember, however, is that Nintendo has been trying to lure you outdoors since the franchise began.

The idea for Pokémon was born out of creator Satoshi Tajiri’s childhood love for collecting insects, so it makes perfect sense that the game would rely heavily on outdoor exploration. Past attempts to get Pokémon players out and about were never quite as direct or successful as GO, but they did pave the way for the out-of-doors experience we have now. Read on to find out more about how Nintendo has lured players outside with Pokémon in the past!

Pokémon Red and Blue (1996)

The first release in the Pokémon franchise kicked off a worldwide obsession with capturing, training, and battling colorful fictional creatures. One might think a game made for Game Boy would be a solitary activity, but Nintendo had other things in mind. Players could use a Game Link cable to connect two devices, letting them trade and battle Pokémon. It was a small step towards the great outdoors, but a step nonetheless — players who wanted to take advantage of the multiplayer option had to head outdoors to find a fellow Pokémon fan.

Pokémon Pikachu, or Pocket Pikachu (1998)

Remember digital pets? If you grew up in the 90s, of course you do! Pokémon Pikachu was a digital pet/exercise toy that featured everyone’s favorite Pokémon, Pikachu. The Pokémon Pikachu had an internal pedomenter that would reward exercise with points. Players could strap the device to their belt and earn a point, or watt, for every 20 steps they took. Needless to say, most players just shook the device to get watts, but for the most part, it got kids outside and moving.

Pokémon Trading Cards (1999)

Pokémon cards were the ultimate playground currency of the late 90s. They could make or break your reputation, make or break friendships, and yes, even make you go outside. For many kids, the recess bell was the cue to sprint off to the playground to compare and trade cards. After many schools inevitably starting banning the cards, kids would have to meet up after school if they wanted to play. If they weren’t heading over to a friend’s house, they were heading over to their local public trading spots. Tenuous link? Sure it is, but we just couldn’t leave it off the list.

Pokéwalker (2009)

Like the Pokémon Pikachu, the Pokéwalker was a small pedometer-enabled device that rewarded physically active players with points. Pokéwalkers came bundled with Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, and encouraged players to get moving to earn experience points, watts, and transferable items. Interestingly, one study even discovered that the Pokéwalker was the most accurate pedometer of its time!


Pokémon GO (2016)

With Pokémon GO, Nintendo’s “get out of the house” message is loud and clear — and the world has listened. Players around the globe are getting out and exploring their communities, chasing fictional creatures out in the real world. In many places, players are even bonding with others and making friends out in the wild. Group treks are popping up all over, and best of all, it’s not a kids’ game anymore. People of all ages are loving it! We have to say, we’re loving the combo of exercise and community that the game is bringing.

Did any of these past Pokémon games get you outdoors and frolicking? Let us know in the comments below!

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