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Can we catch ‘em all?: Generation I

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"Tajiri had a novel idea: to utilize the tsushin keburu [Game Boy Link Cable] for ‘communication’ instead – for exchanges between players in which the objective would be to barter with, rather than eliminate, an opponent by training monsters.”
- Anne Allison, ''Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination'' <ref name="Allison, ''Millennial Monsters.''">Anne Allison, ''Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination'' (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).</ref>
Twenty years ago, many players first encountered a video game through its advertisement campaign. Nintendo, in particular, was notorious for tightly controlling advertisement through censorship of unwelcome critiques in Japanese gaming magazines. This control went even farther in the United States, where the company-run {{bp|Nintendo Power}} essentially functioned as a subscription advertising campaign. As a result, marketing controlled how players understood their games.<ref> name="Allison, ''Millennial Monsters.''<"/ref> Nowhere is this more obvious than in {{bp|Generation I|Generation I core series titles}}.
Before applying media archaeology methodologies to these versions, it is helpful to look at Nintendo’s advertised descriptions of versions as described in Nintendo Power.
[[File:GenIUnofficialVersionTreeV2.png|Generation I Unofficial Version Tree]]
The diagram above demonstrates the actual connections between versions from a media specific, code-based examination using fan sources such as The Cutting Room Floor.<ref> The Cutting Room Floor</ref> Media archaeology is critical to make sense of the differences between this diagram and the previous, official diagram of versions taken from Nintendo advertisements.
{{bp|Satoshi Tajiri}} hand-coded the original Pocket Monsters over a period of six years. This limitation of resources resulted in well-known {{bp|glitch|glitches}}.<ref></ref> The purpose of {{bp|Pokémon Blue Version (Japanese)|Pocket Monsters: Blue}} appears to be a much-needed overhaul of problematic source code, neutralizing {{bp|glitch|glitches}}. What is so impressive about this version is that such an overhaul is invisible; more precisely, these structural changes appear minimal to players but radically altered the structure of the game’s code underneath the surface.
Nintendo considered the release of the Pocket Monsters franchise in North America to be a problematic endeavor. Stories of the company’s reluctance to send the games overseas are well known.<ref> name="Allison, ''Millennial Monsters.''<"/ref> How, then, could Nintendo knowingly release glitchy games to an audience they felt expected better of their products? Revision was needed, and it appeared under the guise of {{bp|Pokémon Blue Version (Japanese)|Pocket Monsters: Blue}}. Using media archaeology as a framework, it is possible to dig into the code. Comparing code across titles demonstrates that {{bp|Pokémon Red and Blue Versions|Pokémon Red and Blue}} were heavily derived from {{bp|Pokémon Blue Version (Japanese)|Pocket Monsters: Blue}}. Game engine, script, and audiovisual content were all ripped from the less-problematic version, with only {{bp|version-exclusive Pokémon}} lists surviving from {{bp|Pokémon Red and Green Versions|Pocket Monsters: Red and Green}}. It is these ideal English-language versions that were translated for other international audiences, ensuring the best-quality product available outside Japan.
What, then, of the confusion surrounding {{bp|Pokémon Yellow|Pocket Monsters: Pikachu}}? Once again, glimpsing at the code itself is key. The title is not a version of previous Japanese titles but instead derived from what was considered to be the most stable set of games: {{bp|Pokémon Red and Blue Versions|Pokémon Red and Blue}}. Hidden objects in the code taken from the international releases confirm the connection.<ref></ref> To decipher the difference in graphics, one must instead turn to media specificity. {{bp|Game Boy}} games accessed through {{bp|Game Boy Color}} did not contain color information in and of themselves. Instead, those color palettes existed within the {{bp|Game Boy Color}} and were accessed by the game cartridge. This explains why the Japanese version's colors are less-specific and lighter: they are not programmed specifically for the ultra-saturated palette players became accustomed to through the anime.<ref></ref> Without access to these media platforms, the mystery could not be solved.