5 things you might not know about Pokemon

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.

Read on for this and other facts about Nintendo's most collectible game franchise.

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. 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. 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?" 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. Pikachu's yellow color was by design as well. Catching them all ain't easy.

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. Catch 'em all? Good luck catching half.

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