Why Did Pokemon Green Only Come Out In Japan?

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The Pokemon franchise had its global start back in 1998 with Red and Blue. These were the first two games in the now widely-popular franchise, taking us through the Kanto region. If you grew up in Japan though, you may know these original games as Pokemon Red and Green, which came out two years earlier. Though titled differently, these games still occur in the Kanto region.


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Pokemon Green was never officially released outside of Japan, but why? Here, we are going to go over why Pokemon Green was only released in Japan. First, let’s go over what some of the differences are between Pokemon Green and Pokemon Blue.


Is Pokemon Green Different From Pokemon Blue?

pokemon red and green covers-1

It’s important to note that Pokemon Blue was not released alongside Red and Green. Instead, it was released as an updated version of Pokemon Green, with improved graphics (including sprite appearances) and dialogue. For Japanese gamers, it was essentially a third version of the games.

So, to answer the question; yes, Pokemon Blue and Pokemon Green have some variations. In addition to the graphics and dialogue changes mentioned above, Pokemon Blue was a bit more balanced and had fewer glitches.

Pokemon Blue was only available via mail. If you wanted to play the game, you would have needed to fill in a request form that came with the CoroCoro Comic magazine.

Why Did Pokemon Blue Replace Pokemon Green?

pokemon blue cover image from nintendo

In the current state of video games, we see global launches. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet were available for everyone at the same time, regardless of location. In the 90s, video game releases were a bit different.

Pokemon Red and Green launched in 1996, while the Red and Blue pair launched a full two years later in 1998. The Japanese Pokemon Blue came out in 1996 as well, which means that by the time the games spread outside Japan, this upgrade had already existed for two years.

Rather than the global release seeing Red and Green (without the updates), we saw Red and Blue. This makes sense, as it isn’t practical to release a game that is essentially outdated in terms of graphics, content, animation, and dialogue.

The Pokemon Blue we know isn’t quite the same as the Japanese version; the 1998 version kept the ‘upgrades’ from Pokemon Green, while maintaining the same wild Pokemon (this removed and added Pokemon, creating version exclusives).

Pokemon & National Identity

Red, Blue, and Pikachu stand in front of a Charizard

Okay, this may sound a bit strange, but hear us out. Using the Wayback Machine, we can see Game Freak’s website from 1999. Here, we learn that Red and Blue are also the colors on the American Flag, making them “popular among American people”.

This is an interesting thought, but isn’t really expanded upon anywhere else. While this probably wasn’t the deciding factor of what to launch, it may have been kept in mind when going with Red and Blue instead of renaming Blue back to Green.

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