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NOVEMBER 22, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 20

109 More Monsters!
By TIM LARIMER Tokyo

Nintendo this month will release the long-awaited successors to its original Pokémon Game Boy cartridges: the Gold and Silver series. Fans are already placing orders at toy shops and convenience stores throughout Japan. Akira Namegawa, an analyst at ING Barings in Tokyo, predicts that sales will hit 6 million units in four months. Demand is so heavy that some stores have simply stopped taking new bookings. Last week, in fact, a Nintendo spokesman said there won't be enough cartridges for everyone who ordered them. Another Pokémonic strategy to create a frenzy? No, just a computer-chip shortage caused by September's Taiwan earthquake.

The latest versions feature 109 new monsters and can interact with existing characters. There are creatures that come out only at night, and some that appear by day. The games are programmed to follow real time, so if you want to find a night-dweller, you have to play after dark. Here's a sneak preview of three of the new characters:

- Waninoko, an alligator that bumps other monsters

- Hinoarashi, a hedgehog that stares down opponents

- Chikorita, a slug-like female type that could become the first Pokémon babe

Nintendo had originally planned to release this new batch by Christmas 1997. Takashi Kawaguchi, general manager of the firm's advertising department, says the project fell behind schedule when Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri picked up a wicked flu. But nobody has the flu for two years. A more realistic explanation might be found in Tajiri's own admission that he faced greater pressure trying to create a second Pokémon game after the success of the first. He had to conform to existing parameters of the monsters' world--or risk alienating loyal fans--while introducing something compelling and different. Now it's up to the kids to decide if he succeeded.

Images © 1995, 1999 Nintendo/Creatures Inc./Game Freak Inc.; moving images by Adam Connors


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