Pokemon has been around for a long time since 1996 to be exact, and in that time it has had its fair share of Pokemon controversies. Pokemon is something that seems on the surface to be incredibly innocent and pure, but like most things, it has seen its issues.
Some of the biggest Pokemon controversies revolve around fans feeling let down by the games, while others have a more sinister story.
Let’s take a look below at some of the biggest Pokemon controversies that players and viewers have been subjected to!
7. Pokemon Controversies: Porygon Episode Causing Seizures
An episode in the Pokemon anime, titled Electric Soldier Porygon, had strobing effects that caused negative reactions in more than 700 people, including epileptic seizures, irritated eyes, and vomiting.
As this episode caused adverse reactions from so many viewers, it was removed quickly and was never aired again. After this episode aired, the show went on a four-month hiatus, as well, making it a huge hit to Pokemon in comparison to its other controversies.
You can find the clip of the scene that caused these reactions on YouTube, but I would of course recommend against that. The clip has very fast, flashing, colorful lights and it seems a bit baffling now that no one originally noticed the issues that the episode might cause.
6. Pokemon Controversies: Gambling
There are many games that have gambling elements or mini-games, but these games often fall under a mature rating. Pokemon is certainly not the first gaming series that people would expect to have gambling in it, but past releases of Pokemon games had it readily available to young players.
This includes Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen, which referenced gambling with a Gambler Trainer, which was later changed to Gamer.
The South Korean releases of Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum saw slot machines in-game that you could actively play. They ended up replacing the slot machines with non-playable game machines, which they eventually brought over to the European releases as well.
Similar instances happened in a few other Pokemon games where they had to change the slot machines to a more kid-friendly game.
5. Pokemon Controversies: Sword and Shield – Missing Pokemon
A more recent issue includes the backlash that came with Pokemon Sword and Shield’s announcement back in 2019 at the Nintendo Treehouse live stream for E3. During this live stream, Junichi Masuda informed fans that some of the previous Pokemon would not be appearing in the new Pokemon Sword and Shield.
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This met with a lot of anger from fans who expressed that they wanted each and every one of the Pokemon in the game, even if it had to be patched into the game later on. This prompted a lot of fans to start the hashtag #BringBackNationalDex to express their disappointment.
After hearing all of these comments, Masuda responded to fans but ultimately reiterated that these Pokemon would not be appearing in the game. Luckily, though, the game eventually got an expansion pass that added in 221 of the missing Pokemon.
4. Pokemon Controversies: Jynx’s Original Design
When looking at the Pokemon Jynx, they appear to be purple Pokemon with long blonde hair and a red dress. This was not always the design of Jynx, though.
Originally, Jynx had a darker skin tone that many pointed out could be perceived as an offensive racial stereotype. Carole Boston Weatherford, a critic, stated that the character resembled an “overweight drag queen incarnation of Little Black Sambo, a racist stereotype from a children’s book long ago purged from libraries”.
After this revelation by Weatherford following the episode Holiday Hi-Jynx, Game Freak and Nintendo eventually decided to edit the character’s skin tone to purple in the episode and every future game.
3. Pokemon Controversies: Perceived Nazi Imagery
Of all the Pokemon controversies, this one might not be as well-known, but might be one of the worst.
In the European version of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, you can see Registeel’s sprite depicted differently from the international release. In the European version, Registeel is standing normally, whereas, in the international release, Registeel appears to be using the Roman salute (which was often used by the Nazis).
This questionable version of Registeel was used in the Korean, Japanese, and English versions of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, but the altered version was used for the non-English speaking countries in Europe. Considering they felt an altered version was needed at all should be enough to tell them that the international version of Registeel was probably not a good idea in the first place.
2. Pokemon Controversies: Uri Geller Lawsuit
One of the weirdest controversies to happen to Pokemon involves Kadabra and a well-known magician from the time, Uri Geller.
If you take a look at Kadabra’s design, you will notice that the Pokemon is holding a bent spoon in its hand. If you take a look at Uri Geller, as well, you will notice that he is known for using spoons to showcase his supposed psychic abilities.
Because of these similarities, Uri Geller attempted to sue Nintendo for £60 million, saying that Kadabra was a parody of himself that was unauthorized. In a statement, he said, “Nintendo turned me into an evil, occult Pokémon character. Nintendo stole my identity by using my name and my signature image“.
Luckily for fans, as Kadabra had been banned from the trading card game for quite some time, Uri Geller decided to lift the ban so Kadabra could again be used in the game.
1. Pokemon Controversies: Pokemon Go Accidents – and there’s been a few!
While Pokemon Go was a massive hit when it first came out in 2016, it seemed to bring a lot of controversy with it as well.
Many accidents happened while people were playing Pokemon Go, including a few deaths and visiting inappropriate landmarks.
Some of these reported locations include Holocaust and 9/11 memorials, train tracks, and while driving. Users reported that Pokemon would spawn in these locations and eventually these places begged players to not use them, including the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Apparently, this location was also being used as a Pokestop.
Along with this, there have been a few accidents and deaths stemming from Pokemon Go. One of the accidents included two men falling off a cliff while playing the game, as well as a driver in Japan being distracted by the game and hitting a woman and killing her.
And there you have some of the biggest Pokemon controversies to date. Some of them are much more concerning, while others will most likely go forgotten.