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Poké Island (Series)

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Overview

The Poké Island series is a trilogy made up of a fan game and comics. The series began in 1999, before the release of Pokemon: The First Movie, and during a time when internet rumors about PokeGods was going strong (with unforgettable characters like Pikablu and Bruno). For this reason, the original Poké Island game held a few inaccuracies, using PokeGod names as placeholders for what would eventually become Generation II Pokemon from the Johto region. The series as a whole takes place in a parallel universe where the Mother series, Pokemon series (games) and Pokemon television anime are all canon... for the most part. Major events from each of these three series effected the Poké Island series as a whole for as long as it was active, including the events of EarthBound Beginnings and EarthBound, Pokemon: The First Movie, the Orange Islands Saga, and a portion of the Johto seasons. One fundamental difference between the official Pokemon and Mother franchises and the Poké Island trilogy is that the Poke Island trilogy, much like EarthBound Beginnings, did not use pseudonyms for countries, but the cities and towns from the franchises remained intact. For example, Eagleland was referred to as The United States of America, but Onett, Twoson, Threed/Threek and Fourside persisted. The same was true of the Japanese regions in Pokemon.

The Poké Island trilogy spans over four years in universe, and the series itself ended with Poké Legends in 2001 or 2002(ish), the series coming to a close long before the official Pokemon anime concluded the Johto seasons (both in Japan and overseas), and before any hints of a third generation surfaced. In fact, Poké Legends, much like the official franchise at the time, assumes that the entire Pokemon franchise would end with the Gold and Silver sequels. For this reason, modern works that take place solely within the Poké Island series (and not blended into an extended alternate universe) usually do not acknowledge a world beyond the second generation, even if technology is otherwise updated in its now floating timeline. This restriction is mostly loose, however, as any modern work would be considered non-canon by virtue of the series concluding over a decade ago.

Poké Island

PI-PokeForest

The original Poké Island fan game

Poké Island was a (frankly, quickly slapped together) fan game made in 1999 using very early click-and-play styled game creation software, and additionally with very little experience, and as such, is extremely crude, broken and currently unplayable. Though an EarthBound inspired art design and mapping layout was used, the game was not a proper RPG and played much more like a hacky top down action game. Despite questionable production, it kickstarted the rest of the series into one with many lovable characters. 

Story

The game follows Ash's Pikachu as the player character, as he finds out why he was whisked away to Poké Island, along with many other at-the-time trainer Pokemon such as Ash's Bulbasaur and Squirtle, Misty's Psyduck, Horsea and Togepi, and Brock's Onix and Vulpix among many others, including one shots such as A.J.'s Sandshrew and Duplica's Ditto. Pokemon have been reported worldwide as missing, while others with their life force drained and elemental energy stolen by forces unknown. As it turns out, there is an imbalance of all elements throughout the universe, being siphoned and stored away in a Death Star-like container deep in the center of the universe. Lady Mew, Poke Island's appointed guardian, warped as many Pokemon as she could to Poke Island in an attempt to protect and keep a head count of remaining Pokemon in the world, including the previously mentioned trainer Pokemon, but it's later found that this plan was incredibly short sighted and only served to create a large and obvious target for the otherworldly forces.

In the meantime, Poke Island finds itself becoming overpopulated by the sudden influx of teleported immigrants, and begins to expand and modernize via the suggestions of the more worldly outsiders. This includes Misty's Psyduck, with an innocuous suggestion to build a big city, and with the hype building of a place with fashion, food, and culture that the human world loves so much, this leads to its immediate and speedy construction.

The events of Poke Island last at least a month or more (exact specifics I can no longer recall), with outsider Pokemon finding themselves with odds at each other with their situation. Trainer loyal Pokemon like Ash's Pikachu and the unique-to-this-game Charmander ally want to return home to the life they knew, while others found that they've never lived more successfully than they have on Poke Island. Psyduck now had Psyduck City (later renamed Metroise after his departure) dedicated to him, and became a respected official within the city limits. Brock's Vulpix could finally live the diva life she's always wanted by becoming an entertainer. And then there's other, indifferent Pokemon like Ash's Bulbasaur who could take or leave the whole thing. This tug of wag between loyalties and newfound successes wouldn't last long as the universe continued to grow weaker, and reported sightings of aliens and element-energy-drained husks of Pokemon increased.

Eventually, with the help of both Lady Mew and Ho-oh (then called Houou, and still referred to as such in this series), Ash's Pikachu and his team travel into space to destroy the containment unit and release all of the universe's element energy back into the planets and cosmos from which they came. Shortly after, with much appreciation and thanks, the non-denizens of Poke Island were returned back to their homes and/or trainers... even if some of them were sent back kicking and screaming, knowing they would return to a world of ridicule and underappreciation. Poor Psyduck...

Legacy

Though a large number of characters in Poke Island were either taken from the anime or created solely for the game, a few of the characters and their roles were introduced in Poke Island, namely those who held status. Butterfree of Poke Forest (known as Psychic Butterfree, and later by the nickname Psy in Poke Tales), Jynx the Snow Queen of Mt. Frosty (whose coloration is mostly white and blue), Prince Mew of Mew Island, Marowak of the Forgotten Zone, and Lady Mew and Houou being the island guardians as a whole would all appear in future series. Some bosses and NPCs would also continue to appear, such as Marill, Bruno the Snubbull, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres, and so many others. However, Poke Island itself is typically more self contained than the other parts of the series, as there is little continuity between it and future series, other than familiar characters and the fact that it happened.

Remake

In 2006, a
PISE-GreenTown1

Screenshot from an early build of Poké Island: SE

remake of Poke Island was proposed in the form of Poke Island: Special Edition. The game would be a proper RPG, updated to the Mother 3 art and design direction, with a slightly more polished storyline and a few technical updates, such as corrections to at-the-time newly revealed Pokemon species. Though the game was in production for a few years, it was ultimately put into an indefinite hiatus due to a lack of resources and the prioritizing of other projects.


Poké Tales

Poke Tales

Poké Tales commemorative artwork from 2006

Poké Tales, created very late into 1999 after Pokemon: The First Movie, is the technical sequel of Poké Island. However, Poké Tales is typically considered to be loosely tied to Poke Island, as the reason for its existence is the convenience of a pre-established world. References to the events of Poke Island are few and far between, despite a cast of reoccurring characters who lived through it. 

Poké Tales was meant to be a supplement to, and an answer in spite of the official anime. Since the official anime did not always give any due air time to all of the Pokemon in this time period, Poké Tales aimed to create a story for every last Pokemon in the then current Pokedex (151 + a few extras), and successfully did so. However, even though each Pokemon had a story or a joint story with another, many of them were, and remained, one-shots and the stories are generally self contained and timeline agnostic. However, a few plot threads were started for the sake of having some continuity and a reason to care. These plotlines mostly involved the Nidos of Poké Forest (technically the first species to kick off Poké Tales), their relationships to each other and the families they would build, Eevee and the plots of Scarlet the Flareon and Mewtwo, working independently for world domination and vengeance respectfully, and finally the obligatory tour of the entire island following Team Pika, the newest and major protagonists of the series, mirroring the travel-styled adventures Ash and friends would have in the main series. The entirety of Poké Tales spans over a year in its universe, and characters are allowed to grow and age.

Even though Poké Tales had Poke Island to thank for the locale, Poké Tales was the series to really introduce a steady, meaningful cast into the series, and flesh out and give depth to reoccuring characters from Poké Island. This would be the series to introduce the previously mentioned Team Pika, Parasect and the Bug Squad, the married Nidorans Male and Female, the also-married Nidorina and Nidorino (affectionately known as Bun-Bun and Rinie respectively), the self absorbed teenaged La'Vee sisters Bubbles, Shockette and Rosie and their runt of a kid sister, Joy La'Vee, Porygon the virus buster and his partner Magnemite, additional entertainers Ninetails (t-a-i-l-s) and Jigglypuff, little Eevee and his mysterious crystal shard, and many others.

Stories were treated a little differently than the official anime, as death was a very real threat in this world, along with stories touching on poaching, depression, insecurity, discrimination, rejection and belonging and many other not-too-adult-but-still-meaningful subjects. These stories were mostly sandwiched between otherwise silly and fancy-free jaunts. Even the legendary birds Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres were shown to actually be backtalking jokers who only pretended to be majestic in front of humans to watch them make fools of themselves. This increased depth gave a lot of the characters dimension, and made it one of my favorite series at the time. However, most of it, especially in detail, is forgotten...


Poké Legends

Poke Legends

Poké Legends commemorative artwork from 2006

Poké Legends is the sequel to Poké Tales, and the final chapter of the Poké Island trilogy. This series was introduced as an answer to The Johto Journeys anime, and only came into existence when knowledge that the anime would continue became true. Prior to this, the series was supposed to conclude after Poké Tales, and was essentially resurrected just for the occasion. Knowing this, it's possible to see an alternate timeline where this could have kept going as long as the anime would continue into new seasons and new generations, but fortunately the exhaustive amount of Johto episodes allowed the Poké Island series to end for good while it was on a high note.

Poke Legends continues in a similar vein to Poké Tales, sticking to the rule of giving each Pokemon equal "air time" (from 152 to 251), and creating story arcs along the way. However, the mood for Poké Legends was a bit more serious, with a far more dangerous threat, and more meaningful smaller stories. Characters from the previous series who may have been more one note in nature, like the teenage La'Vee sisters, gained individuality and backstory in this series, allowing readers to understand why these characters are the way they are. The major story arcs in this series include the migration of Neo Island Pokemon (the island that primarily holds Johto native Pokemon) to Poké Island as tensions and bad omens arise, Chikorita Chamomile's ongoing attraction to Team Pika's Meowth, Chikorita's younger sister Chicolita being a clairvoyant who had many tearful nightmares about the planet's destruction, unresolved tension in the marriage between Nidorina and Nidorino, the revelation of "Chosen Pokemon", and primarily, the devil Pokemon Nyuura and her initial desire to engulf the world in darkness, followed by her more omnicidial decision to destroy the planet and all life within. On a lighter note, the series also undergoes a series of travel adventures with Team Pika venturing out to Neo Island and meeting new faces, all before returning.

Poké Legends is much longer than Poké Tales, possibly double the length, as it takes a long while to start the Team Pika travel arc, and even after it ends, the "devastation arc" just begins. The events in this series take place within the span of about two in universe years, give or take, and characters are allowed to grow and age, just like in Poké Tales. A lot of the Pokemon introduced in this series tend to play roles of those with a higher calling compared to Poké Tales, including a reformed Scarlet and a returning Eevee. The entire series ends in a very final way, with the third to last episode being a celebratory episode, and the penultimate episode being a "where are they now" styled epilogue narrated by the soft voiced Nidorino, one of the first characters of the Poké Tales series. While some characters continue to live very status quo lives, others return home for good, such as all the Eevolutions from Eevee Island (including Eevee and his parents, Scarlet, and the La'Vee sisters), or move out of the Poke Forest where so many of them have lived for a few years (including Nidorino and his family, as he was finally able to afford a bigger home in Fern Garden, an upper-middle class suburb). Team Pika departs to who knows where, and life essentially becomes peaceful, if not saddeningly quiet. The very last episode gives a little taste of this "after the epilogue" life, showing how the characters are doing, reassuring the readers that the world still turns, and though the series has come to an end, their lives have not. Despite this being the canon ending, modern follow ups to this series negate this ending in order to create scenarios built upon the previous status quo, keeping characters together and in close proximity (which is why Nidorino and his family are still shown to live in the Poké Forest, and Eevee is still around, etc).


Beyond Poké Legends

LoveWarmPIScroll

A zip pan from the 2016 short I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm showing an abridged version of Poke Island, and some of its inhabitants, one-offs, and once-lived-on-ers

Due to the attachment to this series and the significance it holds for essentially being the catalyst of all other series following, the world found in Poke Legends continues to make modern appearances today. While the series proper took place in the era of the late 1990's and very early 2000's, it now exists in a floating timeline, unaffected by the current real world year. The series has also been time capsuled, where characters can no longer age beyond their years as set near the end of Poké Legends (typically instead of at the very end), and they also live in a bubble of reality where nothing else followed after Generation II of Pokemon. The only loose rule is the latter, as references to current generations can still happen when appropriate or for the sake of making a point or gag. Additionally, the bubble is burst if the universe of Poké Legends is combined with that of a more modern series, however, the Pokemon on Poke and Neo Island live as if they always knew these new creatures existed, rather than suffer from culture shock (though with that said, Poké Island is still primarily full of first Generation Pokemon and Neo Island is full of second Generation Pokemon). Additionally, modern works stray from the more serious-minded nature of the original Poke Legends, due to being somewhat clunky and overall not-fun, and aim for a much more lighthearted experience.  

It is unfortunate that much what's left of this series now are modern, online appearances, as most of the old hard copies of work are lost to time. There are still a few things left, and efforts are being made to preserve them.

Gallery

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