When it was released in 1996, Pokémon made zealots of children. Desperate to catch ’em all (as the slogan goes), they would queue for hours, play truant from school (‘Pokéflu’ apparently), fight, steal and bankrupt their parents. Exasperated schools banned the trading cards; jittery parents fanned the flames of moral panic.
In November 1999, as the phenomenon reached its climax, Pokémon graced the cover of Time magazine; the accompanying feature described Pokémania, the fanaticism the game franchise inspired, as “a multimedia and interactive barrage like no other before it” and, less flatteringly, “a pestilential Ponzi scheme”. Eventually – outside Asia at least – Pokémon, like most children’s fads, faded from the mainstream.