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Pokémon Black and Blue is a Pokémon parody videogame released by the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in order to protest animal cruelty. The campaign asserts that the game highlights mistreatment and exploitation of the creatures by keeping them in Pokeballs, comparing it to how circuses keep elephants chained up except when performing.
On October 8th, 2012, the day after Pokemon Black and White Versions 2 was released in North America for the Nintendo DS, PETA launched a parody of the Pokemon franchise to highlight the game’s supposed glorification of animal cruelty. Titled “Pokemon: Black and Blue”, the flash game features the Black and White starter Pokemon, Tepig, Snivy and Oshawatt, along with game mascot Pikachu, appearing battered and hurt.
Throughout the game, the Pokemon creatures battle against numerous human characters, including a the gym leader Cheren (shown below, left), Professor Juniper, Black and White’s antagonist Ghetsis and the anime’s canonical main character Ash Ketchum, who are portrayed as heartless and uncaring towards the Pokemon, only exploiting them for experiments or monetary gains. The Pokemon, in addition to two of their normal attacks, are each given non-violent offensive moves including “Group Hug,” “Shame” and “Educate” to lower their opponent’s battle statistics. Several memetic phrases are also incorporated into gameplay including I Herd U Leik Mudkips and A Wild Snorlax Appears, with a special appearance of Slowpoke right before the game ends.
News Media Coverage
On the same day, the business news blog Forbes published an article titled “Animal Rights Group Attacks Pokemon For Promoting Animal Abuse,” which criticized the game as a publicity stunt that misunderstood the message of the Pokemon franchise. In the comment section of the article, a reader identifying herself as “Brittany Peet” replied that the PETA game was meant to be interpreted as satire, to which Forbes writer David Ewalt replied by outing the commenter as a Counsel at PETA Foundation (shown below). Also on October 8th, other news and tech blogs reported on the controversial game, including CNET, Mashtable, Kotaku, Slashdot, The Escapist, Joystiq, Nintendo Life, The Huffington Post and the Examiner.
Within the first few hours of the game being released, several Facebook groups were made in protest, including “Nintendo Fans Against PETA” and “PETA couldn’t live in the world of Pokemon.” On October 8th, The viral content site BuzzFeed published a post titled “PETA Vs. Pokemon,” which included an embed of the flash game accompanied by several screen captures. Twitter and Tumblr users both began discussing the game using the hashtag #Petamon, as well as sharing various fan art illustrations in tribute to the characters from the game.
On the same day, Redditor BEPower submitted a post to the /r/pokemon subreddit titled “What the hell is wrong with PETA?”, which linked to PETA’s Black and Blue page. Within 24 hours, the post received over 4,300 up votes and 1030 comments. The same day, Redditor TallPerson429 submitted a post titled “Excuse me PETA? What were you lying?”, including a screen capture from the PETA game accompanied by several screen captures from the animated television series in which the character Ash Ketchum hugs Pikachu (shown below).
On October 8th, a thread titled “PETA Does it Again” was submitted to 4chan’s /v/ (video games) board, which accumulated over 1,550 replies prior to being archived on Chanarchive. The same day, a link to the game was posted to the /co/ (comics and cartoons) board, receiving over 190 responses prior to being archived.
Pokémon: Red, White & Blue
On 10 October 2013, two days before the release of Pokémon X and Y, PETA released a sequel to their original Pokémon parody game, titled Pokémon: Red, White & Blue, in which Pikachu travels to the human world in order to stop McDonalds from killing animals to use as food, eventually joined by fellow Pokémon Miltank and Jigglypuff, as well as McDonalds mascot Grimace. Within the same day, numerous tech and culture blogs picked up on the story, such as Nintendo Life, Nintendo Everything, Escapist and Anime News Network.
Nintendo Life – PETA Targets Pokémon Black & White 2 in Latest Campaign
Huffington Post UK – Peta Launches Campaign Against Mistreatment Of Pokemon
The Examiner – PETA releases Pokémon parody game Pokémon Black and Blue
PETA – “Pokémon Red, White & Blue”:
Nintendo Life – PETA makes parody of Pokémon X and Y before launch!
Nintendo Everything – Play PETA’s Pokemon: Red, White & Blue parody game