Twitch Plays Pokémon

Twitch Plays Pokémon
Twitch Plays Pokémon logo.png
Twitch Plays Pokémon logo
Language English
Status Active
Run 2014 - Present
Date opened February 14, 2014
Creator Anonymous
Current owner {{{owner}}}
Forum Twitch Plays Pokémon subreddit
Mascot Helix Fossil
Website Main Page

Twitch Plays Pokémon (often abbreviated to TPP) is a Twitch channel known for streaming chat-controlled Pokémon games, usually through the use of emulators. Via Twitch's built-in chat, Twitch users can play the game being streamed by entering inputs such as "A", "B", "left", or "right". This streaming format is known as Twitch Plays, of which Twitch Plays Pokémon was the originator. The channel went live with a playthrough of Pokémon Red on February 12, 2014 at 23:16:01 UTC, and received widespread media attention internationally for its chaotic nature and unique concept. The channel is notorious for its fan-generated lore, spawning thousands of stories, images, videos, and Internet memes. The stream is broken into seasons and runs of various Pokémon games, including ROM hacks and official games. A variety of content is broadcast between runs, most prominent of which are seasons of Pokémon Battle Revolution (referred to by TPP users as PBR). The channel will also stream playthroughs of other games, often not connected to Pokémon, during Intermissions.

The channel had around 120,000 simultaneous viewers at its peak, with almost 36 million total views in the first run alone.[1] It has received several awards, including a Guinness World Record.[2] After successful completion of the first run, the channel continued streaming other Pokémon games, and is intended to remain active as long as there is still interest in the channel.

The stream celebrated 500 days of near-continuous running in June 2015 followed by 1,000 days in November 2016 and 1,500 days in March 2018.

Origins and Staff

The original creator of the stream, TwitchPlaysPokemon, is a largely anonymous person, though he has revealed he is a male freelance programmer from Australia. He is referred to by the community as streamer or OG streamer/OG (for "original"). He was active on Reddit, and participated in a few media interviews. In 2017, he stepped down as channel host. He is occasionally seen in the Twitch chat, usually to perform maintenance on the channel itself, though he has stopped by simply to wish users in chat happy holidays or to comment on the game being played.

The current streamer and host is Twitch user M4_used_rollout, also known as M4. M4 owns the physical equipment that runs the stream. His assistance is needed for issues with the hardware, or if there are gameplay sections that require finer inputs than can be provided by TPP's input system. In these cases, he may wind up playing sections of the game on its physical hardware as the chat watches.

While M4 generally assists with software issues such as game freezes, these issues can also be fixed by a staff of volunteers known as operators or ops. The channel's community is entirely volunteer-run, in fact, from the chat moderation team to the programming team that oversees changes to the channel's version of Pokémon Battle Revolution. Some volunteers have even contributed to crafting ROM hacks unique to the channel itself.

Twitch Plays Pokémon is often referred to as a 'social experiment', to see if it is possible to create order from complete chaos. Parallels have been drawn with chaos theory[3] and the infinite monkey theorem[4], but since the latter would require completely random inputs the comparison remains speculative.

Format

Twitch Plays Pokémon is divided into seasons and runs, the runs being the equivalent of a season episode. According to the streamer, there are to be four runs per season, with season lasting about one year. Intermissions and seasons of PBR are held between runs.

The stream uses Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), known as stream time, as its base time format. It is usually displayed to the millisecond in order for players to accurately calculate how long the video is delayed (on average, this is around 20 seconds). Like UTC, stream time remains constant and does not observe any Daylight Saving Time.

Runs

 
An example of a run on the channel on the Nintendo 3DS, Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, in anarchy mode

The term "run" refers to playthroughs of Pokémon games, similar to the original run of Red. During runs, users can enter commands in chat to control the game being played. These commands are case-insensitive. Taking advantage of this is useful for users to avoid being timed out by Twitch or channel moderation bots. The system that reads and accepts commands is known as Commander.

A basic example of a valid input would be to simply type 'up' into the chat while the player character is visible on the overworld. When this input is selected, the character onscreen will move up. Some inputs can be combined, generally to provide a greater range of motion. For example, during some games, the command B+E+N may be entered, making the player character run in a northeast direction. A - may be added to the end of a command (e.g., B+E+N-) to make the command "hold" longer.

The control scheme varies depending on which platform is being used. For example, when playing games designed for the Game Boy or Game Boy Color, only 8 commands (up, down, left, right, a, b, start and select) are accepted. When playing games designed for the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS, these commands are expanded to the touchscreen (users input with pairs of three-digit coordinates) and other controls, such as the 3DS's Circle Pad. The channel is currently able to play games on the Nintendo Switch. Users may check the current valid commands by typing !commands in the Twitch chat.

Anarchy and Democracy

Anarchy and Democracy are two modes that determine how inputs are recognized by Commander. By default, inputs are entered and accepted in a mode known as Anarchy. Anarchy is the mode the channel is best known for. In this mode, inputs are accepted as soon as the system receives them, in the order in which it was received. When Anarchy is enabled, user commands will be shown as a reverse-waterfall scroller situated to the right side the screen, with usernames being displayed alongside the command the user entered. Anarchy has a lesser-known mode known as Turbo, wherein Commander will continually select last few inputs entered will continually be selected in a loop, rather than selecting inputs based on a first come, first serve basis. Turbo can presently only be enabled by the stream host.

In addition to Anarchy and Turbo, there is an additional mode known as Democracy which users can vote to enable in chat. This mode will be activated after a certain number of unique users have entered the command "democracy" in chat. In Democracy, only the input with the highest number of votes in a given timespan will be selected. The input display on screen will also change, now showing the users who have voted for an input, with a three-bar chart at the top of the screen showing which inputs are in the lead. Up to nine simultaneous commands can be entered in Democracy, as opposed to the maximum three for Anarchy. For example, the input a9 will result in the "a" button being pressed nine times. This can be combined with a variety of other inputs so long as the total number of button presses is 9. Anarchy can be re-enabled the same way Democracy is enabled, by having enough users vote "anarchy" in chat.

Both Anarchy and Democracy have their advantages and disadvantages, and are often a source of controversy in the community as to which system "should" be used. Generally speaking, Anarchy is ideal for situations that require speed, such as the Noble Pokémon battles of Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Democracy is optimal for situations that require finer control, such as navigating through menus.

Pokémon Battle Revolution

 
Typical battle betting, using a modified version of Pokémon Battle Revolution

A major feature of the channel are seasons of Pokémon Battle Revolution, held between runs and intermissions. These seasons last anywhere from one to three weeks and consist of randomly-generated Pokémon battles, which users in chat can bet on using Pokémon Dollars (referred to by the chat's system as Pokeyen). Like the currency used in the games, the money used in-stream is fictional. No actual money is ever spent on betting, and Pokeyen can only be used to bet on PBR matches. PBR seasons are currently the only instance where the channel has live commentary. During "Commentary Power Hour", the in-game announcer will be disabled, and live commentators will instead commentate over the match.

PBR matches may appear to be AI-run, but they are actually controlled by chat using a system similar to the aforementioned Democracy mode. Each match is split between a blue team and a red team. Users may input for the team they bid on by entering a command corresponding to a specific move or Pokémon. However, though commands are ultimately selected by RNG, users' inputs do not have equal priority as they do in Anarchy mode, however, nor is the input with the highest percentage of votes guaranteed to be selected. Instead, the chance of a command being selected is based on the total value of bets made by the users entering that command. For example: if only one user on Team Blue has inputted !c (or, the third move in a Pokémon's set), then their input will have a 100% chance to be chosen. However, if someone who has bet a higher amount on the same team inputs a different move, the higher bettor's move then has a higher chance of being selected; but as the lower bettor's influence is not 0%, their input still has a chance of being selected. A bettor who has bid an even higher amount can enter the same command as the first user, increasing that move's odds of being selected; but if the combined total of bids between the first and third user is not that much greater than the second user's bid, the odds of either group's commands being selected may be fairly even. The odds of a given move being selected can also be influenced by the match's gimmick, such as Sync 50-50, where players have a 50% influence on the other team's move selection. Some gimmicks, such as Defiance or Man vs. Machine, may even prevent users from inputting altogether.

Players can also obtain tokens, a separate currency unit, through donating or subscribing to the stream, by accepting a bribe from other players via the sidegame (see below) and other methods. These can be spent to influence elements of the stream, such as changing the next music track, enabling a glow effect around a username, and betting them on Pokémon Pinball games. Players can also use them in a stock exchange-like system on betting matches. At the start of each hour, a token match will begin, where players can bid tokens to choose which six Pokémon will be in the next battle. The submission with the highest token bid will be selected for the token match.

Donation matches, where players would bid real money to the stream for their own Pokémon matchup, were replaced with token matches soon after the introduction of tokens. Additional token-based games, including slot machines and the ability to win a random token by participating in the sidegame, were retired at the start of Season 3.

There have been three major versions of TPP Bets, known as: Stadium, PBR 1.0 and, most recently, PBR 2.0. All three have involved a large team of users working together with the channel's streamer, and are continuously adjusted and upgraded. Pokémon Stadium 2 was used for betting prior to Pokémon Battle Revolution.

Sidegame

 
The host (nicknamed 'Baba') competing in Blackthorn Gym in the Vietnamese Crystal

Sidegame is a currently disabled feature of PBR seasons. Starting after the conclusion of the first run of Season 2 (known as Anniversary Red Version by fans), a run of the Pokémon Vietnamese Crystal ROM hack was started as filler in between betting matches. Chat commands operated similarly to Democracy, where the command with the highest number of votes would be selected. Unlike Democracy, however, players were able to vote for only one command at a time, after which the game was paused and only resumed after the next betting match. At the end of each vote, a player was randomly selected to receive a token. Players also could choose to donate tokens to a pool, increasing the number of tokens distributed after an input was selected. This was nicknamed a 'token storm'.

After the completion of Pokémon Vietnamese Crystal, a run of Pokémon Trading Card Game was started in its place with the same format. This was changed to an intermission game in the run-up to Season 3, and completed just before the season began.

Starting with Season 3, the sidegame underwent a major change. Instead of voting between and being paused during matches, the sidegame ran in the lower-right of the screen. Players voted through the Twitch private chat system (known as Whispers), and the command with the most votes were executed every 240 seconds. Token giveaways were retired for token bribes, whereby a player would offer their tokens as incentive for other players to vote for a command of their choosing. A new sidegame, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team, was started with this new system. At some point, however, the sidegame system reverted to its old format.

As sidegame is currently disabled, users are not able to contribute to token storms. Sidegame's base token distribution of one token to two random users is now given to two random bettors in a match.

Intermission

Before a run or between PBR seasons, the channel will stream playthroughs of various games, many of which are from franchises not linked to Pokémon. Early games visited by the channel included Catz, Mario Party, Doom, and Worms. It was speculated that these games were introduced as a field test of new inputting systems before new runs began; however, they are now a regular part of the channel's lineup. Turn-based RPGs and visual novels are favored during these intermissions due to their similar gameplay to mainline Pokémon games, while action oriented games like Breath of the Wild are considered "unplayable".

Intermissions usually occur prior to a run and tend to be played on the same system as the upcoming run's game. For example, Dragon Quest XI S was played prior to the stream's Pokémon Brilliant Diamond run, as both are Nintendo Switch games. Similarly, a variety of Wii U games were played prior to the stream's playthrough of Pokkén Tournament. If a game is not completed during an intermission, or a substantial amount of content remains to be done even after beating the game's final boss, the game may be revisited at a later time. While it is common for intermissions to feature games not connected to Pokémon, they may at times feature short Pokémon ROM hacks (particularly during or after Holiday themed PBR seasons), or official games that have not been played to completion or 100% (such as Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX or New Pokémon Snap). The stream may also broadcast AI controlled matches of Mario Party games, which users can bet on using Twitch Channel Points.

Donations and subscriptions

As well as Twitch's standard channel subscription model and space for commercial advertising, the channel also accepts independent donations to help its upkeep. Donators are rewarded in-stream with tokens, with the equivalent of one US dollar equaling one token. Every time a donation is received, a banner is displayed with an animation (using sound effects from the Pikachu kickback in Pokémon Pinball) counting up the amount donated. If the donation is over a certain amount, the donator can display a custom message onscreen.

Subscribers are rewarded with an icon displayed next to their name onscreen, a "welcome back" message whenever they log in, access to a set of exclusive chat emotes and an increase in the minimum amount of in-stream currency they can have (it will not drop below  500, as opposed to  100 for normal users).

Donation and subscription banners are displayed in both runs and betting intermissions.

Impact

 
A video produced by Twitch for TwitchCon 2015, featuring a protagonist trekking through forests and deserts to find the Helix Fossil

The success of Twitch Plays Pokémon’s first season has had a notable impact outside of the stream. Though its parent site Twitch had been known amongst gamers for some time, international media coverage of Twitch Plays Pokémon introduced the platform to thousands of new users; the stream’s community-based roots demonstrating how versatile Twitch could be. Responding to the surprise success of the stream, Twitch's VP of marketing Matthew DiPietro wrote "This is one more example of how video games have become a platform for entertainment and creativity that extends WAY beyond the original intent of the game creator. By merging a video game, live video and a participatory experience, the broadcaster has created an entertainment hybrid custom made for the Twitch community. This is a wonderful proof on concept that we hope to see more of in the future."[5]

The exposure the stream brought helped launch the platform into the "mainstream" (sometimes called the "CNN moment"), becoming the defacto standard in video game streaming used by gamers and major games publishers alike. Its rapid expansion was also seen as the catalyst for Google to launch its competing platform, YouTube Gaming. Twitch’s staff have praised and thanked both the stream and its community numerous times for their achievements[1], and presented it with the Innovation Award at the first TwitchCon event in 2015.[6]

The concept of the stream has influenced live game streaming as a whole, inspiring a number of imitations using similar formats. Notable examples include Fish Plays Pokémon, Twitch Plays Darksouls and Twitch Plays Old Spice, the latter used as a promotional campaign giving users control over an actual person. The stream was acknowledged for having devised and popularised the “Crowd Playing” genre, with its success enough for Twitch to create a whole new category to encompass similar streams.[7]

Official acknowledgement

 
The channel's name was used as a redemption code during the 2014 World Championships

Twitch Plays Pokémon has arguably had an impact on Pokémon as a whole by introducing new users to the games as well as rekindling interest from older fans. While it is yet to be specifically acknowledged by Nintendo, Game Freak or The Pokémon Company, the channel has been referenced by regional parts of the Pokémon group. The channel's name was used as a TCGO redemption code during the 2014 Pokémon World Championships, enabling up to 10,000 players to redeem the Furious Fists booster pack. A direct reference also exists in the French translation of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire; before being battled, Brawly says, "J'ai découvert le secret de la vraie puissance en fixant un Nautile pendant des jours et des jours...", referencing the popular meme in the first run.

A further potential reference is seen in Mr. Stone's Devon Corporation office in the same games, in which the player receives the Pidgeotite Mega Stone with a framed portrait of an Omanyte in the same room. Fans see it as a veiled referral to the stream’s Bird Jesus character (a Pidgeot who represented the Omanyte god), since Pidgeot is not knowingly associated with Mr. Stone, Devon Corporation, or fossils in any other context. This association remains unconfirmed, however.

Game Freak's official Facebook page made a potential reference to the stream on February 11, 2016 (one day before the stream's two-year anniversary), posting about Pokémon Red and Green's then-upcoming Virtual Console release but accompanying the post with a large artwork of Omanyte.[8]

On February 27, 2016 (the 20th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise), The Pokémon Company International ran a 24-livestream of the Pokémon anime on a Twitch channel titled Twitch Watches Pokémon!.

Awards

Award Type/Ceremony Date
Most Participants on a Single Player Online Videogame[2] Guinness World Record March 2014
Best Fan Creation[9] The Game Awards December 2014
Innovation Award[6] TwitchCon September 2015

Culture

Twitch Plays Pokémon has a dynamic and vibrant community unique unto itself, with its own in-jokes and customs. It has been noted for its fast-flowing and chaotic nature as well as its high levels of creativity. Interaction between community members is mainly concentrated in the stream’s chatroom and Reddit site (known as a "subreddit"). Though the community has downsized considerably since the first season, a smaller group of enthusiasts continue to actively support the stream and generate new content.

Community

 
The Twitch Plays Pokémon subreddit - a main community gathering point

Keeping in step with the channel’s original concept, Twitch Plays Pokémon's community tends to have a largely decentralised approach to community hubs. There is no single location dedicated to all aspects of the stream; it is instead shared by multiple websites ranging from platforms such as Google Sites or Wikia to entirely fan-created websites.

Apart from the stream's Twitch channel page and chatroom, there are no other locations that are considered "official" to the channel. However, several of the more popular hubs do act as the community’s main location to gather; the Twitch Plays Pokémon Reddit site being a prime example as the closest analogy to the stream's official discussion forum. Documenting the channel’s events, lore and statistics is split over multiple sites and contributed to by the community; examples include the stream’s TV Tropes page, Helixpedia (a Wikia-hosted wiki encyclopedia) and even this Bulbapedia page. Video and screen captures of the stream are often taken by members of the community and posted on sites like YouTube. This has been expanded upon with sophisticated capturing systems designed to automatically record and upload video of the stream in very high quality[10]; community members have even set up dedicated computers to perform these tasks.

Strategy

 
An example of a map posted by community members to aid in-game progress, showing a superimposed route and the commands required to navigate it correctly.

Players will often use community channels to propose plans, strategies and tips in order to progress in the current run. These are sometimes referred to as "operations" (although this term has since expanded to include community creative collaborations). For example, if a certain Gym Leader is causing problems, a plan may be proposed on how best to deal with them. If a certain map is proving tricky to navigate, a player may post a full map of the area for easy reference, sometimes with a proposed route superimposed over it. Whether a proposed plan is carried out or not is dependant on how popular it is with other players, as well as how exposed it is those players. Sometimes, conflicting plans may be proposed with players siding to the plan of their preference; generally speaking in these situations, the plan with the most amount of support is the one that is carried out. It should be noted that not all plans are proposed as formally as this; an idea simply proposed in the chat, even if originally intended as a joke, may take hold. A plan may also not be executed fully; players can quite easily change their minds en masse part-way through.

Execution of strategies and other forms of co-ordination are sometimes performed by certain key players, known in the community as chat leaders. They indicate to the chat which command to use at a given time in order to progress, and often identify themselves by using an emoticon prior to any message they post. Chat leaders are not in control of the chat, nor do they have any influence over the commands in an official capacity, but are often utilised by other players to co-ordinate and progress in particular parts of the game. The effectiveness of a chat leader is entirely dependant on the mix of players who are online at the time and whether or not they choose to follow the suggestions that are posted.

Lore

 
Fan art depicting Twitch Plays Pokémon lore

Lore and fan creations are considered an essential part of the culture surrounding the stream. The unpredictable and chaotic nature of the game often causes viewers to make connections and create stories based on the events that unfold. The input commands are often interpreted as "The Voices", often characterized by Unown, which only the player character (known as "The Host") can hear. The character's erratic movement and unpredictable decisions is often used to humorous effect, particularly in animated movies.

Character names are sometimes romanized versions or interpretations of their in-game nickname. For example, a Pidgeot on RED's team in the original run named "aaabaaajss" was translated as "Bird Jesus". Other characters were created in response to freak events. For example, the Helix Fossil, somehow at the top of the Item list was inferred as some kind of consultation in hardship, as since it was in the first item slot it was constantly being selected. This was compounded when the fossil was revived at the Pokémon Lab; fans interpreted this as a 'resurrection', transforming the character into a kind of god. Other pivotal characters, such as the False Prophet (a Flareon 'blamed' by players for the unintentional release of a number of Pokémon, including the run's starter), were created in similar ways. Lore is still created today under similar circumstances.

Generally speaking there is no fixed canon, with fans free to interpret different lore, events and characters however they choose. The vast majority of creativity tends to happen off the main stream in the channel-focused community hubs, such as the stream's Reddit page and DeviantArt group.

Seasons and runs

With the completion of the first season, the channel's streamer stated that each future season will comprise of four runs, with each season lasting about one year. The first ten playthroughs were retroactively referred to as the first season thereafter. In the same manner as seasons and episodes, one can refer to a specific playthrough by season and run (e.g. S01R03).

Season Run Game Start date Completion date
1 1 Pokémon Red February 12, 2014 February 28, 2014
2 Pokémon Crystal March 2, 2014 March 15, 2014
3 Pokémon Emerald March 21, 2014 April 11, 2014
4 Randomized Pokémon FireRed April 12, 2014 April 26, 2014
5 Pokémon Platinum May 2, 2014 May 20, 2014
6 Randomized Pokémon HeartGold May 23, 2014 June 11, 2014
7 Pokémon Black June 14, 2014 June 26, 2014
8 Pokémon Blaze Black 2 July 6, 2014 July 25, 2014
9 Pokémon X July 27, 2014 August 1, 2014
10 Pokémon Omega Ruby November 22, 2014 December 1, 2014
2 1 Pokémon Anniversary Red February 12, 2015 March 23, 2015
2 Moemon and Touhoumon May 10, 2015 May 24, 2015
3 Randomized Pokémon Alpha Sapphire July 12, 2015 July 26, 2015
4 Pokémon Colosseum October 12, 2015 October 19, 2015
5 Pokémon XD December 12, 2015 December 21, 2015
3 1 Pokémon Anniversary Crystal February 14, 2016 March 16, 2016
2 Pokémon Brown June 16, 2016 June 27, 2016
3 Randomized Pokémon Platinum July 31, 2016 August 16, 2016
4 Pokémon Prism October 9, 2016 October 26, 2016
5 Pokémon Sun November 18, 2016 December 2, 2016
6 Pokémon Waning Moon January 13, 2017 January 27, 2017
4 1 Pokémon Chatty Yellow February 12, 2017 February 23, 2017
2 Pokémon Blazed Glazed April 8, 2017 April 25, 2017
3 Randomized Pokémon White 2 June 3, 2017 June 20, 2017
4 Pokémon Pyrite August 12, 2017 August 26, 2017
5 Pokémon Theta Emerald EX September 30, 2017 October 15, 2017
6 Pokémon Ultra Sun November 25, 2017 December 8, 2017
5 1 Pokémon Dual Red and Blue February 12, 2018 February 27, 2018
2 Pokémon Storm Silver April 14, 2018 May 4, 2018
3 Pokémon Bronze June 9, 2018 June 18, 2018
4 Randomized Pokémon Y August 11, 2018 August 26, 2018
5 Pokémon Flora Sky October 13, 2018 October 29, 2018
6 Pokémon Fused Crystal December 8, 2018 December 19, 2018
6 1 Pokémon Burning Red February 12, 2019 February 22, 2019
2 Pokémon Volt White April 13, 2019 April 25, 2019
3 Pokémon Randomized Colosseum June 8, 2019 June 15, 2019
4 Pokémon XG July 15, 2019 July 21, 2019
5 Pokémon TriHard Emerald August 10, 2019 August 20, 2019
6 Pokémon Randomized Ultra Moon October 12, 2019 October 23, 2019
7 Pokémon Sword November 23, 2019 December 1, 2019
7 1A The Gauntlet - Pokémon Red February 12, 2020 February 19, 2020
1B The Gauntlet - Pokémon Crystal February 23, 2020 March 3, 2020
1C The Gauntlet - Pokémon Emerald March 7, 2020 March 18, 2020
1D The Gauntlet - Pokémon Platinum March 28, 2020 April 5, 2020
1E The Gauntlet - Pokémon Blaze Black 2 April 12, 2020 April 27, 2020
1F The Gauntlet - Pokémon X May 3, 2020 May 10, 2020
2 Pokémon Sirius June 13, 2020 TBD

Sidegames

Sidegames are played separately from seasons and can be referred to by their order-of-play number (e.g. SG01).

No. Game Start date Completion date
1 Pokémon Vietnamese Crystal March 24, 2015 December 11, 2015
2 Pokémon Trading Card Game December 21, 2015 February 13, 2016
3 Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team February 6, 2016 January 9, 2017
4 Pokémon Ultra August 16, 2016 October 28, 2016
5 Pokémon Dark Graystone February 24, 2017 March 13, 2017
6 Pokémon Ash Gray March 13, 2017 September 29, 2017
7 Pokémon Bootleg Green October 15, 2017 April 13, 2018
8 Pokémon Sweet May 4, 2018 February 10, 2019
9 Hypno's Lullaby October 30, 2018 November 12, 2018
10 Pokémon Spaceworld '97 Demo March 2, 2019 March 31, 2019
11 Pokémon Metronome Sapphire April 3, 2019 November 21, 2019
12 Pokémon Navy Blue December 1, 2019 TBD
13 Pokémon Lightning Sapphire May 11, 2020 TBD

Season 1

Main article: Twitch Plays Pokémon: Season 1
 
Navigating the Safari Zone in the original run

The original run of 10 games starting at Pokémon Red and ending with Pokémon Omega Ruby came to be known collectively as the first season. It was during this time that the channel received the most media attention, since at the time of the original playthrough it was wondered whether completion was possible and a marvel that any progress had been made at all. It is also the season where the vast majority of lore and most well-known memes originated from. The lore of this season was particularly potent, as fans drew together a vast, overacting story that interconnected every game, incorporating characters such as caught Pokémon and hosts and interpreting in-stream events.

This run introduced many concepts which would become core to the channel's format, including command inputs through the chat, anarchy and democracy, donations, command stacking and the betting intermission. It also introduced the idea of playing ROM hack versions of official Pokémon games, including randomized runs for remakes such as Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon HeartGold and a playthrough of the ROM hack Pokémon Blaze Black 2 in place of the original Pokémon Black 2. A notable breakthrough in this season was a specially modified 3DS that could accept inputs from the chat and stream out video via a capture card.[11] This was necessary, as 3DS emulators were unavailable at the time. Several concepts, such as "Demarchy" (a hybrid of the Anarchy and Democracy systems), were not retained in later seasons.

Fans generally consider the first two runs, Pokémon Red and Pokémon Crystal as the most exciting, with players gradually losing interest through Runs 3 and 4 (Emerald and Platinum). A comparatively smaller group of dedicated fans have continued to play and generate lore, with some lore becoming more 'niche' in the process. As the season progressed, and the players became more adept at the control system, the runs became quicker to play. This culminated in Run 10, Omega Ruby, taking only 9 days to complete compared to the first run's 16. Complaints that the games were becoming too easy prompted the streamer to promise a modified harder version of a Pokémon game for the start of the next season.

Season 2

Main article: Twitch Plays Pokémon: Season 2
 
Playing two games simultaneously, introduced for Season 2 (Touhoumon and Moemon)

The second season started with a modified version of Pokémon Red as a homage to the original run and celebrating a year online. Known as Pokémon TPP Version, itself a modified version of the Dex hack Pokémon Red 151, it was the first Pokémon ROM hack to be specifically designed for live broadcast, and introduced a large number of game changes designed to make the run more challenging. The objective was to catch all 151 Pokémon (all made available in-game), as well as beat a special final boss.

This season introduced the concept of two games being played simultaneously with both games accepting the same inputs, with a playthrough of the popular Moemon and Touhoumon (both modifications of FireRed) for Run 2. It also introduced a randomized version of a Generation VI game (Pokémon Alpha Sapphire) for Run 3, something that was cutting edge at the time. Randomized battles of Super Smash Bros. running natively on a Wii U console were also introduced with this run, taking the place of Pokémon Battle Revolution whilst the betting system underwent an upgrade.

In a first for the channel, players were polled on what game they would like to play for the fourth run. Pokémon Colosseum, the stream's first Nintendo GameCube game, was selected. The game was completed using the Anarchy system only, with no additional control features. In a change to the original four-run schedule, Pokémon XD (Colosseum's sequel) was announced as the season's fifth run, which started December 12.

Season 3

Main article: Twitch Plays Pokémon: Season 3
 
New, more interactive layout and command shortcuts introduced in Season 3

In a similar manner to the start of Season 2, Season 3 started on February 14, 2016, near the stream's two-year anniversary, with a specially modified version of Pokémon Crystal. A brand new layout was introduced, incorporating two additional games running simultaneously to main run as well as showcasing popular posts from the community subreddit. The sidegame element is kept, switching to a continuously-running state and powered by Twitch's private chat system (known as 'Whispers'). A new game, a completely automatic Pokémon Pinball, was introduced. Players can place token bets on the outcome of the pinball session; if it rises above a certain score, they are awarded additional tokens. Badges also received an upgrade; as well as a badge indicating the runs a player has participated in, new Pokémon icons are awarded at random whenever that Pokémon is caught during a pinball game. A yellow "learner" badge was also introduced to identify newer players. The season opener also introduced 'Military Mode', a new control system which uses shortcuts designed to make battles easier to control as opposed to navigating with standard commands, however, it was abandoned shortly after.

A major revision to the usual betting intermission, known as 'PBR 2.0', was released this season. It was rebuilt from the ground-up with new and additional features. The stream layout introduced with Anniversary Crystal was kept, demonstrating its multipurpose design. Shortly afterwards, the classic ROM Hack Pokémon Brown was announced as the season's second run. The next two runs to follow would be Pokémon Randomized Platinum and Pokémon Prism, concluding the season with Pokémon Sun and Moon.

Trivia

  • Several members of the channel's staff are associated with specific Pokemon. For example, the channel's creator is associated with Slowpoke.
  • The stream broadcast almost always has the channel's name located at the top of the screen. The appearance of this logo may change, however, depending on the time of year, and on what is being played. When a Pokémon game is not being played, the word "Pokémon" will be crossed out where the channel's name is displayed. During Halloween seasons of PBR and Halloween-themed intermissions, the "T" in the logo will be crossed out (e.g. "witch Plays Pokémon"), with the remaining letters colored alternatingly in purple and orange.

See also

External links

Bulbanews has an article related to this subject:

References


  This article is a part of Project Fandom, a Bulbapedia Project that aims to write comprehensive articles on every aspect of the Pokémon Fandom.