Millennial nostalgia fueled the success of 'Pokemon Go'

PORTLAND, Maine -- The children who once dreamed of capturing real-life Pokemon starting in the 1990s now are the nostalgic millennials helping fuel the worldwide success of "Pokemon Go."

Take Bailey Richardson. Now 26, her grandest dream was once to set out in the world and capture and train the big-eyed, shrieking creatures known as Pokemon, numbering 151 in all.

On a recent night, she was outside playing "Pokemon Go" when someone shouted they had found Aerodactyl, a rare, pterodactyl-inspired monster. It was raining, but she joined everyone around her, running down the street in pursuit of the ancient creature.

"I think the nostalgia element makes it so easy to talk to strangers," Richardson said while exploring downtown Portland this week. "We share these roots."

In the fall of 1998, Pokemon mania hit U.S. shores as Nintendo released its popular "Pokemon" Game Boy games, and a companion television show hit the airwaves.

About 90 percent of adults who have downloaded the new "Pokemon Go" smartphone game, which lets you find cartoon monsters in the real world, are between 18 and 34 years old, according to mobile advertising company StartApp -- many of them old enough to have fallen in love with Pokemon the first time around.

Then as now, with stories of people wandering into traffic or being lured into robberies by the game, frightening news stories abounded.

A New York Daily News headline blared in 1999: "Boy Stabbed Over Pokemon; L.I. 9-year-old Charged with Knifing Teen for Card."