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A trade (Japanese: 交換) is a process in which a Pokémon Trainer sends one of his or her Pokémon to another Trainer in exchange for one of the other Trainer's Pokémon. In every Pokémon game, trading is necessary to collect all Pokémon.
Starting from Generation II, items can be held by Pokémon, allowing indirect trading of holdable items. However, in Generation IV, the Griseous Orb cannot be traded, as it will automatically be put back in the Bag when a player with Origin Forme Giratina in their party enters the Union Room or Wi-Fi Room. Certain items, when held by the correct Pokémon, will cause that Pokémon to evolve when traded to another player. Mail may also be held to send a message.
Until Black 2 and White 2, all trading animations in the core series games used the standard Poké Ball, regardless of the types of Balls the traded Pokémon were actually caught in. This is corrected in Black 2 and White 2, in which trade animations show the correct Poké Ball the Pokémon was caught in.
Benefits of trading
Trading is necessary in order to collect every Pokémon in the Pokédex, as some Pokémon can only be found in certain versions. For example, because Meowth cannot be found in Red, the player must trade with someone who has obtained one from Blue, in which Meowth is readily found in the wild. Some Pokémon only evolve after being traded.
Drawbacks of trading
A Pokémon with an original Trainer different from its current Trainer is referred to as an outsider Pokémon, and will only obey a Trainer with the sufficient number of Gym Badges. The friendship of a Pokémon is set to 70 when it is traded from one game to another, unless returned to its original Trainer. In addition, a traded Pokémon's nickname cannot be changed by anyone but the original Trainer, even if it hasn't been given a nickname.
Traded Pokémon are identified by the Pokémon's Original Trainer name and a five-digit ID Number. Starting in Generation III, even if two games have the same name and ID number, each Trainer also has a secret ID number. The odds of two Trainers having the same secret ID numbers is 1/65536 or approximately 0.002%, making it extremely unlikely that an outsider Pokémon will be treated as a regular Pokémon on a different cartridge.
Limitations on trading
Trading between game generations
Pokémon can be traded between Generation I and Generation II games using the Time Capsule feature. For compatibility purposes, the Pokémon to be traded from the Generation II game must be a species that existed in Generation I and cannot have any moves introduced in Generation II. The Time Capsule exploit can be used to trick the game into trading Generation II Pokémon back to Generation I as well, but they will become glitch Pokémon like MissingNo. Additionally, the trade evolution learnset oversight can also be used to trade a Pokémon with a Generation II move back to a Generation I game, though it will become a glitch move.
It is not possible to trade between Generation II and Generation III games.
Using Pal Park, players can transfer Pokémon from their Generation III games to Generation IV games; however, Pokémon cannot be returned from Generation IV to Generation III. Additionally, Pokémon sent through Pal Park cannot know any Generation III HM moves. Similarly, using the Poké Transfer Lab, transfer is possible from Generation IV to Generation V, although as well as the limitation on HM moves, the Pokémon must not be holding any items. It is also possible to use a method called the Relocator to transfer specific event Pokémon before reaching the Poké Transfer Lab, although the same restrictions apply. Trading from Generation V to Generation VI is done via the Poké Transporter services from the Pokémon Bank.
Trading between Japanese and non-Japanese games is not recommended in Generations I and II, mostly due to the different memory locations within the RAM. While possible, these trades will result in the corruption of both save files, forcing both players to restart their games from the beginning. Trading between games released outside of Japan, such as between a Spanish Pokémon Crystal and a French Pokémon Yellow, does not result in any corruption. However, trading between different languages is completely prevented for the Virtual Console releases of the Generation I games.
Trading became possible between all versions of the games in Generation III, where the English language text was programmed in even the Japanese games. Due to the relatively low chance of English and other language games coming into contact with Japanese games, however, precautions were not taken in the Japanese games to preserve a Pokémon or Trainer's name when traded in, as their maximum lengths are different. While games released outside Japan will display a Pokémon's OT and nickname fully, Japanese games will only display the first five letters.
Pokémon traded between languages in Generation III, if not nicknamed, will preserve their foreign species name as if it were a nickname, even after evolution. Thus, if a Japanese Charmander named ヒトカゲ is traded to an English game for a Pichu named "PICHU", it will evolve and keep the name ヒトカゲ, even as a Charmeleon (whose Japanese species name is リザード). Likewise, a Pichu evolved in the Japanese game would keep the name "PICHU" even as a Pikachu. In the Generation IV games, this was solved with a bit that determined whether or not a Pokémon had been nicknamed.
International trading became full-fledged in Generation IV, and was a much touted feature, with the linkage of the games to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Pokémon from foreign-language games would unlock international Pokédex entries if traded to a game of a different language; at first, only 14 Pokémon could do this, however, from Platinum onward, all Pokémon can potentially allow for foreign entries. Some special event Pokémon (e.g. Spiky-eared Pichu) cannot be traded.
Interestingly, Pokémon traded from Korean-language Generation IV games will not display their names nor OTs in other language variants, because the characters are not programmed into non-Korean Generation IV games. Korean games, however, will display names from all other games. Starting in Generation V, all games were made to be fully compatible with Korean games.
In Generations V and VI, if a Pokémon from another country is not nicknamed and evolves, its name will be translated into the game's language.
Trading requires two game consoles and two Pokémon games of compatible generations. Nintendo's intention is that players trade with friends, although some serious players purchase two consoles.
Prior to Generation IV, trading required a Game Link Cable or a GBA Wireless Adapter. Although the Nintendo DS supports Generation III games, it cannot be used to trade between those games as the DS lacks hardware support for the Game Link Cable. Also, Transfer Packs can be used to trade in Generation I and in Generation II, via Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Stadium 2.
The Pal Park feature of Generation IV games uses the GBA slot of the Nintendo DS, so unlike other trading requires only one game console. However, it is not compatible with the Nintendo DSi, DSi XL, or 3DS, which do not have a GBA slot.
Requirements for trading
The player cannot trade Pokémon before transporting the Mystery Egg to Professor Elm. The Time Capsule cannot be used until the player has met Bill at Ecruteak City's Pokémon Center, and waiting until the next day when setup is completed.
The player cannot trade Pokémon before getting a Pokédex from Professor Birch at Littleroot Town. To trade, the player must have at least two Pokémon in the party. Trading with FireRed or LeafGreen will automatically activate the National Pokédex.
The player cannot trade Pokémon before getting a Pokédex from Professor Oak at Pallet Town. The player must have at least two Pokémon in the party in order to trade.
In a departure from the main series' tradition, additional limitations on trades were put in place, which cannot be lifted before completing the game at least once:
- At the beginning of the game, trades are only possible with other copies of FireRed and LeafGreen. In addition, trades involving Eggs or Pokémon not in the Kanto Pokédex are blocked. Pokémon that evolve into a Generation II Pokémon by trading will stop evolving.
- Obtaining the National Pokédex unblocks trades for Pokémon and Eggs outside of the Regional Pokédex.
- Bringing the Ruby and Sapphire key items to complete Celio's Network Machine allows trades with Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald versions.
Restrictions similar to those in FireRed and LeafGreen also apply to this version:
- At the beginning of the game, trades are only possible with other copies of Emerald, as well as Ruby and Sapphire. In addition to that, trades that involve Eggs or Pokémon that aren't in the Hoenn Pokédex are blocked.
- Obtaining the National Pokédex unblocks trades for Pokémon outside of the Regional Pokédex, as well as Eggs, and allows trading with FireRed and LeafGreen.
The player cannot trade Pokémon with the GBA games in Colosseum until Evice has been defeated, while the player must have defeated Greevil in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness to trade. Trading any unpurified Shadow Pokémon is completely prohibited, as data for Shadow moves doesn't exist in the GBA games, nor the ability to purify them.
It is not possible to directly trade between Colosseum and XD.
Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum
The player cannot trade Pokémon before getting a Pokédex from Professor Rowan at Sandgem Town. Also, the player has to have at least two Pokémon in the party. Migrating Pokémon from the Generation III games through Pal Park cannot be done until the National Pokédex has been obtained. It is possible to obtain a non-regional Pokémon when trading Pokémon from another Generation IV game without having acquired the National Pokédex. In Platinum, the player is now able to press B to select the "CANCEL" button.
Hayley will only offer to trade with the player after they have completed a wanted request, and will only trade specific Pokémon and only if she has already brought one of them to the Ranch.
Similar to Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, trading cannot occur until the player has obtained his or her Pokédex from Professor Oak at Mr. Pokémon's house. The player must have at least two Pokémon in the party; but no additional prerequisite is needed to trade with the Sinnoh games: this can be done at the very beginning of the game. Migrating Pokémon from Generation III games through Pal Park is also possible later in the game if the player has a Nintendo DS or DS Lite.
The player cannot trade Pokémon until they have obtained the Trio Badge from the Striaton Gym and completed the C-Gear sub-quest for Fennel. This prevents the player from trading for a Pokémon that knows Cut in order to access the blocked-off section of Dreamyard early, as HM usage is not restricted by Badge ownership in Unova.
The player is also prevented from trading party Pokémon that know any HM move via Infrared Connection, most likely to prevent trading away a Pokémon whose HM move is needed in a certain area. An example of this would be trading away any Pokémon in the party who know Fly or Surf while on a patch of land surrounded by water.
The Poké Transfer feature allows Pokémon to be migrated from any Generation IV game. Pokémon can be migrated up to six at a time using a catapult minigame sent to another DS using Download Play. This minigame can transfer Pokémon from an inserted Generation IV Pokémon cartridge. Migrating with the Poké Transfer is one-way, requires both games to be from the same language, and cannot migrate Eggs or Pokémon holding items. There is no daily limit to use of the Poké Transfer.
The Relocator allows the transfer of Celebi and the Shiny legendary beasts from a Generation IV game. It is available earlier in the game than the Poké Transfer, which requires the player to have acquired the National Pokédex and defeated the Elite Four.
Similar to Black and White, the player cannot trade Pokémon until they have received the Basic Badge from the Aspertia Gym and have received the C-Gear from Bianca. There is no prerequisite to trade with Black and White. The Poké Transfer is also available after obtaining the National Dex, allowing Pokémon from Generation IV to be transferred to Black 2 and White 2.
The player may trade Pokémon as soon as they have at least two Pokémon in their party, which is the minimum requirement for conducting a trade.
The actual trading interface remained largely the same throughout the series's first four generations: Each player selects one Pokémon from their party to offer for trade; once decided, they can review the stats (and, when applicable, Ability or item) of the other Pokémon before confirming or cancelling the trade. The player may perform multiple trades in a row.
It is not possible to trade Pokémon stored in the PC in these generations, so they must be placed in the party prior to speaking with the receptionist at a Pokémon Center.
Generation IV's Global Trade System utilizes a separate trading process, in which a player deposits one Pokémon at a time (requesting another Pokémon in exchange) and other players may search and trade for it at their leisure. Once traded, the original player will receive the Pokémon upon logging in to the GTS. If the Pokémon is not traded, the original player can cancel the offer by withdrawing their Pokémon from the GTS.
The trading process received an overhaul in Generation V: now called a negotiation trade, it allows players to offer and trade Pokémon from either their current party or directly from their PC's storage system.
During the trade, each player may select up to three Pokémon to offer the other player. Once decided, they may review the offered Pokémon (checking stats, Ability, etc.) and confirm one to be traded. Players may trade several Pokémon in a row if desired.
Players registered on each other's Pal Pad can communicate with live voice chat during the trade. A set of four emoticons (Smile Mark, Saddened Mark, Heart Mark, Surprise Mark) also allows for limited communication between players. In addition to showing the Pokémon on offer, the top screen also includes an abstract glimpse of the other player's Pokémon collection in the form of PC boxes with individual Pokémon represented by their Pokédex color.
The GTS, in addition to the deposit/search-based system introduced in Generation IV, receives a second trading mode ("GTS Negotiations") allowing two players to connect and trade Pokémon using this system.
Trading functions (including the GTS) are no longer a service of Pokémon Centers, but are instead accessible at any time through the Player Search System on the 3DS's lower screen.
The trading process has been streamlined since Generation V, with each player showing only one Pokémon at a time (instead of three) before being prompted to make an offer. Chat emoticons have been removed, but voice chat is still available when the player trades with someone on their 3DS's Friends List.
The GTS has also been updated, now allowing the player to enter the species name of any Pokémon using a "What Pokémon?" option in the Pokémon selection list. This allows players to trade for Pokémon that they have not seen in the game.
A third trading method, called Wonder Trade, is introduced this generation: When performing a Wonder Trade, the player selects one Pokémon from their collection and it is immediately traded with another player using Wonder Trade, with no further confirmation or any communication between players; what Pokémon the player receives in exchange for theirs is a complete surprise.
Pokémon that evolve when traded
Most of the Pokémon that evolve when traded can only do so while holding a specific item.
From Generation I
From Generation II
- Poliwhirl → Politoed (if King's Rock is held)
- Slowpoke → Slowking (if King's Rock is held)
- Onix → Steelix (if Metal Coat is held)
- Seadra → Kingdra (if Dragon Scale is held)
- Scyther → Scizor (if Metal Coat is held)
- Porygon → Porygon2 (if Up-Grade is held)
From Generation III
From Generation IV
- Rhydon → Rhyperior (if Protector is held)
- Electabuzz → Electivire (if Electirizer is held)
- Magmar → Magmortar (if Magmarizer is held)
- Porygon2 → Porygon-Z (if Dubious Disc is held)
- Dusclops → Dusknoir (if Reaper Cloth is held)
From Generation V
- Boldore → Gigalith
- Gurdurr → Conkeldurr
- Karrablast → Escavalier (if traded for Shelmet)
- Shelmet → Accelgor (if traded for Karrablast)
- Feebas → Milotic (if Prism Scale is held)
From Generation VI
In the anime
Despite it being one of the key aspects of the games, trading is exceptionally rare in the anime. Only a few trades have been shown taking place, and only six of them thus far have been truly significant, often taking place in episodes featuring the Magikarp salesman. Fans have often speculated about the reason for this. Rather than simply exchanging Pokémon, most trades are carried out by placing Poké Balls into a specialized trading machine, with a monitor that displays silhouettes of the two Pokémon as they pass each other.
- In Battle Aboard the St. Anne, Ash traded his Butterfree for a Gentleman's Raticate. He wasn't happy with the trade, however, so he traded it back by the end of the episode.
- In Tricks of the Trade, Jessie unintentionally traded her Lickitung for Benny's Wobbuffet.
- In Here's Lookin' at You, Elekid, James is forced by Jessie to trade his Victreebel for the Magikarp salesman's Weepinbell.
- In Throwing the Track Switch, Ash traded his Aipom for Dawn's Buizel.
- In Evolution Exchange Excitement!, Bianca and Professor Juniper trade their Shelmet and Karrablast so that they could evolve.
- In A Festival Trade! A Festival Farewell?, Jessie traded her Pumpkaboo for Count Pumpka's Mawile so she could be with Count Pumpka's Prince Pumpkaboo, but when Jessie's Pumpkaboo evolved into Gourgeist, at which Prince promptly lost all interest. As a result, the trade was reversed.
The trade machine used in the anime has seemingly been adapted into the game canon, with Professor Oak's laboratory in both Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Stadium 2 having this type of machine for trades. In the same way, when Game Link Cables were finally able to accept the data of two Pokémon being sent at once (rather than one at a time as in Generations I and II), the Pokémon are shown passing each other in the link space.
In the manga
In the Pokémon Adventures manga
Like the anime, the Pokémon Adventures Manga does not contain many trades despite being a major part of the games. Most are not shown to need a machine to complete them. Simply hand-exchanging Pokémon can count as a trade, though it is also possible to trade by placing Pokédexes opposite each other.
- In A Tale of Ninetales, Red and Blue accidentally traded some of their Pokémon, resulting in Blue's Machoke evolving into Machamp.
- In You know... Articuno!, Red traded his Krabby for Misty's Gyarados.
- In Ampharos Amore, Silver told Gold to use his Pokédex to trade his Poliwhirl for Silver's Seadra in order to evolve them. They traded back in Piloswine Whine.
- In Raising the Stakes with Rhyperior, it was revealed that Blue had traded his Rhydon to Silver, allowing it to evolve into Rhyperior and fill up the empty slot in Silver's team after his Ursaring had disappeared with his father.
In the TCG
The following is a list of cards relating to trades.
| Related cards|
Cards listed with a blue background are only legal to use in the current Expanded format.
Cards listed with a silver background are legal to use in both the current Standard and Expanded formats.
|Pokémon Trader||T||Base Set||77/102||Expansion Pack|
|Base Set 2||106/130|
|Please Trade||T||Unnumbered Promotional cards|
|Deck Exchange||T||Extended Sheet 3|
|Bill's PC||T||Extended Sheet 3|
- Porygon is the only Pokémon to evolve twice via trading. Both evolutions require a held item, namely the Up-Grade and Dubious Disc.
- In addition, Porygon2 is the only Pokémon to have evolved from trading that can evolve further.
- The Clamperl family is the only branched evolution in which both evolutions are achieved by trading.