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First appearing in the Generation I games, a trade machine is the in-game device that players use to trade Pokémon between game cartridges, in addition to the real-world Game Link Cable that actually connected information between the games. Players could access these machines at any Pokémon Center in the game by speaking with said Pokémon Center's Cable Club receptionist.
The trade machine is also a device located underneath Pokémon Centers in Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD. It allows the player to trade Pokémon between Orre and the faraway regions of Kanto and Hoenn.
In the games
In the anime
Trade machines have been used in multiple episodes of the anime. They are used to trade Pokémon between Trainers, and are usually located in Pokémon Centers. The first was seen aboard the S.S. Anne, in Battle Aboard the St. Anne, but many more have been seen throughout the main series. It was through this method that Jessie obtained her Wobbuffet in Tricks of the Trade.
Another trade machine appeared in Throwing the Track Switch, in which two Trainers were seen trading their Ponyta and Munchlax. Later, Ash and Dawn used the machine to perform a trade, with Ash sending Aipom to Dawn in exchange for Buizel. The trade took place because Aipom wanted to compete in Pokémon Contests while Buizel had trouble adjusting to Contest Battle tactics, as he preferred the standard Pokémon battle format.
Trade evolution was showcased in Evolution Exchange Excitement!, in which Bianca and Professor Juniper traded their Shelmet and Karrablast, respectively, to trigger their respective evolutions. Another trade evolution occurred in A Festival Trade! A Festival Farewell?, where the Pumpkaboo that Jessie had traded for Count Pumpka's Mawile evolved into Gourgeist after the trade. Afterwards, the two Pokémon were traded back to their original owners.