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A version of the Pokémon games is a game, up to present, always released on a Nintendo handheld system and developed by Game Freak, which follows the now-standard model of a player's journey through a specific region to collect all of the species of Pokémon there. Collectively, the twenty games (twenty-one in Japan and eleven in South Korea) released with the label Version after the game's title are known by fans as the main series of Pokémon games. In Japan, this series of games is officially named Pocket Monsters Series (Japanese: ポケットモンスターシリーズ).
Main series model
While there are no strict rules that make a game a main series game, and previously assumed rules are continuously broken, the games generally have a similar plot and mechanics.
The player begins the game in a small town or city, having no Pokémon of their own. Through a course of events, he or she will receive a starter Pokémon from the region's Pokémon Professor; the starter Pokémon is always a choice of three, a Grass type, Fire type, or Water type, and the character who will become the player's rival will choose or already have the Pokémon whose type is super effective against that of the player's choice. The exceptions to this are Yellow, in which the player starts with Pikachu and the rival starts with Eevee, and Black and White, in which the player has two rivals, who each choose one of the starter Pokémon not picked by the player.
It is at this point where the storyline of all these games diverge. The player is allowed to journey across the entire region, capturing any wild Pokémon he or she chooses to, and using a party he or she assembles to take on the eight Gym Leaders of the region. Alongside encounters with both other Trainers and repeated interactions with their rival, the player must also stop the plans of a villainous team, whose plans often involve the manipulation of legendary Pokémon.
After all eight Gym Leaders have been defeated, the player can enter the Pokémon League, where the Elite Four and Champion await challengers. The Champion of the region is often introduced prior to the player's Pokémon League challenge, and may aid the player as he or she continues his or her adventure.
Though the game can be considered over as soon as the player has defeated the Champion, there is still post-game content. Often there is a post-game plotline and locations and facilities that could not be previously accessed. There is usually at least one facility specifically dedicated to battling. The overarching goal is the completion of the Pokédex; after this has been done, the player will receive a diploma for completing the regional Pokédex and another for completing the National Pokédex (only one diploma is awarded in games with only one Pokédex). Starting in Generation III, a new task is added in order to fully complete the game: obtaining all Trainer Card stars.
Within each region, there are various cities and towns, ranging from Kanto's 10 to Unova's 21. These cities and towns are connected by between 20 and 34 routes. Every game has included at least one water route, a mountain, caves, and a forest. The route leading up to the Pokémon League in each region is called Victory Road.
Most generations introduce Pokémon that evolve into or from previously released Pokémon. Legendary Pokémon with myths specific to the region are almost always included, and frequently appear in duos and trios.
In all generations, there are some Pokémon that cannot be encountered until after the player enters the Hall of Fame. These may be legendary Pokémon, such as Mewtwo, or simply Pokémon that are not part of the game's regional Pokédex.
Before the release of a new generation, new Pokémon are often used to promote the new games by including them in the anime or in side games or spin-off games.
- Main article: Version mascot
The boxart for each game features one Pokémon which was introduced in that generation (or, in the case of remakes, the generation of the original versions). This Pokémon is referred to by fans as a version mascot, and — with the exception of Generation I and its remakes — it is always the legendary Pokémon available in that game at the climax of the storyline.
While releases continue to break patterns, there is an overall model that the release of new main series games follows.
When a generation of Pokémon games begins, a pair of games is always released. These paired versions feature virtually the same storyline as each other, but the Pokémon available differ, and some other mechanics are usually slightly different. This encourages trading, as it is required in order to complete the Pokédex.
A third game is later released with several minor storyline tweaks, but taking place in the same region and following the same basic storyline. Like the first two games, it will always lack some of the Pokémon present in the other games, but will also contain some of those species missing from either of them; thus, a player of the third version must link together with the original pair of games to complete the Pokédex as well.
Sometimes, a second set of paired versions may be released. These paired version are usually remakes of earlier titles, and are not accompanied by a third version. Generation V broke with tradition by releasing a pair of games as a sequel to the previous paired versions instead of a remake.
New generations are typically announced and marketed every three to four years.
List of main series games
- ↑ Official Japanese Pokémon site section