Core series

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The core series[1][2] of the Pokémon games or core games[3], commonly referred to as the main series or mainline games by fans, is the game series for Nintendo video game systems, which follow the standard model of a player's journey through a specific region to catch and raise Pokémon, battle Trainers, fight crime, and earn recognition (usually by collecting Badges from Gym Leaders) until they are acknowledged as the strongest Trainer. The series has only been released for handheld systems, though this includes the Nintendo Switch which is both a handheld and a home console.

Counting each game individually, there are currently 37 games in the series in Western regions, 38 in Japan, 28 in South Korea, and 13 in Greater China. Counting paired games as a single release, there are currently 21 games in the series in Western regions, 22 in Japan, 15 in South Korea, and 7 in Greater China.

Prior to Generation VI, it was standard for the Western releases of the core series games to include the label Version in their title, although this was seldom used by the Japanese releases. In Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, the series is called the Pocket Monsters Series (Japanese: ポケットモンスターシリーズ[4][5], Korean: 포켓몬스터 시리즈[6], Chinese: 精靈寶可夢系列 / 精灵宝可梦系列[7]). Core series games, except Pokémon Legends: Arceus, all contain the full name Pocket Monsters in their Japanese title, whereas side series and spin-off games use the abbreviation Pokémon instead. While the Japanese releases of the Pokémon Stadium series use Pocket Monsters in English subtitles, they use Pokémon in kana in their Japanese names.

The Pokémon Video Game Championships are conducted using the core series games.


Content model

While there are no strict rules that make a game a core 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 of a given region, having no Pokémon of their own. Through a course of events, the player will receive a starter Pokémon from the region's Pokémon Professor; the starter Pokémon is always a choice of three, a Grass, Fire, or Water type, and the character who will become the player's rival will typically choose (or already have) the Pokémon whose type is super effective against that of the player's choice, although some exceptions to this pattern exist.

After this point, the player begins to journey across the entire region (each with their own cities and towns, themselves connected by route), capturing any wild Pokémon they choose to, and using a party they assemble to take on the eight Gym Leaders of the region (or, in the case of the Alola region, the island challenge). Alongside encounters with both other Trainers and repeated interactions with their rival, the player must also stop the plans of a villainous team, which often involve the manipulation of Legendary Pokémon.

After all eight Gym Leaders have been defeated or the island challenge has been completed, the player can enter the Pokémon League, where the Elite Four and the Champion of the region await challengers. The Champion is often introduced prior to the player's Pokémon League challenge, and may aid the player on their 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. Since Pokémon Crystal, 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, starting in Generation III, another for completing the National Pokédex.

Release model

While releases continue to break patterns, the release of core series games tends to follow a pattern.

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 available Pokémon differ, and some other elements are usually slightly different. This encourages trading, as it is required in order to complete the Pokédex.

Most generations feature an "upper version"[8] title—often referred to by fans as a "third version"—a follow-up game or pair of games released after the first games of the generation that takes place in the same region with added features. These games typically both share and lack certain regional Pokémon that were available in one or both of the original paired versions; thus, a player of an upper version must link together with the original pair to complete the regional Pokédex as well. On the contrary, upper versions typically contain certain Pokémon from different regions that are unavailable in the original pair, thus being more helpful in completing the National Pokédex. Until Generation VII, only a single third version following an original pair was ever released at a time; Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon were the first of these games to be released as a pair. Unlike other generations, Generation V opted for a sequel story instead, while Generation VI and Generation VIII entirely forwent follow-up games set in the same region, the latter instead providing added features to the original pair of games via downloadable content in an expansion pass.

Sometimes, a secondary set of paired versions that are remakes of earlier titles may also be released.


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 becomes Champion. 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 spin-off games.

Box art

The box art for each game features one Pokémon which was introduced in that generation (or, in the case of remakes, the generation of the original games). This Pokémon is referred to by fans as a game mascot, and with the exception of Kanto and Hisui-based games, it is always the Legendary Pokémon available in that game at the climax of the storyline.

In terms of the artwork itself, the international Pokémon Red and Blue and all region releases of the initial paired games of each generation from Generation III to VII use their game mascot's original Ken Sugimori artwork for their box art, whereas all other core series games use specially made artwork.

The titles in the Japanese games always use some shade of red and blue for either the characters or outlines of the characters. This is most likely in reference to the first internationally released core games of Pokémon Red and Blue. The DLC Expansion Passes for Pokémon Sword and Shield use green and yellow, likely in reference to both Pokémon Red and Green, along with Pokémon Yellow.

List of core series games

In South Korea, only Pokémon Gold and Silver were released prior to the foundation of Nintendo of Korea and Pokémon Korea in 2006. The first core series game release after this was Pokémon Diamond and Pearl in 2008.

In Greater China, the first core series game release was Pokémon Sun and Moon in 2016.

Original versions Upper versions and expansions
Generation I
Generation I
Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition
Generation II
Generation III
Generation IV
Generation V
Black 2
White 2
Generation VI
Omega Ruby
Alpha Sapphire
Generation VII
Ultra Sun
Ultra Moon
Let's Go, Pikachu!
Let's Go, Eevee!
Generation VIII
The Isle of Armor
The Crown Tundra
Brilliant Diamond
Shining Pearl
Legends: Arceus
Generation IX


050Diglett.png This section is incomplete.
Please feel free to edit this section to add missing information and complete it.
Reason: More data on ORAS and LGPE relation to the timiline
Main article: History of the Pokémon world
fewer than 300 years
3 years
12 years
2 years
2 years
some time

Several pieces of content in the core series Pokémon games depend on the games having a timeline, but a complete timeline cannot be drawn from the games themselves.

On May 7, 2014, Game Freak employee Toshinobu Matsumiya's Twitter account posted a timeline of the core series Pokémon games;[9] the tweet was subsequently deleted, however. It is unknown if this timeline also applies to all solitary versions and remakes.

The plot of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire and Pokémon Red and Green are contemporaneous. They are then followed by the equally contemporaneous plot of Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal and Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, which are set three years later. Due to the known durations between other games. Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 are set two years after Pokémon Black and White, and are contemporaneous with Pokémon X and Y[9]. Pokémon Sun and Moon and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon take place two years after the events of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2.[10]

The gap between Generation II/IV and Pokémon Black and White can be calculated thanks to Pokémon Sun, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon Pokédex entries that state that Porygon was created 20 years ago[11] and Pocket Monsters Encyclopedia which claims that Porygon was created a year before the events of Pokemon Pokémon Red and Green. Additionally, in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon there appears a character named Anabel who fell through an Ultra Wormhole 10 years ago and has lived in Alola since then. She was a Frontier Brain in Pokémon Emerald before, confirming the gap between those games to be at least 10 years.

Pokémon Sword and Shield take place an indeterminate amount of time after the events of Pokémon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon because the Pokémon Sword and Shield Pokédex states that research notes of Type: Null were stolen leading to creating more of these Pokémon, in opposite to the only three that existed in the previous games.

Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! are implied to happen at most 6 years before Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon by Mina's concept art.[12] Although these games are remakes of Pokémon Red and Green, they don't seem to happen at the same time as the original games because Red and Blue already finished their journeys years ago. Despite these games being more detached from the main canon, Sabrina has a vision of meeting a special trainer in three years, referencing the gap between Generations I and II and meeting the new protagonists.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus takes place at most 300 years before Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum by estimation on bounding Spiritomb to the Odd Keystone.[13]

The actual years of events are never mentioned in the games themselves, but the Pocket Monsters Encyclopedia states that Pokémon Red and Green are happening in 1996, the year of their release, and that is referenced in Pokémon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon on Red's shirt which has written symbol resembling number "96". The games Pokémon Gold and Silver, and the games Pokémon Sun and Moon happening 3 years and roughly 20 years respectively after Pokémon Red and Green could also be a reference to their real life release in 1999 and 2016. Another reference to the passage of time in real life appears in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, where Norman mentions having seen the Eon Ticket 11 years before, exactly how long it passed since its distribution in 2003.

Furthermore, Zinnia and Team Rainbow Rocket suggest that there are multiple alternate universes.

Unused trademarks

Nintendo, Creatures, and Game Freak have trademarked several titles with the Japan Patent Office which have not currently been used but which fit the naming scheme of the core series games. The following information comes from the Japan Platform for Patent Information:

  • Pocket Monsters Topaz (Japanese: ポケットモンスタートパーズ) [application number 2002-063587, registration number 4677891]
  • Pocket Monsters Tourmaline (Japanese: ポケットモンスタートルマリン) [application number 2002-063588, registration number 4684698]
  • Pocket Monsters Amethyst (Japanese: ポケットモンスターアメジスト) [application number 2002-063589, registration number 4677892]
  • Pocket Monsters Moonstone (Japanese: ポケットモンスタームーンストーン) [application number 2002-063590, registration number 4684699]
  • Pocket Monsters White Gold (Japanese: ポケットモンスターホワイトゴールド) [application number 2002-063591, registration number 4677893]
  • Pocket Monsters Brown (Japanese: ポケットモンスター) [application number 2008-093270, registration number 5222905]
  • Pocket Monsters Gray (Japanese: ポケットモンスター) [application number 2008-093272, registration number 5222907]
  • Gray (Japanese: グレー) [application number 2008-094459, registration number 5406253]
  • Delta Emerald[14] (Japanese: デルタエメラルド) [application number 2014-035118, registration number 5701924]

The following trademarks feature names which are similar to existing game titles:

  • Pocket Monsters Yellow (Japanese: ポケットモンスター) [application number 2008-093268, registration number 5222903]
  • Pocket Monsters Black (Japanese: ポケットモンスター) [application number 2008-093269, registration number 5222904]
  • Pocket Monsters White (Japanese: ポケットモンスター) [application number 2008-093271, registration number 5222906]
  • Pocket Monsters Vermilion (Japanese: ポケットモンスター) [application number 2008-093273, registration number 5222908]
  • Pocket Monsters Purple (Japanese: ポケットモンスター) [application number 2008-093274, registration number 5222909]
  • Pocket Monsters Crimson (Japanese: ポケットモンスター) [application number 2008-093275, registration number 5222910]
  • Pocket Monsters Scarlet (Japanese: ポケットモンスター) [application number 2008-093276, registration number 5222911]
  • Pocket Monsters Red (Japanese: ポケットモンスターレッド) [application number 2009-060068, registration number 5341298]
  • Pocket Monsters Green (Japanese: ポケットモンスターグリーン) [application number 2009-060069, registration number 5293290]
  • Pocket Monsters Blue (Japanese: ポケットモンスターブルー) [application number 2009-060070, registration number 5307992]
  • Pocket Monsters Yellow (Japanese: ポケットモンスターイエロー) [application number 2009-060071, registration number 5341299]
  • Pocket Monsters Brown (Japanese: ポケットモンスターブラウン) [application number 2009-060073, registration number 5307993]
  • Pocket Monsters Gray (Japanese: ポケットモンスターグレー) [application number 2009-060075, registration number 5341302]
  • Pocket Monsters Vermilion (Japanese: ポケットモンスターヴァーミリオン) [application number 2009-060076, registration number 5307994]
  • Pocket Monsters Purple (Japanese: ポケットモンスターパープル) [application number 2009-060077, registration number 5307995]
  • Pocket Monsters Crimson (Japanese: ポケットモンスタークリムゾン) [application number 2009-060078, registration number 5341303]

The 2002 trademarks were filed around the same time as trademarks for Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Diamond, and Pearl, and are all the English names of minerals written in katakana (topaz, tourmaline, amethyst, moonstone, and white gold). The 2008 trademarks were filed alongside trademarks for Red, Green, and Blue, and are all the Japanese names of colors written with a single kanji. The 2009 trademarks were filed alongside trademarks for Black, White, and Scarlet, and are all the English names of colors written in katakana. Of these, vermilion, crimson, and scarlet are shades of red.

Contrary to what is sometimes reported, the name WaterBlue was not trademarked by Nintendo, Creatures, or Game Freak. However, Game Freak's Junichi Masuda did mention "WaterBlue" in 2004 on a blog post explaining the company's choice of "FireRed" and "LeafGreen" as both Japanese and international titles for the remakes of Red and Green.[15][16]


In addition to the core series games, each of the side series games allow players to transfer their Pokémon to and from the core series:

Additionally, some spin-off games allow players to receive special Pokémon:

See also


  1. Iwata Asks : Pokémon X & Pokémon Y : Pokémon Born Anew
  2. Pokemon's Master Speaks - IGN
  3. Inside the Minds behind Pokémon! | News |
  4. ゲーム ポケットモンスターシリーズ | ポケットモンスターオフィシャルサイト (archive)
  6. 포켓몬 공식 사이트 (archive)
  7. Nintendo SpotLight E3 2017 (附中文字幕) - YouTube
  8. Nintendo UK YouTube: Pokémon Ultra Sun & Pokémon Ultra Moon Introduction – Episode 4 – A new Pokémon adventure awaits
  9. 9.0 9.1 (archived from the original)
  10. Pokémon Sun and Moon Grimsley. settei
  11. Pokédex from Ultra Moon: It was built 20 years ago by scientists who dreamed of exploring space. Their dreams have yet to come true.
  12. Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! Mina settei
  13. Spiritomb's Pokémon Pearl Pokédex entry states that it was locked away 500 years ago. Since Spiritomb appears in the game and Vessa says it was sealed "hundreds of years ago", it cannot be set more than 300 years before Generation IV.
  14. Pokemon Delta Emerald Trademark Surfaces - IGN
  15. 増田部長のめざめるパワー
  16. HIDDEN POWER of masuda

External links

Generation I: Red & GreenBlue (JP)Red & BlueYellow
Generation II: Gold & SilverCrystal
Generation III: Ruby & SapphireFireRed & LeafGreenEmerald
Generation IV: Diamond & PearlPlatinumHeartGold & SoulSilver
Generation V: Black & WhiteBlack 2 & White 2
Generation VI: X & YOmega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
Generation VII: Sun & MoonUltra Sun & Ultra Moon
Let's Go, Pikachu! & Let's Go, Eevee!‎
Generation VIII: Sword & Shield (Expansion Pass)
Brilliant Diamond & Shining PearlLegends: Arceus
Generation IX: Scarlet & Violet
Pokémon game templates

Project Games logo.png This game-related article is part of Project Games, a Bulbapedia project that aims to write comprehensive articles on the Pokémon games.