Generation I

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Generation I
Pokémon Blue Version
Title screen of Pokémon Blue Version
Debut EN September 30, 1998
JA February 27, 1996
Pokémon 151
Main games Red, Green, and Blue, Yellow
Region introduced Kanto
Battle arena games Stadium
End EN October 15, 2000 (746 days)
JA November 21, 1999 (1363 days)

The first generation of Pokémon games, known among older fans as the color generation or the chromatic generation due to the names of the versions released, is the initial set of four Pokémon games released.

Beginning with Pokémon Red and Green, and later joined by third version Blue and special edition Yellow in Japan, the Generation I games were developed beginning as early as 1990 from an idea that Satoshi Tajiri had thought of and pitched to Nintendo with the help of Shigeru Miyamoto. The inspiration for many of the key mechanics introduced in this generation came from Tajiri's childhood interest in bug collecting, with the trading system between two Game Boys being thought of when he imagined a caterpillar crawling across the link cable between two systems.

This generation was localized into English, with initial attempts to keep the Pocket Monsters name for international use blocked due to the Monster in My Pocket franchise leading to the release as "Pokémon". Further alterations made in the localization included the combination of Red, Green, and Blue into the English versions of Pokémon Red and Blue, using Red and Green's wild Pokémon encounter lists but Blue's slightly improved graphics. Despite this, the simultaneous release of the games and anime led to an almost-overnight surge in popularity that raised some parental concern, often dubious, and cemented the Pokémon franchise firmly as a Nintendo mainstay alongside Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda.

Two battle arena games were released in this generation: the mostly-incomplete Pokémon Stadium (Japanese), which went unreleased outside of Japan and only allowed use of 42 Pokémon, and the improved Pokémon Stadium, which featured several special battle modes and a Gym Leader Castle where players could take their fully-trained teams for matches against the Kanto Gym Leaders, Elite Four, and Champion.

The storyline of the Kanto region is contemporaneous with the Hoenn story of Generation III, as revealed by details in both the Hoenn-based games as well as the later remakes of Generation I. The storylines of the Generation II and Generation IV games occur three years after this generation, with details about this link explicitly noted throughout the Johto-based games.


Generation I introduced the key Pokémon gameplay elements which have remained to this day, as well as a system of game releases now considered by fans to be the "standard formula". While many of the features enjoyed in the more recent generations are later additions to the series, the following have their origins in Generation I:

  • The player has a party of up to six Pokémon with them, which can be used in battle against opponent Pokémon Trainers or wild Pokémon.
  • A PC-based Pokémon Storage System, made up of 12 boxes of 20 Pokémon each and developed by Bill, a Pokémaniac, is available to store reserve Pokémon not in the party (up to 240 total).
  • 151 species of Pokémon, with many related to each other by way of evolution.
  • A complex battle system, including:
    • Five stats—HP, Attack, Defense, Speed, and Special—which each Pokémon has. Different Pokémon have different stats, even among the same species.
    • 15 different types, which each Pokémon species has inherent to itself.
    • 165 unique moves, restricted to four per Pokémon, each with its own type, accuracy, and base power.
  • The Pokémon League challenge, consisting of Kanto's eight Pokémon Gyms, scattered across the region with each specializing in a different type, and the Elite Four and Pokémon Champion, awaiting challengers at Indigo Plateau.
  • A linked trade and battle system between two Game Boy systems, allowing players to exchange Pokémon they caught for a Pokémon owned by another person or to battle against each other to test their skills. Some Pokémon have to be traded so that they can evolve.



Main article: Kanto

Generation I introduced the first region to the Pokémon series, which, though unnamed in the original English games, is named in Japanese as Kanto, after the region of Japan it is based on. The name has since passed into English, first being used in Super Smash Bros., and subsequently being noted in all games since.

Starter Pokémon

At the outset of the player's journey, he will have no Pokémon on hand, and venturing outside of Pallet Town is impossible, as Professor Oak will stop him and bring him back to his lab, where three Pokémon await both the player and his rival.

The starters of the Kanto region began the three-type trio that is still followed in Generation VI of Grass, Fire, and Water, with the player's choice being between Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. Much as in later generations as well, the rival will choose whichever of the three has the type that is super effective against that of the player.

The choice of a starter can make the beginning few Gyms change in difficulty, but it does not affect much in the long run aside from the rival's party. Bulbasaur is known by many to be the easiest to start with, as its Grass-type weakens the first two Gyms and resists the attacks of the third. Squirtle is known as the second easiest, as Water types also weaken the first Gym; however, it can prove difficult mid-game if the player has not caught a Pokémon that can resist the later Gyms. Charmander is widely regarded as the hardest of the trio, as Fire-type moves do little damage against the first two Gyms' Pokémon, and there are few opportunities to capture a Pokémon that can counterbalance its weaknesses against the first several Gyms.

In Pokémon Yellow, instead of the normal trio found in Red, Green, and Blue, players can only start with the Electric-type Pikachu, which likewise has difficulty with the first Gym. The rival will take Oak's Eevee and evolve it into one of its three stone-based evolutions depending on the results of the player's battles against him.

Gym Leaders

The eight Kanto Gym Leaders each specialize in a different type of Pokémon. Each gives out a Badge and a TM on their defeat.

Indigo League
Gym Leader
Type Badge
タケシ Takeshi
Pewter City
Nibi City
Rock Boulder Badge.png
Boulder Badge
カスミ Kasumi
Cerulean City
Hanada City
Water Cascade Badge.png
Cascade Badge
Lt. Surge
マチス Matis
Vermilion City
Kuchiba City
Electric Thunder Badge.png
Thunder Badge
エリカ Erika
Celadon City
Tamamushi City
Grass Rainbow Badge.png
Rainbow Badge
キョウ Kyō
Fuchsia City
Sekichiku City
Poison Soul Badge.png
Soul Badge
ナツメ Natsume
Saffron City
Yamabuki City
Psychic Marsh Badge.png
Marsh Badge
カツラ Katsura
Cinnabar Island
Guren Island
Fire Volcano Badge.png
Volcano Badge
サカキ Sakaki
Viridian City
Tokiwa City
Ground Earth Badge.png
Earth Badge

Discussion of Generation I

When the games were first released, despite their inferior graphics and sound compared to other games of the time, they were revolutionary, firmly rooting the Pokémon series as one of Nintendo's mainstays alongside Mario and The Legend of Zelda.

Throughout the six generations so far, Pokémon has continued to build on the successes of Generation I's system, while addressing the drawbacks and errors made in the development of the games. Many of the Pokémon world's standards were set in the first generation, including the first five HMs, all of which, with the exception of Flash, remain tools required for the game's completion in Generation V.

Not only were gameplay aspects of the world set in Generation I, but also the storyline aspects. Each region since Kanto has had a local Pokémon Professor named after a tree who gives the player a starter Pokémon, an evil team whose goal is to rule the world, and many other things that are now integral to being a main series game.

The games proved popular enough that, eight years after their original release, they received remakes in the form of Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, as the original versions are incompatible with Generation III and onward.

Balancing issues

The original first-generation games had some game balance issues, mainly due to the limited variety of Pokémon type combinations and movesets. Those that were eventually fixed in II (and are thus exclusive to Generation I) were:

  • Psychic-type Pokémon had virtually no match because their moves were resisted by no types other than itself and their only weakness was to the Bug type, of which there were only three damaging moves: Leech Life, Pin Missile, and Twineedle. Additionally, most of the Pokémon that learned these moves were part Poison-type and therefore weak to Psychic-types. This made it easy for the player to catch a Drowzee or Abra relatively early into the game, evolve it, and teach it the powerful move Psychic, allowing it to easily defeat most opponents.
  • The Bag only had 20 slots, and each stack of items (including key items) occupied one slot. This forced the player to constantly store obsolete key items, TMs, and HMs into the PC in order to make space for new ones.
  • Beside the Elite Four, there were no Trainers who could be rebattled, meaning that, barring winning expensive TMs at the Game Corner and selling them or using Pay Day many times, the amount of money that a player could earn before reaching Indigo Plateau was limited.
  • The Special stat represented both Special Attack and Special Defense, meaning that a Pokémon with a high Special stat had a decisive edge in battle. For example, Venusaur had a base Special stat of 100, used Grass-type (considered "Special") moves, and was weak to mostly Special types (except for Flying and Bug-types).

Kanto thematic motif

The first generation of Pokémon games were more directed towards genetics and engineering. The three starters, Bulbasaur (dinosaur-plant hybrid), Charmander (salamander), and Squirtle (turtle), are all reptilian in nature, and take some elements from the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are reptiles, and were one of the most successful groups of animals to exist. Bulbasaur, the most similar to dinosaurs of the three, is the first listed in the Pokédex. Other Pokémon in the generation continue this theme. Eevee is capable of evolving into multiple forms due to its unstable DNA; Voltorb is the result of a Poké Ball experiment gone awry; Porygon is a virtual reality Pokémon. These games also introduce three Fossils, the most introduced of any generation, which can be resurrected into prehistoric Pokémon: Aerodactyl, Kabuto and Omanyte. Finally, out of the five legendaries that appeared, the most powerful was man-made through genetic engineering: Mewtwo. It remains the only legendary Pokémon, apart from Genesect, created through artificial means. The uncatchable legendary, Mew, also has the DNA of every Pokémon in existence.

Bill himself invented the sophisticated PC used in most regions, and accidentally turned himself into a Pokémon. Ditto could also mimic the abilities and structure of any Pokémon it encountered, making it capable of breeding with most Pokémon from Generation II and onwards. The Master Ball is the most powerful Poké Ball in the franchise, and was first engineered by Kanto scientists as well. With this generation the very foundation of the Pokémon franchise, most successors have only expanded upon Kanto's basics such as trading, leveling-up and stone evolution.

Japanese title screens

Pokémon Red Pokémon Blue Pokémon Yellow
Japanese RedTitle.png Japanese BlueTitle.png Japanese YellowTitle.png


  • Excluding FireRed and LeafGreen (as they are remakes), Generation I is the only generation so far whose mascots are non-legendary Pokémon.
  • As far as release dates go, Generation I is the shortest generation in North America, partly due to the fact that Red and Blue were not released until 1998, while in Japan, they were released in 1996, and their successors, Gold and Silver, were released closer together, in 1999 in Japan and 2000 in North America. As the rest of the world's releases are more similar to the North American releases than the Japanese releases, it is also the shortest generation worldwide.
  • Due to being the first and least advanced generation, Generation I has the highest number of glitch Pokémon which are known to be obtainable without the use of an external device.
  • Generation I has the most extra space in the Pokémon Storage System if the player captures one of each Pokémon, with 240 spots available for 151 Pokémon, leaving 89 extra spots.
  • Generation I is the only generation not to feature the paired versions' mascots on the title screen, but instead includes the first evolution stage of two starter Pokémon.
  • Generation I is the only generation without a playable female character.
  • Generation I is the only generation that indexes its Pokémon in order of creation instead of by Pokédex number.

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