Pokémon Trading Card Game (game)

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This article is about the Game Boy game. For other TCG video games, see Category:Pokémon Trading Card Game video games.
Pokémon Trading Card Game
TCG EN boxart.png
Boxart of Pokémon Trading Card Game
Basic info
Platform: Game Boy Color *,
Nintendo 3DS (Virtual Console)
Category: Strategy
Players: 2 players simultaneous
Connectivity: Game Link Cable, Infrared
Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Nintendo
Part of: Generation I side series
Release dates
Japan: December 18, 1998 (GBC)[1]
December 24, 2014 (3DS VC)[2]
North America: April 10, 2000 (GBC)[3]
November 13, 2014 (3DS VC)[4]
Australia: April 7, 2000 (GBC)[5]
July 11, 2014 (3DS VC)[6]
Europe: December 15, 2000 (GBC)[7]
July 10, 2014 (3DS VC)[8]
South Korea: N/A
Hong Kong: N/A
Taiwan: N/A
Japanese: Official site
English: Official site
TCG JP boxart.png
Japanese boxart of Pokémon Trading Card Game
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Pokémon Trading Card Game (Japanese: ポケモンカードGB Pokémon Card GB) is the first Pokémon game in the Trading Card Game series to be released in Japan, in 1998. The English version was later released in North America in 2000. It was released on Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console in 2014, making it the first Pokémon game to be released for the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console.

Pokémon Trading Card Game was followed, only in Japan, a year later by a sequel, titled Pokémon Card GB2: Here Comes Team GR!. It takes place on the Trading Card Game Island and the player's starting area is the Mason Laboratory.

A promotional Meowth card was included with the English release of the Game Boy Color game. The Japanese version of the game included the special Legendary Dragonite, only to be released in Japan.


The player begins his or her adventure at Mason Laboratory, where Dr. Mason gives him or her the choice of taking along one of three different Pokémon Trading Card Game decks: Charmander & Friends, Squirtle & Friends or Bulbasaur & Friends. The player, known by default as Mark, has an ambition of becoming the world's greatest Pokémon Trading Card Game player; however, Mark's rival, Ronald, has a similar goal. Ronald will duel the player at certain points in the game to test the player's cards; being defeated is an indication for the player to improve his or her deck. Victory, however, results in receiving a Promotional Card.


Based on the hit Wizards of the Coast card game...
The greatest Pokémon Trading Card Game players of all time – the Grand Masters – are looking for one player worthy of inheriting the four rare, Legendary Pokémon Cards! Build new decks with the Auto Deck Machine, hone your skills on the Challenge Machine and test your ability in Challenge Hall. Expand your card collection, duel your way through 8 Club Masters and earn the right to challenge the Grand Masters in the Pokémon Dome! Shadowy figures, wise instructors and powerful opponents await in the ultimate trading card game adventure!

  • Includes over 200 of your favorite Pokémon Trading Cards, plus new cards exclusive to the Game Boy game!
  • Learn how to play the card game, build and manage decks and duel with other card players in step-by-step tutorials.
  • Duel a friend using the Game Link cable (sold separately) or generate new cards using the Infra-Red Card Pop! feature (available with Game Boy Color only).
  • Basic reading skills are needed to fully enjoy the story.


Pokémon Trading Card Game allows players to send and receive cards and deck configurations or perform a Card Pop! between two cartridges via infrared, using an infrared communicator built into the cartridge.

Pokémon Trading Card Game allows players to duel each other using their own decks via the Game Boy Game Link Cable.

Pokémon Trading Card Game cannot communicate with Pokémon Card GB2: Here Comes Team GR!. All multiplayer features are disabled in the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console release.

Card Pop!

Main article: Card Pop!

Card Pop! is a 2-player feature that randomly generates a card for each player. When the infrared ports of two Pokémon Trading Card Game cartridges are connected, each player will receive a random card. A player cannot Card Pop! with the same game again until both players have used the feature with so many others that their partner's ID is overwritten in both games.

This feature is the only way of obtaining the Phantom Cards (Mew and Venusaur).

Card Pop! cannot be performed between Pokémon Trading Card Game and Pokémon Card GB2: Here Comes Team GR!. Attempting to do so can result in glitches such as a game freeze or a loss of save data in Pokémon Trading Card Game.


Similarities to the core series

The Pokémon TCG game cartridge

The object of the game is very similar to the object of the games in the core series: Players can start off with one of the three starter decks, titled after (and built around) the starter Pokémon of Generation I (excluding Pokémon Yellow), Squirtle, Charmander and Bulbasaur. The goal of players is also to defeat eight specialized leaders, the Club Masters (comparable to Gym Leaders), and four Elite challengers, the Grand Masters (comparable to the Elite Four). However, while Club Masters' decks correspond approximately to the types of the Trading Card Game cards, since there are eight Club Masters and at the time only seven distinct Pokémon card types, two of the types are repeated: Fighting and Grass, split in the form of a "Rock" and a "Poison" user, respectively.

Similar to the Gym Badges earned by players after defeating Gym Leaders in the core series, players of Trading Card Game earn Master Medals after defeating Club Masters. Certain Master Medals allow players to unlock corresponding Auto Deck Machines in Mason Laboratory.

Like the concept of the core series to store Pokémon in a PC, Trading Card Game also allows players to manage their cards via computer. Players can also check their mail for messages from Dr. Mason; Mason will send fifteen e-mails in all over the adventure, each containing at least one booster pack.

An almost exact reception center is also featured in Club lounges in the game, with a Battle Center and a Gift Center; the former which allows players to duel against each other's decks and the latter which allows players to send or receive cards or deck configurations.

Pokémon Trading Card Game also features the ability to run while holding the B button, an element that was not seen in the core series until Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. It also displays the player's location in the main menu before they choose to continue. On a similar note, from the Ruby and Sapphire versions onward, the save prompt can also display the player's location.


There are eight Pokémon Clubs on Trading Card Game Island, each with their own type affiliation. The Club Masters are Nikki (Grass), Rick (Poison), Ken (Fire), Amy (Water), Isaac (Lightning), Murray (Psychic), Gene (Rock) and Mitch (Fighting).

Grand Masters

There are four Grand Masters located at the Pokémon Dome. The Grand Masters are Courtney (Fire), Steve (Lightning), Jack (Ice) and Rod (Dragon); the Champion is Ronald, who has a deck of mixed types.

Pokémon cards

The game contains every card released in the real Trading Card Game's Base Set, Jungle, and Fossil expansions, except for the Base Set's Electrode and Fossil's Ditto. (This only includes cards released in the Japanese expansions, so no normal counterparts of holographic cards are included.) Additionally, the first 14 tournament-legal unnumbered promotional cards are included (not counting glossy/non-glossy reprints). The game also features 18 game-exclusive cards which weren't produced for normal play, though some were released later on. The game emulated the experience of the actual Trading Card Game very closely.

The game contains pre-recorded data on all 228 cards featured (including Lv15 Mew and Lv64 Venusaur). Despite this, not all Pokémon are available to the player through normal gameplay; Card Pop! must occur between players in order to complete their album without the use of cheats, as this is the only way to obtain the aforementioned Mew and Venusaur cards.

Cards can be obtained through booster packs from four expansion sets including Colosseum, Evolution, Mystery, and Laboratory, or by defeating specific challengers (for example, each defeat of the Grand Masters will award the player with a set of legendary Moltres, Zapdos, Articuno, and Dragonite cards). Among the aforementioned four expansion sets is a fifth set, the Promotional Card set. However these cards can only be attained by defeating players such as Ronald, Imakuni?, and the Grand Masters, defeating three Challenge Hall opponents in a row, trading with Ishihara, and Card Popping.

Regional differences

Dark purple Jynx

Booster pack images were changed between localizations to reflect the art style used for booster packs by region. The title screen was changed between the Japanese and international releases. The Super Game Boy border in international releases removes the writing of Pokémon • Trading • Card • Game • on the Poké Balls. The back of Pokémon cards was changed in international releases to the design used on the back of cards outside of Japan.

The artwork for Jynx Lv. 23's face was changed from black to purple in international releases to avoid further controversy. The background of the card was also changed from dark purple to light purple in the Virtual Console release.

Virtual Console differences

This release is locked in Game Boy Color mode; it cannot be played in Game Boy monochrome mode or with the Super Game Boy borders.

Due to the Nintendo 3DS not emulating Game Link functionality (infrared and the Game Link cable), several features were disabled in the Virtual Console release.

Card Pop! is disabled, making the two Phantom Cards (Mew Lv.15 and Venusaur Lv.64) unobtainable and the Mysterious Pokémon Deck impossible to obtain normally. The Mysterious Pokémon Deck is still included in the Legendary Auto Deck Machine in certain versions of the Virtual Console release making the Legendary Auto Deck Machine the only possible way to see those cards. Due to Card Pop! being disabled, a bookshelf in Mr. Ishihara's House is disabled as the bookshelf refers to the Phantom Cards from Card Pop!.

Due to Game Link cable functions being disabled, clerks at Clubs who would normally be spoken to for the Battle Center or Gift Center do not interact with the player.

Due to this release lacking compatibility with the Game Boy Printer, the "Print" function, which is accessible from PCs, has been disabled.


Main article: Staff of Pokémon Trading Card Game


  • The promotional Venusaur card that appears in the game (and can only be obtained by using Card Pop!) was included with the Pokémon Trading Card Game: Official Nintendo Player's Guide in North America and with the Pokémon Card GB Official Guidebook in Japan.
  • The Surfing Pikachu with artwork featuring Mt. Fuji and a bullet train was released in Japan but not in English. The card was printed in English, but never with that artwork.
  • This game, along with its sequel, are the only spin-off games to share overworld sprites with the, at the time, core series games.
  • Ninetales's name is misspelled as Ninetails in this game.
  • There is an inaccessible room behind the duel room in Challenge Hall, it has a basic layout but is otherwise empty.
  • The internal files of the game contain two unused Super Game Boy borders, the second one was used for testing purposes.


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