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A trade (Japanese: 通信交換) is a process in which a Pokémon Trainer sends one of his or her Pokémon to another Trainer in exchange for one of the other Trainer's Pokémon. In every Pokémon game, trading is necessary to collect all Pokémon.
Starting from Generation II, items can be held by Pokémon when traded. The only items unable to be held by Pokémon, and therefore unable to be traded are key items, HMs, and, in Generation V, TMs. In addition, the Griseous Orb cannot be traded in Generation IV, as it will automatically be put back in the Bag when a player with Origin Forme Giratina in their party enters the Union Room or Wi-Fi. Certain items, when held by the correct Pokémon, will trigger an evolution when traded to another player. Mail may also be held to send a message.
Benefits of trading
Trading is necessary in order to collect every Pokémon in the Pokédex, as each game is missing Pokémon which cannot be found except in another compatible game. For example, Meowth cannot be found in Pokémon Red, and the player must trade with someone who has a copy of Pokémon Blue, where Meowth is readily found in the wild. Some Pokémon only evolve after being traded. Trading away a Pokémon will not remove its Pokédex entry.
Traded Pokémon gain 1.5× the normal experience after a Pokémon battle. Pokémon traded from another language will gain 1.7× experience.
Trading may also be used to transfer additional instances of limited and rare items in games from Generation II onward, such as Master Balls or Soul Dews, from one game to another by making a Pokémon hold them.
Drawbacks of trading
A Pokémon with an original Trainer different from its current Trainer is referred to as an outsider Pokémon, and will only obey a Trainer with the sufficient number of Gym Badges. The friendship of a Pokémon is set to 70 when it is traded from one game to another. In addition, a traded Pokémon's nickname cannot be changed by anyone but the original Trainer, even if it hasn't been given a nickname.
Traded Pokémon are identified by the Pokémon's Original Trainer name and a five-digit ID Number. Starting in Generation III, even if two games have the same name and ID number, each Trainer also has a secret ID number. The odds of two Trainers having the same secret ID numbers is 1/65536 or approximately 0.002%, making it extremely unlikely that an outsider Pokémon will be treated as a regular Pokémon on a different cartridge.
Limitations on trading
Trading between game generations
Pokémon can be traded between Generation I and Generation II games using the Time Capsule feature. For compatibility purposes, the Pokémon to be traded from the Generation II game must be a species that existed in Generation I and cannot have any moves introduced in Generation II.
Using Pal Park, players can transfer Pokémon from their Generation III games to Generation IV games; however, Pokémon cannot be returned from Generation IV to Generation III. Additionally, Pokémon sent through Pal Park cannot know any Generation III HM moves. Similarly, using the Poké Transfer Lab, transfer is possible from Generation IV to Generation V, although as well as the limitation on HM moves, the Pokémon must not be holding any items. It is also possible to use a method called the Relocator to transfer specific event Pokémon before reaching the Poké Transfer Lab, although the same restrictions apply.
Trading between Generations II and earlier with Generations III and later is impossible due to the vastly different data structures that were introduced in Generation III (such as Individual Values ranging from 0 to 31), as well as the difficulty in linking a Game Boy Color game to a Game Boy Advance game and the lack of any link cable ports on later systems.
Trading between Japanese and non-Japanese games is not recommended in Generations I and II, mostly due to the different memory locations within the RAM. While possible, these trades will result in the corruption of save files, forcing a player to restart their game from the beginning. Trading between games released outside of Japan, such as between a Spanish Pokémon Crystal and a French Pokémon Yellow, does not result in any corruption.
Trading became possible between all versions of the games in Generation III, where the English language text was programmed in even the Japanese games. Due to the relatively low chance of English and other language games coming into contact with Japanese games, however, precautions were not taken in the Japanese games to preserve a Pokémon or Trainer's name when traded in, as their maximum lengths are different. While games released outside Japan will display a Pokémon's OT and nickname fully, Japanese games will only display the first five letters.
International trading became full-fledged in Generation IV, and was a much touted feature, with the linkage of the games to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Pokémon from foreign-language games would unlock international Pokédex entries if traded to a game of a different language; at first, only 14 Pokémon could do this, however, from Platinum onward, all Pokémon can potentially allow for foreign entries. Some special event Pokémon (ex: Spiky-eared Pichu) cannot be traded.
Interestingly, Pokémon traded from Korean-language Generation IV games will not display their names nor OTs in other language variants, because the characters are not programmed into non-Korean Generation IV games. Korean games, however, will display names from all other games.
Trading requires two game consoles and two Pokémon games of compatible generations. Nintendo's intention is that players trade with friends, although some serious players purchase two consoles.
Prior to Generation IV, trading required a link cable or a GBA Wireless Adapter. Although the Nintendo DS supports Generation III games, it cannot be used to trade between those games as the DS lacks hardware support for the link cable. Also, Transfer Packs can be used to trade in Generation I and in Generation II, via Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Stadium 2.
The Pal Park feature of Generation IV games uses the GBA slot of the Nintendo DS, so unlike other trading requires only one game console. However, it is not compatible with the Nintendo DSi, DSi XL or 3DS, which do not have a GBA slot.
Requirements for trading
The player cannot trade Pokémon before getting a Pokédex from Professor Oak at Pallet Town.
The player cannot trade Pokémon before transporting the Mystery Egg to Professor Elm. The Time Capsule cannot be used until the player has met Bill at Ecruteak City's Pokémon Center, and waiting until the next day when setup is completed.
The player cannot trade Pokémon before getting a Pokédex from Professor Birch at Littleroot Town. To trade, the player must have at least two Pokémon in the party. In Emerald, trading with Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen is prohibited unless the National Pokédex has been obtained, while trading with FireRed and LeafGreen in Ruby and Sapphire will itself activate the National Pokédex automatically.
The player cannot trade Pokémon before getting a Pokédex from Professor Oak at Pallet Town. The player must have at least two Pokémon in the party in order to trade. Trades with Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald are possible only after bringing the Ruby and Sapphire key items to complete Celio's Network Machine, which can be done only after the player has become the champion and obtained the National Pokédex. Also, if someone trades a Pokémon that evolves into a Generation II Pokémon by trading before receiving the National Pokédex, that Pokémon will stop evolving.
The player cannot trade Pokémon with the GBA games in Colosseum until Evice has been defeated, while the player must have defeated Greevil in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness to trade. Trading any unpurified Shadow Pokémon is completely prohibited, as data for Shadow moves doesn't exist in the GBA games, nor the ability to purify them.
It is not possible to directly trade between Colosseum and XD.
A trade in Generation IV
The player cannot trade Pokémon before getting a Pokédex from Professor Rowan at Sandgem Town. Also, the player has to have at least two Pokémon in the party. Migrating Pokémon from the Generation III games through Pal Park cannot be done until the National Pokédex has been obtained. It is possible to obtain a non-regional Pokémon when trading Pokémon from another Generation IV game without having acquired the National Pokédex. In Platinum, the player is now able to press B to select the "CANCEL" button.
Hayley will only offer to trade with the player after they have completed a wanted request, and will only trade specific Pokémon and only if she has already brought one of them to the Ranch.
Similar to Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, trading cannot occur until the player has obtained his or her Pokédex from Professor Oak at Mr. Pokémon's house. The player must have at least two Pokémon in the party; but no additional prerequisite is needed to trade with the Sinnoh games: this can be done at the very beginning of the game. Migrating Pokémon from Generation III games through Pal Park is also possible later in the game if the player has a Nintendo DS or DS Lite.
The player cannot trade Pokémon until they have obtained the Trio Badge from the Striaton Gym and completed the C-Gear sub-quest for Fennel. This prevents the player from trading for a Pokémon that knows Cut in order to access the blocked-off section of Dreamyard early, as HM usage is not restricted by badge ownership in Unova.
The player is also prevented from trading party Pokémon that know any HM move via Infrared Connection, most likely to prevent trading away a Pokémon whose HM move is needed in a certain area. An example of this would be trading away any Pokémon in the party who know Fly or Surf while on a patch of land surrounded by water.
The Poké Transfer feature allows Pokémon to be migrated from any Generation IV game. Pokémon can be migrated up to six at a time using a catapult minigame sent to another DS using Download Play. This minigame can transfer Pokémon from an inserted Generation IV Pokémon cartridge. Migrating with the Poké Transfer is one-way, requires both games to be from the same language, and cannot migrate Eggs or Pokémon holding items. There is no daily limit to use of the Poké Transfer.
The Relocator allows the transfer of Celebi and the Shiny legendary beasts from a Generation IV game. It is available earlier in the game than the Poké Transfer, which requires the player to have acquired the National Pokédex and defeated the Elite Four.
Similar to Black and White, the player cannot trade Pokémon until they have received the Basic Badge from the Aspertia Gym and have received the C-Gear from Bianca. There is no prerequisite to trade with Black and White. The Poké Transfer is also available after obtaining the National Dex, allowing Pokémon from Generation IV to be transferred to Black 2 and White 2.
Pokémon which evolve when traded
Many of these Pokémon also require an item to be held by them at the time of trading for their evolution to take place.
In the anime
Despite it being one of the key aspects of the games, trading is exceptionally rare in the anime. Only a few trades have been shown taking place, and only four of them thus far have been truly significant. Fans have often speculated about the reason for this. Rather than simply exchanging Pokémon, most trades are carried out by placing Poké Balls into a specialized trading machine, with a monitor that displays silhouettes of the two Pokémon as they pass each other.
The trade machine used in the anime has seemingly been adapted into the game canon, with Professor Oak's laboratory in both Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Stadium 2 having this type of machine for trades. In the same way, when link cables were finally able to accept the data of two Pokémon being sent at once (rather than one at a time as in Generations I and II), the Pokémon are shown passing each other in the link space.
In the manga
In the Pokémon Adventures manga
Like the anime, the Pokémon Adventures Manga does not contain many trades despite being a major part of the games. Most are not shown to need a machine to complete them.
In the TCG
The following is a list of cards relating to trades.
- In Generation V, if a Pokémon from another country evolves, the Pokémon's name, if not nicknamed, will translate into the game's language.
- Evolution cannot be canceled if it takes place due to a trade occurring.
- Pokémon traded between languages in Generation III, if not nicknamed, will preserve their foreign-language species name even through evolution as if it were a nickname. Thus, a Japanese Charmander named ヒトカゲ if traded to an English game for a Pichu named PICHU will evolve and keep the name ヒトカゲ, even as a Charmeleon, when its Japanese species name would be リザード. Likewise, a Pichu evolved in the Japanese game would keep the name PICHU even as a Pikachu. This was solved with a bit that determined whether or not a Pokémon had been nicknamed in the Generation IV games.
- However, this bit's existence undoes a previous feature, where a Pokémon that evolved twice (such as Oddish), if nicknamed in all-caps the name of its evolved form (in this case, "GLOOM"), when evolved through that stage to its final form will become un-nicknamed again (taking the name "BELLOSSOM" or "VILEPLUME").
- All trading animations are shown using the standard Poké Ball, regardless of what type of ball the Pokémon being traded was actually caught in.
- In Pokémon Red and Blue, there is a Scientist at the Pokémon Lab in Cinnabar Island that would trade a Raichu for an Electrode. If the player talked to him after the trade, he would mention that the Raichu evolved, which is not possible. This mistake, which was due to the original translation being of the Japanese Blue's script, where the player would trade a Kadabra for his Graveler, both of which would evolve as a result, was corrected in Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen.
- Since Generation IV, a Kadabra that is traded will always evolve into Alakazam, even if it is holding an Everstone.
- Porygon is the only Pokémon to evolve twice via trading.
- In addition, Porygon2 is the only Pokémon to have evolved from trading that can evolve further.
- Both evolutions require a held item to succeed, namely the Up-Grade and the Dubious Disc.
- Clamperl is the only Pokémon that can evolve into one of two Pokémon where both evolutions are achieved by trading.
- Through exploitation of ????? in Generation II, it is possible to trade Generation II Pokémon back to Generation I, where they will become Missingno. and various other glitch Pokémon.
- In the anime, trades often take place in episodes where the Magikarp salesman appears.