Core series

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The core series[1][2] of the Pokémon games, also known as the core games,[3] the main series, or the Pokémon RPG series,[Notes 1] 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 paired games as a single release, there are currently 22 core series games released in Japanese, 21 in European languages (English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian), 15 in Korean, and 7 in Chinese (both simplified and traditional). Counting each game individually, there are currently 38 core series games released in Japanese, 37 in European languages, 28 in Korean, and 13 in Chinese.

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 formerly in 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.

In English, the core series has officially been referred to as the main series, Pokémon RPG series, or core series[Notes 1] in official marketing materials. However, all Western releases of games use the abbreviation Pokémon, regardless of whether they are core series games or spin-off games.

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 structure 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 receives a starter Pokémon, usually from the region's Pokémon Professor; there are almost always three starter Pokémon to choose from, with one Grass type, one Fire type, and one Water type, and a character who will become the player's rival will typically choose (or already have) another member of the trio based on the player's choice.

After this point, the player begins to journey across the entire region (which contains several settlements like cities and towns, themselves usually connected by route), capturing any wild Pokémon they choose to, and using a party they assemble to take on other Pokémon Trainers. Most regions have eight Gym Leaders that the player must defeat in order to obtain a Badge from each one, though in games set in the Alola region, the player instead participates in the island challenge, and in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, they defeat five frenzied noble Pokémon. In addition to 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 Champion of the region awaits challengers. However, a series of Trainers known as the Elite Four must usually be defeated in succession before the Champion can be fought. The Champion is often introduced prior to the player's Pokémon League challenge, and may aid the player on their adventure. After defeating the Champion, the player becomes a Champion themself, which is usually honoured by their entry into the Hall of Fame. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the only game in the core series to not feature the Pokémon League in any form.

The player's defeat of the Champion can be considered the ending of the game, as it is followed by the credits being shown. However, there is always post-game content that the player gains access to after this. Often, there is a post-game plotline and locations and facilities that could not be previously accessed become available. Since Pokémon Crystal, there is usually at least one facility specifically dedicated to battling. The overarching goal is to obtain many species of Pokémon in order to complete the Pokédex. In the first two generations, every Pokémon species in the game has to be obtained in order to complete the Pokédex, and the player is awarded a diploma for achieving this. From Generation III to Generation VI, there are two separate Pokédexes, each with their own diploma as a reward for completing them: the regional Pokédex, which only contains the Pokémon native to the region the game is set in, and the National Pokédex, which is unlocked in the post-game and contains every Pokémon in the game. Starting in Generation VII, the games only contain a regional Pokédex, the completion of which usually rewards the player with a diploma, while the National Pokédex is confined to companion applications like Pokémon Bank and Pokémon HOME.

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, Generation VIII, and Generation IX entirely forwent follow-up games set in the same region, the latter two instead providing additional features to the original pair of games via paid downloadable content.

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. All generations also introduce at least one Mythical Pokémon, which are almost always event-exclusive upon being introduced but may become available through other means in later generations.

In all generations, there are some Pokémon that cannot be encountered until after the player becomes Champion. These are often Legendary Pokémon, such as Mewtwo. These Pokémon may or may not be 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 typically 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
Generation II
Generation III
Generation IV
Generation V
Generation VI
Generation VII
Generation VIII
Generation IX


0175Togepi.png This section contains fan speculation.
There is no solid evidence for or against some parts of this article.
See also: History of the Pokémon world
Many years
3 years
12 years
2 years
2 years

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. Series producer Junichi Masuda, in an interview with GameInformer on October 24, 2019, stated that Game Freak doesn't apply a timeline to the Pokémon world rigorously.[Notes 2]

On May 7, 2014, Game Freak employee Toshinobu Matsumiya's Twitter account posted a timeline of the core series Pokémon games.[9] However, the tweet was subsequently deleted. Matsumiya also stated that the specific amount of time between the games is a mystery;[10] however, there are some mentions of how much time has passed in the games.

The plots of Pokémon Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, FireRed, and LeafGreen and Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Omega Ruby, and Alpha Sapphire are contemporaneous, as revealed in Matsumiya's tweet. They are then followed by the plots of Pokémon Gold, Silver, Crystal, HeartGold, and SoulSilver and Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, Brilliant Diamond, and Shining Pearl three years later; although Matsumiya's tweet suggests that they are also contemporaneous, the dialogue of Jasmine and Cynthia provides conflicting evidence on which games occur first.[Notes 3][Notes 4] Pokémon Black and White are set some years after this, as evidenced by Caitlin having visibly aged and Cynthia and the Team Rocket Grunt who stole the Machine Part referencing previous events. Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 are set two years after Black and White, and are contemporaneous with Pokémon X and Y, also revealed by Matsumiya's tweet. Pokémon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon take place two years after the events of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, as revealed by concept art of Grimsley.[11] Pokémon Sword and Shield's placement is more vague, with little direct connection to other games, though the Pokédex entry for Type: Null in Sword mentions that stolen research notes led to the creation of more Type: Null,[Notes 5] which could imply that they take place after the events of Pokémon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon, as only three Type: Null exist in those games. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet take place after the events of Pokémon Sword and Shield, as revealed by the presence of a copy of Galar: A History, which was published during the events of Sword and Shield, at Naranja AcademyS/Uva AcademyV. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is established to be set long before all other games in the series, taking place in Sinnoh's distant past.

Porygon's Pokédex entries in Pokémon Sun, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon state that it was created 20 years ago,[Notes 6] and Pocket Monsters Encyclopedia states that Porygon was created one year prior to the events of Pokémon Red and Green, meaning Pokémon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon take place 19 years after Pokémon Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow. From this information and the lengths of the gaps between other games in the series, it can be calculated that the gap between Generation II/IV and Pokémon Black and White is 12 years long.

Although Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! are remakes of Pokémon Yellow, Red and Blue are known to have already finished their journeys years ago, and Mina's age mentioned in her concept art would suggest that the games are set a maximum of 6 years before Pokémon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon,[12][Notes 7] implying that they take place later than the original game. However, this is contradicted by Sabrina having a vision of meeting a special Trainer in three years, referencing the protagonist of Generation II, suggesting these games do not necessarily adhere to the timeline of the rest of the core series.

Although Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are remakes of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, they contain some references to features from the original games as having been present about a decade ago,[Notes 8] while others have not yet come about, such as the Battle Frontier, which is under construction. Despite this, the remakes are implied to happen at the same point as the original games, as the Royal Unova and a device to visually reproduce the dreams of Pokémon having not yet been created reveals them to be before Pokémon Black and White[Notes 9][Notes 10] and Mr. Bonding gaining O-Powers reveals them to be before Pokémon X and Y.[Notes 11]

The specific years of events are not mentioned in the games themselves, but Pocket Monsters Encyclopedia states that Pokémon Red and Green occur in 1996, the year of their release. This year is referenced in Pokémon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon on Red's shirt, which features a symbol resembling the number "96". Pokémon Gold and Silver are known to occur three years later, which would place them in 1999, also aligning with their release year. Another reference to the passage of time in real life appears in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, in which Norman mentions having seen the Eon Ticket 11 years earlier, referencing how long had passed from the item's original distribution in 2003 to the release of the games. Similarly, the description of the Member Card mentions that the last date marked on it was 50 years ago; the date shown on the card's official artwork (1958.12.1) is exactly 50 years prior to its first distribution.

Furthermore, some of the games mention the existence of 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 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 Brown (Japanese: ポケットモンスター) [application number 2008-093270, registration number 5222905]
  • Pocket Monsters White (Japanese: ポケットモンスター) [application number 2008-093271, registration number 5222906]
  • Pocket Monsters Gray (Japanese: ポケットモンスター) [application number 2008-093272, registration number 5222907]
  • 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]
  • Gray (Japanese: グレー) [application number 2008-094459, registration number 5406253]
  • 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]
  • Delta Emerald[13] (Japanese: デルタエメラルド) [application number 2014-035118, registration number 5701924]

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 in a blog post explaining the company's choice of "FireRed" and "LeafGreen" as both the Japanese and international titles for the remakes of Pokémon Red and Green.[14][15]


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 in the core series:

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. (archived from the original)
  10. "Elapsed time is secret. Imagine freely!" - Toshinobu Matsumiya. May 10, 2014. Twitter
  11. Pokémon Sun and Moon Grimsley settei
  12. Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! Mina settei
  13. Pokemon Delta Emerald Trademark Surfaces - IGN
  14. 増田部長のめざめるパワー
  15. HIDDEN POWER of masuda
  16. [1]How to transfer Pokémon from Pokémon GO to Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee!


  1. 1.0 1.1 [2] Masuda: (speaking about Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!) I believe all of these things kind of illustrate how these games have evolved in somewhat of a different direction compared to the traditional main series Pokémon RPGs. And my goal for these games is really to create a Pokémon RPG for everyone. And I believe that not only have we managed to make these titles great entry games for those who are new to the Pokémon RPG series, but at the same time, really provide a new and fresh experience that long-time fans of the series will enjoy. So it's really my hope that all sorts of people will give these games a try. So that concludes my introduction today for Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, but before I go I would like to say just one more thing. So at GameFreak we're also hard at work on another all-new core series Pokémon RPG, exclusively for Nintendo Switch.
  2. [3] Masuda: It starts to get a little complicated if you pay too much attention to timelines. Like, there might be a professor that appears and it wouldn’t make sense at all if we applied that kind of timeline logic. So we try not to apply it too rigorously. Maybe one hint is that if a character is appearing with Professor Oak, they’re living in the same era. Rather than some series where it makes sense to have the timeline progress as you go and the story evolve, the approach that Pokémon takes is expanding the world, like what the regions are, and making it richer as we go. Rather than a timeline, it’s more of a physical space thing.
  3. Jasmine: "I'm thinking maybe I should participate in this Contest in Sinnoh to try and be more vibrant." Erika: "How did it go?" Jasmine: "I couldn't bring myself to go to the Contest."
  4. Cynthia in HeartGold and SoulSilver: "This is the pattern that represents Giratina, the ruler of the world that is on the opposite side of ours, the world of antimatter..." Cynthia in Platinum: "No...! I'm so sorry I took so long. I think I finally found the answer from studying the myths. When this world was made, Dialga and Palkia appeared. Apparently, there was one more Pokémon that appeared at the same time. A Pokémon with as much power as Dialga and Palkia... But also one whose name was never to be spoken--Giratina! It's said to lurk in another world... A world on the opposite side of ours... That's what the shadow was. It must have been Giratina."
  5. Pokédex from Sword: Rumor has it that the theft of top-secret research notes led to a new instance of this Pokémon being created in the Galar region.
  6. Pokédex from Sun: Roughly 20 years ago, it was artificially created, utilizing the latest technology of the time. Pokédex from Ultra Sun: This Pokémon was created using the cutting-edge science of 20 years ago, so many parts of it have since become obsolete. Pokédex from Ultra Moon: It was built 20 years ago by scientists who dreamed of exploring space. Their dreams have yet to come true.
  7. Mallow: "I mean, we have to move on from being captains when we turn 20 anyway." (Pokémon Moon)
  8. A Bug Catcher in Rustboro City's Pokémon Center: I heard that Pokémon Centers had two stories up until around 10 years ago! And they used to have a special area called a “Pokémon Cable Club”!"
    A Battle Girl in Dewford Gym: "A long time ago at Dewford Gym, it was always dark inside. We trained our minds by practicing in the dark!"
    An old man in Fallabor Town's Contest Hall: I just love making Pokéblocks! In the old days it used to take four of us to make a Pokéblock with this machine. A machine that was used to mix Berries in this region long ago."
    A man on Mt. Pyre: "This used to be a desolate place. The ground had holes here and there, and I used to fall in!"
    Mom: "The Litleonids, hmm? I remember going to see them with your dad 11 years ago when they last passed by!" (12 in the Japanese and Korean versions)
    Norman: "Hmm? Is that an Eon Ticket you have there?’s been a good 11 years since I last saw a ticket like this..."
  9. (Oceanic Museum) “The Royal Unova” “A model of the sunset cruiser currently being built in the Unova region. It’s scheduled to be complete in — years.” The number is too faint to be read.
  10. Devon's scientist: "I'm trying to develop a device that visually reproduces the dreams of Pokémon... And I’ve heard that my rival, who lives far away, is doing the same research! I can't lose this race."
  11. Mr. Bonding: "HEY! This...this power! This power is incredible! I feel tied to these old men with such strong bonds now! I feel like a totally different man!"

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 (The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero)
Pokémon game templates

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