The core series of Pokémon games, also known as the core games, the main series, or the Pokémon RPG series,[note 1] is a series of role-playing video games released for Nintendo systems and the primary series of Pokémon games. Its games follow a standard model of the player's journey through a specific region to catch and raise Pokémon, battle other Trainers, fight crime, and earn recognition (usually by collecting Badges from Gym Leaders) until they are acknowledged as the strongest Trainer. The series began with the first installment in the Pokémon franchise, Pokémon Red and Green, released for the Game Boy in Japan on February 27, 1996. Core series games have 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.
In English, the core series has officially been referred to as the main series, Pokémon RPG series, or core series in official marketing materials.[note 1] However, all Western releases of games use the abbreviation Pokémon, regardless of whether they are core series games or spin-off games.
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, Korean: 포켓몬스터 시리즈, Chinese: 精靈寶可夢系列 / 精灵宝可梦系列). On Game Freak's website, it is referred to as the main series (本編シリーズ) instead. All core series games, except Pokémon Legends: Arceus, 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.
Prior to Generation VI, it was standard for the Western releases of the core series games to include the label "Version" in their title, such as "Pokémon Red Version" or "Pokémon Diamond Version", although this was seldom used by the Japanese releases. The game titles with the word "Version" have also been sometimes written without it in official text, such as "Pokémon Red" or "Pokémon Diamond".
The plural "Versions" when referring to multiple games has been sometimes used as well:
- "The Gold, Silver, and Crystal Versions of Pokémon ARE compatible with Pokémon Stadium 2™ [...]" (manual of Pokémon Crystal, page 1)
- "This Game Pak can be linked to either Pokémon Ruby or Sapphire Version. It CANNOT be linked to the Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, or Crystal Versions." (manual of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, page 3)
The core series game titles released from Generation VI onwards do not include the word "Version", such as Pokémon X, Pokémon Omega Ruby, etc.
- Main article: Remake → Terminology
The names of remakes of core series games are generally derived from the names of the original source games, with a modifier word attached to the front. For instance, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver are remakes of Pokémon Gold and Silver.
Italicized game titles
From Generation I to Pokémon Platinum, the Pokémon core series game titles were usually written with no italics in the game manuals and box descriptions. From Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver onwards, the titles have been consistently written in italics. For instance:
- "You can migrate Pokémon caught in the Game Boy Advance™ Pokémon series: Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed, and LeafGreen versions [...]" (manual of Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver)
- "Various language versions of Pokémon Black 2, Pokémon White 2, Pokémon Black, and Pokémon White can communicate, battle, and trade with one another." (manual of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, page 4)
- "This is Pokémon Omega Ruby. The types and likelihood of Pokémon that will appear differ from Pokémon Alpha Sapphire." (back of the box of Pokémon Omega Ruby)
The game titles are also italicized on the Pokémon.com website. For instance:
- "The launch of Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver on Virtual Console has given us the chance to take a second look at some of those classics’ most iconic, fun, and memorable events."
The game titles are also italicized in the creator messages from the Pokémon Adventures manga. For instance:
- "The Game Boy games Pokémon Gold and Silver are now on sale!!" (Hidenori Kusaka, volume 3 of Pokémon Adventures)
- "You can play Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen in all sorts of ways [...]" (Hidenori Kusaka, volume 18 of Pokémon Adventures)
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 honored 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.
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.
Many generations feature what Game Freak internally calls an upper version (Japanese: アッパーバージョン upper version) and what Western fans commonly refer to as a "third version", i.e., 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. Most 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.
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.
|Original versions||Upper versions and expansions|
- Main article: History of the Pokémon world
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:
|English||Japanese||Application no.||Registration no.|
|Pocket Monsters Topaz||ポケットモンスタートパーズ||2002-063587||4677891|
|Pocket Monsters Tourmaline||ポケットモンスタートルマリン||2002-063588||4684698|
|Pocket Monsters Amethyst||ポケットモンスターアメジスト||2002-063589||4677892|
|Pocket Monsters Moonstone||ポケットモンスタームーンストーン||2002-063590||4684699|
|Pocket Monsters White Gold||ポケットモンスターホワイトゴールド||2002-063591||4677893|
|Pocket Monsters Yellow||ポケットモンスター黄||2008-093268||5222903|
|Pocket Monsters Black||ポケットモンスター黒||2008-093269||5222904|
|Pocket Monsters Brown||ポケットモンスター茶||2008-093270||5222905|
|Pocket Monsters White||ポケットモンスター白||2008-093271||5222906|
|Pocket Monsters Gray/Grey||ポケットモンスター灰||2008-093272||5222907|
|Pocket Monsters Vermilion||ポケットモンスター朱||2008-093273||5222908|
|Pocket Monsters Purple||ポケットモンスター紫||2008-093274||5222909|
|Pocket Monsters Crimson||ポケットモンスター紅||2008-093275||5222910|
|Pocket Monsters Scarlet||ポケットモンスター緋||2008-093276||5222911|
|Pocket Monsters Red||ポケットモンスターレッド||2009-060068||5341298|
|Pocket Monsters Green||ポケットモンスターグリーン||2009-060069||5293290|
|Pocket Monsters Blue||ポケットモンスターブルー||2009-060070||5307992|
|Pocket Monsters Yellow||ポケットモンスターイエロー||2009-060071||5341299|
|Pocket Monsters Brown||ポケットモンスターブラウン||2009-060073||5307993|
|Pocket Monsters Gray/Grey||ポケットモンスターグレー||2009-060075||5341302|
|Pocket Monsters Vermilion||ポケットモンスターヴァーミリオン||2009-060076||5307994|
|Pocket Monsters Purple||ポケットモンスターパープル||2009-060077||5307995|
|Pocket Monsters Crimson||ポケットモンスタークリムゾン||2009-060078||5341303|
|Pocket Monsters Scarlet||ポケットモンスタースカーレット||2009-060079||5341304|
The 2002 trademarks were filed around the same time as trademarks for Pokémon 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 Pokémon 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.
Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen and Pokémon Diamond and Pearl were planned alongside Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. Despite being released after Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen and before Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Pokémon Emerald was trademarked earlier than Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire.
Contrary to what is sometimes reported, an equivalent to Blue matching the pattern of FireRed and LeafGreen was not trademarked by Nintendo, Creatures, or Game Freak. However, Game Freak's Junichi Masuda mentioned 「ＷＡＴＥＲ ＢＬＵＥ」 in Japanese and "WaterBlue" in English on an August 2004 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.
The Delta Emerald trademark has been commonly misreported as "Pokémon Delta Emerald", but this latter name was not trademarked. This might suggest a relation to the Delta Episode in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which features references to Pokémon Emerald.
Tsunekazu Ishihara and Junichi Masuda have explained why upper version counterparts to Pokémon Black and White or Pokémon X and Y did not materialize. In the case of the hypothetical Pokémon Gray or Grey version, Game Freak decided to instead develop Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 to surprise fans (though Black 2 and White 2 were later considered upper versions in some promotional material for the Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass), while the potential game "Pokémon Z" was never planned, with Pokémon Sun and Moon being designed for the Pokémon 20th Anniversary as another surprise.
Eurogamer published several articles which mentioned an alleged port of Pokémon Sun and Moon for the Nintendo Switch codenamed "Stars" between November 2016 and December 2017. Coincidentally, an early June 2017 article describes a "clerical error" by The Pokémon Company, which initially listed Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon as Nintendo Switch titles instead of Nintendo 3DS titles during their announcement.
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:
- Pokémon Stadium: Allows players to transfer their Pokémon from the Generation I core series games to battle in 3D.
- Pokémon Stadium 2: Allows players to transfer their Pokémon from the Generation I and II core series games to battle in 3D.
- Pokémon Box Ruby & Sapphire: Allows players to store their Pokémon from the Generation III core series games.
- Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness: Can trade Pokémon with the Generation III core series games.
- Pokémon Battle Revolution: Allows players to transfer their Pokémon from the Generation IV core series games to battle in 3D.
- My Pokémon Ranch: Allows players to store their Pokémon from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl (and from Pokémon Platinum in Japan).
- Pokémon Dream World: Allows players to send Pokémon caught in this game to the Generation V core series games.
- Pokémon Dream Radar: Allows players to receive the Forces of Nature in their Therian Formes in Black 2 and White 2.
- Poké Transporter: Allows players to transfer their Pokémon from the Generation V games, and the Generation I and II games on Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, to Pokémon Bank.
- Pokémon Bank: Allows players to store their Pokémon from Generation VI and VII core series games.
- Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire Special Demo Version: Allows players to receive a Steelix and/or a Glalie with their respective Mega Stones in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
- Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon Special Demo Version: Allows players to receive a Greninja with the Ability Battle Bond in Pokémon Sun and Moon.
- Pokémon HOME: Allows players to store their Pokémon from core series Nintendo Switch games, and can also receive transferred Pokémon from Pokémon Bank and Pokémon GO.
Additionally, some spin-off games allow players to receive special Pokémon in the core series:
- Pokémon Pikachu 2 GS: Allows players to convert Watts accumulated by walking into items to be sent to the Generation II games.
- Pokémon Channel: In the European and Australian versions of the game, it allows players to receive a gift Jirachi in the Generation III core series games.
- Pokémon Ranger series: Allows players to receive a special Manaphy Egg and other special Pokémon in the Generation IV core series games through Ranger Net missions.
- Pokéwalker: Allows players to store their Pokémon from Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver to gain experience by walking. Additionally, Pokémon caught in the Pokéwalker can be transferred to Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.
- Pokémon GO: Allows players to transfer Generation I Pokémon, Alolan Forms, Meltan, and Melmetal caught in this game to Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!. Allows players to transfer most Pokémon caught in this game to Pokémon HOME via the GO Transporter.
- Pokémon Pass: Allows players to receive serial codes for certain Event Pokémon.
- Spin-off Pokémon games
- Pokémon Stadium series
- Iwata Asks : Pokémon X & Pokémon Y : Pokémon Born Anew
- Pokemon's Master Speaks - IGN
- Familiar First Partner Pokémon Are Appearing in Spades! — Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet | Official Website
- Inside the Minds behind Pokémon! Pokemon.com, 4 Oct 2013 (archive)
- Game Pocket Monster Series | Pocket Monster Official Site (archive)
- GAME LIST
- Pokemon Official Site (archive)
- Nintendo HK Official Youtube channel: Nintendo SpotLight E3 2017 (附中文字幕), 14 Jun 2017
- GAME FREAK official site
- Ten Can’t Miss Activities in Johto and Beyond - Pokémon.com
- Nintendo UK YouTube: Pokémon Ultra Sun & Pokémon Ultra Moon Introduction – Episode 4 – A new Pokémon adventure awaits, 3 Nov 2017
- Game Informer interview from August 14, 2017
- Emerald trademark
- Ruby trademark
- Sapphire trademark
- Junichi Masuda's old official blog (Japanese)
- Junichi Masuda's old official blog (English)
- Iwata Asks about Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 (Nintendo)
- Iwata Asks about Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 (Nintendo of America)
- Iwata Asks about Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 (Nintendo of Europe)
- Dr. Lava's translation of a Spanish Official Nintendo Magazine interview from late 2016
- Reddit AMA by Game Informer on their visit to Game Freak from August 2017
- Eurogamer (November 18, 2016)
- Eurogamer (November 22, 2016)
- Eurogamer (December 6, 2016)
- Eurogamer (December 7, 2016
- Eurogamer (June 13, 2017)
- Eurogamer (December 15, 2017)
- Eurogamer (June 6, 2017)
- How to transfer Pokémon from Pokémon GO to Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee!
- The Official Pokémon YouTube channel: Pokémon 2018 Video Game Press Conference, 30 May 2018
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 Game Freak we're also hard at work on another all-new core series Pokémon RPG, exclusively for Nintendo Switch.
- Specifically trademarked with this English spelling
- The Pokémon Company website game list: has "Pocket Monsters Series" filter (Japanese)
- The Pokémon Company "Pocket Monsters Series" page (archive) (Japanese)
- The Pokémon Company "Pocket Monsters Series" product list (archive) (Japanese)
- Pokémon Korea website section (Korean)
- The Pokémon Company International website all-games section
- Nintendo subsite for Pokémon games (Japanese)
|This game-related article is part of Project Games, a Bulbapedia project that aims to write comprehensive articles on the Pokémon games.|