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The name currently in use is a fan designator; see below for more information.
| Generation I
| Title screen of Pokémon Yellow Version
The first generation (Japanese: 第一世代 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 Game 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. The simultaneous release of the games and anime led to an almost-overnight surge in popularity, cementing 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.
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 recurring three-type trio 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.
The eight Kanto Gym Leaders each specialize in a different type of Pokémon. Each gives the player a Badge and a TM after their defeat.
Discussion of Generation I
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When the games were first released, they were very popular, firmly rooting the Pokémon series as one of Nintendo's mainstays alongside Mario and The Legend of Zelda.
Generation I can be considered the template for every generation since. Many mainstays of the main series games were introduced in Generation I, such as the first five HMs (excluding Flash) being required for the completion of the game and choosing between three starters that have fire, water, and grass as their primary types. Many storyline aspects harken back to Generation I as well. Each region since Kanto has had a local Pokémon Professor named after a tree who gives the player a starter Pokémon, and an evil team whose goal is to rule the world, among other devices that are now integral to being a core 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.
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 Generation II (and are thus exclusive to Generation I) were:
- Psychic-type Pokémon had virtually no match because their moves were resisted only by other Psychic types 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 and therefore weak to Psychic moves. Ghost-type moves while officially meant to be super-effective, were completely ineffective against Psychic types due to what may be a programming bug. Additionally, the only Ghost type move Lick was very weak.
- The only damaging Dragon-type move was the set-damage Dragon Rage. On one hand, this meant that Dragon-type Pokémon could never take advantage of STAB, but also that the only moves that could hit them with super-effective damage were Ice-type moves.
- The Special stat represented both Special Attack and Special Defense, meaning that a Pokémon with a high Special stat had an 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.
- Critical hit ratios were based on a Pokémon's base speed, allowing faster Pokémon to deal more critical hits.
- One-hit knockout moves were also based on speed, making them useless if the user was slower than the target and overpowered if the user was very fast.
- The Bag had only 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.
- Leech Seed and Toxic used the same damage counter, allowing Leech Seed to drain twice as much damage when a Pokémon was affected by both at the same time.
- Due to a glitch, Focus Energy and Dire Hit cut the user's critical hit ratio by 75% instead of doubling it.
- Using Agility or Swords Dance while paralyzed or burned, respectively, would negate the status impairments from those effects and then double the enhanced stat.
- If Hyper Beam knocked out a Pokémon or destroyed a Substitute, the user would not need to recharge on the succeeding turn.
- Selfdestruct and Explosion did not make the user faint if they destroyed a Substitute.
- Although Rest removed status conditions, it would not alleviate the stat debuffs caused by a burn or paralysis.
- Overusing stat increases would eventually cause the boosted stats to roll over to maximally decreased stats.
- If a Bide user was hit with a status move before its attacking turn, the damage dealt would equal that of the last attack used against it.
- If a Pokémon's HP was 255 or 511 (or any number multiple of 256) points below its maximum, HP recovery moves like Recover and Softboiled would fail. This is because the game only checks the low byte of the 16-bit value.
Other in-battle issues
- Critical hits would ignore stat increases from both parties rather than just the target.
- Counter could be used in response to Guillotine or Horn Drill to instantly defeat an enemy Pokémon, even if the move hit the user's Substitute.
- With the exception of Swift, every attack had at least a 1/256 chance of missing.
- Wrap, Bind, Fire Spin, and Clamp immobilized the target for 2 to 5 turns as a side effect. If a Pokémon that used one of these moves switched out, the target would still be considered trapped during that turn.
- Struggle was programmed with Normal-type offensive properties instead of being programmed to ignore type matchups, making it ineffective against Ghost types.
- When a Pokémon was hit by a move that did not deal neutral damage, the message that displayed would reflect only the matchup against one of the target's types.
- Waking up from sleep took a full turn.
- Using Substitute while having 25% or less of one's maximum HP left would cause the user to faint.
- As soon as Rage connected, the user would become disobedient and would be unable to use any other move until it fainted. When Rage was used, it only lost the initial 1PP, and if the user is inflicted with an accuracy-reducing move right before or while using Rage, its accuracy would drop by 1/256 for each succeeding turn of Rage before eventually capping out at 1/256.
- Multi-hit moves dealt the same amount of damage for each hit in a turn, meaning that if the first hit was a critical hit, the other hits would be critical hits as well.
- In-game opponents had infinite PP, so that they could use powerful moves with 5 PP without limit.
Kanto thematic motif
The first generation of Pokémon games dealt with 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 in 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. 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. With this generation being the very foundation of the Pokémon franchise, most successors have only expanded upon Kanto's basics.
English title screens
Game Boy Color
Super Game Boy
Japanese title screens
Game Boy Color
Super Game Boy
- Of all the generations, Generation I introduced the most moves to the series, with 165.
- 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.
- Prior to Generation VI, Generation I had 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 screens, but instead includes the first evolutionary stages of two starter Pokémon.
- Generation I is the only generation without a playable female character, although evidence suggests plans for an intended female player character.
- Generation I is the only generation that indexes its Pokémon in order of creation instead of by Pokédex number.
- The Japanese releases of the Generation I games mark the only generation where two solitary core titles were released (Pokémon Blue and Pokémon Yellow).