History of Poké Balls
The development of Poké Balls has gone through a number of stages, as evidenced by the ancient and historical variants of the modern Poké Ball that have been seen in the anime.
In the core series games
In the past, Poké Balls were originally crafted by hand by carving out Apricorn fruit. The invention of these Poké Balls were seemingly invented in the Johto region, a location where the Apricorn fruit can grow. Some people in the modern day, such as Kurt of Azalea Town, still make Poké Balls using these older methods. These modern creations of Poké Balls are fitted with a special device used for capturing Pokémon.
In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, a game taking place in Sinnoh's past as Hisui, Professor Laventon mentions that Poké Balls are a recent invention. Professor Laventon also makes the claim that Pokémon shrink down to fit inside a Poké Ball, and that the Pokémon may feel comfortable inside. When Hisui was first being settled, Poké Balls were made in a similar manner as they are in Johto, also using Apricorn fruit harvested from Hisui's own land. Unlike the fruit in Johto, these Apricorns are brown in color. The Hisuian Poké Ball were crafted from a combination of Brown Apricorns, Tumblestones and wood. They emitted steam when capturing a Pokémon and what appeared to be a firework was set off from their tops when Pokémon were caught. They relied on a Pokémon's natural ability to shrink down when scared or injured. In the modern day, the academy in Mesagoza teaches about these older Poké Balls, being found in Raifort's classroom. Professor Laventon had also created the one of a kind Poké Ball during the events of Legends: Arceus. The Origin Ball was created similarly to that of Hisuian Poké Balls, but instead of an Apricorn and Tumblestone, it instead was made out of Origin Ore and the left over pieces of the Red Chain.
At the time of Legends: Arceus, Leif claims that back in Kanto, they were already able to tame Pokémon. Implying that some sort of catching device was made before the Galaxy Team had come to Hisui.
In older times, the recent invention of the Poké Ball was seen as potentially problematic, and was seen as a symbol of containment and restriction towards the Pokémon held within them. The Diamond and Pearl Clans in particular, had a distaste for this invention, as they believe it would harm their relationship with their Pokémon who they viewed as brothers and sisters. In contrast to the Galaxy Team, who had a distrust and fear of Pokémon and used Poké Balls for protection. All three groups eventually warm up to the use of Poké Balls and Pokémon, using the tool as a form of companionship.
According to Cyrus's computer in Generation IV and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, a modern day Poké Ball would limit the power of Palkia and Dialga, leading Team Galactic to creating a Red Chain.
In the Memory Link event A New Light, Drayden claims Poké Balls didn't exist when he was a young boy. It is unknown if he means they hadn't been invented at all, or just hadn't made their way to the Unova region.
The modern Poké Ball is created and manufactured by multiple companies and people. Currently they are mass produced by the Silph Company, the Devon Corporation and the Poké Ball Factory in Kalos. Silph in particular is known to have created multiple Poké Ball prototypes, including the Master Ball. However, they can also be made by personal machine, such as Hyde's Cram-o-matic, which was inspired by Kurt's ability to craft them with Apricorns. Faba of the Aether Foundation had recently created the Beast Ball, a special type of Poké Ball used to contain Ultra Beasts. He also mentions that the downstairs labs of Aether Paradise is where they develop new Poké Balls for "the sake of Pokémon conservation." The Cram-o-matic can create any Poké Ball at the time of Pokémon Sword and Shield with exception of the Master, Beast, Dream, Park and Cherish Balls. The Item Printer found in the Blueberry Academy League Club Room, is also able to produce multiple types of Poké Balls including those that the Cram-o-matic could not. The Item Printer requires materials dropped by Pokémon instead of Apricorns.
In Galar, Poké Balls are affected by the Wishing Stars fixed onto a Dynamax Band. This allows Poké Balls to enlarge causing a Trainer's Pokémon to Dynamax/Gigantamax, or capture a Dynamax/Gigantamax Pokémon when around a Power Spot. The Dynamax Band was created by Professor Magnolia. In Paldea, Poké Balls can become Terastallized, allowing a Trainer to capture wild Tera Pokémon in Tera crystals. It has no other effect.
Aether Paradise contains a jamming signal for all empty Poké Balls that may be used against the wild Pokémon that the Aether Foundation is taking care of. This can be seen when the player battles against an unexpected Nihilego in Pokémon Sun and Moon. Despite this, Trainer owned Pokémon may still come out of their Poké Balls and be used to participate in battle. The time machine found within the Zero Lab, contains a similar jamming signal. When the Paradise Protection Protocol takes control, any Poké Ball not owned by Professor SadaS/Professor TuroV will be locked, both empty Poké Balls and those containing Pokémon.
In several books in relation to the core series; the Encyclopedia Pokemonica and Pocket Monsters Encyclopedia as well as the Pokémon Daisuki Club site describing the Pokémon world, modern Poké Balls were developed in 1925 from the research of Professor Westwood of Celadon University. He got the idea when experimenting on a Primeape, which curled up into a ball and shrank down small enough to fit in the professor's glasses case.
Pokémon storage history
According to Professor Elm, before the invention of Poké Balls, people would walk with their Pokémon instead. This can also be seen in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, where many members of the Diamond and Pearl Clans, including their Wardens, do not use Hisuian Poké Balls. The only exception being Warden Ingo, who had time traveled to Hisui from a time where modern Poké Balls had existed. During the events of Legends: Arceus however, a Pokémon tamer can hold up to six Pokémon at once if they were to contained in Hisuian Poké Balls. A tamer without these devices, such as the warden or Clan Leaders will instead just call upon their Pokémon whenever necessary. They are only ever seen with a max of three Pokémon in battle, where as the player can only have 1.
When a person has caught more than six Pokémon, they will go to the pastures in Jubilife Village managed by Marie. These pastures are accessed to not just the player, but also Ingo, Security Corp members found at base camps, and Cyllene's Abra. These Pokémon are not always found within their Poké Balls and can be seen within the pastures itself.
In the modern day, Pokémon storage has similar restrictions as they did in the past, with Pokémon Trainers being able to carry up to six Poké Balls with Pokémon at once. However, the player character in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet can hold up to 6 Pokémon in their party with a seventh slot saved for either KoraidonS or MiraidonV having their own key item, implying this restriction isn't completely canonical in terms of lore. However, that player may only use the six Pokémon available to them in their party.
The Pokémon Storage System, invented by Bill, is the modern equivalent to the pastures, where a Trainer can hold all their Pokémon when they have more than six in their party. These caught Pokémon will be automatically sent to a box in the PC. Starting in Pokémon Sun and Moon, a prompt on catch will ask the player if they wish to move a caught Pokémon to their party or if they should be sent to the PC. The introduction of the Pokémon Box Link allows a Trainer to have access to all of their Pokémon in their box without the need of a PC. This item is no longer used as of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet and all Trainers in Paldea, Kitakami, and Blueberry Academy have access to their boxes through their Rotom Phone instead. Both KantoPE and Paldea, as well as Kitakami and Blueberry Academy, lack any PCs that contain Pokémon management.
In Scarlet and Violet, there is no Pokémon Storage System, and all references to the function are simply just Boxes or Pokémon Boxes.
The Pokémon Storage System is managed by different people depending on the region, Bill in Kanto and Johto, Celio in the Sevii Islands, Lanette in Hoenn, Bebe in Sinnoh, Amanita in mainland Unova, Cassius in Kalos, and Molayne in Alola. Brigette and Grand Oak are also known to take on this role for the Pokémon Box Ruby & Sapphire, Pokémon Bank and Pokémon HOME software.
In the spin-off games
Pokémon Masters EX
In Pokémon Masters EX, many Trainer-owned Pokémon are still kept in their Poké Balls with the exception of Ash, who keeps his Pikachu outside at all times, including in certain animations. Pasio has no wild Pokémon, however, many Trainers still carry empty Poké Balls and may catch any Pokémon that may appear.
In the Together in an Unknown Land story event and Akari's sync pair story, some history on Pokémon in relation to Poké Balls is revealed. Many Pokémon from the past seem to be afraid of the modern Poké Balls found on Pasio, causing improper synchronization with sync stones. However, Akari's Hisuian Samurott was caught on Pasio, allowing for the synchronization to work better with the modern Poké Ball, which words as a "Pasio Poké Ball." Akari also describes the modern day Poké Balls as being "strange", "futuristic", and "new and modern".
In Travelers from a Distant Past story event, Irida and Adaman also learn about Poké Balls, previously disliking the idea of containing Pokémon in Poké Balls as they saw it as a form of restrainment. Learning that Poké Balls are a symbol of partnership and trust between Trainers and Pokémon, they put their Leafeon and Glaceon in modern day Poké Balls.
Like in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Hisuian Poké Balls were made from scratch.
In the anime
When Dr. Eve was exploring the ruins of Pokémopolis during The Ancient Puzzle of Pokémopolis, she discovered a number of old artifacts. A handful of these relics contained ancient, giant Pokémon, and so can be seen as forerunners to the contemporary Poké Ball. These objects were named by a stone tablet that had inscribed on it the legend of Pokémopolis. The "Unearthly Urn" and accompanying spoon contained a giant Alakazam, which, to activate, one had to insert the spoon into the Urn. It appeared that the Alakazam could do this autonomously from within the Urn using its psychic powers. The "Dark Device" contained a giant Gengar. It is unknown what initiated its release. Finally, the giant paintbrush/bell that was discovered contained a giant Jigglypuff, and was activated by the song of a regular-sized Jigglypuff.
Unearthly Urn, containing the giant Alakazam
The Dark Device, containing a giant Gengar
The paintbrush/bell containing the giant Jigglypuff
A relic that looks very similar to a contemporary Poké Ball was discovered in the tomb of the King of Pokélantis. It was revealed during the course of Battling the Enemy Within! that it contained the spirit of the King, possibly indicating an alternate use for Poké Balls in ancient times. It was erroneously rumored that the orb contained a Ho-Oh, which would have made it much more similar to a modern Poké Ball.
The orb found in the King's tomb
Sir Aaron's staff
Featured in Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, the crystal in Sir Aaron's staff was used "hundreds of years ago" to contain his apprentice Lucario. This can be seen as a forerunner to the contemporary Poké Ball. The ubiquitous Poké Ball design can be seen in other places in the beginning of the movie, but it is unknown what they relate to.
Giant stone Poké Ball
A giant stone Poké Ball was said in Claydol Big and Tall to have been created "in olden times" by the White Sage to contain a rampaging giant Claydol which had escaped from an identical stone Poké Ball. It was also said in this episode that this event was contemporaneous with the first creation of Claydol, which is cited as taking place around 20,000 years ago. However, this was read by Sigourney from an "ancient text" that he had a lot of trouble translating earlier in the episode.
The Odd Keystone
The Odd Keystone can be seen as a Poké Ball forerunner, in that it was used to capture a Pokémon 500 years ago. In The Keystone Pops! an old woman reveals that Spiritomb was defeated and imprisoned by an Aura Guardian. The method and reason for the confinement are currently unknown.
The Odd Keystone
The Captain's Poké Balls
In A Shipful of Shivers, it was revealed that the Captain kept his Haunter and Gastly inside contemporary looking Poké Balls, approximately 300 years before the present. The old Orange League Winner's Trophy, which is also more than 300 years old, is featured in this episode as well, and appears to be based on a contemporary Poké Ball design.
Chronologically, these are the first Poké Balls that offer capture and control to the Trainer.
Lokoko's Poké Ball
In Just Waiting On a Friend, Lokoko was the alter-ego of an elderly Ninetales whose Poké Ball was contemporaneous with a diary that was at least 200 years old. While the style of this ball is quite different from the modern Poké Ball, there is a statue in the same 200+ year old mansion which depicts a modern looking Poké Ball.
This Poké Ball differs from its modern descendant in other ways as well. The button is on the top of the ball rather than on the side, as can be seen top left in the picture opposite. It also lacks the internal mirrors that modern Poké Balls have, as can be seen top right opposite. It is also extremely fragile, as can be seen bottom opposite, as it shattered after simply being dropped, which is an everyday occurrence for a modern Poké Ball, though this is perhaps a consequence of its age. This may also be due to it being modeled from a porcelain handicraft.
Lokoko's Poké Ball
Sam's Poké Ball
A Poké Ball with a simple capture mechanism can be seen in Sam's possession in Celebi: The Voice of the Forest, 40 years before the present day. It had a red twist top that needed to be turned to release the Pokémon inside. This Poké Ball fits the description provided by Kurt of the basic method of turning Apricorns into Poké Balls by simply hollowing them out and adding a capture mechanism. Judging by the other older Poké Balls seen in the anime, it is unlikely that this Ball is indicative of all Poké Balls 40 years ago. Therefore, this Poké Ball may have been homemade, cheaply made, hurriedly made, or come from some other source. An alternate hypothesis is that this is an early model of non-Apricorn Poké Ball and that this is the oldest, and therefore most primitive, fully mechanical Poké Ball yet shown.
Sam's Poké Ball has distinct similarities to Lokoko's Poké Ball with the button (or button equivalent in sam's case) on top of the ball rather then opposite the hinge and it's used while gripping the button half rather then 'clasped' in the hand with the hinge in one's palm.
Sam's Poké Ball
There are generally two aspects to a typical modern Poké Ball, capture and control. The majority of the historical devices above capture the Pokémon in question, but generally offer no control over it once it has been released again. The following historical items offer the opposite of this, granting control but not ownership to the holder.
The Queen's mask and staff
In Control Freak!, an ancient tablet discovered by Tierra revealed that thousands of years ago a Queen could control Pokémon within the boundaries of her own village using high frequency waves. As soon as the Pokémon went outside her village boundaries, the waves were disrupted, or she lost possession of the staff, the controlled Pokémon would turn against her again.
In Arceus and the Jewel of Life the antagonist Marcus controlled a Bronzong and a Heatran with special sets of armor. Much like the Queen's mask and staff, the controlled Pokémon would turn against the controller as soon as the effects were no longer being felt and the Pokémon were outside of their control.
Blue and Red Orbs
- Main article: Colored orbs
In Gaining Groudon and The Scuffle of Legends, the Red Orb controls Kyogre and the Blue Orb controls Groudon. According to Lance, "The Red Orb was created long ago by evil people to control ancient Pokémon and use them as weapons..."
Archie invokes the Red Orb with the words "Convey our will to Kyogre, great Red Orb, and allow this great power to be released now".
The Blue Orb controlling Groudon
The Blue Orb possessing Ash's Pikachu
The Red Orb controlling Kyogre
The Red Orb possessing Archie
- Main article: Red Chain
The Red Chain
- Professor Laventon, Pokémon Legends: Arceus: "And that's where Poké Balls come in! Poké Balls are a recent invention, you see. Throw one of them at a Pokémon, and..."
- Leif, Jubilife Village: "You know, we had people back in Kanto who also were able to tame Pokémon. They knew what they were doing in battles, too." (Pokémon Legends: Arceus)
- Raifort, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet: "I would certainly prefer it not to have the Poké Ball portion, though—a relatively new addition."
- Akari: "True. But my Pokémon are scared of these new modern Poké Balls." (Pokémon Masters EX)
- Akari: "That's it! I DO have a new Pokémon! I caught it in a Pasio Poké Ball!" (Pokémon Masters EX)
|This article is part of both Project Anime and Project ItemDex, Bulbapedia projects that, together, aim to write comprehensive articles on the Pokémon Anime and ItemDex, respectively.