The core series of the Pokémon games or core games, commonly referred to as the main series or mainline games by fans, is the game series that is developed by Game Freak 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 each game individually, there are currently 32 games in the series in Western regions, 33 in Japan, 23 in South Korea, and 8 in Greater China. Counting paired games as a single release, there are currently 18 games in the series in Western regions, 19 in Japan, 12 in South Korea, and 4 in Greater China.
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 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), as core series games all contain the full name Pocket Monsters in their Japanese title, whereas side series and spin-off games use the abbreviation Pokémon instead. However, the Japanese releases of the Pokémon Stadium series use Pocket Monsters in English subtitles, despite the titles using Pokémon in kana.
The Pokémon Video Game Championships are conducted using the core series games.
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 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 will receive a starter Pokémon from the region's Pokémon Professor; the starter Pokémon is always a choice of three, a Grass, Fire, or Water type, and the character who will become the player's rival will typically choose (or already have) the Pokémon whose type is super effective against that of the player's choice, although some exceptions to this pattern exist.
After this point, the player begins to journey across the entire region (each with their own cities and towns, themselves connected by route), capturing any wild Pokémon they choose to, and using a party they assemble to take on the eight Gym Leaders (except in Alola where the player battle in Trials instead) of the region. Alongside encounters with both other Trainers and 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, the player can enter the Pokémon League, where the Elite Four and Champion await challengers. The Champion of the region is often introduced prior to the player's Pokémon League challenge, and may aid the player as the player continues their adventure.
Though the game can be considered over as soon as the player has defeated the Champion, there is still post-game content. Often there is a post-game plotline and locations and facilities that could not be previously accessed. Since Pokémon Crystal, there is usually at least one facility specifically dedicated to battling. The overarching goal is the completion of the Pokédex; after this has been done, the player will receive a diploma for completing the regional Pokédex and, starting in Generation III, another for completing the National Pokédex. Another task was added in Generation III in order to fully complete the game: fully leveling up the Trainer Card.
Another element that characterizes a core series game is that the geography of regions includes at least one water route, a mountain, several caves, a forest, as well as a final route leading up to the Pokémon League called Victory Road.
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 regional Pokédex.
Most generations feature an "upper version" 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 and Generation VIII entirely forwent follow-up games set in the same region, the latter instead providing added features to the original pair of games via downloadable content in an expansion pass.
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.
In all generations, there are some Pokémon that cannot be encountered until after the player becomes Champion. These may be legendary Pokémon, such as Mewtwo, or simply Pokémon that are not 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.
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-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 always 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
Nintendo, Creatures, and Game Freak have trademarked several titles in 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 (Japanese, English):
- 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: 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: Brown (Japanese: ポケットモンスター茶) [application number 2008-093270, registration number 5222905]
- Pocket Monsters: Grey (Japanese: ポケットモンスター灰) [application number 2008-093272, registration number 5222907]
- Pocket Monsters: Vermilion (Japanese: ポケットモンスター朱) [application number 2008-093273, registration number 5222908]
- Pocket Monsters: Purple (Japanese: ポケットモンスター紫) [application number 2008-093274, registration number 5222909]
- Pocket Monsters: Crimson (Japanese: ポケットモンスター紅) [application number 2008-093275, registration number 5222910]
- Pocket Monsters: Scarlet (Japanese: ポケットモンスター緋) [application number 2008-093276, registration number 5222911]
- Delta Emerald (Japanese: デルタエメラルド) [application number 2014-035118, registration number 5701924]
Topaz, tourmaline, moonstone, and emerald (by virtue of Delta Emerald) are all names of minerals, while the rest are names of colors. Additionally, vermilion, crimson, and scarlet are all shades of red.
Contrary to what is sometimes reported, the name WaterBlue was not trademarked by Nintendo, Creatures, or Game Freak. According to the Japan Platform for Patent Information, ウォーターブルー and WATER BLUE (application number 2010-060625, registration number 5386853) are trademarks of Meiji Seika, a Japanese food and pharmaceutical company. However, Game Freak's Junichi Masuda did mention "WaterBlue" in 2004 on a blog post explaining the company's choice of "FireRed" and "LeafGreen" as both Japanese and international titles for the remakes of Red and Green.
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:
- ↑ Pokémon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon are known to be set 10-20 years after the Generation I core series games and Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald.[note 2][note 3] Due to the known durations between other games, it can be calculated that Pokémon Black and White are set 3-13 years after Pokémon Gold, Silver, Crystal, Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 In Pokémon Sun and Moon, it is mentioned that Anabel fell through an Ultra Wormhole 10 years ago. Since she appeared in Pokémon Emerald before falling through the wormhole, Pokémon Sun and Moon cannot be set less than 10 years after Pokémon Emerald.
- ↑ Porygon's Pokémon Sun, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon Pokédex entries state that it was created 20 years ago. Since Porygon exists in the Generation I games, they cannot be set more than 20 years earlier than the games in which the Pokédex entries appear.