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How to Choose Which Pokémon Game to Play

Updated on July 05, 2015
Dreamhowl profile image

Dreamhowl has been playing Pokemon since 1999. She favorites include SoulSilver, X, and AlphaSapphire. She enjoys breeding Pokemon.

What is Pokémon?

Pokémon is a media franchise owned by video game company Nintendo and created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1996. Pokémon started as role playing games played on the Game boy, but has spread to multiple Nintendo game systems, collectible card games, figurines, anime, manga and more. Called “Pocket Monsters” in Japan, Pokémon generally refer to the now 649 fictional species that exist in Pokémon games and other media to-date. New Pokémon are generally introduced with the creation of new Pokémon games and regions.

Pokemon games are extremely popular and continue to be published today.
Pokemon games are extremely popular and continue to be published today. | Source

In the Pokémon universe, creatures called “Pokémon” exist all over the world and are indigenous to certain regions and locations. People coexist with Pokémon in different ways; some care for Pokémon as pets, some admire Pokémon in the wilderness, some study Pokémon as scientists, etc. However, main characters in the Pokémon universe are often Pokémon Trainers who catch Pokémon with Pokeballs and train them to battle other Trainers. Players of the Pokémon games start out as novice Pokémon Trainers with a set of goals:

  • catch all of the Pokémon in the Regional and National Pokedex

  • defeat all of the Gym Leaders to collect all eight badges

  • obtain all of the HMs required to travel around obstacles

  • become the best Pokémon Trainer in their respective game

Players can obtain Pokémon by catching them in the wild or trading with other Trainers. Completing the Pokedex usually awards the player with an in-game certificate and updated trainer’s card, but later games include more features and perks. Trainers can only carry six Pokémon at a time, and forming powerful Pokémon teams is a big hobby of Pokémon players. Trainers have the ability to battle both NPC (non-playable character) Trainers and fellow players via link cables or the Wifi connection included from Generation IV to the present. Winning a Pokémon battle offers the player in-game money or items.

Winning a Pokémon battle earns the player Pokedollars (in-game money).
Winning a Pokémon battle earns the player Pokedollars (in-game money). | Source

What is a Handheld Game System?

A handheld video game console is a portable electronic device with a screen, controls, speakers, and replaceable batteries or a rechargeable battery pack. They have a limited battery life but are lightweight and can be played anywhere, as opposed to home video game consoles. Nintendo popularized the handheld game system when they released the Game Boy in 1989 and continues to remain popular today. Their latest product, the Nintendo 3DS, has been their biggest success in 30 years. Nintendo has come to dominate the handheld console field.

What is your favorite Nintendo handheld system?

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Nintendo has developed several handheld video game systems over the years to keep up with technology. The Nintendo 3DS is their latest system and is capable of playing both Nintendo 3DS games and Nintendo DS games. However, it cannot play any earlier versions of Nintendo handheld games; only certain Nintendo game consoles can play certain versions of Nintendo games. For instance, a Nintendo 3DS cannot play a Game Boy Advanced game, and a Nintendo DS cannot play a Game Boy Color game. If you own a particular handheld gaming system, be aware of what Pokémon games you can and cannot operate.

Pokemon X
Pokemon X

Pokemon X has all-new Pokemon and features, such as Pokemon Amie, Super Training and more!

 

Handheld Consoles and Compatible Game Cartridges

Video Game Console
Compatible Games
Game Boy
Game Boy
Game Boy Pocket
Game Boy
Game Boy Light
Game Boy
Game Boy Color
Game Boy, Game Boy Color
Game Boy Advance
Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance
Game Boy Advance SP
Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance
Game Boy Micro
Game Boy Advance
Nintendo DS
Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS
Nintendo DS Lite
Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS
Nintendo DSi
Nintendo DS
Nintendo DSi XL
Nintendo DS
Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo 3DS XL
Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo 2DS
Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS
All of the Nintendo handheld game consoles and their compatible game cartridges.
The Game Boy Advance plays both Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color cartridges.
The Game Boy Advance plays both Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color cartridges. | Source

Based on what Nintendo handheld video game consoles you own, you will only be able to play certain game cartridges. For example, it is impossible to play Pokémon Red - an original Game Boy game - on the new Nintendo 3DS system. Similarly, you cannot play the new DS and 3DS game cartridges on a Game Boy Advance handheld system. While most modern handheld systems remain in-stock today, older ones such as the original Game Boy and Game Boy Color are no longer actively made and offered by Nintendo. These older Nintendo systems can be found online and are usually sold by old owners or collectors of the Nintendo line of handheld video game consoles. However, expect higher prices if you are looking for vintage Pokémon games and Nintendo systems.

Handheld Consoles and Corresponding Pokémon Games

Video Game Consoles
Game Versions
Game Boy
Red, Blue
 
Yellow
Game Boy Color
Gold, Silver
 
Crystal
Game Boy Advance
Ruby, Sapphire
 
FireRed, LeafGreen
 
Emerald
Nintendo DS
Diamond, Pearl
 
Platinum
 
HeartGold, SoulSilver
 
Black, White
 
Black 2, White 2
Nintendo 3DS
X, Y
 
Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire
Nintendo handheld console game types and their corresponding Pokemon games.
Pokemon Y
Pokemon Y

Pokemon Y has all-new Pokemon and features, such as Pokemon Amie, Super Training and more!

 

Your decision of which Pokémon game to play may depend upon which Nintendo handheld game system you own, as shown by the above table. If you want to play the new Pokémon Black and Pokémon White versions, you’ll need at least an original Nintendo DS handheld console. What’s great about the Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite is that the player can use both Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance cartridges. However, owning a Game Boy Advance SP and a Nintendo 3DS covers most bases, allowing you to play Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS cartridges.

The Nintendo DS Lite plays both Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance cartridges.
The Nintendo DS Lite plays both Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance cartridges. | Source

How to Choose a Pokémon Game

Do you have multiple Nintendo handheld systems at your disposal? If handheld video game console type is of no concern to you, choosing a Pokémon game comes down to what plot, characteristics and Pokémon you’d prefer. Different versions of Pokémon games have distinct features in comparison to others. In the many versions of Pokémon games, you can expect to find different attributes, such as:

  • regions

  • storylines

  • gym leaders

  • pokémon

  • player Items

  • and more!

For example: Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue and Pokémon Yellow take place in the Kanto Region, while Pokémon Gold, Pokémon Silver and Pokémon Crystal start out in the Johto region, with the option to go to Kanto later in the game. Along with different regions, Pokémon games feature different story lines beyond being an upcoming Pokémon Trainer. Different regions feature different Gym Leaders for the player to defeat, along with different badges to earn. Each Pokémon Generation introduces new Pokémon to be caught, as well as Legendary Pokémon exclusive to each game version. Later games include more types of usable items and Pokeballs. No two Pokémon games are exactly the same!

Pokemon games features different regions and exclusive Pokemon.
Pokemon games features different regions and exclusive Pokemon. | Source

Comparisons of Pokémon Game Versions and Generations

Versions
Generations
Regions
Starters
Red, Blue
Generation I
Kanto
Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle
Yellow
Generation I
Kanto
Pikachu
Gold, Silver
Generation II
Johto, Kanto
Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Totodile
Crystal
Generation II
Johto, Kanto
Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Totodile
Ruby, Sapphire
Generation III
Hoenn
Treecko, Torchic, Mudkip
FireRed, LeafGreen
Generation III
Kanto
Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle
Emerald
Generation III
Hoenn
Treecko, Torchic, Mudkip
Diamond, Pearl
Generation IV
Sinnoh
Turtwig, Chimchar, Piplup
Platinum
Generation IV
Sinnoh
Turtwig, Chimchar, Piplup
HeartGold, SoulSilver
Generation IV
Johto, Kanto
Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Totodile
Black, White
Generation V
Unova
Snivy, Tepig, Oshawott
Black 2, White 2
Generation V
Unova
Snivy, Tepig, Oshawott
X, Y
Generation VI
Kalos
Chespin, Fennekin, Froakie, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle
Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire
Generation VI
-
-
Only some the differences between the many Pokemon game versions.

What's your goal in the Pokemon games?

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The chart above displays just a few of the differences between the many Pokémon games and Generations. To truly discover which game is best for you, you’ll need to do some research! Aside from distinct starter Pokémon like Charmander and Bulbasaur, each Pokémon game features new additions, as well as different Legendary Pokémon to capture. If you are looking to catch the Legendary Dragon-type Pokémon Latios or Latias, try Pokémon HeartGold, Pokémon SoulSilver, Pokémon Ruby, Pokémon Sapphire or Pokémon Emerald!

If you are more interested in battling other Pokémon Trainers, games with Wireless Clubs may suit your needs. From Generation IV onwards, wireless capabilities have been included with Pokémon games to make trading with and battling other players more accessible. In these games, Pokémon Centers feature a Union Room, where Trainers can gather to talk, battle and trade. In later games, players can connect if they have each other added on their Pal Pads to battle and trade together. The Wifi Club makes Pokémon a truly social experience.

Generation III and Generation IV games have the option for Wifi trades and battles.
Generation III and Generation IV games have the option for Wifi trades and battles. | Source

Since there are so many Pokémon games, choosing one to purchase and play can be quite difficult. Try looking into the features of each game while considering what handheld video game console you own to help make your decision. Listing every feature of each Pokémon game here would take thousands of words, but I hope I have made your decision a bit easier. Have fun!

© 2013 Jessica Marello

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    • profile image

      summerberrie 3 years ago

      This hub brings back memories. I'll have to give this a go again. Pinned, voted up and useful.

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 3 years ago from United States

      Thanks! The more recent games add a new sort of excitement to catching Pokémon.

    • profile image

      Anonymous 3 years ago

      Quick correction. Wireless features have been implemented since Generation IV and onwards.

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 3 years ago from United States

      Oops! Good eye, and thanks for letting me know!

    • profile image

      rcorcutt 3 years ago

      good tips

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 3 years ago from United States

      Thanks for reading! It's hard to choose sometimes.

    • Jeremy Gill profile image

      Jeremy Gill 24 months ago from Louisiana

      Great Hub! It's hard to pick a favorite game or region with so many great ones. I lean towards Johto, Generation 2, but that might only be because Lugia's awesome.

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 24 months ago from United States

      @Jeremy: Thank you! I am having a lot of fun with Alpha Sapphire right now, but I have always loved the Gold/Silver games (I was so excited when HeartGold/SoulSilver came out years ago).

    • adevwriting profile image

      Arun Dev 20 months ago from United Countries of the World

      Thanks for sharing the information!

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 20 months ago from United States

      @adevwriting Thank you!

    • ilikegames profile image

      Sarah Forester 18 months ago from Australia

      This is my current dilemma! So far I've just started from the beginning and worked forward.

      So for I have:

      -Completed blue with nuzlocke challenge (the original Pokemon game for me but I do also own a copy of yellow).

      -Completed crystal with nuzlocke challenge (much harder, lost quite a few good pokemon along the way).

      -Currently completing emerald (non-nuzlocke but aiming for a full pokedex completion), between all the games I own and the two devices I have it is possible to do by myself.

      After this I don't know! Although I'm only two badges into my latest Emerald playthrough and I plan to spend lots of time in the battle places and the contests so it will no doubt take months.

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 18 months ago from United States

      @ilikegames It sounds like you have been busy! I've never actually completed nuzlocke challenges; I would be way too sad to lose a Pokemon that way. Maybe someday, though!

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