Pokemon Video Games Timeline and History

Latest posts by Miah Schmahl, Dedicated Pokémon Fan for Life (see all)

    Pokemon was created by Tajiri a video game designer and co-founder of Game Freak Magazine around 1990. The original idea was a two-person battle with insects through Game Boy Link Cable.

    The game was originally called Capsule Monsters but was rejected by Nintendo due to a trademark issue. The next time the game would be pitched it would be called Pocket Monsters and would be pitched by Myamoto the brains behind Super Mario & Zelda. With Myamoto’s help and endorsement, Pocket Monsters was approved by Nintendo and full development began.

    Sugimori, Nishida, Motofumi, Fujiwara, and Morimoto illustrators at Game Freak designed all 151 original Pokemon. Nishida the original Pokemon designer is credited with designing favorites such as Bulbasaur, Charmander, Charmeleon, and Charizard. Fujiwara is credited with designing the original Eevee.

    Morimoto is known for creating the battle system present in the Pokemon games and designing the character Mew, Dragonite and Meowth, Manky, and other Pokemon. He is also the game director for Emerald, HeartGold, and Soul Silver.

    The First Years

    While the franchise is now a billion-dollar industry, Pokemon struggled the first five years as they developed the original games. Game Freak nearly went broke and Tajiri worked without salary.

    The games were almost shelved due to lack of funding but thanks to Creatures Inc. the franchise was saved and the games were finished. The games didn’t become a commercial success at first either. When a magazine called CoroCoro offered to give Mew to 20 contestants the demand for the games soared.

    The franchise quickly soared to commercial success across the globe with trading cards and an anime show along with the much-loved games.

    History of the Pokeverse

    Pokemon Video Games Timeline

    The Pokeverse was said to be created from a vortex of nothingness which created an egg containing the legendary Pokemon Arceus or The Original One. Arceus is said to be the creator of the Pokemon Universe, the Lake Guardians, and the Creation Trio.

    The creation trio Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina were given power within their own dimensions. Palkia was given time, Dialga was given space and Giratina was given control antimatter and the Distortion World a dimension designed to punish Arceus. This is what created the Pokeverse as we know it.

    Palkia, Dialga, and Giratina were not the only being present in the world. Kyogre, Groudon, and Rayquaza came into being. Kyogre and Groudon were formed from the deep sea and magma trenches below the earth’s crust while Rayquaza was formed by the elements in the ozone layer. Eventually, humans appeared in the Pokemon world although how they came to be in the Pokemon Universe is still unknown.

    During the millions of years that passed, various Pokemon would come into existent some would survive and become the Pokemon we all know and love, others would perish and become extinct. Hundreds of years passed and the Pokemon world was built and expanded into what we know it as today.

    The most notable events include the invention of the Poke Ball that was developed by Professor West of Caledon University and the birth of Red and Green eleven years before the beginning of Generation I.

    Main Series Games


    The main series games otherwise known as the core series, are the games that focus primarily on the story of the Pokeworld and follow the standard game formula.

    While the games have some semblance of a timeline with each game taking place after the previous game it’s hard to draw a complete timeline from the games themselves and how the timeline fits upgraded and remake versions are unclear and confusing.

    Generation I: Kanto 1996-1999

    Pokemon or Pocket Monsters Red & Green are released in Japan on February 27th, 1996. The games were originally released for Game Boy but later re-released for 3DS in 2016. The plot follows a boy named Red who is eleven years old and decides to start his journey to becoming a Pokemon Trainer. Professor Oak’s grandson Blue is also beginning his journey as a Pokemon Trainer.

    Oak lets the boys choose between a Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle Pokemon and equips them with a Pokedex so they can catch more Pokemon. Players will travel around Kanto visiting various gyms and battling against gym leaders.

    They will also attempt to capture various Pokemon and attempt to level them up. The game has a multiplayer function that required a wire link cable that can connect the two consoles together. This allowed for players to trade Pokemon and battle against each other.

    In October of 1996, the Pokemon Trading Gard Game was released. The game consisted of acquiring and trading for different Pokemon games based upon the player’s wants for their deck. Players could also battle against each other using trading the cards as if they were having a gym battle. World Championships for the Pokemon Trading card games were held in 2013-2018 in various locations across the US and Canada.

    Pokemon Red and Blue was the first version released of the game outside of Japan. The game was released in North America on September 28, 1998, Australia and New Zealand on October 23, 1998, and finally in Europe on October 5, 1999.

    The games were released a few weeks after the airing of the original anime on September 8th, 1998. Pokemon Red and Blue was essentially a rebrand of the Japanese version Red and Green. The success of Red and Green in Japan promoted localization for the game. The games were then released as Red and Blue in the rest of the World. Both versions have the same features.

    This generation featured upgraded versions of the main games. Pocket Monsters Blue and Pokemon Yellow are both upgraded versions of the original Pocket Monsters Red and Green. These games were released in Japan on October 15th, 1996, and September 12th, 1998 respectively. Yellow was later released in North America on October 19th, 1999

    Related reading:

    Generation II: Johto 1999-2002

    On November 21st, 1999 Pokemon Gold and Silver were released, marking the beginning of Generation II in the Universe. Pokemon Gold and Silver takes place in the religion of Johto 3 years after the end of Pokemon Red and Blue (Green). In this game the player character by acquiring one of three different Pokemon, Cyndaquil, Totodile, or Chikorita from Professor Elm.

    The player then travels the region attempting to obtain eight Gym Badges in order to challenge the Elite Four and Johto Champion to become the new Johto Pokemon Master. Team Rocket seeking their previous leader Giovanni and generally being a thorn in the side for the player.

    Once the player becomes the Johto region’s Pokemon Master they can travel back to Kanto to defeat the Gym Leaders there in order to enter the Mt. Silver area. Mt. Silver is home to some of the most powerful Pokemon and our old friend Red from the previous Pokemon Game. Red is the final boss and the player will beat the game by defeating him.

    Pokemon Crystal, a slightly altered version of Gold and Silver was released on December 14th, 2000 in Japan and later released in 2001 internationally. The game featured the ability to choose the gender of the protagonist and various animation differences. They also added a few subplots featuring the legendary Pokemon Suicune and the Unown. They also added a Battle Tower where players can participate in Pokemon Stadium fights.

    The US division of The Pokemon Company was founded in February of 2001 and called Pokemon USA and later The Pokemon Company Internation handles branding, marketing, licensing, and production of the Pokemon Franchise outside of the Asian countries.

    Generation III: Hoenn 2002-2006


    Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire were released on November 21st, 2002 for Game Boy Advanced marking the start of a new Pokemon Generation. Ruby and Sapphire also marked the first The Pokemon Company co-published the Pokemon games with Nintendo.

    The game takes place in the Hoenn region which was based on Kyushu Island in Japan. The protagonist is a small child who recently moved to Littleroot Town. The player will choose between three Pokemon a Treecko, Torchic, or Mudkip in order to protect Professor Birch from a Poochyena that is attacking him. The chosen Pokemon will become the player’s starter Pokemon.

    The goals in the game similar to the previous games, the player must obtain eight gym badges in order to battle the Elite Four and The Champion in order to become the region’s new Pokemon Master. Additionally, players will attempt to complete their Pokedex by capturing, trading, and evolving Pokemon. Team Aqua and Magma are the main villains in the game and are present via side quests that the player can complete.

    Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen were released on January 29th, 2004 as remakes of the original 1996 games Pokemon Red and Blue (Green). The plot and overall story stay the same in the remake the only change is the introduction of 20 new Pokemon.

    Pokemon Emerald, an upgraded version of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire similar to Pokemon Cyrstal was released on September 16th, 2004. The plot of the game stays the same between version, however, Emerald incorporates a lot of features found in FireRed and LeafGreen that are not present in Ruby and Sapphire, such as, a new battle area, wireless mini-games, and lastly various locations in the FireRed and LeafGreen like the alternating cave and Navel Rock appear in the game.

    Generation IV: Sinnoh 2006-2010

    Pokemon Diamond and Pearl were released on September 28th, 2006 in Japan and later released in April 2007 in North America. Diamond and Pearl take place in Sinnoh which is based on the island in Hokkaido in Japan and is not connected to any other Pokemon Region.

    The game follows the same formula from previous games. The game starts in the protagonist’s hometown where the player travels to a nearby lake in search of Pokemon. They meet Professor Rowan who upon leaving, leaves behind a briefcase containing three Pokemon Turtwig, Chimchar, and Piplup who the player can choose from. The Pokemon is used to battle and defeat an attacking Starly.

    The briefcase is then returned to Professor Rowan who gifts the chosen pokemon to the player. The player will travel the religion, obtaining badges from all gyms in the order to battle the Elite Four and the Champion in order to become the next Pokemon Master of Sinnoh.

    Additionally, players will capture, trade, and evolve Pokemon. This game’s main antagonist is Team Galatic who the player is tasked with saving Professor Rowan from. Team Galatic makes many appearances throughout the game’s story.

    Pokemon Platinum is the upgraded version of Diamond and Pearl similar to Emerald and Crystal. The game was released on September 13th, 2009 in Japan on March 22nd, 2009 in North American and Europe. Platinum retains the same plot and Setting as Diamon and Pearl almost completely. The main focus Pokemon changes to Giratina in Platinum whereas before it was Dialga and Palkia. There are also new characters introduced Charon and a detective codenamed the Looker.

    Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, remakes of Gold and Silver were released on September 12, 2009, in Japan and March 14th, 2010 in North America. The game is largely unchanged outside of basic feature upgrades, however, the story does shift just enough to incorporate plot elements from Crystal by focusing a little more Suicune. Other Generation IV features like the Pal Park make their way into the remakes as well.

    Generation V: Unova 2010-2013

    Pokemon Black and White were released on September 18, 2010, in Japan and March 2011 internationally. Unlike previous games, Black and White were not succeeded by an upgraded version of the game. Instead, a sequel to the game was released within the same generation. Giving this generation two main game installments. Black and White take place in Unova which is based on New York City.

    Overall the region of Unova is very diverse in both landscape and people. The game follows the same formula as its predecessors. The protagonist is a teenager who travels through Unova obtaining the eight gym badges in order to battle against the Elite Four and the Champion to become the next Pokemon Master of Unova. At the beginning of the game, the player chooses a Snivy, Tepig or Oshawott, as a gift from Professor Juniper.

    The main antagonists in this installment are Team Plasma who claim that Pokemon are oppressed humans and want to liberate them. A leader is a man named N who sees Pokemon as friends because of his upbringing. The player must defeat Team Plasma, Elite Four, and Alder to win the game.

    Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 were released on June 23rd, 2012 in Japa and October 2012 internationally. The game is set 2 years after the events of Black and White making it the first true sequel in the game. The game takes place in Unova where Team Plasma has made a return as New Team Plasma.

    The story is similar, the player is now traveling the Wester side of Unova obtaining the eight gym badges and challenging the Elite Four and the reigning Champion. Additionally, the player will find themselves up against the new Team Plasma as they attempt to take over the world.

    Generation VI: Kalos 2013-2016

    Pokemon X and Y was the first Pokemon game to be released worldwide on the same day. The game was released on October 12th, 2013 marking the beginning of Generation VI of the Pokemon games. The game also marked connectivity improvements that allow players to connect and communicate much easier than before.

    The game takes place in Talso a star-shaped region with real-world inspiration, such as the Eiffel Tower, Lovre, and Carnac Stones. The game follows a child who moves to a town called Vaniville with their mother. They befriend four trainers Shauna, Tierno, Trevor, and either Calem or Serena depending on the protagonist’s gender. Tierno gives the player either a Chespin, Fennekin, or Froakie as a starter Pokemon.

    The player then travels the Kalos region obtaining eight gym badges and defeating the Elite Four and Champion to obtain the title of Pokemon Master of Kalos. The player will also meet Team Flare the antagonist of the game who is bent on destroying the world. This game introduces the Mega Evolution and Super training features.

    Pokemon Omega and Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were released worldwide wide November 21st, 2014 as remakes of Generation III Ruby and Sapphire. The plot and storyline are the same in this remake, but it does feature several new and improved features, including the main feature from X and Y mega evolution.

    Pokemon Go!, an augmented reality mobile game was released July 6th, 2016. This game was largely responsible for bringing Pokemon back to the forefront of US culture. The game allows players to find and capture Pokemon from our world using the camera function on cell phones to depict current surroundings.

    Players can also battle each other and find important landmarks, gyms, and evolve Pokemon. The game features walking as part of major gameplay with Pokemon being evolved after covering so much distance. The game was met with nearly as much criticism and it was love.

    At release, the game struggled with technical problems and crashing servers. It also created public nuisances and accidents at times due to an increase in foot traffic near parks and gym locations.

    Generation VII: Alola 2016-2019

    Generation VII Alola 2016-2019

    Pokemon Sun and Moon was released on November 18 2016 World Wide and commemorated the Pokemon franchise’s 20th anniversary. This time the setting takes us to the Alola region which is based on Hawaii. The game begins with a video call from Professor Kukui who helps the player create a trainer passport before their move to Alola from Kanto.

    Shortly after moving the player meets Professor Kukui’s lab assistant Lillie and saves her Pokemon Nebby. Professor Kukui then lets the player choose from a Rowlet, Litten, or Popplio. The player then sets out to participate in the island challenge and obtain the z-crystals, as well as, becoming Island Champion of all four Alola islands. The villain in this generation is Team Skull, who are largely just a pain in the butt.

    Pokemon Gold, Silver, and Crystal were re-released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The games and features remain the same but are now playable on a modern console.

    Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are upgraded versions of Sun and Moon and were released on November 19th, 2017 world wide. While the story is largely unchanged the focus shifts to the legendary Pokemon Necrozma who could be fought in the original games but was otherwise left out of the plot. The setting changes to fit the new Pokemon and includes different locations and a few new characters. The introduction of Team Rainbow Rocket is also included once the game has been completed.

    On November 16th, 2018 remakes of Pokemon Yellow, Let’s Go, Pikachu, and Let’s Go, Eevee was released for Nintendo Switch. The remake is similar to the original games in many aspects but how players capture Pokemon is more reminiscent of Pokemon Go!, there are also additional Pokemon from X, Y and Omega Ruby, and Alpha Sapphire.

    Generation VIII: Galar 2019 to Present

    The current generation of Pokemon kicked off with Pokemon Sword and Sheild on November 15th, 2019. Sword and Shield are the first Pokemon games to feature expansion packs. The setting takes place in the Region of Galar which is based in the United Kingdom and features a few landmarks like the House of Parliament and Cerne Abbas Giant. The game follows the same formulas as previous Pokemon games with the protagonist being a small child that lives in the Galar region.

    The player’s best friend Hop has a big brother who is the Galar League Champion. He gives the player a choice between a Grookey, Scorbunny, or a Sobble. Players will then travel around battling gym leaders in order to obtain that badges that increase the level of Pokemon they can capture and allow the player to face the Elite Four and battle the reigning champion, Leon.

    After battling Leon an artifact is stolen by Sordward and Sheilbert who begin forcing Pokemon to Dynamx. This reveals the true nature of either Zacian (Sword) or Zamazenta (Sheild) who are then driven insane and fought off. One of the biggest features Sword and Sheild has is the addition of the Wild area, which is an area full of Pokemon that is fully explorable and open world. It also has weather patterns that dictate when and where Pokemon will appear. This allows players to capture more Pokemon for their Pokedex.

    On June 17th, 2020 the first DLC for the Sword and Sheild was released, entitled The Isle of Armor. The expansion pack was released in place of an upgraded version or a sequel to Sword and Sheild. The setting moves to the Isle of Armor which is set off the coast of Sword and Sheild and based on the Isle of Man.

    The player will arrive at the island and will find themselves at the Master Dojo. There the former region champion will initiate the three trials and the winner will receive the secret armor of the Master Dojo. The player will then advance through the tree trials and claim a Kubfu Pokemon who will either evolve into a dark or water-type version of Urshifu. Who will become essential during the final battles with the former champion.

    In October of 2020, the second expansion pack for Sword and Sheild called The Crown Tundra was released and on November 6th, 2020 an expansion pass containing both DLC was released. The DLC takes the player to a new town called Wedgehurst. The player then meets Peony and his daughter Peonia. Peonia escapes into the Max Lair and Peony and the player quickly follow her.

    The next part of the game is a Dynamax Adventure and players are not able to use their Pokemon so they won’t go insane from the Galar particles. Upon clearing the lair Peonia will ask to take the player to take her place on the adven-tour and from there the player and Peony team-up. They make their base in a town called Freezington and the player completes four adventures to beat the DLC.

    Two upcoming projects will be released in the latter half of 2021 and early 2022. The first are remakes of Diamon and Pearl entitled Brilliant Diamon and Shining Pearl. They were developed by ILCA instead of Game Freak, the first main game to do so in the franchise.

    The game is expected to be comparable to Heart Gold, SoulSilver, Omega Ruby, and Alpha Sapphire and will retain much of the original storyline. The next game to be released is Pokemon Legend: Acrecus an action role-playing game, which will serve as a prequel to Diamond and Pearl. The game is set to take place during the bygone era of the Sinnoh region, long before the events of Diamond and Pearl. The mythical Pokemon Arceus will play a major role in the game and the objective is to create the first Pokedex in Sinnoh.

    Learn more about Pokemon games with our in-depth guides below:


    Question: Are Pokemon games available on PC?

    Answer: Unfortunately, none of the main pokemon games are available to play on PC unless you use an emulator to do so. Using an emulator falls under very murky legal territory and Nintendo is notorious for trying to crack down on rom distributors. The only official Pokemon game available on PC is Pokemon Trading Card Game Online.

    Question: Why Pokemon games have two versions?

    Answer: The Pokemon games always come in paired releases where you can either buy one or the other cartridge. This forced players to find each other in order to trade Pokemon and obtain an entire Pokedex. Trading and multiplayer gameplay have been a hallmark of the franchise since the beginning is present in every main series game.
    Over time the feature has evolved and the Pokedex has expanded. Currently, players can store their Pokemon in a cloud-based app for Nintendo Switch, a successor to the previous Pokemon Bank a paid service for storing Pokemon on the 3DS. This allows players to trade and interact with each other to obtain a large number of Pokemon.

    Question: What Pokemon games are available on the Switch?

    Answer: The current generation of games focuses largely on the switch. Let’s Go Pikachu! And Let’s Go Eevee! Are the first games available on the switch, with Sword and Sheild following soon after. Brilliant Diamond, Shining Pearl, and Pokemon Legends: Arceus will also be available on the switch. Several spin-off games including Pokemon Snap and Pokemon Quest are also available on the switch. Pokemon games will likely be released for the switch until another Nintendo console is released.